Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Some photos from the Antiques Fair at the Botanic Gardens

We are still recovering from a long (3 day) weekend.  All the setting up at an Antiques Fair takes a goodly while and it takes just as long to pack it all away again!  Here is a view of the rather splendid Welsh Folk Art chair, made entirely of thread bobbins, and dating from about 1880 - 1900.  It had been stored in a barn for a while, judging by the dust on it, so guess who got to clean and polish every bobbin?  

Some of the dust collectors offered for sale . . .

And yet more dust collectors.  I especially love the 1960s Royal Copenhagen blue bowl at the front.  Not to mention the Sami knife to its right, which has wonderful scraffiti reindeer engraved on it.

A selection of chairs and masks, and some more humble household stuff in the basket.

Bits and bobs - both the Beatrix Potter plates sold.

More ethnic stuff - lots from Africa, a splendid Omani dagger . . . and a really unusual Chinese bronze bed warmer . . .

My "Military Advisor's" end!!

Dashing off out now.  Hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our "other life".

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Across those well-loved fields - Malvern and Dymock

Easter Monday saw us rising at 3.45 a.m. to drive to the huge Fleamarket at Malvern.  It was dry but cool and the Fleamarket was packed out with buyers and sellers alike.  We bought some good stock and then, after a rest, headed back via Dymock, as I am compiling photos for a talk I've been asked to give on the Dymock Poets next month.

Above and below are photos across Malvern Vale.  a little fuzzy probably as I wasn't letting the camera focus properly before I took a photo.  Tiredness (I hadn't slept the night before, which was par for the course!)  The bright yellow fields of Oilseed Rape stood out well.

Above: long distance shot of walkers on the top of the Malvern Hills.  I've been up there but the once, over 35 years ago now.

I stopped the car on the road out of Malvern (which heads back down to the market town of Ledbury).  Some views across the fields.

Rain was heading our way!

Above: the cottage loaf type top of British Camp, which is an Iron Age hillfort.  I will direct you to the Wikipedia page, as that gives much better photographs than I could manage.  One of these days we will go there and just walk, instead of heading for home, exhausted by our early start and walking round the fair. We clocked up 18,000 + steps on Monday and walked for 5 hours.

A slightly blurry photo (again) of Bluebells in the woodland beside the layby.

Farmhouse just outside Ledbury, showing Oasthouses and newly-planted orchard.  There are new orchards being planted up throughout this area, as cider is so popular these days.  It is good to see the land being used to grow fruit trees, fruit bushes and vegetables.

The old train viaduct heading towards Ledbury.  It was completed and opened in 1861 and built by the respected Colwall engineer Stephen Ballard, who died the same year it was opened.  The 5 million bricks used to build it (by Ballard's brother Richard), were made on site, and the viaduct has 31 arches.

On to Dymock, and I stopped for photos whilst we were looking for the Dymock Poet's cottages. This may be May Hill in the distance (sorry for the pun!)

I dare say this landscape would seem quite alien if the Poets were suddenly to be reincarnated there today.  The fields would be much bigger, and the oilseed rape quite alien.

This tree would have been unrecognizable but makes a lovely shape in the current landscape.  More photos of the cottages will be over on my Edward Thomas blog (see sidebar) when I can get back to it.  We have a 2 day Antiques fair at the Botanic gardens this weekend, and sorting everything out for that is taking priority, with "spare" time being taken up with working on the Dymock Poets talk, gardening, and if I work the night-shift, redecorating down in mum's flat . . .  I think I need to be cloned . . .

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Justice - as it was in 19th C Devon and a bit of a manslaughter in the family

"John East, for having stolen, on the 18th February last, at Newton St. Cyres, stolen a horse, the property of John Osmond; transported 10 years."

"Mary Ann Browning, for having stolen on the 2nd March inst, at East Stonehouse, two pair of ear-rings, the property of Harris Cohen,; transported 7 years."

"George Trustcott, for stealing a tea caddy; transported 7 years."

"James Coram, for stealing on the 28th Jan last, at Devonport, for stealing a rabbit, the property of Richard Radmore, imp., and kept to hard labour 6 cal. months."

