Friday, 31 July 2020


Yesterday was another day of waiting in for a delivery. Although it was scheduled to arrive between 8am and 10 pm, the van broke down and I didn't receive my order until mid afternoon. It's just one of those things, frustrating, but not intentional or a result of bad service and they did keep me informed. The good news is that there was only one substitution and I was happy to accept the alternative choice - chicken thighs instead of drumsticks. The freezer is full again and at a reduced cost as I had a £10 voucher to use. I'm entitled to another voucher as compensation for the delivery problem but I won't need any more frozen goods before the voucher expires so will see if my sister wants it rather than waste it.

I didn't attempt to start the bulk cooking yesterday so will be doing that today instead, plus a load of washing, and a bit of deadheading in the garden. The highlight of the day will be a Zoom catch up with J and L this afternoon. I'm looking forward to hearing all their news and hopefully we'll be able to agree a date for meeting face-to-face.

Tonight I fancy watching a musical. I know a performance of Tangled has been released on YouTube so that's a possibility, or I have the film version of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Lifestyle Changes | Taking Stock

The photos have nothing to do with the subject of this post but I thought you'd like something pretty to look at while I waffle on!

After a lot of thought I've decided to change how I record and assess my progress towards my lifestyle goals. The goals themselves haven't changed but I've reached the stage where I've given four of my goals (home, finance, community, positive outlook) the maximum rating, and another four goals (time management, healthy eating, living in the moment, losing attachment to material things) are all only one point away from the maximum. Of the two remaining goals, work on the garden is in hand and the rating will soon be amended to reflect that, and the final goal of being active is a work in progress.

After I'd finished reviewing my goals last month I did stop to wonder what it was that was stopping me awarding maximum marks on most of the goals. I've been feeling increasingly contented with life even with all the worries as a result of the pandemic and the lockdown and my days have settled into a rhythm that I'm happy with, and everything that needs to be done is getting done on time. The pandemic has put the decluttering project on hold but I have identified and segregated everything that has to go and will deal with it as soon as circumstances permit. My social life has inevitably changed but I have regular contact with family and friends, and have continued with the choir and the quizzes. I'll still monitor my ten sub goals but won't write a monthly post about progress. I achieved what I wanted from doing the monthly reviews and habits have been formed through focusing on certain aspects of life. 

There is one major part of my life that now needs my focus - losing weight and being active. I've struggled with this for a long time and although, for the majority of the time,  I do eat healthily I need to focus on developing the proper habits that enable me to lose weight and increase activity levels. I want this to be a lifestyle change, not a quick fix diet so I am aiming to lose at least one pound every week through a combination of calorie counting and restricted hours eating. I already eat a relatively restricted diet as a result of food allergies so I have no plans to add to that list of restricted foods except that I will focus on reducing the amount of sugar in my diet as I think that is contributing to diverticulitis flare ups. On the exercise front I want to gradually increase to follow the pattern of doing some form of exercise on two consecutive days, followed by a rest day. I'll still continue to do a selection of the knee strengthening exercises every day. 

I'm not setting targets in terms of how much weight I want to lose but more in terms of what I am able to achieve. My first target is to be able to walk up and down stairs properly as I currently take one step at a time, always leading with the same leg. I'll note my progress in my weekly reflections post - this is something I want to review more frequently than my previous monthly update because I need to correct any slips as quickly as possible.


The osteospurmum plants have secured their place in the garden. I haven't decided yet whether they'll be in pots or dotted about in the flower beds, but they'll definitely be there somewhere. I don't know if they are fully hardy to get through our winters so will need to investigate ... or maybe one of my UK friends may know the answer to that ... please?

The parcel finally arrived just after 6 pm yesterday evening so I didn't get out of the house in the end. The day started with sunshine but that didn't last for long and from mid morning it was chilly, so I was quite happy to be indoors in the warm.

The morning post brought notification from my optician that they have resumed eye tests. Mine was due back in March and my current glasses need a new prescription so I will make an appointment. They included the details of the checks and working practices in place to manage hygiene and social distancing which set my mind at rest a little. I don't want to leave it any longer so it's better to get it over and done with. Waterstones bookshop is next door to the opticians so, if the bookshop is people free when I've finished at the opticians, I will spend my final book token and treat myself to a couple of books. I think it may be possible to phone ahead so they can get the books ready for collection but I need to check that.

