Friday, July 29, 2022

This and That

I've found my Mum and Dad on the 1921 Census available on Find My Past. I've just realised that makes me sound very old and perhaps I am at 71 (a month away from 72) although I don't feel it, well perhaps I have just a little recently. I was a late baby for them.  My father was born in 1909 and my mother in 1916.  My father would have been a young child of 5 or 6 when WWI broke out and my mother was born in the middle year of the conflict.  Two world wars in their lifetime.

On Ancestry UK they have refined and advanced DNA results so that we are now able to see which parent may have given us our genetic background.

As you can see from the above I have 85% Western Europe - English East Midlands and Potteries,  8% Scotland, 3% Sweden and Denmark, 2% Norway and 2% Wales in my genetic make up.

A new feature of the DNA survey is the breakdown of the ethnicity inherited from each parent. 

From this they can determine which parent gave you which regions in their genes if you know of ancestors from these regions.  I know I have a 3 x great grandfather from Scotland on my mother's side so I think parent one in the diagram above is my mother.  I find it all quite fascinating.

Talking of the Potteries, where we have lived for around twenty five years, I read in a recent copy of 'Amateur Gardening' magazine that this year Stoke-on-Trent is one of the top five 'wildlife rich' cities in the UK. How wonderful.  The others are Bristol, Leicester, Reading and Edinburgh. The data is from the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.  

Also in Stoke-on-Trent, Hanley Park in the city centre has been given a Green Flag Award since its refurbishment over the last few years.  We visited the park a couple of weeks ago to see the changes and I took a few photos. 

It was a very hot Saturday morning so we didn't linger out in the open for too long choosing to head back into the cool of the trees.

The Pavilion which now houses a popular cafe.

The Bandstand and behind it the bridge over the Caldon Canal.  The Caldon Canal meets with the Trent and Mersey Canal at Etruria near the Industrial Museum.  You can walk from the park up the canal towpath to the Museum.

Flower borders along the Terrace.

More details - here - about the award.

I've been reading quite a lot recently.  I've listed them on the blog pages above.  My last read was another Bill Slider novel by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.  I enjoy these as they are always amusing as well as interesting.  I've also found a couple of interesting new series of books.  A series called The Kipper Cottage Mysteries set in Whitby by Jan Durham which are classed a 'cosy' mysteries on the library website.  I've also read the first three of a series set in coastal Lincolnshire by Jack Cartwright.  A little further south in Lincolnshire is where Joy Ellis sets her novels and I've just read the latest of her Matt Ballard series.

A Muder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood Lovett is the first of a new series feauturing ecologist Dr Nell Ward.  These are also classed as 'cosy' mysteries.

I have five books reserved at the library 'Serpent's Point' by Kate Ellis, 'Godmersham Park' by Gill Hornby, 'Thrown' by Sara Cox, 'Murder before Evensong' by The Rev Richard Coles and 'The Ink Black Heart' by Robert Galbraith.

I can see by the number of people waiting for each book which one will be available first.  I'll let you know.

Hope you all have a good weekend.

Sunday, July 24, 2022


There is nothing nicer when the weather is warm than to get out early in the morning and to walk beside a  local waterway.  We've done this twice over the last few days. Having spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at home because of the heat it was good to get out and about again.

On Wednesday we went to the nearby town of Stone and after shopping and a quick coffee at the canal side M&S Food we took a short walk along the towpath.
The Trent and Mersey Canal passes through the town.

It starts at Shardlow in Derbyshire and ends at Preston Brook in Cheshire passing through Staffordshire on its way.  It joins with the River Mersey via the Bridgewater canal.
Built originally to link the Rivers Trent and Mersey it reaches  the River Trent at Derwent Mouth just six miles from Shardlow.
The locks were busy with vessels waiting their turn on either side.  People were heading to the shops to buy supplies whilst waiting, others walking their dogs along the towpath.  Most boats seemed to have a dog on board either sitting patiently or walking backwards and forwards along the top of the boats.
We walked along the towpath and past a couple of locks.

I loved all the vegetation growing in and around these lock gates.
The same lock from the other side.

The footbridge over the canal which takes you into the town centre.
The view from the footbridge.  We returned to our car which was parked in the M&S car park this way.  It was a fairly short but interesting and lively walk.

