Thursday, March 29, 2018

Scavenger Photo Hunt - March

Joining in once again with the Scavenger Photo Hunt organised by
by Kate at 'I live, I love, I craft, I am me' blog. The word prompts for March are:- 
reading now
black and white
starts with an 'H'
Own choice

Hole - Rabbit hole spotted in the grounds of Beeston Castle, Cheshire, where we visited recently.  We did see a rabbit later on when we took the woodland walk around the castle.  Post about our visit - here.

Making- Paul makes a paper plane from a free downloaded pattern and then tests it outside.

Reading Now - The Sewing Machine by Nathalie Fergie.  I decided to photograph my kindle copy of the book with my Mum's old Singer sewing machine which was made, I found out from its serial number, in 1939 in Clydebank near Glasgow. My Mum would have been twenty three years old when she bought it. The book follows owners of the sewing machine in the title at different times over the last hundred years or so. Talking of generations, I was born when my Mum was thirty four and coincidentally my Mum was born when my Grandma was thirty four. 

Black and White - Swans on the lake at Trentham Gardens, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Starts with an 'H' - load of hay on a waggon driven by a tractor which we followed through Colsterworth and across the flyover which takes you to the other side of the A1.  We were on our way via Colsterworth and Bourne to Spalding in Lincolnshire.

Your own choice - I loved this bright red post box which I saw in the Museum of Iron at Coalbrookdale in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire when we visited the Women of Coalbrookdale exhibition - details here. The post box is called a Penfold postbox after its designer J W Penfold (1828 - 1909).  It is hexagonal in shape and made in cast iron by Cochrane, Grove and Co of Dudley c. 1870.

Follow the link above to find others who are joining in with the Scavenger Photo Hunt this month.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday Miscellany

Time for another Monday Miscellany.
Just a few simple things that have made me smile over the last few days.

Seeing the place I used to work when we paid a visit to Spalding in Lincolnshire last week.  The museum now closes on Mondays and Tuesdays so I couldn't go in.  I had a peep through one of the windows and could see some of the displays had changed since my last visit about five years ago.  When I worked there we were open every day but we did house the Tourist Information office as well and we did have a lot of visitors especially in Spring for the Flower Parade and Flower Festivals during what used to be called 'Tulip Time.'

I was intrigued by this old chair that had been used as a planter for Spring flowers.  It looks as if sphagnum moss has been placed where the seat would have been and that it has been planted much like a hanging basket.  Great idea and good recycling of an old chair.

Tea and Ginger cake at the Emma Bridgewater factory shop cafe. No reason to visit, we didn't buy anything, we just like it there as it is bright, warm and welcoming.

Max our very elderly cat has taken his first steps outside now that the weather is warmer.  He hasn't been out since Autumn last year as his health hasn't been good,in fact, I hadn't expected him to see Spring but there he is doing a tour of his garden before heading back inside again.  He will be 22 years old in April.

 Tomato, courgette and bean seedlings are sprouting in their trays in the conservatory.  It will be a while yet before they go out into the greenhouse, especially as cold weather has been predicted to return in the middle of next week.

 I've just finished reading a book by an author I hadn't come across before, set in modern day Amsterdam.  It took a little while to warm to the main characters but in the end I couldn't put it down.

Have any small seemingly inconsequential things made you smile recently?

I'll be back later this week for March's Scavenger Photo Hunt.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Beeston Castle

A couple of weeks ago we decided to visit Beeston Castle which is near Tarporley in Cheshire.  We had visited before but quite long time ago and passing the signs to the castle on our way up to Chester recently made us want to to visit again.
First things first we sat in the car and drank warm coffee from flasks we'd brought with us, watching others arrive, park and wander into the property via the Victorian Gatehouse.  It was quite windy so hats, scarves and gloves were required before venturing up to the ruins.

Where to go first, Castle, Woodland Walk or Caves?  
We decided to go to the top of the hill first. As we walked up the wind got more and more blustery.  The first section of ruined walls you come to is the outer curtain wall and gatehouse.

