Saturday, October 31, 2015

Photo Scavenger Hunt - October

Where has October gone?  It has been a lovely month, wonderful seasonal colours and mostly quite warm and dry but I was halfway through the month and realised that I hadn't thought about taking photos for the hunt. Last week I managed to get some photos locally at Middleport Pottery where we called for refreshment after a canal side walk and also a few at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire on our way to visit someone in hospital. So I'm happy to be 
 joining in with the October Photo Scavenger Hunt kindly organised by greenthumb at Made with Love  just click on the link  to find other participants.


There is a question at the bottom of this information board near the Pater Noster lift at Middleport Pottery, Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.


A piece of Leeds Creamware in the shop at Middleport Pottery


We sat at table number five for our coffee in the cafe at Middleport Pottery


A lattice pattern on the staircase to the 'little castle' at Bolsover Castle, Bolsover, Derbyshire. 


Smoke coming from chimneys is a familiar sight from my childhood, you don't see it often these days.  This is the little station at Consall on the Churnet Valley Steam Railway, Staffordshire.  I could also have used the photos of Bolsover castle as familiar because I grew up in a village just a couple of miles away and the castle on its hill is a familiar site.


In the visitor centre in Middleport pottery they have telephones on the desks that ring as you approach them, you can answer and press numbers to listen to the memories of people who used to work there.

 A wet garden as seen through our kitchen window - this is my view as I stand washing the pots.


Looking down
 from the castle walls into the garden at Bolsover Castle.


Lovely handwriting on the notes and receipts in the letter racks at the visitor centre at Middleport Pottery.


There were lots of little fallen crab apples on the ground as we walked locally  at the Consall Nature Reserve.


A broken tree at Consall Nature Reserve

Whatever you Want

Beautiful Copper Beech tree at Bolsover Castle, Bolsover, Derbyshire. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been taking photos of this month.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Five on Friday

It's Friday so I'm joining in with  Amy at Love Made my Home for this week's Five on Friday.  Click on the link at the bottom of this post to find others who are joining in too.

Spotted this week whilst out and about with my camera

 1.  A lovely row of autumnal trees in the local park last Saturday.

 2.  Swans pulling weed out of the lake at Trentham Gardens, we wondered what they were going to do with it. 

 3.  Kestrel on a post at Consall Nature Reserve, spotted as we were on a walk there on Sunday.

4.  An unusual creation which is part of the 'Home Ground' exhibition at Middleport Pottery, Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent - we called in for a look around and a coffee after our walk along the canal on Monday. 

5. A steam train running along the line on the Churnet Valley Railway as we walked in the Consall Country Park on Sunday morning.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Miscellany

For this Monday's Miscellany here are a few things we have seen and heard over the last week or two.



 Recently we went to see a play called 'The Gift of Stones'.  Set in the Neolithic period it was adapted by Nobby Dimon for The North Country Theatre from the novel by Jim Crace.  This was a wonderful performance and tells the tale of 'the stonies', one of whom loses an arm as a child and unable to knapp flint to make tools for bartering with other tribes becomes the community story teller.  Apparently the actors took instruction in flint knapping from the expert John Lord, whom I featured in a post a few years ago - here.  The stonies are safe for a while but soon a ship comes from over the sea with shiny arrows made from a strange new material called copper which will eventually sound the death knell of flint and stone working and change lives and communities forever. I thoroughly enjoyed the play but it wasn't without its strange moments.  Firstly, I hope the person who fainted towards the end of the first half of the play wasn't hurt.  There was such a big bump from the back of the room and the actors one by one stopped as the lights came on;  the director went to the back of the hall to see what was amiss and then uttered those immortal lines 'is there a doctor in the house' and indeed there was and she ministered to whoever was ill.  The show carried on about twenty minutes later.  During the second half someones mobile phone went off, someone else dropped something with another thud - not as loud as the fainting thud though - and just towards the end I heard a glass break.  I felt sorry for the  actors but being a community theatre they interact with the audience before and after the performance selling programmes and walking around and chatting to you as you take yours seats so they dealt with all these distractions with great aplomb, a case of keep calm and carry on I think.

