Before B. and I left Herefordshire I was determined to visit Westonbury Water Mill gardens near Pembridge. We had promised to take Rory and Erin; my sister Brenda and her grandchildren Joseph and Xander were able to meet us there for a lovely family day out.
If you get chance, especially if you're local, do seek it out; you will not be disappointed. Three and a half acres filled with a tangle of ponds, streams and vividly colourful plants, swathes of grasses and many mature trees. Little surprises around every corner to fill the senses and inspire the imagination. Spiral paths, a mound to climb and fun follies, like the stone watertower, a giant cuckoo clock with 'Heath Robinson' style workings, and my favourite the sparkling grotto made from wine bottles. There is also a seating area and small cafe,and some plants for sale. The children loved the variety of spaces, fun follies and the freedom to explore. www.westonburymillwatergardens.com
My sleep has been interrupted by my impending house move and thoughts on the absurdities of car parking. We use a communal car park that has been in existence since the houses were build about sixty years ago. Its a very good, practical arrangement and also offers a fairly high measure of security. It's a council owned square of land in the centre of houses that all back on to the car park at the end of each garden. This means that everyone from their bedroom window can see into the carpark, and everyone can keep a watchful eye on all the cars parked. There are no allotted spaces as such but everyone knows who parks where, generally in the same car parking space with a bit of give and take at weekends when there are visitors who are not familiar with the arrangement. It is also where everyone puts out their bins once a week, for the dustbin men to collect the rubbish. There has never been a carparking problem. It therefore came as a surprise to be asked by the solicitor to get a sworn statement that we, and previous house owners have always parked in the car park. This statement had to be witnessed by another solicitor, at a standard cost of seven pounds between solicitors that goes straight into their pocket. Five pounds being for the written, sworn statement and two pounds for him to witness and date the map of the carpark. To get this witnessed we had to go to a different firm of solicitors. Our solicitors office is at the top of a very old building with a steep narrow winding staircase where you either get very fit climbing up, or have a heart attack! In complete contrast the solicitor at the other end of the street is in modern offices. My exercise for the day was walking quickly between the two offices, twice, - firstly my name had been spelt in two different ways on the statement, as pointed out by the second solicitor and had to be changed, and then had to go back a second time as he had only signed one page, when apparently both pages need to be signed and dated. Both solicitors had made simple mistakes and apologised, meanwhile I'm exhausted. Coincidentally, I bumped into a neighbour who had sold their house just a month ago - they had occupied three parking spaces as they were driving instructors and also owned a camper van. She was amazed when I told her what had just transpired, and told me they hadn't been asked to sign any documents about car parking, and had never heard of such a thing.
Of course this maybe something to do with car parking charges - we've never had to pay for parking only for garage rental. The parking charges in town have become astronomical - 70p for half an hour, which hardly gives you time to go to the bank. £1.20p for every hour. We know the council is strapped for cash, but it must be one of the highest charges in England.
But carparking did remind me of going to a meeting once where there were too few car parking spaces, where a councillor complained very loudly that someone had taken his carparking space, which strictly speaking didn't belong to anyone. After he had gone through the door the cleaner turned to me and said, " I expect someone a long time ago, told him he was very important , and he's never forgotten it.".
Everything's so overgrown here at the moment, grasses, styles, wildflowers, riverbanks, wooded hazel, leafy ferns and brambles all tangle over one another . . . 'hey summer hay!'
Not a great deal happening on the craft front of late. I am in the throes of planning a house move and packing up craft materials. More on the move when things become a little more certain. . . . I am also, and not without a little sadness, finishing teaching a loyal yoga class that has been with me for the past four years. ( I was initially only going to teach for a term, as I had previously given up teaching due to ill health - I was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 2008; fortunately, I remain healthy and cancer free to date.
Last year I got together with a Raj, yoga teacher friend who also loves sewing and crafting, and we started making yoga bags for the Haven, www.thehaven.org.uk/hereford supporting people who have breast cancer. Hereford Haven was, and has been, a godsend for me ever since.
Material for the yoga bags was donated. We asked for a donation of £7.00 for each bag - many people very generously donated much more. The side of bags were two cut out circles 7 inches diameter, and one piece of material all the way round to accommodate a yoga mat, blanket, and two blocks. Each bag was lined, a shoulder strap added and ties for closing. As you can see one talented person then decided to add her own zip.
Next week is my last yoga session, before I hand over to Yoga Summer School, where various yoga teachers donate their time and pay to the Haven Hereford.
My yoga class also run their own weekly raffle with donations of their spare change and bring in their own small prizes. Money raised is donated termly to the Haven. These small donations can be used to buy little things such as handwash or flowers to brighten up the venue. The yoga students are a lovely group of people, I will miss them all. . . Raj will take over my class in the Autumn.
