Wednesday, 2 September 2015

It's been a long time...

Apologies for the hiatus, I can see my blogging becoming sporadic for the next few months, so bear with me.  We are busy with a lot of things, not all I want to share on here, and our regular routine has gone out of the window for the forseeable future.

However, for the time being I have a day out to share with you, and a sprinkling of charity shop purchases.

On the 7th of August we ventured over to the lovely county of Shropshire again, to visit a couple of English Heritage managed properties there. Boscobel House and White Ladies Priory are both former refuges of King Charles II after his defeat by Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Worcester in 1651.

White Ladies Priory is a small ruin in a field near to Boscobel House, and was active as a priory until Henry VIII's dissolution of the monastries in 1537.  It is alleged to be haunted and has a certain atmosphere about it.  The approach is off a narrow country lane, barely wide enough for one vehicle, then a walk down to the ruin along a very leafy path.  

 We spotted this amazing old Beech tree nearby, with carvings going back over 100 years!  I showed this photo to the guides in the nearby Boscobel House, who were staggered as they hadn't noticed it.

 The ruins are small, yet incredibly tranquil

Boscobel House is a mish mash of building styles, parts of it dating back to the 1500s, when it was a farmhouse.  Over the years it has grown gradually, with bits added on here and there.

The inside is sparse, not much furniture downstairs as major renovation works are being carried on outside, affecting the main facade and downstairs rooms, which are now partially shrouded in sheeting.

We did, however, get a grand view of the very hidey hole that the 21 year old King Charles II hid in as he fled from Cromwells army.

The hole he had to climb down through is tiny, I am fairly slim and think I would struggle, the guide said the young king was 6'2", same height as him indoors who wouldn't have been able to squeeze through that opening!  

 The above photo is the actual hideout and hatch, which would've dropped into place to block the entrance.  The hatch was then covered with fresh blocks of cheese to put any dogs off the scent.

The king would walk up and down this attic room for exercise and observe comings and goings on the nearby road from the window in the photo above.  Below the window, in the floor, is the entrance to his hideout.

The countryside around Boscobel House is serene and the gardens and outbuildings overflow with history.  We walked to the end of the gardens and sat on a bench with our backs to the field containing the Royal Oak

 We suddenly heard the sound of hooves and watched as the whole field of sheep disgorged into an orchard next to us,

each one stopping for a drink at their water trough before coming through the gate.  Some had a nibble from the trees!

  This went on for about 15 minutes until all but one sheep were in the orchard.  The last sheep then bleated loudly from the gateway, and all the sheep trouped back out of the field!


The gardens in parts were fragrant, with herbs and old English flowers surrounded by vibrant green box hedging, butterflies and bees enjoyed the chance to collect nectar in peace

We had a good meander around the grounds, sampled some tea and cake in the tea room, and admired the antique farm machinery

I always find the outside of English Heritage properties much more interesting than the insides, this one's a beauty!

It was another lovely day out and another place we will return to soon.

I also have a few charity shop bargains to share.  I found these lovely items of jewellery in a three for a pound basket.  One I cannot share as it may be a present for a friend though!

The necklace above looks like bone or horn, not sure which, 33p

This lovely bracelet isn't real silver but the stone isn't plastic either, also 33p

The crocheted top was just 50p

As was this gorgeous Boden corduroy skirt! 

Hopefully, my blogging mojo will return soon, and I may be back with more regular posts.

Now it's time to catch up with your blogs!

Monday, 27 July 2015

My Hermes!!

It has been a particularly drab and downcast week here in the Midlands.  Showers of rain interspersed with heavy rain and some more showers, nice!  Coupled with the fact that last Friday evening, the old boiler in the cottage broke down, gah!  I contacted our builder, who has yet to do any work for us, first thing on Monday and asked if he had a trusted plumber who could take a look.  He replied within an hour with a name and number and I gave the plumber a call.  He in turn was with us in half an hour and diagnosed a pump failure, got on to a supplier who amazed us all by saying that parts were still available!

Plumber phoned me back with a quote and I then asked how much for a new boiler, he gave me an estimate and popped round the next evening to measure up for capacity etc.  On Friday he fitted the new Worcester Bosch boiler, now working like a dream.  No pressure to purchase new boiler, as he was happy to fit a part that was still available. 

  Before, during and after.

The old monster noisy Potterton has gone, and in it's place a nice shiny new (and considerably smaller) Worcester Bosch 2015 model.

As the boiler was fitted on Friday, we could not go on our usual Friday outing, we had to stay in and supply the lovely plumbers with tea, coffee and cake!  They will be back in September for our garage conversion, as they are part of the builder's team.

I've kept out of the charity shops for a short while and ended up popping into a couple in a nearby shopping area the other day.  I found this great M&S linen shirt, again with tab things on the arms that I have now removed, just £2.25 

Love the print, it looks like watercolour over a line drawing, so pretty.

