crEAting Christmas…day 16

A little of my favourite music while you read this…

Hathersage HathersageDay 16 – Sunday – we woke up to an unexpectedly bright and sunny day here – we really had plenty of jobs to do; my Advent task was to make some tiny mince pies to take in for the girls at my old workplace sometime during the week, but instead we left all that at home and drove down into Derbyshire for a bit of a break and the mince pies would just have to wait.  Of course we had been the weekend before with my mum but it was difficult to really do very much or spend any time looking around the shops and there was a couple of gifts I needed to sort out and I knew just the places for some inspiration.

We packed the usual picnic and set off – this time we drove up high above Hathersage to sit and eat our lunch in the car whilst admiring the stunning view – just us and the sheep.  Bliss.

Then on to the David Mellor cutlery factory just outside of Hathersage where they have a shop with the most beautiful (and expensive) kitchen and tableware.  As well as the unusual round building that houses the cutlery factory there is also the museum where you can see all his wonderful design pieces.  Like me he was born in Sheffield and was well-known for his metal work specialising in cutlery.  If I ever had enough money to splash out I would buy a set of his original Pride silver plate cutlery with the white ivory coloured knife handles only £136 per place setting of 6 pieces and the cute little Embassy sterling silver toast rack only £750.  Of course I have made sure DH knows of my desire to own these should he ever find himself with a little spare cash.

David Mellor is also famous for his industrial design of a few recognisable pieces of metal work that you will no doubt see everyday.  Here are a few of them laid out in his outdoor museum in front of the shop.David Mellor designs Sadly he died in 2009 but the work he has left behind still stands the test of time. If you want to see and read more click-through here.

Even though we cannot afford most of his products I just love to browse around the shop, especially as it is all displayed like a piece of artwork.  This is actually the window display from last year which I preferred to this year’s snowman.David MellorAs you might expect the shop only stocks quality linen tea towels and amongst them I found these old-fashioned oven gloves which I bought as they were only £6 – I have been searching for ages to replace mine as they have developed a hole from overuse –  I like them to be quite soft and flexible as I do not get on well with those quilted stiff ones.  These passed the test for flexibility.Oven glovesOn our way to Bakewell we stopped off at the pretty little village of Baslow.  There are a couple of independent shops selling gifts and plants and vintage finds.  In the vintage flower shop we came across a round zinc tub perfect for holding our Christmas tree and at a very reasonable price (photo later when I take one of the finished tree).  We then stopped briefly at the Derbyshire Craft centre looking for a small gift that would be light enough to post, but nothing really fit the bill.

By the time we reached Bakewell most of the shops were closing and it was going dark but it was the best time to have a walk around, see the lights and soak up the Christmas atmosphere – everywhere has that old-fashioned Christmas card feel – streets lined with little stone cottages adorned with wreaths and pretty decorations and curtains left open inviting you to peep inside; all that was lacking was a sprinkling of snow.Bakewell - OldBakewell Nativity The huge Nativity scene outside the church on the hill is certainly something to see – we climbed up through the grave yard to capture this photo – I wasn’t sure it would come out very well but it has.

There is another Nativity scene in a little glass case in the gardens down in the town centre just at the right height for children to be able to see inside easily and it brought back memories of when I was a child and would run up to similar display cases pressing my nose up against the cold glass for a better look.  Bakewell NativityWe had a ‘perfick’ day – I do love doing something impulsive from time to time just as the mood takes us and we chose a good day to do it  – and I did manage to fit in the mince pies the following day – photos tomorrow. x

 

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mEAndering…a detour en route to our cottage

On our journey up to Scotland on Thursday we crossed the Scottish border and decided to look for somewhere to pull off the road to have our packed lunch; so we took a detour through Gretna town centre (about 5 shops!) and out on the tourist route (avoiding the busy A75), ending up at Dornock a tiny village about 6 miles down the road. Not to be confused with Dornoch.

We randomly chose a road to turn into to the left of the main village road (Church Road) and stumbled upon this little church.  After eating our sandwiches I went off to explore.DornockDornock ChurchAt first glance it wasn’t obvious that the church was still in use but further investigation told me it probably was (and of course Google helped later).  It is a listed church dedicated to St Marjory and built in 1793 on the site of the initial medieval church that was knocked down and of which there are no remains.

The church forms a T shape, built of sneck harled rubble (I got that off Google – I am no expert on stones!), the porches were added on at a later date. It has round-headed windows and two of them are stained with glass designed by Ballantine and Gardiner of Glasgow (in 1843 they won a competition to design windows for the new Houses of Parliament, although in the event they only provided some windows for the House of Lords).  We couldn’t go in the church to see the windows but they look quite intricate from outside and the windows are covered in that shatter proof plastic sheet so they must be quite important.

The bellcote, also added later in 1855, and which I inadvertently chopped the top off in the photo has no bell as strangely the bell lies in the Sanctuary at the doorway of another church in Bowness on Solway; taken by the English in retaliation for the Scots pinching their bell which now lies in the Solway!  A bit of tit for tat.One of the things that struck me wandering around the graveyard is firstly that it is such a wild yet beautiful graveyard, so peaceful with a view that stretches over to the Solway estuary in the background.  The second thing is the sheer size of all these 18th Century grave stones that are packed into this graveyard and almost towered above me and more resembled one of those large city cemeteries than a tiny parish church. All around the graves the grass was long underfoot and difficult to walk over with mounds and clumps entwined with brambles.These two graves I came across are a sad reminder of how children often died young through infectious diseases that couldn’t be cured back then and how some families lost more than one child at the same time with the same illness.  This was written on the gravestones…

Here lyes
Jannet Turnbull
Daughter of Robert Turn
bull in closhead who Died May
30th 1775 Aged 11 Months
& John Turnbull son of the said
Robert Who Died Janry 11th 1784
Aged 8 years
Also Mary Turnbull Daughter
of the above who Died Janry 28th
1784 Aged 1 year & 6 Months

The stone on the right is simply inscribed:-
Here lyes Thomas
son to John Turn
bull in Longland
Who died young

On the back:-
John Turnbull
who died 1792
Aged 78 years

What a truly peaceful place to sit and ponder on life…

What a shame we couldn’t linger any longer but we will go back as I have read on Google that somewhere amongst all those grave stones are 3 Hogbacked gravestones (carved stones) with Viking links from when the pre-reformation Medieval church was in use and I am curious to see these now.

