Sunday, 17 June 2018

Owl Wood Fun

I had today mapped out in a certain way - it didn't happen.    

Instead, the little flower fairy, who lives next door, asked whether the pressed flower pages she had done would be ready of course we had to take a peek.   

Needless to say, we were both pretty pleased with the results.   

Her next job will be to label some of them, when her writing has become just a little smaller.   

Now she understands what pressed flowers are, and the pitfalls of not placing them carefully enough, but I think she made a very good job of them.

Of course she had to look through the rest of the book and became engrossed in this old painting, which tells some of the very many stories and games we used to make up, or played, in Owl Wood.

Even her older brother became engrossed, which was pleasing, because the journal was started purely to remind them of the good times we have shared in that little woodland.

Little moments which would otherwise have been lost forever - the very young deer which came to visit, one magical year when we actually had a red squirrel in the wood, worried pheasants taking refuge from the guns, the owls, the fairy picnics...

There are lots of maps and plans - reminders of how things change and evolve over the years.  Sheds get moved, garages built, shrubs moved, fruit gardens resited, hen houses sometimes here, other times there...

One map made to look a bit like an old map fit for a pirate on a treasure hunt - because that was the phase our grandson was going through at the time.   Fun, fun, fun.      So often I have felt apologetic about my work, but now I am pleased with it.   

The basic shape of the village houses all came about because at the time this next one was drawn, we were caught up in playing seemingly endless games of Monopoly.    As the person entrusted to be Banker, I seemed to dole out endless houses and hotels for other people, too busy counting out money and keeping the game fair, to concentrate on my own properties.   Thank goodness that phase has moved on - for now.

So what if the arty types get sniffy, their opinions really don't matter.      

This is a journal for my grandchildren, they understand it and enjoy trawling through it.  

I will stop here - apart from anything else I have to get the tea ready!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Walking and Dreaming

I took a completely different walking route from normal, yesterday.     This one has wide grass verges on either side of a very quiet country lane.    There used to be a very large and grand old country house, complete with enormous walled kitchen garden and ponds, along there.  The big ponds and the huge walls of the old garden remain, but the house was demolished decades ago.

The house may have gone and yet this stretch of the lane is so different from others in the area that it is easy to imagine horse-drawn coaches filled with smartly dressed people arriving for grand balls, or hunting/shooting/fishing parties.    

Lost in my daydreams, my ears detected the sound of horses hooves - a daydream with sound?

No, this high-stepping and very beautiful pair were out for a training run.
They made my walk very special.

They trotted off along the road, past the old walled garden and then turned off to go through 'Wild Garlic Woods', before heading home.

Here is part of the the old walled garden, a massive one, those walls are about ten foot tall.    It faces south and gets a lot of sun and heat on that back wall, which I imagine was filled with espaliered fruit trees and other delights.     Goodness knows how many gardeners and under-gardeners must have worked there.   I love walking past, trying to imagine how it must have been in the old days.  

Over the wall, to either side, are large ponds, so water would have been readily available.

This photograph shows what remains of a two-storey house, built into the north-east corner of the garden which fronts onto the lane - it is there, covered in ivy.

The walk was filled with other small delights - dancing damsel flies, the occasional enormous dragon fly, wonderful wildflowers among the grass and the air was filled with birdsong.   I turned into the driveway to the house, to look across the water and was thrilled to see two muntjac deer ambling along on the other side.   They didn't see or smell me, or the dog, so I spent several minutes watching them. 

It was a shame to have to leave, but I had to return this little chap to his home - Bill, remember him?  The little terrier who swallowed a rat - whole?      No rats yesterday. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

A Tale of Two Blacksmiths

The traditional image of a blacksmith is that of a big brawny man, muscles bulging as he makes and fits shoes on a huge and patient cart horse.    Imagine the heat from the fiery furnace,  the smell of burning hoof and the deafening sound of the hammer on metal...

I don't know who created this wonderful image, sorry
I found it on pinterest

Meet the man who was blacksmith to this little village - a tiny man, not much over five foot tall yet he was the village smith for over seventy years, his name was John.     

He especially loved shoeing horses and would regularly make and fit over a hundred shoes a week -  as well as repairing farm machinery, etc.   although he slowed down a little when he reached his mid-sixties.    Not bad for a man who was told that he was not heavy or strong enough to be a blacksmith.

