Saturday, 25 March 2017

Where Did You Get Those Peepers?

Max and I spent a morning working down at Miles and Poppy's cottage.   Only the cat, Boy, was there.      I was fixing the lining to some curtains and had spread the fabric out.  

Boy, being a typical cat, immediately plonked himself on top, all the better to supervise.

He has such a pretty little nose and very beautiful eyes, he is also bilingual.  

His first language is Mandarin, but he is pretty fluent in English these days.

Meanwhile, my own girls were back at home, doing what they do best on a wet and miserable day...

..relaxing by the Rayburn.  

They haven't met their cousin from Shanghai, which is just as well because they would lead him astray, introduce him to the world of hunting and staying out late.

Get back to sleep you two.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Just Around the Corner

Just a few hundred yards along the lane from us is this 1720 watermill.

No longer a working mill, it is now a visitor attraction with wildfowl, animals and lovely tearooms.   Pay admittance just once and you are given a pass which entitles you to visit the place for 12 months.   The price is under £5 for seniors and just 50 pence more full price, less for children.  A bargain for anyone, but as we live just around the corner we can pop along any time.      

Last weekend I went along with our daughter two of our grandchildren.

The two cheeky characters are new kids on the block.

They had us in stitches with their antics.

There are otters, cheeky, charming and lively, until  I got out my camera.     Which is when they disappeared into their tunnels and tubes.

I managed to snatch just a few quick photos.  

The mill and wildfowl gardens were sold a few years ago.   The new owners embarked on a careful scheme of improving the conditions for birds, animals, and visitors and they have done a great job so far.  

Pots of tea and freshly brewed coffee, home baked cakes, light meals and assorted snacks can be purchased and consumed in the tearooms, or out on the terrace.

Just across the lane they have a very handy area with slides and swings, where children can go and burn off some excess energy, nicely away from the quieter attractions.      

So there you have it.  

Our next door neighbours in the other direction.

I'll show you it again, later in the year, when the trees have leaves and the place is properly awake.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Owl Wood Animals

I never walk alone through the Owl Wood.   For a start, the hens always tag along.  These two are Susie, the white one,  and Queen Mab, the speckledy.

This is Dusty, she was leading the procession.    Dobson is always around somewhere, usually trying to find the tree most in need of a sprinkle.

Today, he was far more interested in chasing his new ball.

Whereas Miss Pinkerton and Coco were quite happy to be observers, for once.

I did some observing, too.   I spied these two through the trees - our new neigh-bours.

I hope to be seeing a lot more of them soon.  

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Consequences of an Argument

Charmouth is a coastal village at the mouth of the River Char,  on the Jurassic Coast - very popular with fossil hunters - even Jane Austen, the novelist, is said to have enjoyed some holidays there.    

image found on

On September 14th, 1822 Robert Best was staying at one of the old coaching inns.     He had no work that day so he spent the afternoon exploring the village.  

As always,  he had his commonplace book with him, for it was his habit to fill it with  'Anecdotes, Epigrams, Epitaphs, Acrostics and Extracts of Humourous, Moral, Historical, Biographical and Miscellaneous Nature.'     

Here you can see any example of his beautiful penmanship.

Image from

I have his book, volume III, filled with handwritten notes and dedicated to his wife, Mary.    She was back at home in Bristol, with their three children.

I borrowed this image from

Eventually he found himself in the churchyard of St Andrew's reading gravestones and noting down those which he found interesting.    I'm not sure what the church would have looked like in those days because the image above shows the church as it was rebuilt in 1836, long after Robert Best's visit.

This large, tabletop tomb was already in situ though and if you enlarge the image above you will see it near the church door.   It is the grave of James Warden who died on 28th April, 1792 he was 56 years of age.

I imagine that it was the fact that he fell in duel which got Robert's attention!

Image found on firearms history blogspot

James Warden became Charmouth's Lord of the Manor in 1788 after a distinguished career in the Royal Navy.      Unfortunately, he seems to have been quite an argumentative type of man, even going so far as to disinherit his son.

The story goes that he got into an argument with a neighbour, Mr Bond, previously a friend of his.   One thing followed another and a challenge to duel was issued.    The date and time was arranged and duelling pistols were acquired by James Warden's wife, for it seems she did nothing to try and stop the duel, some say she even encouraged it.

Warden won the right to take the first shot of the duel, but it passed through his opponent's hat.    The return shot was deadly accurate and James Warden died immediately with a bullet in his heart.

His body was taken back to Charmouth for burial and Mr Bond was said to have fled to Barbados to avoid the legal consequences.

