Thursday, 17 October 2019

Some fresh air . . . and a bee sting !

This is my walk in reverse.  I didn't go far - just up to the junction and back.  The river is dropping back to usual autumn levels, though it's been up and down with all the rain we've had.

I quite liked the foreground in this, with the river hurling itself seawards behind the ferns.

Betony, still blooming in October.

Above - our version of Nessie!! This tree has been jammed in the bottom of the river for several years now.  Below - the sheep that was washed down in the flood before last - it's been there about 8 or 9 days now, gradually blowing up with gas .. .

It was about this point that I felt a leaf fall on my hair.  I put up a hand to waft it off - and was promptly stung by a bee on my scalp.  My golly gosh it HURT.  Fortunately I had already asked Tam to come and pick me up at the bottom of our hill as I didn't want to push my luck after being off colour all week. When we got in she looked up bee sting on Mr Google, removed the sting (on my hairline) with a credit card, and then it was washed with soap and water, had a cold compress on and I took an anti-histamine and some painkillers.  I know, it sounds like I'm a right baby!  I shall never understand these people who have deliberate bee-venom injections for medical reasons . . . they must be tougher than me.

It has finally calmed down now but occasionally primps itself up and it feels like I've been stung all over again.   I feel sorry for the bee, as they die once they sting, but it shouldn't go about doing leaf impressions . . .

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Threatening skies . . .

Well, we have been preparing for the 2nd viewing from one interested purchaser this week, only to hear it has been put back a week - which will give everything time to get grubby again!  I had even spoken to Next Door to move his calving/freshly calved heifers out of our top field too so that she could look at the field and woodland properly.  Ah well, they are off now and the field will lie fallow this winter.  Well, all I can say is, she's not in any hurry is she?

Above is the view out of my office window this afternoon - looking very threatening but someone further East copped it and we didn't.

Started today, some Hay Castle Car Park Very Small Plum Gin (as no Sloes locally).  The Hampstead gin is a nod to my Devon ancestors who moved there from Moretonhampstead.

Right, hopefully I shall start to feel a bit brighter tomorrow - ever since my flu jab I have been sleeping very late and feeling "off". NOT the flu jab as of course it's a dead vaccine, but obviously I have picked up a bug from somewhere.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Busy in the kitchen - plus a divine cake

Swift post which may make you hungry.  Sorry to be absent but it has been a hectic 10 days and the alarm set every morning for one appt or another.  Yesterday, Eldest Daughter asked me to make these Pumpkin Pizzas - on the cover of the latest in-house mag from Tescopolis.  They are tied up with string, which was fiddly putting on and removing.  Dark colour is due to paprika egg wash.  Very tasty (inside is pasta sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni, chopped).  HERE is the link to the recipe.

Above is the Kale, Pasta and Cannellini Bean Soup from the same magazine.  Needed some oomph to it so will add smoked paprika or chilli flakes tomorrow. As you can see, mine turned out very thick, so needed letting down a bit too.

Above and below, the most DIVINE cake - Pear and Almond.  We have had the best-ever crop of pears this year - on a tree bought for £7.50 or so from Morrisons a few years back.  I am struggling to cope with its largesse.  Anyway, found this recipe in one of my books yesterday and can heartily recommend it.

Above - the Pear and Nutmeg Flapjacks. Personally - thought there was far too much Nutmeg -a teaspoon of it is approaching dangerous levels as it is toxic!  Seriously.  I would leave it out and use ground Ginger instead.

This is the book the recipe came from, by the way.

Here's a book I treated myself to recently - I love her work.  I was reading this during the night when I couldn't sleep (again).

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Squeaker . . .

This is our latest addition, who has been with us for a good few months now.  He has acquired the name Squeaker as he certainly does that at mealtimes . . . Here he is, looking angelic.

And just to show he needs the kindest cut of all (he is booked in for next Thursday) - this is him after a dust-up with Theo . . .  I have to say, he looks a bit peeved . . .

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Kilpeck church - Part II

I just had to use this pair as the top photo  - you can see why!  They look so cartoon character.  The Bestiary describes the dog as having 'more understanding than any other beast.  They also know their name and love their master'.  Dogs are like the preachers who by warnings and by righteous living turn aside the ambushes of the devil, lest he seize God's treasure". The hare 'represents men who fear God, and who put their trust not in themselves but in the Creator.'

Well, that was a wild and windy - and WET - night, for sure.  I know our river will be well up today, and I shall go and check how bad it is once it's light.  Yet it didn't stop the annual night-time rally, although fortunately their route wasn't past our front gate as it is sometimes.  I could hear them somewhere in the valley about 1.30 a.m. onwards.  Just as well their route wasn't along the valley bottom or they may have charged into the flood on that bottom lane.  Here's the river as you first see it coming down our hill:

Yesterday we had a bit of light relief when a cow wandered past our kitchen window.  Of course, she was not meant to be there and I have yet to discover where she got in (possibly along the stream as there is a "hanging" fence there.)  Anyway, we had to don boots, open the front gate and gently chivy her out and into next door's yard.  (Just discovered the calving heifers are back in our top field so this must have been one of them and in which case, I know where she came through and will have to ask Next Door to mend the fence.

Anyway, back to Kilpeck and the many and wonderful corbels.  All quotes are from Malcolm Thurlby's book:

"This corbel is a humanoid lion's head with a mane and curly cap of hair between the damaged ears on top of the head.  The wide mouth derives from the classical theatrical mask".

