Thursday, 30 August 2018

Dismantled and Shipped to California...

Image found on

This old church has been redundant since 1981.    Like many churches it is thought to have been built on the site of a much earlier church, a mix of 13/14/15 century building work.

Yesterday I  came across a small article which announced that the church was about to be sold, dismantled, transported and rebuilt in California.   The date of the article was April 1986, when the estimated cost for the venture was said to be around six hundred thousand dollars.   

An American Episcopalian Deacon said it was worth every penny.

Shockingly, the local vicar approved of the scheme, stating that no other use had been found for the building and as there are better examples of medieval churches in the area he and the community would be happy to think it had gone to America...

Further reading on the website has revealed that the scheme was not destined for success, there was no money to back the idea, thank goodness.

There have always been a few people who loved the building, but it suffered from neglect.   Now there is a new and much more active group of people who are working hard to protect and preserve the old building. 

Amazingly, despite all the neglect, the bell tower and bells are in good and safe working order and will be rung to celebrate the Armistice this November, and on other special occasions.    It is a small beginning, but so important.

One of these days I hope to be able to arrange to have a viewing, with camera, of course.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with this very beautiful image of the interior,  borrowed from with thanks.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Owl Wood and Conkers

The summer undergrowth is dying back in Owl Wood,  which makes it a lot easier to go along with our wheelbarrows and gather the fallen sticks.   Free kindling, plus it keeps the woodland floor just a little safer.     The last few days have been decidedly chilly, especially in the evenings, inevitably thoughts turn to what is to come, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, thick socks, cosy throws and the cheerful warmth of a log burner.

I have a sneaky feeling that autumn is my favourite season, but then when we are coming out of winter and into a beautiful Spring I tend to rhapsodise about that, too.    Winter and summer are pretty good too, but only when they do what it says on the packet.

The small wheelbarrow belongs to my grandchildren, picking up the kindling is an easy way for them to earn their pocket money, plus it saves me a chore.

One of the last things I baked in the Rayburn was a wild plum, walnut and windfall apple tart.   Quick and easy, always popular in this house.    I had one big red plum left in the fruit bowl, so I added that, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon.     Served warm with custard it makes a cheap and easy pudding, warming and flavoursome.

The new cooker should get a good workout this weekend when our older son and his family come to stay.      It will give me a great excuse to cook up a storm, make sure that they don't go hungry while they are under my roof.

Work is still ongoing, the kitchen is still all out of kilter.   I escape whenever I can.

I  decided to go out berry hunting along the old railway line, hoping to be able to pick some brambles, aka blackberries, but in my part of Lincolnshire we call them brambles. 

Despite the dry summer, they are very large and juicy compared to the ones I normally find along there.   As I picked them I thought about Farmer T's late wife, Elizabeth, we often used to see one another along there, each armed with an old margarine tub and intent on picking a few berries to add to a pie.

My secateurs were put to good use, few people walk along the track now, brambles, wild roses and nettles are staking their claim and the track is almost impassable in parts.

Short walks take us along country lanes, there is a magnificent horse chestnut tree just along here, the conkers are not quite ready yet.     I have heard tell that there is to be a bit of a conker competition in the village.    The old village school has a horse chestnut tree in the grounds, the people who now own the place have decided that the playground would be a great place to 'host' such an event.     The competitors - men only, apparently - may wear school uniforms.        If it goes ahead it could be quite fun.

The old watermill looked tranquil, too early for any visitors to be roaming the grounds.

Just a little further along and up a small hill the bridle way leads past a farm and the old farm workers cottages.   

This is the main farmhouse, looking resplendent, easy to tell that some love is being put back into the place.      Even more excitingly, and the whole reason I came this way...

A beautiful horse doing some dressage exercises.    This is a whole new venture for the farm.

Somehow I think my feet will be leading me this way more often, there is something quite wonderful about watching these powerful and beautiful horses, the poetry of their movements.   

Who am I kidding?   Any horse will get my attention.   My granddaughter is the same, we spent quite a while watching this horse and rider, I grew tired first and had to coax her away to complete our walk.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Ley Lines? Full Moon? Gas Leak? Electrical Problems?

This post will make my younger brother smile.     I know he has many a tale to tell of the times when he stayed here and similar things happened.      We used to grumble, then have a laugh and call it the "*** Effect", the asterisks standing for the name of the village.

I must state here and now, the house is not in the least bit spooky or scary, it just has a few strange happenings now and then.

