Thursday, 14 November 2019

Passing Bells

In days gone by "Passing bells" were bells rung to announce a death, and to call people to prayer. [as in Wilfred Owen's poem] Today is the day when many of us are hoping and praying that bells will not be rung to announce the demise of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London.
I have been blogging about the possible destruction of this wonderful place for three years now. And I will continue to rant about it. This is part of our nation's history, but the greed of property developers, and the apparent unwillingness to listen, by those who give planning permission have brought matters to a head.
The Gentle Author, of the blog "Spitalfields Life" explains it far better than I can.
Please read what she has said here and here 
This is part of our heritage - and in this foundry have been produced some of the bells which are famous around the world
Big Bell
The Liberty Bell
The 9-11 Memorial Bell of Hope
The bells of St Clement Danes ["oranges and lemons"]
The Great Bell of Montreal
The bells of St Pauls Cathedral and Westminster Abbey
Bow Bells- broadcast on the radio during WW2 as a symbol of freedom and resistance to fascism...
Bells have been cast in Whitechapel for over six hundred years. Shakespeare would have walked past this foundry and heard the bells, in 1588 the people of England rejoiced in the victory over the Spanish Armada, and Whitechapel bells pealed the news across the land - and in 1918 and 1945, they rejoiced again as bells announced the end of war. Bells made here, or restored here were rung as we entered the new millennium at the start of 2000.
For centuries, those who have laboured here have been commemorated by plaques on the wall. This has been a true 'family' business.
And now they want to turn it into a "Boutique Hotel" The Planning Committee are making their decision about 'change of use' today.
The Gentle Author says
The planning regulations for Change of Use for industrial premises are precise. Firstly, the owner must prove that the previous use is no longer viable. There is no evidence of this with the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Secondly, the owner must prove that no-one wanted to buy the premises and continue the previous use. In this case, UK Historic Building Preservation Trust offered to buy the foundry to run it as a working foundry before the sale went through to Raycliff. Thirdly, the owner must market the property for a year seeking a company to continue the previous use. Raycliff have not done this.

Tower Hamlets Planning Committee’s legal responsibility is to decide the Optimum Viable Use for the foundry. By its nature, there can be only one Optimum Viable Use. So, while a boutique hotel might be viable, it is obvious that the Optimum Viable Use for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is as a foundry.
It does seem that Tower Hamlets have, thus far, ignored the pleas of the local people, and the offer of the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, to maintain the foundry.
This is Robert Oliver- his family have worked at the FouNdry for 250 years - Robert is holding a bell made by his late father.
Along with thousands of others, I signed the petition to preserve this place. I really hope that THPC reconsider earlier decisions, and recognise that we will lose something very precious if they allow the developers to have their way.
Today is the day...

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Comfort Me With Apples...

...for I am faint with love.
This verse from the Song of Solomon always amused me when I was much younger. OK, I admit, we did sit in Bible Class giggling about much of that book - I hope I have a more mature attitude now.
But do I think apples are a comfort food at this time of year. For many people, biting into a fresh, juicy, crisp apple is a delight- but I love them cooked, when their flesh becomes sweet and soft and soothing. 
There wasn't much food to bring back from Norfolk, but there were 4 small eating apples which were beginning to look a little withered and tired. I had leftover chunk of marzipan in the fridge - so I grated that into a bowl, with some raisins, a spoonful of demerara sugar and a knob of butter.
Stuffed into the cored apples [I'd cut a slit in the peel round 'the Equator' of each] they baked in the oven alongside the main course to make a delightful pud. 

And a spoonful of cool yogurt was an easy sauce
Then on Monday a friend brought a bag of larger apples from his orchard. This is my one-pint Pyrex ceramic loaf dish - and it makes just enough for three average [or two generous] portions of Eve's Pudding.

I use an incredibly simple recipe.
First peel and chop up enough apples to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle over 1 tsp sugar. Cover the dish and microwave for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, weigh one egg, and add the same weight of soft marg, sugar and flour [if it is plain add 1 level tsp of baking powder] add 1 tbsp milk. Beat till smooth with an electric hand mixer, and then pour this over the cooked apples. Bake at 180ยบ [fan] for 20 minutes till golden brown. Serve with yogurt, custard, cream or ice cream. Again I was able to cook it in the oven alongside the main course. 
I may make some of this gift of apples into pies for the freezer. Or maybe crumbles. 
What is your favourite apple pudding?

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

I Take My Hat Off To You For This Tutorial...

