Sunday 31 March 2019

A thorny issue

Just a short note as I am absolutely exhausted, having spent the past 2 days cutting back the Paul's Himalayan Musk rambler rose which covers most of one end of the garden.  As it had gotten to the stage of starting to merge with the Kiftsgate coming the other way, and had 12 foot sprays of Brambles through it (AND some runners of Honeysuckle), action was needed.  The rose arbour needs some woodwork replaced too and we couldn't get to that without the pruning.  Anyway, below is "after" which also included cutting back half the Corkscrew Hazel tree - some was dead and one branch (to escape the rose smothering it) had grown forward 8 feet or so and needed cutting back too.  Now I shall have to replant beneath it, and put down some mulch.

A rather blurry photo of the lovely Torquay vase I found at the Boot Sale this morning, which is staying in my collection.

Finally, essential reading which I found in Booth's book shop in Hay-on-Wye when we were there on Friday.  We had taken some furniture to the auction at Brecon - only to find it was their busiest day of the month with a sheep auction and they couldn't take it.  We phoned the day before to check, but they never mentioned not to come on Friday!

Saturday 30 March 2019

More from the Bronte Museum

A posthumous portrait of Charlotte Bronte, painted by J H Thompson who was a friend of Branwell's and also a fellow pupil of William Robinson, who taught Branwell art.  As Thompson knew Charlotte in life, it would seem this might be a fair likeness of her.  It was based on a letter from Mrs Gaskell to Catherine Winkworth, where she described Charlotte as having "soft brown hair, eyes (very good and expressive looking straight and open at you) of the same colour."

Charlotte's paint box and contents.  All the children were interested in art from an early age, and from working in pencil they progressed to watercolours, which were their favourite medium.  This paint box can probably be dated to Charlotte's days at Roe Head School.

This is Charlotte's study of a Primrose, dating from around 1830.

Charlotte's writing slope (though it is called a writing desk in the Museum), and its contents. There was a quill, but by 1840 steel nibbed pens were being used and there are 114 steel nibs inside the slope. The tiny book in its red leather wallet is a Precept, Promise, &Prayer,from the Holy Scriptures, for every day of the year."  It was sold in Paternoster Row in London so it is possible that Charlotte purchased it on one of her visits to the city.

Two more of Branwell's portraits - note that on occasion J H Thompson finished paintings off for Branwell if he considered they weren't quite as they should be.  That sounds like Branwell's artistic talents were somewhat limited.

More effects from the household - Emily appears to have been the only one who was given a Christening cup (or perhaps, only hers survived).  The collars belong to Parsonage dogs - Emily's terrier Grasper perhaps, or Flossie, Ann's dog, and the biggest to Emily's dog Keeper, who was half Mastiff.

Another post tomorrow, if I have time (still gardening frantically whilst we have the weather for it).

Thursday 28 March 2019

Haworth and the Brontes

It is many - MANY - years since I was last here, the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth in Yorkshire.  In fact, it was 1987 when I last visited, with our eldest daughter in a push-chair . . .  You may imagine I didn't have anything like long enough to wander round, especially as ma-in-law was sat in the car in the car park, thinking the whole visit was a waste of money, I don't doubt!  She had no literary bone in her body!

This time we had Tam's partner in tow - he also had no interest in the Brontes, so went for a walk, and had been told that I had no intention of sprinting round the Museum THIS time!

Above and below: the Dining Room, where the Bronte sisters did much of their writing.   From their juvenilia writing of tiny books, barely legible without a magnifying glass, their talent blossomed into such well-known and treasured classics as "Wuthering Heights",  "Jane Eyre" and "Agnes Grey".  They would read extracts from their work to each other as they walked around the table in late evening. 

Mr Bronte's study.  We must imagine him as a gaunt upright man, who chose to have no frills or fripperies and even in old age, would sit upright in a straight-backed chair, with no cushion for comfort.

The kitchen hearth, which the girls knew well as they helped Tabby Ackroyd, the Parsonage servant, to carry out chores.  A comforting place to be when the chill winds of winter wuthered around the house. Below - kitchen from a different angle.

I think I can just about read this: a pair of candelabra from Haworth Old Church and centre, pair of candlesticks from there too.

Going up the stairs, the grandfather clock from Bronte days - Patrick Bronte went up to bed promptly at 9 p.m. every night, stopping to wind this on the way.

