Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Out and about

August has been a deliberately quiet month for me and I planned it that way.  I tried to organise my diary that I had time to myself in order to do what I wanted to do and this included lots of sewing.  I have made 12 hospital gowns or pyjamas for Pyjama Fairies mainly because in September I am giving a talk about the charity to a women's group and  needed some garments to show them.  I have also sat outside on the patio and read a book or two and I have also looked after my grandchildren as it is the school holidays and thereby hangs a tale.

I had the children at the start of the holidays so decided to let them do the high ropes at a local park.  I went to book them in and they went to the playground.  Next thing I heard was E wailing as she had fallen off a roundabout.  Well after a visit to hospital it was discovered she had fractured her elbow and so had to spend their 2 week Mexican holiday in plaster and all under Granny's watch!!

I looked after them last week and decided to go to Wimpole Hall and Farm and we all enjoyed the day out -
first at the playground, then feeding the squealing pigs

watching the cow being milked

and they loved it!  After lunch I made a bargain with my grandson - we could go to the adventure playground if we then went and looked round the Hall, that was my treat for the day.

Do you know what - they loved looking round the house and this was entirely down to the 'guides' in each room who provided really interesting information for them.  My grandson was impressed when I got full marks for knowing that the last owner, Mrs Bambridge was the daughter of Rudyard Kipling.  Well I knew that from my trip to Batemans so was that cheating?!!  The children learnt about the 'trompe l'eoil' painting and why the backs of some of the doors had rough baize - so that the servants were aware they were entering the posh  part of the house (it was also sound proofing as well).  It was such a success that I might take them to other places.

Tuesday was my day for looking after Will and as the weather was good I decided that he would like Castle Ashby again.  This time we arrived as the Meerkats were going to be fed. 
Looking for the keeper with food!!
 While we waited we looked at the -

The Kunekune pigs
and we saw a very large rabbit with enormous ears.  Will shouted that he could see another one
Digging a hole
Almost there
Gone underground!!
that was digging this hole and immediately disappeared underground!!
It was now time to return to the meerkats who we racing round their enclosure and getting very excited.  They are not fed there, but pass through a tunnel to another pen for feeding but one meerkat was always trying to get through the tunnel which was blocked
and then at last they were through -

I wondered what they were fed on -
Grubs that were alive and wriggling!!

Will and I also saw this field of 'elephants' that he loved.
A sculpture of four adults and one baby elephant.

What impressed me the most however, was that when we walked through the gardens he asked me if we could go and see the Mulberry Bush!!  I was gobsmacked that he remembered from April and he is only three!  Maybe it was because we sang the Nursery Rhyme "Here we go round the Mulberry Bush etc"  We sang it again, needless to say.

August Mini Mania is due to be shown tomorrow, but alas dear reader, I have cheated.  I will explain all when next I blog.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Charity giving

This is a complete departure from my normal writing and I hope you will forgive me for including something so personal, and quite short, on my blog page.

My sister has had Alzheimer's for  2.5 years but we knew that something was wrong long before that: little things like repeating a story and thinking it was the first time.  What is more distressing is that she knows that she has it and even now becomes very upset and tearful because she knows that it is incurable.  There is only 19 months difference in age between us and as so many children do, we fought and quarrelled together, but as we grew older we would talk on the phone for hours and go out together. 

It upsets me now that I cannot ring her and have a telephone conversation because she no longer remembers what goes on from day to dayWhat is worse, she is forgetting what happened in the past.

Around 225,000 people develop dementia in the UK every year - that's equivalent to one person every three minutes and so in September I am taking part in the Alzheimer Society's Memory Walk to raise money to try and develop a world without dementia.  The walk itself is only 8kms (5 miles) but it is the fundraising that is so important.

So please support me by going to my fundraising page and donating

Thank you so much and I hope that the link works!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Kent Weekend part 2 and other things

As promised here is the second part of my Kent weekend even if it was weeks ago, plus a few other items.

The weather was glorious whilst I was in Kent and on Saturday we went to Rye in the morning, and after a coffee we went on another tour of this lovely, and historic hilltop town, with its cobbled streets.  Well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
No enhancements, this was the colour of the sky!! 

What we were doing at the same time was 'geocaching' which is a brilliant way of getting children out walking and keeping their interest.  You require a GPS phone and an app and then find the cache nearest to you.  I think we found two in Rye.

Our next stop for geocaching was in Biddenden and we found one near the village and then walked into their Millennium Field where the children raced on ahead looking for the first cache
 When we found the second in the field we also discovered this wonderful sundial -
Each square on the plinth is a month, which you stand on
Yes, it was 4.00 in the afternoon, standing on July!
"Walk in the sun now and always" for December/January
On Sunday we took a picnic and headed to Fairlight church.  We had our picnic on the Downs with the church on one side and the lifeboat lookout on the other

and in the distance Camber Sands
and then climbed the tower.

What I was not expecting was this -
The Carillon
but I did have a go and played a reasonable rendition of Amazing Grace using the music that you can see behind the wires.  The children also had a go and we did feel sorry for people living nearby who had to put up with the awful noise of the church bells, badly played, at weekends. We were actually playing the church bells because we passed them on our way to the top of the tower.
Looking North

Looking South with the English Channel in the background
What a wonderful and hot weekend.

