Monday, 27 July 2015

My Hermes!!

It has been a particularly drab and downcast week here in the Midlands.  Showers of rain interspersed with heavy rain and some more showers, nice!  Coupled with the fact that last Friday evening, the old boiler in the cottage broke down, gah!  I contacted our builder, who has yet to do any work for us, first thing on Monday and asked if he had a trusted plumber who could take a look.  He replied within an hour with a name and number and I gave the plumber a call.  He in turn was with us in half an hour and diagnosed a pump failure, got on to a supplier who amazed us all by saying that parts were still available!

Plumber phoned me back with a quote and I then asked how much for a new boiler, he gave me an estimate and popped round the next evening to measure up for capacity etc.  On Friday he fitted the new Worcester Bosch boiler, now working like a dream.  No pressure to purchase new boiler, as he was happy to fit a part that was still available. 

  Before, during and after.

The old monster noisy Potterton has gone, and in it's place a nice shiny new (and considerably smaller) Worcester Bosch 2015 model.

As the boiler was fitted on Friday, we could not go on our usual Friday outing, we had to stay in and supply the lovely plumbers with tea, coffee and cake!  They will be back in September for our garage conversion, as they are part of the builder's team.

I've kept out of the charity shops for a short while and ended up popping into a couple in a nearby shopping area the other day.  I found this great M&S linen shirt, again with tab things on the arms that I have now removed, just £2.25 

Love the print, it looks like watercolour over a line drawing, so pretty.

This however, I bought on a whim as I thought it was a fake, I now think it is real

The edges are rolled and hand stitched.  It cost £1.99, and on the Hermes website the scarves this size are £280, yes, two hundred and eighty pounds!  All is not quite as good as it looks though, I found a really neat hole (in the bottom right corner on this photo) when I got it home, cigarette end sized, so neat it looks lasered out and hard to spot as it is within the swirly part of the pattern.  No matter, I now own a Hermes scarf that cost very little and will look pretty much the same as if I did pay £280 for it, only I know there is a hole, oh, and you of course, but don't tell!  

I'm trying to find out more about this scarf, my research tends to suggest it might be a  pattern from 1972, if you have any info, please comment.

We had another rainy canal walk the other Sunday, spotted a heron and got a bit too close to the outskirts of Kidderminster that it was no longer pretty.

 Bridge no 20 Wolverley, by the Lock pub

I am not a fan of deep water but am always strangely drawn to standing on edges, these lock gates are quite tall and holding back a lot of water

Next to the canal lock gates, the horse passage!

We walked as far as the next lock, by which time Kidderminster was in full view

 Eek! Suburbia!  Time to turn back then

We met this chap again, obviously his patch, he hangs around here

I crept up on him but he was very aware of my presence

Too close!

On the way home we stopped off in Rushock for a cup of coffee in the car, by this time it was chucking it down so it was cosy just to sit in the car while the rain ran down the windows

 On the house front, we are having problems getting our summerhouse delivered, it was bought from a national chain who pass your details to the manufacturer to contact you direct for delivery.  Five weeks and no contact, not happy.  Been on to supplier who is chasing up but no joy.  We've made a summerhouse sized space in the garden so only that particular one will do.  I do not want to cancel the order as the summerhouse is a lovely one, but this is getting silly.  Good job the weather is not good enough to use it really.

I'm getting mightily fed up of cold and rain, and waiting for the building to commence!  

At least we no longer have to wash in cold water and can also put the heating on low if we need it. 


Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Witley shade of pale

Armed with a positive weather forecast and last minute change of plan, we packed our picnic bag and headed off to nearby Witley Court, an English Heritage managed property in our own county of Worcestershire.

Witley was a palatial estate during the Victorian era, home to many decadent parties involving the rich, famous and royal of the time, and we visit often.  It has a bit of everything, well, apart from a roof and any liveable rooms! 

It was devastated by a fire in 1937, the fire was spotted but the lack of maintenance of the pump to pump water from the fountains to the house in case of such an emergency was it's downfall.  As the insurance company failed to payout to restore the damaged wing, the then owner sold the house to a scrap merchant, who took what was sellable and left it in a dreadful state.    

Amazingly, there is still plaster on the walls in places, very ornate, still chalky to the touch, and open to the elements.

We arrived just as the Perseus and Andromeda fountain was firing up for it's first display of the day.  There was hardly a soul around and we enjoyed a wander around the grounds as if we owned the place, very nice!

 The summerhouses in the gardens are stone and oh, so grand

There are so many nooks and crannies, each time we go I spot some detail I hadn't really noticed much before
Overgrown balustrades, dusty, algae covered gates and rotting windows 

Cobwebs, wrought iron staircases to nowhere and fallen fountains.

The sense of grandeur and decadence cannot be ignored, this place is huge!