I also learnt from the internet that there is a Watchnight Service at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve – how I would have loved to be up here to go to that.

From the peace of the countryside we headed back to the A75 calling in at Castle Douglas for a chip butty tea and then on to the sleepy backwater market town of Newton Stewart to buy food from the only Sainsburys for miles.  They had just had their new Christmas lights switched on – my goodness they have really pushed the boat out this year!Newton Stewart Christmas LightsI love that row of stars strung across the main street.  Tomorrow we are going into Stranraer to watch the Christmas parade and switching on of the lights in the town centre and see these Three Wise Men on their camels.  Can’t wait.

Our little village here usually has a Christmas tree but no signs of one yet – perhaps they are growing it still!

dEAr diary…an unexpected day out

Do you ever have one of those days that doesn’t go to plan – I expect everyone does.  It wasn’t that yesterday turned out to be a bad day just different to what I had intended.  Last night I should have been sitting down pleased with myself for cleaning the freezer or making all the selection bags, but in the end I did neither – instead we had a trip to the Trafford centre to John Lewis to pick up a present for my daughter.

We were going to order this gift on-line but then changed our minds as we preferred to see what we were buying.  I am told that the 10th anniversary is tin so we have bought her a lovely handmade dragon-fly picture frame by Lancaster and Gibbings that is made of hammered or pressed pewter (which is a metal alloy of up to 99% tin).  We will put her a temporary picture in of Little L and Sweetie until we can take one that fits the space properly.After we had purchased the photo frame we of course had to have a browse around the store looking at all the beautiful things on display.  I could easily have indulged myself and one or two things might just go on my Secret Santa wish list.

Tonight DH is out at one of his music concerts, a new piece of work by contemporary composer Rebecca Saunders.  This kind of music is really not to my taste it often pushes the boundaries of music and can be creative to the extent that it is very strange.  But he enjoys it and Huddersfield is the UK’s largest international festival of new and experimental music.

I actually like having the house to myself for a few hours – I might even watch a Christmas film on the True Christmas channel – something light-hearted and funny.  I might even give myself a home pedicure after all that tramping up and down the shopping mall.

Today we head off again for North Yorkshire our second home at the moment!

Incidentally, in respect of my daughter’s wedding day (that I wrote about in my last but one post see here) which was on a Friday ten years ago in Masham town hall;  we heard that Any Questions was broadcast from there on Friday night so lucky for us the venue was not double booked all those years ago – it was strange enough having the play rehearsal going on at the time we were setting up the hall!!

Have a lovely weekend. x

PS Just a note about the John Lewis staff who are always so on the ball and helpful – they really try hard with their customer service, so thank you John Lewis.

fEAsible…plans for October

October

October –  the beginning of the fourth and final quarter of the year.  So much colour and texture about this month and I had great fun foraging about in the hedgerows collecting foliage.

For me it is a bit of the lull before the storm, the storm being the ‘frenzy’ that sets in around November with the countdown to Christmas.  I want to make the most of this month to prepare for the ‘frenzy’ or at least try to keep the frenzy at bay by putting plans in place early.

Like most people now I am drawing the blinds and curtains early against the darker evenings and struggling with the darker mornings but at least I can look forward to some cosy evenings watching one or two of the new Autumn dramas on TV and a black and white film or two on the Talking Pictures channel.

As the garden will be demanding less and less of my attention once the tidying up is done I am going to use my time indoors to carry on with the major decluttering and creating a better run, more spacious household.

I will be pulling out a few new seasonal recipes to try, and hopefully finding lots of inspiration and ideas to fill both my sketchbook and Christmas notebook, and planning, planning, planning.

It is only 31 days so I will have to work fast on my intentions for this month as there is so much I would like to do. This is the list:-

appEArance

I have been so busy during the summer I feel I have neglected myself . So I have booked a reflexology session and back massage with a voucher I have been given,  a hair appointment and I will treat myself to a DIY home facial, pedicure and manicure

Put the finishing touches to my new streamlined winter wardrobe.

crEAting

Now I am no longer working I want to use some of my new-found time filling my sketchbook with ideas and drawings and creating a lino cut for my Christmas card as well as making my Christmas gifts

mEAandering

The Artists book fair in Manchester is back at a new venue – a brilliant event.

I also intend getting out and about locally exploring nearby places closer to home

fEAsting

Meal planning using seasonal vegetables and trying some new supper recipes.  Baking with the last of our home grown apples and buying the ingredients for my Christmas cake in readiness for next month

homestEAd

completing the house exterior, putting new shed in place and planting bulbs

rEAarranging and nEAtening

decluttering the kitchen – the final touches

recycle, reuse, reduce, recover, repair

trEAsury

Dealing with the limited cash flow, maintaining plenty of no spend days and finding free events and outings

managEAble

Starting a new notebook specifically for my Xmas plans and ideas

(thanks to Slamseys Journal for the idea of using the foliage I had collected for my October picture).

 

 

 

 

 

fEAsible…September review

Well September seemed a short month I cannot believe it is over so quickly.  I set my intentions at the beginning of the month – (I find it helps to make a list of what I would like to do in the coming month) – not everything gets done and I don’t always do what I intended – the review helps me to realise that I did actually do something!

sEAsons

As summer moved briskly into autumn it was time to switch over my clothes.  I carefully laundered and packed away the lightweight garments for next year discarding anything that was very worn or in some cases hardly worn at all because they were those inevitable mistake purchases.

