Monthly Archives: April 2015

A Stellar performance

Amelanchier Ballerina is dancing in the spring sunshine

image

Amelanchier grandiflora ‘Ballerina’ Snowy mespilus.

but Magnolia Stellata has stolen the show !

image

Magnolia Stellata

Advertisements

Mud’n developments

 

Sitta Europaea

Sitta Europaea

Sitta Europaea, our little Nutchatch has been very busy and we spotted him (or her) collecting bits of bark and dried leaves for the nest. Phil also caught them indulging in a little plastering; they collected mud from the freshly watered raised bed and then set about re-fashioning the entrance hole.

imageimage image

They have also been very regular visitors to the nut feeder. They have amazing agility and don’t seem to mind which way up they are. I can now recognise their songs and calls easily and so can spot them when dog walking in the woods.

 

Through the key hole (so who would live in a house like this ?)

3 years ago Phil made some repairs to our coal store wall and created a nesting pocket within the wall.

The key hole

The key hole.                                                                 

It was quickly occupied by a pair of Blue Tits the first year and Great Tits the next. We saw their babies fledge. This year we have noticed Great Tits and Blue Tits giving consideration to taking up residence. Only this weekend a Great Tit was in the tree outside, beak full of dog fur, just waiting for his moment but we were building the greenhouse nearby and we didn’t see him enter.

Ejected nesting material

Ejected nesting material

Yesterday Rigsby was very interested in the ground below the hole. It was covered with the contents of the nest, mainly moss and dog hair we put out for nesting material.

image

Phil couldn’t think what could have done this but saw a bird fly in the direction of the hole and peeked round the wall to spot the culprit !

It's a Nuthatch !

It’s a Nuthatch !

Caught in the act !

Caught in the act !

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

We will try to get some better photos of the new residents and hopefully some chicks. We can hear them right now, it’s an interesting warbling song and very different to the usual birdsong at this time.

Grey Expectations

We have made excellent progress and are hoping to have the Greyhouse fully functional by next weekend. It’s been a cool day with very little bee activity so we didn’t get buzzed while working close to the hive. The construction instructions were not explicitly clear but we got there in the end and two of our friends were so impressed with the quality, they have ordered one each. Pity we don’t get commission for sales !

image imageL

SAD Irony

Wednesday progress with the green house base was scuppered by rain so we went to the Brunswick yard, our favourite Architectural salvage and Antiques emporium in Penrith. I spotted these and Phil bought them for my Wedding anniversary present. Not an iPad, not an iPhone folks but an iRon…..3 of them to be precise. Chatting to Adam the proprietor, these little beauties were de rigueur in the Victorian era.

Mrs Potts patented SAD iron, made in West Bromwich, England

Mrs Potts patented SAD iron, made in West Bromwich, England

Here’s the history. The sadiron (today it is one word) is one type of iron. There are many others, developed for special uses, like goffering irons that pressed ruffles or specially shaped irons for sleeves. The Oxford English Dictionary says that the sadiron is a smoothing iron, solid and flat, as opposed to a box iron that is hollow and meant to hold coals (so it didn’t need to be heated and reheated on the stove). It says that the word sad once meant heavy or compact. Webster’s defines sadiron as a flatiron pointed at both ends and having a removable handle, and dates the term to 1738.

Evidently an American woman named Mrs. Potts invented a removable wooden handle in 1871 that made it easier to iron and it didn’t burn your hand (women used rags or potholders but still, those things must have been dangerously hot!), and you could put one sadiron on the stove to heat while you moved the handle to the hot one.

Nice catch !

Nice catch !

The body of the iron was cast hollow and was later filled with material that was a non-conductor of heat, such as plaster of Paris, cement or clay. Mrs. Potts claimed in her patent that this material held the heat longer so that more garments could be ironed without reheating the iron.

