Tuesday 30 July 2019

The Constipated Elephant and Other Unusual Things - Snowshill Manor, Glos - Part 1

It was the hottest day of the year last Thursday - in some parts of the country (Cambridge for instance) it was the hottest recorded day ever.  I will concede - it was a tad too warm for me.  However, we had bought a couple of things at auction in Gloucestershire and needed to go and collect them.  The day before, we decided to tag Snowshill Manor (which belonged to Charles Wade who collected all the wonderful things inside it) into the day out - I have wanted to go there all the time we have lived here (William Morris' beautiful manor house (Kelmscott) is also at the top of the list.  Fortunately we have AC in the car, and it wasn't too bad a journey to the auction, but when we walked around the town it was pretty muggy and airless - and HOT.  However, we threw caution to the wind and derring do got the better of us and we drove on to Snowshill - getting a bit lost when near by as signage was non-existent and the road map we had not the most accurate.  We ended up having a little exploration of nearby villages including the wonderful village of Stanton which is where we would like to live if we ever win the lottery (don't hold your breath!)

You have to walk across the parkland (photos of wild flowers in another post) to get to the house, although I believe there was golf cart type transport for those who couldn't walk that far.  I took it easy and it was good to stretch our legs after hours in the car.  The house was not nice and cool as this house is - it held onto the heat and when we walked into this first room, I absolutely MELTED.  How I didn't end up as a puddle on the floor is beyond me!  However, lots of distractions whilst mopping my steaming brow, including this amazing cabinet in a Venetian style first popular in the 16th C, although this is much later and dates to about 1850.  A friend of Charles Wade found this in a shop in Taunton and quickly wrote to his friend, urging him to buy it.  The front is tortoiseshell, inlaid with brass and semi-precious stones.

This scale model is HMS Romulus - the actual full-size ship was made and launched at Buckler's Hard (in the New Forest) in 1777.  She carried 44 guns and within 2 years was part of Admiral Arbuthnot's squadron which attacked and captured Charleston, South Carolina.  Sadly by 1789 she ended up at Mauritius as a hulk, after having been captured and used by the French.  She must have had a very hard life to be abandoned after just 12 years from launching.

Another lovely piece of woodwork, carved and gilded and I believe, Chinese again.

There were a couple of magnificent "Armada chests" in the room - here is one opened to show the amazing lock system - German manufacture I believe, and each individual piece beautifully engraved with designs.

In the 1940s, when Wade purchased many of these Oriental pieces, prices were relatively cheap as no-one wanted such pieces in their homes.  Like large lumps of Victorian furniture today in fact!

This carving of an elephant amused me as he had SUCH an expression on his face and looked like he was . . . a tad constipated!!

It is no surprise to learn that Charles Wade was by profession an architect, as these scale models of houses for Hampstead Garden Suburb filled almost an entire room (on the tops of display cases).  He was born in 1883 and after leaving school he was articled to an Architect in Ipswich.  He went on to become a pivotal influence on the designs of houses at Hampstead Garden Suburb (led by Raymond Unwin, with Edwin Lutyens as consultant).  He was of course influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

This was a lovely well-equipped dolls house in "Mermaid" (all the rooms had different names - we started off in the Turquoise Room.  I tried to take a photo of the larger one, which had a downstairs room done up as a shop but a lady was stood in front of it doing her hair - repeatedly, so I gave up.  

A photograph of Charles Wade, with quite an intense expression, dressed up for one of the theatrical dramatic performances that he and his friends enjoyed.  I don't know how we missed it, but there was a costume room - so we will have to go back.  Apparently hid collection ran to something like 2,500 items of apparel.  Because of the sheer number of items, most of the collection has been moved to Berrington Hall near Leominster (that's just been added as another house to visit soon.)

Part of the display of children's toys, which was a delight.

Two Lace Making pillows and a wonderful old felt hat - drover's or Ag. Lab's perhaps?

Finally a collection of pattens, worn to keep shoes out of the mud when going across the yard.

More tomorrow.

