Friday, 31 July 2015

Cowslip Cottage Treasures

Work continues on Cowslip Cottage.   The layers are being gently stripped back revealing secrets, problems, small treasures of no great monetary value, but nice finds just the same.

My job is to strip off all the old wallpaper, a slow process for even the ceilings have been papered, you can imagine the horrors which lurk behind it.    Not being as young as I was, I find that the wallpaper stripper runs out of steam at more or less the same time as me, which is fortunate. ;)   Time for a tea-break, or lunch, or just time to wander around the gardens.  



I had more or less reached first break time when Miles found a silver thimble under the floorboards.   It was black, filled to the brim with dust and dirt, the hallmarks completely hidden under the black.    I pocketed it until I had time to look at it properly, then continued stripping the layers of wall paper.  

It is a tedious occupation, so I amused myself by pondering on who had bought it, who had lost it, were they sad or upset about it, is it possible that a mischievous puss-cat (I know two cats who regularly try to snatch my thimbles!) had played with it, dropped it to the floor where it rolled into the shadows and dust, there to remain hidden from sight for decades...so many possibilities, no hope of ever finding out.

It is tiny, definitely intended for someone with much smaller digits than I have - a perfect fit for Poppy's dainty hands.

Miles also found an old bible, a small wooden bowl, a stone jar and a wonderful piece of stone, which I'll show you another time (I forgot to photograph it).



The best I could come up with was this rather lovely mushroom.   It was about 7 inches tall, quite spectacular.


I still haven't found my macro lens, so this was the best I could do.



Please note that all words and photographs belong to Felicity at Parsonage Cottage Blogspot.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Roast Dinners

Miles and Poppy normally live in Shanghai;
Poppy is a professional chef and cooks the most amazing food,
but she doesn't do a roast dinner.




So, 
when they are back here with us,
Miles puts in a request for a big roast dinner.
How could I refuse?

I don't eat meat
but I can be persuaded (occasionally)
to cook a roast dinner for the family.



Luckily Max is perfectly happy to eat meat-free most of the time
but 
offer him a roast dinner and he clears his plate
and
 comes back for seconds.
He won't eat lamb, though.
He stopped eating that even before I became vegetarian.



While I was slaving over a hot stove
(I really hate cooking meat)
I began to think about all the roast dinners which my mother cooked.



She was a big meat-eater and an excellent cook.
If she saw a cow grazing in a field
she would salivate. 
Okay, slight exaggeration,
but she knew her cuts of meat
and had the respect of our local butcher.

The whole meal was delicious
but
the roast meat was a triumph.
Her Yorkshire Puddings were a bit hit and miss
sometimes wonderful, sometimes a heavy gloop.
 Her gravy, however, was always amazing.

What didn't emerge until much later (when my mother became ill)
was that my father was also more than capable
of producing a fine roast dinner.

He'd kept that quiet for decades!


Max's mother was an indifferent cook,
but my word did she make a good roast dinner,
her forte being 
Yorkshire puddings.
She made the best ones I have ever tasted.
They were crisp, tasty, light - every time.
She tried to teach me how to do them
alas, I take after my mother.

The funny thing was that she didn't do anything special,
didn't weigh anything,
they just rose magically.  
Puffs of air, crunchy, flavoursome.
She had the knack.

My father-in-law also turned out to be
very good at roast dinners
but not the Yorkshire puddings.


My late uncle was another man who could turn out
a superb roast dinner with superb gravy.
He enjoyed cooking,
just as well,
for my aunt was much better at salads than roasts.

I must admit that my main memory of roast dinners
is the enormous number of dirty pots, pans and dishes
which each one generated.
The whole family would be roped in to help do the washing-up,
forming an unwilling chain gang
and
sneakily flicking tea-towels at one another to relieve the tedium.

Even as a child I knew that a piece of cheese and some crusty bread
was much more to my taste...



Does Max have hidden culinary talents?
No.
He struggled to boil an egg
until Alice bought him a special gadget.

