Sunday 26 June 2016

A Big Step Forward and Recipe for Homemade Fly Papers

This plain and 'simple' step represents a huge amount of progress.   For the last eight months, or so, we have all had to step over a void - well not really a void, for it is Spaghetti Junction under that step.   All the major wiring of the house passes through there on its' way to the consumer unit down in the hallway.

This is how it looked yesterday - beautiful in my eyes.   It could take quite some time for me to get used to there being something there, though.   I still tend to take a large stride over it.

Max has worked some magic on it today and it has now been further shaped to fit in beautifully.   I think you will be pleased with it.

He has also worked at putting all the floorboards back in the small study area, for this is another area which proved to be something of a meeting point for many wires.    It looks great.

Despite playing hookey yesterday morning, I have spent several days sanding, sealing x 2, light sanding, priming  and painting with light sanding all the windowsills, and I am now ready to give the top and final coat to them all...  Just architraves on most of the doorways and about a million metres of skirtingboard left.

The other day we had most of the windows open and lots of pesky flies came in, there was nothing for it but to get out the flypapers, an old fashioned method, but it works.   As you know, I do not do sprays of any kind unless there is absolutely no other option.

The handyman shop must sell loads of these, they sell so many that they sometimes run out of them, which is a bit of a nuisance, even though we buy them by the box load.

The late food blogger, Shirley Goode, once gave a recipe for homemade fly papers.   I haven't had the chance to try it out yet, but the time will come.

So to make sticky flypapers, you will need:

Brown paper

4 fl oz milk
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon ground black pepper

Add the ingredients to the milk, stirring until dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.

Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cut long narrow strips of brown paper, make a hole in one end and then roll them up.  Drop them into the mixture until they are soaked through.

Remove from the sticky mixture, unfurl and place on a cake rack to dry.  

Thread a piece of string through the hole and hang your flypaper somewhere suitable.

By 'suitable' I mean somewhere that you won't keep walking into it.   I've done that before.   Most unpleasant!

Saturday 25 June 2016

A Church Bell Tower

This is the tiny spiral staircase which leads up to the bell tower in St John the Baptist Church at Belleau.

It was a heritage day,  and for once the bell tower door was open for those people brave/fit/foolish enough to climb up.  

Being foolish, I couldn't resist the opportunity.   I quite forgot that I am not particularly great with heights.

The doorway was tiny, the staircase tinier still, and very dark, apart from a small amount of light from the one or two minute windows.    The steps were perhaps four inches deep at the widest, possibly fifteen inches in length.  I began to wonder what I was doing there, when I was fumbling around in the dark areas, feeling for the steps, and finding that my fingers were rifling through bird or bat droppings.   Lovely!

This is what I saw at the top, the structures holding the three bells.   One enormous bell dates from the 14C and another from the 16C.   They were restored last year and are now rung for weddings, special occasions and services.

Today was special, members of the public were allowed to 'have a go'.   Even in untrained hands the sound was rather lovely.

By the time I had taken a couple of snaps of as much of the bells as I was able to see I was beginning to get a little anxious about how to make the return journey down that tiny spiral staircase.

I'm cross with myself for wasting such an opportunity to have a really good look around.   If there is another heritage day I shall go armed with a torch and a tiny camera - for the one I had with me was far too cumbersome.

It is a really interesting little church, I have always enjoyed dropping in there, for a breather, when I am out on one of my route marches.   I didn't take many photographs today, I didn't want the flash to irritate the other visitors, especially when I can simply cut through a couple of fields, a farmyard and be at the churchyard within ten or fifteen minutes.

I'll call in and take fresh photographs, then I'll share some of the history of the place - and for such a small church, it has a lot of history.  

Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to arrange it all.   It was all very much appreciated, everyone enjoyed it.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Walking with Bill

Despite having broken another toe (don't worry, I have 9 others) I am continuing to work on Cowslip Cottage and in my rest times I walk dogs - including Bill (above) who belongs to a friend - and Dobson, of course.  

