Thursday 30 September 2021

Having an off day - and revisiting Jane Eyre

 I clearly overdid it yesterday with the painting and/or didn't sleep well.  We braved the rain and popped into Hay to see friends this morning, and buy a patisserie treat from the market.  When we got back, I just HAD to lie down on the sofa for a nap.  I have been struggling not to repeat this ever since. Fortunately tea is the other half of the Chicken Pie from yesterday so just needs a vegetable accompaniment.  

Above is the wall I put two coats of paint on yesterday - it made my legs quite feeble having to stand on the top of the step ladder to reach the top of the wall.  All the upstairs rooms have this planked lining (with a dado rail added and hardboard below it, either painted or papered.)  It took two coats to cover it but has lightened the room - the grey-pink that was up there before, whilst being - well I suppose you could call it restful - leached all the light out, especially as the wallpaper is a pinky brown print.  Not my taste. The two pictures you can see clearly are on the left, a water colour which belonged to my friend Annie, which I advised her to put into auction.  It went at a sensible price and I bought it as I had always liked it.  The Monet print of the Magpie I just had to have as it is one that my dad painted a copy of and gave to a friend.

 This is the opposite wall, which I have been able to finish the right hand side of and go around the corner now the sink is removed.  You can see the hideous wallpaper.  Pictures for the moment are Mambrino and then two limited edition prints by Gillian McDonald, birthday presents on consecutive years from my dear husband. Temporarily decorating the mantlepiece are our two girls in a school photo and a x-stitch picture of a Dragonfly I sewed for Annie when her husband died.  They had a beautiful stained glass dragonfly set in the door of one of their rooms.

I counted ten or more House Martins wheeling around the house and then settling on the power cable today.  There have been two nests producing young all season and these are the last, finally fledged.  I will be SO sad to see them go - it looks like the last brood of Swallows from the stables has also now fledged and fled Southwards, not a moment too soon. It is blowing half a gale on and off here and has been raining most of the day.

            I have listened to my body today and rested up, watching a programme about Michael Portillo walking the South West Coastpath.  Today he was in Widemouth Bay and then stayed near Beeny Cliff, in the Rectory  where Thomas Hardy met Emma, who was to become his wife. He was there as an architect to "improve" the church - the Victorians were a bit too fond of that.   Portillo (lucky devil) even stayed in the Rectory where Emma lived.  A beautiful building.

    Earlier I got distracted by a familiar name from my Devon family tree and have been following up the direct line of it and the branches of it in other villages around Dartmoor.  In Stoke Gabriel I can trace my roots back to 1650.

    I've also been distracted by Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and the odious Mr Brocklehurst, based on William Carus-Wilson, with whom I have some connection, as one of my direct relations worked for his family in London in Victorian times.  This passage sprang to mind and I had to find it (many thanks to the Victorian Web) : 

"Sundays were dreary days in that wintry season. We had to walk two miles to Brocklebridge Church, where our patron officiated. We set out cold, we arrived at church colder: during the morning service we became almost paralysed. It was too far to return to dinner, and an allowance of cold meat and bread, in the same penurious proportion observed in our ordinary meals, was served round between the services.

At the close of the afternoon service we returned by an exposed and hilly road, where the bitter winter wind, blowing over a range of snowy summits to the north, almost flayed the skin from our faces."

It's hard to imagine how those poor girls suffered since, as you may well know, Lowood School was based on Cowan Bridge, which the Rev. Patrick Bronte sent his daughters to, only to have Maria and Elizabeth die from being there. All the children had had Whooping Cough before attending the school, so would have arrived already weakened in body and immunity.  TB killed them but the conditions at Cowan Bridge hastened their passing without a doubt.

Mr Brocklehurst speaks:  

"And there is another thing which surprised me; I find, in settling accounts with the housekeeper, that a lunch, consisting of bread and cheese, has twice been served out to the girls during the past fortnight. How is this? I looked over the regulations, and I find no such meal as lunch mentioned. Who introduced this innovation? and by what authority?"

"I must be responsible for the circumstance, sir," replied Miss Temple: "the breakfast was so ill prepared that the pupils could not possibly eat it; and I dared not allow them to remain fasting till dinner-time."

"Madam, allow me an instant. You are aware that my plan in bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying. Should any little accidental disappointment of the appetite occur, such as the spoiling of a meal, the under or the over dressing of a dish, the incident ought not to be neutralised by replacing with something more delicate the comfort lost, thus pampering the body and obviating the aim of this institution; it ought to be improved to the spiritual edification of the pupils, by encouraging them to evince fortitude under temporary privation. A brief address on those occasions would not be mistimed, wherein a judicious instructor would take the opportunity of referring to the sufferings of the primitive Christians; to the torments of martyrs; to the exhortations of our blessed Lord Himself, calling upon His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him; to His warnings that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God; to His divine consolations, "If ye suffer hunger or thirst for My sake, happy are ye." Oh, madam, when you put bread and cheese, instead of burnt porridge, into these children's mouths, you may indeed feed their vile bodies, but you little think how you starve their immortal souls!"