We really must try to build on that
increase his repertoire.

x



Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Travelling to School in the Old Days (Self-Indulgent Memories)




The first school I attended was just a short walk from home,
so to begin with I was walked there by my mother,
after a few months I was allowed to walk with my friends.


This was back in the late 1950's
when children were fortunate enough to be given a lot more freedom
than they are given these days.

A couple of years later we moved to Hong Kong
and
I attended the Victoria Barracks Army School.
We lived in private apartments in McDonnell Road
which is about half-way up The Peak,
(my father was a civilian, not a member of the forces).


A big old army bus called to collect us
and
as a just-turned-8-year-old
it was incredibly exciting to clamber onto an old army bus
and have a (probably very young) army private
act as our guard.


Some of these young men were great fun
and would soon have us all singing together.
We would sing silly songs like
"She'll be coming round the mountain..."
and
"In the Quartermaster's Store".
It was enormous fun.


At times of unrest the guards would be doubled,
quite often we would have an additional guard (often a Ghurka)
who would be armed.
We were oblivious to any possible danger,
just found it all the more exciting!






Three years later
we moved back to England
and I attended a school which I scarcely remember,
except that I felt they were totally barbaric as they insisted
that I swim with the rest of the class
in water which was freeeeezing
especially to someone who had just spent 3 years abroad.
I remember the water temperature was shown on the wall by the pool
53 degrees F - less than 12 degrees C!
I digress, though, for the few short weeks
I attended this school,
I had to walk.


A few months passed,
we moved again.
My new school was a girl's high school,
located in the beautiful town of Stamford, Lincolnshire.
We lived in a small village a few miles away.
I travelled to school on a steam train,
which was thrilling!


Time passed, we moved again, across to the other side of the country.
My new school was a few of miles away
and I had options.
I could travel by bus
or
I could use my bicycle... I chose the bike.
The route led me through a large, old cemetery and then
down to the outskirts of town.
In all but the worst weather I rode by beautiful bike,
my favourite part of the journey was the old grave yard.
By now it was the mid-sixties
and we still enjoyed a lot of freedom,
plus I guess there was a lot less traffic on the roads!


Two years passed and we moved again.
This time to The Western Isles.
School was, at first, just a five minute walk.


Six months later we moved right out into the countryside,
to a croft in the middle of the island.
The journey to school was taken in a mini-bus.

I was the last to be dropped off,
 the first to be collected.

We had some pretty fierce weather up there
and yet our driver always seemed to make it through,
darn it!


Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Cottage Tells Tales

Miles and Poppy have bought a very rundown old (approx 200 years) cottage in a nice village just a 10 minute drive from Little Bunting.    It needs a lot of work, and the budget is small, so Max and I are helping out with some of the donkey work.


This view shows the sun room and the kitchen extension.    The old brickwork to the front and back of the cottage show just how many alterations there have been over the years, doors and windows blocked up, new ones created, extra height added here and there.   It is a charming mish-mash.

The interior is open and spacious, despite being a cottage (actually 3 tiny cottages knocked into one), it has a corridor which rambles on to nowhere, nooks and crannies galore, and the floorboards are very old and wide.

It is a delight, despite all the dirt and the amount of work which needs to be done.

The old man who owned it, died a few months ago (in a nursing home).  He'd been ill for some time, unable to climb the stairs to the bathroom, so a shower had been installed in what used to be the dining room but had become his bedroom.   This interesting water feature could have been a great topic of conversation at a dinner party, but it was one of the first things to go, so were the (very smelly) fitted carpets, despite their obvious good quality!

Already the house is feeling fresher.

That is the interesting thing about this cottage - I am well known for having a 'sensitive nose' to bad smells, believe me, this place smelt bad...and yet it didn't put me off the place at all.   It feels like a home which has known a lot of love and good times.   Some buildings do, I find.

Just as there have been buildings which have made me turn and leave as quickly as possible.

As we made our way through the house and got our first sight of the gardens, well the delight just increased.   This old garden looked loved.   It oozed it out of every old fashioned rose and beautiful honeysuckle, the masses of poppies (surely an omen)  and the summerhouse.