I completely emptied and cleaned out the wardrobe and drawers to reorganise the space.   A lot of old favourites put back out on the rail and a few more items relegated to the charity bag – the mistakes from last year!

The finished result is so much better – filled with nice warm snuggly clothes to see me through the winter season – a much simplified collection with space to breathe.  One or two items are still held in that state of temporary pondering whether they stay or go.

homestEAd

Do you have projects  that just seem to rumble on and on  – dealing with the exterior of our house has been one of them and it has taken up most of this year but at last I think we are looking at being watertight this winter.  The rendering of the top half of our house was quite a major job and although the men worked hard and have done a good job there was such a lot of tidying up to do, much more than we anticipated.  The pebble gravel round the house needs taking up, cleaning and putting back down again to get rid of the bits of render that fell into it despite the protective sheet the contractor put down.

Before our trip to Scotland DH was busy washing down the remaining brickwork beneath to remove the tiny splashes of render and re-staining all the windows.  Then he put back the burglar alarm and outside light.  The shed is on order at last, as space is a bit restricted we cannot have one more than 4 feet wide but we have ordered one that is an extra foot long – seven feet instead of the usual six.  It is only an extra foot but sometimes that can make all the difference.

Once the gravel is cleaned the shed should be ready for delivery and by then the compost bins will be back in place (I have so much missed using my compost bins).  All that is left on the exterior list then is to get a new front door and garage door and hire a contractor to redo the driveway.

Then the outside of our house will have had a complete makeover.

mEAndering

I could have spent the whole of September meandering – so many events to choose from and by chance we happened to be in Scotland for the Wigtown Book Fair (post about this to come) some very creative artists on show at the fringe events and an exhibition of miniature books.

Over the Heritage weekend we visited the little chapel in Matlock Dale (you can read about it here) – one of the best days, we really enjoyed it and especially finding the surprise tea room in the woods afterwards.

nEAtening

I love a good declutter, the planning, the cleaning, the clearing and creating more space so I started this job in the kitchen with a burst of enthusiasm.  I have been reordering and moving around, trying to simplify the cupboards so everything is within easy reach and flows better.  I often find that once you start the clearing process and letting things go it is easier to let more go.

I have been using up a lot of the food from the clear out and my food cupboards will soon look like Mother Hubbards.  I don’t plan to restock with any ‘just in case’ food as it was obvious we weren’t using it, maybe keep a tin of beans and a tin of fruit in case of emergencies other than that it will be the usual pantry goods to make a meal or drink; dried pasta, flour, sugar, cereal, coffee and teabags and jars of jam,  sauce, chutney and oil for dressing and cooking etc.

crEAting

In terms of crafting I have ideas but not produced anything substantial yet.  I plan to earmark a day a week to do nothing else and build on that. Autumn is a great time for inspiration and I have collected a few nature bits to sketch and maybe use these to turn into a lino cut.

fEAsting

Sadly my home-grown courgettes are just about finished – completely organic – we really enjoyed them.  This year I grew them from seed rather than buying plants – I had forgotten just how easy they are.

As the weather has become colder we are definitely on warmer meals.  I have been introducing a few more adventurous hot sandwich lunches and also made a start on reducing my recipe clippings – even thrown away a number from my folders that I know I won’t make or I have duplicates of.

rEAding

Plenty of bedtime reading this month.  Mainly on the theme of living simply and discarding.  I particularly love the little book called A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind – it is pure domestic simplicity. Another interesting book which I have had for years is Swimming with Piranha makes you Hungry by Colin Turner – a strange title maybe but full of valuable advice on simplifying. It is good to have a re-read of a book from time to time.

trEAsury

I had the intention during September that I would set out a new budget for our new circumstances.  The budget did not materialise even though it was a high priority on my list – some how I managed to ignore it as sorting out the house inside and out seemed to take over and I just never found the time.  But as you know I have plans for getting down to this and already I am implementing the daily task of recording our finances in the hope that little and often will stop it mounting up.

bEAching

The recent trip to Scotland to our cottage (caravan) was such a rejuvenating time.

We spent time on the beach…time in the garden…

and time out and about in Dunoon, Portpatrick and Wigtown and loved every minute.

In all September was a success for me – perhaps not doing exactly what I had planned and never doing enough, but I look back on the month with a feeling of satisfaction.

I am now working on my October intentions.

Back soon x

mEAndering…out and about on Heritage Weekend

After a few days of sickness I felt well enough to venture out again the weekend before last so we headed off into Derbyshire on the Heritage trail.  I love being able to access places that are not usually open to the general public it is a rare treat and who knows what you might find – it is like opening a lucky bag.

We decided on the Chapel of St John the Baptist at Matlock Dale, built in 1897  of the Arts and Crafts style; designed by the architect Sir Guy Dawber for Mrs Louisa Sophia Harris, the lady of the adjacent large house, as her private chapel.

The Chapel sits high above the dale at Artists Corner – there is no parking on the hillside other than for residents – walking is the only option.  So it was a case of follow the double yellow lined road up quite a steep, windy hill but believe me it is the best way to approach this magnificent building.

On the way we passed the large house that once belonged to Mrs Harris named The Rock – it now has its own private post box at the entrance – for incoming mail I presume!

Just a little further along the lane the spectacular Chapel suddenly comes into sight – towering above us – it may be small but it certainly has a presence.

St John the Baptist Matlock Dale

The Chapel is built upon a rocky terrace above a well so that the sheer natural rock face and man-made building merge together as one.  Surrounded by woodland, which ensures its secrecy, and clothed with trailing ivy, moss and wild flowers it is the most magical, romantic place ever with an air of quiet calm broken only by intermitent birdsong.

You enter the walkway through some very grand gates – almost out of scale with the tiny chapel.