It is hard to imagine in this day and age, quite how those poor children must have suffered.  All in the name of religion.  William Wilberforce was one of the benefactors of this school (as Cowan Bridge) - I imagine he had no knowledge of how meanly it was run.  I note, so was a "Miss Currer" - so she may well have been the inspiration for Charlotte choosing her name as a pseudonym.  HERE is a link to the schoolhouse page, which gives many interesting details.

So - my distractions for the day.  Very satisfying ones too.  

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Red sky in the morning . . .

 shepherd's (or sailor's) warning.  Round here it would be shepherd's of course, as the farms seem to be mostly given over to sheep farming though the fields opposite currently have a suckler herd of beef cattle in.

This morning's sky at sunrise reminded me of that scene in Gone With the Wind, where Rhett and Scarlett are pictured against the backdrop of Atlanta in flames as the Union Army get there, and all the warehouses are afire and they try and escape in the buggy with Melanie and her new baby in the back.  

    Yesterday it rained a bit - more than a bit really, fairly torrentially all morning and into the afternoon.  It was of course Bin Day, and the 3 weekly putting out of the Wheelie Bin, so I got a bit damp taking that up the track. Despite the weather, K and I did the grocery shop in Llandod and I got birdseed and peanuts.

    Our local ironmongers had an offer on a truly Squirrel Proof nut feeder (£4 off), so I invested in one and so far, so good.  Mind you, the squirrel baffle I bought for the seed feeder seems to have deterred them and we don't see them in the garden so often.  The parents were not beyond leaping onto that feeder from the rose bush but the youngsters hadn't copied them.

    We shall see . . .

    It was definitely a day to carry on with decorating our bedroom, so I finally got back in there and now that the sink has been taken out of the corner, I could get in there to paint.  I am back to intending to use the dark blue wallpaper below the dado rail - middle daughter G found a lovely William Morris paper which I'd like to have used, but couldn't bring myself to pay £60 or so a roll for it.  I will have to practice my wallpapering skills although the hardest part will be moving all the bloomin' furniture out and back again.  I had to take all the drawers out of my chest of drawers yesterday so I could move it.  Now I have a bag of surplus clothing to go to the charity shop, and a pile to go to the Tip.  


    The roses are still blooming - here is Gabriel Oak, though it was late afternoon so the flash operated and robbed it of its true deep pink colour.

    Helianthus (Autumn Gold I think).  Bought for £3 at the Llandod car boot sale earlier in the year.  I got another one there last weekend to put up on the bank - they add such colour behind the shrubs.


Bathsheba, just getting better and better.

Part of the new border.

I - foolishly as it turned out - employed a chap to clear the two small paddocks (overgrown with swathes of Rosebay Willowherb etc) that the last owner of the house had used and recommended.  All I can say is, she had more money than us.  I shan't be using him again - it cost 4 times what we paid to have our paddock cut back at the old house.  His quote was his daily rate and when he didn't turn up until 2.15 I - foolishly - assumed that it would be a half day rate.  Nope.  Then VAT on top - nearly £200!!  Tradesmen in these parts are a damn site more expensive than in Carmarthenshire.

    One of my Colocasias - the one that came up and put out leaves properly.  One of the other two is just to the front (with a weed and a baby self-sown Geum).  The third barely put out a leaf before a slug nobbled it.  Before the first frost I need to cut back foliage and dig them up to be stored in a dry room over the winter.  Next year hopefully we won't be having frosts in May - they went in too late and  two were planted too shallow.  I have learned from my mistakes this year.

    So, back to decorating today.  I'll put some photos up tomorrow.

Monday 27 September 2021

Llananno - a very special place


St Anno's church at Llananno - we visited it twice, the2nd time with Tam, after going to Oswestry Antiques & Collectors' Fair.

HERE is its page with the Friends of Friendless Churches.

HERE are hisdoryan's superior photographs and write-up.

Other Saints were recognizable by what they carried.  I would have to look them up though!!  The one with the saw is St Simon, the Zealot, and quite  an obscure Saint.

Saints Jeremy and Elija (think it is though spelling slightly different - Eleije).

Not a dragon - note it has another head at the end of its tail, so it's an amphisbaena.

Work at the back of the screen.

Beautiful carvings were everywhere - so intricate.

Even the bits you wouldn't see were beautifully worked - this is the roof behind the screen.

Keith outside of the church.

There seemed to be a fashion for double headstones with the husband on one panel and the wife on the other panel.  