Yesterday we visited the local farm shop to buy birdfood.  It is being consumed quite rapidly at the moment, mostly into the tummies of squirrels rather than birds. I was pleased to see this week that the long tailed tits had returned to the garden to feed on the fat balls.  We also had a very hungry badger in the garden on Wednesday,  I suspect it couldn't get worms from the soil in the very hot weather.
We moved on from there just a couple of miles to walk along the riverside on the Wedgwood Estate at Barlaston.

This walk was completely opposite to the first one as it was peaceful and quiet with hardly a soul in sight.  A place of tranquility rather than a hive of activity.

The River Trent meanders its way through the area.  It starts as a small trickle from its source just north of the Potteries on Biddulph Moor.  It is quite small as it passes through Stoke-on-Trent.
As it grows wider it passes through Burton-on-Trent, Nottingham, Newark-on-Trent and then up to Gainsborough. From here it joins the River Ouse and the River Humber estuary and thence into the North Sea.
Imagine all those boats and all that industry over the centuries, but here the river is tranquil although not far from the Wedgwood factory and close to the Trent and Mersey Canal as well as the main railway line between Manchester and London.

The walk was delightful under the over hanging branches of the willow trees.  Butterflies and bees hovered above Rosebay willow herb flowers and other vegetation.  I hoped that we may see dragonflies by the river as well but they were absent this time.

This little Skipper was the only insect that would stay still long enough for me to take a photograph.

Two lovely walks in places of leisure that would formerly have been areas of hard work and industry.

All for now.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

In the Garden

It has been so warm over the last week and more expected next week too.  We've stayed in and around  home with a couple of early morning outings for a short walk, well a very slow stroll in my case as the heat earlier in the week affected me quite badly.

In the garden some plants are struggling with the heat, bird baths and feeders need refilling every day and the pond is getting shallow and it will soon have to be topped up for the newts. The water butt is emptying fast. The lillies love the sun I like the way they open up during the day and fold up tight again in the evening.

Other flowers opening up this weeks are



and Dahlias.
 The Sweet peas are still doing well 
so are the Cosmos flowers
A lone Hollyhock has appeared near the fence probably self seeded.

In the green house and raised beds vegetables seem to be doing well.





We had an unusal moth settle on the window.  It stayed for ages warming itself in the sun.  Paul thinks it is a Box Tree moth which could be bad news for people nearby with any Box hedges or trees.  More - here -from the Butterfly Conservation site.

All for now.  I'll get around to reading your new posts over the weekend.



Wednesday, July 06, 2022

More about Bolingbroke Castle

 It was a warm, sunny afternoon when we visited.  The site was deserted so we had the place to ourselves.  The castle seemed hard to find.  We passed through Old Bolingbroke twice but then discovered we had missed a sign in the centre of the village and eventually, down a very narrow lane, we found the entrance by the lovely old cottage below.

The site is maintained by English Heritage.

The plan below shows the layout of the castle.  Most of the information boards were faded and hard to photograph.

The plan is based on discoveries made during excavations carried out between 1965 and 1973.  The great hall and kitchens have since been re-buried to protect them.

Above the view across the castle mound from the entrance we used. 
 The castle was built c. 1220 for Ranulf de Blundeville , Earl of Chester and Lincoln after his return from the Crusades.  It was one of three castles built for him the others being Beeston Castle in Cheshire and Chartley in Staffordshire.

Remains of the Auditor's Tower.
As I mentioned in my last post the castle was eventually inherited through his first marriage  by John of Gaunt the third son of Edward III.  He married Blanche, the daughter of Henry of Grosmont, the first Duke of Lancaster.  Blanche and her sister Maud were born at Bolingbroke Castle. 
Site of the Kitchen Tower
Henry of Bolingbroke later King Henry IV, the son of John of Gaunt and his wife Blanche was born at the castle in 1367.

During the 15th and 16th centuries the castle was used as an administrative centre for the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster.  Hence there being an Auditor's Tower and a Receiver's Tower.
The gatehouse towers by the main entrance to the castle.  These towers contained rooms for the guards and storerooms below.  These storerooms were later used as holding cells for prisoners awaiting trial at Bolingbroke Court house.

Again, as I also mentioned in my previous post, in the 17th century, during the Civil War, the castle was besieged and later destroyed by Parliamentarian troops. Below part of the castle moat.
When first built the castle was an enclosure castle, a typical 13th century castle, which had a courtyard within the curtain walls where there would have been timber framed structures including a Great Hall and service buildings as seen in the illustration below.
Below is a view from the Auditor's tower of the Rout Yard apparently there are several earthworks in the field and also the fishpond.

All for now. I hope you have enjoyed this little tour.