Thursday 31 May 2018

Warring Neighbours

The battle lines have been drawn, new high fences erected, harsh words exchanged.

The disagreement has been rumbling on for a long time.

Disputes about land, boundaries, what can be grown.

Arguments about trespassing trees, well not quite, but I love this 
photograph of the tree which is trying to escape,
I had to include it again!

Some plants are dangerous for certain animals.
Some animals are a danger to certain plants.

I hate to see people at odds.
They need to talk.

I hoped it would gradually melt away.
That harmony and balance would be restored.
Instead it has escalated.

Life in a small village.

The Jolly Fisherman's Story

This wonderful poster was painted by John Hassall, way back in 1908.     The Great Northern Railway Company paid him £12 for the original oil painting, it was to be used as a publicity poster,  advertising a series of Sunday excursions from King's Cross to Skegness - for the very modest return fare of 3/-.

It proved to be extremely popular, so much so, that in 1934 the artist was presented with a silver statuette modelled from his figure of the fisherman, a token of appreciation from the railway and the Skegness authorities.

Twenty-eight years after he painted the original, Hassall paid his first visit to Skegness, admitting that the portrait was not based on anyone local, he had simply painted it in the hopes of selling it as a poster design.

A few years later, in his mid-70's, and suffering from such severe arthritis in his hands that he had been unable to paint for two years, he unexpectedly found himself being honoured in George VI's Civil Pensions List.    This granted him the sum of £110 per annum, for the remainder of his life, in recognition of his "distinguished services to poster art."

He died in 1943, aged 80.

His jolly bounding fisherman painting ensures that he will never be forgotten in Skegness.

This is the statue that you will see today at Skegness railway station.   He has been updated, but he is still very definitely John Hassall's marvellous character.

He painted hundreds of fabulous poster designs.   I took a quick look and these are the first few I came across.

Wednesday 30 May 2018

The Missing Library Van

Once a month, at 3pm on Tuesday afternoons, the library van is scheduled to make a thirty minute stop in the village.       Traditionally, it would wait in the middle of the village, just outside the small village hall, but these days they park near the top of the lane, just off the main road.   

So, yesterday, despite the cold easterly wind, overcast skies and a desire to be at home, finishing off my self-imposed task of weeding the vegetable garden, I waited.   

My queue of one waited on the green verge opposite the old blacksmith's forge.     No one else appeared, but then no one else visits the mobile library these days.     I waited in vain.   Twenty minutes passed.

I had plenty of time to admire these beautiful old doors.    The new owner of the blacksmith's house is working through the house, giving it a full renovation job.     The day will come when he turns his attention to the old forge and the old doors will be gone, replaced with goodness knows what.   It was nice to be able to take the time to fully absorb the beauty and the history of them.

That amusement wore thin, eventually.

So then I turned my attention to the top of the road.

A barley field, with one of the four public footpaths which run through it, marked out in gold.     This one leads to the churchyard.        I idled away some more time looking at that view.

Our 13th century church fell into disrepair, so Sir Henry Vane had it dismantled and the stone carted over to his place (a couple of fields away) to be used in his manor house.   This happened way back in 1660, so there is nothing we can do about it now.   I should really get over it, stop holding a grudge.

It seemed to me that the view was lovely, but how much nicer it would have been with a church tower nicely placed between the old yew trees.

After 20 minutes of standing, idling, I gave up on the library van and headed home, stopping to buy a dozen eggs from my neighbour.   

She has five beautiful dogs, well bred ones, quite unlike my second-hand, recycled ones!     Soon she will have six.

Time for a cup of tea. 

This is my favourite teapot.    I bought it many years ago.   It may not be a Brown Betty, but who cares.   It makes great tea.   I drink my tea from a bone china mug.   

Mug of tea in hand, I took the time to stand and stare at the patio.   
More weeds. 

We have changed the fly screen door, too many flies were coming through it with us.   Now we have
one of those chain mail dangly things..   

So far, so good.   

The problem will come when one of the cats comes through it with one of their victims, but that is a problem for another day.

