Monday, August 14, 2017

Garden Produce

There are lots of good things growing in the garden at the moment.   Some of them are ripe for picking others are ready for cutting.

 In the basket are tomatoes from the green house, courgettes and potatoes from the raised beds and plums from the tree at the top of the garden.  From the herb bed there are sprigs of sage, parsley and basil.

The herbs make a lovely, fragrant display in a jam jar on the kitchen windowsill until we need to use them.

There is much more lavender to harvest and dry.  I don't like to take too many flowers off as the bees love buzzing around its fragrant flower stalks.

Add a red pepper, an onion and an aubergine to the courgettes and tomatoes and you can make a simple ratatouille.  A clove of garlic with some tomato puree, olive oil and black pepper complete the dish.

There are beans, more plums and more courgettes to come in the next week or two. It's so satisfying to bring into the kitchen fruit and vegetables you have grown in your garden even if just from a pot outside the back door or a even just pots of herbs in the kitchen window.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sunshine and Wildlife in Tissington

Yesterday, whilst on our travels, we dropped into the village of Tissington which is near Ashbourne in Derbyshire for refreshment.

We parked opposite Tissington Hall which is still owned by the FitzHerbert family.  The Hall is sometimes open for guided tours.  Usually around the time of the Well Dressing festival and on Monday to Thursday in August.

We walked down to the old coach house to Herbert's Tea Rooms.  I've just noticed it was obviously wheelie bin day!

A view of St Mary's church from the street in front of the coach house.

Another view through the huge windows in the tea rooms.

 The Hall Well one of six wells in the village, the Well Dressings here are held during May for seven days after AscensionDay.  When I was a child at junior school we always used to have a bus trip to see the Well Dressings.  I have memories of the cattle grids you walk over to get into the village and the picnic we used to have on one of the grassed areas, bottles of water or lemonade and usually egg, potted meat or salmon spread sandwiches wrapped up in greaseproof paper and stored in a brown paper bag. 

 Trees in the middle of the village

 Lovely door to the Kindergarten closed during the school holidays.

Just out of the village is the Tissington Trail, which runs between Ashbourne and Parsley Hay. I've taken you along parts of this in many posts.

I loved these old mounting steps with the view of the church behind them

 On our walk around we spotted rose hips in the hedgerows

A southern hawker dragonfly? Can anyone help identify it?

and a migrant hawker dragonfly?  Again not sure but would be grateful for help in idenficication. Edit - this one could be the southern hawker, not the one above.

 Butterflies - not sure what this one is as it didn't open its wings enough to be able to see it properly, it was rather faded with damaged wings, perhaps a pale Meadow Brown?

 Red Admirals on white Buddleia

and an adult Wren feeding one of its newly fledged offspring.  It was such a joy to be able to capture these in a photo as usually they are so quick.  All the wildlife were basking in the warmth of the afternoon sun.

Link to one of my previous posts aboutTissington

Monday, August 07, 2017

A new use for an old building

St John's Church on Town Road in Hanley, the city centre of Stoke-on-Trent, has been empty and unused for as long as we have lived in the Potteries which is twenty years this year.

This interesting church is now wedged between the two halves of the Intu Potteries Shopping Centre and was crying out for someone to care for it.  It was bought a few years ago and the idea was to turn it into a restaurant but that fell through and it has recently been bought and refurbished.  A  few weeks ago it opened as the 6 Towns Antique and Vintage Emporium and Elsie's Tea Room.

Having never seen inside the church we decided to pay a visit last Friday. After spending half the morning at doctors, vets and opticians - the vet's bill was far more than that of the optician - we were in need of coffee and cake.

 The tea room is placed near the side entrance to the church, the staff are very friendly and helpful and the coffee and bananna and chocolate cake was delicious.

 There was a general buzz about the place, a few people had come in for coffee, some just to look at the antiques and a few more like me to look at the interior and specifically the windows and monuments.

The piano is there for anyone who can play and apparently someone played for a couple of hours one afternoon when there was a party in for afternoon tea.  He'd only popped in to have a look and ended up spending most of the afternoon there.  I can see why.

According to the notes on the menu for Elsie's Tea Room the church was built in 1792 and replaced another church which had been on the same site from 1738.  Apparently a stone was found from the earlier church during excavations. 

The windows were fascinating.

As were some of the monuments on the walls.  The one above is to commemorate the life of Samuel Alcock of Cobridge who 'for a period of twenty years joined with the congregation of this church in the sacred offices of public worship'  He died 10th November 1848 aged 49 years and 'was singularly kind and charitable in disposition' and 'upright and liberal in all his dealings'  The members of the church paid for the memorial.

Apparently the window above is quite unique in that it is the only known stained glass window dedicated to a solider who was killed during the Anglo Zulu wars of 1879.  The solider was Pte William Henry Hickin of the 24th foot who fell at Isandhlwana in South Africa on 22 January 1879 aged 25.  He was born in Hanley in 1854, the son of Henry and Hannah Hickin.  On the 1871 census the family lived on High Street,  William's occupation then was a writing clerk.  His father Henry's occupation was locksmith and bell hanger.

