crEAting Christmas ~ Day 1

I flipped my first Advent card over today – the activity read:-

‘a walk along the beach looking for treasure to bring home ‘

Knowing we would be in Scotland today one of the things I love to do at this time of year is to walk along the beach.  I am drawn to the shore during these winter months when it is rather grey and bleak looking it has a natural wild beauty of its own and I look forward to finding all those small treasures amongst the pebbles and rocks to bring home; pieces of sea weathered glass, shells and bits of driftwood – this was a perfect Advent activity for day one.

But not today – in fact the very reason I love going down on the beach at this time of year suddenly feels rather foreboding due to the sad, sad incident that has happened here and you will understand why I am not going to fulfil this Advent task at the moment.

I think you will all have heard on the news by now that the two bodies of the missing couple have been found washed up on the shore across the bay at Port William early this morning (which must be close on 15 miles across the water) and our little beach here, where the incident happened, is no place to be at the moment.  It has been a very subdued empty place apart from the Coastguard team  – not even a dog walker has put a foot on there even though it has not been closed off to the public it just hasn’t felt right to go down there – it would seem an intrusion.  The whole village (a small population of just over 300) is extremely shocked but as a community will pull together to help the family and friends of the couple that died in any way they can.

So I had to improvise slightly today and we went into Stranraer (our nearest town) for the afternoon to join in watching the parade with the camels and see the switching on of the lights.  When we planned to come up here I hadn’t realised it was the switching on of the lights and we had not seen it before but it was a lovely place to be – the sense of community here is so special it made a lovely first day of Christmas and I will post about this tomorrow with pictures.

Tonight my thoughts are with the Kenneavy family and their tragic loss. 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 ~ upsetting news

Updated post* see below

We have arrived at our little cottage in South West Scotland to find there has been a massive police, air and Coastguard hunt on today to find a missing couple who live in the village.  Their car was found at 7.30am this morning swept up on the beach along the coast road just down the road from us which had been closed yesterday.  The couple had two dogs with them as well.

How lucky were we that we chose to come up today instead of our original plan to come up yesterday – that couple might have been us.  It is a treacherous road coming into the village the sea was battering the coast with 30 foot high waves and the road was closed not only because of flooding but the sea throws up quite large rocks with it – it is known locally as the ‘Car Wash’ but it is no joke and at its worst it can kill.

Our neighbour on the little caravan site has lost a chunk of land again – the sea has moved some huge rocks around that were holding back the banking  – it is frighteningly powerful.

For the moment it is quite calm here – I hope it stays like this and I pray the couple will be found safe but it is looking like they may have been swept out to sea.

*Update

We woke this morning to calm…at least down here in the dip near the sea – it is still blustery on the road above us as we were to find out soon enough on our walk into the village.The incident with the missing couple happened around the other side of this bit of headland, to the left of the photo, in the next bay to us at Kilstay. The hill blocks our view so we cannot see this part of the beach but there was plenty of activity this morning – we watched the coastguard police from our window walking the beach below us here at low tide looking for any evidence that might give them clues.  They came into our garden to check our burn that runs down to the sea in case anything had washed up there. (Of course we had already checked ourselves and also looked in the wood just in case).

All the local lifeboats were here including the one from the Isle of Man and across from Port William, and we had helicopters circling for a while.  All has gone quiet again now but as far as I know nothing was found and as each hour passes it is looking less likely the couple will be found safe and well.      A chilling thought.

Whilst it was such a sunny start we took the opportunity to walk to the village – of course we could not go along the beach so took the main road into the village which runs above us… it was a freezing wind up on top so we decided to turn off when we got to the point where the low road joins and is now a car free footpath only and drops down to run alongside the beach and is quite sheltered.The low road is now famous for the collection of painted stones that appear overnight and can be found dotted in and amongst the hedgerow along the edge of the path.  Such treasures…rumour has it the fairies are responsible for them.

