Wednesday 31 May 2023

A Special Day Out - Powis Castle Part 1

 Now, left to my own devices, I would always have an outing mid-week, when places are quieter, but I was going with my friend Pam, who works for herself, and only has weekends free.  She couldn't do Saturday, so Bank Holiday Monday it had to be.  I don't now about you, but most folk I know think it's a good idea to stay at home on a Bank Holiday . . .  Anyhoo, I wanted to visit Powis Castle.  Things were going well until we turned in to approach the castle, straight into a long tailback of cars trying to get to the car park.  When we eventually got to turn in across the park, we were advised it might take up to an hour's wait at the car park just to get a space.  We thought, well, we've come this far, we'll go in.  Just as well as we got a space straight away . . .  

Well of course, we knew it would be busy and goodness, the house was absolutely HEAVING with people and if I get away without having caught Something Nasty in the cold department, I shall count myself very fortunate.  I really did NOT want to be cheek by jowl with so many people, trying to see the rooms - imagine a little fenced off area in the doorway, where you crammed in to see the room.  Not ideal.  

HERE IS A LINK to the history of the castle, and lots more photos including the collections.  That will keep you quiet for hours!  MUST SEE LINK FOR GARDENS - if you are a gardener, oh my goodness, you are in for unboundless delight at the plantings . . .

How's this for a door-knocker?!

    My goodness, WHAT an amazing place and furniture to rival anything at Buckingham Palace!  Fabulous painted ceilings throughout (totally over the top!) with beautiful plasterwork into the bay windows, leaves and a stag figured.  No photos allowed of course and tan-coloured rollerblinds throughout to only allow a dim light in to protect the tapestries, paintings and furniture.  Much to see and we didn't see all of it I'm sure.  I am planning to go back and have a SLOW walk around on a quiet day.  Probably before the schools break up in July, when the gardens are at their best.

    There was a display of Kaffe Fasset tapestry cushions, patchwork quilts and knitted throws, all seen in a dim light.  Some of the quilts were laid across the main staircase which was a nice way of displaying them.  I have to say, his colour-way is always very bright, but some appeared to have been pieced by whatever pattern happened to come to hand and really didn't "gel" together.  One lady in front of me was saying how lovely they were, but "she could never do something like that."  Of course you can, I told her, you start small, and make yourself a cushion, or even just a wee pincushion and see if you enjoy it.  I hope she will.  Just as well we didn't go into the main shop as I found out (when I got home) that they were selling Kaffe Fasset patchwork kits (cushions I assume) and his latest book Quilts in Wales in the shop . . . I've taken some photos from the little free guide they hand out.

Not a very restful palette in the first quilt.  That would jangle my nerves no end!  It's that pale blue . . .

I find the stone heads a bit spooky, especially the one on the left who made me think of Medusa. Sorry these aren't very clear (page wouldn't open properly), but you get the idea.    

    I have got to try and get Keith walking better, as although the castle is not the LEAST bit wheel-chair or disabled friendly, they do offer a wheelchair for seeing round downstairs, as long as you can manage the steps INTO the castle.  Lots of stairs to see the upper floor, so that's a non-starter.  Likewise, 15 steps (I did count them) up into the amazing Clive Exhibition, this having been Clive of India's house.  After Tipi Sultan, the Mughal Emperor was killed in battle, his palace was ransacked and needless to say, the top wallah of the East India Company got the pick of the contents. . .  Keith would have been in his element - so many weapons, and armour, and unusual artifacts.  So, he is into training again now that he's off the anti biotics and is hopefully mending again - though he still needs to DRINKMORE!  We fell out about that big time yesterday - why can't he just say, I'll try to drink more?  Nope, every time I get the reply, "I drink plenty/enough" Arrrrrrrrrrgh!!

    Now, the gardens.  Not at their high summer best but I DID want to see the absolute fountain of Wisteria and I was not disappointed.

I think all you can say is WOW!

Rosa Madame Gregoire Staechelin

A big stand of Achillea just coming into flower, and Alliums going to seed, with Cranesbills linking the two.

In the opposite border, the Alliums were still in full bloom.  I think I will add some here in the Autumn.

Just one of the lovely Paeonies in the borders.

HUGE Papaver officianalis!

The long view - one day I'll get down to those bottom garden rooms . . .  You need all day here really.  I had to be back for 4.30 because someone was collecting something I'd sold on Facebook Marketplace, plus I don't like to abandon Keith for too long. I already felt badly enough about going here without him as he would have LOVED it if he'd been fit enough to walk round.

This is on my wish list - it's a Scotch briar rose (so tough as old boots) called Rosa Pimpinellifolia William III.

Just part of the amazing yew "hedge" - well, it started off as a hedge, grew away and is now trees which have been clipped like clouds.