We also went to see the film Suffragette, which was an amazing and very moving with wonderful performances from a talented and powerful cast.  It is quite bleak and shocking too in the way the women were treated both at home and in the workplace and the violence they put up with during their struggle to be heard was vividly depicted and the end moved me to tears.  What did surprise me though was, given that it was an afternoon rather than an evening showing, there were only seven of us in the auditorium.  I didn't expect it to be full but I did think there might have been  quite a few more folks in there, it seems such a shame as I think it should be seen by far more people.  Above a bit of memorabilia that I have collected from various exhibitions over the years.


The Saturday before last we went to the old Spode Factory, in the heart of the town of Stoke which is one of the six towns which make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent.  When we first moved here nearly twenty years ago this factory was still a going concern now it is closed.  Portmeirion took on the Spode name and the echoes of former pottery workers are heard all over the open spaces and empty units.  I remember going on a factory tour here, there was a wonderful Museum and cafe.  There is still a small Visitor Centre and the staff there are enthusiastic and helpful.  The real reason for our visit was to see an exhibition which has, for just a few short weeks, brought the old factory back to life again.

Advertised as '1 Festival, 6 weeks, over 75 artists, free' the British Ceramics Biennial is well worth a visit.  We arrived just after 11a.m. and headed straight for coffee first.  

This was provided by 'Bread in Common', a community bakery served under yurt type structures.  There was plenty of choice and we chose coffee and fruit cake.  We were given an African animal (a zebra) to take to our table instead of a number.  I noticed the people close by us had a tiger and later visitors an elephant.  Both coffee and cake were delicious.  Suitably refreshed we started on our way around the large open plan area of the exhibition.

Bread in Common to the left, exhibition shop to the right

Plenty of space for people to wander.

The Campanologist's Tea Cup a sound sculpture by Ingrid Murphy - you are asked to flick the tea cup quite hard with your fingers and the sound resonates through each funnel.  This link will show you how it works and what it sounds like.

'Life, Death and that moment in between' by James Duck, a ceramics vending machine which dispenses pottery rather than chocolate bars - the pottery can break as it is dispensed of course.

Resonate by Stephen Dixon and Johnny Magee a clay and sound installation which commemorates WWI.  You can add a china flower and message into the exhibition in remembrance of lost ancestors.

A few more of the exhibits on display, I could do with visiting again before the exhibition closes on the 8th November.



A couple of books by Kate Ellis.  I always enjoy her Wesley Peterson Murder Mysteries as, like the novels of Elly Griffiths, they combine archaeology and history with the who done it side of the book and the past always intertwines with the present to solve the mystery.  Kate Ellis also writes the DI Joe Plantagenet series too, again history is the key to the modern day mysteries.  The Wesley Peterson books are set in and around the fictional town of Tradmouth which is loosely based on Dartmouth in Devon and the DI Joe Plantagenet novels are set in the historic Yorkshire town of Eborby which is very like the city of York. 

Thank you all very much for your comments on my last post and I will get round to answering them later today.....I hope!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Five on Friday

It's Friday so I'm joining in with  Amy at Love Made my Home for this week's Five on Friday.  Click on the link at the bottom of this post to find others who are joining in too.

 We have done quite a bit a driving out and about into Derbyshire recently and I've enjoyed seeing all the autumnal colour along the way.  The early afternoons have been golden with bright sunshine enhancing the copper colour of the trees and the fallen leaves along the footpaths.  Sometimes we have driven along through leaves descending as thick as snowflakes.  Travelling home in the evenings we have watched the copper and gold fade from the trees and hedgerows to be taken up by the sky as the setting sun sends out streaks of golden yellow across its fading blue  which soon turns to grey with black clouds lining the horizon making them look like separate lands, small, inaccessible islands miles away.  As the sky turns grey so does the land, the green fields take on an ashen hue and the gold and copper trees turn black in the gathering gloom.  Of course driving along I haven't taken any photos but the images of sunsets and nightfall are clear in my mind.  