Monday 29 July 2019

A busy week

We had back-to-back Fairs this weekend, one local - the other Malvern.  We went to bed early, but unfortunately my Montelukast tablet made my heart rate rise considerably - and for about 3 hours I couldn't get to sleep as my heart was going pitty-pat!  (It's a side-effect of the medication). So I was still awake just before midnight and I did NOT want to get up at 3 a.m. when the alarm went off!  Ah well, I lived to tell the tale but of course, am still very tired today.  I treated myself to a plant from this stall - which I have bought from regularly.  I nearly bought an Echinacea  (see plants at front edge of table - the colour I liked was the shorter purply pink half way along).  THEN I saw this Scabious (below) and that was it as far as I was concerned!  

I couldn't resist - Scabiosa "Barocca". 

We each took it in turns to have a "quick wander" round the other stalls, but it's impossible to sell AND buy and I didn't really need any more stock unless it was something special at the right price.  I spotted this patchwork quilt (£175) and thought it deserved a photo.

A stall specialising in garden furniture.  

Three French hens!  I liked this : )

Near to our stall was one with a huge heap of - clothing and bits of material, which started off at £3 per piece.  Later in the day it was £1 per piece - I had a look but there was nothing that screamed buy me and I wasn't dedicated enough to get to the bottom of the pile.  Later still, it was FREE, which encouraged me to go and look and I got a couple of bits of curtaining (one is a Sanderson fabric), the 100% cotton single duvet cover below, and above, this size 16 House of Fraser skirt - Price tags still on - originally £70, then half price at £45 and then it ended up with the nearby lady, in a field . . .  I liked it and decided once I have lost the rest of the steroid weight (2 lbs gone already), this will fit me . . .

We have had this lovely French "Onion" port lamp from a ship for over a year now.  I have always been worried about the glass getting broken (now we don't have a Unit to display it in) and so I have decided I am now keeping in - better having it whole and unsold than broken and unsold!!

These lovely copper moulds were originally mine, then I decided to declutter and put them out for sale, but no buyers, so now they are back on the dresser.  So much for downsizing!

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Cherries and gritted teefs . . .

Aren't these superb cherries?  They were ENORMOUS - Morello cherries - and I only had to chuck one away.  I got a box full (10 lbs) for just £4 at Chris Thomas' warehouse at Abergwili this week.  On our recent travels, we saw Cherries like these offered for sale at about £13.50 per Kilo!  What a bargain we got : )   So I spent a couple of hours removing stalks, washing them in an acidic bath (I used lemon juice in the water, but vinegar works just as well) to remove any pesticide residue and then I sat on the sofa, watched catch-up tv and stoned them all, before cooking them up in two lots in my big jam pan and now they're in the freezer.  

Yesterday, unexpectedly - very unexpectedly as I was all set up to go to my Patchwork class at Alex's studio - we got a phone call from a friend offering us half a Unit at what seemed a bargain price.  We had discussed this recently with the friend and what we could afford (and couldn't) had been established.  We certainly couldn't run to the whole Unit price which would have been twice as much (and more) than we had ever paid.   "Come out and see what you would get" was suggested, so we decided it would be best to strike whilst the iron was hot and we set off after lunch.

We had a wander round Hay later, as we were in the area - here's the view looking up to the Buttermarket.

Well, it was a completely wasted journey (£15 worth of diesel PLUS our time) as when we got there, suddenly the pricing goalposts had been altered AND included in the "deal" was the need to cover two days a month in the shop.  That would bring the cost to us of half a Unit up to damn near the cost of a full one.  I obviously appear far more stupid and gullible than I am! but believe me, that sort of offer is not one I am going to be taking up. 

I always look at this rather splendid (apart from the colour!) kitchen-tidy cupboard when we walk past this shop.  Some useful storage there but believe me, if it lived in my kitchen it would be chocabloc with useful things and no room for fripperies!

What the?  Perhaps this is "modern art" and there are always plonkers willing to be seduced by the ludicrousness of it.  Ah well, it's different, but I wouldn't want it in my house!

Today is meant to be another scorcher.  Keep cool everyone.

Country Talk

On Monday we went to see some smallholding friends of ours.  What a lovely afternoon we had, being shown around the property, drooling over various plantings, meeting their livestock and generally talking Country Talk.