Eventually the path meets the end of  a little row of cottages known as Shore Street and this leads to one of the 3 pubs in this tiny village.We bought a paper, some fresh morning rolls and a box of chocolate teacakes from the village shop, then drew out some cash from the Post Office counter which is now in the same tiny shop but two steps to the left.  We checked the local noticeboard for upcoming events – noted that the Stranraer lights are to be switched on tomorrow in town after the parade headed up by 3 Wise Men on camels (really? – I must see this!), then briskly walked back to our cottage following our footsteps in reverse – no way were we going to attempt to walk along the high road today.

As I write this update sitting snuggly in our caravan with the heat blasting away drinking a hot cup of tea and munching on chocolate teacakes we have suddenly been plunged into dark skies and icy lashing rain.

 

 

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 Not so 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.

bEAching ~ calm after the storm

Welcome to my new followers – it is lovely to have you on board – I hope you enjoy the journey.

We are at the cottage in Scotland now for a few days (for anyone who is new to my blog – you need to read the story of the flood under the tab Beach Cottage and when I say at the cottage for cottage read caravan)

On Tuesday DH and I met with friends of mine who happened to be on holiday up here and had lunch together at Castle Kennedy Gardens in the revamped tea rooms, one of my most favourite places – so loved by my family that my daughter held her wedding there in 2016.

After a lovely meal and a good old natter we said our goodbyes to my friends and popped down the road into Stranraer for a bit of shopping – when I say shopping we actually bought a bottle of gas for the caravan and a few groceries – nothing more exciting.

It was still quite mild and quite calm so we decided to have a walk on by the harbour, through Agnew Park and out on the Broadstones Road – which runs along the side of Loch Ryan.  This is a short stretch of some rather lovely big old houses with well-kept gardens and a view across the bay. There is often a lot of ‘remodelling’ going on as places change hands and I do love to have a bit of a nosy!Loch Ryan Everything is beginning to feel cooler and a bit grey as you can see from the photos – but I actually quite like this as it makes it quite atmospheric.Beach findsIt was good to be out, strolling along on the shore spotting bits of coloured glass and other things –is this is the new message in a bottle – message on a mobile?Broadstones

Broadstones

On the way back to the car the heavens opened and we had to make a run for it –  but it was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday was a bit wilder – I was expecting worse – we had battened down the hatches ready for the forecasted storm.   It was certainly blustery here on the Mull of Galloway and the sea very choppy, and although the caravan rocked a bit it was not as bad as the rest of the county – some places across the bay had no power and quite a bit of damage.

By the afternoon it had calmed down enough for DH to go outside and make a start on washing down the caravan ready for the winter – I believe it is called ‘winterising’  I even did half an hour weeding in one of the borders when the rain suddenly came lashing down and the wind picked up once again.

Then as quickly as it came it settled again and after tea we even managed a brisk walk – all togged up in my fleece lined Parker, woolly hat and a scarf and by choosing the more sheltered path to the village down the low road we kept relatively warm.  As you might expect the place was deserted – I expect most of the villagers were keeping snug and warm inside (very sensible).  Once back at the caravan I had a nice mug of hot tea and some ginger cake.

Today we were back to calm, very calm; the sea had hardly a wave and nothing stirring in the garden. We drove into Stranraer with a trailer full to the brim with bags of weeds from our last visit to take to the tip.  I also took a box of bits and bobs from my recent decluttering to the local Red Cross charity shop, bought some fresh rolls and milk and the Stranraer Free Press (to get the local news) then came home for lunch.  I have acquired a taste for Tesco’s fresh Cheesey rolls which we had with salad inside and I also bought one of their boxes of 5 assorted mini Danish pastries – five being an odd number for two of us we have to share the last one, or fight over it!

After lunch DH was back to washing  another side of the caravan and I started on the weeding again – pulling out a million tiny seedlings (I exaggerate not!) that have taken root since our last visit – but only after going down to the beach to take a few more photos. Luce Bay SeawedDriftwoodI can hear rain again now outside as I write this – who knows what we will wake up to tomorrow.  Just in case I cannot go out in the garden I have brought one or two projects with me to be getting on with.

Have a good day 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.