Sunday, 31 August 2014

Bath time

Finally we got to fill our lovely large bath in our lovely large bathroom. There is a great view of the garden and Dave has done an excellent job of painting around the beams and repairing the ceiling so it's good when you lie back and look up too. Careful inspection under the bath seems to suggest that the problems with leaks and the bath being on the move have been solved. I'm keeping my clean fingers crossed!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Net worth

Who would have thought it could take a whole day to sew a net curtain. I wanted to hand sew the sides and then having carefully tacked the heading into place I got out my sewing machine. There was a bang and a huge amount of smoke and I was back to hand sewing the entire curtain. Oh well at least I like the effect as you have privacy in the en-suite now but outside you can hardly see that there is a curtain.

Sheep on the move

The sheep are glad that we haven't cut the grass out the front of the house as it's been wet and windy, so they enjoy a snack en route to their field.


It took a long time fixing up the curtain poles, but I managed to hang our old curtains temporarily. They are lovely but need remaking as the sides are rather worn and the lining has to be replaced. I made them very carefully with thick interlining around 20 years ago. Both are Colefax and Fowler fabrics, on the left Gallica and on the right Ticehurst.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Geese on the wing

This evening we heard the unmistakeable sound of geese in flight. Looking out a huge skein of them were heading south.

Drying onions

I have spent today tidying and hoovering up all the bits and dust that continues to appear. Our onions are drying off in the living room and soon I will need to plait them. The red ones are sound but unfortunately some of the Sturon have already gone mouldy and so need using up quickly.

The thinker

Contemplating the underfloor heating controls for the en-suite!!!

Starry, starry night

I woke at 1.30 and went downstairs to make a cup of tea. The stars were absolutely brilliant, the plough was huge and hung low over the big field, the milky way ran across the top of the farmhouse. In fact there were so many stars visible it was hard to pick out individual constellations. It wasn't cold and I stayed outside for a long time. Sadly although so bright I couldn't photograph them without a tripod. It was very special just to watch them though. I went to see if Dave was awake but he was fast asleep. Later I came in and made my tea. By 4 it had clouded over and by morning we had rain.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

My china cupboard

Inspired by my new acquisition I unpacked a variety of best china, mainly from Charnwood, and put it into my grandfathers oak bureau, the top of which must originally have been for books, but I have only ever known it with china inside.


Not in the garden but in the china cupboard. I saw this china on ebay and loved the fact that although the design is of quail they look just like our pair of Partridge. When they came the set of coffee cups were much smaller than I'd imagined but they are very sweet. The mark on the china shows that the design was first registered in 1921 and the maker is Furnivals who were based in Elder Road, Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, just on our doorstep.

Formerly Thomas Furnival & Sons, in January 1913 the name was changed from "Furnivals" to Furnivals (1913) Ltd. The works were closed in 1968 and the company name was purchased by Enoch Wedgwood (Tunstall) Ltd. It is with the Furnival (1913) mark that this set is stamped.

T. Furnival & Sons Established in 1851, T. Furnival & Sons occupied two old Cobridge manufactories, one formerly belonging to Adams and the other to Blackwell, and ranked high as manufacturers of white granite and vitrified ironstone and decorated toilet ware for the United States, Canadian, and Continental markets. For the home trade, they produced 'patent ironstone' dinner and other services in various styles of decoration. Among their specialities were dinner services, etc., of Italian design, in plain, white ware, the ornamentation on which was indented from an embossed mould, the lines being as fine and delicate as if cut in by the graver so as to have the appearance of chasing; and the lines being filled with glaze, the surface was still even. Another noticeable feature was the clever combination of transfer-printing, hand-painting, enamelling, and gilding, which characterise some of the services. 

Among the most successful of their toilet services were the 'Swan' and 'Nautilus', which were of great beauty. These were produced in white, heightened with gold, and enamelled in colours. The early mark of the firm was simply FURNIVAL impressed in the ware. From 1890, many printed name or initial marks were used. 

In connection with these works, Mr. F. J. Emery of the Bleak Hill Works introduced in about 1865 a method of crayon drawing and painting on the unglazed surface of earthenware and china, which came much in repute, and drawings were made in it by some of the artists as well as by lady and other amateurs. The unglazed articles and prepared crayons and colours were supplied by Mr. Emery, who afterwards became a partner with Edward Clarke at Longport, and proprietor of the Bleak Hill Works. Thomas Furnival & Sons continued under the style Furnivals (1913) Ltd until the 1960's.