St John the Baptist Matlock Dale

The plaque on the wall by the gate has been placed there by ‘The Friends of the Friendless Churches’ (doesn’t that name tug at the heart strings?), a charity taking on such places to stop them going to rack and ruin. They are now restoring the chapel bit by bit and lovingly care for it once again – I had never heard of this charity before but they are doing such good works up and down the country and it is to their credit that this chapel is being so beautifully restored and might even hold a  few special services again sometime in the near future.

St John the Baptist Matlock Dale

And finally through the gate the first glimpse of the chapel – such a beautiful little building – simple in its design – but intricate in detail – it did not disappoint.

The entrance is protected by a cloister that turns around one side of the chapel with wooden tiles on the roof…

…and candles carved into the stone on either side of the doorways.

Once inside, although a high church intended for Anglo- Catholic worship, it retains a simplistic, cosy feel  – everything has been lovingly crafted from the handmade bricks to the stain glass in the windows.  Mrs Harris had certainly not spared any money on this chapel it is a sheer work of art and she obviously could afford to commission work from the best artists and craftsmen at that time.

At the far end opposite the entrance you look directly upon the magnificent stained glass window designed by Louis Davies.  The panelling around the altar, recently uncovered and restored, has the distinctive Arts and Crafts design and colours.

The whole place has a lovely balance of the ornate and the simple.

The crystal chandeliers were specially commissioned by Mrs Harris and are quite elaborate but this kind of ‘showiness’ would not have normally been thought suitable in a public place of worship.

The soft orange coloured bricks are handmade giving a rustic feel to the place – the plaque with the beautiful Art Nouveau typeface is to commemorate Louisa Harris.

The windowsill in the vestry captures a behind the scenes moment – a bag of crisps, some old lightbulbs, a few candles and the cross.

If you want to read more about this gem just Google St John the Baptist Chapel, Matlock Dale.

After leaving the chapel we noticed a sign on the track opposite saying ‘teas’  and went to explore.  We followed the driveway down for about 50 yards to a clearing in the wood where a little stone cottage suddenly appears with tables and log stools laid out in the garden.

The Cottage Tea Garden

The Cottage Tea Garden is so hidden away from view – can only be accessed on foot and is only open during the summer months and warm winter days as it is an outdoor café but it is absolutely delightful and I cannot recommend it enough should you ever be passing.

The Cottage Tea Garden

So we did – and the owner pops out of her cottage door below like a cheery weather man.

The Cottage Tea Garden

She served us with a cream tea for me (homemade scone and strawberry jam), coffee and apricot and coconut flapjack for DH.   One slight hiccup was that we hardly ever carry any cash and the owner cannot take cards so we had to dig deep into our pockets and have a count up of our pennies before we ordered but this is something she is evidently used to and told us often moms and dads have been known to borrow their children’s pocket money to pay her!

A delightful afternoon. x

 

 

mEAndering…a photographic day

Just as it was bright and sunny yesterday it was wet and miserable today…and did I mention cold with it?

We decided a rest day was in order today so packed a picnic and headed off South but not to the Open Gardens as the rain was steadily getting worse.  I felt a bit guilty not going as I know how much hard work it must be for the garden owners to prepare and then not to have many visitors turn up must be disheartening but the rain was a bit too heavy for comfort, at least my comfort.

We had not gone far from home when we stopped the car to have our picnic on the moors high above the Holme Valley were much of The Last of the Summer Wine was filmed.  The view is quite spectacular and made more atmospheric today because of the mist.   The wind up here was quite strong, buffeting the car as we ate.

The photo clearly showing the signs of Autumn approaching.  I shall be sad to see the summer go this year although it has been too hot at times it was really nice not to have to think about coats and umbrellas for a while.

Instead of the open gardens we decided on an indoor outing at the Millenium Galleries in Sheffield.  There was an exhibition of the Victorian Giants:  The Birth of Art Photography – which was mainly pioneered by four early photographers – Lewis Caroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Rejlander and Clementina Hawarden.  It was a free exhibition with a request for a donation which I don’t mind giving.  I never really knew very much about the beginnings of photography until today; only that it was not a simple procedure and that the early photographers had to be something of a technician as well as an artist to be able to develop them.

The early photos were mainly of women and children and some quite famous people such as Darwin and always posed of course as movement could not be captured and always quite sombre.  To take a photo you had to keep quite still for many seconds and for a child this must have been almost impossible yet some of the photos were quite expressive and captured incredible moments of affection and tenderness to the extent that you felt like an intruder.  There was no photography allowed in the exhibition so I have nothing to show but do have a look at the link if you are interested to know more by clicking  Victorian Giants.

I was completely fascinated by the prints and each one had a small caption beside it explaining the photo, who took the picture and naming the models. The Duchess of Cambridge had made an opening foreword to the exhibition and picked out her own favourites which in itself was interesting.

On the way back to the car park we passed John Lewis in the city centre where there are three large Plane trees  laden with their pretty conker like fruits.

After leaving Sheffield we drove down to Bradwell in Derbyshire to pick up my mum from my sister’s caravan.  We had a quick look in Castleton as it is a few years since we have been – at one time when our girls were young and we shared the caravan with my sister and brother we went on most weekends and holidays – it is much the same as it has been for the last 30 years or more – a slight change of shops and cafes here and there but nothing drastic.  We took the back road out of Castleton to Hope and once again the mist was quite spectacular.

We drove up on to the highest point above Hope and Castleton and stopped to take a few more snaps.

So despite the dismal weather we managed to have a successful and interesting day.

As mum is staying with us a few days now and she is a little high maintenance these days it is possible I will be having an enforced blogging break for a day or too and you may notice an absence of comments.  We will be taking her home on Wednesday evening so blogging should resume after that!