Unfortunately, Dobson is a bit difficult with walks.   He is happy to walk around our local fields but can't handle going further afield, it stresses him.

So I was more than happy to offer to walk Bill when a friend was prevented from walking him due to ill health.  I have been able to take him off the beaten track, to the quiet places I used to walk my darling old dog, Toby.

Talk about interesting.   Since I have stopped walking these quiet places they seem to have become very overgrown.    In the photograph above, there should be a pathway mowed through this field.  The green is about 18 inches high, dense, difficult to walk through, especially for Bill with his short legs!

I used to trek across that field almost every day, the pathway was clearly marked.  These days most people just wouldn't know that it was a public right of way.  

Friday 17 June 2016

A Light Touch with Neighbours

We called in at Cowslip Cottage,  to check on a few things.  
I wandered out into the back garden and found this handsome chap.   Isn't he gorgeous?

He is very handsome, but I am truly glad that there is a stout stock fence between us.

This is one of the youngest in the field, full of curiosity about the strange woman on the other side of the fence.    When calves are in the field it pays to take great care, don't want to upset their mama's.   I have seen them in action and they can be very dangerous.

Back to the business of the day, we were checking on the lighting.     The wiring and fittings are completed, the work tested by the electrician - Max has done a good job.  Everything works beautifully, including your lovely wall lamps.   The bulbs are really interesting - can you see the zig-zag way they light up?   Beautiful.


I won't bore you with all the other lamps, but here are the living room ceiling lights

and your outside lamp - last one, I promise.

This afternoon I took a walk into our own village.   When I was at the meeting on Monday I fell into conversation with someone and learned that she has recently had an operation and is under orders not to walk her dog for another two months.     She has granddaughters who walk him at the weekend, but during the week he has to go without.    Not a great situation.

So I offered to walk him.    Here he is, a cheeky little character.    His nose got a real workout,  I think he enjoyed himself.   I know that I did.

Dobson was not amused, he gave me the third degree when I got home.
One Bonio biscuit and a walk along the lane soon distracted him.

Your boxes (travelling on a slow boat from China) are now in Portugal.     Modern technology is wonderful!   Such fun being able to track the ship and follow their progress.  It shouldn't be too long now until they are safely stowed in your house, ready for you to unpack.


Tuesday 14 June 2016

Village Life and a Village Death

Yesterday I attended another meeting at our tiny village hall.   It is a new group for the oldies and the new oldies, a new initiative by the local district council -  to show how much they care for country folk and the elderly.

I must extract my tongue from my cheek.

This is the same council which intends to make us pay for the street lighting in the village (eg they say the call-out fee would be about £700 to have someone change a light bulb... which could explain why we once had to wait almost two years for the only one near us to have the bulb changed) otherwise they will remove the poles and that will be that forever.

Of course this has stimulated much heated discussion within and without the village.  As ever there are those who want the lights left on, others don't see any benefit to themselves so are happy to opt out, while the rest simply don't care.

The jury is still out.   Either that or we just haven't been told of the final decision yet.

Anyway, they have some National Lottery funding burning a hole in their pocket and someone had the idea of opening up the village hall once a month so that the older folk (how strange it feels to be included in that group,  don't they realise that I am really only in my 20's?) can meet up and enjoy some social connection.

Yesterday's little gathering was attended by, perhaps, a dozen people.   Pretty good for such a tiny, and I do mean tiny, village.

We had cups of tea and slices of cake, lots of chat and discussion about how to proceed.    We will only meet once a month - funding can be found for the rent of the village hall and for expenses for someone to come in and give a talk, lesson, demonstration.   Doesn't sound too onerous, at the moment but that could change.

Although I notice it is the same ones as usual who have to set up the tables, make tea and then stack chairs, etc.   Nothing changes.

Miss Read, one of our village elders, a former school teacher, is going to get the ball rolling, which is nice of her.    Someone else wants to have an art class, another wants some plant advice from the more green-fingered among us,  and the idea of a meal at the pub was mooted too.    All pretty tame stuff.

