Thursday 29 April 2021

A Marmite Hen . . .


Today was a Hay Market day.  As yesterday had been a TOTAL return to Winter (my goodness it was cold) I was debating what to wear, but opted for my new blue long sleeved blouse and a vest top under, and my seldom-worn chunky knitted long cardi.  (Mind you, I put a jacket in the car, just in case).  It's nice to dress up just a little bit now and again.  Here is a scene from the lay-by with a view near Brecon, where we stopped to eat our Patisserie stall lunch.  Those lemon tarts with white lemon and strawberry topping were calling out to be bought! Keith tried the dark chocolate and ginger, which has a big walnut on top.  Yummy!

Hay wasn't quite so busy as last time we went (I think Lockdown had only just been lifted then).  Here is one side of our friend Kath's shop window - a tempting display.

Looking along that same row of shops - I love the old timbers, left to age and not painted with black paint (I have a thing about black - or white, inside houses - painted beams.)

Opposite, woven baskets outside of the indoor market in the Buttermarket, where we used to stand at the Wee Flea there on a Friday.  I have a few of these, which are used for holding craft supplies.  I noticed prices had gone up, but that is the way of things.

I looked in the window, but was very good and didn't get tempted to go in.

One side of the window display at the Antique Centre has been changed, very spring-like.

Inside looking out, this was the opposite window which has also been altered.  Lots of Carltonware china.  I can remember when it was flavour of the month and you couldn't touch it at auction, now no-one wants it! The sort with the Foxgloves on still charms me.

Hen and chicks. I liked these and would put something like this on my stall.  Keith and Tam just went YUK!  Ah well, Keith has always said he doesn't know why I bought chicken-orientated stuff (well I do, as it always sold!)  So, this is a Marmite hen - you either love it or hate it!

Above and below: Velvetfern.  We went in, and she had some lovely things, and at sensible prices, so I am hoping she will make a go of it.  So many people come to Hay and think it is the land of milk and honey and put silly prices on stuff.  This shop is well worth visiting and I am going to treat myself in there next time.  I've just noticed my reflection below . . .

The plant stall.  I looked, and a couple of things were appealing, but having spent £25 the other day, I thought I had best leave my purse in my bag!

A curious little prickly thing on another junky stall.  It was quite weighty and I think was for parting the fibres of flax or similar, when it had been retted in a pit.  Again, I didn't even ask the price.

Finally, Hay castle. Work is still ongoing, but it looks like it is mainly the roof being worked on now.

Purchases from the Market were White Rye Flour and Brown Rye Flour, for bread (I have a recipe for a Rye Loaf made with plain yoghurt (in fridge already) which I will make tomorrow.  It was on Kate Humble's farm programme recently.  Also more jumbo oats, and some flaked almonds.  Oh, and those little patisserie pies of course.  From the butchers, a Steak and Ale pie for our meal tonight.

I have been busy in the garden this afternoon, and finally planted the two gooseberries, the first (and biggest) of the Autumn fruiting raspberries, one of the golden ones.  I also sowed some of the grass/wild flower seed mixture (and hope that the wretched pheasants don't discover it's there - though I did sprinkle soil* over.)  I transplanted some more of the Astilbe to the other side of the pond where there was an abandoned area covered in ivy. Then I planted the orange Geum (Borisii), and two more Delphiniums, this time white ones.  

* This came from one of the ceramic pots left behind by the previous owner.  It had two unhappy Primulas in it (now transplanted to the bank) and some gone-over Tete-a-Tete daffs, which I shall bung in elsewhere.  The spent compost was fine for spreading over the grass seed mix, but no goodness in it for growing any fresh plants.  I have another couple of the same to empty and replant.  I will be working all year to try and get the paddock area sorted, as still lots of roots and stones up there.  

As we drove round the countryside today, the Blackthorn was still in flower, though just starting to go over a bit now, just as the May (Hawthorn) blossom is starting to flower.  I don't recall seeing the two in bloom at the same time but this has been a long and very cold start to spring.  All the oil seed rape fields are golden yellow with flowers, and the verges equally golden with Dandelions, and the last of Celandines and on the way to Brecon, the roadside banks have plenty of Cowslips. Sadly, our one Swallow doesn't have a mate yet, and there are none to be seen - hoping they are just held up over Europe due to the cold weather and not decimated by the trigger-happy lot in the Med. He/she looked so disconsolate sat on the power wire by the stables today . . .  Do you have them returned to your area? wherever you are.