We decided as it was windy to head on to the top of the hill just in case it got any worse, a couple of times I felt as if my feet may be lifted off the ground. I'm not a lover of wind and really dislike wearing hats, except perhaps a wide brimmed sun hat in summer, but I was so glad I'd pulled on a woolly hat before we left the car park.

Halfway there, it was quite a trek up to the top with no shelter from what now felt like gales.
We got as far as the modern bridge which takes you through the inner gatehouse and into the inner bailey.

The castle dates from c1220 and was built by Ranulf, Earl of Chester incorporating the banks and ditches of an Iron Age hill fort.  The inner ward has a very rocky base and there is no evidence of any major buildings like a great hall or kitchens.  There are remains of fireplace in what would have been the accommodation area for the constable who looked after the castle on behalf of the owner.  The well, which was first recorded in 1230 , is said to be one of the deepest of any to be found in any castle in England.  It is also said to be the hiding place of Richard II's treasure which legend has it was buried here in 1399.
The views from the top of the rocky crag are stunning. Apparently on clear days you can see upwards of thirty miles in all directions and across eight counties.  The castle was seized by Henry III in 1237 and it remained the property of the crown until the 16th century.  During the English Civil War the Royalists took the castle from the Parliamentarians in 1643 by 1644 it became imperative that the Parliamentarian forces regain the castle so in 1644 began the siege.  The Royalists held out until November 1645 before finally surrendering to the Parliamentarian forces after the nearby Battle of Rowton Heath.  There is a small exhibition in the gatehouse where relics of both the Bronze and Iron age can be seen as well as artifacts from the Civil War period of occupation.

Above, several of the features to be spotted in the inner ward of the castle where we had to hold on to each other at times as it felt  we would blow over the walls.

We walked back down the hill to the start of the woodland walk.  This takes you all around the outside of the castle.

It was a lovely walk, sheltered from the wind

The woodland is apparently a haven for birds and mammals.  We did see a rabbit, I make a note of this as it is very rare to see a rabbit nowadays. Up until a few years ago we used to see fields full of bunnies on our walks. 

There were many crows overhead but we didn't see the peregrine falcons mentioned on the website, buzzards were absent too.

At the end of the walk we came across the caves which are according to the leaflet a haven for bats and recently a rare species of bat, the Lesser Horseshoe bat has been found roosting in the caves by members of the Cheshire Bat Group.

The caves are fenced off but you can peer into the mossy,  cobwebby sandstone entrances.

Apparently the caves were caused by the work of stone quarrying in the 18th century. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit especially the wonderful views - we spotted the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in the distance - and the woodland walk but it was good to get back to the shelter of the car and to wend our way home again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Welcome and a Farewell

Time to Welcome Spring

Daffodils blowing in the breeze at the side of the road, a warmer temperature in the air after our second bout of snow, bird song in the mornings, birds flying overhead with twigs in their beaks.  Buds on the shrubs and trees in the garden, also in the garden the first signs of wild garlic but no frog spawn in the pond as yet where only newts have been spotted so far.  I saw some wood anemones on our walk last week too.  Today we hit the heady heights of 7.5°C outdoors and we've turned the heating down a degree or two indoors.

I saw my first Comma butterfly of the year on Monday but probably not where you would expect.  We had travelled, part of the way in snow, to Spalding in Lincolnshire to attend the funeral and thanksgiving service of a dear friend, a friend of over thirty years.  Her funeral was held on what would have been her ninety third birthday.  She loved her town of Spalding and was proud of her Huguenot ancestry, she was a well known and loved figure in the town and the numbers in church reflected that.  As we sat awaiting the start of the service a bright orange butterfly flew up into the air, dancing above the heads of all of us, her friends, gathered there to say farewell.  It soared up into the dust motes highlighted by the sun which suddenly came streaming through the windows, its rays slanting down onto the stone slabbed floor. What a strange yet beautiful thing to see.