But how about this?

Poppy, how about giving us a demonstration of how you can make these wonderful garnishes, or perhaps you could show everyone how you serve tea, Chinese-style?   The special tea would be purchased through expenses.

I think something like that would be well received and greatly appreciated by everyone.   Have a think about it.   Your audience would be tiny but very appreciative of your skills.

The tea ceremony would be something completely different and they would love the beauty and formality of it.

Enough of all that though.

The village has lost another elder, one of the truly long-term residents.  His family have lived here for generations - the old village blacksmith.

I posted about him on my old blog.  This was taken a few years ago when he had to give up working the forge due to ill health, so all the equipment was auctioned.  A sad day then and a sad day today.

The village signs acknowledge that we were once lucky enough to have a village blacksmith, so he won't be forgotten.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Perfume in the Barley Field

This morning the sky was low, with heavy clouds and a very humid feel to the air.    It looked as though rain would soon be falling.    Still, no matter what the weather, dogs need their walks, even lazy dogs like Dobson.

He would rather spend extra time snoozing rather than risk getting his paws wet.  

I cut through the large barley field, taking the diagonal right of way, which takes one right to the heart of the field.  Dobson trotted off to enjoy all the smells which interest dogs so much and I was free to wander at my own pace, enjoying the peace.

Gradually, I became aware of a wonderful scent in the air, presumably compounded from the barley and all the plants in the distant surrounding hedges, everything being trapped by the humidity and low cloud.

It is difficult to describe the smell, other than to say that it was lovely and reminded me so much of one of my favourite perfumes from the past...which one though?  I don't know for sure, but my inner eye kept giving me the image of a silver, black and blue container - which I think contained the perfume Rive Gauche.

It is many decades since I used that perfume and I cannot consciously recall the scent at all.  I shall have to investigate next time I am shopping in town.

This evening the clouds are still low down, the air is filled with moisture and I have just walked Dobson around our little patch of woodland.    The smell in there immediately transported me back to my childhood days and our visits to the Botanical Gardens in Hong Kong.   I loved that moist and humid smell of greenery.   To be honest it could be smelt in other places, but it was always that much more intense in the Botanical Gardens due to all the foliage and plants.

The floor of the woodland is carpeted (to a height of 5 or 6 feet) with Queen Anne's Lace, Hogweed, Jack-by-the-Hedge, red campion, nettles, dock, buttercups, and lots more which I cannot name at the moment.

The gap between all this greenery and the green canopy of the trees themselves traps the air and the scent is concentrated.    

Bring on warm sunshiney days, but in the meantime I'll enjoy these lovely and evocative scents.

I borrowed the image from

Saturday 11 June 2016

Saturday at Cowslip Cottage

Our journey  home from your cottage was not without incident, but more about that later.

Poppy, Miles, here are some of the photographs which I took today.   Your cottage is taking shape - although there will still be plenty for you to do yourselves!  Time is running away from us, we'll do as much as we can.

The first change is that your front lamp has been fitted, so has the doorbell.

Once we get the outside of the cottage painted in bright pink... it will all look splendid.  ;)

Step inside, most of the channel has now been filled, such a relief after all those months of having to remember to step across it, or twist an ankle.

Here is the first shot of your kitchen spotlights, three sets of three.  They look primed and ready for action.

Meanwhile, the floor tiles and adhesive are taking a bit of time to come off, but Max has been working on them today.

Out in the conservatory, the little hatch into the chimney is awaiting a coat of paint, as are the walls and ceiling.   I love that room!

Back into the living room, here are your wall lamps - they look really lovely in situ, as you can see.

Upstairs, in the bathroom, your mirror has been wired in - although it will be the middle of next week before the house is 'good to go'.

Sorry about that woman, she just wouldn't get out of shot!

I spent most of my time applying paint stripper (to the beautiful old bathroom door) and then sweeping and tidying.    It makes such a difference when all the detritus of the week is swept away and the house is clean and tidy again!