"James Farmer, indicted of having, on the night of 15th of October last, having stolen a black mare, the property of  Wm. Warren of Ottery St Mary; the prisoner having been before convicted of stealing cows and other property, was convicted to be transported for 15 years."

"Robert Clapp,  for stealing at Witheridge, 3 meat cloths, 3 months, to hard labour."

"Thomas Nosworthy, charged with having on 1st January last, nr. Northtawton, wilfully and maliciously stabbed Richard Bolt, was remanded to the next assizes."  (Richard Bolt is, I think, related to my Moretonhampstead Bolts, being born there.)

These all date from the early months of 1840 . . .

                                                            *                 *                *

Thomas Nosworthy, 19, was charged with the manslaughter of Richard Bolt, on the night of the 1st January last, at Northtawton.  Richard Bickel lives at Northtawton: On the evening of the 1st January I was at the public housein that place.  The prisoner and Bolt, the deceased, came into the pub together and they had some ale to drink.  Bolt then went behind the settle and peered through a hole and saw the prisoner laughing and talking with another person; Bolt appeared to be thinking they were talking about him, and went in again and said, "Damn your eyes, what are you saying about me?  I can bear the share of the beer as well as you can.  After that they became good friends again."

John Cleane:  "I saw Bolt lying on the floor in Webbers' house,; Dr Budd shortly after arrived. I took a knife from the prisoner and next morning gave it to the Constable.  Bolt was bleeding from a wound in his neck and the prisoner was crying very much. "

Ann Stanley:  "I was at Webbers' house early in the morning of 2nd January.  I saw Bolt come in and fall down under the table; he did not speak.  The prisoner came in also."

Cross-examined: "I have lived for 2 years in the same house with Nosworthy, he was of a very quiet disposition."

William Ellacott:  "I was a fellow servant with the prisoner.  On the night of 1st January I heard a loud talking in the road.  I was afterwards called up.  I was told that Nosworthy had cut Bolt's throat.  I saw the prisoner, and he asked me if Bolt was dead.  He also said that he felt the knife hitch in him and that he would not have done it for a thousand pounds."

Hugh Pike, constable:  "I apprehended the prisoner on 2nd January.   I received a knife from Cleave, the prisoner said was his."

Dr William Budd:  "I am a physician at Northtawton.  I saw Bolt on the 2nd January, about one in the morning.  He had a wound on the left side of his throat, the other was on the chest.  I attended him till his death.  He died on 23rd March.  I believe his death to have been caused by the wounds he had received from the prisoner."

By the Court:  "The wound in the neck was about 3/4 inch in length and very deep; the knife must have penetrated to the handle.  It had divided an artery, the external carotid; the wounds got well some time after.  There were several nerves divided too.  The wound in the breast was not deep, and it was not of much consequence.  The deceased died of matter forming in the lungs, of inflammation, that inflammation being caused by the wound in the neck.  I made a post mortem examination of the body.  I thought the inflammation had been going on several weeks."

Ann Stanley recalled, "The deceased had generally very good health."

Mr Cockburn addressed the Jury in a very able and eloquent manner, on behalf of the prisoner, and called several witnesses who gave him a most excellent character.

The Jury returned the verdict, guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Cockburn remarked to the court that the prisoner had already been in prison for several months.

The Chaplain and Governor of the gaol here stated that the behaviour of the prisoner since his confinement had been exemplary.

He was then sentenced to one year's imprisonment with hard labour.

This taken from the Western Flying Post, Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury, 10th August 1840.

I am fairly certain Richard Bolt is "one of mine" on the Moretonhampstead side, so further investigation is needed as to the closeness of the relationship.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Small achievements

I think this is Cardinal de Richeleau - although it could be Tuscany Superb. . . .

A couple of random rose photos for you today, as I have been planting roses.  I treated myself to a straightforward floribunda rose recently - Champagne Cocktail.  It has large scented semi-double pink-flushed yellow flowers.  It's gone in a gap in the main border and should grow well there in full sun.  I potted on a D.A. rose which has lost its label (one I got for about £7.95 at a stall in Malvern last summer, and couldn't resist - I bought 3 I think.)  I'll have more of a clue which it might be when it has flowered . . .