I went to bed at 9pm last night, I was tired, tired with a capital T, so I fell asleep almost immediately.  I woke at just a few minutes before midnight and decided that I may as well check to see whether both cats were indoors - they like to go hunting in the evenings, but often roll up late expecting to be let in.   Sparky, the old one, will often drum on our bedroom window until someone gets up and lets her into the kitchen.

I don't often bother to put lights on, and I didn't last night, until I reached the kitchen.    Yes, both cats were in their baskets and Toby was curled up on his chair.    All was well, except that I could hear what sounded like a radio and weird music!

I opened the pantry door, and found that the gas detector was sounding a klaxon and announcing "Emergency, gas leak" over and over.       The new gas pipe comes through the pantry.

I whizzed back down to the bedroom, woke a bemused and sleepy husband, who finally cottoned on to what I was telling him.      By the time we returned to the kitchen, the alarm had stopped and he looked at me a bit disbelievingly.     

He tested the alarm, it was up and ready, but not sounding, there was no smell of gas (but there hadn't been any before, either) decided to turn the gas off until morning, anyway.    Of course he couldn't quiet his mind then, whereas all I wanted to do was go back to sleep, as long as I knew my animals and the house were safe.

This morning, he told me that he'd picked up his laptop computer, so that he could do a bit of reading about alarms, LPG etc but, when he lifted the lid, the computer went "wheeeeeeeeeeeee" and died on him, almost as though it was empty of any charge.    When he plugged in the charger it showed that the battery was already fully charged.   

The gas has been checked again this morning, nothing wrong - thank goodness.   The computer is also working perfectly well. 

These little happenings are typical of what goes on in this house.   Over the last 12 years there have been hundreds of similar incidents.     Things stop working, but are not broken, lights which go off and on.   

It is not old or faulty wiring because we had the place completely rewired when we came here, and all that has been checked thoroughly.

We accept it now as a quirk of the place.   It can stop this midnight malarky though, we need our sleep.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Steampunk: Be Nice to One Another

We hadn't realised that the annual Steampunk Festival was to take place this weekend, but we soon cottoned on when we saw people dressed in the most wonderfully stylish and individual outfits.   These two women were enjoying a chat by the side of the cathedral.  I didn't get them from their best angle, but I didn't want to interrupt their conversation, although I know that I would only have been met with smiles and politeness.

Steampunk began as a title for a particular genre of science fiction, but it has broadened, it is the label for a style of dressing which combines historical fashion and accessories which could have come from the Victorian era, they are mostly quite romantic and often very individual indeed.   

Hundreds of Steampunks were walking around Lincoln, all were delighted with the attention they were receiving. 

The man and girl in the previous photograph, and this woman with a little boy, were a family group and were happy for me to photograph them as they walked up the middle section of Steep Hill. 

These two were at the bottom of the hill, they would certainly have felt the chilly breeze blowing around their legs, but they were having a great time.

The top of the hill was a little busier and it was difficult to get a clear shot of costumes, but I liked the way this woman had done her hair to echo the colours of her dress and also the costumes which the other Steampunks were wearing, pith helmets, old furs, every one of them beautifully turned out and feeling fabulous.

This woman was patiently posing for a serious photographer to get snapping.

Quite different from most of the others were these two.    I loved her outfit, it was made from an assortment of old ties.       They had gone for a slightly different approach and they looked superb.   I asked whether they would mind me taking a photograph and they very happily put down their supermarket shopping bags and posed in front of the cathedral. 

I have just read that there is one rule for Steampunk:  Be Nice to One Another.   They were all embracing that, the atmosphere was superb.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Running Away from Home

By now most of the work should have been completed.     

We have already had the whole house open to the heating engineers for three days now, no room a sanctuary,  inner doors and outer doors propped open to facilitate their dashing about with wet vacuum cleaners, blow torches and serious faces.

My only function has been to make teas and keep the dog calm and out of the way - where? 

The system is losing pressure, it moans like an elephant enduring the agonies of a protracted  breech-presentation labour and delivery.        In short, we have a problem,  somewhere in the system, possibly under the floorboards, possibly not.

The old hen house, with cheerful flower, is looking increasingly attractive.    A des res, hideaway, for one human  plus dog, perhaps.   We'll see how today goes.

I am abandoning husband, the workmen, the house and labouring elephant,  the poor stressed dog.   

Heading for the bright lights of Lincoln, with my daughter and two of my grandchildren.   

ps The dog will be fine, son no. 2 is coming along today, Toby dog loves him almost as much as he loves me.     

