Tuesday, 30 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - Tatton Biennial

Remodelled in the neoclassical style between 1780-1813 Tatton Park Mansion sits at the centre of gardens and a deer park and is viewed here from the Italian garden.  Owned by the Egerton family, when the last of the line, Maurice, died in 1958 he left the estate to the National Trust which means the lands and house can be enjoyed by all.

In 2010 Tatton Park staged its second Biennial of contemporary art commissioning 20 artists to create new works on the theme 'Framing Identity'.
and Marcia Farquhar located 'The Horse is a Noble Animal' on the Big Lawn.  On 5 days she rode this
thoroughbred life size rocking horse, talking about the role of the horse in the English psyche.  To continue the mammal theme
part of Helen Master inversion of monumental sculpture with the Egerton lion facing a meaningless billboard (not in view), the shifting ownership of Tatton Park. Whatever the philosophical idea it was a popular place for having a picture taken, and maybe possibly proved the artists concept of change and hierarchy.
Jem Finer's Spiegelei which was a camera obscura, inside the hut a 360° upside-down vision of the Japanese Garden. I preferred the view from the outside, almost like an alien observer or perhaps the ball from The Prisoner (if you are old enough to go back to the Patrick McGoohan series). The two people sitting outside make the view complete. Are they being taken over by rays pulsating out.
Look out its by the Golden Brook.

Wonder if its been here an exploded tree house.. Fiona Curran's 'This time next year things are going to be different', an abstract collapsing tree house which explored the idea of sustainability 

Plastique Fantastique, this part had not collapsed, other bits had.   Ring or should I say toll the bell, time to go.

Topic of the day - words starting with T. See more over at ABC Wednesday.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Winter Wonderland

Only a visiting cat, prowling its territory, had travelled around the neighbourhood this morning. Its paws showing on the beautifully powdery snow.  Unlike the east side of the country this is only our second fall of the winter.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Shutting the Stable Door

On first seeing this building attached to a house on the main street in the village of Hartley I thought it was an old, but well kept barn. Then I looked again, while taking the photo, and realised it was a large stable. In the days before horse power a fine place to keep your horses.

Mary the Teach is our hostess for the midweek meme  Window Views and Doors Too

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - Standards (Nine)

Take a trip to the Nine Standards lying at the far east of Cumbria on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, if tramping the coast to coast long distance walk across England then this is the half way point.  The lichen and moss growing on the top of the sign post may give a clue that
it can be wet up here, it was the day we were there. Lying on the main watershed of England, rivers flow west to the Irish Sea and east to the North Sea. Full waterproofs at this point with the water running down the hill in streams, the mobile phone in the rucksack ahead would never work again.  This is a popular walk but we only saw three people all day, two of who were a pair of damp coast to coasters.
Don't be distracted by the two cairns, the 'teeth' just visible on the ridge is our destination which are
the Nine Standards, probably the last time to be able to photograph them all together, when the top is
gained it is tricky to get them all in one photograph.  It is rather like one of those Zen rock gardens where one rock is always out of sight, the viewer being only being able to be see all of them together after enlightened meditation. Perhaps I'll concentrate on
one.  The rain stopped on reaching the standards, the clouds swirled down in the valley and whirled round the surrounding hills.
No one knows why or when these structures were constructed. They appear on 18th Century maps and are mentioned in documents going back to the 16th Century. Some say they were built by the Romans or the Britons to look like an army, or perhaps they were built to delineate a border, for this was the old boundary of Swaledale and Westmorland.  A 6th Century Welsh document describes a defeat of the invading Saxons by Britons in the mountains north west of York at a place called the "toothed mountain", a vivid description of the Nine Standards.  These sentinels pointing roughly North North East

are of different shapes, another mystery. Maybe these sentinels are as old as Stonehenge or Carnac, no one knows. They stand exposed to the worst of weather, the freezing and thawing of the cold parts of the year makes them start to fall apart. They are never left to fall down, people want to see them there watching over the valley, connecting through the centuries to the people who lived in these northern hills.  The last rebuild was in 2005.

