Wednesday 30 June 2010

Visitors and work in progress.

Our youngest daughter often joins me for a creative day on Wednesdays and of course Poppy comes too. Julia painted some fabric today and Poppy felt left out and can be seen here looking as if she is choosing her colours for her next project. I didn't put her up there - she had come onto my lap for a bit of fuss and slowly but surely climbed up and sat down on the table. The things that go on in some diningrooms.

Another welcome visitor here enjoying the sun. I think this is a comma butterfly - it stayed for several minutes and may have been drinking from a tiny drop of moisture at the side of the little waterfall/cascade.
A clearer view of the butterfly above, and the long awaited day of capping the pond has arrived - work in progress below.
There will be stone slabs laid on top of the step which will be just the right height for putting my cup of tea down when I am sitting in the right hand corner where the bucket thing is, or for doing step exercises!

It all looks very raw and new and needs to weather in a bit but I am very pleased with the result and have to wait 2 or 3 days for the mortar to go off before using the step. I do hope we have a fine weekend so I can get out there and get all the plants in to soften the hard edges and tidy up the patio. Having said that, the lawn is looking parched and the soil in places is more like dust so we could really do with some rain. Only after all the weddings, fetes and other outdoor events have taken place of course.
This is a bit blurred I'm afraid as I had to take it through the kitchen window. Blackbirds love apples and this one had gorged himself and had to sit for a while to let the apple go down. He was quite motionless for some time and I wondered if he was injured, but he suddenly came to life and started tucking in all over again.

Another lovely picnic spot to finish with. It was so peaceful here beside the River Avon at Twyning just north of Tewkesbury. It's hard to believe there is a busy motorway in the middle distance. While we were there I heard a cuckoo again - that's the second time this year and I hadn't heard one for decades.

Friday 25 June 2010

Lechlade pictures from last week.

I caught sight of this handsome door as soon as I got out of the car in the main street and just had to take a photo of it. It's a shame those two cars are parked right in front of it but at least they left a gap just wide enough.
I grew up an hour's busride from Windsor and in the summer we would sometimes go for a boatride on the Thames. I didn't realise then that the source of the Thames is in the Cotswolds.
After we had had a look round the very attractive little town, we had lunch at a riverside pub. These narrow boats were moored to the right of the gardens. I had romantic notions of living on a boat when I was young - what a good job we don't live on one now, I'd never fit all my stuff in and the weight of my books alone would probably sink it.

The bridge was to the left. It was difficult taking pictures as it was very busy and all the tables were occupied and I didn't want to be a nuisance.

The ducks and swans seemed to know it was lunchtime and were queueing up on the scrounge for titbits.

I love this picture of the swan and her cygnet. Swans always look so calming and serene. When we have seen them at Slimbridge and they get out of the water onto the bank, I am amazed at how much larger they look. There, they are quite used to humans walking near them, but if a wild swan got out of the water I think I'd beat a hasty retreat.
Isn't this weather gorgeous? Perhaps not if you have to work and are stuck in an office all day and then in a car, too and from. The cat woke us early again so I got quite a lot done before it got too hot. I have spent most of the day in the garden doing some outdoor housework first and putting in my herb plants, then sitting with some needlework and moving my chair to follow the shade.

I have spent ages arranging and re-arranging the stones round the waterfall feature, trying to make them look more natural and as if they haven't been arranged at all! I do hope the man who is doing the pond edge capping doesn't say I have to wait a week for it to settle before I can get round and do all the planting. I'm already trying to think of other places I could stand to do it, but in a small garden there isn't any extra space. Four more days to go and then I'll find out.
In recognition of Armed Forces Day tomorrow, I am off to hang our Union Jack up in case we don't get an early call from the cat in the morning! At heart I am a pacifist but I do support our troops and the grand job they do, sometimes under appalling conditions and not always well equipped.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

This and That.