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

A Hole in my Roof and Workmen all over the House

There was a hole in the roof,  just about where son no. 2 is sitting, now that the Rayburn's flue is no longer needed.           We asked our son to come and help to fix it, call it payback for some of the nights I walked the floor with him as a screaming baby!       

Almost done!

It looks as though it is time to get oiling those window frames while we are at it.

The heating engineers were here all day yesterday, they will return today and possibly for a couple of hours tomorrow, but I hope not.    Please let them be all done and dusted by tea time today.     I want to have access to hot water again and I want to have some order and cleanliness restored to my home.

Thank goodness for books, my escape from too many people, too much disorder and chaos.

I find myself doing 'research', surrounding myself with little heaps of quite old recipe books.   I suppose you could say I am building a little wall around me, trying to have at least one calming space which is not being invaded by cheerful, whistling workmen, lovely though they are.

I am searching for things which  can be made on a girdle, a bakestone, a heavy cast iron plate, or a griddle, depending on where you come from.     My younger brother lives on a very handsome narrow boat - you can see his blog in my sidebar -  he is interested in trying out some stove top baking.   

There are lots of recipes, but when you sift through them, they are variations on drop scones, potato cakes, thin oatcakes, Welsh cakes, crumpets, damper and soda bread.     I could have googled the recipes in moments, but handling books soothes me, keeps me happily occupied. 

English, Welsh and Scottish books, alongside old recipes of England, the no nonsense Elizabeth David, WI books, a lovely Canadian recipe book, as well as one from Australia...and lots more not in shot.

Call them my chocolate bars of consolation, which is what I would probably have enjoyed when I was younger, or perhaps I would have picked the crust off a loaf of fresh bread. 

What consoles you at times of stress? 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Seats for the Poor

Not all country churches have one but I find vestry's fascinating.   

They are small rooms, sometimes just a partitioned or curtained area, within the church, where the vicar can get changed.    In the past they may also have been used to conduct meetings, these days they tend to become dumping grounds for all the detritus, things which may have been useful at one time, but which now lay dusty and forgotten by all but the church mice.

The vestry in our nearest church was crammed with all manner of things.   It still has lots of 'stuff' in there, but the churchwarden decided to get rid of the Elsan toilet - unused, spotless, apart from dust, spider poo and cobwebs, but what on earth was it doing in there?   Plastic flowers, ancient and very tatty Christmas decorations, broken chairs and a badly cracked jug were thrown out, too.

The useful mixed with the forgotten, the whole festooned with dust, dirt and cobwebs, mice droppings scattered everywhere, of course. 

Ugly plastic chairs, signs of a little damp, and a painting of the church, no doubt a gift from a parishoner, plastic wreaths, an old pitchfork, a rake and some other bits of metal.

Most interesting of all, was a wooden sign.

It should be fairly easy to date,  it shows that the Incorporated Society for Building and Churches gave a grant of £75 towards the rebuilding of the church, on condition that a certain amount of seating was reserved for the poorer inhabitants of the parish.

I know that the church was renovated in the 1860's, or thereabouts, so presumably this dates from that time.

Unfortunately, although the seat numbers are specified, the pews in the church are not numbered and show no signs of having been numbered.     This makes me hope that the sign was not hung in the church, the seats not numbered and people were allowed to sit wherever they liked.

Tucked away in one corner is this tiny fireplace, now blocked up.    The church is old, despite having been restored by the Victorians, so I like to think that lots of past vicars have warmed their hands by it. 

This is how it looks from the church, no hint of the mess beyond.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Ripping Out the Heart of the Home

A final and very thorough clean of the flue and Rayburn, always a messy job, and it has been necessary to do this once a month, followed by a total clean of the kitchen.   Top to bottom - and that is despite using lots of dust sheets.     

Cleaned, polished, ready to be moved on to another home.     All those pipes at the side are normally hidden by the drawers which have had to be removed to facilitate the removal of the Rayburn.

The upper chimney/flue/China man's hat,  removed from the roof.     The inside was as clean as the outside, shows what a great job we made of cleaning it - well, we have had plenty of practice over the years!

Heave-ho and away he goes.   Five men manhandled it out and onto a pallet.

Goodbye old friend, you have truly been the heart of this home.     You have kept us cosy and warm, supplied endless hot water, cooked soups, stews, casseroles, cakes, bread(and everything in between)...