A postcard of the Nine Standards in their winter coats. I haven't figured out how the photographer has taken this picture looking down on them because they are on flat ridge, perhaps a ladder or standing on the
 orientation table further on with a zoom lens.
Earlier on I said we had met two coast to coaster, the third person we met was on our return down,
a man out for a afternoon stroll who told us there had been thunder storms further down the valley and a walker had been struck by lightening. Maybe the Nine Standards are always at the eye of a storm.

Step over to ABC Wednesday where there are lots more words beginning with the letter S

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Window Watch

A nice window to watch the boats pass by on the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal, or watch the windows pass by from a narrow boat.

Mary the Teach is our hostess for the Windows Views and Doors Too midweek meme.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - Recycle

Got a gap in your dry stone wall and an old bed head? Perfect, recycle, and as a bonus you get a great view.
Got some odds and ends in your shed?  Perhaps in will recycle and make a gate.  Sheds tend to accummulate odds and ends that "might come in", and sometimes they do, and sometimes they are just waiting years for that occasion for when it can be said, "I've got just the thing", shed dwellers dream of that time.  There is a certain satisfaction of reusing an object for a completely different practical purpose.  Far better than
just throwing things away on a piece of waste ground. The snow on the ground earlier this year disguising the rubble.
The affluent nations of the world throw so much away that in past times we would have repaired, recycled or reused.  In a world of finite resources things have started to change, in a small way, some countries are better than others.  Germany recycles with enthusiasm, the UK is getting better but we still languish near the bottom of the European league table.  Things get a little better year by year as things are sent for reprocessing.  Aluminium cans can be recycled time after time, using only 5% of the energy and emissions needs to make it from raw material. It can be turned into paper-clips, bridges, or even....a can. 
Green bins just delivered for garden waste in a rural location. 

Run over to ABC Wednesday and see what other words start with R

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Bookshop Windows

 Waterstones Bookshop, Fishergate, Preston, Lancashire

Isn't this a wonderful building for a bookshop, the windows give an almost Venetian feel. The white façade  stood out on a gloomy day. The Grade II listed building was completed in 1859 as a grocery store (Booths), it certainly beats modern supermarket buildings hands-down. The upper floors were refaced in 1915.  Thanks to the British Listed Buildings site I can say that it is brick with a façade of sandstone ashlac with the two top stories being of white architectural faience, and to complete the effect, the Lombard frieze on the top.

I don't think anything is left of the original building inside but happy hours can be spent amongst the two stories of books, not to mention pretty notebooks and other bookish ephemera plus a nice red plush carpet.

Mary the Teach is our hostess of  Window Views...and doors too 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - Quarry

A popular place to take a break, perhaps for lunch, when in the middle of a walk in Tilberthwaite or Little Langdale is here, looking across to the
sheer faces of Hodge Close Quarry and its reflection in the
the water below. The quarry closed in 1964 after which the workings filled with water, we are after all in the Lake District, known for receiving its quota of rain.  The person standing at the bottom has come through from the adjoining Parrock Quarry, the steel 'skis' are the remains of a crane.
This part of the quarry is 300 feet deep, 150 ft of face popular with abseilers, and 150 ft of flooded workings popular with divers.  There are tunnel entrances to 3 chambers and 2 interconnecting tunnels down there. Cave divers are one may say, a special breed, and have no qualms in entering watery enclosed spaces, there have been fatalities here with divers getting lost in the passages.

The Lake District is a National Park and an area of outstanding beauty but it is, and has been, a place of industry as well, some of it which scars the landscape. Green slate has been quarried at Hodge Close since the 19th Century, gradually declining in the 20th century to its closure in the 1960s.  Green slate is commonly used for roof tiles, nowadays cut by machine, but in these times the pieces of slate would be riven or split by hand. To watch someone expertly splitting a slab of slate running with the layers and then making the thin sheets into slates is to watch and marvel at a skill. They then 'dress' the edges making them smooth.  Some of the slate is of no use and is left for waste or 'rid' and these spoil heaps scatter
across the valley, here looking towards the Langdale Pikes, the autumn trees softening the heaps.
As can be seen here the pieces of slate are quite small, in other areas of quarrying the residue can be a lot larger than this.  Pieces can be picked up if you want to make a sign or require one last piece for a wall.