This statement - Death is the gate of life - comes from Bernard of Clairveaux:

Thursday 23 September 2021

Going by the scenic route


I'm pretty sure this was Saturday's sunrise.  So pretty.  Despite it being a Shepherd's Warning, we had a decent day, and drove up to the Antiques and Collectibles Fair at Oswestry, where we saw a friend from Hay, up there checking it out for potential stock.  We weren't there early enough to find the beautiful Persian plate we saw carried out, along with a super primitive horse weather vane.  Someone made a killing on those, that's for sure.  It's not a huge Fair and has a totally different feel to Malvern, which is much bigger (HUGELY bigger on Bank Holidays) and has a lot more dealers about.  Mind you, not as bad as the old Carmarthen Fleamarket where you practically had to fight to get close to get a bargain as everyone was out to beat fellow dealers to a bargain.

    On the way back we visited the church at Llananno again (we'd stopped on our way back from Plas Newydd last week), to show Tam the rood screen.  I will do a separate post for this.

Just two photos from Oswestry - a lace making pillow, French or Belgian by the shape of the bobbins.  How on earth did they tell one from another?  At least the British ones have different colour beads on or different decorations or made of bone or turned wood.  Below, a 70s hexagon quilt.

Being gluttons for punishment, the following day we all got up early and went to Malvern Fleamarket.  It was much much quieter than the August (Bank Holiday) one - a fraction of the stalls there.  Once again we had a quiet stroll around, chatting to friends, and this  lovely horse picture (a print of a Stubbs painting) came home with me.  

It is the Thoroughbred stallion Mambrino.

Also at Malvern . . . Beautiful, but so fragile and the silk was rent apart in a couple of places.

A shame it had a broken nose, but  I wouldn't want it as part of my decor.

This was so pretty and beautifully sewn, but at £20 it stayed there.

Log Cabin quilt (and I did look at the book but left it there).

Apparently from Novgorod . . .

Lots of interesting things.

Then we bought a leather recliner chair from Ebay, which was for collection just outside Shrewsbury , so that's where we went yesterday.  It was somewhat hefty, having a metal framework for the moving parts, but Keith is very pleased with it and I managed to manhandle it into place. Now we just have to get rid of the spare Parker Knoll armchair . . .

Tam got us set up for using a phone Satnav app which took us, shall we say, the scenic route up to get the chair.  In fact, it took us on the same route as Tam and I took when we went in search of Cascob and Discoed churches earlier in the year.  We came through Clun (where we once viewed a property half a lifetime ago before ending up in Wales).  We viewed one more recently too, which we absolutely loved (Bryn-y-Cagley Hall it was called), but our house stubbornly didn't sell and so we couldn't offer on it.  Mind you, thinking of it now, the garden (over 70 David Austin roses to tend to), big orchard and soft fruit area, would have been too much for me these days, so perhaps it was for the best.  Houseman's "Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun, the quietest places under the sun" still seems to run true as Clun was very quiet and peaceful yesterday.  We passed by turnings to the oddly-named Evenjobb, New Invention, Nind and through the village of Hope, and looked longingly at a turning which led to a stone circle (but probably not possible for Keith to reach at the moment), and drove through the Shropshire Hills and past the turning for the Stiperstones - wonderful walking country.

Anyway, we saw a sign for Machynlleth on the way home - it's years since we were last there and we weren't in a hurry to get home, so we went there and had a very slow wander round the antique shops before coming home on an unmarked road which went "behind" the Cambrian mountains.  Stunning views in places and I got a few photos.

Machynlleth, where it was market day.

What ALL Welsh ladies used to wear, back in the day.

Then the scenic route home a we noticed the sign for Llanidloes just as we were leaving the town.  Up through the mountains, and so beautiful . . .

A little sun to give a splash of colour.

One of the ubiquitous wind farms on the Welsh uplands.

I missed the best view which is of the reservoir up there - Nant y Moch.  Next time!  However, here is a pool instead . . . 

Sunday 19 September 2021

Plas Newydd Part II


There were some carvings which absolutely fascinated me and I am going to endeavour to do some research on them.  Above and the next two photos below.  The squareness of the figure, the bare breasts, long hair . . . what year were these carved, and who is it meant to represent?  I'm not going to find these in my Medieval Bestiary!

Update: just been doing some research and it is possible that this is St Christina who, amongst many of her terrible tortures, had her breasts cut off. The carving above shows her with a breast in her hand, and the one below shows her possibly holding a knife and both breasts still in place ...

More fragments of late Medieval glass, this time with faces.

Above and the two below: more very strange carvings.  Another bare-breasted figure draped in what looks like a Toga!, with a banner? above her head.  Below - a jester-type figure - looking at the serrated edge to the jerkin and a Beastie below him.

I don't know if the head-dresses are significant in this and the "pair" to this carving (above) and again, another Beastie, this one "gurning"!

More colourful fragments of glass built into windows.

Some needlework which one of the two Ladies made.

They were obviously cat-lovers, but not sure if the stuffed cat at the bottom was one of theirs . . .