More tomorrow, this had taken me over an hour so far . . .

Monday 29 May 2023

All around the garden, and Pippi goes missing

 Both here and at my garden at Ynyswen (which I started from just bare lawn and a path), the land has never forgotten that it used to be a field.  The little strip of grass at the front of the house, when allowed to grow feral, becomes an old hay meadow.  This year there is just a strip at the bottom of the hedge where the Primroses grow, but that is already putting out Red Clover, Herb Robert, the few tentative fronds of Yarrow, Common Sorrel, Nettle,  and the last Lady's Smock is finally bowing her head to summer.

The roses are coming out now.  This is one I bought last year - it's a stunner.  Starts of with a dark moody bud, opens up and then starts to go pink, which is my favourite stage. So beautiful.

It's called Precious Amber and is one of - if not - my favourite - rose.  It just keeps going a deeper and deeper pink.

I am desperately trying to keep Tess of the D'Urbervilles alive.  The deep December frosts nobbled her and blackened all the stems and I have cut back hard, fed and watered well, and pray she will come out of her death-bed stance.  There are the tiniest signs of hope, with miniscule growth appearing, but gosh, she will be tucked up with fleece this winter, and the Fig next to her, which also suffered from the cold.  I may put the latter into a bigger planter too.

This is the lovely pink and yellow Aquilegia I had at Ynyswen, and brought a pot with me.  This year, apart from the pink and yellow candy stripes, it has produced several heads with what I call "ra-ra skirts".  I am absolutely delighted - it is so beautiful.  It always used to annoy me when I was selling young Aquilegia plants at car boot sales, people would say, "Oh I've got those already" and I would ask, which colour or flower-head type (Clematis-petal, Norah Barlow, spurred etc) and they'd look at me blankly.  An Aquilegia was an Aquilegia was an Aquilegia to them.

Isn't she beautiful?  This is Lili Marlene, another stunner.

Indigo, another early bloomer.

A pretty green tipped Aquilegia.  I have a similar purple one by the back of the pond.  Just noticed that the not-planted Aquilegia which has appeared in a pot in the yard is William Guinness, which I didn't think had come with me from Ynyswen.  I'm glad that it has. I had a lot of it there.

Talking of which, it's Flag Iris time in the pond. Gabby was here yesterday and assembled the other raised bed for me, and we filled it and topped up the other, with leaves, and then grass mowings, and then wet leaves from the pond.  I have managed to get a splash of pond water in my right eye - thought it had just missed but no, this morning right eye sore so I will have to try and get some eye drops when I'm out and see the Optician tomorrow.  I can remember that Katherine Hepburn got canal water in her eyes when filming in Venice, where she had to fall into the canal, and was affected permanently by some nasty incurable eye  infection.  I am sure this is a quick fix.

This is the main bed, which I inherited with just a reverted rose, some Golden Marjoram and bushes and bushes of leggy untended Lavender (much of which I have hoiked out).  It's gradually starting to come together though it's too sunny to see the purples of the flowers in there - wild Aquilegia, Iris "Bold Print", several Purple Lupins, Hardy Cranesbills etc.   I have a couple of tall white Valerian to pop in the back.  Progress.

I'm glad to say not all my Clematis died, though I lost 3 or 4.  This is The First Lady.  I thought I had lost Dr Ruppel, but no, the slugs had been at him, so I've moved him and he's now growing again.    Clematis Montana wilsonii is in full bloom - such a sweet delicate perfume - and the nameless one next to it is growing on well too, and Princess Diana in a tub nearby.  Two wellgrown Montano rubens were fatalities though and I have bought two to replace them and put them both in the shelter at the bottom of the hedge, to scramble up through it.  Nearby is a Paul's Scarlet climbing rose I was given for my birthday by a friend.  It is happy as Larry and now in bloom - really scarlet flowers.

Here's one I planted earlier!  Alfie enjoying the sunshine up on the Bank.

Ah yes, the naughty Pippi kitten-cat . . .  She loves it outside and is very adventurous.  I seem to lose her regularly, but she generally comes when I call her.  Yesterday she decided to press all my buttons, and disappeared off somewhere after tea and DIDN'T return.  I rattled biscuits, called and got more and more worried in case she had turned left out of the gate and was up by the lane.  Anyway, accompanied by Ghengis, I went down the track, calling her. No sign.  I came back in - then Lulu started to get brave and ran out onto the track (a first for her) and looked like she was going to worm her way into the field next door, but came back when shooed.  I'd just got back to the house, and who should yell "here I am - did you miss me?".  I turned and saw Pippi, who pressed another button and jumped up onto the lawn and hurtled off at warp speed, obviously wanting to test my powers of endurance!  I ignored her and she came back and promptly went under the low chair in the hall, where she knows I can't reach her. I think she gets easily bored.