I thought I'd give you a glimpse of the pond and waterfall. The surroundings still look very contrived and harsh so I've managed to avoid them in this shot. Wednesday 30th is the day the edging will be put down and then we can get the rocks and boulders in place to bring it all together. After that the plants can go in and it should begin to look more natural. The frogs and newts seem to be happy enough and we've had plenty of damsel flies visiting so it is already working as a wildlife pond which was my aim.
This little fellow is a real gardener's friend and appears whenever either of us goes out to do a bit of work. I think he's a young parent bird as he gathers quantities of insects in his beak and flies off with them, returning to search for more. I was sitting not three feet away from him when I took this photo - he seems to know we would do him no harm.

This is one of our bluetit babies tucking in to the fat balls. It was just above my head and taken from the same position as the robin photo.

The allotment is growing slowly. I thought I would have finished it by now, but each day other things have pressed in and taken priority. Of the two strips I need to finish it, one is almost complete and then there will be just one more to do. An uninterrupted day could see it done.

This is another section of the seven strips already completed...........

................and this is a mistake!!! I must find out how to delete photos from my post!

Finally, here is a shot of our daft old cat sharing my husband's choc ice! We have never given him icecream but the other evening when my husband settled down to eat one the cat went mad for it, and now miaows hopefully for another helping if none is forthcoming. If you look carefully I think you can see his tongue in mid-lick. It probably wouldn't be the ideal treatment for a young cat, but ours is very old and definitely at the age when 'a little of what you fancy does you good'.

Friday 18 June 2010


No pictures today as I have not quite mastered the new procedure for loading them onto the laptop inspite of following (I thought so, anyway) my daughter's instructions.

Having worked hard on Wednesday in the house and the garden and been out all day on Thursday, I set aside today for a really good session on my allotment project.

First I pressed all the strips I have made so far and the backing fabric too and took a couple of photos. Then put a load of washing into the machine, fed the cat, put some beetroot on to cook, popped some bubblewrap. What?!! GET ON WITH IT WOMAN!!!!!

I did get quite a lot done eventually and think it will be OK. It's one of those projects where you have to keep going and have faith. I tacked the background fabric to some very light and soft flannel which will give a slight quilted look when it's all stitched down, and laid the strips side by side on top to get an idea of how it will look. I have made seven so far and two more may be enough which is a relief as originally I thought I might need 15! I'll do a bit more to them when I've finished my post.

I am upstairs writing this, avoiding the football even though I hope we win. I can't hear any shouts of joy from below - maybe himself has got bored and changed channels, he's more interested in rugby.

There has been a lovely gentle steady rain this evening which has saved me having to water the plants - I have so many in pots and am sure they are desperate to be let out. We were in Lechlade yesterday in time for their Farmers' Market where there was a marvellous plant stall selling so many unusual herbs. The stall was run by Rosemary Verey's daughter Davina Wynne-Jones who has her own business 'Herbs for Healing' in the village of Barnsley, Nr. Cirencester. There is a feature about her in this month's issue of The English Garden. She had things I'd never come across before and I found them all very tempting but was quite restrained and bought just three - melitot which has yellow vetchlike flowers, bistort with pinkish red ones and vipers bugloss which has glorious blue flowers. There was a very handsome red plantain with wonderful leaves and I wish I'd been rash enough to buy it as well. Barnsley is not so far away - maybe on another day out we will just happen to be passing through ........! The pond edging is being done on 30th June so not long to wait now before we can get the garden looking nice again.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

The Dean Heritage Centre.

A few weeks ago we stopped at the Dean Heritage Centre in the Forest of Dean near Gloucester for a cuppa and a look round. There is always something of interest there and as my husband was born only a few miles away it's a favourite place for him. This amazing creature is carved from wood - from a distance it looks just like a stone sculpture.
There was quite a collection of other works, many of which have been worked with a chainsaw and there is usually someone on hand working, who will answer questions. I just photographed my favourites.

I love this bird of prey - he'd look lovely in our garden but we might put off the visitors to our bird table.

