Wednesday 31 August 2022

Confessions of an autodidact


I hated school, but when I left I was finally at liberty to read and learn what I was actually interested in - which was quite a broad spectrum really.  History, but NOT taught as it was in school, and totally different periods.  Firstly through novels and then through interesting text books.  Archaeology, folk tales and myths, Botany, wildlife and nature, crafts and when I started work, I began to collect Antiquarian Horse Books.  I even began to study English Literature - which I loathed in class as I just wanted to enjoy reading a book then, and not dissect it to understand it further.  Then I discovered Thomas Hardy and have been hooked ever since, and likewise the Brontes and have many novels and biographies about them and TH.  (Tam told me off for having 33 biographies about him and said this was FAR more than was necessary!)  Anyway, I have been listening to a lovely programme about him first broadcast on Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time on a Thursday morning, back in January (on the computer link).  I think I heard it then too, but no harm in listening again as I prepared tonight's (and tomorrow's) evening meal, and the cheat's chilli with Taco beans for Tam and I on Friday after we come in tired and late on Friday night after setting up at the Antiques Fair.  

        I try and learn something new every day and today it was about a designer called Adolf Loos, who died in 1933.  He hated any embellishment and Art Nouveau was something he loathed with a passion, and he became an architect whose design influenced 20th C modern architecture.   This came about by me going round the house looking for furniture we didn't use/need and when I was cleaning the little oak and leather fireside chair which lives in the hall and has a box of newspapers for recycyling usually sat on it, I found a Registered number on the back, and in researching it, came across MY chair on 1st Dibs (think of a number when it comes to the price put on stuff on there).  Turns out it is a Secessionist style chair and was designed by Adolf Loos. Well . .. I shan't be pricing it at a 1st Dibs price, but it is definitely worth a good bit more than the £50 or so I had been going to ask!  Etsy Ireland has one for £195 and so somewhere between my out-of-the-air price and that one will go with it.  Here's a link anyway, in case you are interested:

Now I am going to sit and relax as I haven't stopped all day. I probably won't be posting much until early next week because of being busy with the Fair.

Tuesday 30 August 2022

A Malvern Monday


After several nights of VERY disturbed sleep - I woke  every hour and a half - I had another disturbed night AND was in a deep sleep when the alarm went off at 4.45 yesterday morning.  I really DID NOT want to get up, but it was Bank Holiday Monday at Malvern, and needs must.  Breakfast was a cup of tea and hot cross bun.  I had prepared my breakfast/lunch and Keith's lunch on Sunday evening, so I was ready at the end of the lane in my trusty car when Pam and her daughter arrived in theirs.  I had the offer of going with Pam in her car, but wasn't sure how long I was going to be wandering round, so we went separately.

We had a lovely day at Malvern, and amongst the things that came home with me was a very unusual wooden stirrup with metal embellishment.  Probably Spanish and about 1850ish.

I bought a Turkish pot from this stand - he showed me the kilns where they fired them and we had a lovely chat.  They have chopping/dough boards of various dimensions - some still covered in dried dough where they had been offered on/purchased whilst still being used!

A few photos from our favourite stallholder this month. The face of the statue below looks like someone was sculpted without their teefs in!

This unusual leather bucket originally had its working life in a Cotton Mill.

All sorts are on offer. Some stalls are more themed than others, and some completely random.

Irresistible!  Drawn in 1898.

A lovely framed Cecil Aldin print of terriers.

A pretty Crown Ducal Deco vase.

    Keith and I have been doing PD posture exercises today, plus I have made up a couple of exercises of my own to help him with sideways movement/balance. The Physio, though a lovely lad, seems to be just going through the motions.  The posture exercises really seem to help and Keith can actually move sideways better as long as he is by the table to steady himself.  

    I am shattered though and not doing too much today. I have a good book which will see me through the afternoon, though K and I need to effect a repair on a small corner cupboard we got at the car boot sale.  It was very dead looking in the patina stakes, and a little rub down with 0000 grade wire wool had revealed a lovely red hue- it's made from Montgomery oak, which should help its chances, along with its size.

Here is a before photo of the little Corner Cupboard.  Keith and I have just been working on it and glued two slivers of wood where there is moulding missing. There's a wider bit missing on the other side which we'll do tomorrow, and also stain the replacement pine shelf inside.

It's had a rub down and the worst of years of dust and dirt brushed off.  You can see that lovely red colour. The Butterfly hinges are off an earlier piece, and the nails they've used to hold them in place look a bit like frost nails from a horse's winter shoe.

Saturday 27 August 2022

St Stephen's church, Old Radnor

 "Hisdoryan", whose blog I follow, calls this church "A Medieval Gem" and writes eloquently about it (see link).  Again, it is one I have driven past a few times since moving to Powys. It was well worth a short detour to explore. 

What a beautiful door - real attention to detail. Remains of water stoup on right.

The font was vast - I have seen bigger, but having been to so many churches this year, I am struggling to think of which has that honour.   According to local history, it was made from one of a group of nearby standing stones.  I haven't been checking out the prehistory of Powys, mainly because a lot of it requires climbing steep hills, and I am very unfit these days. HERE is a link to these particular stones and I must seek them out.

I loved the naturalistic designs in this yellow and amber glass.  Not something you often see used in an entire window.  I am now pretty sure that it's Medieval glass, because Hisdoryan shows a photo of St Catherine with these same yellow glass motifs at the bottom.

The view down through the church, with the almost filigree lace effect of the rood screen.

One of three hatchments on the walls.

I spotted several areas of the original Medieval tiles too.

