Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Around the block.

This morning I went for a walk. 

That's it.

Nothing remarkable in that. 

Not anywhere new or of any distance.

Just a little walk around the block.

But it was such a simple uplifting little walk that I found myself really appreciating what was around. 

Like the neighbours geraniums.


My favourite colour door.


Old Neddy. Not his real name I'm sure but suits him to a tee.


The luminous depth of this tree.


Down to the allotments.



And back along the canal.


Where the early morning mist had lingered - just enough.


Although at some points it still seemed like midsummer.


Small details.


And signs.


The perennial 'trying to get Jessie dog to look the right way when you are trying to take a photo of her' caper.




And home.

That's it.

A walk around the block.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Jane
xxx

P.S. A sneak peek at a little project we have coming up. All very exciting but not quite ready to reveal yet.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Horns, bells and pointy sticks.

As a lover of anything to do with folklore and airy fairy nonsense I jumped at the chance to visit the annual Horn Dance at nearby Abbots Bromley last week. Mr K was relieved to hear that the plans did not include him. Not that he wouldn't love to watch a group of grown men don bizarre costumes and bash their batons together (!) but to do so would probably require a copious amount of alcohol and some form of matrimonial threat.

So with a skip in my step and a song in my heart my pals and I set off along the gorgeous country lanes until we crossed the beautiful Blithfield reservoir (not my photograph I'm afraid - I was earthbound).


 Several years ago I attended a talk given by an author who collected local ghost stories. The one that stayed with me featured a taxi driver who, one dark and wintry night, had dropped off his fare at Abbots Bromley and was returning to his base in the nearby town of Rugeley.  As he neared the half way point of the reservoir he glanced in his rear view mirror and saw a face. So convinced was he that he had forgotten to drop off a further passenger that he spoke to him. When there was no reply the driver pulled over and checked the back of the car. THERE WAS NO ONE THERE! Bom bom BOMMMMMM! Of course I waited until our return journey in the dark to relay this tale. And then spent the rest of the journey unable to look over my shoulder.



Abbots Bromley itself is a pretty village, full pretty houses and olde worlde charm. As we entered the village there was a festival atmosphere.



Various stalls were set up on the village green - this one took my eye.


No end of Morris dancing paraphernalia for sale. I decided against purchasing a CD for Mr K.

The sign outside the gorgeous half timbered Goats Head on the village green gives a brief outline of the dance.


And Wikipedia tells us more about the dancers:
There are 12 dancers. Six carry the horns and they are accompanied by a musician playing an accordion (a violin in former times), Maid Marian (a man in a dress), the Hobby-horse, the Fool (or Jester), a youngster with a bow and arrow, and another youngster with a triangle. Traditionally, the dancers are all male, although in recent years girls have been seen carrying the triangle and bow and arrow.
Until the end of the 19th century the dancers were all members of the Bentley family. The dance passed to the related Fowell family in the early 20th century; this has continued to this day, though due to rising house prices none of them live in the village any longer; many live in nearby towns. They have been known to allow visitors to "dance in" if asked politely, and will often invite musicians and others to take part when necessary.

We were told that we had 'just missed' the performance on the green and the dancers had wandered up into the lanes to continue in the surrounding fields.

So we had a wander.

And I'm afraid from this point on I have no idea as to what has happened to my page colour or indeed how to fix it!

Inside the church there was a small exhibition which gave further details of the dance - including this lovely tribute to one of it's performers.



Sorry about the quality here - it's been super duper zoomed.


Then there were the racks that hold the antlers


Alongside a rather spooky hobby horse that looks like it was put out to pasture many years ago.


In complete contrast the other side of the church housed a steel statue portraying Jesus and a disciple that was commissioned to celebrate the millennium.


Back outside we wandered up the high street. Still no sign of any dancing but plenty of time to take in the surroundings.

A life size dolls house!


The grandest of door frames


And a very polite notice as to what not to do with my motor!


We sat and we waited.


We waited and we wondered.


And just as the light started to fade we heard a distinct tinkle!

First came the clog dancers in a whirl of green


Then the Morris men and their pointy sticks


And finally the Horn Dance  itself




Apologies again for the picture quality but considering the weight of the antlers these men were quite nifty!

And then they were gone.

Time for a warm drink and return across the haunted reservoir!


A great evening and wonderful to have been part of something that has entertained so many people over the centuries.

Jane
xxx

P.S. So remember when driving late at night and spotting a face in your rear view mirror don't worry - it's just A GHOST!


Saturday, 6 September 2014

After I'd collected the eggs...

...and milked the cow I decided it was time for a break. 


The cottage beckoned so I drifted through the tangle of cosmos and sweet william toward the old wooden door. 


Inside the embers of the fire were still glowing - and the kettle hung obediently above. There was still some lardy cake left from the vicars visit on Sunday, so with a generous slice and a fresh cup of char I took my seat at the fireside. The chair rocked gently as I sat and the rug at my feet reminded me of the darker months, when I had sat and painstakingly used every last scrap of outfits gone by.

