I haven’t been to Stourhead for a long long time, although my sister and I have been members of the National Trust for about three years now. With the onset of winter and the sheer amount of colour around this autumn we decided it might be nice so on Monday we set off with a picnic lunch and a thermos of coffee to revisit.
I took many photographs and was completely blown away by the absolute beauty of the place with its temples, trees and lakes. When I got home and checked my huge archive of scanned-on-to-the-computer photos it looks as though the last time I was there was in 1968. I would have been six years old and Terri would have been four.
Here we are sitting on the grass in front of the bridge. I’m the one that looks like a little boy on the right. In those days, rhodedendrons were perfectly acceptable and encouraged to grow whereas now they’re considered an invasive foreign plant and have been removed as much as possible. This is the same view taken on Monday, but the bridge is now closed off so people can’t walk across it.
As you can see, apart from the removal of bushes nothing very much has changed although the trees are more autumnal. I’m assuming, since we’re both in frocks – same frock, different colours of course because that’s what our mother did – that it was the summer of 1968. By then, both my father’s parents had died and we often went away with our maternal grandparents on days out or holidays. My mother was an only child and would be about the same age in this photo as Alexandra is now, which is a really scary thought.
Anyway, back to modern times. This is a selection of the photos I took on Monday. I hope you like them.
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A couple of weeks ago Gordon and I went on holiday. Well, I say ‘on holiday’ but we actually went away for a couple of days to stay with friends in their caravan at Durdle Door. I’ve been there before but it was a first for Gordon. The day we arrived it rained a lot, but the second day was better although still a bit drizzly on occasions. We went into Weymouth and visited Nothe Fort, took a trip to Portland Bill as well as dropping into Lulworth Cove. Photographs were taken, of course.
This squirrel saw there was food being handed out on the other side of Nothe Fort grounds and literally made a run for it.
Once he was there he fought off hungry pigeons for the spoils.
This overlooks the harbour of Weymouth
This was taken at Portland against a clear blue sea. The seabed is chalky which gives the water a reflective quality.
I should have tried to get a person into this photo so you could see the size of this chunk of rock. It was huge.
Nothing like a good old red and white lighthouse to let you know you’re at the seaside.
The clear sea crashing in on Lulworth Beach. I love the look of wet pebbles.
Despite the calm looking water, boat trips were cancelled.
Since our return we’ve managed to do most of our second-cut silage. The vintage (old) forager limped along in the continued absence of our newer one (clutch problems) until she developed a major leak of hydrostatic fluid this afternoon in the last field. A contractor has once again been contacted and will be coming to round bale that tomorrow.
When I went in to feed the calves this morning, one was missing. The front of her pen had been knocked out and she was nowhere to be found. We started off by looking around the yard, behind and under things, but there was no sign of her. We then extended our search to the ditches but didn’t hold out much hope. If she’d fallen in a ditch overnight and wasn’t still bawling then the chances of finding her alive were fairly slender.
This afternoon when Gordon went into the workshop for the quad in order to fetch the cows, he came out with a big smile on his face. She was asleep behind the quad bike. She definitely wasn’t so obvious this morning and the very large sliding barn door had been shut all day, but she’d made no sound. We led a much subdued calf back to her pen and gave her a bucket of milk which was gone in no time at all. Tonight we’ve shut the door to the calf shed just in case she decides to go walkabout again.
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Excuse my absence, I’ve been busy doing nothing again. Well, that’s not strictly true, but sometimes it feels like it.
Dan is on holiday in Portugal and I have to say, this week has gone very very slowly. Since yesterday five cows have rejoined the herd following calving (three heifers, one bull, one stillborn) and two very old cows have gone on, one of which was born in 1997 and the other in 1999. The old girls were barren and suffering with their feet so were taken away in the morning. As usual, we both felt guilty but we can’t keep them in discomfort like that. Two of the new heifers are coincidentally called Nancy and one is Margaret. The bull calf is an Alexander.