Source: Jewitt's Ceramic Art of Great Britain 1800-1900

There's a pigeon on the line

Or several to be more precise. Today I saw the men from Western Power measuring the cable run again ready for it to all disappear underground at some, as yet unspecified, time in the future. I wonder where all the birds will perch once its gone. I don't like looking at the wires but I love watching the birds sitting on them.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Season of mists

This morning I wake to a very misty outlook and against it the hawthorn berries are dripping and red. I drive to Burton very early to buy paint (the shop opens at 7.30) and everyone is talking about autumn. I don't want to think about it in August but I guess the whole year seems to have been one of early seasons: early spring, early summer and now early autumn is arriving.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Golden evening light

Today the weather has been very gloomy but suddenly this evening the sun is catching the garden and bathing everything in a golden light. I notice the little cat waiting and watching.

Baby swallows

When I went into the barn today the adult swallow kept flying close by attempting to distract me. I looked up and saw that there were two young birds sitting on the roof supports. I discovered via the internet that apparently adult birds need to feed their young up to 400 times a day. I guess they have to grow fast in order to be ready for their amazing annual flight to Africa.

Monday, 25 August 2014

A crowd of crows

I have just glanced outside and seen this line of crows crowding onto the electricity cables. Seen close up through the camera lens they are really bedraggled, but I'm not sure why they think sitting out in the open will help!
Oh dear, I've just looked up the collective noun and discovered it's a murder of crows!

Tea for two

Outside it is traditional English Bank Holiday weather. The rain has been falling steadily since I got up in the very early hours this morning to close the windows and keep the water off the fresh paint. We started the day with a cooked breakfast and as this left no room for lunch I made a cream tea instead! I used Mary Berry's recipe for these scones and now I am trying an experiment to see how they freeze.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Watching and waiting for supper

The little tabby can often be seen sitting patiently watching the long grass. Suddenly she will pounce and the local vole population is another member down. She is a superb hunter; she is more accepting of us now but remains very wary.

An artisan at work

At the moment every day requires Dave to paint regardless of weekends and Bank Holidays. Pulling on his splattered clothes he works steadily and very carefully. My skills are not up to the necessary standard so he is doing the job alone.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

My treat

I popped into Tesco's for some food shopping and returned to the car with this! It was sitting with some boring bedding plants right by the entrance door. I love delphiniums, they remind me of ones my mother planted shortly after moving to Somerset. It looks particularly good set against the soft orangey red brick of the farm.

Late bloomers

Because everyone keeps walking on my front flower bed to fix windows, paint windows, seal windows ... I decided I couldn't really plant this area up properly and instead emptied out some very old seed packets and added a few new plants (my fail safe borage and marigolds). Now at last things are happening and it looks much less bare, but no doubt it's just ready to be trodden on again! There is also a self sown tomato here - probably discarded from a lunch last year.


Despite the cooler weather something hot is happening in the garden! My Hungarian Hot Wax chillies are ripening well and I used the first of them in our supper last night. I have a high chilli tolerance and to me these were warm rather than hot, although I haven't tried them when they are fully ripe yet ....

A cool start

The morning the air is noticeably cooler now. I went outside to take some photographs and the early light was shining on the straw in the neighbouring fields, now all neatly baled. Today the combine is still droning up and down but as I look out of the study window it seems that now the final strip is being cut.

A tale of two churches

From the bottom of our land, by the Cart Shed you can see the square tower of St Peter's Church in the village and provided someone remembers to wind up the clock we can hear the hour chime too.

Shortly after we'd moved here we also noticed that if you look straight down the field you can see the spire of St Cuthbert's Church in Doveridge. Later though we were puzzled to notice another church spire further right in our view which also seemed to be nearer to us. We studied the map, drove to Doveridge and tried to make sense of what we'd seen. We noticed that St Cuthbert's has a 'golden chicken' on the top and now with our new camera I can just make that out (spire on left). Eventually we decided that the other spire must be St Mary's Church in Uttoxeter. Sometimes it is hard to see either of them but this morning the sun picked both spires out so I had to rush to take the photograph.

Friday, 22 August 2014


All day there has been the drone of the combine as it works its way up and down the fields next to ours harvesting the wheat. Despite it being a huge machine it's a slow and careful task.

