Sunday, March 22, 2015

Connections

Question - what is the connection between Mr and Mrs Andrews, a military orchid and a zeppelin raid in Suffolk? Don't know? No nor did I until a couple of weeks ago.  I'll explain.


Mr and Mrs Andrews, above as painted by Thomas Gainsborough, had a son, Joseph. Joseph was a botanist and an apothecary and his preserved plant and herbarium is the oldest in existence and is now housed in the Natural History Museum in London. Within that collection is the military orchid.


Military orchids are extremely rare and are only found in two areas of the UK including this part of Suffolk.  They grow on chalk.

Now I've lived in this areas for 22 years and I wouldn't have associated it with chalk.  What I did know though was that there are some very steep and out of character 'cliffs' throughout Sudbury and a couple of weeks ago a friend and I went to hear a fascinating talk about the chalk pits of Sudbury which explained it all!

The speaker explained how there had been 11 chalk pits in Sudbury and Great Cornard. Most of the pits had kilns to burn the chalk to produce lime and at one time the railway had sidings going into the pits to transport the chalk.  There were tales of possible tunnels between the pits too and of a zeppelin raid due to the glow from the kilns causing the pilot to think it was a far bigger town that it really was!


Today I walked a footpath between 2 of the pits, I wonder how many of the residents of this housing estate realise that they're living in an old quarry.  See the chimneys at the top of the picture? That house is on the original ground level.

On the other side of the footpath I could see the measures put in by Sainsbury's to hold up the cliff edge behind their store, which was build in a neighbouring pit, that's the roof of the store in the foreground.


Apparently if you go back in time far enough Sudbury was a coastal area and the cliffs would have resembled those of Dover.

As I was walking back from the footpath I saw this beautiful blossom - a real sign of spring :-)


Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Rather Lovely Weekend

It's been a truly gorgeous spring weekend here, an unusually quiet one on the social front (apart from a visit to the theatre later tonight) and pretty much wall to wall to sunshine.

The garden is full of spring flowers


but my favourite has to be this white forsythia; 


it's still rather straggly but has more flowers each year, and smells rather nice too!

The seeds I sowed last weekend have germinated and the potatoes are starting to chit.


Yesterday I walked back from the market along the river (as I usually do) and noticed that the willows are starting to break buds.


For the first time this year I was able to eat lunch outside, twice!


Today I sat by the pond where the frogs were croaking - I always know it's really spring once they start!

I've enjoyed having a quiet, laid back weekend, I hope you've had a good one too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Bathroom Makeover

During last summer I decided I wanted to revamp my bathroom.  It was a nice bathroom, the suite was new when I moved in, and I liked the decor but the carpet was driving me potty.





















(before pictures)

The dark brown carpet looked nice, for about 5 mins after it was vacuumed and after that every piece of fluff and blonde hair in the house was attracted to it and it generally looked a mess!

After several months of not being able to tackle it due to elbow issues I finally ripped the carpet up a few weeks ago.


Cue first hurdle - the bath panel no longer touched the floor (see it's propped up on those little wedges you get with art canvases).
After filling some of the holes in the boards first by making a few extra struts with square dowel, glue and string (the man who came to make a new step did give me some funny looks when he saw this method)


I cut bits of wood and dowel to plug the gaps, sanded and undercoated.  I also painted the panelling.

I used a product called DraughtEx to fill the gaps in between the floorboards, it's amazing stuff and can't be seen once in place.


Draughtex got me thinking and I bought some pipe insulation foam things and fixed them onto the bottom of the bath panel to fill that gap.


I used Little Greene oil based floor paint, which took 16 hours to dry and involved a fair amount of planning in order to allow access to the toilet at all time, and yesterday, apart from a tiny piece of trim around the step, I finished it.


I treated myself to a new bathmat and hand towels from Dunelm,


and I am VERY pleased with the end result.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Returning to My Happy Place

Today I managed one hour gardening - that might not sound much, and indeed it isn't really but it's one hour more than I've been able to do since last August when I tore the tendon in my elbow. As I cleared and tidied and cut back (gently as I'm still not too good with secateurs) I noticed signs of spring all around:

primroses still moist with dew/rain,


 quince buds about to break,


and snowdrops hanging their dainty heads.


There are hellebores under the shrubs


and hyacinths just about to risk popping their heads up above their leaves.


By my kitchen window the winter flowering honeysuckle is just starting to flower - it was flowering the day I first moved in 7 years ago.

There's still loads to do but it was good to get back into my happy place today :-)


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Catching Up

Now that my elbow is almost better I'm starting to catch up with things.

The tank top that I bought the wool for in October at the Knitting and Stitching show is finished,


my second Kate dress is almost made (ignore the all the 'stuff' in the background I really must have a tidy up!

and I'm starting to reclaim my garden in which the snowdrops are emerging.


I'm also about to give the bathroom a make over, more about that another time, but tonight I shall be found knitting my next project - a lovely Brooklyn Tweed jumper -


which may will end up with extra cat hair knitted into it due to the difficulties of knitting with a cat on your lap!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Talbot Trail

Earlier on this week I rediscovered (as I had known about it before but had forgotten) a trail around my home town of Sudbury called the Talbot Trail.  It's a trail for children really and has 14 miniature bronze statutes on red posts around the town representing interesting facts about the history of the town.  It starts in the town centre; outside St Peter's Church is Pongo from 101 Dalmatians.  


In the story by Dodie Smith Pongo and Perdita stop in Sudbury to drink from the drinking fountain (which is still outside the church and about to be renovated) whilst searching for the puppies.

In the market place is Blondin - a famous (I'd not heard of him!) high wire artist who, in 1872, visited Sudbury and pushed a member of the public in a wheelbarrow across a rope suspended above the road!

I walked down roads that I usually drive along and saw things I'd never noticed before, like this lovely entrance way to a house,

this sign painted on a wall advertising the fact that a general engineer and millwright once worked there,

and this passage way 

which is intriguingly called 'Laundry Gardens' (I'll have to find out the history of that).


I found Amicia, daughter of the Earl of Gloucester who married into the de Clare family in the 12th century and brought her wealth to Sudbury,


and dancing bears who were brought to the town by victorian showmen to entertain the locals!


After a quick walk over the water meadows 


and up towards the croft I found good old Simon of Sudbury (complete with ladybirds!).


Simon became the Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of the Exchequer during the 14th Century.

Sadly for Simon he ended up being decapitated in 1381 during the Peasants' Revolt and his head was brought back to Sudbury!


I'm not really sure why it's called the Talbot Trail, apart from the fact that a talbot is a type of dog owned by Simon of Sudbury and depicted on the Sudbury town sign.

On my way round I happened to pass Oxfam and bought 2 jugs for the grand total of £4.98


and a bunch of carnations for £1.50 from the market - nice and cheery.


It's a nice little trail and I enjoyed walking down streets I've not walked down before, before walking home in the fading light along the riverbank.


Monday, December 22, 2014

A Christmas Wreath

Last year my quite old wreath suffered rather in an overnight storm (actually most of it disintegrated and ended up spread along the road) so this year I decided to have a go and make my own.  I've never made one before but having bought a willow ring I gathered greenery, seed heads and hips from the garden and this is the result.


I'm rather pleased with it, and an added bonus is that it smells really nice due to the elaeagnus leaves!

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and thanks for reading my ramblings over the last year :-)