Above is a memorial to the memory of Ephraim Chatterley of Shelton who 'in humble reliance on the mediation of his redeemer exhchanged this life for a better' on 7th day of May 1811 aged 66.  According to the inscription he had a 'zealous and stedfast (sic) attachment to his native place.'

The East Window of painted, rather than stained, glass c. 1830

The upper galleries where the vintage sales areas are to be placed later on.
In one of the articles I read about the church it was described as having been built when 'ecclesiastical architecture was at its lowest ebb' and was 'a brick built edifice of a debased style of Gothic'.  The church is also noteworthy because of its early use and cast iron in both structural and decorative work including the gallery columns.

The window above is dedicated to the memory of Abraham Dutton who was the parish clerk of the church for fifty five years.  He died on 10th October 1883 aged 80 years.  On the 1881 Census Abraham Dutton was living at 28 High Street and was recorded as a widower and his occupation as watch and clock maker.

Above is part of a stained glass window which is a memorial to some of those from the area who lost their lives during the First World War.

Thursday, August 03, 2017


When I looked out of the bedroom window this morning it looked like a dull, windy, autumnal day.  I have washing drying around the house as every time I try to hang it out it seems to start drizzling.

We have loads of fruit on the plum tree but it just needs few dry, warm and sunny days to ripen.

Over the weekend in the midst of all showers I made a Summer Pudding.  

 It was very tasty served with Swedish Glace which is our favourite non dairy ice cream. Of course we like dairy ice cream too.

It made our evening meal on Saturday seem very colourful

especially alongside the quiche and salad which made us feel summery even if the weather outside told a different tale.

The rain seems to clear away in the late evenings and this has meant visits from the urban foxes.  These are the three cubs.  They are old enough now to come on their own although mother fox is usually around somewhere not too far away.

The garden is looking very pink at the moment with late summer flowers.  Hydrangeas, Roses, Japanese Anemones, Valerian and Hebe.

The Internet problem I mentioned in my previous post seems to have sorted itself after a phone call or two and a bit of messing with the laptop.  Hopefully it's back to normal now.

Edit Sunday 6th August.  I have made a separate page (link at the top of the blog where the book lists are) for the Summer Pudding Recipe as one or two people have asked about it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Parish Church of St James, Bonsall, Derbyshire

As promised in my last but one post I'm returning to the lovely, historic village of Bonsall to take you inside the parish church.  I've saved this post until now especially for Church Tourism Week.  This is organised by The Churches Conservation Trust, although this isn't one of the churches in its care, I thought it was an apt time to record my visit.

After our lunch at The Fountain Tea shop (see my post on Bonsall Village)  we walked up to the church.  I hadn't expected it to be open but it was.  Unfortunately I'd left my bridge camera in the back of the car but I had my little Cannon Power Shot camera in my bag so I was able to take a few photos.

There wasn't a guide book or leaflet inside the church so I took photos of the things I'd noticed realising that I'd probably miss something important along the way.  I've since been 'googling' to find out more about the church and the various things I'd recorded.

The most obvious and fascinating aspect of the church was the difference of the floor height  between  the nave and chancel.  A few steps up from Nave to Chancel are expected but in this church there are seven.  The bottom and top ones are thinner than the others.

From reading various blogs and reports it seems that the level of the  nave floor was dropped in the 14th century and this may explain the extra steps up into the Chancel and the rather large column bases in the nave.  This has given the church the honour of being known to have what is possibly the highest Chancel in the country.
On the base of one of the columns is a strange carving which some sources say might have been underground until the floor level was dropped.  It is known locally as the Bonsall Imp or the Little Devil although it has also been described as a cross between a frog and a unicorn.  .

I can see from the one horn on the head and the webbed looking feet where this idea of the image came from.

 At the top of the North aisle a modern glass mobile hangs in front of the window reflecting the colours of the stained glass.

There were some interesting wall monuments to the great and good of the village.  The large one oval one on the wall is a memorial to a man called Henry Ferne who died in 1723 having served as Receiver General of the Customs during the reigns King William III, Queen Anne and King George I.

The font is probably from the late 12th or early 13th century.

The unusual stone above is in the South aisle and is a bull baiting stone.  It was brought into the church by a former Rector who was so upset by the idea of bull baiting that he had the stone removed from the market place into the church.  Animal baiting was finally made unlawful twenty years later in 1835.

Above is one of the two Medieval stone grave  slabs that stand either side of the alter in the South aisle, not far from the bull baiting stone.  The other was behind a banner and couldn't be photographed easily although it was thicker and slightly more elaborate than this one.  They were moved out of the church during the restoration of 1863 and ended up in a churchwarden's garden.

The churchyard was full of both wild and garden flowers which look lovely against the grey weather worn stones.

I'm experiencing great difficulty with internet speed at the moment and we are not sure what the problem is.  I can count to twenty or sometimes even thirty before getting on line then the time to move between sites is about the same, reading and commenting on blogs takes ages as pages keep jumping about and scrolling up and down takes ages as the screen seems to freeze.  It has taken me two or three days to complete this post so I may have to take a break for a while until the problem is solved.