Even though I've said I want to avoid shops and busy places I am aware that I am stretching the boundaries I set for myself, with visits to NT properties, proposed shopping trips to greengrocers and bookshop, and essential medical appointments that can't be put off any longer. It seems inevitable though it's happening rather quicker than I'd hoped, but I can still take sensible precautions and spread out the 'leaving home'/'mixing with others' and try to handle my own easing of lockdown to a level I feel comfortable with. The library is due to announce their plans for loaning books so I will be interested to read how they've decided to manage the situation and if it seems okay, I'll have another option to get some more books.

This morning the Iceland delivery is due between 8 am and 10 am, so the morning is set aside to do a bit of cooking for the freezer. If I get everything I ordered I'll cobble up a tofu and mushroom curry and a veggie chilli. If there are substitutions, I'll just have to put my creative head on!

This afternoon, I'm hoping to get out to take some photos and then will carry on with the new piece of music I'm learning for tenor horn (with the rather boring title of Study No 36!). 

Wednesday, 29 July 2020


Despite my new found freedom I pulled up the drawbridge and spent yesterday at home. This is probably too much information, but I couldn't keep my breakfast down and felt tired and achy all day, a bit like a migraine without the pain. I've no idea what it was but after a good night's sleep, I feel fine this morning.

It might be another day indoors today as I'm waiting for a parcel, due to arrive any time between 7am and 7 pm! If it's here early enough I like to get out for a drive round if it rains, or a walk over to the canal with my camera if it stays fine.

I finally got my head around the food ordering. I have a list of regular cupboard and freezer items with amounts worked out for either a four or six week delivery. With that delivery I'll order enough fresh fruit and veg to last for a couple of weeks as well as the veg I need for the bulk cooking, plus any additional items needed for recipes or just to ring the changes. I discovered that the greengrocer in town opens at 7am every morning, so I will try going early to do a top up shop when necessary which should sort out the issue of keeping a supply of fresh produce at home ... that's what I'm hoping anyway. Divers and Sundry reminded me that I could also try the farmers markets as well. The delivery is booked for next Tuesday and once received, I'll have quite a lot of bulk cooking to do.

I've had a few enquiries about resuming tuition even though brass playing is still officially suspended. I've stuck to my guns and confirmed that I have retired but I did almost cave in when R enquired - I taught her from the age of eight through her mid teens and only stopped teaching her when Ced's illness took over our lives. Now an adult, she still plays with the band and wants to complete her music gradings so thought it would be nice to continue with me teaching her as I took her through the first five grades. I did think long and hard about it but in the end decided not to. I think it's the right decision for me as it would certainly have led to other enquiries from the band, which I don't want. That would be a huge backward step!

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

A Return to the New Normal!

First the good news ... Danielle and her husband have received their test results and are both negative for Covid 19. As I was only self isolating because of my contact with Danielle, I no longer need to continue isolating and can get back to my new normal.

It's too late to book a ticket to visit a National Trust property this week so I will pick something from my 'local places to visit' list for later in the week, maybe the priory at Edington or the churches at Potterne and Poulshot.

I will have a garden meet with my nephew's family as soon as the weather improves. It's been raining all weekend and most of yesterday, and although sunny days are forecast for the rest of the week, it's not looking too bright today ... but it is very early as I write this. Miss C transfers to senior school in September and, as with all the others before her, I've bought everything on her stationery list to help out. I usually take the child shopping, make quite an event of it, and then take him or her back home for the big reveal to parents but obviously that wasn't possible this year so we've changed it round. Her mum took her shopping yesterday and we did a WhatsApp video call while they were in the shop so I could be involved with the choices. They'll bring all the goodies round and do the big reveal to me later this week. I've heard from her mum that Miss C is delighted with all her goodies but is rather concerned about how much it all cost - I on the other hand was expecting it to be much more expensive than the £64 spent, so am quite happy! It's always difficult to judge how much it will cost because the different schools have their own requirements and the basic lists have changed considerably over the years. I now need to save up for two years time when it will be Miss E's turn and also the first time the stationery list will include a Welsh/English dictionary!

cosmos on a wet and windy day
I'm trying to decide on the planting scheme for the centre bed today. It's coming together slowly - if I could decide on the roses the other choices would be easier but I keep dithering on the rose. I'm looking for a deep pink shrub rose if you have any suggestions please? 

Monday, 27 July 2020

Me On Monday

Me on Monday is feeling a little too relaxed after a very lazy Sunday so I'll need to push myself to get going today. 

The garden won't need watering after a very wet weekend ...

taken through misted up glass, the back garden on a rainy Sunday afternoon

... and I only have to finish hoovering the carpets and then that's it as far as the housework is concerned as I did most of it on Saturday. So I just have to decide how to occupy my time today.