Or at least that's what Mum and I were talking about as we visited the show gardens at Bridgemere on Friday. Mr K can never understand it. Why is it that every time we go somewhere do I have to wonder about 'what it would have been like when...' or 'can you imagine...?' But this cottage calls for it. Really it's just a facade - I think (although my memory may not serve me too well here) it was an entry for the Chelsea Flower Show many years ago and was returned to Bridgemere bit by bit.

Following several months of visiting mum in either the hospital or at home we decided that we'd go for a very gentle stroll. Each time we left a bench we'd be eyeing up the next although to be honest Mum managed really well - albeit at the rate of a very slow snail on a slow day!


The weather was cloudy but warm which allowed us to take our time to stop and look, admiring the richness of colours still out there. 


The main stars were the dahlias - a plant I've never yet grown successfully - but this was followed up with the last flushes of roses, cosmos and asters.


We sat by the pond


And smiled at the children's garden


Imagine being small enough to live in that house (sorry - I'll stop right there!)

The coffee shop was next where we devoured an apple and blackberry scone piled high with clotted cream (sorry - no pictures here - it wasn't around for long enough)!

Afterwards we strolled out through the shopping area. I was lulled into buying a thing that means I can cut crinkly chips (I know - I don't think I would have had one of them in my olde worlde cottage!) And Mum's pacemaker managed to set off several alarms in the jumper shop. I would say we made a dash for it but it was more of a dignified amble.

All in all a lovely afternoon. To top it off by the time I'd returned Mum home safely Dad had managed to fix my camera. The problem? Rubbish batteries! Brand new out of the packet but obviously not strong enough. Oh how I've missed my camera ...

Still - I must go now - I've got butter to pat!

Hope you've been able to get out and smell the roses.

Jane
xxx


P.S. Quite a few of us meeting at Yarndale now - do let me know if you'd like to join us!


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Reflecting...


If you've been around here for a while you may have noticed that each time May comes around I get quite excited (see here). On the flip side of that September makes me wistful. Not wistful in a melancholic way but reflective about the changing of the seasons. I suppose it's partly the goodbye to the long days of Summer and all that entails - garden in full bloom, school holidays and family time - but also about what is to come.

This week has been 'back to school' for me, college for Little Sis and Mr K, and the beginning of Big Sis's last year of university (LAST YEAR! How did that happen? It doesn't seem two minutes since I was sending off Squinty the Smelly Owl!

Gone are the long mornings of coffee and lazing around. Monday was straight back in to an 8am meeting about safeguarding and behaviour policies. It was a shock to the system to say the least but the early drive in gave a clear indication of Autumn approaching. The sun was still low but the mist looked almost luminous as it hung over the fields. Already there is a 'nip' in the air and that will soon be followed by the smell of woodsmoke from the boats on the canal. We've lit our fire a couple of times, snuggling down on the sofa with candles and a good film. Some people are even talking about Christmas. CHRISTMAS - now that is rushing forward a bit!

As ever the clearest indication of change can be found in the garden.

The geraniums that have cheered us with their blousy heads are becoming sparse.


Hydrangeas are drying on their stems, ready to be collected and sprayed for a Winter display.


And the verdant green of summer is taking on richer tones.


 The dog roses are producing their first flush of hips.


And our young apple tree is groaning under the weight of its fruits.


The birds are already enjoying our tayberries.


And the ivy is producing its own fruits - ready to fatten up the wood pigeons as the temperature drops.


But even as some flowers are way past their best ...


... there are still some stunners!


I love that nature does this. To our eyes the garden is now coming to an end but it is quietly continuing to provide for the local wildlife - a symbiotic relationship that never fails to both  intrigue and delight me!


Last night I went for my Wednesday evening walk with my dear friend Jane (yes another one - we're everywhere!) We met at seven thirty and intended to do a three mile loop along the canal. By the time we were heading back to the car it was pitch black - the night had suddenly 'dropped' on us in that way that makes you realise 'okay - game's up! Next time either meet earlier or bring a torch!'

But in spite of the drawbacks I still love this time of year. I've already mentioned the candles and open fires but of course one of my personal pleasures is the return of the woolly jumper and the cardigan - I do love a good cardigan!

How do you feel? Do you enjoy the changes? Some of you of course will be welcoming Spring and seeing everything kick back in to action. What would you prefer - a continuous season where temperature and daylight hours remained the same throughout - or the transition of warmth to cold, long days to short?

Whilst you are pondering I'll leave you with a picture of our cheery bird feeder. I realise the word 'cheery' could just as well be replaced by 'terrifying' but the birds love him all the same.


Sending hugs
Jane
xxx

P.S. Yarndale is fast approaching so do get in touch if you want to meet up!