The familiar Agnus Dei - the Lamb of God.

A ram's head. There are three corbels denoting this around the church. The rams signify the Apostles or the princes of the Church.

A rather foxy-looking carving, next to a flower which has its equivalent at Aulnay-de-Sainatoigne, Western France.  The flowercorbel : 'As  for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. . .' (Psalm 103).

'A bland, earless frog-like head with a large swollen tongue or other object in its mouth.'  

Don't scroll down if you are easily offended, as a Sheela-na-Gig comes next . . .

Oh dear!  This carving represented "low morals" - I can't think why!!!  

Here is a pig with a damaged snout/mouth.  'The pig (porcus) is a filthy beast (spurcus); it sucks up filth, wallows in mud, and smears itself with slime . . .  Sows signify sinners, the unclean and heretics.  The sow thinks on carnal things . . .'

The fiddle player also represents low morals (!) whilst the pair of figures on the next corbal are  dancing (or perhaps wrestling?) - another nod to low morals.

A muzzled bear with two human heads poking out of its mouth.

'A grotesque head with flared lips', 'a simple plain beak head biting a human face.'  Intertwined serpents and another ram's head.

A horse's head, 'bird with back-turned head and crescent-shaped wing', and a stag running up the corbel.

Finally (thank heavens, can I hear you saying?) a dog or wolf being pounced on by a Beast of some description, which wasn't a corbel but up near one of the windows.

If you get the chance, do visit Kilpeck - it is really something else when it comes to church architecture.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

A quick Gingerbread recipe

Apologies for blurry photo, but you get the general idea!

This recipe (Sledmere Gingerbread) was in a Baking Heaven magazine I bought last year.  Keith loves ginger, so I added some chopped preserved ginger (the stuff in syrup):


450g (1 lb) plain flour
225g (1/2 lb) butter
225g (1/2 lb) raw sugar - I used Muscavado
225g (1/2 lb) treacle
4 free-range eggs
15g (1/2 oz) ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 150 deg. C/Gas Mark 2/300 deg. F.  Put the butter, sugar and treacle into a saucepan to melt.  beat the eggs, then stir the (cooled) treacle mixture into them.  Add the ginger.  Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in a little water, add to the mixture.  Stir altogether into the flour, then bake at once, either in round tins or dropped with a spoon onto a baking sheet.  They are done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

More from Kilpeck tomorrow, if we haven't floated away meanwhile . . .

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Finally, Kilpeck - Part I

All information is taken from Malcolm Thurlby's excellent book, "The Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture", first published in 1999,by Logaston Press.

Kilpeck is eight miles S-W of Hereford and this is the parish church of St Mary and St David, which has been described as "one of the most perfect Norman village churches in England".  It stands beside the remains of the mottle and bailey Norman castle, although little of the castle remain inside the  well-defined bailey.  This planned pairing of Castle and Church was a standard Norman practice, as they sought to control the populace in mind and body.

There was also a Priory on the site, given by Hugh, lord of Kilpeck Castle.

The church is built from Old Red Sandstone and divided into three spaces - the rounded apse, chancel and nave very similar to the design of the church at Moccas, and the larger four cell church at Peterchurch.

Over the amazingly-carved doorway is this beautiful tympanum, "carved with sparse foliage and grape clusters on striated stems" - this is the Tree of Life (or the tree of good and evil).  In the Bestiary it is mentioned that "the perindens is a tree found in India - the fruit of this tree is very sweet andn pleasant, and doves delight in its fruit and live in the tree, feeding on it.  The dragon, which is the enemy of doves, fears the tree, because of the shade in which the doves rest, and it can approach neither the tree nor its shadow."  Note dragon (or Basilisk according to Thurlby) in the capital at the top . . .

The figures featured entwined in interlace, are knights wearing phrygian caps, what appear to be quilted garments ("striated hauberks" according to the book) and armed with a cross, and below, a sword.

The doorway seen close-to, with below, a close up of that scaredy-cat dragon (or Basilisk):

Below: some happy doves, billing and cooing, and SAFE from the dragon!

A splendid green man on the other capitol.

The carvings on the right pillar.

Here is the "evil lion" . . .  "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour" - Peter (5:8).

Above the typanum is a double arch showing various beasties and carvings, none, I would suggest, being at all whimsical but based on similar adornments found at Hereford and Gloucester Cathedrals,and ultimately to a source in France - Notre-Dame-la-Grande, Poitiers and other French churches, whilst the figures on the south doorway have their parallel echo those found at Mailezais, Vendee.

Beak heads and angels, dragons and manticores, and variations on these, jostle for position.  I rather like the "green man" type image which has foliage hanging from his mouth like two unrolled tongues.

The SUPERB decorative ironwork on the door.  Some of the nicest I've ever seen.

The  stoup looks rather odd, having hands clasped around a portly or pregnant belly and reptilian heads for feet . . .  Apparently it is probably pre-Saxon and came from nearby Wormbridge.  

I believe these are meant to represent Saints.  Their positioning, one on top of another, hints at the influence of similar sculptures at Santiago de Compostella (the gate of Silversmiths).

The semi-circular apse with its wonderful domed roof, which was a sign of Heaven to the early Christians.

Finally today, a nod to the locale with these swags of hops hanging up.