The portrait of the Bronte sisters painted by their brother Branwell - he scrubbed out his likeness as he was unhappy with it.  As you can see, he had no great talent as an artist, despite being sent off to study art.  There were some portraits by him in another room, and they were no better either!  They were, one assumes, only commissioned because of familial contacts.  This is a copy - the original is in the National Portrait Gallery.  

I couldn't resist several photos of this modern and colourful quilt which dressed the bed in Patrick Bronte's bedroom.  All hand-pieced and beautifully made.

Above and below: dress and shoes worn by Charlotte Bronte after her marriage to Curate Arthur Bell Nicholls on their honeymoon, when they spent the first night in Conwy, and then crossed to Northern Ireland to meet his relations.

After the careful ordered rooms of the rest of the  Parsonage, Branwell's room was one the curators went to town on - gosh, he could have just left the room.  It was scruffy, chaotic and atmospheric.  Branwell died aged 31 in 1848, from addiction to Laudenum, Alchohol, and Opium and probably had underlying TB as well.  Wishing to show the power of the human will, he decided to die standing up . . .

More tomorrow.  Currently shattered after a day out in the garden, taking advantage of this lovely sunny weather.  I just hope we don't have a replay of last year when I could scarcely go outside for pollen of one kind or another.   So I am going flat out, bearing in mind that we have to have it all ship-shape and Bristol fashion a.s.a.p. to go back on the market.

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Back from my travels

I went up to Yorkshire with Tam on Friday as she was driving back home and we had a wonderful - sunny! - weekend in the West Riding of Yorkshire where she lives now.  I was shown their allotment and have greenhouse-envy (there are two on their plot!)  On the Saturday she walked the feets off me - we walked along by the river and the canal (they run parallel to one another) and then up into the town.  Canal bits first:

I loved the light on the water here and the almost patterned ripples in places.

There were a couple of narrow boats along this stretch - one moored permanently outside someone's cottage and this poor chap, who had SUNK!  I am guessing that below-the-water maintenance had not been done.

We could have walked on and on, but turned around at this point.

There were three swans on the canal and this one was showing off to the female - never seen them with their wings up like this before.

A fire-ruined building.  I have been playing about with colour effects and got one to make it look more black and white - I think the tone is Slate.

The church of St Mary, which has very early origins - stones in the chancel arch have been dated to Norman times - 11270 - 1180, though much of the present church dates from the 13th and 14th C.  The stained glass in the East window dated from the 15th C and depicts 21 scenes from the life of St Mary the Virgin.  Unfortunately the church was locked up so we had to content ourselves with trying to find the earliest of (many) grave slabs.  Below: John Richley, 13th August 1673.  I liked the little hearts on the bottom.

Above: 1605.

On some stones, the capitals were beautifully adorned as if they were pages in a Medieval text.


Now - this will give the literary-minded of you a clue as to where we went in the afternoon . . .

Thursday 21 March 2019

Sun, sea and sand with my family

They promised us sunshine yesterday, but we woke up to drizzle. We had said we would go to the coast yesterday, and we did, all of us, the entire family  which is a rare happening, and it was lovely. Two hours of sunshine - which arrived just as we drove down into New Quay, and as we drove away from the junction at Synod Inn, we looked across the fields and they were smothered in a sea fret! Talk about perfect timing.

So here we are, my family (Gabby didn't want to be in the photo so wielded the camera instead) - the sun was in my eyes a bit but it was worth it to be warm and able to sit outside for a lunchtime drink before being treated to fish and chips. 

The view across the harbour wall.

Looking further up the coast from the top of the car park (above) and then the bottom part of the town, where the shops, chippies and pubs are.

Looking up at the main part of the town from the harbour wall.

Rock pools, above, and below - the beach had obviously suffered lashing waves in recent storms and the white stripes, looking like scum from a distance, turned out to be tiny pieces of crushed seashells.

Above and below: Alexanders, the seaside Umbellifer, always flowers very early and there was plenty in evidence here.

Finally, above and below:  a nearly-finished hand-pieced hexagon quilt which I intend to finish off and then offer for sale.  I found it in a charity shop recently and it deserves to be finished.

Well, I need to go and get packed now, as Tam and I are off up North tomorrow and I have a weekend away with her and her partner.  I am greatly looking forward to visiting Haworth and the Bronte Parsonage Museum, as well as other Yorkshire gems.  See you next week when I shall be able to show you my much-changed (and hopefully finished) sewing room.