The conservatory, despite no longer having a glass roof, is still larger than your average 5 bed detached house, the lavender and grape vines still growing there as if nothing has changed

Ghostly bare windows stare out through the John Nash designed portico, said to be the largest portico on a country house in England.

A bit of fancy flooring in one of the few parts left with a roof 

charred wood in the ballroom, where Elgar used to visit and play the piano

still leaves a mark on your hands after almost 80 years

We sat by the front pool and watched the clouds go by for a while

On the house front, we have completed the arch to the garden

We took the wood from the pergola, the hole will be filled in by the summerhouse, when it arrives

The line of stones in front of the pergola is where the stream is going, it all looks a bit tatty at present, but it is a work in progress

If you follow me on facebook, you will know there have been no charity shop purchases this week, but a rather nice £1 black broderie anglaise skirt I bought, is being transformed into a top

I found a pull on shirt I quite like the shape of and laid it over the inverted folded skirt, and cut around it

Then stitched it all together, I used French seams as I didn't think the edges of the fabric would be too stable


I've since hemmed the bottom and am using some of the leftover waistband to put a cuff on the sleeves. I need bias binding for the neckline and have yet to find mine, I know there's a roll of black bias binding somewhere!

I have some jeans to alter for OH as well, so this week my evenings will be spent sewing, ah well, nothing on the telly anyway! 

Oh, if you were wondering about the post title, the 60's band, Procol Harum filmed some of the video for their song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at Witley Court, and it is of interest to historians as it shows Witley in it's pre-restored state in 1967.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Dog days

Rather appropriately, I thought, I spotted this sun dog in the sky the other day. 

 As we await the start of the building work, due to begin at the end of August, and are in limbo until it is completed, I realised that this time of year is also referred to as the dog days.  Days of warm weather and stagnation, neither moving forward nor back, becalmed and on hold. Exactly how I feel then!

Ah well, at least we had a lovely warm and lazy day over in beautiful Shropshire last Friday, visiting the English Heritage managed Buildwas Abbey and the rarely open Morville Hall (a tenanted National Trust property).

The weather was quite cloudy and the wind had a chill to it when we reached Buildwas, a fairly compact abbey near Telford.  

There were swallows (or were they swifts?) swooping around the grounds, picking off midges for lunch.  Of course, try as I might I couldn't photograph any of them!

I love all the stonework, and the marks where the roof was fixed

No, I have no idea why I'm pointing at the sign either!

 The ceiling is amazing, and in superb condition, considering it must be over 800 years old

Part of the floor is still covered in these beautiful glazed tiles

We had tea and cake in the tiny car park, which was secluded and surrounded by blackthorn

Unfortunately, Buildwas is closed for the Winter on the first of October, otherwise I'd be back for these sloes.

We then had a leisurely drive to Morville Hall, a place we had not intended to visit.  It is tenanted and only open to the public for eight days a year.  Coincidentally, it was open on Friday so we popped in.  What a stunning place it turned out to be, with friendly and knowledgeable staff too! 

 In the photos above, you can see the ha-ha,  to keep the livestock out 

As the property is occupied, photography is limited inside the house, they ask that you do not take photos of the family photographs and the children's bedrooms, but I didn't want modern furniture in my shots either so these are all I took.

Stunning old door

 Elizabethan plaster ceiling in the kitchen!!

Lovely stone fireplace in the hallway

Fabulous views from the master bedroom, I wouldn't want to get up

Amazing views from the dining room too

Outside the weather was hot and sticky, but the garden was cool in parts and extremely fragrant

 Our garden arch is coming along, but doesn't look as good as this one

We had a picnic lunch in the car park, well, field.

Then wandered round the churchyard and into the cool of the church, dedicated to St Gregory the Great

Even the sheep are in the shade

Beautiful lychgate

The door has some beautiful old ironwork

The note is to remind visitors to close the door behind them to keep birds out.

Inside was cool an escape from the heat outside

We drove home through Kinver, where we stopped for a woodland stroll

Today's outfit: M&S ozone jeans, free with vouchers, refashioned Ebay top £4.89, Spirit bag
£1, sparkly denim lace up Vans £1 and Crocs sandals old and bought in sale (I changed footwear halfway through the day!) Toes painted in new charity shopped Revlon nail polish 33p.

I've eased off on the charity shop bargains this week, with the build approaching I don't need more stuff to store.  I snapped up this shirt I had spotted the day before for £3.99, now reduced to £1.  I've already removed those pesky sleeve tabs, and the drawstring from the hemline.

In the same shop I purchased these three items for a pound for the lot. I'm now wearing the Revlon, the colour is After Party

Finally, yesterday I purchased this Red Herring jacket for a pound, to replace a check jacket I donated after seeing how unflattering it was in photos!

I also purchased this lovely skirt, I want the fabric and will try to refashion it into a top, watch this space!  It was a pound, and is black, despite looking a bit washed out in the photo.

Hopefully, I will have photos of a finished garden arch to show you next week, and maybe the start of the summerhouse too!