Despite these industrial workings Hodge Close is a popular spot for people to park, to see the views of the surrounding hills and woods, the open space, and for car drivers who don't like to walk too much
a popular picnic spot.  On the day I was here there were also a lot of serious photographers with tripods taking pictures of the light on the Silver Birch, unlike this happy snapper, as you have seen, taking pictures of spoil heaps.

The road up to Hodge Close Quarry comes past a row of houses
opposite which are these slate roofed buildings which I think in the past would be wash houses for the row of cottages, before the days of the glories of indoor plumbing.

Quick jump over to ABC Wednesday for quite a lot of  words beginning with Q

Monday, 8 November 2010

Into Each Life A Little Rain Must Fall.

We've had rather a lot of rain recently.  Sunday was like a sparkling jewel set in the middle of a grey stone.

Today I discovered when sloshing through a flood to my car that suede shoes are remarkable waterproof.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Autum in the City

What turned out to be a wet day in Preston. Here at the Portland stone cenotaph by the Harris Art Gallery and Museum in Market Square.  A soldier at the railway station collecting for the British Legion with his tray of poppies no doubt will be here in  this square for Remembrance Sunday.   
Greenhalgh's bakery shop had an extensive, and mouthwatering, display covering both seasons of winter and autumn, witches and ghosts, and the mince pies on the left:  Of course any self respecting Lancashire bakery would have to display Eccles cakes (on the right). Or are they Chorley cakes, the same thing but with no sugar topping, flatter and made of shortcrust rather than flaky pastry. No time to stop, we were heading for the Mystery Tea House café and their cakes with a choice of  seventy different teas and what seem to be the same number of different types of fascinating tea pots.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


We are having endless days of rain at the moment in northern England so to cheer things up, a virtual blue sky.  

A house in the village of Mont-Dol, Northern France.  I think all houses should have the option of turrets.

Mary the Teach is the hostess of the mid-week meme  Windows..and doors too

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - Ploërmel

For this weeks ABC its a short trip to Ploërmel, a small town near the Paimpont Forest in France under whose trees, says the legend, lived Merlin the Magician, sorcerer to King Arthur. The Citroen car has a little bit of magic, it is dressed up for someone's special day.  I always think of the French Police detective Maigret who in the television series seemed to spend a lot of time driving around Paris in this type of Citroen, when he was not smoking his pipe .
 First Day Cover from the 6 Heroes of French Detective Fiction series of stamps
Georges Simenon wrote many novels and short stories about Commissaire Maigret which are an established part of the French detective genre the 'Policier'.  I appear to be getting off the point, so lets return to the church
in the Place d'Armi on an overcast day, the main entrance is round the cover to the left so no peeking at the wedding while dining at the Cafe de la Tour in the square, you have to wait for them to pass when driving away.

Taking a short promenade to a hidden corner of Ploërmel through a narrow passage arriving at
the courtyard of what used to be the Community of Brothers building is a French treasure in a glass case
the astronomical clock and orrery showing the movement of the planets.  You can just make out the orrery in this picture inside the little  building on the right with all the different sized planets, slowly turning.  Built by Brother Bernardin (Gabriel Morin) who made it to help in his lessons. He was not a clockmaker but made the 197 parts, cut the cog teeth by hand and most importantly worked out the long calculations needed to accurately measure the movements of the planets.  He constructed the clock and orrery between 1850-1855 and it functioned inside the building until it was dismantled in 1874 and packed away in boxes, Brother Bernardin would not see it working again in his lifetime.  At one point it was nearly sold for the scrap value of the metal but happily it was eventually refurbished and installed in this little building.
The clock chimes
on the quarter hour, the 10 dials show the position of the sun, stars, phases of the moon and signs of the zodiac. There is a steady stream of a mini united nations of people coming to look as this wonder of invention, press the button for your language of choice and all is explained.

Ploërmel is a pleasant place for a perambulation with interesting 
 buildings, streets and shops
although  I have a  penchant for taking the back routes.
Time for a sit down in the Salon de Thé, write the postcards home and pop them in the
 post box. 

For prodigious posts on other words beginning with the letter P visit the ABC Wednesday meme here.