John left school at the age of nine as he could read, write, and do arithmetic by then!    (This would be back in the late nineteenth century.)   Upon leaving school he worked on a farm, with his father.   He loved horses and they responded to him, so one of his jobs was to take the farm horses to the blacksmith to be shod.     That was when he decided that he wanted to become a blacksmith. 

Another image from the internet. 
Sorry, I don't know who to credit.

At the age of fourteen he asked the blacksmith if he would take him on as an apprentice - which is when he got the refusal, based upon his diminutive stature.    He persisted and eventually the blacksmith gave him a trial and took him on for training.      After ten years of learning on the job John left to set up his own business a few miles away, this would have been around 1908.

It was then that he met the woman who was to become his wife, Alice.      They had three children and were married for over fifty years.    Alice was a founder member of the local Women's Institute and did service as president of the branch.     In later life, when he was 84,  he described her as being "80, but still getting about". 

John would tell people that he was interested only in smithying, never took an interest in anything else.    However, he was on the parish council and he was, at one time, a special constable, so he did his bit for the community.      He worked on until well into his 80's.

His son Eric, also became a blacksmith and worked alongside his father.    He continued to work the forge in this village until only a few years ago.      They worked well together, one liked working with horses, the other with machinery, making gates, fences, etc. 

This is one of the old designs he worked from, it was rescued, along with a lot of other papers, from a skip.   Eric and his wife had no family to leave the business to, everything went to a nephew, I believe.  The house was cleared, the smithy goods were auctioned, the house sold.  The end of an era.

As you can see by this photograph, Eric took after his father in stature.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Monday Afternoon in the Village Hall

We should have got the best teacups and saucers out, boiled plenty of water in the urn and provided lots of cake.   
We would have done, too - had we known ...

Perhaps  the brilliant sunshine and wonderfully warm weather had something   to do with it but, our monthly group has just four or five regular attendees, today we had people we haven't seen since
 last year.      

A charming  92 year old (who used to run a large and handsome house, which was open to the public several days a week), two women in their 80's and three in their 70's, the remainder were in their 60's   -  we also had three brave men with us, a rare happening.

I think they all had a good time.

The sun was still shining when the meeting broke up.   
No one wanted to leave,  but stayed chatting outside the hall afterwards. 
Eventually I had to bid them farewell to dash home and cook a meal for the grandchildren.
I hope we have a similar turn out next month.
I won't hold my breath though.

Later, I took Toby for a good long walk and reluctantly turned for home when it got a little warm for him.    

The verges and field margins are filled with wildflowers, including these pretty orchids, masses of them.

As I walked through the barley fields I was accompanied for much of the way by brilliant turquoise blue damsel flies, it was almost like walking with fairies flitting around me.   Very beautiful.

I couldn't snatch a photograph, so I found this old one of a dragonfly... ugly to some, but look at those wings!

Today is like a completely different season.   Heavy grey skies and very chilly indeed.    
Normal for Lincolnshire.   😞

My little flower fairy reminded me that last year we had made plates of food for the fairies...
could we do it again?

Of course we can!
The idea is to wander around the garden picking tiny flowers and offerings
then she leaves them out for the fairies to enjoy.  
The only rules being that the flowers must be
 small enough to fit onto a leaf
and they must not be
 her father's prize blooms,
my flowers are all fair game.

It won't be long now until midsummer eve,
less than a fortnight.
Fingers crossed for a fine evening because we are attending an open air performance
of  A Midsummer Night's Dream
at the local watermill.
Quite excited to have that on our doorstep.
They have some wonderful ideas for the rest of the summer, too.
Open air screenings of some choice films
being just one of them.
Exciting times for our village!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Maps, Maps and a Poem

Owl Wood has been mapped again.     

Son-in-law made a very simplified one, added some clues and hid treasure at certain points along the route...

It was a birthday party with a difference and the children all enjoyed it immensely. 

We had cleared wide pathways, not all children are as aware of nettles as my grandchildren are, we didn't want to spend the whole afternoon tending wailing children, soothing nettle stings and drying tears.   

