28 Apr 2013

City Centre: Chapel Walk

Recently a good friend, who lives in Cheshire, came to visit by train. We had lunch in a family-run cafe/tea room in Chapel Walk, which is a walkway just off one of the main streets in the city centre. There are some interesting small businesses that are 'getting up and running' as part of a reinvigorating project to utilise empty properties after a period of decline, although this alley was always busy with access to the chapel and there were many little shops such as a hatter's, a tailor's, a shoemaker's and, later on, a 'suffrage shop' for the Sheffield Women's Social and Political Union. Mrs. Pankhurst sent her daughter, Adela, to encourage the women and they had meetings there.

The painted metal name-plate in the form of an arch with a three-dimensional crown shape with leaf motif was designed by Andrew Bell (1996) as well as oval name-plates and brackets for each shop.

27 Apr 2013

An evening sky and gardening this week

We've had some unusual evening skies this week.  One evening there was an unearthly yellow light and looking out at the sky there looked like a storm brewing up. Apparently it was an infrequent cloud formation that some photographers had recorded.  On Friday evening the sky had a rosy glow.

Last Saturday we went to the local garden centre with our daughter as she wanted to get some bedding plants to brighten up the garden and choose some others that we could put in pots and hanging baskets. There were plenty of plants displayed at our garden centre to inspire us.

We bought daisies, pansies and saxifrage to supplement the spring flowers.
It's been a busy gardening week for my husband tending the vegetables in pots. The flower beds had to be dug over between the existing plants and the grass needed cutting. Now the garden looks tidy and if the weather improves there will be more to do in the allotment.

25 Apr 2013

Cherry blossom


Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough...
A.E. Houseman  The Shropshire Lad II, 1887

As the earth turns its face towards the sun, the colour of blossom warms from the chalk-white of blackthorn and damson to a hint of rose in the cherry trees across the Church Meadow.
                                      Katherine Swift  The Morville Hours: Terce

The Walled Garden

23 Apr 2013

Chickens...eggs...sweet treats

Our good neighbour across the way, who often looks after Gino when we are away,
 keeps chickens in his back garden.  More people are doing so to ensure
they have organic eggs.

This is Henry and the hens that belong to a friend who uses the eggs in his patisserie,
hand-made chocolate business and cafe where two of our grandsons are working
and training, one full-time and the other during some weekends as part of his college experience.

We often receive some delicious gifts of chocolates. 

Visiting family some time after Easter means we received
some more foodie gifts, including this lovely
 egg from the chocolate shop thoughtfully presented
in a flower pot.  We haven't broken into the egg yet! 

21 Apr 2013

A village walk

Sometime ago I obtained a booklet from the information centre at Castleton in Derbyshire.  It gives details of several history walks around the village and the information was very helpful as a study guide as we followed one of the discovery trails.  (Castleton Discovery Trails by Brian Woodall).

The author says...'There are many interesting features around every corner of Castleton district and because of the natural attractions - the castle, the show caves, the Blue John stone etc.  It is a culture rich area of geology, mineralogy, social history, folklore and geography.  It was in the past, a very active community and many of the fifty or so footpaths were made rights of way by drovers, farmers,  pack-horse trains, lead miners and quarrymen, as they went about their work.'

We started our walk from the information centre following the mill stream and crossing the mill bridge into the lane at Trickett Gate.  The old Scandinavian name for road is 'gate' so it's likely that each of the entrances into the village that was surrounded by a defence ditch was also defended by a gate.  The inhabitants would bring their animals into the village at night for safety and fold them in the little yards between the cottages. Even today we didn't have to go far along Trickett Lane to find farm animals penned up close to village houses, farm buildings and a farm shop.

Peakholes Water flows under Trickett Bridge and meanders through the main part of the village.