Above scenes from around Spalding the town our friend loved so much.

When we got home the snow we'd had all weekend had disappeared and today we were able to get out into the garden and start the clearing up needed after winter.  So farewell Winter, farewell dear friend and welcome Spring.  This weekend we must 'spring' forward into British Summer Time, the clocks will go forward an hour,  Spring is on the way!

Friday, March 09, 2018

In Coalbrookdale

Today we drove down to the Shropshire village of Coalbrookdale and The Museum of Iron to see the new installation there.

Across the green outside the Museum of Iron are thirty seven silhouette figures of the women who worked in the industries in and around Coalbrookdale and who, on 6th February 1918, became eligible to vote in parliamentary elections for the first time.

Just thirty seven out of the one hundred and sixty women working in the ceramic and iron industries in the region were granted the right to vote.  Of those thirty seven only thirteen had the right to vote in their own right the others were allowed a vote because their husband's status qualified him to vote.

Women could only vote if they were over thirty years old or if they or their husband owned a certain amount of property.  The right of all men and women aged twenty one and over to vote took another ten years and was finally achieved when the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 was passed.

The silhouettes looked wonderful spread out across the green in front of the Museum of Iron.  Each one has the name of a woman worker and their job description.

It was quite sobering to walk amongst them and think about how hard they would have worked.  Some of the job descriptions of the women were many and varied, encaustic tile maker, mosaicist, pipe maker, tobacco pipe packer, gold burnisher and china print transferer to name but a few sound like skilled and repetitive work.  The women's ages ranged from thirty years old to the eldest, Emma Glaze who was 77 and a ground layer at the Coalport factory, this is a part of the decorating process by which an application of one overall colour is added to an object before decoration, it was usually done for the better class of wares.

In 1918 Emma Austin was sixty two years old and a paintress at the Coalport China Factory.  She could vote because of her husband's status and yet painting fine china and ceramics is very skilled work. In 1911 Emma was fifty five and living at 49 High Street, Coalport with her husband Henry a carter at the pottery factory and her daughter Florrie who was an apprentice paintress.  Emma and Henry had eight children four of whom had survived.

Here is a link to more information about the installation and  the thirty seven women who could vote and also about the one hundred and thirty+  who still didn't have the right to a vote. I think I heard mention on the local news that the exhibition is on view until the end of summer.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Into March

The calendar on the kitchen wall tells me it's March but the weather outside seems to think otherwise.  It's not so unusual I suppose, over the years I've known snow in March and April, so I shouldn't be surprised.

I forgot to say 'White Rabbits' on Thursday morning!  As the wind was howling around the house and tossing the trees around I thought that March had certainly come roaring in like the lion so I'm keeping my fingers crossed it will go out like a lamb.

 As I looked out of the upstairs windows on the front and the back it wasn't a day for leaving the house.

  We've been staying indoors, just a couple of walks down into the town for things like milk and a newspaper.  We've also been sitting and watching the visitors to the garden and we've been putting out extra food for them all.

The female fox, one of last year's cubs,

visited during the snow storm.

Chaffinch up to his stomach in snow

Red Wing- a very unusual visitor to the garden, we had a visit from one today.  I wonder if it was the same one?

Squirrel watching his friend

who was tempted by the extra bird food we'd put out for the birds.
A pair of Dunnocks


Mistle Thrush another unusual visitor to the garden we usually just have song thrushes.

On the coldest and windiest day loads of starling settled in the trees nearby.



 All the above photos have been taken through windows at varying times over the last couple of days.  The snow is still with us but is receding in patches around the garden and colour is showing through again.

We have decided to stay indoors today.  I have a basket of ironing to tackle and perhaps a bit of baking.  I have a lovely new magazine to enjoy and two good books.  I've nearly finished reading The Chillbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan and have enjoyed every minute of reading it.  I also have the latest Elly Griffiths Dr Ruth Galloway novel from the library which I will move onto next.

Sometimes it's not so bad staying in after all.  What are you doing this weekend?