Yesterday I decided I would plant up one of my David Austin roses I've had growing in big tubs, as it wasn't looking terribly happy as I'd had to prune back its exuberant growth (it's a rambler).  This is the bewitching Veilchenblau, so now I will have to put up some trellis for it.  I will wait until we have finally moved (please let it be soon) before replacing it.  I have to say, it went in a nice deep hole with a good watering and a couple of handfuls of pelleted chicken poo and is looking happier already.  I got a tub of slow-release rose feed granules today and have gone round all the roses, and given them a good watering.  It's been dry for a while and everything in a pot is gasping.  I even remembered to pot on the two small White Foxgloves I got for 50p a pot recently, and which needed a bit more room to grow.  

I have begun - and finished in very short order - a new-to-me Diana Gabaldon book, "Virgins".  I shan't recommend it (though it was a pleasant enough read) as it is just a short story padded out at the end with the first couple of chapters of Cross Stitch (well, it was called that when I bought it, now renamed Outlander).  I think that was a bit mean.  A short story for the price of a book!

Now I have started on Elly Griffiths: The Chalk Pit and even a few chapters in, think I will soon be hooked on her novels.  I am glad there are a few more to read.

I made a double batch of Cornish Fairing Biscuits (ginger biccies) this morning. The dough is very satisfying as you melt the butter and syrup with the sugar and combine it with flour and spices to make a nice ball which you can roll into littler balls and then flatten on a greased tray.  The fat made my hands nice and soft.

Our bed is changed and remade, but I have just made the decision to replace the current duvet which is a bit long in the tooth, though top quality when bought so it has lasted well, with a duck feather and down summer weight one which had a hypoallergenic dustmite-proof cover, and a pair of matching pillows. I hope this will help my asthma as my main allergy is to dust mites.  

It is now looking rather gloomy out, and I am rather hoping it might rain as the garden could do with a drink.  Mind you, tomorrow might do, as I have left the shallow shelf of the wildlife pond to dry as I am going to put another layer of pond liner over it and tuck it away under the edging stones, as it has worn through there, and then I'll put a series of big stones across the front edge in the water to hold it down.  It has a little leak somewhere so I am hoping this will stop it.  All the tadpoles have died - some got washed into undergrowth when the water levels rose a couple of weeks back, and then it dropped and they were left high and dry.  In the main pond, they have just faded away - yet there were thousands in there . . .

Right, a bath and a good book are in order.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Yesterday's walk - the Oaks are weeks ahead

I was in the kitchen the other evening when I heard the unmistakable sound of a hot air balloon's burner, as they tried to gain height.  I grabbed my camera and rushed out into the garden, where this balloon was right over the house, and nearly low enough to smell their aftershave!  When mum lived at her cottage in Milo, she was always delighted when the chap with the balloon who lived a few fields away, took advantage of a calm warm day and put the balloon up.  This is the same guy.

In an attempt to finally clear my sinuses, as my cold goes into a 3rd week, I took myself out for what turned out to be a two hour walk, up the steep valley side to Ty Coch, and then around the bridleway loop.  The first Bluebells are out, but I had the camera on the wrong setting, so had to delete the out-of-focus photos.  An obligatory river photo to begin with, down by the Mill.

Above and below: near Carmarthen Lodge, the lane crosses a little stream nowadays, but 100 years ago there was a ford here across this stream, if you wished to continue up the hill, and the MAIN lane went straight on - it is now just a trackway into woodland . . .  One of these days I am going to climb over the gate and go exploring!

Welsh Mountain Ponies and a couple of cobs in the background at Ty Coch farm.  They have plenty to eat, but their feet can't be doing to well in all that mud.

This lovely cottage was derelict for quite a few years, but then property prices improved and it has been done up and more recently, done up again, this time the cement mortar between the stonework replaced with lime mortar, so the walls can breath properly.

Across the fields, a different angle on Bannau Sir Gar, the Carmarthen Fans - the Black Mountain that I take photos of at the top of our hill.

Behind the cottages, I take to the bridleway.

Fiddleheads of ferns ufurling.  In America, various types of fiddleheads were cooked in the spring.  Some are toxic (Bracken for one) so care needs to be taken.

The main bridleway (leading away South from where I joined it.)  This heads over towards a lane which joins up with one to Cwrt Henry.

