Sunday, 22 September 2019

A bit of a tidy up

I have no energy today, but I thought I ought to start going through cupboards and having a clear-out. The desperate clear out (of the 9/10 that went back in) will start should we get an offer at any time in the future.

A lot from this first cupboard went back in, but most of it is writing paper and notelets, some documents which need to stay regardless, some photos ditto,  patchwork runners for the kitchen table and some other really beautiful embroidered pieces I have picked up down the years, a couple of boxes of business cards, hole puncher, staplers etc.  What went were divorce letters (!), a Pony Club diary from 1981, random ancient letters from penpals, and several-years-old bank statements.

I also found a couple of blank verse poems I wrote - I can remember stopping the car on the way back from my dear friend Annie's when I had visited when she was so sick with pancreatic cancer.  If I have shared them with you before, my apologies.


A carapace of moss spews over boulders -
A disrupted harmony of drystone blocks
And the tealeaf brown of leaves.
Tumbles of small birds swarm
In Beech trees that listen for spring,
Trunks plastered emerald from
Winter's steady drip.
Ancient boundaries slew with knotted roots,
Heaving boulders with nonchalance, and
A dank miasma of mist slimes the boggy valley
Like an abandoned shroud.


Gauntly tottering by, spectres at a feast,
In a field of bones and scattered fleece,
Athwart the rubble of a wall,
A death of ravens maul a carcass,
Wild of eye with bloodied beaks,
While the last survivors look in fear,
Aghast at their own fate.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Kempley - part II

I will quote shamelessly from the little brochure I got from the church.  Of the Frescoes in the Chancel, it says this:

"The scheme of painting in the chancel is internationally significant and certainly comprises one of the most important schemes of wall painting in England.  The frescoes are remarkable in that the scheme is cirtually complete and are dated on stylistic grounds to the 1120s."

"The style of the Chancel paintings is recognizably Romanesque and has its roots in late Anglo-Saxon as well as western French painting.  Influences also come ultimately from Italy and Byzantium, and from the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela.  It has been suggested that one of the pilgrim figures is not a de Lacy but St James himself, whose shrine was at Santiago."

"The chancel paintings are usually described as frescoes, where pigment is applied to damp (i.e.fresh) plaster and the pigments are fixed by carbonisation of the lime.  Kempley's paintings are probably mezzo-frescoes where the painting is done before the full carbonisation of the plaster using limewater and casein as the binder of the pigment.  Azurite, a natural blue mineral pigment visible within the haloes and draperies, is unsuitable as a fresco pigment as it turns black in reaction to the alkalinity of the lime."

The Altar Window was made by Victorian stained glass artist Charles E Kemp (1837-1907) and was commissioned by the Reverend Drummond in memory of his wife, Armynel, who died in April 1876 when they had only been married for 8 years.  What an unusual Christian name.  Kempe's work is typified by the peacock feathers in the wings of the Angels, and also the blond curls  and cherubic faces (not that you can see this detail in the photo, sadly).  I have discovered there is actually a Kempe Society under the auspices of the National Churches Trust.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Viewing time . . .

To my chagrin, I mistook the day and got it all mixed up with the dental appt. (which I changed because I thought it clashed yesterday).  The viewing was actually today, but of course, I had the house all tidy, with fresh flowers, clean bathroom mats and towels, fresh bedding on the beds, and everything sorted to my satisfaction yesterday.  I even baked a cake (which we made inroads into when I realized it was the wrong day and it was my Manderin Orange Cake and looked SO tempting!)  I made a fresh cake this morning (another Spicy Dorset Apple cake) and some Walnut Biscuits and had them laid out on a patchwork runner on the table.

Suffice it to say, it seemed to go well, and the lady stayed 2 hours!  She went around the house with us, and then twice on her own.  She is coming back in a month or so to see how the house is when it's not 20 degrees outside and the air will be much colder and probably the rainy season will have started.  So, we shall see . . . but ours is the only house she is interested in.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

All ship-shape

There is another viewing in the offing, so I have been playing Mrs Mop and having a big vacuum round.  More or less still on top of things from the last cancelled viewing.  I have some cut flowers in the hall and the kitchen - I enjoy the flowers and hopefully they will make the house look inviting.  

Tam and I went for a walk today, just up the valley a bit, and I really enjoyed it, but then I had tummy cramps and IBS and had to ask Tam to come and fetch me in her car.  Fell asleep on the sofa for a bit, and was wary of eating my evening meal.  Hopefully I will be back to normal tomorrow. 

A Common Sexton Beetle - he was approaching a very dead Mole on the road . . .

Some more views of our walk.  Yawning here now as I'm listening to a wonderful video of a stream in a wooded valley, with Spring birdsong - great if you have trouble getting to sleep.  It's a meditation I return to regularly.

Monday, 16 September 2019

A day out to remember - Pt. 1 - St Mary's Church, Kempley

Yes, you may recognize the view and yes, it was another Malvern day yesterday!

Above and below - French goodies.  I liked those painted dark blue handled bowls but doubted I could have made a profit on them.  Sweet little bird-house below.

Another lovely painted window.  I thought to myself, I could do that.  When we move, perhaps I will!!

Sundries outside.  There was a mischievous wind which blew both the paintings over a few minutes later.

Anyway, we came away from Malvern Flea, and just for badness (and because Tam wanted to) went to Ledbury car boot sale, which was huge yesterday and filled the entire field.  I just bought some local apples (Early Windsors) and some Apricots, but we had a good wander.  By the end of the day I had clocked up over 22,000 miles on my Fitbit!