I had my tea and then got on with the weeding.

No wonder I am unable to cope with city life these days.

Sunday 27 May 2018

No Happy Ending for this Fairytale

A fairytale castle, Bayons Manor, Tealby, Lincolnshire.

It was built between 1836 and 1840 by Alfred Lord Tennyson's uncle, Charles Tennyson-d'Eyncourt, Member of Parliament for Lambeth.

The short version of how this house came to be built is most clearly told by Henry Thorold, in his book "Lincolnshire".    

"Not very far away, near Market Rasen, stood the most romantic ruins of Bayons Manor, built between 1836 and 1840 by Tennyson's uncle, Charles Tennyson-d'Eyncourt.   The story of the house and the family who built it will be familiar.   The poet's grandfather decided to pass over his elder son, George, in favour of his younger brother, Charles, who was thought the more likely to promote the glory of the Tennyson family.    George was forced by his father to take Holy Orders, a calling to which he felt himself unsuited, and throughout his life found uncongenial.   Yet it was his son who made the name Tennyson immortal.

Charles built this remarkable, bogus, medieval fortified manor.  What began as a modest Regency house was encrusted in an impressive Gothic covering, and to this were added great hall, library, and other large reception rooms, and a tower.   An immense castellated wall was built to surround this, a moat and barbican gatehouse and drawbridge, and all was so ingeniously devised that it was necessary to make a complete circuit of the defences to reach the front door.    There was a huge ruined keep on the hill behind.     It was magnificent.   But a century later, the family had left, and in the early 1960's what had become already a beautiful ruin was blown up."

Yes, you read that correctly.   Blown up.   

All that remains now is part of the gatehouse and that is set inside a private estate, not accessible to the public.

There are so many ways I could pad this out, lots of little details about the family, but this post is simply about a lost house.

Good taste/bad taste, a wonderful fantasy home or a self-indulgent architectural nightmare?     


Friday 25 May 2018

The Dog Still Needs to be Walked...

...even on a rainy day.    I find that the best way to tackle it is head-on.   Pull on the Wellington boots, jacket with hood and then set about persuading the dog that he will enjoy himself, once he gets out in the rain.

It wasn't heavy rain, but it was wet!   The trees ensured that it continued to fall, long after it had stopped.

I must be making progress though.  I saw Toby walk right through a small puddle - something which would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.       This is one of the spots which he has difficulty passing through, luckily a tractor came along at the same time, we had to squeeze between the edge of the lane and the ditch, so he was distracted by worrying about that.

Onward, to the watermill - time for Toby to have a sniff and for me to take a couple of snaps.   

Ian, these are for you.

Remember the old play area - The Enchanted Forest, I think it was called - well this is how it looks now.   All those dreadful fibre-glass models have been removed, a lot of work has been done to build across the stream and the whole has been cleared of trees. 

A mammoth amount of work but now they have a second car park.   They no longer have to rent that piece of boggy field, or close at 4pm, even on a fine evening.

Remember this?   Gone.   Sold on, I believe.

Cow Parsley blocking  the 'official' entrance to Owl Wood.   

Funny to think that just a few weeks ago the Owl People were able to open the gate to bring their equipment inside.

May warmth has set everything growing.

The rain dried up and I had some errands to run in the village.      Afterwards I walked down the grassy lane into the Village Green - and goodness, is it green.    As usual, the mowing has been done to create a few pathways, leaving the rest of the grass long.


A lovely big space, such a shame that it is so well hidden that people rarely visit.

As you can see, apart from at the watermill, nothing much has changed around here.   Life in Lincolnshire rumbles on in a very enjoyable fashion.


The new wisteria is in full flower, decorating the courtyard side of the house beautifully, even the main wall and gateway arch is finally seeing some blooms.   

Have you and The Cardinal weighed anchor and found somewhere away from all the holiday makers yet?

Thursday 24 May 2018

Homes & Gardens

This tiny box of a house is home to a large family.   The parents work from dawn 'til dusk to keep their family fed.      They live deep in the countryside, so one would imagine it to be a rural idyll, but there are predators everywhere, hungry eyes watch and wait.