Monday 26 April 2021

Out into the birdsong morning . . .

 For the last year or more we have been sensible and holed up, having everything delivered and half-scared of our own shadows - Project Fear worked very efficiently.  Not to say that we didn't carry on as normal going out for walks and whatever, but the notion of going to a car boot sale last summer didn't appeal to me, since I had to Shield, being Clinically Vulnerable.  (Giving someone a distinction like that is guaranteed to put the wind up you.)

    In recent weeks I have stopped having an Asda delivery and instead chosen to shop in Llandod (Llandrindod Wells) about 7 miles away.  There is an Aldi there, and a big Tesco.  I feel more comfortable in the Tesco as the Aldi shop feels crowded and poky, but I am quickly in and out.  I get odd bits we need in Builth.

 Anyway, regular visitors to my blog may well recognize the view above as the Malvern Hills, and yesterday we walked out into the birdsong morning, climbed in the car and went to the first Malvern Fleamarket we had been to in about 18 mths.  This was the result of much deliberation and discussion.  We are both as protected as we are likely to get, having had both our jabs.  Tam has had her first.  We agreed that if it was absolutely heaving with people and didn't feel safe, we would just turn round and come out.

These animal sculptures made from oddments of wood, once the produce of skilled artists only, are obviously now being commercialized somewhat.  The rows of stalls were single-sided (normally there is just a pathway about 6 foot wide between stands for you to walk along.  Covid restrictions have spread everyone out and it felt safe as we walked up the middle of the new pathways, checking out stalls for anything of interest.  To be honest, there were stalls with good stock on and a lot of very junky ones which looked like car booters with no-where to go who had trebled their prices because it cost then £40 for a pitch. . .  The photo below gives you a better idea of the layout.  I took it to try and identify the trees there, when we got back.  Whitebeam possibly although the dome not compact enough, looking at online photos.

Below: the view in the car park.  Spring was a lot further advanced at Malvern - probably a week ahead of us here in Powys.  It was SO GOOD to see the trees out.  I can remember about Settlers in the prairies of  America and one woman (a quiltmaker, as it was in a book about American quilts and design influences) missing trees SO MUCH and when after some years, they travelled to somewhere that trees grew, she flung herself off the wagon and ran to a tree and hugged it.  I had something of that feeling yesterday, especially seeing oak trees well-covered with leaves on the way home. Here only the smaller shrubby trees have leaves, the Chestnuts too and the Limes in the park are just putting out leaves, and the Sycamores here around the house.  Our Beech trees are holding out though . . .

Below: Oak trees near the Welsh border (just in Herefordshire there I think).  I even saw May (Hawthorn) in bloom on the way back.

Below: views from Malvern across the Worcestershire countryside.  I always stop at this spot and take photos in every season.

This is the Market Hall, work on which commenced in 1617 and it was originally a grain house.  In 1645 this was the site of a battle between Cavaliers and Roundheads, with the Royalists winning the day.

HERE is a potted history of the architecture of Ledbury, worth reading.

The cobbled charm of Church Street in Ledbury.  Next time I will walk up here again and take further photos.

The Feathers Hotel in Ledbury.  The highlighted link gives a potted history.  The older part of the building dates to 1560.

Whitney Court.  Any followers of the diaries of the Revd. Francis Kilvert will recognize the name.  He knew the Dew family who lived here in his time (1870s) - Mary Dew was related to Wordsworth's wife, Mary Hutchinson.  Read an appraisal and the history of Kilvert's diaries HERE.  

In case you are wondering if we bought much at Malvern, the answer is no.  Tam bought a silver ring, Keith bought a couple of Militaria bits and I bought an Islamic copper pot and an interesting old horse bit.

This is a Buxton coaching bit which someone had modified by the blacksmith to give a Hanoverian mouthpiece with rollers and VERY high port (for control) and then the mouthpiece was covered in leather.  Guaranteed to stop a train . . .

