A Raft of Apples

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Over Hedge and Gate

Taking a break from munching on the sweet grass this cow wondered who was coming down the lane so took a look over the hedge.
Not too far away on a warm April day a farm gate was the perfect place to lean and contemplate the distant hills.
It may not be a case of anyone looking over this gate but perhaps something with a zig zag pattern slithering underneath. When the wooden gate leading onto this woodland path gently rotted away and became more difficult to open and shut it was replaced by this new one. What amused me was the installer opted to use the old notice that was attached to the old gate
Obviously he considered it had not outlived its useful life.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at O here   

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


Nags Head, Bunbury
There is often a story connected to pub names and one of them for the many called 'The Nag's Head' comes to us from the time of pirates and smuggling when a lantern would be tied around the neck of a docile old horse and this 'nag' would be led slowly up and down the hilltop or highest point to signal to the ship offshore that it was safe to land its cargo and occupants. The sight of the bobbing lantern was known as the Nag's Head.

The sign's designer shows an instantly recognisable outline so here is the real thing
Welsh Pony, Woodland
in this case a hardy Fell Pony who turned to look at me as I passed but only briefly before it returned to its main purpose .
of nibbling on whatever was tasty on the woodland floor.   Its companions were further
up the hillside. It is very rocky and stony ground but the fell ponies (whose ancestors have probably roamed about on the fells and valleys since neolithic times) seem to thrive.
Their coats looked glossy after the winter.

Although the word nag usually refers to an old or inferior horse, its older usage is that of a small riding horse or pony and comes to us from the Middle English word nagge whose origin is unknown.   

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at N here

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Mehodist Chapels

Methodist Church, Broughton
As we have just celebrated Easter it may be just the time to feature Methodist Chapels, so here is the one in Broughton in Furness, Cumbria.  If  passing by on a Tuesday then
the sign welcomes anyone to pop in for Morning Coffee.  The chapel has stood here on Princes Street since 1875 and was gifted by Nathaniel Caine (1808-1877) a Liverpool industrialist and co-owner of the nearby Hodbarrow Mines who considered the religious facilities in the area inadequate. He funded a number of nonconformist chapels in the 1860s and 1870s and although he himself was a baptist his faith was such he readily funded chapel buildings for those denominations that needed them. 

The reason there was a shortage of religious building here in the second half of the 19th Century was the large influx of workers and their families to work in the booming local industries.   The chapel cost £2,500 to build and is made of the very durable Kirkby Stone, still quarried locally.

In contrast the Marshside Methodist chapel, located in one of the hamlets that makes up the village of Kirkby
Kirkby Methodist Church
Marshside Methodist Chapel
was built in 1870 but with only the slate roof tiles from the local Burlington Quarry and the building is made of sandstone is from St Bees further up the coast. It was a similar story of workers emigrating into the area, mostly here from Wales and Cornwall.  They would come from different traditions of Methodism, the Welsh tending to be Calvanist Mehodist and those from Cornwall, Primitive Methodists but I guess they would all join together in worship here.

These simple chapels contrast with the one in Harrogate, Yorkshire,  built in 1862 and
Wesley Chapel, Harrogate
a much larger and ornate example.  The heartlands of Methodism were the north of England, Cornwall and Wales, its egalitarian message contrasting with the established church which it split from.  This like the first chapel I showed in Broughton both started life as Wesleyan Methodist Chapels.  In 1932 all the strands of Methodism reunited and today are simply called the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

The archives of the Methodist Church and  the papers of the founder of the religion John Wesley are held by the John Rylands Library of Manchester University which opened its doors in 1900 and also contains Wesley's statue alongside John Wycliff, William Shakespeare, John Dalton, William Caxton, Johannes Gutenberg and Francis Bacon. The choices of statues are explained here. This cathedral of  books has a magnificent reading room -
"The John Rylands Library" by Mdbeckwith - Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons"
Year ago I was sent on a course to the Rylands Library and I can't for the life of me remember what it was about but vividly remember enjoying my meander around the library in the lunch break.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at M here

Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Here is a narrow boat, winter ready, with logs piled up on its roof and moored on the northern reaches of the Shropshire Union Canal (affectionately known as The Shroppie) near Bunbury Locks.  I imagine with the logs burning on a cold winter's night the boat will live up to its name and everything will be 'wine and roses'.  My photograph was taken in December when it was muddy with rain rather than firm ground solid with ice and snow but we all know "as the days lengthen the cold strengthens"  so a supply of logs was a must in 2015, not to mention  the added warmth of the contents of the coal scuttle on the banking. 
By contrast this photograph was taken in June when it looks as though someone with forward planning had split a nice pile of logs to dry out in the sunshine on the Cumbrian coast

