Friday, 26 August 2016

Getting Stoned In Swanage

We planned a day exploring Swanage.  I found a really good route for a walk on the BBC website here.  I'd always thought of Swanage as just a place with a good beach - but there is so much more to this charming Dorset town. We both took lots of photos. The key people in the story are John Mowlem and his nephew George Burt.
John was skilled in the use of stone as a building material. He recognised the potential of the local Purbeck stone. He improved the way stones could be transported to the Quay and shipped round Britain - and soon Mowlem's company were building houses,  pavements, churches everywhere,  especially in London. Mowlem became very rich.  He ploughed his wealth back into his home town.  It was from here that the Purbeck stone had been mined, and so he wanted to ensure that the local workers enjoyed some of the benefits too.
More than that,  as the ships returned,  having deposited their stones in the capital, they needed ballast for their holds. John shrewdly filled them with scrap stone and ironwork. His nephew George carried on the tradition. He used these bits and pieces in the structures he built in Swanage.
Which is why, when they erected a monument to celebrate King Alfred's victory over the Danes at the Battle of Swanage in 977 Mowlem topped it with three Russian cannonballs which came to London after the Crimean War. We shall overlook the true facts here -  the romantic Victorians rewrote the story, in reality there was no battle - the fleet most likely foundered in one of the violent storms which happen on this stretch of coast. 

Further along is the Wellington Clock Tower.  Originally put up near London Bridge,  the clock didn't work,  and the builders ran out of money, so omitted the statue of the Iron Duke which was meant to go on top. Furthermore, the tower was in the way of the traffic.  So George fetched that back to Dorset too.

When the Mercers' Hall in the City of London was demolished, he salvaged the facade to front Swanage Town Hall in the High Street.  You can see the  emblem of the Mercers over the door - two cherubs offering a  length of cloth to the Virgin Mary. I am not quite sure why they didn't drape the fabric a little more decorously over her bare chest!

Opposite is the Purbeck House Hotel,  decorated with leftover granite chippings from the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park.  The hotel grounds and gardens are lovely - Neptune looks down from another rescued London archway,  and walls are decorated with repurposed plaques. 

All over the town you will find mismatched iron bollards from London streets and churchyards.

Burt took over the family firm and carried on his uncle's 'recycling' habits
To this day,  the Mowlem company logo is seen on building sites everywhere throughout the country - but the man is best remembered in his home town.

I'll do a second post with more pictures tomorrow... 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

A Man In His Prime

I love numbers  - here's a sum - multiply these four prime numbers
3 x 5 x 17 x 53
that is the number of days I have been married to Bob
this is the man whose smile lights up my days
whose faith, hope and love give me strength
I thank God daily for him
and currently, this is my favourite picture of him!

Happy Anniversary Bob - thank you for 37 fabulous years!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Hanging Around In The Lounge.

The curtains in our lounge are at least twenty years old [or so the lady who lived there before it became The Manse told me - she bought them!] They've done the job, but they are green and red floral, in a room with blue walls and blue sofas. But it is a huge window, and new curtains would cost a fortune. Here's the old curtains [at the Pancake Party in the spring]
What I really wanted was something in shades of blue and cream/beige.
Just before we went on holiday, I was in the local Pramacare CS. They had a basket of brand new curtains in just the shades I wanted.
They were a couple of inches too short, but had very deep hems.
I bought two pairs [it's a wide window with patio doors in the middle]
I let down the old hems and pressed them, and the curtains are currently hanging up. In a week or two, when they have 'dropped' I shall hem them properly [also seam them in pairs, so I have just two wide curtains]
Oh, it looks so much brighter and fresher! Very pleased - and they only cost me £17.
I was watching stuff on i-player whilst getting the hems and hooks sorted. Particularly 'Fill your home for Free' with Kirstie Allsopp - and now the new series with Gok Wan. 
Some of their makeovers and upcycling projects are good, but others do not appeal to me at all.
But I do approve of the idea of re-using stuff that might otherwise go to landfill.
There was still some of the mixture left in my jamjar, so I had a go at polishing up the Kitchen Chairs.
We don't have room in this kitchen for a table and chairs- so they are scattered round the house in other rooms. These chairs are at least 30 years old, and came from my in-laws home in Kent. Just a few minutes of attention has turned their tired, grubby, dry finish to a glowing honey colour. Do you think I am getting addicted to the smell of boiled linseed oil?

One final unexpected bonus - someone urgently needed a set of long curtains to go at a window in a magnolia lounge. I delivered the old curtains - and came away with a tin of beeswax polish. Stage Two of the chair renovations begins next week!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Awash With Colour

In the first week of our holiday in Norfolk, Bob cut some sheets of wood to fit the sides of the hexagonal Garden Room, and then painted. It seems that people do not refer to them as Summerhouses any more. Well we certainly use ours all year round, and in the Spring and Autumn, there's sometimes a chilly draught, so we thought windbreaks would be a good idea.
He also put some undercoat on the new garage door. [that's 'new' in the sense that it was a gift from a friend whose was getting a new front door and kindly passed on her old one] 
Then Steph came down for the final weekend, and we all got out our brushes. Bob finished off the door

Then Steph got out her acrylics and began painting a triptych on the Garden Room Panels.

