Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday Walk

We set out to walk along the Trent and Mersey Canal from the Aston Marina.  I took you there around this time last year but then the weather was a bit warmer and we walked right to the Nature Reserve and back over the fields to the village of Aston before returning to the marina.  Yesterday was bright but very cold so we didn't walk as far this time but it felt good to be out in the fresh air.

All the snow seemed to have disappeared from the towpath which was a bit muddy in places.  Up above us lapwings flew and then descended into the fields on the opposite side of the canal - I tried so hard to photograph one but they almost completely disappear once down in the grass and scrub.  We also saw buzzards circling above the trees and a skylark or two.

I love these mile posts along the canal.  At Aston it would seem that we were equidistant from Shardlow and Preston Brook

In the distance we could see the village church as we turned onto the towpath and made our way past the lock.

Several boats passed in each direction on their way along the canal

It was great to see the lambs in the fields

They got quite close to the water, I was worried that in their youthful exuberance they might fall in but instinct told them when to turn back.

The dog on board this vessel was fascinated by everything it could see and kept crossing from one side to the other so it didn't miss anything.   It was a lovely walk even though a short one and nice to get out of the city and away from the crowds to find a bit and peace and quiet along the waterway.

I hope you all enjoy the Easter weekend.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Things We Rely On

Earlier in the week I was using the vacuum cleaner on the upstairs carpets.  I kept switching on and off, as you do when you have to stop to move something out of the way, or when meticulously avoiding the deaf cat who used to be terrified of the sound the cleaner makes but now doesn't know you are right behind her with one of her worst fears, when low and behold, I switched it on - nothing!  I tried again, no response!  I checked the plug hadn't been pulled out of the socket - it hadn't.  I unplugged it and plugged it in again - nothing.  I emptied the cylinder over the wheelie bin in quite a breeze and got half of it back in my face, I cleaned the filter with the little brush, put everything back, switched on - nothing!  Paul then checked the plug to see if the fuse had gone, it hadn't.  It looked as if a new  cleaner was needed.  We looked at lots of websites to see what was available and that got me thinking about vacuum cleaners and I remembered a book I've had for ages about the history of them and other household appliances we now can't manage without.

This is a super little book and the development of the vacuum cleaner makes for interesting reading.  Apparently, so the author tells us, the suction vacuum cleaner nearly didn't happen at all because their inventor, Hubert Cecil Booth, nearly choked to death on a mouthful of dust whilst testing his theory that to get the dust out of a carpet you needed to suck the dust up from the fibres and not blow it out from the fibres.  He had seen  a machine demonstrated that was intended to clean railway carriages by blowing air and raising the dust in the hopes it would land in the attached box.  Booth thought that the dust was better sucked out than blown out and he patented his first vacuum cleaner in 1901and launched the British Vacuum Cleaner Company to produce what he called 'The Puffing Billy' which was a red horse drawn machine much like an early fire engine.  It needed several uniformed attendants to work it and it was hired out to owners of fashionable houses who loved to be seen by their friends and neighbours with the red machine outside their homes. A sign both of cleanliness and wealth. The first vacuum cleaner I remember as a little girl in the 1950s was a grey cylinder one with Goblin written on the side.  I think the fact that it had something to do with a goblin used to intrigue me!  Incidentally, Goblin vacuum cleaners were also produced by Hubert Cecil Booth's British Vacuum Cleaner Company from the 1930s onwards.

That isn't the end of the story! The next morning I plugged my hairdryer into the same socket I'd used for the vacuum cleaner - nothing!  Oh no,I thought,  not the hairdryer as well and then the penny dropped!  After all that it wasn't any of the appliances that were at fault it was the socket on the wall! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week Twelve

I think the main topic of conversation and frustration this week has been the weather!  We did manage a walk at Trentham on Monday and a drive over to Chesterfield to visit my sister on Tuesday but by Thursday the weather had changed completely. On Saturday morning we ventured out in the snowdrifts to the local shop for milk and newspapers.  There were no newspapers and they hadn't had a bread delivery but the milk was being delivered as we arrived.  Luckily our freezer is stocked with home made bread and we had popped out on Thursday morning to get fresh fruit and vegetables so it was really just the milk we needed.