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojouring at L here

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Knight Knights

A wooden knight welcomes visitors into the interior of Peckforton Castle which takes its name from the castle's location in the Peckforton Hills, Cheshire.   But all is not as it seems.  This is an example of the Victorians love of the Gothic because it was actually built in the 19th Century as a family home by John Tollemache, a wealthy Cheshire landowner and MP. It took eight years to construct (1844-1852) and to recreate a medieval castle with more than 100 rooms, a rather charming chapel (where he is buried, or at least there is a tomb there) and a stable for 30 horses.  Tollemache became the 1st Baron Tollemache so he had a title to go with the impressive surroundings, considered to be the last fortified home to be built in England.  As you can imagine a man who builds something on this scale was not only very wealthy but just a little eccentric and has been described as a benevolent despot, one of whose foibles was to wear a wig despite having a full head of hair.  His paternalism for his estate workers was based on his belief of  self reliance for the working class by giving them "three acres and a cow" and built 50 farmhouses in the area to bring this idea into practice.
Here is the entrance into the castle which today is an hotel and a popular venue for weddings.  The brasserie located in a corner inside was doing afternoon tea but we were being given a whistle stop tour of the area by family who have just moved to this part of Cheshire. They like to chivvy us along because they know we have a tendency to dawdle and I combine that dawdling nature with photography so am indulged with an extra five minutes.  It was a brief look at the birds of prey who are resident here
taking a picture of a kestrel, which would not be used by a knight in medieval times as it was considered a lowly hunting bird,may only suitable for knaves, servants and children.  According to the "Boke of St Albans" an Old English book of 1468 which details the Falconry Laws of Ownership a knight would have a Saker falcon. No sign of one of those.

But what else would a knight do in his leisure hours if not killing small fury and feathered things well he might partake of a joust
Which brings me to something else that is not what it seems.  This slabbed fireplace of jousting knights and castle was made by Craven Dunnill in the 1930s and is on display in the Jackfield Tile Museum. It has been decorated using the tube-lining technique but it is not typical of the period when the fireplaces were usually just mottled tiles and it is thought it must have been made for an exhibition and harks back to an early time of Arts and Crafts houses.  I recognise the coat of arms on the right as the Scottish lion but the one on the left is bugging me because it looks vaguely familiar. Then again it may just be one made up by the tile makers imagination.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at K here


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Inclined Planes

Historically Inclined Planes were used extensively in the Ironbridge Gorge to move heavy objects up and down slopes but mostly all that endures are indentations and grooves running down forested hillsides; however for those interested in Industrial archaeology the Hay Inclined Plane remains to show the infrastructure required to move tug boats up and down a hill.  I believe from rail buffs that these are not the originally rails that would have been used from 1792-1894 but some British Rail cast offs from the national railway system.  Also we need a modicum of imagination for I have been unable to find photographs or drawings of the box shaped tug boats being moved the 207 feet (63m) by gravity, one ascending and one descending on roped up wheeled cradles on the rails from here -

the Blists Hill waterway down to the

Coalport Canal (part of the Shropshire Canal system)
This is the point the tug boats would have run down and into the canal, still on the tracks, which looks rather dishevelled today.  Although the loaded boats were travelling downhill by gravity the brakes were operated by a winding drum operated by a small steam engine in this engine house
And here is a view of the unreconstructed rail system of the other track
It would be nice to see it running but from the Blists Hill miners track you can take a ride down an other inclined plane in another direction  
from the upper waterway whatever the weather in comfort sat in a trolley which leads to a re-creation of a Victorian Fair where one can indulge in a variety of rides.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at I here

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Hampton Loade

This bridge's distinctive and pleasing shape attracted my attention when I'd seen it in the distance from a train window so why not take a walk along the river to take a closer look. It is the Hampton Loade Bridge to the Water Treatment Works over the River Severn. The tubular blue archways integrated into the bridge are water pipes with a walkway underneath.. The water treatment plant and nearby Cheltmarsh Reservoir were built in the 1960s by Degremont-Laing for Severn Trent Water and it was the first design and build contract for the then national and publicly owned water industry.  (Previously capital projects employed a consultant engineer to carry out a feasibility study and then project manage the resulting contracts).  With privatisation  design and build contracts became the norm.

This stretch of the River Severn is popular with canoeists although I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to catch them going under the bridge.  We didn't inspect the bridge further as our route led us further along the banking (and as it turned out into a thunderstorm) but we did look longingly at

the landing stage across the river on the way past where we had heard the cable ferry ran although the machinery didn't look well used.
however the wiring was still in place nearby
along with the water measurement pole.  The crossing has been here for about 400 years but the floods of 2007 damaged the riverbank and I wondered how far up the pole the water reached.  The owner put the ferry up for sale after the floods and I read that the Hampton Loade villagers now operate the crossing. With the help of Wikipedia here is the ferry in operation 
"Hampton Loade Ferry - 2004-07-24" by © Optimist on the run, 2004 /. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia
and this is the explanation of its workings.  "The Hampton Loade Ferry is a reaction ferry, propelled by the river current.  An overhead cable is suspended across the river, and the ferry is tethered by a second cable, to a pulley block that runs on the suspended cable. To operate the ferry it is angled into the current, causing the current to move it across the river".

 An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at H here