Leaning over the left hand side of the bridge you can see an adjoining brook which flows along Hollowford Lane.  Further along the brook a covered ditch called a 'slough' brings yellow ochre into the channel of water.  The ditch was started in 1816 and it was dug for more than a mile under the  fields to Odin Mine at the bottom of Mam Tor (Mother Hill).  After 1,700 years of lead mining in Derbyshire, the workings were so deep they had reached the saturation level in the water-table and the mine had to be drained if the miners wanted to get to deeper veins.  Tunnels were constructed to drain out the water from the heart of the mountains.

We walked further up the lane towards Win Hill passing another old house which was once  the Chandling Shop before turning back towards the village.

The chandlers made candles from tallow (animal fat). They boiled the tallow in a cauldron before dipping the wicks that were hanging from an iron frame in the fat in order to build up the layers. The miners called these candles 'tallow dips'.

Crossing Trickett Bridge again we passed old buildings such as Pepper Hall, the mill by Mill Lane and the former cotton mill Cotton Shop before returning to the main street.  The villagers had a mixed economy - mining, farming, rope-making (for the mines), lime-burning.  Others were employed in the textile work.  Later on some villagers would walk all the way up Hollowford Lane and over the hills to the Cotton mill in Edale.

                                                                          Mill Lane

We only followed half of the trail and we've yet to explore the market place and other paths that take the walker towards the caverns nearest the village.  Thanks to the guide book information these walks around the village helped me appreciate even more the history of this village community.

19 Apr 2013

My family history (1)

Since retirement I've had time to work on my family history project which has been made easier because my late mother kept a record on her side of the family, I have a line called 'a pedigree' on my father's side going back to the 17th century because of some well-documented ancestors and I'm in contact with cousins who are also family history research enthusiasts.

The items that I've inherited from both sides of the family make the documented research come to life.  However, it's my father's side of the family that I'm going to write about in this post as I've been thinking about each member since going down to the southern counties at the weekend.

My father and his siblings were born in what used to be a small Thames Valley market town.  His father and the generations before that came from rural Hampshire and his mother's family came from an equally rural environment in West Berkshire and before that from the county of Wiltshire.

The 17th century ancestors were cloth merchants who gravitated to Richmond upon Thames and Twickenham, London were benefactors in education, notaries, scriveners and some were in the social circle of Samuel Pepys, the diarist.  All very interesting, but naturally I feel more connected to the Victorian and Edwardian family having known members who lived through the drastic changes of the late 19th century and the early to mid 20th century.

Thomas and Mary, my great grandparents and my grandfather, Thomas Henry, with his oldest sister, Alice.
(Thomas Henry married my grandmother, Helen May, and had two girls before going off to the Front in WWI where he died from his wounds some days after my father, Thomas, was born, not knowing that my grandmother had delivered a son and is buried in a war cemetery in northern France).

Later, my grandmother, Helen May, married a widower and had two more children, but her husband, weakened by his war experiences, also died and my father and his two half siblings were sent to a Methodist boarding school in Hampshire.

Alice and Thomas Henry had other siblings, Louisa who died when she was 12 years old, and Emily and Edith - the great aunts that I wrote about who gave me the doll, Queenie.

Unlike Emily and Edith, Alice married, had one child, Edith Emily, and lived in the house where I grew up from the age of 10 years.  (Edith Emily lived with the two unmarried aunts (who moved to the family home when her parents died) and she also lived there with us when they died as she needed support due to health issues from birth).

                                                         Alice as a young woman.

Here are some of the sewing and knitting items belonging to my great aunts, such as the tape measure holder in the shape of a butter churn, wooden needle case, bone crochet hooks and knitting needles and a sewing set in the shape of a velveteen shoe.

But one of the items I treasure most, as well as the photograph albums, the family prayer books and Bibles, is this faded sampler worked by Alice.

Some of these women family members were employed in the offices and in retail in a very genteel boot and shoe business, which was still very old-fashioned until near the end of the 20th century with cash containers that whizzed above the client's head on wires from the retail floor to the cashier's cubicle- like office.  The last of these family-run businesses in Reading has recently disappeared. It was a more personal and enjoyable way of shopping for a more leisurely way of life and very different to the busy, waterside, retail centre in the heart of town where we had a family celebratory birthday meal last weekend!