Here are four things that have made me smile this week.......... 

1.  A black rabbit - grazing at the side of the river at Trentham.  I've never seen a wild black rabbit before.  I've been on several wildlife sites and apparently they are quite common in some areas of the UK.  I'm just amazed that I have got to the age I am and not seen one before. I thought at the time that it may be a runaway pet but you learn something new almost everyday!

2. Pink Tulips given to me last week by a friend still looking good and colourful against the snow outside the window.

3.  Finches - through the same window birds on the feeder, we have seen some lovely birds again this week especially the goldfinch, chaffinch and robins but the bird to the right of the photo is a greenfinch so I was happy to see them again in the garden after quite a long time.  When we first came here there were loads of them but they disappeared for a few years - here is the reason why.

4.  The Crooked Spire - a trip to Chesterfield to see my sister, lunch out and a walk in the park.  The photo above is of the Crooked Spire taken from Hady Hill but you can see the spire in the distance whichever way you are approaching the town.  It's always a good sign that you are nearly there.

Link to  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Here We Go Again!

I woke up at 2.30a.m. and it was so quiet and light I just knew what would be outside.  The weather forecasts were spot on.........

.........yes, more snow!  I know snow in March isn't unusual in fact in April 1979  a couple of weeks before our wedding we got stuck in a snow storm in a van we'd hired to collect a second hand sofa we'd bought for our new home. It's just that this year winter seems to be going on forever and spring, which seemed so tantalisingly close a couple of weeks ago, has retreated into its colourful shell.

There's only one thing to be done on such a day.   Stay in and make some tasty warm soup for lunch.

Carrot and Coriander? Lovely!  The only downside is that I have no excuse not to start on that pile of ironing.  Ah, well at least it will keep me warm!

Monday, March 18, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week Eleven

It has been a strange sort of week which I seem to have spent dithering about,  being unable to make up my mind about anything or feeling anxious about things I can't do anything about.  Even so I've been able to find a few things that have made me smile ...........

1. Squirrel antics - outside the conservatory window have amused us all week, this one stretched itself every which way to get at the sunflower hearts.  It began by licking them out of the feeder then by shaking it and running down the tree to eat up the fallen hearts and then going back up to start the whole process again.

2. A trip to the theatre - on Saturday night for a performance of Rutherford and Son by Northern Broadsides.  Another excellent production this time directed by Jonathan Miller whose work I remember from productions at Nottingham Playhouse in the late 1960s. (I can still remember a wonderful performance of 'A School for Scandal' from then.)  Here is a link to a trailer for Rutherford and Son.

3. A blue carpet of crocus - spotted on our walk at Trentham gardens, the bright blue looked wonderful against the white bark of the birch trees.

4. A trip into Lincolnshire -  last week to see an elderly friend who has, over the last few weeks, made the heartbreaking decision to sell her bungalow and move into a care home.  The home is just behind the windmill in my photo and from her room she can see the sails turning on grinding days and in the other direction the spire of the village church.  Outside her window are well-visited bird feeders.  Although I'm sad she has to part with her home I'm happy that she is safe, warm and well-fed with someone to care for her twenty four hours a day.

Link to  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St Edmund's Church, Castleton

As promised a couple of posts ago I've now written a separate post about St Edmund's church in Castleton.  The church stands just off the main street close to the old market building and on the way up to the path leading to Peveril Castle.

We spent ages wandering around the church yard reading the memorial inscriptions looking for Paul's ancestors  without success.  There were several generations of the same families all close together.

There was also lots of wildlife in the church yard, it was only after I'd taken this photo that I saw the little bird sitting on a branch, it might be a wren.

Some inscriptions were a dream for family historians with loads of information etched into the stone

Others were small and simple and gave the bare minimum of information.  I guess in 1822 everyone would have known who MR was.

Inside, the church was bathed in sunlight with shadows and reflections filtering across the floor and onto the wooden pew doors.

There were some lovely stained glass windows in the chancel

The large window is above the altar and the one below to the right of the altar.

The other windows had lovely coloured glass around their edges and it was these that were reflecting across the floor.  I loved the brass oil lamps with engraved glass globes attached to the pews.