Yesterday on our way home from visiting my sister in hospital, rather then head through the town of Chesterfield, we cut across country and stopped for a while to look at the ruins of Sutton Scarsdale Hall and to take in the views across the M1 motorway and to the stately Bolsover Castle on its hill.

Below are five photos I took whilst we were there with five facts about the hall. 

The remains of the rather grandiose Baroque style Georgian Hall are Grade 1 listed. 

The Hall was built between 1724 and 1729 by the architect Francis Smith of Warwick who successfully incorporated the remains of the old hall which dated back to 1469 within the new structure.

It was built for the 4th Earl of Scarsdale and many notable craftsmen worked on the interior including wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons.  The cost of the all the work took its toll on the Scarsdale family and in the 19th century they sold it to  descendants of the industrialist and mill owner Richard Arkwright, whose factories we passed on our way home through Matlock Bath and Cromford.

In 1919 the Arkwright family sold it to a firm of asset strippers.  Three of the rooms still exist and are in the Museum of Art in Philadelphia.  Another wood panelled room is in the Huntington Library in California.

The ruins of the hall were saved from demolition by Sir Osbert Sitwell, of nearby Renishaw Hall, who bought it in 1946.  In the 1970s the Sitwell family persuaded the Department of the Environment to take it into their guardianship.  It is now looked after by English Heritage.  The medieval church next to the ruins is dedicated to St Mary.

Below are five more photos of some of the details around the ruins.

It's time for coffee then I have a doctor's appointment so I'll catch up with you all later today.

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Five on Friday

It's Friday so I'm joining in with  Amy at Love Made my Home for this week's Five on Friday.  Click on the link at the bottom of this post to find others who are joining in too.

Firstly, thank you all very much for your lovely comments on my last week's Five on Friday post and also on my September Photo Scavenger Hunt post.  Apologies if I didn't get back to all of you.  There are one or two of you I can't leave comments with as I am asked to register with google plus which I don't want to do but I have answered the comments you left on the relevant posts on here.

Right onwards we go to this week's five.........

Five things that have made me smile this week

 1. Dahlias - we spent a lovely sunny afternoon at Biddulph Grange Gardens which is our most local National Trust place to visit.  The flowers in Mrs Bateman's Dahlia walk were beautiful.  Here are just a few of them. 

2.  By mid week the rain had returned but we somehow managed a dry walk around the lake at Trentham.  There were some new installations by Fantasy Wire along the way.

 Edit 4.30p.m. - I've added an extra photo to show the size of the dandelions as one or two people have asked what size they are - you can tell from the lady in the white coat that they are quite tall.

3. Butterflies in our garden - above a tortoiseshell on Sedum and below a Red Admiral on Verbena Bonariensis.   

These late flowering plants have been covered in butterflies on the afternoons we've had some sun.

4. Seasonal Food - tomatoes - the last from the greenhouse, English apples, carrots and figs from the supermarket.  Curly Kale and courgettes from the kitchen garden at Biddulph Grange - money in the honesty box,  50 pence a bag.  Below carrot soup and onion bread.

The warm soup was very welcome after our walk around the lake at Trentham.

5.  Reflections - we visit Biddulph Grange in each season every year and I have written many blog posts about it but it never ceases to enchant me.  The reflections in the fish pond and the lake in the Chinese garden were spectacular in the dappled light from the sun.

I'll be popping by to visit you all later today.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Five on Friday

It's Friday so I'm joining in with  Amy at Love Made my Home for this week's Five on Friday.  Click on the link at the bottom of this post to find others who are joining in too.

Five things we spotted on a recent walk in a local country park.  It was certainly seasonal weather we started our walk in damp, dewy mist and finished it in bright sunlight and clear blue skies.

1.  Fly Agaric toadstools - there were loads of them in various states of development and decay.  I love to see their bright colour at this time of year.

2. Cobwebs - loads of these too glistening in the dewy hedges and shrubs.

3. Fluffy seed heads - mostly on the Willow Herb and thistles but on other plants too.

4.  Woodlands and Autumnal leaves - I love walking under trees, we spotted and heard jays in here, they are too quick and shy to photograph though.

5.  Other types of Fungi - not sure what all these are but I love seeing and taking photographs of them.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.