...beautifully.  Perhaps you were a little temperamental at times - when the wind was in the wrong quarter, or if you were being fed seasoned willow when you really fancied seasoned ash, but even so, you made life comfortable.

How would I rate you?

Definitely a great big 8/10, I would rate you 10/10 were it not for the mess of the big clean down.

Now on to the next big cooking adventure, when I finally make up my mind about what is to replace you in the cooking department.

Another fun day tomorrow, the heating engineer will be coming to fit the boiler, etc. etc.

On the plus side, the dead rat which I had told my husband (several months ago) that I could smell, has been discovered by one of the young plumbers.   It seems that electronic ring of protection, plus the two cats, were no match for that chappie. 

Another plus - at least I don't have to cook tonight. 

Village Life

This old photograph, badly faded and worn, shows the mother of one of our village residents, she was collecting water from the garden well.   What looks like blonde hair is, in fact, a Lincolnshire bonnet.

The old thatched cottage was demolished in the late 1960's.   It had been put up for sale following the death of the owner.    Shortly afterwards it was knocked down and replaced by a prefab.   These days it would renovated and restored and sold for a tidy profit.   In time, the prefab was demolished and a bungalow was built on the plot.

Farmer T spent some time mowing around the edges of our barley field yesterday,  I was reminded of how the year is moving on.      The barley was harvested a few weeks ago, the straw baled and sold.  Up until last year it would have been used as bedding for Farmer T Snr's pigs.

Farmer T Snr loved his pigs.   He had dozens of them, their fate may have been the same as that of those poor pigs who are raised in less than ideal conditions but, until that time, they lived the good life.      Only ill health and increasing frailty persuaded him to give them up. 

The pig farm is now home to farm machinery.     The sheep dogs who guarded the pigs are underemployed.   Luckily, they are also loved, if a little bored.     Tractors, diggers and combine harvesters don't interest them nearly so much as those pigs did.

An old Lincolnshire song goes something like this:

I rent my shirt and tore my skin
To get my master's harvest in.
Hip! hip! hurrah!
Harvest in and harvest home
We'll get a good fat hen and a bacon bone.
Hip! hip! hurrah!

At the end of harvest, that wonderful day when the last cart load was taken from the field, the cart adorned with a green bough to show that it was the final one, there was cause for celebration - and jealousy, if you hadn't completed your own harvest.

Many fields have already been harvested, but others are still waiting.    Tractors, trailers and combine harvesters will be trundling along the lane for a while yet.    Of course the weather has reverted to what England does best - at least two seasons in one day.   At the moment it is dithering between autumn and summer. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Using Wooden Spoons to Help my Memory

My father had a particular way of jogging his memory and reminding himself that something needed to be switched on/off, collected, a letter which needed to be written, or of an appointment to be kept that day.    He would put a book on the floor, right next to the desk in his study.

Once he had retired, he spent most of his days at that desk, unless he was travelling to visit friends in Virginia, out doing research, or holding meetings.    He was a meticulous list-maker, cereal boxes, tissue box lids, etc were cut into suitably-sized pieces and kept in a drawer, ready for the next list.

The book on the floor was there to remind him of the more immediate and pressing jobs for the day.    We teased him mercilessly, but it worked for him.   

Many years have passed now since the day he went to visit the surgery and never came home.   He had seen the doctor, was walking back to his car and had a heart attack as he was climbing back into his car.     

I was at home, cooking his lunch.      Time passed, he didn't return.  I kept his meal warm.  Still no word.      An hour and a half later, the hospital rang to say that despite their best efforts...

All these years later I find myself adopting a similar method to jog my memory - I use this very large old enamel jug which is filled with my wooden spoons.    I don't put them on the floor where the cats and Toby would feel duty bound to go and have a good sniff or a lick, I put them out on my large wooden chopping board.   

They shouldn't be there, they irritate my eye. 

It works.

There is such a lot going on around here at the moment, indoor work, outdoor work, regular day-to-day work.    My head feels like...

... this old hay net.      The wooden spoons help keep me on track and keep me sane, or what passes for it, anyway.

Do you have a particular method for jogging your memory?

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Miss Read got on her Bicycle and Found True Love

Little did I realise that my offer to take notes on Miss Read's memories would lead to me having to spend almost 90 hours working on producing a booklet which is suitable to be printed and sold!   