The hatchment below is for Frances Mary, sister of the Reverend Frederick Farran who was Vicar of Castleton from 1780 to 1817.  She married a Captain George James Hamilton and died in 1820.

I was intrigued by the names carved onto the doors of the box pews.  Each pew was owned by a different family.  There were two Robert Halls the one below from 1676 and an earlier one of 1663.

The brass plaque over the carved name is I Royse and its date is 1822.  On the stone memorial pictured above are several Royse family members including two Isaacs, father and son, the second died in 1831 aged 77 so this box pew could have been his.

The church, which was restored in 1837, is the focus of the Castleton Garland Day festival which is held on 29th May also known as Oak Apple Day. This was a celebration of the escape of Charles II from the parliamentarian forces after the battle of Worcester in 1651 when he is said to have hidden in the branches of an oak tree at Boscobel house in Shropshire on 29th May which was also his birthday.  When he was restored to the throne in 1660 the 29th May was declared a national holiday to celebrate his safe return.  It is possible that the Garland Day festival dates back to much earlier times but it is now associated with Oak Apple Day.

It struck me that the dates on these pews of 1661 and 1662 were of the time of the Restoration and that the Cresswell, Hall and Cryer families may have joined in those new oak apple and garland day celebrations.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mist over Felley Priory

On Wednesday last week we went over to Nottingham to visit friends and from there went for lunch at Felley Priory which is near Underwood in Nottinghamshire.  After the brilliant sunshine of the day before it was such a grey, damp and misty day.

Undeterred by the weather, after a pleasant lunch in the Farmhouse cafe we had a wander around the gardens.

Even in the mist and damp you could see the wonderful structure of them

Apparently, so their information leaflet tells me, the garden covers the former site of the Priory Church of the priory which was founded in 1156 on the site of a small hermitage. At that time twelve cannons, who followed the rule of St Augustine, lived here.
After the dissolution of the monasteries most of the priory buildings were destroyed but some parts still remain in the main building and in what is now the garden wall

The main part of the private house which you can see  as you walk around the gardens was built during the 16th and 17th centuries.  It was plundered during the Civil War when it became an army garrison and Royalist stronghold.  The stone ends of the house were added in the mid to late 19th century.

There must be a wonderful view across the fields at the bottom of the garden on a clear day.  Somehow though the mist seemed to add an ethereal beauty to the place and made everything around the garden look quite atmospheric.

We have all decided that another visit in the early summer would be a good thing.
I just know that the garden will look wonderful then too.

Today is a blog anniversary for me.  I can't quite believe that I started this blog eight years ago on 14th March 2005.  In those days I didn't know how to add photos so I just wrote short posts and for ages never had any comments, there were no statistics to know if anyone was visiting, no Picasa to help with photos and no 'followers' thingy, it was all very new to me and for some time I thought I was talking to myself.   So on this anniversary I'd like to say a big Thank You to all of you who stop by perhaps to look at the photos, to those who stop to read my witterings, to those who take the time to leave comments on said witterings, to those of you who have been with me for ages and to those who have just started visiting, reading and commenting.  I'm lucky to have you as blogging friends and I have been even luckier to meet with some of you via e-mail and snail mail and also, most delightfully, in person. Who would have thought that those first tentative steps into the world of blogging would have lead to where I am now?  I don't think I ever did!

Monday, March 11, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week Ten

I have lots of happy memories from the last week  not least our outing to Castleton on Tuesday and our visit to friends in Nottingham on Wednesday but as I've written a post about Castleton and will write one soon about our lunch out at Felley Priory, I've chosen four 'happy' moments from closer to home for week ten.  Here's what made me smile this week......

1.  Happy cats - I love it when they start cleaning themselves down and then look up forgetting to put their tongue away!

2.  Pale Blue Dwarf Iris -  in a pot.  We rescued them last year after a squirrel had taken all the crocus bulbs we'd planted at the same time, it didn't touch these but we dug them up and popped them in a pot just in case.  I'd forgotten all about them but they grew and flowered in their pot this year.