A couple of weeks ago I visited my friend Corine. She runs a B &B from her home at Parliament Barn. www.parliament-barn.co.uk Corine also cuts my hair, she trained with Vidal Sassoon and Toni and Guy, and I always get a brilliant haircut. Now, isn't this the most marvellous place to go and get a hair cut - in the middle of the Herefordshire countryside, with a walk to the river with Archie, the dog included.
I've recently been given some vintage buttons and buckles. Two sets on cards: 4 light green 4 buttons with a an Art Deco triangular shaped buckle, free with a magazine, and 'fashionable' glass ones. I love the pearlised ones. As it happens I have been reading an excellent historical novel book by Rose Tremain, 'Music and Silence', set in sixteenth century Denmark. And there are a wonderful couple of paragraphs about buttons - their texture and allure - produced by the old button maker of Odense, and gifted to the young prince . . .
"There were buttons made of of silver and gold, of glass and pewter and bone and tortoiseshell. There were iron buttons and buttons of brass, copper, leather, ivory and pearl. And Christian was mesmerized by the button bag. To plunge his hand into it and feel the great quantity of button slip and tumble through his fingers created in him a shivery feeling of unalloyed delight. . . . .
. . . . . Then he knelt very near them and put his face into them, feeling their cold smooth surfaces against his cheek. He liked them more than any present he had ever been given." . . . . .
Summer is here on the Lugg Meadow, skylark unseen above in the blue sky, obscured by the sun, trilling its beautiful, fluid, joyous song. We must watch where we walk now the grasses and buttercups are grown in case we tread on its nest on the ground.
" Then sing ye birds, sing a joyous song,
Ye that pipe and ye that play, Feel the gladness of the May"
This last week or so I've been out and about away from home. Saturday to attend a First Aid Course, at Pilton Village Hall, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. I needed a one day Emergency First Aid at Work Certificate to validate my Yoga teaching insurance, and it was due to run out before I realised it had to be renewed. (I only teach one class a week, but still like to keep everything in order and up-to-date). Courses locally were full up, hence the travelling; well out of my comfort zone.. Armed with my son's satnav and lunch I set off at 6.30 am to avoid any possible delays. Successfully navigating the Chepstow countryside, the Severn Bridge, (and toll on the way back,) M32, M4 ,part of Bristol city, I arrived in Pilton Village Hall at 8.30 am for a 10.00 am start! It had to be a yoga venue; there was a row of Tibetan prayer flag bunting fluttering outside. A lovely bright morning and no one about, time for a short walk (sadly without my camera) through this picturesque village. Every other garden had a heavenly scented blousey lilac bush and honeysuckle growing. At the brow of a short hill, a fabulous view of Glastonbury Tor. Back through a beautiful wooded public footpath strewn with primroses, ransoms and bluebells. At the end near the village centre I went inside the village Church which was open at this time of the morning. It was heated, and had a toilet ! I did my ablutions, said a brief prayer of thanks for my safe arrival and wonderful surroundings, wrote in the visitors book and made my way back to the car and ate a sandwich for breakfast. Across the road, a pretty whitewashed cottage with lilac coloured window frames, 'Paradise Cottage', and, the top of a gaily coloured gypsy caravan just in view. More walking, around the back of the house revealed some other caravans for camping and glamping, (it is near Glastonbury after all) with sign-writing on the back of one of them - 'Everyone needs laughter in their life'. Another walk around the village, spied a garden with large twisted sculptured figures made from the tree trunks and a wooden sign saying, 'Tree Pirates'. Back through the Church once more where I picked up a Community Church Magazine with a sketch of May blossom and a butterfly with the Wordsworth quote I've written under my robin photo above. 'Then sing ye birds, sing a joyous song, Ye that pipe and ye that play, Feel the gladness of the May'. (That pic was taken back at home last Sunday). Then on to the village hall where other course participants were arriving. The course was fun and interactive, not too embarrassing, about a very serious subject. Thankfully we rarely get call for First Aid in my Yoga class, although you could be forgiven for mistaking one or two students as being unconscious when they are relaxing in Savasana, but, I wont be wading in with C.P.R!
A neighbours heavenly scented lilac bush back in Hereford.
Thankyou for the well wishes for my injured thumb, which is so much better after a great deal of rest. It may be of interest that J.B. Mennell in his book from the 1930s (I don't recall why I possess this book) on 're-education of muscle and training the finger and thumb muscles' gives the following recommendation,
" As strength improves (to the thumb) simple co-ordination work should be undertaken . . .writing with chalk on a blackboard, fastening buttons of various sizes, tying knots, and, later on, threading needles of different sizes, followed by actual needlework or knitting, will tend to do more to restore strength and co-ordination than we anticipate."