A few days later I went by train to York with three friends.  We spent the morning walking round the wonderful streets. 
Love the overhanging upper floors
Georgian facades

We walked the old city walls
York Minster in the background

The front façade
After a short tour of the Minster, the Chapter House and Crypt we headed for Betty's where we had to queue for delicious 'Afternoon Tea' and fell into conversation with two Chinese girls who had no idea what to do with the tea strainer!!  We advised them how to cope with the jam and cream on a scone and discovered that the Chinese think that the English only talk about the weather and always carry an umbrella.  We didn't have an umbrella between the four of us!!  We had a great outing and lots of talking, but not about the weather.
I must go back to York for a longer visit - too much to see and do in a day.
Craft has rather been on the back burner during these summer months as I have been working on the vegetable garden in Cambridge. I am not sure whether I mentioned that during the Spring my son decided to turn the 'veg patch' into raised beds
In the foreground bed, potatoes mounded up, with carrots and beetroot covered
He has planted sunflowers around the edges of the beds

and this one is about 7 foot high with an enormous head.  We have been harvesting lots of vegetables, with more to come.

I did manage to complete the July Mini Mania, 'New York Beauty', but it was hard work.  It even had hand sewing in it, that I loathe doing in my patchwork.  I quite openly admit that I am cheating for August's mini but no more on that until the end of the month!
July - New York Beauty's nod to the Hungry Caterpillar!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Chester Farm

In theory, I should be writing part 2 of my Kent trip, but I haven't had time because for the last two weeks I have been at Chester Farm from 8.30am - 4.00pm and have been too tired to do anything when I got home.  Needless to say I did have an evening social life but that just compounded my tiredness.  Why a full two weeks; well here goes.

For the last years Chester Farm have invited the public to "Come and archaeologically dig for a day" during the last two weeks in July and that is how I first got involved.  This year I was asked, with another volunteer J, to be responsible for 'Finds Processing' because there was a backlog.  I love doing this as I am no longer able to crawl on the floor trowelling the ground and would prefer to be upright.

The area being 'dug' was the site of the Victorian tennis court and the archaeologist was not expecting to find much!  How wrong he was.

'Finds Processing' is actually a posh word for, amongst other things - Pot Washing and we have seen some lovely pieces of Roman pottery and some that were everyday pieces -

This rough bowl would have been cut down from a larger storage vessel perhaps because it got damaged at the top.
A triple vase ...

... from the bottom which was missing
The triple vase would have had three vases at the neck.
Three pieces make up this vessel
An almost complete storage vessel that probably broke when it came out of the ground.

The two photographs above show the full extent of the dig.  In the bottom picture on the extreme right you can see a number of people standing talking.  Well they have discovered a human skull and since the photo was taken another one has been discovered and a baby.  I have taken photos but they are not allowed to be shown on the Internet.  Skeletons are treated with great respect.

The two photos above were taken at the beginning of the week and it was hot and the skies were blue; what they do not show is the wind and by Thursday we had a gale blowing making it very difficult for us washing pots.  Our egg trays where we dry items, blew away, everything had to be weighted down and we were beginning to get irritable.  Some artefacts are in small finds bags and very light so we couldn't allow the wind to blow them away and we moved indoors to a big barn.  So much easier.  However the next day we moved out again under our tent and carried on washing, but this time I was responsible for 'Doris'!

'Doris' was uncovered in February and named after our hurricane of the same name.   She is a human skeleton and when found the contractors stopped working.  After reassurances to the police that it was NOT a murder but a Roman skeleton work continued. The archaeologist advised us that she was a teenager, because a broken bracelet was found with her.

So I had to clean 'Doris' up by washing the soil off her and the first bag was the skull.  Immediately the archaeologist realised that she was not a young girl but probably an older woman as her lower mandible had no teeth and no sockets where the teeth should have been which indicated that the holes had grown over.  Her upper jaw did have sockets and I cleaned two teeth.  It was very delicate and painstaking work as the bones were in a poor condition after so long in the ground, but it was a very satisfying task and I treated her gently.

After this I had to wash a far weightier item that had a slight hollow in its top.
A 'Saddle Quern' sitting in a wheelbarrow after washing, made of gritstone

The grain would have been put in the centre and then rubbed with another stone to make flour.  If limestone had been used large pieces of the stone would have broken off and gone into the flour.  With gritstone they are finer, but regardless of the stone used Roman flour was quite adulterated and hence their teeth became quite ground down.  One of 'Doris's' teeth was.

There were other interesting items found.  This was about 0.5 inches wide slightly curved and made of bone and quite delicate -
Could it be part of a Roman comb?

Barbotine  pottery
Barbotine decoration was made using a 'piping' method.

This is a tray of Late Pre Roman Iron Age (LPRIA) pottery washed and drying and a great deal of this has been found this year.

Straight edge is the foundations of a house bordering a Roman road that runs North/South, but a Roman road running East/West had already been uncovered on the site, with houses beside it.

This final photo could be a Roman Kiln.

Notice the dark red splotches - these are ironstones (our local stone) that have been burnt by something very hot, placed in the pit.

It has been a very exciting two weeks and our archaeologist has now revised the size of the town from 600 people to 1,000 because of the area of the suburbs that were uncovered this year.

The 'pot washers' were always one step ahead of those digging but now we have a lot more artefacts still to wash.  A worthwhile two week dig.