Whilst there is no record of a church on this site in the Domesday Book of 1086, there may well have been a Saxon church on the site.  Kempley Church was on land belonging to Hugh de Lacy, (of Lassy in Normandy), whose father came over with the Normans following the Battle of Hastings.  Hugh had founded the original Llanthony Priory in the Black Mountains and although he probably had the church built here, he died in 1121 and would not have lived to see it completed.  The chapel arch and south and west doorways are Romanesque (as indeed are the wonderful paintings, which are of national importance) and construction was in the 12th  C "Dymock" style of sculpture.

Below:the South door, showing the Tynpanum and chevron Norman archway.

These are the original 12th C doors, which is pretty amazing.  I love the hinges on this one into the tower.  Those trees probably began growing as Britain emerged from the Dark Ages . . .

You would think this Parish Chest was another original 12th C piece but dendro shows it dates to the 16th C - perhaps it was made to copy the original chest?  Below, "the stone cross was discovered during the 1912-13 works on the tower and may have been the finial on the west gable until the construction of the tower dislodged it". (Taken from the brochure I bought in the church.)

Above, dendrochonology has shown that the timbers of the roof date to 1120 - 1150, and the roof is one of the earliest surviving in Europe.

It is hard to believe that such wonderful paintings should have been painted over in the Reformation, but at least they were partly-protected over the intervening years before they were rediscovered.

If you click on the photos, they should enlarge so that you can read them more clearly.

More tomorrow, as it's late and I'm tired.

Friday, 13 September 2019

For Thelma

If any of you follow Thelma's blog, "North Stoke" in my side bar, you will be saddened - as I am - to hear that she has lost the love of her life when Paul died this week.  I knew he was ill but was hoping that he might be able to return home from hospital, but alas it was not to be.

Thelma - please know that it was a real privilege to meet you and Paul, and Keith and I are genuinely upset that he has died.  He was a real gentleman.  Why is it that the good die young?  You are very much in our thoughts, but I am glad your family are not too far away and can help you through the weeks and months to come.  I am glad he will be close by when his ashes come home to the place he loved so.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

A last breath of summer

Sunshine here (and some cloud lurking) but I've hung the washing out, regardless) - the sun can stay and visit as long as it likes - the thought of an Indian Summer to eat into autumn suits me just fine.  I might be able to enjoy the sun a bit then - if it gets really hot in the summer I can't cope, and I have to try and avoid being outside much in the pollen season anyway.

We were supposed to have another viewing today, but sadly the people had a change of heart.  Not the end of the world, as the house was still clean and tidy from last week, when our viewer couldn't get here due to the closure of the Severn Bridge and 6 mile tail-backs.  

Anyway, because there was some confusion over whether there was a viewing or not (having received a confirmation email after I'd heard that it was cancelled, I thought I had better bake a cake, just in case.   (I always have fresh flowers out in hall and kitchen, and the table laid with a cake and patchwork runner . . .)  

This is a Spicy Dorset Apple Cake.  As Tam doesn't care for currents or mixed fruit, I made it with the same amount of "Craisins" which are dried Cranberries.


4 oz/115 g butter or margarine
4 oz/115 g caster or brown sugar
8 oz/225 g flour, S-R or "adjusted" (whatever THAT is!)
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice (or a mixture to your choice)
1 lb/ .5 Kg cooking apples (a good way of mopping up the fallers)
3 oz/85g dried fruit (currents, sultanas, cranberries etc)
2 eggs

Rub the margarine and the flour together.  Add the spices, sugar, and peeled/cored/chopped apples, and the beaten eggs.  Put the mixture in a large cake tin (10 inch/25 cm round or 8 inch/20 cm square) and bake at Gas Mark 6/200 deg. C/400 deg. F) for 35 -45 mins.  The large amount of apple makes the cake a little fragile, so leave in the tin for 5 minutes or more before removing.  If you do not have a large cake tin, use two smaller ones and reduce the cooking time a little.

Here's an extract from a lovely poem from William Barnes (the Dorset poet), dated 1835: "Father Come Home" where it mentions an earlier Dorset apple cake (which just had bits of apple stuck into it):

Your supper's nearly ready.  I've a-got
Some teaties here a-doen in the pot;
I wish wi' all my heart I had some meat.
I got a little ceake too, here, a-beaken o'n
Upon the vier.  'Tis done by this time though
He's nice an' moist; vor when I were-a meakin o'n
I stuck some bits ov apple in the dough.

(The a's in the words have an umlaut above them, but damned if I know how to get that there, as I don't have an Option key!!).

Last night Tam fancied a Sausage Casserole.  Here's our take on it (sorry no photos).

8 large fat sausages
1 good sized red onion (or brown if you wish)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 good sized leek
1 tin of green lentils, drained
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin spicy mixed beans
Good dash Worcestershire sauce
Good shake (tablespoonful) of BBQ or brown sauce

Soften onions in a little olive oil and remove.  Put sausages in pan and cook until coloured a little.  Put onions back in, add garlic, chopped leek and fry off gently for 5 minutes or so.  Add tinned ingredients, and sauces and stir well.  Cook in casserole dish in moderate oven (180 deg. C/350 deg. F/Gas mark 4) for an hour or so, until thoroughly cooked.  This is SO good!  We're having the other half tonight.