And there we have it, medical authority states I am meant to sew again!
The last 10 days has been fairly busy. B. and I joined dearest friends from Manchester for a lovely evening with them and overnight stay in Llandrindod Wells, across the border in Powys, Wales 40 miles west of here. A beautiful country drive through the Welsh countryside.
By way of a complete contrast last Tuesday up the M5 to Birmingham dental hospital, for some on-going gum treatment, administered by a second year university student who is supervised. The student, Krishna, is lovely, petite, and very competent. But, this time, I noticed she was slightly ill at ease; as her own supervisor was on leave she was being supervised by one of the top dental professors in the country. What I really appreciated about him, he insists that dental work, especially injections should be completely pain free. They always double check their students work physically. This was after I'd had my mouth open for nearly an hour! He said that he felt something that was so minuscule under my gum root that wouldn't really matter, but as I was numbed up he'd sort it out. I could feel it, but it wasn't in any pain. Krishna had done a brilliant job, and Professor was generous in his praise, that is until just one little incident. It only takes something that seems so small to change everything in an instance doesn't it? He asked Krishna for a piece of gauze, and now feeling confident she rather too hastily said, "I'm a cotton-wool girl myself". I had that sinking feeling myself, for her. According to the Prof. cotton-wool is not sterile, even though Krishna had just opened a brand new pack. Unfortunately there wasn't any gauze in the nearby drawers. Then more trainees were in for some criticism for standing around when they could be stocking up drawers and cupboards for the practitioners. Krishna, to her credit without being asked twice went in search of gauze and came back with some. The Prof. was a happy bunny, and back to being his calm, reassuring self. He got the offending item, a speck of something the size of a gnat's dropping, out of my gum, like little Jack Horner (but not with his thumb), so pleased with his result turned to Krishna, and said, " There you are, you wouldn't have been able to see this on a piece of cotton-wool!" Point made, lesson learned I think.
As students spend longer time practising on their patients whilst they are learning, it can be physically taxing on their hands, Krishna told me her wrists, unsurprisingly, were aching after an hour. I was able to give her some simple resistance exercises she could discretely do on a desk, table or against a wall. I'm sure she will do them; she does listen and take note. She's a bright young woman. I know she will do well in her exams, and I see her again in July.
Crab apple blossom to bring back a smile!
And bluebells - ' feel the gladness of the May'.
The hexie patchwork grandmothers flower garden quilt I started last year for the animal rescue charity shop just came to a halt when the dark nights started to draw in during the winter. Thankfully lighter days and nights are here, but I managed to damage my thumb opening a bottle of something, and it really has put paid to sewing for a good few weeks, and has been quite painful. It's surprising how many activities your thumb is needed for. At first even holding a kettle handle was almost impossible. It still hurts to put pressure on it e.g. ironing and cutting with scissors. Like most injuries waiting to heal, there is great lesson in patience. But pleased to report that progress on the quilt has been resumed. Individual fabric and card hexagons were already cut out, when I bought them from the shop. I intended make up the quilt and return it to the shop, but didn't say when, although I had thought Christmas - it may be Christmas this year!
There were very few solid colours in the stash, so I have used a blue bed sheet to make the flowers outline, to suggest flowers against a blue sky. When I started this quilt I had no real plan of how to make up the design or if I did it's since been forgotten. I know from recent books I have read I've broken modern quilt-makers rules: they say you should use new fabric - these patches date back to the 1960's; that you should use the same weight and type of fabric - there is an odd mix in here. Also, that you should have planned your design out on a graph beforehand - I made up the flowers trying to have a solid in the middle and patterned petals, and then started at the centre and worked round and out. All that keeps coming back to mind is that the pioneers surely used scraps from various materials they had to hand. Although a plan would be helpful if more than one person was making up the quilt.
If you were to come to the Lugg Meadow, right now, you would find fritillaries growing - always a joy! They are more scattered about this year; fewer deep red snakeshead fritillary, mostly pure white with some creamy snakeshead ones. B. has come out for a walk with me and helps find the red snakeshead ones, being careful not to tread on them, as fritillaries are much smaller than you would think from the photographs.
The fritillaries are amidst dauntless dandelions. . . can you spot the Painted Lady by one or two buttercups? Soon the buttercups will cover the meadow in a sea of buttery yellow.
You will also find an abundance of Lady's-Smocks -
"Dainty as a fairy's frock, White and mauve, of elfin sewing, 'Tis the meadow-maiden growing".
I love the flower fairies, by Cicely Mary Barker especially her description of elves sewing flowers. . . . the meadow is a magical place.
Remember to look up, to see blackthorn and wild white cherry blossom clusters!
And all the time the River Lugg continues to flow, meandering, to join the Wye further down at Mordiford.
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