Saturday 30 April 2011

Clematis flowering for the Royal Wedding?

My Clematis "Asao" has decided to flower beautifully, just in time for the Royal Wedding. I think that the plants have really enjoyed the sunny weather we have had recently and everything seems to be a couple of weeks earlier than last year.

Despite me saying I wasn't going to watch the wedding for hours, I did watch the service and really enjoyed it. I thought Catherine's dress suited her very well, and I agree that it had a feeling of Princess Grace of Monaco's dress all those years ago. Good luck to them both.

If Walls could Talk

I am currently enjoying the BBC4 series "If walls could talk" presented by Dr Lucy Worsley (Curator of Historic Palaces). This series looks at the history of the home by focusing on four rooms in the house - sitting room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. It explores the uses of the rooms and delves into some really interesting facts. For example, did you know that the phrase "Sleep tight" comes from medieval times when the bed had ropes supporting the straw mattress? If you slept tight, it meant you had good support.
Dr Worsley is a very enthusiastic presenter in a 'jolly hockeysticks' kind of way. She throws herself into various experiments, such as not washing for seven days, or having a sea bathe in a chemise in what looks like freezing weather, all for our greater understanding of the way people lived. It makes for fascinating viewing.
Part four is this week and the other episodes are available on iplayer . (Photo from iplayer)

Thursday 28 April 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't know why, but I woke up this morning with the thought, "must make some chocolate chip cookies" in my head. Having been to the shops and bought some chocolate chips, it was a simple task to make them. The end result is crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle, which is just how I think it should be. The only problem is not eating the whole lot in one evening. The beautifully hand embroidered tablecloth in the photo is one I bought from a charity shop in Louth (for only £4.50 - you couldn't buy a piece of white linen for that now, let alone the hours the embroidery would have taken - what a bargain.) It is also lovely to think that someone's hard work has lasted and is now being appreciated by someone else.

Wednesday 27 April 2011


Being married to a hoarder, coming from a hoarding family and so being a hoarder myself can have some benefits. There is the danger of becoming swamped in "things that might come in handy" or "things we just had to save from destruction", but I couldn't live in a minimalist house anyway - it's just not my style! The benefit of finding lovely items like the (possibly) Victorian tiles above outweighs the negatives. The muted colours and floral pattern are right up my street, even though, as yet, we haven't found them a suitable home.

The writing above is found on the back of one of the tiles and I'm not sure whether it is a signature or pattern name and number. However, it all adds to the interest in a fairly utilitarian object. I would love to have a mixture of tiles as a splashback, although they would probably have to have similar colours in them to make the different patterns work together. Alternatively, they could be like a dot plant in a flower border - the central piece around which everything else is placed.
I wonder what else Chris will find?

Sunday 24 April 2011

Happy Easter images

I thought I would put a few images for Easter onto my blog. I made this chocolate cake which was delicious (though I say so myself) and took it with me when I visited Mum and Dad. Usually, I make a chocolate fudge topping, but I thought I would make it a chocolate buttercream instead, especially as it would have chocolate eggs on the top. (Personally, I don't think you can have too much chocolate, but some people may not agree).
This is one of my mum's hens, and I like her in particular because her feathers have the most fantastic patterns on them.Two fabulous images of blossom - apple blossom above and cherry blossom below.
Happy Easter in four photos.

Saturday 23 April 2011

St James' Church at Louth (2)

The interior of the church, with the alabaster font on the right. It dates from 1856, but is cracked so is no longer used.

The stone font which is used, and which was sculpted at the time of the building of the church. You can see that there are still traces of colour on the leaves at the top, so originally, this must have been quite a focal point.
In a close up of the leaf carving, you can see the paint colours, still visible after about 571 years. It was a fascinating building to visit and there were some very nice and obviously well informed stewards there who gave me lots of interesting information.

St James' Church at Louth

St James's church spire can be seen towering over the town and the church was at the forefront of the Lincolnshire Uprising in 1536. Henry VIII had decided that the monasteries were too rich and powerful and decided to dissolve them and confiscate all their property. The dissolution of Louth Park Abbey was the catalyst for action. The people of Louth were fiercely against this and the Uprising began when the Vicar, Thomas Kendall, preached a rousing sermon. 30,000 people marched on Lincoln to meet Henry's commissioners, but were stopped by Henry's men. As the plaque above explains, the Vicar was hanged, drawn and quartered in London, at Tyburn. However, this uprising led to the Pilgrimage of Grace the following year, again quashed by Henry's men, and the leaders were brutally killed despite Henry promising leniency. In a letter rebuffing the Louth petition, Henry described Lincolnshire as "the most brute and beastly shire of the whole realm".