When I am out in that part of the garden I can hear the little ones in their box, and so can the cats.  Millie the ginger cat (not really a hunter) openly goes and sits under the tree to listen .  Sparky, the huntress is leaving them alone for the moment.  She will wait until the babies take their first flying lessons.

The other nesting boxes are busy, too.  This is the one I can most easily keep an eye on as it is only 20 feet away from the conservatory, so when I stop for a drink I enjoy watching those busy birds at work.

The chives are prolific and all the other herbs in the garden are flourishing,  the rosemary is particularly beautiful this year. 

We had a few days of sunshine and real warmth, the gardens have come back to life.

This French lavender was over-wintered in the polytunnel and seem to have enjoyed themselves there.  The English lavender, which we left outside,  is still a long way behind.

The two quince trees have been covered in pale pink scented blossom.  The metalwork, which you can just see in the photograph, is a protective cradle which we have had to construct around one of them.

Those pesky kids from next door (grandson and his father!)  keep kicking their football into that part of our garden; the tree won't stand a chance of producing any fruit if we don't protect it from such brutality...   😉

So far, so good. 

Meanwhile, over in the vegetable garden, the Chinese cabbages are coming along nicely, they are netted now - birds/rabbits have been nibbling the outer ones.

Runner beans and mangetout are starting to take grow and spread themselves around.

The polytunnel is filled with tomato, cucumber and chilli pepper plants, with parsley, chives and marigolds to help provide some natural protection from pests.      They are all being treated to music through the daylight hours - some days they listen to classical music, other days it could be Michael Jackson, Clannad, or Demis Roussos.

Owl Wood is looking wonderful.    On warm days the cow parsley seems to stretch and reach for the sky, a  Maytime delight, frothy and very beautiful.

It is essential to keep walking along the trails, miss one out for a day or two and it is almost hidden from view.   

Blackbirds, wrens, robins, the Jackdaws, pigeons, pheasants and collared doves make up the bulk of activity there, the woodpecker seems to have gone quiet - perhaps sitting on some eggs.   

Just over in the vegetable garden the activity is provided by more blackbirds, chaffinches, greenfinches, blue tits and yellow hammers.   One of these days I must see which birds visit the main gardens, I know the beautiful bullfinches come to visit but I need to take the time to sit and watch that area properly.

Last year we had a lot of work done to remove  some trees from the roadside of Owl Wood.  We hated having to do it, but there were safety issues.     Luckily we had plenty of healthy young saplings ready to take their place. 

The light, life and energy that has been allowed to penetrate  some of the dark areas of woodland have really had a powerful impact.    I have also made some interesting discoveries...two apple trees which we didn't know that we had.

That sounds as though we are really dim - how could you miss an apple tree?   Easily, the other trees were towering over them, insufficient light ever reached them, they didn't blossom or fruit.   It was a real surprise to find them this year!     I wonder what their fruit will be like, time will tell.

This is what has been keeping me fully occupied for the last week. 

Weeding is every ongoing, so is grass cutting, talking of which - there is a lawnmower waiting for me to fire it up and get to work.

'Bye for now!

A day or two ago we got word that our dear friend, Terry, has died. 
He was a lovely man with wonderful, old fashioned good manners and a ready smile.    He was never happier then when he was outdoors, preferably sitting by a river, fishing.     He endured three years as a prisoner of war during the Korean War, something he never talked about.    R.I.P.

Saturday 19 May 2018

The Watermill from 1720 to the Present

I am just in the middle of typing some notes about the origins and history of this lovely watermill.   the research belongs to a friend, and local historian, from in the village.

As I pass this place almost every day, I find it endlessly interesting, as well as beautiful.   I enjoy watching it through the seasons and now that I have learnt a little more about some of the people who lived and worked here from the earliest days, I am even more fascinated by the place.

Even the relatively recent past makes for interesting reading.
As the research is not mine to share, 
I will wait until I drop the notes off, 
then I will ask permission to share some of the details with you.