Have a lovely bank holiday.

back soon x

dEAr diary…mEAndering and rEAsoning

Life has been busy recently but today, right now, is the start of my new journey.  We have a bit of a gap this week between our commitments and obligations – paid work is behind me, at least for the moment,  though I haven’t as yet ruled it out altogether and I just need some me time, time to think or rethink my life, time to ponder and reflect.

We had a lovely few days in Yarm with my mum and we took her to see Mount Grace Priory which is nearby.  If you are ever in the area then do go and see it – I found it a fascinating place.  Most of the priory is in ruins but they have reconstructed one of the 25 monk’s cells to look around, however, don’t be misled by the term ‘cell’ as they are more like small houses which served as a private monastery for each monk – 3 rooms downstairs; living room, study and bedroom with a private chapel and a large work room upstairs for spinning and weaving. Outside each house had a walled garden to grow herbs and vegetables and a covered walkway to the latrine as well as a private cloister for meditation. I imagine they were pretty comfortable living here.

The Carthusian Order is a solitary order and the Monk’s spent many hours each day in prayer and meditation with vegetarian meals being brought to them and left in the little hatch to the side of each doorway.  Only on a Sunday did they socialise and pray together.

I was quite taken by the peacefulness and simplicity of the place – set in beautiful surroundings and everything in the house made of natural materials (no plastics to be seen) which gives it a very earthy, solid quality that feels timeless and you are left in no doubt that as it has been there for many centuries already quietly following one season after another, it would still be the same many more centuries ahead.

Compare this with my lifestyle at the moment and my own abode – I have to confess I am in catch up mode, as my house is basically a mess added to which I have no idea on our financial situation, our diet is not as healthy as it should be and I am desperate for sleep and rest as well as exercise.  I feel like I have just completed a marathon in the last three weeks and my lack of posts and comments are proof of just how busy I have been.

After leaving mum we collected Little L on the way home to stay with us for a few days.  Each day we packed a picnic and set off for an adventure.  We didn’t have to go far – a few swings, a river to paddle in and ducks to watch and this is more than enough to keep a 4-year-old content.  On the final day we baked buns and made jellies with custard topping all decorated liberally with sprinkles.

After taking Little L back to her mum we came home and just flopped on the sofa and watched TV too exhausted to move!   It has been a long and tiring few weeks and I have been yearning for a few days rest and time to gather my thoughts.  I desperately need to change all this busyness for a calmer, simpler lifestyle but with so many conflicting demands I know it won’t be easy.

I don’t doubt there are many of you reading this that can identify with my plight – ‘not enough hours in the day’ syndrome.  My challenge now is to turn this around one day at a time and get my house in order.

To help me capture my random thoughts and tasks I bought some of those coloured index cards, from a well-known store, each of the four colours representing a major area of my life.

I have chosen pink for Health, yellow for the Home, blue for Finances and green for Self, Lifestyle, Hobbies and Socialising.

I have made a start giving each card within the category a sub-heading such as meal planning, skin care, exercise or decluttering and these will be the areas to focus on at some time as I get to them.  This may all seem a bit drastic but for me having the cards is a bit of a prompt and I like to get my thoughts and ideas down on paper so I can see clearly what I need to do;  declutter, clean and maintain – with what I would like to do; sketching, gardening , healthier lifestyle.

It is all a question of balancing.  At this present time my life feels very unbalanced and reactive as different situations present themselves.  I am struggling with minor health issues that I want to address to prevent them turning into anything more major and I often feel daunted by the amount of tasks and maintenance that needs to be done.

I have until the weekend to make a start before we have my mum for a visit over the bank holiday and possibly followed by Little L again.  So next week will be a slight interruption to my plans but come September my time will be my own once again.

One of my first tasks is to go through my kitchen cupboards and check for food going out of date and restocking.  I am not sure what I will find lurking at the back.

Have a lovely day – back tomorrow x

 

 

 

 

mEAndering…Glenwham Gardens and my garden

Yesterday we were both feeling a bit creaky and decided that a day digging in the garden would be a weed too far so we headed off to one of my favourite gardens around here called Glenwham.

I won’t go into much detail here other than to say this garden was created out of boggy moorland over 30 years ago when Tessa Knott and her husband bought 103 acres of land unseen and over the phone then subsequently on a visit to see the land discovered the ruined farmhouse.

You can read more of the fascinating story of how this garden was transformed here.

On one of the two small lochs they created they have a wooden cabin with a springboard attached to the jetty to jump into the water and a little boat tied up at the side.

Dotted along the banks of the Loch I noticed this dwarf variety of deep blue Agapanthus which I have made a note of in my notebook and will perhaps buy from their nursery another day.

Agapanthus

We had a very relaxing time just wandering up and down the many winding paths through these gardens.  It is quite a sheltered place and very peaceful even with other people wandering around.  There is a wonderful sense of calm and in one of the woodland glades there is a stone Buddha and a string of Buddhists prayer flags fluttering between the trees.

We have seen it develop over the last fourteen years and some of the shrubs and trees are quite large now and I noticed they have had to cut a few things back down to ground level and many of the borders have been overtaken by the more vigorous plants.  We have the same problem in our garden trying to keep everything in balance.

Revitalised after our day off yesterday we were back in our garden today.  I spent a good hour dead heading the rose and removing the dead leaves of the Fatsia that get caught amongst the branches.

Once I had finished I turned my attention to the patch of garden that we cleared last summer down by the stream bank in the lower wood.  It is a difficult corner that catches the cold winter winds and I have been nursing an old Holly back to life – it had growth only on one side due to a neighbouring tree starving it of light and which has since fallen down in the gales.  At last the Holly is sprouting on the bare side and will soon have a nice dense mass of branches and leaves.

The whole area has once again become overgrown with campion and nettles, so I set too to pull them out and clear the patch once again.  The trick of course is to get some plants in quickly and not to let the weeds take hold again but sometimes it is just not possible on a short visit.