We made our way home around five o'clock, taking the route past the fruit farm.   On a grass verge opposite one of the farms we saw an elderly man who appeared to be lying on the grass, inspecting it quite closely...

We stopped, reversed, and got out to have a chat with him.

It seems that he had somehow just found himself down on the ground, although he couldn't remember feeling faint, dizzy, etc.  We sat him up, chatted a little, found his shoes and helped him on with them.  A little more chat, a few jokes, and then he felt well enough to cross the road to his house.   Just at that moment his son (a man in his fifties) appeared and seemed quite unsuprised!

We helped the older man home, settled him in his conservatory, told his son what we knew and then left them to it.

He is a lovely old man, has lived there since 1957 - and I hope he has a good long while left in him yet.  Yet another wonderful, old, local character.


Wednesday 8 June 2016

Snapshots of Progress at Cowslip Cottage

Work continues apace at Cowslip Cottage, it has to, but there is still much to do.

The living room still awaits the electrical boxes and lights, Graham should be back on Friday to continue with them, skirting boards have to be fitted and then the carpet.    Although we have plonked the sofa in there, the covers and cushions still need to be fitted, that won't be done until just before you move in.   The leather armchairs are in the dining room, tucked away to the right.

Not so bad, so far?

Brace yourselves for a glimpse of the rest.

This is the view down the stairs and into the kitchen - the channel will be filled soon.

This is the front side of the landing.  Lots to do here but I am having to bide my time on the decorating until the  electrics have been done and the floorboards can go down.

I imagine 'Boy' will enjoy watching the world go by from that little window - although goodness knows he has plenty of choice!

Here you can see the bathroom floor - all sanded and ready for the flooring.   Max has put a lot of work and effort into that floor.   Once the flooring is down we can do the skirtings and have the bathroom fittings completed.

It is all about schedules and timing, but all the strands are coming together now.   Four weeks - plus one week to fix snags.   We can do it.

These two tiny bunnies were playing in the garden this morning.  Quite often there is a squirrel, too.    Very Beatrix Potter.


Tuesday 7 June 2016

A Watermill and a Dovecote

Lincolnshire was bathed in sunshine today - it was hot and sunny and finally felt like summer.

I had been left at Parsonage Cottage, to wait for the delivery man - a rather large and heavy pack of sample floor tiles.  Delivery slot 10.30am-12.30pm,  I got the short straw and had to wait in for it.

By midday, I was free!    I abandoned housework, baking, ironing, etc and decided to take my camera and walk.

Just like the old days.

Down the lane, turn left, and this is what I saw.   The plants of the right are the enormous leaves of the Butterbur plant, bog rhubarb.   It was used in old medicine to treat the Bubonic plague.   These days I believe it is being used to alleviate migraines..

This wonderful old watermill is on the other side of the lane - an increasingly popular tourist attraction, deservedly.   Mike and Rebecca have worked hard to make it so.

A short walk up the hill and round the corner and these beauties were resting in the meadow, getting used to life outdoors.   The young ones were finding it difficult to stay awake in the hot sunshine, several of them had flaked out and were sleeping soundly.

Five or ten minutes later and this is the sight which greets me.   The beautiful dovecote is early 16th century single storey, octagonal and built in red brick.   It is a delightful landmark in the beautiful countryside around here.

I took a moment to stop by the church, whenever I pass this way I either mooch around the old gravestones, reading the inscriptions and saying the names of people long dead but today I popped into the church.   It is small, beautiful and very peaceful.  The whole church was scented beautifully by the simple vases of flowers on every windowsill.

Back down the hill, past the dovecote and on through the farmyard.   This is the dovecote as I looked back towards the tiny handful of houses which make up the village.

This is the path through a barley field which leads on to the 'main road' through our village.

Parsonage Cottage is away to the left, way off picture.

Home again, home again.  

I decided to knuckle down and do some work, so I got the lawnmower out and set to work.