I just painted my nails!

Steph's mural will take a few more visits before it is completed, but I think it is going to look splendid.
She has done most of the work on the first panel, a few details yet to be added. 
The row of beach huts will eventually extend all the way round.
What a talented girl!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Keeping On The Rails

We have had lots of fun watching the latest BBC2 series from Ruth,  Alex  and Peter,  entitled Full Steam Ahead
They have been looking at the way the development of the railways changed life in Britain.  It has been a super series - just one programme left on Thursday (but you can always catch up on i-player) Ruth,  who has a somewhat bizarre wardrobe,  remains her enthusiastic self.  The two blokes banter away happily and work hard as ever,  shovelling coal,  sorting mail and learning old crafts.  The  Open University is giving away an informative double-sided map to accompany the show.  Mine arrived last week.  
The thing I am sad about is that the closure of so many of our branch lines in the 60s was such a short-sighted decision.  When we moved to Dereham in 1965, the trains ran regularly to Swaffham,  carrying goods and passengers (and all the Grammar School boys - and the Swaffham girls came to Dereham to the Girls' High) Mr Cocker,  from our church operated the signal box.  I went with Dad to visit him there and he showed me all the levers.  
It has taken all this time for the volunteer enthusiasts to restore the track and rolling stock.  I know there's much fuss at the minute about the inefficiency of passenger trains - but railways are safer than roads and better for the environment.  Dr  Beeching has a lot to answer for.  But many forget that the real culprit was minister of transport,  Ernest Marples,  who went further than Dr B recommended and destroyed track beds as well as closing stations.
Still, we did get a gentle song from Flanders and Swann out of it,  mentioning my beloved Kirby Muxloe! 

UPDATE - Sorry, I forgot to post the link to the OU page where you can order the free map - click here

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Rosie's Holiday

We had a lovely evening BBQ in Adrian and Marion's garden. Rosie enjoys playing with the toys on her chair - and looks to see if you have noticed
Liz and I took Rosie for a swim at Dereham Leisure Centre. The Family Changing Cubicles are excellent. I love the safety seat, where Mum can strap the baby in, while she gets herself changed. Rosie wasn't quite sure, I think she was aware of the fact she was halfway up the wall!

I love this teeshirt which reads "Apple of Daddy's eye" That's a bible phrase "Keep me as the apple of your eye" [Psalm 17;8] - meaning "Keep me as someone very precious to you" Some scholars think it can also be translated 'keep me as the little daughter of your eye' - when a child looks into her Dad's eyes, she sees a tiny reflection of herself there.

Rosie is certainly very precious to her Dad and Mum - and to the rest of us. It was a real privilege to be able to spend our holiday time together, watching her growing and responding - and smiling and giggling.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Take Up Your Mat ...

I love the Bible Story, which appears in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke where Jesus heals a paralysed man. The guy was unable to get to Jesus by himself, so his four good friends carried him, then let him down, through the roof of the house right in front of Jesus. And Jesus healed him, and said ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 
Great story - and the guy wouldn't need to lie on his mat begging anymore, but that didn't mean he could leave it cluttering up the houseowner's property! [I do hope the four friends helped repair the roof afterwards] Anyway, enough of Mark Ch 2 [and Lego]
I have a self-healing mat. Yes, I know it sounds a weird thing- but those of you who do quilting and papercrafting and use a rotary cutter will know about these. I have had mine for years. At least 20 [I know this because I had it in London before we moved to Leicester] It is made of some sort of polymer, which is able to 'heal' itself when cut with a scalpel or rotary cutter.
But mine has got hard and dull, and there are lots of cuts in it. I recently came across an article about caring for your mat. Who knew? Nobody told me! I have always kept it flat, but I didn't know it needed a regular soak in the bath as well. There are full instructions here

After so many years of serious neglect, I suspect my mat will never regain its original smoothness - but the baths [I repeated it 3 times over 3 days] have certainly restored the bright green colour, and the surface has lost a lot of the dullness, and feels much better. Preliminary test cuts with a scalpel show it seems to heal properly too. 

One other important tip to pass on - and possibly more useful to you frugalistas out there. Thank you to my daughter Steph for promptly sharing this with me. It's about Nectar Cards
In the past, I have sometimes saved my points for the whole year then cashed them all in at Christmas. I haven't done that since we moved to Dorset - but Steph tells me that now you need to cash in your points within six months of acquiring them. So bear that in mind if you let them build up - you really do not want to lose them!