They had a whale of a time charging around, trying to find their bearings, look for the symbols, then race on to the next place.   Fresh air, exercise and fun.

It was lovely to hear their excited voices - wouldn't want it every day, but now and again it is fine!

SiL's map of Owl Wood

Which brings me around to maps.     I love them!

Whenever I hear the radio programme "Desert Island Discs" (clickable link) I spend more time thinking about my choice of book than the music or luxury item.

I have decided that I would like a book of maps, but not just any old book of maps.

It would be a vast volume, but this is Desert Island Discs, so anything is possible...    In common with everyone else who is sent to an island, I would be in possession of the Complete Works of Shakespeare and the Bible, then I am given free choice on another book.

Given that I am not a great fan of rereading books, I have decided that the best thing would be this volume of maps, then I could study geography, have fun with the wonderful place names, remember journeys that I have made, family history, make future travel plans - a whole world of adventures to keep me entertained and lots of fresh input.

So, this book of maps.    It should cover the whole country, including all of Ireland.   I would like it to be mapped right down to Ordnance Survey level, so that I can see all the interesting features, follow footpaths, bridle ways, etc. 

It should also have a section of regular road maps. 

Best of all, it should contain the earliest Ordnance Survey maps, for comparison to the modern version...

Another one of my habits revealed.    I love maps, always have.

The final section would be filled with maps of the rest of the world, not down to such detail though. 

I would like this book so much that I would be happy to forgo my luxury item for it.

Have you got a book which you would take with you to your desert island?

The rest of my weekend is going to be spent working on trying to decipher the final half a dozen, or so words of the Crusader's poem.

For anyone new to this blog, this old letter was found in an attic.    It refers to a crusader's effigy, which is to be found in a local church.    At the time of writing (1837) the writer felt that it wasn't being afforded the respect and care it merited, indeed it had been left propped up in a dusty corner and forgotten.

The writer felt so strongly about it that they penned a long poem and sent it to whoever was the vicar at that time.  (Note to self: check the list.)       The letter was torn, stuck back together, then stored in the attic of the local 'squire' where it remained until recently.

I just have a final few words to decipher, then I can hand it over. 

Saturday, 9 June 2018

A Confession

A couple of days ago I planned a very misleading post using this photograph.

Here is the truthful version and it involves an addiction.      One which,  every other member of my family, bar one, suffers from.


The post was to be about the books which are currently on my reading shelf.  Even that statement is misleading.       

My current selection of books usually live on the old piano stool next to my armchair.    With the overspill going on the windowsill, my bedside table.   My books only ever live on a shelf when they are not in current use.

Tip of the iceberg.

As always my reading material is heavily weighted towards country life, country recipes, country curiosities.

There is an autobiography of a very interesting woman (Florence White) more about her another time, one about Lincolnshire country churches, more recipe books, and even a book which takes a fascinating look at the French and "Frenchness".

Plenty of local history books and a book about Lincolnshire food balanced by a lovely old WI one filled with old recipes from Goucestershire.

Are you beginning to understand the extent of my addiction?   All of these books and more have figured in my reading/research sessions this between weeding, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog and more weeding, shopping, then more weeding.

These are from the windowsill, not in use this week, but they were last week, though the Miss Read, Richard Gordon and Lillian Beckwith Small Party novels were a charity shop find, all three for £1, they are for winter reading and will be put on the shelves this weekend.    I like to have a little store of books for the long dark nights, it is the squirrel in me.

I may as well show the final batch...

I have minimised them, but they should enlarge if you click on them.     

There you have it, these are all my current books.     Seeing them altogether like this is quite shocking, but it is the truth.     Each weekend I scoop up an armful or two of the ones which I don't need any more.   Take them back to the bookshelves.

Many are from long gone days when I used to frequent book auctions, others have been purchased at car boot sales, charity book sales, etc.     A few were purchased brand new, but most have been lucky finds.      Novels I read and then take back to the charity shop, but non-fiction quite often finds a permanent place on my selves. 

I rarely re-read novels, no matter how good they are.    I often feel bad about that, I know many people, including my daughter,  enjoy the process of re-reading a story.    I prefer to move on to the next good story, but it has to be a 'good' one.     

How about you?   Do you read a (fiction) book once, or do you go back and enjoy them again and again?