The spire of St James' church. The present church's chancel and nave were re-built in 1430-40, and the spire was completed in 1515. It contains the eighth heaviest set of bells in the country.

One of the animal carvings on the front seats - only these seats have the carvings, so must have been for the wealthiest parishioners or patrons of the church.

Friday 22 April 2011

A visit to Louth (2)

Finding these plaques on shops in Louth and then looking down and discovering the meridian running through the town was quite a surprise. As Chris said, "It has to go somewhere", but I just didn't expect to see it running anywhere through Lincolnshire. To be honest, it's not really something I give much thought to anyway - it is just there.
Another unexpected plaque on the opposite wall.

The line even goes through the pavement. More about Louth and the church in my next post.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

A Visit to Louth

On Monday, Chris and I visited Louth, a small market town about twenty five miles away from Lincoln, towards the east coast. We had both driven through the town before, but had never visited. It was a lovely place, with masses of Georgian architecture which seemed to have escaped being 'improved'. As a result, there is a lot to see.

A mosaic in the doorway of an empty shop which had large rounded windows. The detail on the mosaic captured my interest straight away.
A fabulous example of an original shop front, with glass panels placed at angles. Louth has retained a lot of independent shops and even the chains such as Argos are not overly obtrusive. There is an air of faded gentility about the town and the people there are obviously proud of the way the town looks as it has been able to resist the homogenised High Street found in many other places in England. I think that Tesco want to build a supermarket there, but so far, the local people are fighting it as they feel it will ruin the look of the town. Judging from what we saw, I think they are right to fight against it, and to protect the very special place they have.
I have lots more to write about in my next blogs as we also visited the church and found the Greenwich Meridian line too. More to follow...

Monday 18 April 2011


I know I have already featured my small selection of tulips on here before, but couldn't resist adding a few more photos as I am so pleased with the amazing splash of colour these flowers are providing at the moment.

This one is the double 'Carnaval de Nice' which I featured way back in October and which is a gorgeous combination of white and red with a little green on the outer petals. It is certainly one which is impossible to ignore.
Even the shut flowers look exotic.

And finally, back to the combination of 'Jimmy' and 'Ronaldo', but taking a look at the insides of the flowers, which are just as lovely as the outside.
I have only got four pots of these tulips, but am so impressed, I think I shall have to buy more for next year. They are so beautiful and have given me so much pleasure (and lots of photo opportunities!) I don't think I would go to the extremes of seventeenth century Holland, where one bulb of a particularly prized specimen would be worth a house, but I do think I have underrated these bulbs in the past and I shall do my best to always grow some tulips in the future.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

A Book from Horncastle

The Open Door by Alec Buckels

While we were in Horncastle recently, we spent a few happy hours looking in some of the second hand bookshops there. Chris found a book called 'Number One Joy Street - a medley of Prose and Verse for Boys and Girls' for £2.00 which he bought immediately. It includes work by Walter de la Mare, Eleanor Farjeon, Hilaire Belloc and Edith Sitwell and was published by Blackwell, Oxford in 1923. We both liked some of the colour plates and the black and white drawn illustrations in the text.

Puck's Magic by C T Nightingale

It was the illustration above that really grabbed Chris' interest and persuaded him to buy the book. I have investigated on amazon and the book is available but the cheapest copy is £18.00. So, sometimes, it pays to search in little secondhand book shops - you never know what you might find.

Monday 11 April 2011

More from Granny

After Granny made her debut on my blog, I asked Mum for a photo of her when she was little. This was not an easy task as there don't seem to have been many taken. Mum did find this one, with Granny at the bottom left frowning, her sister Margaret (known as Margie, with a hard 'g' sound) and Hilda Mary at the top wearing a very posh hat. The back shows it is from Hilda Mary and I'll try to decipher it:

My darling Mother,

We had 4 of these Post Cards done for 1,50, when we went to town yesterday. Monica (Granny) has already told you in her letter that the J/Tour du Monde (?) did not have a Matinee on Thursday so as we had got into Bruxelles we did not want to go back having done nothing, so we went to 'The Merry Widow'. We all enjoyed it immensely, it was very well done and it was only 50. We must tell you all about when you come back, but to tell you how much I enjoyed it I will say I was not disappointed. The singing and dancing was sweet, but we were rather too high up to hear the words but I don't think that mattered we heard the music and saw the glorious dresses, it reminded us of those fashions at the ?: which are burnt(?)I hope you like this of us, it was an instant(?) and ready for us when we came from the theatre. With much love to Father and Brooke ? Hilda.