I was so busy today that I forgot to keep taking photos – but DH did take a special one for Joy at Diary of a (retired) teacher who wrote about her thistle putting down roots in a pot of flowers… well this is my thistle Joy!!

I am not even sure what it is called – we get one or two each year they self seed so we never know where they are going to pop up next.  This year it has decided to grow out of a crack in the concrete paving just where we need to take the wheelbarrow round to the other side of the cottage – quite inconvenient but I wouldn’t chop it down we just have to work round it all summer and not get too close!  When we had the flood in 2014 there was a picture taken for the newspaper of our flooded garden and one of these giant thistle was the only thing still standing in four-foot of water.

If anyone wants some seeds just let me know.

Tomorrow we are homeward bound so may not post again until Friday if I have time before we travel up to North Yorkshire on Saturday morning to visit my mum and collect Little L for the week.  My internet connection has been a bit patchy here and I have not been able to read everyones new posts so I will have a bit of catching up to do along with the washing.

Back soon x

mEAndering…on a summer’s day

Stoney Middleton Well Dressing and Fete

After picking mum up from my sister’s caravan in Bradwell on Saturday morning we drove over to Stoney Middleton a few miles away for our first event.  Not surprisingly most people just pass by this village along the main road but if you take the time to turn off and drop down into the rather cramped village centre (called the Nook locally) there are all sorts of wonderful nooks and crannies to explore.

Colourful bunting was strung between houses and trees and there were plenty of stalls to buy plants and crotchet blankets, books and bric a brac, but first of all we headed for St Martin’s Church which has a very central place in the village.

St Martin's Church Stoney Middleton

I have been to this church on two previous occasions in the past but it is always worth another visit.  It is quite unique in that it has a nave of octagonal shape.  It was built in 1415  by Joan Eyre of Padley to commemorate the safe return of her husband Robert from the Battle of Agincourt.  The tower is original but in 1757 the nave was destroyed by fire and rebuilt 2 years later in its present octagonal form.

St Martin's Church Stoney Middleton

The pews are positioned around the central and magnificent tiled floor which is directly below the eight sky lights above in the domed roof.  It is very light and bright and the arrangement has a very cosy and intimate feel almost resembling a Quaker Meeting House and I imagine perfect for small weddings .  As you can see below the placement of the stone pillars not only blocks the view of the person seated behind it but also cuts one of the pews into two unequal sections that leaves a  singular seat near the aisle which I thought rather cute.

St Martin's Church Stoney MiddletonSt Martin's Church Stoney Middleton

The village has a wealth of tiny higgledy piggledy cottages with beautiful gardens in full bloom.

Many have delightful little features like the carved number on the gate of this one.

There is water everywhere in Stoney Middleton – running alongside the road and under bridges like a mini canal or wending its way down little purpose-built gulleys at the edge of the lane – the children just love it, splashing about and jumping in – the duck races taking place later – there are no railings so you do have to mind your step.  I hung onto mum for dear life so that she did not end up in the stream.

Stoney Middleton

This year’s main well dressing depicted the little known Boot and Shoe Operative’s strike of 1818 which lasted 2 years and by the end of it they set up their own factory.

Stoney Middleton Well dressing

The Children had chosen equality as the theme for their well.Stoney Middleton Children's Well

Although there was no information for this one we think it may be a picture of a suffragette to mark the 100 years when the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918 to allow women over 30 the vote.

Just along from this well dressing is the recently restored building known locally as the  ‘Roman Baths’ and now open to view inside.  The spring water is said to have healing properties and thought to have been first used in Roman times with the surrounding structure built around it much later. The two parts of the building represent the ladies on the left and the mens on the right.Roman BathsRoman Baths

The bath is 3m by 4m and about 1.5 metres deep and accessed by the stone steps to one side.  The warm spring water bubbles up from the grate set into the marble floor and presumably you would immerse yourself in the water and keep warm with the aid of the fire in the corner.  Roman Baths

The water then drains into a similar bath set lower than the ladies side and divided by a full height wall – so the ladies would have the benefit of the cleaner water!

Chelmorton Summer Festival

After lunch we drove down to Chelmorton which is about 4 miles south of Buxton and is a long linear village – the highest in Derbyshire, some 1,209 ft above sea level, with the church, St John the Baptist, in prominent position at the very top of the hill with the Church Inn pub opposite (you need it after the climb).

This is where we began our visit as we wanted to see the exhibition of Christening gowns inside the church and it is far easier for mum to walk downhill.  We were not disappointed – we saw examples of some of the most delicately stitched gowns and capes across the decades up to present day.  My mum loves having a good ‘memory walk’ so this more than suited her.

Both my girls and my granddaughter were christened in our family heirloom  (see post on my previous blog click here to view).

Christening Gowns

On leaving the church we headed downhill admiring the Scarecrows as we went and almost falling over one laid prone on the grass verge.Scarecrow

Scarecrow

The tap was one of those ingenious devices where the water was actually running from the tap which appears to be floating in mid-air (though logic tells you it can’t be) and the foam was beginning to fall outside of the bath tub.  I was quite tempted to jump into the foam in the same way you are when you see a puddle or a mound of crisp fallen autumn leaves!

Scarecrow

Humpty Dumpty

Mum chose to have a picture taken besides Humpty Dumpty (mum is on the right!).

The village is known by locals as Chelly – it was built on the banks of the stream known as Illy Willy Water and below is the Chelly Pound where any stray livestock from the fields were placed until collected. The Pound now has an additional modern-day sign which reads ‘No Fly Tipping’ which says a lot about today’s standards!

Chelmorton Pound

The village is also home to the famous stone built telephone box which has now become a mini library…

…and had been decorated for the Festival by the Yarn bombers in the village – obviously prolific knitters.

Knitting bombing

I particularly liked the pretty garden flowers and the Bee in the tree.