Renovations as normal tomorrow!   I'll be painting the landing ceiling and bedroom 2's ceiling, then I will give the pillars in the livingroom their second coat.   No rest for the wicked.


Saturday 4 June 2016

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Poppy, Miles, your garden is definitely growing!   I need to get out there and mow both the lawns, tie back the daffodil leaves and do some weeding.   I have been so busy decorating the cottage that the gardens have been neglected for a week or two.

Still, all the hard work is paying off, it looks less like a building project and much more like a home-in-the-making.

This is down by your back gate, it is looking really beautiful.  A garden which was created with love and care by the old couple.    The first roses are blooming, they are yellow, the scent is a delight.

After a week of  dull skies, rain, and unseasonably cold weather the sun has finally come out and we have gone from freezing to very warm.   Hurrah!  What a difference the sunshine makes to everyone.

This little one has been helping Grandpa in the gardens.  When it cools down a little, I shall be out there mowing our own lawns, they are well overdue for cutting.

As I am writing this, Max and Richard are down at your cottage, they are dropping off a trailer load of furniture.   They will be back soon for another load... bed, dining table, sofa, leather armchairs, side tables, the large BBQ and some white goods.
It is a start!

Five weeks!
We are counting it as four weeks, with one week left blank to sort out snags
and finish off any loose ends.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

More Paintings by 'Finn' Haddock - Updated with lots of extra paintings.

Judging by the huge number of people who viewed my previous post about Dr Edwin Aldridge Haddock and his paintings, there is now a greater appreciation of the man and his art than there was a couple of decades ago, when I was able to buy my collection at auction for ridiculously little money.    The link will take you to one of my earlier blogs, Pear Tree Log blogspot, which I wrote as 'Elaine'.

He became a fighter pilot during WW2, he was shot down over France in 1943.  He tells his story here - just a word of warning, his voice is but a whisper.   The recordings tell of his wartime experiences, the people who helped him, the betrayal and torture, the escapes.

Dr Edwin Aldridge Haddock

The big white blob in the middle is due to the flash of my camera, sorry!   The apparent simplicity and speed of this painting is false, it has been very carefully built up with multi-layers of colour and texture although the finished painting looks like a hurried and happy 'accident'.  She is quite wonderful.

Many of his paintings reflect some of the inner scars and damage which he bore for the rest of his life.   Painting became a kind of safety valve.    Whenever I look at 'Tarantella' I cannot help but think of his whirling, twirling memories and emotions, feelings which needed to be expressed, in this case as a dance as he tried to 'sweat the poisons out'.

Danse Macabre.

Danse Macabre by Dr Edwin Aldridge Haddock
Don't be fooled by the apparent simplicity, it is multi-layered and complex in execution.   Translate it how you will.

No matter whether you like the paintings or not, they are very powerful.

Take this bonus painting, 'Interrogator II'

..bear in mind that Dr Haddock was tortured by the Gestapo.

I believe this one is entitled 'Interrogator'

and this one is 'Man of War'.   Both are very large and quite wonderful!

More paintings will be added during the next week or so, I had intended to do them before but real life suddenly became extremely busy.


I'm not sure what the title of this one is.  It is very lively with complex and multi-layered colours.

This is a similar, figurative type with a glossy finish.

This one is entitled 'Alien', I believe.

Whereas this one is untitled and has a matt finish.

The little chappie on the left is called 'Clanger', the painting on the right is a matt finish and untitled.

This one as entitled 'Cobra' this is a dreadfully poor photograph of a very large and lively richly coloured painting.

Green amoeba, framed, glossy finish.

This is a painting which I gave to my daughter and is entitled 'Sea Witch'.  (it's not available)

This one is 'Galaxy' it is very large, framed, and was exhibited at the Ferens Art Gallery.

Untitled, but beautiful.

Another untitled one - again, very large and beautiful in ochres, red and browns.

This large and lovely  painting is called 'Crucible'.

The are several others, both large and smaller (though they are still pretty large) but I ran out of time and energy.