Image from

Here is the page from Robert's book.   It shows the four verses which were said to have been written by James Warden's widow.    

Time has erased most of the lettering from the tomb, but still they live on in Robert Best's book.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A Secret Tunnel, a Moat, and a Priest Hole, all at Dovecote Dell..

Dovecote Dell is a tiny village, with no more than about a dozen houses and cottages.   The history and beauty of the place always delights me, even on the dullest day.

On Monday I attended the monthly meeting for the golden oldies.   I was reluctant to enter the gloom of the village hall, especially as we were enjoying a rare day of sunshine, but I knew we had arranged for one of our number to give a talk.

Miss Read is a retired village school teacher and she kept us enthralled with tales of her childhood and what it was like to live in the local manor house in Dovecote Dell.   She is a lovely woman and, despite failing eyesight, still manages to paint, decorate cakes, and keep busy.  

She is a marvel!

Without the aid of notes she was able to talk for almost an hour and a half, keeping us all totally engaged and wanting more.

Too many tales to put into one post.

No matter what the weather, I find the old dovecote very beautiful and the history of the place keeps my mind busy.

It is Tudor period,  an early 16th century building and is a protected and listed building.

The interior has/had brick nesting boxes built in floor to ceiling.

Miss Read has only been inside it once, when she was a child.   She remembers that the interior was feet deep in pigeon droppings and the smell was not pleasant.   One look inside was all she needed, and that was probably more than 80 years ago.

The entrance is through that small aperture at ground level, which you can see in the previous photograph.   An adult would have to stoop down quite low to go through.

In the 1960's, after a particularly bad winter, a large chunk of the dovecote collapsed and had to be rebuilt.   If you enlarge some of the photographs, you can probably see where the rebuilding was done.   Interestingly, Miss Read says that the nesting boxes were not rebuilt.   I'm not going to go inside to check, but I believe that only two thirds of the original ones survived.

It looks particularly beautiful when it wears a covering of snow.

This photograph was taken a few years ago, we haven't had any real amounts of snow since then.    The very top of the church bell tower can be seen to the left, hiding among the trees.

Up until relatively recent times there were five farms in the village, but these days there is just one working farm.

As a consequence, the number of households has also diminished as small cottages have been knocked through and larger homes created.

The houses and cottages did not have mains water until the 1950/60's.   They had to go to the local spring - down past the dovecote and to the left, near that tiny gate which is protruding at the side of the dovecote.  

The manor house had a pump, so they were alright, even if that pump took an awful lot of effort to operate.

The manor house was demolished in the 1960's or thereabouts, which is a shame.      The site is moated, the core of the house was ancient and had a priest hole hidden within.   It was also reputed to have a secret tunnel leading to a monastery some 3 miles away... unfortunately this has also been demolished.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Looking for a Knitter who is up for a Challenge

This rather plain book is one of my special treasures.    The blue slipcover was made by someone in the past,  I guess they also realised what an interesting book this one is.

It is full, cover to cover, but not just with recipes.     About half of the book is dedicated to knitting patterns, written out in longhand and without the modern abbreviations.    Practically double Dutch to me.    Pot holders were about the limit of my abilities, which is a shame because my mother was an extremely good knitter.

I wondered whether there could be a knitter out there, someone who would enjoy the challenge of trying out one of the patterns and seeing how it knits.    Just out of historical interest and for fun, no pressure.

Patterns include:

Baby's Night Cap
Ladies Under Cap
Opera Cap
Knitted Cuffs
Open Knit Cuffs
Siberian Cuffs
Baby's Bonnet
Gothic Pattern for ? quilt
Border for Shetland Shawl
Leaf Pattern
Frill for Neck
Gentleman's Mittens for under Gloves...

and so on.

I have no idea whether they would work, but they do sound interesting.

So, if anyone who knows a knitter/knitting blogger who may be interested in trying one of them out could you message me here?

Many thanks.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Featured in a Magazine!

How amazing is that!

Parsonage Cottage Kitchen, my other blog, has been featured in the latest issue of Blogosphere Magazine.

I am really excited, can you tell?

I have this lovely food blogger to thank, Dominic of Belleau Kitchen

Dominic is Food Editor for Blogosphere and mine is one of five blogs which he very kindly featured.

Thank you,  Dom!
Thank you, Alice, Albertine and all at  Blogosphere Magazine!

Thrilled to bits that my old cookery books

 are enjoying their day in the spotlight.

The wonderful women who wrote them could never in their wildest dreams have guessed that they would be 'famous' in this way.      I only wish I knew their names.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Taking it Easy with Sir Adrian Scrope

Sculpted from white alabaster,  this is the figure of Sir Adrian Scrope, lying on his tomb.

