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.