It's always nice to find someone you are on the same wavelength as, and H and I get on like a house on fire.  I took cake and jam (I wouldn't dream of going empty-handed) and H & P provided a lovely lunch of home made Lettuce Soup (a new one on me, but very tasty), and bacon butties - so Keith was pleased as that's always what he has when we "go out for lunch"!  (I know . . .)

Then we had the tour of the smallholding, which was wonderful.

The soft fruit area - various Raspberries shown here - autumn ones, orange and yellow and black Raspberries, plus - out of sight - Loganberries, Amelanchier, Tayberries, Jostaberries, Boysenberries, Wineberries, Honeyberries, Pink Blueberries and blue Blueberries, Chilean Guava, Chuckleberries, Blackberries, plus Mulberry, Blackcurrant, Red Currant, Pink Currant, White Currant etc - I don't think H had missed anything in the berry department!

The Lavenders in part of her big herb plot - which was divided into four areas - Culinary Herbs, Medicinal Herbs, Sensory Herbs and ??? (forgotten!)  I am now inspired to reinvent mine, as it has gotten moved several times down the years and is more dotted about than in the one place.  I have promised H a big root of my Elecampane, which romps around the place here but she's not been able to keep going in her plot.  The roots on my plants are as thick as my wrist so should grow on well.

A nicely laid out and TIDY (e.g. no weeds) veg plot.  Most of mine is under black plastic to suppress the grass and I am trying to get rid of all the weeds now I can get out in the garden again.

The very start of H's orchards of fruit and nut trees.  All planted in the last five years.

A Belgian hare of the most beautiful russet colour, who came from a local poultry auction recently.

Apricots growing against a warm wall.  Apparently they were sulking and curling their leaves until H & P put a little roof on them and now they are happy, content and fruiting.  I am guessing the roof made a little micro-climate for them to thrive in.

Beside the main house is this little barn which is home to a couple of spare rooms, including this working kitchen where they do jam and chutney making, sausage making, and other meat-related work.   H had demijohns hanging from the rafters, empty glass storage jars and jam jars, pans of various dimensions, a big chopping block, and no end of useful items.  She was saying every time she used things, she remembered the person who had given them to her.

P's salamis and choritzos, made recently, and now curing.

Finally, one of the triplet lambs they had taken on after the ewe had rejected it (I think they ended up with about 10).  She drank her bottle of milk in double-quick time!

We had a lovely afternoon there and the conversation was all about country things, making things from scratch, growing things, repurposing, nothing being thrown away and just downright practical country common sense (unlike the new townee neighbour who was feeding the local foxes . . .)

Can't wait to see them again.

Sunday 21 July 2019

Llandeilo Quilt Exhibition 2019

My friend Dawn McHugh gave me the heads up that there was a Quilt Exhibition on at Llandeilo over the weekend, so yesterday morning we met up with another craft lady from Carmarthen, Sarah Jones.  There were SO many quilts and smaller pieces of work on display in the Chapel, with every space put to good use (pews especially useful for quilt display!)

This is a very special piece of quilt-making as this top was pieced by a lovely lass called Emily, who is only 9 years old.  She began this top when she was 7, encouraged by her gran.  The note on it says that she has taken a year to do this because she could only work on it at patchwork classes in the school holidays but now goes every Tuesday evening.  Hooked for life methinks!  She came to chat to us and was a very confident young lady.

A bevy of bags.

These are Linus Quilts - made for giving to children who are in need of comfort - because they are very ill, or traumatised, or otherwise in need of quilts or afghans.  What a lovely idea.

This was my favourite quilt and which got my vote (all the pieces were numbered and you voted for one on the way out.  The overall winner got a small gift I believe.  This was a block-a-day-for-a-year quilt so as you can see, a LOT of work there.  I should have taken a photo of the back too because that was strip pieced and made it reversible.

Above and below: Close-ups of various small blocks.  Very inspirational.

No space was wasted!!

A beautiful wholecloth quilt in the old Welsh tradition, hand quilted.

Finally, some quilts made by African-American women from Gee's Bend , Alabama who despite hardship and adversity, made quilts throughout and still make quilts, with whatever materials came to hand, recycling any fabrics they had/were given.  Fairly humbling - when you think of what us quilters go out and buy and cut up - with no thought to necessity or frugality or just plain not having . . .

Enjoy your Sunday.  I'm off out for a walk.