A good collection of beehives along the hedgerow.  Our builder, Steve, used to have beehives on our top field, as there are plenty of wild cherry trees in the woodland, and our half a dozen apple trees too.

It gives me such pleasure to see the trees getting their leaves.  This year, the sudden warm spell has encouraged the Oaks into leaf and they are FAR ahead of the lazy Ash trees, so let's hope for a good summer, as in recent years they have been neck and neck and it's rained a lot.

The lane ahead . . .

. . . and round the corner, the view across the valley, and an Oak tree springing into life.

Finally, a close up photograph I got right - this is the flower just emerging on the Navelwort.

Right, this won't do, back to the talk on the Dymock Poets I am trying to write.  There's another new post in my ET blog in the sidebar (Dust on the Nettles).

Friday, 7 April 2017


Here comes the sun, doo, doo, doo, doo, Here comes the sun, And I say, It's alright. . . . in the words of the Beatles song.  I'm playing it now as I write this.  No complaints at the wall to wall sunshine.  More please - the weekend looks to be sunny, so it will be bliss even though we will be inside at the Fleamarket on Sunday.

In between races at Aintree, I got out in the garden today and erected the plastic greenhouse with its brand new birthday-present cover.  I hope that one lasts a bit longer than last year's where the ties all rotted in next to no time.  I started off some runner beans, courgettes and pink nasturtiums in my little seed stack yesterday.  I think they were half cooked in there when I opened it up at lunchtime, so I will have to remember to open it right up earlier tomorrow.

What plans has everyone got for the weekend?

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Best made plans and all that

It will soon be Aquilegia time again, and I couldn't resist sharing one of last year's photographs with you.

I have been having a very frustrating day.  We had to go into town first thing and I offered to collect Keith's prescription and walk across town via M&S for fish, and then I needed to go to the Market to get a new battery for my watch.  By the time I got back to Tesco my legs felt like chewed string and I was really hot - so much for being "better" from this bug.  I thought I had it cracked once the temperature went away and I - sensibly for once - sat on the sofa with a book instead of gardening yesterday afternoon.

Anyway, we got home and I thought after a rest, I might have the energy to put up my plastic greenhouse.  Then the phone went and the Unit wanted photos of the coffer we had just taken OUT, as a lady had come back, very interested, and wanted to see it again and measure up before deciding.  I came upstairs and found that my mouse had died and I couldn't persuade either of the cameras to connect with the laptop.  So that meant I had to physically TAKE the coffer back to the Unit (didn't want to miss a possible sale) and I got held up there.  Then I had to drive from Llandovery back to Carmarthen and go and get a new mouse, which I did.  Got home - it needed batteries (not mentioned when I bought it and my brain was in neutral).  I had two AAA batteries - but they turned out to be flat.  So I am having to navigate using the little flat area on the laptop and I find it very unhelpful.

I am not in the mood (brain still too woolly) for writing the talk I am giving in a months' time and which I am worried witless about getting researched and polished in time, and I also need to fit in a day out to Dymock to take appropriate photographs - on a sunny day.  The only sunny days this week are at the weekend and I am working 3 days in a row.

So I have fallen back on family history research, which I've done well on recently despite some brick walls which I am still trying to batter down.  Today I am researching the "9 children, 7 dead" born to my g. g. grandmother Hobbs, who in her late 50s went on to adopt another, who I assume may have been from one of her children's families and then the death of a parent meant breaking them up and sending them to live with relatives.  Or else, born the wrong side of the blanket.  Can't specifically find his birth yet, though I now know it is March 1889 though on the 1901 and 1911 censuses it definitely states he was born in Peckham and that doesn't help me at ALL as he wasn't registered there.

You're stuck with this font too as I can't figure out how to highlight it and change it to Verdana.

I have finished reading the last of my physical copies of Ann Cleeve's books The Sleeping and the Dead (v. good) and have a pile of books on my Kindle to read now.  Various ones.  I'm in the middle of Burial of Ghosts right now, also by Ann Cleeves.

Right, back after a better night's sleep I hope!

Well, I had the better night's sleep but have just helped Keith clean the car and now I feel about to collapse in a heap again, so I am guessing this is a flu type bug that I have held slightly at bay because I had my flu jab last year.  I guess I shan't be doing the two small fairs now.