Comes with guarantee stamp 'will not break'

Comes with guarantee stamp ‘will not break’

So at the youthful age of 19, Mrs. Mary Potts solved the pervasive problem of hot handles and burns to the hands as a result of ironing. The wooden detachable handle and sets of 3 irons resolved the hot handle issue. Her irons were produced by every major iron producer in America and also produced in Germany, England, Canada, and Australia. Mrs. Potts was never completely compensated or adequately paid for her idea. There are currently 265 Mrs. Potts’ Sad Irons cataloged in the book, The Mrs. Potts’ Sad Iron Collectors’ Guide that is available for sale at mrspottssadiron@gmail.com

They're numbered so can be used in sequence

They’re numbered so can be used in sequence

Our collection is missing its stand but you never know at Adam’s yard, we might get lucky !

The Antiques Road Show; whose Hu ?

Last summer the Antiques Roadshow came to Lowther Castle which is just up the road from us near Penrith. It was a glorious sunny day and we arrived early and prepared to queue. We brought a couple of ‘treasures’ with us which Phil bought in Hillary’s antique shop in Brampton a few years ago.

Where's Walley ?

Where’s Walley ?

The first queue was for about an hour and got us to the reception stand where several experts ummmed and ahhhd about our objects and decided which specific expert we should be directed to. They didn’t really fit into a specific category so we queued for about another hour and a half to see Adam Schoon who was tasked with ‘miscellaneous’.

image

Chinese bronze Hu

Our first object was a bronze pot which we believed to be from China and contained the original letter explaining it was a Christmas gift to a gentleman in 1938. Adam explained that this pot was a Chinese Hu and used for storing wine for the journey into the after-world. He estimated it to be a couple of thousand years old but not the finest example due to its rustic casting.

St George and the dragon, Madonna and child

St George and the dragon, Madonna and child

Ethiopian crucifix

Ethiopian crucifix

Our other piece was an Ethiopian Crucifix which has a bail so it could be worn during ceremonial occasions. He seemed quite excited by it and asked another expert who deals with icons and fine artwork for his opinion. After much discussion, they were not able to tell us much and said it was very difficult to date, although clearly ‘not made yesterday’. They suggested  we take it to a dealer in London who deals in Icons.

That brought us to lunch time and we sat on the grass in the sunshine eating our picnic and looking out for Fiona Bruce when we spotted our neighbour Catherine. She remembers Lowther in its days as a stately home as her family farmed on the Lowther estate and she has happy memories of playing in the gardens as a child when the family wasn’t at home. Then the war came and the army comandeered it. The lawns and gardens were concreted over so that tanks could practice maneouvers. The house was given back after the war but fell into disrepair and is now derelict but work is underway to restore the gardens and lake.

Next Sunday’s (19th April) broadcast of Antiques Roadshow is from Lowther. See if you can spot us (Phil has his Indiana Jones hat on). You’ll need to expand the photo below.

Did you find him ? Dead centre wearing hat with me to his left and behind lady in sunglasses !

Did you find    him ? Dead centre wearing hat and grey t-shirt with me to his left and behind lady in sunglasses !

Paper

 

Today is our 2nd wedding anniversary.

image

Only daffodils were out. Photo wedding card by Pam Harrington our neighbour. watercolour of Christ and St Mary church Armathwaite by Phil Dutton. Photo of Phil  and Jane all those years ago by the Bride’s Father.

What a difference in the garden since 13th April 2013. It was warm and fabulously sunny but there wasn’t a leaf or a flower to be seen other than Daffodils. However, today the Snakehead Fritillaries are blooming,

Snakes Head Fritillaries

Snakes Head Fritillaries

the Clematis Armandii is magnificent and smelling very sweet,

image

Clematis Armandii. Evergreen, superb fragrance and flowers in spring and autumn

image image

Frilly Frock is a mass of blossom,

image

Frilly Frock, blossoms in spring, variegated leaves through summer and fabulous autumn colour

image

the Geisha Girl Quince is looking lovely

image

and any day now the Amalanchier Ballerina will be taking centre stage (photo to follow).