Meanwhile, time to feed the birds and pot on the little Fig tree I bought off a fellow dealer yesterday for £5.

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Another local walk


This was a short walk but one we'd not done before because it meant walking through two farmyards, and didn't want to do this during Lockdown (though others had).  This little stream is at the edge of our land (we have a strip of woodland bordering the paddock).

Happy lambs guzzling!

The white is our house through the trees.  That huge tall pine is ours.  Hope it never falls over!!

Wild Violets flowering on a sunny bank.  We passed lots of them on our walk.

After we had passed through the first farmyard, and had a natter with the neighbours, this white farm was where we were headed.

One of the routes we could have chosen (there are 3 on this particular walk) goes around the mynydd.  Saving that one for a couple of weeks' time.

Looking across the woodland, now showing signs of leaves being unfurled.  Oak and Ash are neck and neck this year.

More Violets - there was a long strip of them here.

Down what seemed to be a sheep path rather than the bridleway it was marked on the map, and into a dingle with another stream to cross.

We reached the double hedges and the grassy lane looked more like an ancient hollow-way.  Not one to walk in the summer as it was a mass of young Nettles, but the banks were covered in Ground Ivy and buzzing with bees.

Another view of the mynydd.

Through the farmyard and up along the farm drive to the lane.

Masses of lovely Daffodils were still in bloom.

Greater Stitchwort.

The first Bluebells.

We got back to find Keith planing a piece of old oak he had dug out from his useful bit of wood in one of the stable stalls.  He and Tam have marked out the template for the new arm and it will be used for this.

We made the most of the late afternoon sunshine and began to lay out the poles for the polytunnel.  Unfortunately we had lost the instructions in our move - I knew exactly where it was when we were packing, but then sold the chest of drawers it was in to the newcomers and it has disappeared from view since then.  Fortunately Tam worked out how it went together from looking up a picture on her phone . . .

Yesterday we carried it up to its final position in the paddock and put the cover on it, so now there are young Tomato plants up there and Tam has sown lots more vegetable seeds.  I did some heavy duty gardening with a Mattock, and dug and fertilised the soil there with a sack of farm yard manure.  Then I got my three pots of Rhubarb in.  I will see if I can beg some well rotted horse manure from the lady with the bay horse in the field opposite.  The other soft fruit will go in up there too.

Today I have been busy baking cakes, two to take to a friend of ours as a thanks for looking after some of our boxes of stock.  One Lemon Drizzle and one Carrot Cake with walnuts and preserved ginger strips.

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Worth every penny for the smile on his face!


Well, this is the piece of furniture which brought  a huge grin to my husband's face last week.  We popped into a house clearance shop in town.  There was nothing there of interest to us until we spotted this poor unloved settle, though the lack of an arm wasn't obvious until a big box was moved off it.    Not that something like that bothered Keith . . .  It's 17th C, probably Welsh  and has seen better days. It looks like it may have been knocked over as the seat is split, but Keith will mend that and also the split panel on the back.  Apparently the arm was taken off by the landlady's behest so it fitted into a corner . . . I would have thought that would have weakened it, so I'm not taken in by that tale. The strengthening bars between legs and seat are added later too, and the back legs are replacements spliced in - probably to replace ones weakened by woodworm. 

This is the design, rather Palmette in pattern.  Haven't nailed it down yet though to a particular area.  The settle came from a Welsh pub, but not necessarily Welsh of course. . . I love the way the design is wonky showing a slight lack of skill - perhaps someone still learning their trade.   We'll never know for sure.

Theo saying, "It's not heavy, really!"  I love the original design along the front.  I have never seen the dot and lattice pattern before.  Again, perhaps repurposed from something else.  The seat looks later, so it's got quite a history!

The initials look to be a bit of an afterthought.  It may have been a marriage piece originally. 

Anyway, we got it for half the asking price as the shop owner was keen to get rid of last year's stock which had been lingering due to the Lockdowns. As I said, it was worth every penny for the pleasure it has given Keith, who has already drawn out the pattern for the replacement arm and found a suitable piece of wood.