Knitted flowers Knitted Bee

Of course one of the most important signs – the Tea Tent – for a most welcome cuppa, a sit down and a biscuit.

Tea tent

Before we left I had to take this snap – it is of Restoration House perhaps in need of a bit of urgent restoration itself!Restoration House

We let mum off the long walk back up the hill to collect the car and waited for DH to pick us up.

We had a lovely day and then on the Sunday it was another drive up to Yarm to take my mum home, we had lunch in Thirsk but skipped the nearby Open Garden as it was far too hot for mum and me to be without shade.

I had my birthday day off from work today and I will have only four working days to do from tomorrow – the end is coming ever closer.

mEAndering – a trip to the Isle of Whithorn

We had planned a day out on Wednesday as a change from gardening (and after all it is our holidays!) –  but decided that a long drive up through Ayrshire to Largs for a trip on the Waverley steam boat was not a good idea for me in this heat.  DH is as tough as old boots but I am too delicate in this hot weather!

So instead we opted for a run out along the coast road that takes us round to the other side of Luce Bay and down to the Isle of Whithorn, a picturesque village centered around the natural little harbour.

It is one of my favourite places – I could easily live here though it is some 22 miles to the nearest town of Newton Stewart where there are larger (but not huge) supermarkets and a range of independant shops.  Down on the Isle there is only a community shop run in the visitor centre that closes at 4pm and no petrol station for miles.

It has some fascinating buildings – the Isle of Whithorn Church (a former Free church) is situated on the foreshore of the harbour just along the main street and is very much in use doubling up as an exhibition area when there are no services taking place.

The windows are clear not stained but an old repair here shows someone has added a patterned glass in one of them at some time which is rather cute.

This row of houses  also built on the shoreline jut out into the harbour.  The end house / houses (I am never quite sure if there are three or four houses in the row) are being completely renovated at the moment.

The larger house in the cluster with the blue painted windows has just been renovated and brought back to its former glory.  The garden wall is decorated with black paint to represent castle walls.  Look closely at the end of the terrace of houses and you can see a rather picturesque balcony.

I am curious to know what the three stones are for that jut out of the corner of this house!

This is the old Tower House just off the main street by the river with its tiny turrets on the corners.

I loved this little find  – down one of the side streets.  I thought I had found a use for DH’s old leaky wellies – DH just informed me that he had put his old wellies in the bin and that the bin men had emptied it this morning!

Either of these two cottages would suit me if ever they come on the market.  they look out across the harbour and are quite sheltered.

I think that this might have been the former post office which is now located in the new lottery funded visitor centre.

It was too hot to venture over to the old ruins of St Ninian’s Chapel but here are a few pictures from a previous visit.  St Ninian was the founder of the Whithorn Priory said to be the most holy place in Scotland.  He is acknowledged as Scotland’s first Saint.

At one time the Chapel (which dates back to about 1300 and built on the site of an earlier chapel) was actually situated on an Island just off the mainland but after the redevelopment of the village and harbour the gap was closed and it is now part of the mainland just beyond the harbour.

The pilgrims to St Ninian’s Shrine at Whithorn some 3 miles away would have landed on the beach just below the Chapel and then given thanks for surviving the treacherous sea journey before setting off on foot to visit the shrine where it is said that many miracle cures and healing took place.

There is such a rich history in the area of early settlements and Whithorn’s development as a Christian centre.  There has been many archaeological excavations and a lot of interesting finds.

With the hot weather and very little shade (there are not many trees on the Isle of Whithorn) we could not go exploring far but it was good to get out and about for a while.

 

 

 

 

mEAndering…out and about at my favourite gardens

Another scorcher yesterday – I have spent everyday this week and last with so much suncream plastered onto my skin in an attempt not to burn.

We decided to ditch the gardening and go and visit someone elses!  We went up the road to my favourite gardens on the Stair Estates at Castle Kennedy.   DH’s granddad used to be the head gardener here for the late Lord Stair from the late 20’s to early 60’s and DH lived here for a while with his mum, dad, granny and granddad in the head gardeners house.

The old castle is a ruin but quite atmospheric and stands in the most beautifully kept gardens between the White and Black Lochs.  We visit often when in Scotland and have seen many changes over the years but overall it is much the same now as it was years ago.   It is such a favourite place that my elder daughter held her wedding reception here in 2016.

We put up a marquee beside the old castle (which was built before the 14th century) and of course the equally old tea room.

It looked really pretty at night with the rows of candles in jam jars and fairy lights  placed along the open window ledges and in the bushes.

 

It was a really magical place to be even though that marquee took some decorating – looking back I am not sure how we managed to do it all.

The quaint tea room in particular holds fond memories for us.  We have photos of it through the many years we have visited.  It is no more than a rickety old pavilion style hut similar to the ones found on a cricket pitch.  At one time painted dark green but more recently was given a fresh coat of National Trust cream.

Tea Room

The floor inside tended to slope a bit more with each passing year and if you looked closely the legs on the tables had been expertly adjusted to keep the top level mainly by fitting different sized wooden blocks to the underside of the legs or even sawing bits off.  I always enjoyed my afternoon teas there on a slant.

So this dear little ‘tea hut’ had to be part of the wedding – we thought of it as an old friend and so was guest of honour. We decorated the outside with bunting and our guests had afternoon tea served on the picnic tables outside.

We heard from various staff that the new Lord Stair keeps threatening to pull it down and build a Visitor Centre – if he does I will cry.   I am always nervous on our first visit of the year and wonder if it has had the chop so what a surprise we had today when we found it has had a makeover during the winter months and very subtly done too.  They have managed to keep all of its old charm whilst giving it a new lease of life and a disability ramp.  And more importantly a reprieve.  Notice too it has now got a smart new litter bin!

Tea Room

Inside the floor has been levelled and the old Lino replaced with new wooden flooring.  The side entrance has been blocked up and the painted benches round the walls removed – but all in all I approve even if I miss the wobbliness.

