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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crEAting Christmas ~ days 5-12

Hello everyone, I know it has been a while, unintentionally of course, and thank you for asking after me – I didn’t mean to raise any concern from my lack of posts – life just gets in the way sometimes and having my mum to look after for a few days took all my time and energy.

As I knew mum was coming to stay whilst my sister went on a short holiday I centered days 5 to 10 of my Advent activities around the visit.  She will be 93 in January and I was a bit concerned this time at the change in her and what she is able to do, or should I say what she is not able to do.  She has acquired a few new ailments, a swollen knee and swollen foot, added to her ‘dodgy’ hip that is painful in cold weather (she was knocked down by a five-year old who ran into her from behind with his scooter in the shopping precinct and knocked her to the floor last year – she fell on her hip and although she was lucky and did not break anything she has suffered from a bad hip ever since).  So walking has become difficult.

But my mum is a determined lady and likes to be out and about even at a hobble so we spent Friday shopping in our local town of Huddersfield, followed by tea at Compo’s fish and chip restaurant with my brother – I have the Broccoli and Cheese bake – they have the pensioner’s fish supper.TissingtonOn the Saturday the Advent activity was our traditional annual visit to Tissington in Derbyshire for lunch at Herbert’s Tea Rooms and a browse around the tiny gift shop in the village.  It was heavy rain and with mum’s inability to walk far we skipped the usual walk around the village which we love to do and moved on by car to Ashbourne.  Mum managed a few shops and the little Waitrose and then we came home for tea.

Sunday was much brighter, we hastily packed a picnic of homemade tomato soup, cheese and beetroot sandwiches and Higgedy’s Cheese and chutney sausage rolls. Picnic We ate our little feast in the car parked high above Abney in Derbyshire and watched the hang gliders taking off over Great Hucklow.  Afterwards we visited more of mum’s favourite places – Pilsley farm shop and the Derbyshire Craft Centre.

We had a lovely day and once back home my daughter and SIL joined us for tea and a chat.  It was the perfect time to fulfill day nine’s activity which was to cosy down in the evening with a hot chocolate and watch a Christmas film.  A good laugh did mum the world of good as her lack of mobility has been making her feel upset and frustrated.

On the Monday we took mum home to North Yorkshire and then called at our younger daughter’s house to see Little L and Sweetie.  We were out much longer than planned so the advent activity for this day was abandoned as was the following day mainly due to me being so tired after looking after mum and all the travelling up and down – I just needed some time to get the house straight and my brain back into gear.

Day 12 – I was super excited on Wednesday knowing the Advent activity was our trip to see the Winter Light Festival at Dunham Massey (a National Trust property in Cheshire) with two of our lovely friends.  We were picked up at 3pm for our timed tour at 5pm.  Everything went exceptionally smoothly and although the roads were busy thankfully, we had no hold ups and parked easily.Dunham Massey at Christmas Nutcracker Soldier Dunham Massey at ChristmasThe lights which are accompanied by music were quite spectacular – some are activated by and keep time with the music and were pretty amazing – we followed the trail around; each section just as breathtaking as the last. (Did you spot the picture just for you Sadie if you are reading this!) Dunham Massey at Christmas Dunham Massey at Christmas Dunham Massey at ChristmasDunham Massey at ChristmasSo it has been a few hectic days and I am now having a quieter time of reflection.  Mum is becoming increasingly high maintenance now when she visits and needs a lot more attention to help her do all those little things that she would have done herself at one time – it can be a bit exhausting.  On the other hand though how lucky am I to still have my mum around and that she is still able to look after herself in her little apartment with a little help from my sister.  But I do fear for the future and how she will continue to cope.

During these last few days it was also the anniversary of when my dearest  friend and colleague Helen passed away. I made two tiny posies – one to give to her mum and one for her two daughters in remembrance of Helen.  I just quietly leave them on the doorstep – it is just a little something to let them know we are thinking of them.

Again it made me think of how lucky I am to see my two daughters and granddaughters growing up and that we can be together at Christmas time.  So although I am tired at the moment beyond belief I am certainly counting my blessings.

Must go now I have 25 robins drying in my craft room and needing my attention before bed.

I have a bit of catching up to do in blog land and I will be back and commenting in the next few days and hopefully posting pictures of my Advent crafting. xx

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

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.