The Appletree Hundred

Last night I was researching a little about Somersal Herbert and was interested to discover that Derbyshire was divided into 6 'Hundreds' (or Wapentakes as they were originally known). Appletree Hundred contained 63 parishes, one of which was ours. It was leased from the Duchy of Lancaster by Lord Vernon in 1660. Our little orchard seems especially fitting here, but maybe now my target should be a hundred trees.

Another exciting 'fact' was that apparently in 2002 there were rumours that David Beckham was going to buy Somersal Hall!!!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


I have now posted over 500 entries on this blog and thought I would take a moment to reflect. This is how the farm looked the first time we saw it, when we were desperate to secure the purchase and scared to love it too much. It makes me realise how much we've achieved during the last year and how after all that looking this was 'the one'.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Deja vu

I remember taking this same photo a year ago. So much has happened but I wish time would slow for us at the moment, just a bit. There is a real sense of the summer coming to an end now.

Happy Birds

It has been dry for so long that the ground is very hard. We have just had a heavy shower that drove me indoors to find some lunch. As I washed up I saw these very happy blackbirds digging for worms. The baby bird looked a bit bedraggled but they found a feast.

A good partnership

Our autumn raspberries are ripening now and they look particularly good mixed in with the dark red dahlias (which managed to survive the weekend gales) and purple Verbena bonariensis.

Clear views

The rain has cleared the murk and the view to the distant hills is particularly clear just now. These are the Weaver Hills and we seem to look out onto a small quarry - I must check the map to locate it.

My pea station

In the blink of an eye our peas went over so I cut off the stems and left them to dry. Today I've been sitting outside shelling the hard and rattling crop. I found a patch of sun to work in but before I could finish black clouds gathered, the wind got up and it started to rain. The shelled peas look very pretty in the kitchen where the colour goes extremely well with the colour of the painted cupboards.


Yes when you peer into the dense foliage there is a sight to scare the bravest soul: huge numbers of equally huge courgettes. I still seem to be getting baby ones to pick so for the time being the monsters are safe and I have to say that because I have grown three different varieties they do look very decorative.

Monday, 18 August 2014


The last few weeks have been so dry that we really can't complain about the rain. The evenings drawing in and the much cooler nights are another matter.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Man up ladder

Dave seems to have spent weeks up the ladder. Here he is doing his least favourite job - trying to repair the lime plaster between the beams. When he steps outside great clouds of white dust blow off him. It is a horrible task but looks so good when it's finally done.

Thursday, 14 August 2014


The dill seed that I scattered onto the front flower beds has managed to survive and is growing up through my rose making a good combination of lime against the pink (and the blue of the door). I am glad the rose didn't snap in the high weekend winds. I couldn't bear to watch as it bent low from side to side. At one point the dill was all horizontal to the ground but obviously both are more resilient than I gave them credit for.

Feed me!

This poor goldfinch was being harassed by a very large baby bird. It kept chasing its parents around flapping its wings and cheeping. Although our road is very quiet it's not the best place for breakfast.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A row of ducks!

I had fun today as a lovely set of sample toiletries came from an English company called Duck Island. I've done a lot of research recently on what I'd like to provide guests with and (a much edited selection) of these products are probably what I'll go with - once they've been bath tested!

The story of Duck Island makes interesting reading (and yes it's a Pelican not a duck on the packaging), you will have to click the link to find out why.

Our en suite

The en-suite bathroom for Guest Bedroom 2 is finally ready to photograph! Our current project is decorating the bedroom to go with it.

The kitchen

I am really happy at the way the kitchen has turned out and this morning I did a quick tidy round so I could take this photo. My poor broken dahlia has been put into a jug of water and hopefully the remaining flowers will open.

It's all in the detail

Dave is preparing the wall in the second of our guest bedrooms for repair and painting. Both rooms have these metal details fixed above the fireplace. They must have been for hanging mirrors or pictures. This one has been removed for cleaning before putting it back - I love these period details.

The Red Arrows

OK so not the best photos in the world but the Red Arrows have just flown over us! By the time I grabbed the camera and opened the window (bottom photo) they were fast disappearing into the clouds, flying as two sets of five.

Blue Tits

This morning there was an army of blue tits eating the seeds on the lilac. They kept going behind the leaves so my morning cup of tea was a little delayed whilst I tried to take the photograph.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Dave is experimenting with lime wash and lime plaster to repair the bedroom ceiling and cover the walls (and also himself!)