This however, I bought on a whim as I thought it was a fake, I now think it is real

The edges are rolled and hand stitched.  It cost £1.99, and on the Hermes website the scarves this size are £280, yes, two hundred and eighty pounds!  All is not quite as good as it looks though, I found a really neat hole (in the bottom right corner on this photo) when I got it home, cigarette end sized, so neat it looks lasered out and hard to spot as it is within the swirly part of the pattern.  No matter, I now own a Hermes scarf that cost very little and will look pretty much the same as if I did pay £280 for it, only I know there is a hole, oh, and you of course, but don't tell!  

I'm trying to find out more about this scarf, my research tends to suggest it might be a  pattern from 1972, if you have any info, please comment.

We had another rainy canal walk the other Sunday, spotted a heron and got a bit too close to the outskirts of Kidderminster that it was no longer pretty.

 Bridge no 20 Wolverley, by the Lock pub

I am not a fan of deep water but am always strangely drawn to standing on edges, these lock gates are quite tall and holding back a lot of water

Next to the canal lock gates, the horse passage!

We walked as far as the next lock, by which time Kidderminster was in full view

 Eek! Suburbia!  Time to turn back then

We met this chap again, obviously his patch, he hangs around here

I crept up on him but he was very aware of my presence

Too close!

On the way home we stopped off in Rushock for a cup of coffee in the car, by this time it was chucking it down so it was cosy just to sit in the car while the rain ran down the windows

 On the house front, we are having problems getting our summerhouse delivered, it was bought from a national chain who pass your details to the manufacturer to contact you direct for delivery.  Five weeks and no contact, not happy.  Been on to supplier who is chasing up but no joy.  We've made a summerhouse sized space in the garden so only that particular one will do.  I do not want to cancel the order as the summerhouse is a lovely one, but this is getting silly.  Good job the weather is not good enough to use it really.

I'm getting mightily fed up of cold and rain, and waiting for the building to commence!  

At least we no longer have to wash in cold water and can also put the heating on low if we need it. 


Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Witley shade of pale

Armed with a positive weather forecast and last minute change of plan, we packed our picnic bag and headed off to nearby Witley Court, an English Heritage managed property in our own county of Worcestershire.

Witley was a palatial estate during the Victorian era, home to many decadent parties involving the rich, famous and royal of the time, and we visit often.  It has a bit of everything, well, apart from a roof and any liveable rooms! 

It was devastated by a fire in 1937, the fire was spotted but the lack of maintenance of the pump to pump water from the fountains to the house in case of such an emergency was it's downfall.  As the insurance company failed to payout to restore the damaged wing, the then owner sold the house to a scrap merchant, who took what was sellable and left it in a dreadful state.    

Amazingly, there is still plaster on the walls in places, very ornate, still chalky to the touch, and open to the elements.

We arrived just as the Perseus and Andromeda fountain was firing up for it's first display of the day.  There was hardly a soul around and we enjoyed a wander around the grounds as if we owned the place, very nice!

 The summerhouses in the gardens are stone and oh, so grand

There are so many nooks and crannies, each time we go I spot some detail I hadn't really noticed much before
Overgrown balustrades, dusty, algae covered gates and rotting windows 

Cobwebs, wrought iron staircases to nowhere and fallen fountains.

The sense of grandeur and decadence cannot be ignored, this place is huge!

The conservatory, despite no longer having a glass roof, is still larger than your average 5 bed detached house, the lavender and grape vines still growing there as if nothing has changed

Ghostly bare windows stare out through the John Nash designed portico, said to be the largest portico on a country house in England.

A bit of fancy flooring in one of the few parts left with a roof 

charred wood in the ballroom, where Elgar used to visit and play the piano

still leaves a mark on your hands after almost 80 years

We sat by the front pool and watched the clouds go by for a while

On the house front, we have completed the arch to the garden

We took the wood from the pergola, the hole will be filled in by the summerhouse, when it arrives

The line of stones in front of the pergola is where the stream is going, it all looks a bit tatty at present, but it is a work in progress

If you follow me on facebook, you will know there have been no charity shop purchases this week, but a rather nice £1 black broderie anglaise skirt I bought, is being transformed into a top

I found a pull on shirt I quite like the shape of and laid it over the inverted folded skirt, and cut around it

Then stitched it all together, I used French seams as I didn't think the edges of the fabric would be too stable


I've since hemmed the bottom and am using some of the leftover waistband to put a cuff on the sleeves. I need bias binding for the neckline and have yet to find mine, I know there's a roll of black bias binding somewhere!

I have some jeans to alter for OH as well, so this week my evenings will be spent sewing, ah well, nothing on the telly anyway! 

Oh, if you were wondering about the post title, the 60's band, Procol Harum filmed some of the video for their song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at Witley Court, and it is of interest to historians as it shows Witley in it's pre-restored state in 1967.