I can fully appreciate all the skill which went into creating the other pieces but have a very soft spot for this deer made from small branches picked up in the forest.
The Heritage Centre is a museum whose exhibits cover three floors and include archaeological artifacts from the Stone Age right through almost to the present day and featuring the flora and fauna of the area as well as industrial and social exhibits. There is a good cafe selling home made food using locally produced ingredients and a gift shop, as well as other small retail outlets selling locally made crafts. The entire area was once a thriving mining community for coal and ores. When the mines closed there was a great deal of hardship but now the area is an attraction for tourists and there seems to be a gradual upturn in the local economy. My husband sent some of his family photos to the museum and they have been on display along with many artifacts from the various industries and trades which were worked.
Back at home, progress on the completion of the capping round the edge of our pond is slow, but the work will be done in two weeks time. We did the whole job ourselves when the first pond was put in but that was 20years ago and we had youth on our side then. I didn't realise that the plants I dug up in such a hurry would have to wait so long before being replanted and wish I'd taken more care in potting them up, however, they look alright and the weather hasn't been too hot so they should survive.
I'm still making strips of textured bits and pieces for my 'allotment'. I keep chopping and changing and can't make up my mind how to present it but think it will have to be a soft wall hanging and hung like a quilt - it wouldn't look right in a frame though that would be easier. It's very labour intensive and there have been times when I've thought 'why am I doing this?' To quote Magnus Magnusson when he hosted Mastermind - 'I've started, so I'll finish'.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Symonds Yat.

I have gardened myself to a standstill this weekend and haven't taken any new photos lately so am falling back on these from our day out some time ago. I shall have to get out and about with the camera again or I'll have nothing new to post. These photos were taken a few weeks ago and in the one above you can just about see a deer. I have so often seen road signs warning of deer but never seen one. Just after I had taken this shot another one appeared but by then I had put the camera away! This field feels as if it is several hundred feet below where we were standing and is on the other side of the river Wye.

We were well above the tree tops and on that tiny island I watched lambs playing and chasing each other. It is so peaceful there inspite of all the visitors and the only sounds you hear are birds singing and sheep and lambs calling to each other.
The views are amazing even on a slightly hazy day.

The river is quite winding in places and looks very peaceful at this time of year. In winter of course, it has a different mood.

There's that tiny island again down there.

This huge inland cliff is where the osprey make their nest. Unfortunately we didn't see any on the day we paid our visit but there were ravens flying around. There is quite often a member of the RSPB on duty at the viewpoint who is very well informed and happy to answer questions and share his knowledge.

We couldn't remember this walkway which is also a pedestrian bridge over the road and was built about 20years ago. My husband is looking down onto the road which is 30 or 40ft below. It must be over 25years since we last went to Symonds Yat and a lot has been done to make things easier for the visitor without spoiling the nature of the place. Instead of one large car park there are several small parking areas which seem to blend in with the woods without being to obtrusive and instead of clearing a large area for a big visitors centre, the mod-cons have been dotted about. There is a log cabin selling souvenirs and excellent refreshments with picnic tables so you don't even have to wonder where to sit. They've even provided a toilet block - very useful but it too seems to blend in and not spoil the surroundings. We mustn't leave it another 25years before we go there again. I've just worked out how old we'd be if we did!!

Tuesday 8 June 2010

More Glastonbury Pics.

This was the view from our living room window in the flat we stayed in. There were people on the Tor at seven in the morning and sometimes until it was almost dark. We walked up a path on the other side of the hill and came down the route just visible below the crest to the right of the tower. The path is very steep and made into steps in places. It is all laid in concrete to preserve the turf and visitors are asked to keep to the path.
From the top you can see for miles in a complete 360degrees. In the centre of this photo is Wells Cathedral which is about 8 miles away.

Looking up inside the tower which is all that is left of the church which once stood on the top of the Tor. There is no trace now of the rest of the building.

Looking through the doorway. Although the day was bright and warm there was a cool breeze blowing at the top. On a windy day I think I'd feel quite nervous up there. The ground drops away sharply on all sides and it would be difficult to keep on your feet.