The position of the tomb is quite unusual, so is the pose,  but it does make him look as though he is listening intently to someone.

He died in 1623 and his monument was sculpted by Epiphanius Evesham, a very highly regarded English sculptor at that time.

I think he looks  very much at ease, comfortable.      

His hair is close cropped, which emphasises his strong features.     I love the details on his collar and the way his sash still shows remnants of the original blue paint.

He is reclining on his left elbow, which is placed upon a cushion, while his right arm is pressed over his heart.

Sir Adrian is dressed as a fully armed knight with his helmet behind him with the visor is closed.  His gauntlets and sword lie beside him.

He was, of course, a Royalist!

His monument is to be found in this beautiful Perpendicular church, down a tiny country lane in deepest Lincolnshire.

Some of the tiniest churches hereabouts hold the greatest treasures, if you care to investigate...and I do!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

After the Rain

I visited this structure today.      

It is a sturdy and strong packhorse bridge which dates from the 14th Century.       Last year  I posted about it here.

It didn't look quite so beautiful and tranquil today because we have endured lots of rain in recent weeks.    Someone had cleared a lot of debris to keep the stream flowing.     Unfortunately they had left it stacked to one side so it was difficult to get any decent photographs.

It looked as though it was straddling a stream of weak tea, thanks to all the mud.

The pile of debris is to the left of this photograph.

This photo gives you some idea of just how small the bridge is.    Just wide enough for a packhorse to be led across.     Amazing to think of how many hooves and feet have walked across over the centuries.

Weak tea, debris, rain -  none of that matters.   It is a delightful and very beautiful bit of history and I thoroughly enjoyed my stroll across it.

This church is just to the right - everywhere was muddy and dank but nevertheless, it was nice to visit the village again.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Old Books from a Very Dear Friend

It was a busy weekend here at Parsonage Cottage.      There was a surprise party for my son-in-law's 40th birthday (held at the local pub),  we had two of the grandchildren for a sleep-over, and we also had a surprise early morning visitor for breakfast.   It was busy, but fun.

Things quietened down after lunch on Sunday; the sun came out and I felt the sudden need to do some spring cleaning, but not in the house, I wanted fresh air.  

I got my trusty litter-picker gadget and a large black bin liner,   then set off to pick up the rubbish  from along the lane.      I really do  know how to have fun!!  I found lots of vodka bottles, polystyrene coffee cups, soft drink cans, rubber gloves, sweetie and chocolate wrappers, you name it, I found it.    The bag grew very heavy.   People are so darned lazy.

I worked my way down to the old railway bridge, then back up to Oscar's old place, where I got chatting to Oscar's son and daughter-in-law who were busy clearing some more things out of the house.

I don't know a great deal about this old house but I do know that it has belonged to a farmer, a butcher, and has also been a doctor's surgery.      It has lovely gardens and two very large paddocks with outbuildings.

I wandered over to the old barn and, much to my delight, the Barn Owl flew out.   I was sorry to have disturbed his slumber, but thrilled to have found that he is safe and well, just wish I'd been faster with my camera.

We have lived in this village for 11 years now and nights have always been brought to life with the sound of Tawny Owls.     In the last few weeks I have been straining my ears to hear them.   There are no Tawnies calling.     I don't know what has happened to them.   I hope they haven't been poisoned, or succumbed to bird flu.

This is a photograph which I was lucky enough to snatch (from a long way off) of the Barn Owl.   It was back in the days when I wrote a different blog.     He is a beautiful creature, I hope he survives.

While I was chatting to Oscar's family they very kindly offered me his old cookery books, if I would like them.  

Anyone who reads my other blog Parsonage Cottage Kitchen will know that old recipe books are a passion of mine.      I generally prefer them to date from the 1920's or earlier,  but in this case the fact that Oscar and his wife used them makes them more than acceptable.  

How I miss having this lovely old man drop by for a chat and a cup of tea.

They are a wonderful addition to my library of books and I am thrilled and delighted to have them.   One of them has the perfect recipe for my next cookery project.     The book may only date from the early 1960's, but that still makes it about 55 years old.

This is a photograph of Oscar back in the 1970's
when he was playing the part of Compo
in a play at our Village Hall.

Oscar's family mentioned that the new people have a couple of horses and some sheep, so perhaps the place won't change too much.

I picked up my two heavy bags, one filled with treasure, the other with other people's rubbish, and continued my way home, picking up more litter as I went.    My arms had stretched by six inches by the time I reached home.