Today Pam and I are going to Powis Castle.  I have to be back before 4.30 as someone's coming to collect the dressing table then.  I had interest in the four chairs too but they wanted to come in the day today and haven't replied since I said it would have to be 4.30 onwards.  I am hoping there may be a plant stall at Powis . . .

Today is also the May Bank Holiday Malvern Fleamarket - a biggie, and one we never normally miss.  However, I don't really need stock, and Keith and I are still getting over the Flu bug (and me my 2nd one).  His neck is really bad today - it sets rigid and he can't walk, eat or do anything much.  So he wouldn't have been able to go, which makes me feel slightly better about having a day out without him instead.

I hope everyone's had a nice Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday 26 May 2023

Hay there . . .


I've wanted - needed indeed - to go to Hay for weeks, but us being poorly and various appointments got in the way.  Anyway, I much enjoyed the drive there (and even more back, over the mynydd) and had a steady wander round the town, chatting to friends, looking in shop windows, raising eyebrows at prices (!) and just going slowly and being mindful, and doing the shopping that needed to be done.

In the cheese market, there was bread (on a stall behind me), vegetables, this lovely baking and (below) just outside, more toothsome baking. Because I make my own cakes, £3 or so for one of the indulgences seems a little steep, but then I try to be careful with our pennies - you can only spend them once after all.  To think I used to think I was making a good profit on a cake when I sold slices at Car Boot Sales for 40p a time a few years back!  I can remember one family on holiday buying a slice each of Parkin, then coming back and buying the rest of the tray bake for their holiday nibbles.

In the Buttermarket, where we used to be, some lovely home spun and dyed wools.

Reflection of the townscape in Kath's shop window.

I don't know what the entire quote says (tried looking it up but no luck) across the castle, but I am sure it is from something more erudite than I am ever wont to read.

As I had bought Keith an Apricot and Almond nibble, I blew 70p on a nice fresh jam doughnut from this bakery.  The ham and cheese, and garlic and cheese twists (left) looked very moreish.  The little pasties and pies were all veggie/vegan and hopefully the woman who came into the butchers looking for veggie food noticed this shop as she went away empty-handed!  To my mind - butchers = meat!!

More May on the way home . . .

I have the Dr's this morning, then I'll do a bit in the garden.  So far, I'm feeling ok after yesterday's exertions so I hope that this bug is finally leaving my system.  UPDATE  I have to try and do a sputum test, just in case it's a chest infection brewing, though I sounded ok when she listened to my chest.  The BP tablets have to be dumped because they give me heart arrythmia.  I am going to try and get back to daily walks again now I'm on the mend, as those help lower my BP.  

What I really need to do now is to start listing stuff daily - dealer's retirement clearout - on Facebook Marketplace. Today's the right day to take photos anyway.  First out (nearest the door) a lovely old battered French walnut oil jar . . .

I bet Billy's rolling his eyes and thinking that's a candidate for the Tip!  It has rustic charm (!) - hasn't had a recent outing because it is in a big container which takes up a lot of room.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Freedom, and finally, St Edmund's church, Crickhowell

 I've been to Hay this morning, to market.  Photos from that tomorrow, but I really must share a few church photos from Crickhowell before they become a dim and distant memory.

The church of St Edmund's at Crickhowell was built on land given by Lady Sybil Pauncefoot in 1303, which is when the church was first built.  It is in a typical 14th C cruciform plan, but all but the chancel is much altered.  Lady Sybil's father was Sir Hugh Turberville - they get about a bit, those Turbervilles.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this fabulous Wisteria on the wall opposite the church.  Below, looking up at the mountain above the town.

A rather splendid flower display had been made to celebrate the King's Coronation.  Behind it the carved pulpit.

Looking down into the chancel.

The Lady chapel with figure of Christ on a carved wooden Reredos designed by W D Caroe, c.1934.

A superb alabaster reredos featuring the Last Supper.  This dates to 1893.

There is glass by Charles Eamer Kempe, not sure if this is one of his designs.

Here are Sir Grimbald Pauncefoot (1287), leaning casually on one elbow!

Opposite, his wife Sybil, missing not just one hand but the both!  She had one removed and sent to the Holy Land  to pay for his release after he had been captured and ransomed.

The three lionels of the Pauncefoot coat of arms.

Whichever church or churchyard you go to in Wales, you are never NEVER far from a Prosser or two . . .

Bless them all, so young, especially the one who only lived 13 days.

The serpentine-section bowl of the font dates to 1668 with C19th additions.

View across the churchyard.

Finally, over the mynydd on the way home.  Imagine the sound of Skylarks, and the sight of several breeding pairs of Redstarts.  We have a pair nesting in a tree (or overgrown Box bush) right behind our stable block.  So good to see them again.