This is a view halfway up - it was good to stop to take a photo every now and then to disguise the fact that I am not as fit as I was and wanted to stop to get my breath back! I see I managed to hold the camera still long enough to take the picture.

This little waymarker/shrine was as the foot of the Tor. Someone had pushed wildflowers into the three little circles in the arched niche.

I love the Chalice Well which is set in the most delightful gardens not far from the foot of the Tor. They are very natural and although well cared for, are not too manicured. It was very warm the day we were there and it was lovely to take advantage of all the shady places to sit and enjoy our surroundings.

The water from the spring which feeds the well has a high iron content which colours the rocks. It is said to have healing properties. We tasted it - it has a distinctly metallic flavour and we decided that tapwater was nicer!

Another part of the gardens. Although there were quite a few visitors that day, there are so many little paths and seats that it didn't feel crowded and still retained it's tranquility.

Just down the road is the Rural Life Museum - another lovely spot, and I couldn't resist taking photographs of these lovely stone decorations on the roof of the building.

As the man on duty at the entry said: 'It's not bad considering it was the shed for the Abbey'! In fact it is a magnificent medieval stone barn. I know it would be sacrilege, but wouldn't it make a superb barn conversion?!!!

Back at home, our pond is coming on and beginning to settle nicely. We've got a man coming tomorrow to advise us on edging it. I would like a firm path around it to walk on when I'm replanting and later weeding but I would like it to look natural and not too contrived. It's still a bit of a muddle and not ready to be photographed yet but as soon as it looks good I'll let you see it.

Sunday 6 June 2010

Running to catch the Poetry Bus.

No time for pictures today as I've been busy gardening, catching up on housework and trying to get something done for the Show and Tell session at our group meeting on Tuesday.

The Weaver of Grass is driving the Poetry Bus this week and I promised to try and write something. I have been very lacking in inspiration recently but her suggestion that we write about flora and fauna made the task easier. Here is my offering:

Favourite time of year
when all the senses
are bombarded with delights.
Gardens flourish with flowers and produce,
birdsong and the hum of insects
fill the air.
A gentle breeze wafts the scent
of blossoms and newly cut grass -
wildflowers remembered from childhood
stud the fields and verges.
The lively antics of young animals
and fledglings amuse us
and a sudden thunderstorm
brings excitement.
The warmth of the sun on limbs
and faces uplifts us and
for a while our cares can be dismissed
for summer has at last arrived.

Saturday 5 June 2010

Glastonbury Abbey.

This model which is displayed in the Abbey museum gives an impression of how the Abbey would have looked before the Dissolution. It is said to have been the largest and richest Abbey in Britain after Westminster. Apologies for the reflections on the glass.
I love these soaring arches. When we walked round I am sure there were jackdaws nesting in some of the arches. I could hear the baby birds but never managed to see just where the parents gained access to the nest.
Still beautiful even in it's ruined state.

This tiny chapel is being restored and painted as it might have been originally.

The Abbot's kitchen is a separate building and the only one not to have been demolished or damaged. At weekends throughout the year costumed guides give talks on how the monks prepared their food, etc., and sometimes informal concerts are held here too.

This wonderful old building was once a private house but is now the Tourist Information Office! I'm saving the walk up the Tor and other delights for another post.

Friday 4 June 2010

Today's special offer - Buy one get one free!!

I thought I would go back and try again with the photos and Bingo! it worked so you are getting two posts for the price of one today. You'll no doubt have guessed that these images are details of the cope I mentioned earlier - it is decorated in goldwork and coloured embroidery on velvet. The motifs appear to have been made as slips and applied to the velvet, with other stitching worked directly onto the background.

Originally the cope had been a dark blue but it is now very faded. It is also badly damaged in places but we are very fortunate to be able to see it at all. It was saved from destruction at the time of the Dissolution and hidden beneath the altar in a neighbouring parish church where it remained for about 300 years until it was discovered in the mid-19th century.

These motifs appear all over the cope and the embroidery is very fine - it must have been truly magnificent when it was first made.