3.  Home made Welsh Cakes - made on a cast iron griddle which, after searching loads of kitchen shops,  was ordered from the internet. When it arrived it was delivered by the regular post man.  He knocked on the door and took it out of his bag  'It's heavy!' he exclaimed.  'It will be, it's cast iron' I replied.  The look on his face was priceless, poor chap having to carry it until he reached our house as he didn't have one of those trolley things some postmen have now.  Wouldn't you have thought it would have been sent by parcel post with a van driver?

4.  Frog Spawn - lots of pond activity this week culminating in eleven frogs spotted at one time and seven clumps of frog spawn,  I do hope it survives the colder weather that has been forecast for the next few days.

Link to  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

At Castleton

I suppose I should really add that the Castleton in question is Castleton in the Derbyshire Peak District which I have visited many times as opposed to the small village of Castleton in the North Yorkshire Moors which I have only visited once when we were on holiday a few years ago and staying near Guisborough.

We parked in the car park near the visitor centre and walked over the road to have a coffee at the Three Roofs Cafe.

We then wandered up by the stream which runs through the village.  The water in the stream was so fresh and clear.   Peveril Castle was almost invisible in the morning mist.

I love this little shop with its window full of old miners' lamps.

We wandered up to the entrance to the Peak Cavern where the sound of the crows was echoing up above around the trees near the castle. Then we retraced our steps back into the village centre.

We had a wander around the churchyard as some of  Paul's ancestors are supposed to be buried here in the 18th century but most probably they weren't well off enough to afford a memorial stone. We also went into the church, which was open for visitors,  to have a look around.  The inside is very interesting and deserves a post of its own so I'll write more on that later.

As we went back to the car to put on our walking boots the castle was still half hidden in the mist.

We then set out to the top of the village to walk on the path across the fields to Speedwell Cavern.  Parts of the walk were still quite muddy and my boots grew heavier and heavier as they picked up the mud.

We returned to Castleton on Arthur's Way which runs alongside the road from Speedwell Cavern, behind which Winnats Pass was still shrouded in mist, even though where we were walking was clear.

As we returned to the village once again it was basking in warm sunshine.

It had been the most beautiful day for being out in the fresh air.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week Nine

 I'm afraid I'm late again with this but there have been lots of little happy moments this week mainly due to the sunny weather, which seems to have abandoned us again, so here are just four little things that have made me smile this week

1. Duck on a wall by the stream at Castleton spotted on our walk up to Speedwell Cavern
2. Llamas near Alton Station on our walk from Oakamoor to Alton (see my last post)
3. Hellebore in the gardens at Felley Priory where we had lunch with friends
4. The reflection of stained glass windows on the box pews in St Edmund's Church, Castleton

I'll tell you more about our walk at Castleton and our visit to Felley Priory in later posts.

Link to the blog where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

A Walk from Oakamoor to Alton

What a great weekend it has been with some lovely spring weather at last!  Yesterday was sunnier and warmer than today but both have been great for getting out and about.  This morning we went for a walk along the disused railway line between Oakamoor and Alton.  Although the trees are still quite brown and leafless there were signs of Spring here and there and we did see some interesting things.  

The paths seemed to have dried out a little and were less muddy than during the wet winter

 The sky was quite blue

 In the distance the towers of Alton TowersTheme Park, closed until mid March.  Usually you can hear the 'roar of the crowd' when you walk near here later in the year.

 There were some interesting reflections in the water which collects at the side of the old railway line.

At this point I spotted Llamas!  'Llamas ahead', I called to Paul who was photographing birds high in the trees and hadn't seen them.  I think for a second he thought I was joking.  We had a little chat with the leader and guide of the llama trekkers who said they were  Llama Adventures based near Uttoxeter.

 The approach to Alton Station.  

The station buildings belong to the Landmark Trust and you can actually stay there.

 We went up the steps and on to the main road into the village of Alton to photograph the castle.

 Alton Castle which is now a Christian youth centre and retreat.

Many of the trees were under water and their roots were probably rotting  away so  there were lots of dead branches covered in fungi.

These two lady riders were enjoying themselves in the sunshine.  I wonder if they met up with the Llamas?

I know I've taken you on this walk before, in September 2009 in fact, so it was time for another visit, here is a link to the post I wrote then