Thursday, 4 December 2014

Another day, another walk…

We’ve done a lot of walking lately. With friends, neighbours, ex-colleagues and sometimes on our own, as we did yesterday. It was a wonderful day; cold, sunny with a cloudless blue sky. David Bailey and I walked across to the Sandon Estate which is across the other side of the Trent valley.

I really enjoyed being out, and it was afternoons like this that I hoped retirement would bring.

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This is my idea of Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree, in winter. No longer PC, but her books started, and kept me reading!

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A folly which started its life at Trentham Gardens.

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I’d love to see the arrangement of fires in this house…

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Sandon Church.

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When our former C of E vicar and his wife died they were buried in a special part of the churchyard in a Greek Orthodox ceremony. Father Grace was the one who told my heathan husband that a plaque on our wall contained a quotation from St Paul’s letter to the Phillipians. Tim repeated this to everyone as the Philistines!!

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My favourite. You can see Rugeley Power Station in the background, framed by the tree.

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Today we are joining a walk organised by some of Tim’s former LEA colleagues, followed by a Christmas lunch at a local bistro.

Watch this space…

Thursday, 27 November 2014

A late autumn walk…

We regularly try to get out for a walk to enjoy the countryside around our village and are fortunate that within 50m of our house we are on a public footpath, which leads into the fields. Saturday started grey and murky, but by mid afternoon the skies had cleared and there was just enough time for a five mile walk before we settled to watch the Wales v New Zealand All Blacks autumn international match. As rugby officianados will know it was a case of ‘so near, and yet so far’!

What did we see?

Sheep, which links well with both Wales and New Zealand.

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Houses nestling into the hillside.

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Reflections …

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Unfortunately the site of these photographs is all along the proposed route of HS2.

Some fungi…

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Linking with Susan's post yesterday I wondered whether this is an Ivory Funnel mushroom as this seemed to be the closest to the identification in my guide. Later, reading Colin and Elizabeth's blog, by coincidence they had posted about what they originally thought to be the deadly poisonous Ivory Funnel, but later identified as a Snowy Waxcap – their photographs are much better. The habitat was as described in my guide; pasture land, on the edge of open woodland. I’m sure someone will point me in the right direction!

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Lichen…

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An interesting post box…

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No doubt these same fields would have looked very different on March 19th 1643, as the Royalists and the Parliamentarians fought the battle of Hopton Heath.  Although a small battle by Civil War standards, the Battle of Hopton Heath is considered so important it is one of only forty-two in English Heritage's register of major national battlefields. It was a bloody battle too. Although only five hundred men out of roughly two and a half thousand on the field died, they were slaughtered in a matter of hours. You can find out more about the battle here.

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Fungi…

When we got back to the UK the first job to be done, after sorting the heating, was to rake up the leaves from the gardens and driveways. The leaves filled seven of the very large (one tonne) builders bags, and are still falling!

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As we were raking we came across a few fungi on the lawn areas.

We’d had a couple of walks in France with friends, Colin & Elizabeth and Susan & Simon, where we’d spotted some wonderful fungi. Feeling an ignoramus I ordered a couple of books to aid identification.

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They are good with lots of excellent photographs and information, but don’t include a key. A key would help to narrow down the identification and is always a useful tool to get started.

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Honey fungus.

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Dog lichen.

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I think this is a Waxcap of sorts. Parrot perhaps?

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Welcome home…

At 2am on Friday morning to:

A very cold house,

An empty oil tank.

A broken boiler,

No hot water,

An electric shower fuse explosion,

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Pouring rain,

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Leaves to be raked up

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A leaky roof (although our very good neighbours, Rory and Gill, have obtained estimates for the replacement ridge tiles, damaged in the recent storms)

and

A stinking cold.

Thank goodness for the Boots Vapour Rub, even if it is 20 years out of date! My excuse is that whilst working I was exposed to all sorts of bugs, but I rarely caught a cold!

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By 8am I was ready to book our trip back to Le Petit-Pressigny. Luckily by 2pm, with the exception of the cold, normal service had been resumed! Thanks, Tim.

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Despite the problems it feels good to be back, and we’re looking forward to catching up with family and friends.Rhiannon and Stuart popped in with some flapjack and chocolate shortbread, and to expose my ‘out of date’ cold remedy…

Monday, 10 November 2014

At last…

Eleven pairs of doors, all to be lifted off their hinges, carried down to the sous sol and laid on the suitably covered table tennis table.

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This is the outside of the doors, which, prior to retirement, would be exposed to the elements in their closed position for about ten months of the year.

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Three thousand, seven hundred and sixty eight individual louvres to be rubbed down, undercoated and given two coats of ‘top coat’. A staggering eleven thousand in total!

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Half a dozen doors to be filled.

Two doors to have new pieces of wood scarfed in (scarphed, according to Wikipedia). Not the best photograph!

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One pair of doors to undergo this process a total of three times before the colour and finish was deemed to be right. We did have an attempt with one set of doors in 2012, which you can read about here. We eventually decided on white!

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Around one hundred and fifty hours of unpaid labour. I was going to write ‘unpaid work’, but in probation service terms this has an altogether different meaning!

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Your shutter painters extraordinaire.

At last…

Sunday, 2 November 2014

October CCC…

For the October meeting of the Loire valley Clandestine Cake Club Tim baked a gluten free, date and ginger cake. It must also be said that when we were discussing cakes which fitted in with the theme, another consideration was to use up some of the items in our store cupboard which wouldn’t keep until next spring. The last time we used this rectangular silicone ‘tin’ the sides spread out, leading to a very distorted cake, so this was Tim’s ingenious way of ensuring it didn’t happen again.

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The finished cake…

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Jean and Nick kindly hosted the event in their lovely new home. The idea is that at the meetings one samples very small portions of the some cakes on offer (along with some tea and/or sparkles), and then at the end of the meeting to take home a slice of a few of the cakes to enjoy later. There was a splendid array of delicious cakes.

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Jean starting off the meeting with Simon in pole position to taste.

My effort was a Nigella inspired chocolate fruit cake. My reason for baking this was to try out the recipe I’m thinking of using for my Christmas cake, although my nod to the Autumn theme came in the form of the chopped almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios sprinkled on the top. The cake was rather rich, but I think it would work as a Christmas cake.

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To round off the afternoon we won the raffle! I think after sampling such delicious baking, the Lorraine Pascal book is most apt!

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Friday, 31 October 2014

Hallowe’en 2014…

Tim has once again been busy preparing for the arrival of the village children, dressed up in their ghostly finery, to collect their bonbons. Our neighbour Beber, the ancient baker (his son in law Pascal is the young baker), kindly gave us the pumpkins from his garden.

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A bat…

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A pirate ship…

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and a ghost…

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I think he has excelled himself, and has the callouses on his hands to show for his efforts! Here are his 2012 and 2013 offerings.

Any suggestions for 2015?

UPDATE: Just as I was about to post there was a hammering on the door. About twenty small children carrying bags and buckets streamed in to collect their sucettes. Thank goodness I’d bought an enormous bag! Unfortunately my camera wasn’t handy!

Next year I think I’ll make some cupcakes…

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Google image.