Tea Room inside

Castle Kennedy is famous for its rhododendrons, the round Water Lily pond (which covers an area of 2 acres), the Monkey Puzzle Avenue and the beautiful walled garden.

Lily Pond

The Stairs now live in the ‘new’ castle built in the mid 19th century at the lower end of the gardens you can walk as far as their own private lawns surrounding the castle and get a good view of this magnificent stately home complete with fairytale turrets.  With its modern Victorian plumbing it must have been quite something in its day.

 

For all the grandeur of the place one of my favourite ‘hidden from view’ places is this abandoned old potting shed – it is round the back of what was the old greenhouse just inside the rusty iron gate marked private.  I must have a photo from 2009 which looks exactly the same – maybe just a bit more on the lean now!

Potting Shed

Walled Garden

The walled garden is spectacular in summer and it is here that we go to do some sketching – I tend to draw and paint the flowers – DH will often attempt the castle – but then an architect cannot go wrong with a building to draw.

We had the initial drinks reception in the walled garden – a place where we have many pictures of the girls in earlier years with the same backdrop!

This is a glimpse of me from a previous year sat sketching on my little stool like the garden gnome!

mmm…a bit rusty…certainly need more practice but I enjoyed myself and it was pleasant to be immersed in something for a while that is non too strenuous.

And for one time only I will leave you with a picture of me (with my brother and sister at my daughter’s wedding) – I’m on the right in my posh frock and bonnet!

Back soon x

dEAr diary…drEAming, fEAsting, mEAndering – the best of Italy

Firstly, welcome to my readers and followers – both new and old friends – and many apologies to blog friends for my lack of comments over the last few weeks.

I am finding now I have time to comment that I cannot comment on the usual sites I visit.  The open ID option on the drop down on blogger does not seem to be available  – only the Google account – and I am locked out of this at the moment – has something changed in blogland?

So much news to tell.  I will begin in beautiful Italy at the wedding in the park.

The wedding was amazing.  We gathered beneath a canopy of trees in the tiny local park located off the main square by the town hall in Cornedo.  It was a beautiful hot sunny day and we were glad of the dappled shade.  The bride and groom arrived together in a classic white sports car and walked hand in hand along the carpeted path strewn with rose petals to the little ceremony area in the centre of a gravelled circle edged with canvas chairs for the guests.

The marriage was conducted in Italian and there was a lot of cheering and clapping throughout by the Italians.  Afterwards we mingled and chatted amongst the guests, taking photos and admiring the dress and flowers then we drove up into the surrounding hills to this restaurant for the reception.

The views surrounding us were stunning and we relaxed outside on the terrace shaded by the large canvas parasols and ate delicious Italian style canapes from paper cones.  Eventually we were called inside to the dining area and began the twelve course menu.

We grazed our way through one dish after another of the most wonderful Italian food – food for the Italians is very important  and each dish is served and savoured separately with everyone taking breaks here and there between courses.  Part way through the bride and groom played an Italian style Mr and Mrs game outdoors and we even had a walk up to the local church and back before returning to our seats to continue eating!

Afterwards, we danced outside in the twilight to live music and the groom  joined the band to sing to his bride…so romantic.   Their first dance ‘I want to be like you’ from The Jungle Book was certainly different and entertaining and set the scene for a great evening.

The next day we moved from countryside to city.  Vicenza, is packed with history, artifacts and imposing buildings that once belonged to the wealthy merchants and nobles.  Shopping here is certainly an experience – stylish shops and bars line the main thoroughfare.  I was tempted to buy on a few occasions.

We spent our time exploring down the narrow winding streets where the grand ‘palatial’ buildings towered above us.  The main square of the  Piazza dei Signori is home to the recently restored Basilica Palladiana – this was a shopping mall in its time selling luxury goods.

Our apartment,  Le Dimore del Conte, is housed within the 15th century Palazzo Sesso, the building immediately behind the statue above on the Piazza del Castello. To the right is the unfinished building Palazzo Porto started by Andrea Palladio, the 16th century architect, and originally commissioned as a replacement for the less grand Palazzo Sesso.  Quite a curiosity, the building was never completed and remains in this part finished state today.

Life in Vicenza has a casual air about it.  Plenty of time to read the paper, walk the dog or both at once!   Plenty of time to sit and socialise and watch the world go by.  The Italians certainly have balance in their lives between work and play.

Parco Querini

After 3 days in Vicenza we moved on to stay in the old historical part of Mestre just outside Venice.  Staying in Venice itself was unfortunately just too expensive for this trip but the tram is so easy to catch from Mestre and it takes you across the water in a matter of minutes.

If you have never been to Venice then add it to your list as a must – it is such a magical place – like entering onto a theatre set.  It is, of course,  essential to do the touristy spots such as St Mark’s Basilica  and the Doge’s Palace but then move out to the less popular streets not far away and there are many hidden treats to be found that show aspects of the real daily life for Venetians.

 

On the last day we took a boat trip down the Grand Canal and out to Murano and Burano – fascinating Islands in the lagoon.  Burano in particular is very interesting  – it seemed a place that might be quite bleak in the winter and is maybe why the houses are painted such bright colours.  They are fisherman’s homes so quite small in comparison with the affluent homes of their rich cousins in Venice itself and a much more down to earth place.  The ladies here are quite proud of their lace making and entice you into their little shops dotted along the canal side to admire their handiwork and watch them at work.

After a whole week of sunshine and high temperatures this was the only time it rained – but the drizzle and the umbrellas only added to the atmosphere.

All too soon it was time to come home…back to the turbulent world of work!

More of my new in my next post.

For anyone wanting to leave a comment – I believe you click onto the title for this post at the top of the page and then it has a comment form on the end of the post page.

It looks like this theme is not ‘comment friendly’ so bear with me whilst I search for a new theme in the next day or two. x