Glass by Shrigley and Hunt of Lancaster. This firm of glassmakers was extant from the 1750s until as recently as 1982.

The roodscreen was very beautiful, as you can see.

A section of the oak waggon roof with Tudor rose bosses.  Sorry it's not a better photo.

The magnificent 16th C organ, possibly the oldest in Britain.

This magnificent memorial is to the Lewis family.  George Cornewall-Lewis was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary to Lord Palmerston.

Lesser mortals, but still clearly important in the community.

It is busy in town this morning - Bikes and Beer is on at the showground and the fields at the back covered in tents and bikes and, I'm sure, comatose bodies!

Keith is much brighter today and we will be doing our Tai Chi exercises shortly.  He is working on neck exercises and pushing his chin back (difficult as his neck is so tight).  I need to finish assembling an old quilt I bought unfinished (I've since finished it).  Big simple hexagons.  Needs to be out of my house and in someone else's, soonest.

Theo got on well at the Vet's - his teeth aren't too bad, but his ears full of mites again.  That's been treated with a combo spot-on type of treatment so everything - worms, mites, fleas etc done at once.  Now I have ear cleaning drops to administer every couple of days -you can imagine what fun that is single-handed and only a towel on my side, which protesting Theo is wrapped in.  I got him some shredded tasty cat food too which he is eating.

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Current reading


My friend Gay left these for me to read and return.  I couldn't put them down, and recommend heartily. I am currently re-reading Peter May "Lockdown" which I can also recommend if you like suspenseful books.

If you are a quilt maker or interested in quilts, then this book will fascinate you too.  An indulgence for myself when we were at the Elan Valley Visitor Centre recently.

Keith bought me these when we were at Kington last Saturday.  The Secret Churches one was 2nd hand, and has some lovely churches in it including some I know already.  The Welsh Marcher Lordships is one I have been drooling over in Conti's, down the town,  but I had been very good and put it back on the shelf.  I can recommend this too.  Fascinating reading.

I can't remember if I shared this with you before, but this was a present from my friend Gay, who came to stay.  Written in a similar style to the Marcher Lords one, it really tells the history of this part of Wales, and the castles we haven't yet visited.

Finally, another gift from me, to me, which I needed as I had thrown the old linen jelly bag away as it had gone fousty, and I no longer have a suitable beam to hang my jelly bag from.   Just one long rafter-type beam in the kitchen and not situated over any work surface I can put a bowl for the juice.  This will work a treat.  I have been busy picking lots of blackberries to turn into jam or jelly, so come September, will get cracking.

I am feeling rather down in the dumps at the moment, mainly because I scarcely slept at all last night, worrying about Keith, and also Theo who has decided that food isn't for him and has lost a lot of weight.  I managed to get him to eat better today by chopping up some chicken very finely, but he is booked in to the vet's tomorrow to get his mouth checked (that won't go down well with him) but I am 95% certain he is going to need his teefs cleaned and perhaps one or more removed.  Another £400 bill I can ill afford.

We saw the PD nurse again today and Keith's medication has been tweeked again, so let's hope that works.  The Physio said something which really upset me this week (I'm sure he didn't mean to - it was a realistic statement) but I think there are sometimes when things are best just thought rather than voiced.

Billy Blue-Eyes - I took a photo of what little remains of Nantygwyllt House, the very grand one which Shelley wanted to buy after staying at his uncle's house nearby, Cwm Elan.  Will put an Elan Valley post up at the weekend.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

A day out at Croft Castle


It was HOT for our visit to Croft Castle.  Because of this we didn't do much more than walk from the car to the house, then to the church and then to get cold drinks from their cafe.  I was checking it for wheelchair access, but tbh, you could only see the downstairs and upstairs wasn't really worth seeing, mainly being a gallery of images of various works done at Hafod, their estate near Aberystwyth. "Peacocks in Paradise" is a book all about this venture.  As a result of Thomas Johne's profligate spending at Hafod - making the grounds look Romantic - and indeed remodelling Croft Castle in the Gothic-Rococo style - the estate once again had to be sold in 1799 to ward off bankcruptcy.   However, the Croft family suffered greatly with their investments in the South Sea Bubble and had had to sell the estate earlier than century (1746) to a Richard Knight to cover their losses.  Thomas Johnes was related by "marrying in".  There had been a building on the site here since 1085 and the Croft family were closely aligned with their neighbours the Mortimers. Indeed, the battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461 took place on land belonging to the Crofts.  The family managed to buy the house back and it passed to the National Trust in 1957, and so avoided the fate (demolition) of many other big houses across the country (18+ in Herefordshire alone).

The church was beautiful inside and out.

The superb tomb of Sir Richard and lady Eleanor Croft,  dating from his death in 1509.  Lady  Eleanor was the widow of Sir Hugh Mortimer, uncle of the Duke of York, and was responsible for running the household for the Princes in the Tower, when they were held at Ludlow Castle.  I bet she could tell some tales . . .  Sir Richard was the Treasurer of the Household for King Henry VII. They both died in the same year.

Medieval floor tiles which were made at Malvern.

A stone Wyvern guards the doorway.

What a stunning coffer - that carving is so crisp.  Beautiful.

An equally stunning Court Cupboard with huge bun feet, and intricate carvings.   Below: Caryatid figure detail.

A lot of stitching went into the creation of this wonderful hanging.

I believe that Croft Castle has free access one day in September under the Heritage Open Days scheme. Several interesting properties listed and we hope to go to a couple - Brockhampton and perhaps Berrington Hall.

A rainy morning here - of course, as it is bin day and I have to take the recycling up the lane!  Some stitching on a quilt is scheduled for later, when the Physio has been and gone.