I walked Toby down to the trout farm and smokery, yesterday morning.   I had spotted some big bunches of beautiful fresh watercress which were standing in water, out by the gate, one pound for a very generous-sized bunch - four times the amount you would get in any supermarket.

Cow parsley is rampant, everywhere looks very frothy and ethereal.     This was a rectory, although it has a different name now.

Owl Wood is looking particularly beautiful - a froth of Queen Anne's Lace/Cow Parsley which is growing up to five foot, dotted in amongst it there are native bluebells, masses of wild garlic, and lots more wild flowers which I must note down some time.

Lunch was a simple meal of watercress, eggs from the hens who live up the lane, with sliced tomato and some pumpernickel bread.      It would have been better with home made bread and home grown tomatoes.

Friday 18 May 2018

Stubborn Dog, ESP, or Something Else?

There are plenty of places to walk around here, we don't have to stick to country lanes, or walk along the side of roads.    It is possible to walk for miles through farmland, ancient woodland and the like.  Sometimes we are spoilt for choice.   The dog and I have a great time, mixing and matching our walking routes, well I do, he simply trots along at my side...


There are two routes where his behaviour changes.    One is a very quiet country lane and the other is a big expanse of barley field.

There is no traffic to speak of, no gas guns to scare the birds, nothing different, that I can perceive, from anywhere else - and yet his behaviour changes.   He stops and digs his heels in, is reluctant to move forward.   He looks at me, and pulls backwards on his lead, sometimes jumping backwards and tugging me to follow.

We make very slow progress for a few yards and then our walks progress at normal, happy pace.

This happens every time I choose to take those particular routes.       They are only a quarter of a mile or so from home, so when I do them 'in reverse', so to speak, his pace is much faster, he pulls hard and moves quickly, but that could be because home is not too far away and he knows it.

These are the only two pathways where it happens, always in the same places.   

Some of my favourite walks have to be accessed this way, so I persist in using them occasionally...

Thursday 17 May 2018

Bull Gates and Baler Twine

One of the joys of wondering around the countryside is that of getting up 'close' to some beautiful animals.     Not too close, in this instance,  I like the security of a strong fence between us.   The next photograph shows just how enormous he is - no trickery involved, he is massive.

There is a public footpath which cuts across a corner of his field, I always make sure that the bull and his family are at the far end of the paddock, before I use it.    He is huge, but he seems very placid when his very young offspring have a mad five minutes of leaping and playing around him.   The first time I saw it happen I held my breath, fully expecting him to get grumpy, but he was fine with them.

This handsome old bull has now been replaced by some youngster.    I shall miss Big Daddy, he was quiet and contented to have his wives and family around him.   He had a good life.   

I never cut through the fields when I have the dog with me, that would be asking for trouble - not so much from the bull, but from the anxious mama's.   

I'm always fascinated to observe their system of social behaviour.    I'm sure there must be books about it, it seems to be quite structured.   One or two females look after the calves, a kind of creche, for a while.    Another is always on look-out duty.    There is usually one female who stays fairly close to the bull,  though whether that is simply the wife of the day, or his favourite wife, I haven't worked out.   😉

This is the replacement - a little white bull, his lady for today was the one lying down just in front of him.    Just after I took this photograph they took a nice little stroll along the side of the fenced-off river.    I was walking the dog home, along  the other bank of the river, using an unofficial path through a barley field, rather than risk any trouble.

Three little beauties with a guardian.

These two were having a good old munch but stopped to watch me watching them.

Good strong fences keep them in, along with some electric fencing here and there.     More worrying though are the gates...

Where would a farmer be without his bits of baler twine!   Luckily, there are no bulls in this field, only a handful of cows with their calves.

Another gate on the same farm - this one is only trying to keep the weeds and nettles at bay, so that is alright.

This is the main gate  to the field which holds the bull and his many wives and families.   Already a stout and strong one, reinforced this year with an old metal hurdle ... tied on with baler twine, of course.