Mum said Hilda Mary was always very well dressed and took a great interest in clothes, as can be seen from her card. I remember visiting Auntie Mary and I do remember her wearing a suit and being very smart. Apparently, they went to school in Brussels for a while and Granny was about eight at this time which might explain her less than happy expression. I have tried to decipher the card as well as I can, but there remain some words I am not sure of, so have replaced them with question marks. It does give a fascinating glimpse into a different time.

Sunday 10 April 2011

What a difference a day or two makes...

My tulips really came into their own and I was very excited by the daily improvement in growth and colour. Then suddenly, this week, with the onset of beautiful sunny, warm weather, they opened out in all their glory.

They were a free gift when I ordered some plants last autumn, and I planted them in a tub, not really thinking they would amount to much. How wrong could I be? The purple and orange have given a vibrant colour contrast amongst all the blues and yellows in the garden at the moment and have delighted me.

Velvety textured tulips giving a shot of bright colour to the garden - I think the varieties are Ronaldo and Jimmy. (Apologies to those poor souls in Canada who are still shivering under snow. Hopefully, these photos will keep you going until your own Spring finally comes.)

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Spring in my garden

All of a sudden, my tulips have grown and are almost in flower! Things are certainly changing quickly now and are 'going up a gear'. In fact, blink and you miss something!
Here is a lovely delicate erythronium (dog's tooth violet) called 'Pagoda' which is remarkably tenacious especially as every year I forget it is there, so it is constantly living with the threat of me inadvertantly digging it up or squashing it. However, it regularly manages to surprise and delight me by returning with its deeply veined leaves and delicate pale yellow flowers. A real little beauty!

This is Magnolia 'Susan' which is in flower a month before it flowered in 2010. I love this for the brilliant pink elongated petals and for the gorgeous fragrance which is just at nose height as I planted it in a tub. It is also remarkably hardy and survived this last winter very well, as you can see. I did wrap the tub in bubble wrap for insulation, but even so, I wasn't sure it could cope with the intense cold and consistent freezing temperatures we had last November and December. I am so pleased it did.

And finally, another Magnolia, this time 'Stellata' which has lovely white star shaped flowers. I bought this last year from a well known cut price supermarket and it has put on lots of growth and given me about ten flowers, so I think it was a bargain. Again, it is in a bubble wrap insulated pot and survived the winter well. Both the magnolias prefer acid soil, which the garden doesn't have, so they are in pots.
I love the Spring; it is a wonderful time of year for us gardeners!

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Blossom from Tupholme

How could I resist putting these lovely Spring blossoms onto my Blog? I saw these at Tupholme Abbey (it means Ram's Island, apparently, and was originally surrounded by marshy, swampy ground) and thought they would make a lovely image.
The pussy willow also made a nice image, with the contrast between fully open flowers, slightly open and gone over flowers. It just shouts "Spring!" at you, doesn't it?

Monday 4 April 2011

Visit to Tupholme Abbey (2)

We last visited Tupholme Abbey ( in September 2009 and I added it as a blog post on 8th September 2009. Last Saturday we decided, on a bit of a whim, to head off to Horncastle for the afternoon and on the way back, we stopped off at the Abbey again. Originally it was a huge place, with an Abbey Church, Cloisters, and all the other accoutrements required for a monastic complex. However, it fell foul of Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries (he has a lot to answer for) and the buildings were sold off and made into a Tudor mansion, subsequently demolished. The only part of the Abbey that remains is the refectory wall. At one end are the remains of a Victorian house and at the other, a Georgian house. Around the area, there are many pieces of beautifully worked stones, just randomly left on the ground. Even though there is not that much left, there is a strong feeling of peace and tranquility and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
This willow sculpture of an eel catcher with a string of fish in his hand was a new addition to the pond areas.

Looking through the Victorian house down the range of the remaining building.

Looking out through the Georgian window frame onto the quiet Lincolnshire fields.