It has been a labour of love, but don't forget to put some emphasis is on the labour!     I have had to learn all manner of (new to me) computery skills.   It has been brain-stretching fun.    The booklet will still look quite amateurish, because I am, but I hope Miss Read will be pretty chuffed when she sees it...fingers crossed.

Needless to say, the process has left me little time for playing in Blog World, a quick dip in here and there and I have been back to figuring out how beautify various pages.

This coming week is going to be one of total chaos and disruption.    As I type, there are two men digging up the old vegetable garden, laying the outside pipework for the new gas tank.   On Monday the men are coming in to remove the Rayburn, then there is the huge concrete plinth which it stood on, that will need to be broken up (messy!)  in and amongst all of this the plumbers will be fitting the new combi boiler and kitchen and pantry will be no-go areas.     

Toby will be going into a meltdown because there will be men in the house - and he feels it is his duty to protect us from them, the cats will run into Owl Wood to ride it out, returning only when the men leave, I wish I could, too.     I know it will be worth it in the end.    Truly it will...😓

Back to Miss Read.

A couple of days ago I needed some information, so I called in for a visit.   She knows how much I love hearing her stories of times gone by and got talking about how she met her husband.

Having just completed a two year teacher training course, Miss Read had been fortunate enough to secure her first teaching post at a village school just a few miles along the road from the lovely old manor house, where she still lived with her parents.

She cycled to school and back each day and it must have been a very pleasant journey, for this was back in 1951, when the lanes would have been even quieter than they are now.

One evening as she was cycling home she came across a young man whose motorbike had broken down.   She stopped to ask whether she could be of assistance, or take a message for help.  He thanked her, but said he could manage.    They got chatting and before she left he said that he had heard that there was to be a dance at the village hall on Friday night and could he see her there...

The village hall used to look like this, much taller than it is these days, still the same fairly small floor space.    Those Friday evening dances were very popular, no doubt many a romance developed in and around that old place.   Difficult to believe nowadays when people practically have to be dragged in kicking and screaming to support local events.

Romance bloomed, and they were married two years later.      The wedding took place at the lovely church just up the lane from the old manor house, then the reception was held in the Great Hall which adjoined the house - if you look at the photograph of the old manor house, the roof apex of the Great Hall is visible on the far right.

(The house was demolished in the 1970's, only the Great Hall remains.  These days there are large tanks and farm implements obscuring the view, luckily I took this before they were put on the site.)

Food was still rationed, but this was a country wedding, Miss Read, her mother, and family friends had put together a suitable feast for the wedding breakfast.    Little remained, but all the crumbs were simply brushed down to the floor and the hens were allowed in to enjoy them.

 Miss Read made her own wedding dress, which she still has hanging in her wardrobe.    It was later used by two other brides, so she must have made a great job of it.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

150 Years Ago at a Dovecote Near Here

This marvellous old photograph shows the dovecote which often appears in photographs here.  This is one of the earliest photographs of the place. 

It is fascinating to see the changes.   It is still a beautiful place, but so much more beautiful in this old photograph.     Cows still graze the land but there is utilitarian electric fencing to stop them from roaming, trees are much larger, hedges are much higher and it doesn't quite have the same charm as it had back then.

No gates,  easy access for farm vehicles.

The snow scene was taken from a completely different angle, but you can see the top of the church tower peeping over the trees in the left hand corner, just as it does, very faintly, in the first old photograph.   The trees have grown and there are telegraph poles and electric fencing, it is still a beautiful scene.

The dovecote is all that remains, apart from the Great Hall, now a barn,  of a notable manor house.  The moat has been filled in and it all lies within a working farm.      My favourite dog-walking path cuts right through the yard, so I take a lot of photographs of this old place.

It has a good side, and one which clearly shows the passage of time written upon those old and beautiful hand made bricks.    No doves or pigeons live in here now, it is home to crows.    It is thought to have been one of the gatehouses to the old manor house.

Yesterday I attended a meeting at the village hall.    Miss Read was there, along with our local historian who digs and delves and has provided many of the photographs which will form part of the booklet we are having printed.       He also brought heaps of other fabulous local history snippets and photographs - including that first photograph, of course I had to snaffle a copy!

Mr E Nainby was a professional photographer, these are some of the wedding photographs left in his collection of glass plates, now digitised and shown in an exhibition of his work at the Manor House in our local market town.

The collage shows some middle class weddings, along with some wedding gifts, the one below is a farmworker's wedding from around 1900.

I think my favourite, though, is this one...

One of them loved the dog so much that s/he had to be included.