Max and I had been sent there by Miles and Poppy to check the place out, with a view to them buying it unseen (they live abroad) as a home for the future.    We took photographs of the problem areas, told them the negatives, but they bought it anyhow.

So the work begins!

I have spent the day stripping old wallpaper from the upper landing, peeling back the layers, finding old and new plaster, listening to the building.

Max spent the day dismantling the old kitchen, emptying cupboards and finding treasures of no monetary value, but they interest me.

One treasure was a slip of paper which gives details of Cowslip Cottage and the way it was judged Overall Winner of the garden section of the Village Show.    It was awarded to Leonora, the old chap's wife, so that makes it date from over 30 years ago.

I have discovered that Leonora painted.  The walls have a large number of picture hooks and picture lights and I like to imagine that her work hung on the walls.   The lovely old summerhouse still has two of them fixed to the walls and, judging from the luxurious way it was fitted out, I imagine that they may well have spent a great deal of time out there, enjoying the view of the lovely gardens.

Tucked away in a high kitchen cupboard Max unearthed an unopened box of Cadbury's Milk Tray chocolates.   They went straight into the skip, but I wonder what the story is behind them and who were they intended for.

One final detail to share with you - Max found half a bottle of rum hidden in the bathroom cupboard...  I like the idea that the old chap may have enjoyed a crafty nip of rum now and then, until his legs let him down.


Please remember that all words and photographs are copyright to Felicity at Parsonage Cottage.
If you are reading these words anywhere else, then they have been stolen.  
Scraping is theft and I will take action.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Flower Fairy and the Heroic Knights




Odd things are happening in the gardens of Parsonage Cottage.

This morning, while I was kneading bread dough,
I spotted this little flower fairy
darting in among the flower pots on the patio...
she was desperate to fill her bucket with flower petals,
as she wanted to make perfume.

I simply dead-headed a flew geraniums and roses
and the flower fairy soon had her bucket filled.

Happiness!

I guess some games go down through the ages,
I can well remember doing exactly the same thing
almost sixty years ago.




Meanwhile, 
down at the gate to our little woodland...
I could see this pair of knights.
Their quest was to save the hens from the vicious fire-breathing dragon
who was hiding behind the hen house.




Judging by the noise,
that pesky dragon put up quite a fight.

I'm not sure that Lucy and the other girls were terribly grateful.

All this activity can only mean that
the school summer holidays have arrived!


This afternoon I took a quiet path to an old church



it crosses a fairly deep ravine, 
with a small river at the bottom.




...look to the left and this is the view.


The story of  what one naughty vicar got up to
will wait for another day.
x


Please remember that all words and photographs are my own, copyright to Felicity at Parsonage Cottage Blogspot.  Do not steal or scrape them.   Thank you.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Anticipation

Here at Parsonage Cottage we love to eat seasonally,
so home-grown vegetables,
salads
and berries are on the menu now.


No mushrooms though.

This is a lovely stone one in the cottage garden.
Goodness knows how old it is,
it has been there for many years,
covered in moss and lichen
and quite large.

But I digress...

Last night we had a simple meal of home-made fishcakes,
roast cherry tomatoes and stir-fried courgettes, spring onions and mangetout.



We also had a side serving of that very seasonal treat,
samphire.


We both love those wonderfully salty strands of green goodness.

Yes, it does take an awful lot of washing
to remove the sand,
but
it is well worth the effort!

I would love to say that we had visited a remote beach and picked it,
but that would be untrue.

I was shopping in Louth
and happened to notice that my favourite greengrocer's shop
had some on his outdoor stand.

Those wonderful fleshy strands are an annual treat.
If we are fortunate we may have them once more this year,
then the season will pass.

By next May we will be waiting in joyful anticipation
of our next dish of samphire.

The joy of seasonality.
x




Please remember that all words and photographs are copyright to Felicity Parsons.
If you are reading these words anywhere else then they have been stolen, or scraped.