Over the weekend we had visitors to stay. Gordon has bought himself a motorbike – did I tell you this? – and we went to Newport to collect it some time ago. We got on so well with the people selling it that we invited them to stay and I’m happy to report that after a weekend together we still get on well with them! It could have gone the other way of course, but it felt as though we’d known them for years. We took them to the East Huntspill Harvest Home which is always an interesting experience: five hundred people in a marquee with unlimited food, beer and cider. To be honest, to me the organisation would be a nightmare but the Harvest Home organisers always manage pretty well. There was meat – so much meat – and salad followed by home-made trifles – proper, like-your-granny-used-to-make trifles. The only downside of the day was the sogginess of the ground as the marquee was erected in a field and I had a lot of trouble sitting evenly on my chair which sank about six inches into the ground on its skinny legs. Every-so-often I had to stand up to pull it out and set it on the surface again and I noticed a lot of other people doing the same. I’m convinced I got the boggy spot but I’m not sure how the chap behind me managed on a chair with the left side so deep in the ground that he was twisted throughout his meal and about two inches lower than the table. The atmosphere was cheery though and we chatted to everyone around us. We left at about 3.45 pm as we had to milk and by the time the evening arrived we were too tired to go back, but by then most people are fairly drunk and rowdy anyway.
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I know, pretty amazing huh? Sometimes I just surprise myself. So, it turns out I quite like the thought of making something I dislike into something I like.
A prime example is a nest of tables I acquired some time ago from freecycle. Gordon really liked them, but I thought they were dark and dated. The legs were wobbly and the tops were marked. He doesn’t like to see painted wood but sometimes it can be so tatty that painting will only improve it.
See what I mean?
This is what they look like now after fixing the legs, a coat of cream paint and an inset of tissue paper and pva glue.
Much smarter, don’t you think? The paper is Nature’s Gallery by Papermania.
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I realise that I never did come back with an update on my planter – the one Gordon made for me from the headboard and footboard of an old bed. I planted it with lavender and geraniums so this is what it looks like today.
It grew very well and is often commented on.
We decided today to take advantage of the sun and see if we could make a start on our second-cut silage. The old forager was driven out – the newer one is still seriously broken – and promptly broke down after one round of the field. Gordon was of the opinion that he knew exactly what the problem was but even after he’d made modifications it still didn’t work. We gave up. We came in for coffee to discuss our options and phoned a local contractor to come and round-bale it. He’s very busy at this time of year but has said he’ll be here this evening if at all possible. I hope so or we’ll be making hay with it.
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I’ve been quite productive lately with my cardmaking and have spent many quiet hours concentrating on getting the effect I want. This morning I’ve been playing with a stamp by Serendipity called ‘Winter Fenceline’ which I first saw on Pinterest and had to have. I decided to do the background with watercolour pencils so rummaged around in the drawer to find a set.
I ended up using a set that had belonged to my grandad who died in 1996 and as I started using them I heard his voice in my head telling me off. As children we were never allowed to touch his stuff even if it wasn’t particularly expensive so consequently this set of pencils is almost intact. I can’t help feeling that sense of preserving everything and keeping it ‘for best’ didn’t actually do him a lot of good. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way but he should have used them all the time until they were gone, which is what I intend to do.
The finished results are quite different and will be put on to cards when they’re dry. I’ll probably be doing more – in fact I may keep going until the watercolour pencils are nothing but nubs. Then I’ll throw them away.
I’ll enjoy that.
Here are the first two –
The greeting is from Stampin’ Up’s Wetlands set and works brilliantly with this I think, even though it’s crooked on one picture.
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So, it’s been a while and quite a lot has happened, but only in a casual kind of way.
We bought ourselves a new freezer in the end as the KnowHow repairman reckoned ours was a write-off. The new one is shiny and black in the same style as the one we had before, but this time we took the optional insurance so it’s covered against faults or accidents for the next five years.
Our cows are calving at the rate of at least one a day and we are getting a heifer one day, bull the next. It’s fine, we have enough followers here now to see us out. If we decide to sell up we have a lovely herd of pedigree British friesians and that’s fine too. This morning we decided to rename one. You may recall they’re always named after their mothers but some of the older herd names have disappeared so we reintroduced Star to the herd. Her mother’s name is Jenny and we have lots of those and since she was born in the morning I wanted to be fanciful and call her something beautiful so she’s called Withyend Floyd Morning Star. It sounds like a proper pedigree name, doesn’t it?
Last weekend I went with friends to Cornwall where we spent most of the time dodging the rain, especially on Sunday. Saturday was the best day of the three we spent there but we only walked along the coast or around the town. It was a lovely weekend despite the rain. We stayed in a B&B there called Bridgeside Guest House, which I can thoroughly recommend. The only problem with Cornwall in the summer (other than the rain) is the noise of the seagulls, but then I suppose you have to expect that!
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