... as the Actress said to the Bishop.
I just have to share this one- because it is so easy and you just never know when someone will need to dress as a Pope, or a Bishop. I wanted to make a Mitre for the bishop in the play, so I looked on Pinterest for inspiration. 
Believe or not, there are dozens of these hats online - mainly posted by Catholic friends- it seems that when the Bishop [or even the Pope] visits their parishes, the children love to dress up. 
You remember those paper hats we made as children from folded newspapers?
Well if you make two, and fold one round and tuck it into the other, you end up with a bishop's hat.
I looked at the many online instructions [such as these] and began with a paper version, then attempted to make a hat using the leftover purple fabric.
It was a bit floppy at first.
I realised I needed to actually sew the centre slit closed, and put some card triangles into the hat for stiffening [cereal packet weight] 
Having done that, I wrapped them round and sewed them together at the side edges, and then trimmed the hem with a piece of decorative ribbon. This worked really well. I stitched the top points together, and here's my Mitre.

Now if only Bob were a member of the Anglican clergy, I could happily spend all my time making embroidered ecclesiastical vestments for him...

Monday, 11 November 2019

Caped Crusaders

I have always had a fondness for capes and cloaks. When I was a student, my landlady showed me an offer in her Woman's Own Magazine, for a cloak pattern [this was back in 1975] I sent off my 40p. It needed 3½metres of fabric- but my Dad had spotted a Tailor in Norwich with a closing down sale - I got some lovely heavyweight Trevira suiting for £1 a metre and whipped up a cloak which I wore for years. I swished and swirled my way happily around campus. When maxi dresses were in fashion, it was an ideal outer garment for going to parties etc. 
In 1981, Bob needed a Wizard Outfit - so I added an extra 50cm to the hem, cheap black lining fabric, spray painted with stars. And it became a dressing up cloak after that, and the added length has remained.

But there have been many other cloaks - Superhero cloaks for young friends [and 8 teachers] and Rosie's Cat Cape - which is still proving useful on Nursery Dress Up days.
This year, I'm doing Ferndown First's Play Costumes, and the production is Robin Hood.
"That's OK" I said, "I did that ten years ago, so I have some ideas and patterns already"
This one is slightly different - no need for a Town Crier or Taxi Drivers - but there is  a bishop, and the script specifies King Richard and Maid Marion both need a cloak.

Distinct similarity here. I have yet to find a belt, and get the sword down from the loft. The cloak is made from the old blue Kirby Muxloe curtains [the matching pair to those currently hanging up in the Ferndown Dining Room]
The bishop's robe is ecclesiastical purple, his cloak is one of the old red Cornerstones Dining Room curtains [my SIL Marion passed on to me a much nicer pair in August] I am going to provide a cross on a chain for him to wear too.
Maid Marion's dress is a 1970's maxi from the Stash, cut down to fit an 8 year old.
I'm having a lot of fun doing these - but working to a tight deadline - so there are cut-up dining room curtains all over the dining table, and we have been eating our meals in the kitchen or on our laps in the lounger for a few days. Bob is wonderfully tolerant of my Crafting Chaos!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Posting And Pausing

Aren't this year's Christmas stamps lovely? You can see them all here. I shall buy lots, and continue my custom of using them all year. 
A couple of people have mentioned the Advent Pause to me recently. If you'd like to take part [explanation click here] then add a comment at the end of this post.
Christmas will be here before we know it - but there are a lot of things to get through first. It will be good to plan some reflective moments in all that busy-ness. 

Friday, 8 November 2019

A Penny For Your Thoughts

"To spend a penny" is one of the many coy euphemisms for going to the loo with which our language abounds. The first ladies' conveniences which had a coin-in-the-slot mechanism appeared outside London's Royal Exchange in the 1850s - although the first usage of the phrase in print didn't appear til 1945. Men's toilets have traditionally always been free [typical!]
Fortunately most places these days offer free facilities, and many also have areas where people can change a baby's nappy, and disabled folk have room for wheelchairs, grab bars, lower basins etc. This is all how it should be.
Sadly there is still little recognition of the fact that many women are travelling with a baby in a buggy and may themselves need the loo. Cubicles are so tiny that it is often impossible to take the buggy in with you - and you cannot leave the child outside unattended, nor yet leave the buggy, and somehow balance baby on your lap while you go about your business. Liz was complaining that at times she has had to wedge the door open with the buggy half in/half out of the cubicle to she can go to the loo and watch Rosie. It is well over 30 years since I was doing that sort of thing, and it hasn't changed much.
We stopped for 'tea and a wee' on our long journey home on Tuesday, and I was interested to see that the Chievely Services have installed new loos. 
There was a poster explaining the advantages of the new fittings on the inside of the cubicle door. Reductions in water consumption, energy use, flush-times - with greater hygiene all round.
But the grammar police got there before I did.
"Here's some facts" has been amended to Here are some facts"
And "95% less allergens" now reads "95% fewer airborne germs"
Somebody clearly got her knickers in a twist about this!