Friday, 17 July 2015

A Visit from James, Beth and Ben

The fridge and the larder are packed high with food and drink,  there are jugs of sweetpeas on windowsills and they are gently scenting the air with their slightly spicy perfume.

I have baked a huge chocolate cake, and the beds are made up with line-dried bed linen (I love that smell, no artificial fabric conditioner can compete)  and plumped-up the pillows...for our oldest son, James and his family are coming for the weekend.



It is a few weeks since we last saw them, so no doubt young Ben will have grown again, and will impress us with his outstanding intelligence and physical prowess, just as he will be impressed by his two older cousins, who are fizzing with excitement at having someone younger than themselves to boss around.   They will all have a wonderful time, so shall we.

Dobson, the dog,  will be thrilled to have so many people around, especially young people, he adores them.



Coco will not be impressed.   She will remove herself as far from the action as possible, until she feels hungry.


Coco likes to watch, she can disappear in a trice

and knows where all the best observation points are located.


She does not like visitors, not even those she has known for years.



Little Miss Pinkerton will take it all in her stride, she doesn't mind visitors, as long as she gets fed.



Even the hens will enjoy all the extra activity.


It should be a merry weekend!

Then on Monday, our youngest son, Miles, will be flying in to the local airport.   He will be staying with us for four weeks - can't wait to see him again.   Skype is marvellous, but nothing beats being able to give my children a good hug, and a slice of cake, as I listen to all their news.  

I only wish his wife, Poppy, was able to come with him - but not this time.

Poppy, we shall miss you, although I know that we shall talk every day. xxx





Please remember that all words and photographs are copyright to Felicity Parsons.  If you are reading this post anywhere else, then it has been stolen.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Gravestones, Goats, and a Gravel Pit


The strawberries are abundant this year and exceptionally sweet.   The early ones always end up in the grandchildren!   It is the same with mangetout and peas, we bide our time and the plants soon begin to produce far more than even the greediest grandchild can manage.

Cucumbers, courgettes, spinach and salad leaves are all finding their way to the table and Max enjoyed the first tomato yesterday - it was growing in a wall basket, way above the eye line of the grandchildren, or he wouldn't have stood a chance!

The fruit garden is producing strawberries, blackcurrants, red gooseberries, redcurrants and  raspberries, the cherry tree is heavy with fruit.  The old Bramley apple tree looks promising, too.

Seasonal delights.

One delight, which is not seasonal, is the pleasure I get from walking.  

Little Bunting and the surrounding villages are criss-crossed with ancient pathways.


Little Bunting no longer has a church, it was dismantled by a neighbouring landowner in the mid-sixteen hundreds.   What does remain is the very peaceful churchyard.


A little further along the road is an old gravel pit, which has been turned into a fishing lake.  The years have softened and mellowed the site, it has become beautiful.     This sign has only recently appeared - very simple, rather attractive.  It will also be useful, for those occasions when a fisherman can't find the pond and asks us for directions!

From there I take a pathway which leads me between some cottages and through the village to another old track between some modern houses.   These cheeky chaps live in the paddocks to the rear.


There are also some very characterful sheep, a beautiful grey horse and a cheeky little Thelwell-style pony, which I'll show you some other time.

Through a few gates, over a couple of stiles, and this is what I see


Parsonage Cottage, on the far side of the barley field.
Almost time to kick off  my walking boots and have a cup of tea.
x



Please remember that all words and photographs are copyright to Felicity at Parsonage Cottage.
If you are seeing reading this anywhere other than at The Felicity at Parsonage Cottage Blogspot, then they have been stolen or scraped and I would be grateful if you would notify me. x

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Mapping things out.

I'm finding it difficult to draw a map of Little Bunting.
My cartography skills are not really adequate,
but I have done my best.



The village is a peculiar shape,
because that is how it is.

In reality there are more houses than I show on my version,
I simply don't have the time to draw them all in.

None of this matters.
The general idea is there.

Little Bunting.




Parsonage Cottage is slightly off the page
for we are on the outskirts of the village
and 
I ran out of room.

Perhaps I'll draw up another one of the farms
and cottages on the outskirts.
When I have more time.
Which won't be for a while
because life is hectic.
x


Please remember that all words and pictures are copyright to Felicity at Parsonage Cottage.
If you are reading these words anywhere else, then they have been stolen.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Meet One of the Neighbours

The back garden gate is old and fairly small.
It is strong, which is just as well,


because this handsome bull is currently resident 
in the park land behind the garden.
Isn't he a wonderful specimen?



Of course the little gate is not the only thing which separates us,
there is also a barbed wire fence.


For those folk wanting to cut across the parkland to visit a local churchyard
there is a stile...


...complete with warnings about the bull.
He may well be a happy, quiet chap,
but I always wait until he is up in the far corner of the park
with his large group of wives.
Coward?  Moi?  You bet!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Little Bunting - a funny old village, but we like it.



Little Bunting

This funny little village is not very pretty - and yet, about a hundred years ago it was described as one of the prettiest in this part of the county.
Still, it is what it is,
home.



 I am working on a rough diagram of the village.
It is a strange shape,
almost like a wineglass, including the stem.

The village green is almost landlocked by back gardens,
the only access is down a green lane,
so well hidden between houses
that it took me a while to find it the first time.

The village hall is minute,
the village school closed, sold.
It is currently being converted to homes.
Impossible for me to rejoice in seeing the old building come to life again,
for
my grandchildren should have been attending it.
Instead they have to travel five miles by bus.
More of this another time.

The churchyard both delights and saddens me.
It is reasonably well kept these days,
but has obviously suffered neglect at some time.

Some grave stones have been hidden from view
by yew trees
and assorted shrubbery.
The church it belonged to
was demolished by a Parliamentarian in the 1600's.

He used the stones on his neighbouring estate
in Dovecote Dell, just a couple of fields away.
His story is a fascinating one,
but he should have kept his hands off our church building!
More of him some other time.

We have a pub,
but
no village shop,
although there is talk that the pub may open a small one soon.
The Post Office closed years ago,
as did the butcher's shop
and
the old blacksmith sold up just a couple of years ago.
The wonderful old equipment was sold at auction
and the forge now lies empty and cold.

The small number of residents generally fall into one of several categories.
The Pub Regulars.
The Village Hall Group.
The WI.
The Churchgoers.
Of course these groups do overlap
to some extent.

Some people attend everything,
others are never seen anywhere other than in their car
as they arrive,
 or
depart from the village.

Then there are the dog walkers...
and that is a whole other can of worms.


Please remember that all words and photographs belong to me.
If this post is found anywhere other than Felicity at Parsonage Cottage Blogspot then it will have been stolen and action would be appreciated.

Many thanks,

Felicity

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Setting the Scene

Hello and welcome to my new blog.

Parsonage Cottage dates from around 1840 and lies on the outskirts of the village, Little Bunting.   I live here with my husband, Max.    We share the place with Dobson a rescue dog (who is wonderful, but does have some funny ways), cats Coco and Miss Pinkerton (murderers), and six assorted hens who provide us with much entertainment and marvellous eggs.

We are retired now, but life seems to get busier - although it could simply be that we are getting slower, so things pile up.    Whatever the reason, life is never dull and we are never bored.

Our children have all grown up and are happily married, we also have three delightful grandchildren.

So, the cast of characters:

Felicity, who has been married Max for almost 40 years.


Our children are:

Alice, who is married to Richard.  They have two children,  Hector and Merry.
James, married to  Beth.  They have a son, Ben.
Miles, married to Poppy.

Our dog is called Dobson.
The cats are Coco and Miss Pinkerton.

We live in Parsonage Cottage, Little Bunting.

Little Bunting is a tiny village of, perhaps, some 60 houses and farms.
The nearby villages/hamlets of Dovecote Dell and Butterbump Splash are smaller still.


This post, words, photographs, etc are all copyright.  If this post appears anywhere other than 'Felicity at Parsonage Cottage', then it has been stolen.

Felicity.