The only definite is that I will meet up with J and L via Zoom in place of our planned face to face meeting, which would have involved a rather delightful Afternoon Tea at Bowood Hotel. It was going to be a late birthday celebration for J so I am sure we will reschedule for the end of next month. 

As for the rest of the day, I don't know! I  haven't made any progress with the gradient jigsaw puzzle and it stares accusingly at me every time I go into the room. I could have another go at that, although I feel all jigsawed out so I'll simply pack it away and try again in the winter ... the proper time of year for completing jigsaws.

I should check the bookcase and choose a new book to lose myself in. A good murder mystery would be ideal if I have any of that genre left ... my sister has been very remiss in passing on her latest reads to me, and it's getting to the stage where I will have to buy my own! It's almost time for the next book in the Diversify Your Reading challenge - the August theme is 'contemporary', which according to Google means a novel set in the period after WWll through to the current day that deals with real life issues. I know I don't have anything suitable so any suggestions will be appreciated, please.

Or, I could work on a new piece of music. This could be a 'thing' for every time I have to self isolate (although I sincerely hope that it won't be a frequent occurrence) and I do have a selection of unplayed pieces to choose from. Yes, some time in the music room sounds perfect ... whether my actual playing will is another thing entirely!

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...
  • the cosmos and osteospurmum plants have been potted up and are now adding splashes of colour around the garden
  • buzzy bees!

  • rethinking part of the garden revamp - totally happy with the changes I've decided on
  • phone calls with friends and family
  • thoroughly enjoying my blogging friend Lyssa Medana's new book, 'Out of the London Mist'
  • my left knee, though still painful, is feeling more stable 
  • receiving photos of Baby P, now six months old and sitting up unaided

I am grateful ...
  • to so many people who generously share their skills and knowledge
  • that I am able to self isolate without the hardships experienced by so many others


Despite the return to a self imposed isolation and the need to cancel a couple of social events, I have enjoyed the week. I'm constantly aware (and so, so pleased) of a growing feeling of deep contentment. My days are calm and settling into a rhythm that obviously suits me, and the promise of an occasional adventure is enough for now. 

I've lost 1 lb this week. I probably would have lost more if I hadn't given in and had an Indian takeaway delivery but it was my consolation prize for resuming the isolation - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! On the exercise front, I'm doing the daily knee strengthening routines and they are starting to pay off - my left knee is more stable and I don't have that constant worry that I'm about to fall. I've also been more active around the house and have fitted in a short walk every other day. 

Saturday, 25 July 2020

All About ... Food Supplies

I'm making good use of my time while I'm isolating. Yesterday I squeezed everything from the kitchen freezer into the garage freezer, then defrosted it and wiped out all the drawers. I switched it back on first thing this morning and later will 'shop' from the garage freezer and refill it, ready for the next few weeks meals.

My decision to resume isolating has made me realise that I need to rethink how much food I should keep in reserve for emergencies. This period of isolating came out of the blue without notice, though thankfully at a time when I still have plenty in stock from my recent supermarket delivery so this time I have no worries about managing. I do think there is a real possibility that self isolating and/or localised lockdowns will feature in our lives for the foreseeable future, and the need for a repeat of a nation wide lockdown still feels like a real possibility.

With this in mind I've decided to time the next delivery so that I have at least a couple of weeks worth of food in reserve, if not more. This is a peace of mind thing for me - I know there are people I could ask for help if absolutely necessary but remaining independent is important to me. Supermarket delivery slots are still a bit of a lucky dip so keeping an adequate reserve will mean one less thing to worry about.

I still haven't got the supply sorted out now I am not going in to shops every week to top up on the monthly delivery, which is what I was used to doing. The main problem is having enough fresh fruit and vegetables to last between deliveries,  I always run out of eggs and a few other things. I definitely don't want to visit the supermarkets at the moment, which would be the easiest solution, so I've been racking my brain to come up with an alternative. With the fruit and veg, the easiest way is to buy frozen and tinned with just enough fresh for the week of the delivery plus whatever bulk cooking I plan to do. As for the eggs I'm going to make use of the honesty boxes - there are plenty in this area - and see how it goes. I also need to work out a basic list of essentials that will be needed in every delivery.

Today's task is to clean out the fridge, check the inventory (which I know I've been lazy about updating as I've used things up), hopefully book a delivery slot, and cook something yummy in the slow cooker for tonight's meal.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Yet Another Change Of Plans!

I'm back to self isolating! The place where Danielle's husband works has been closed and staff sent home after an employee tested positive for Covid 19 so they're advising everyone they've had contact with as a precaution even though neither of them has any symptoms at the moment. I think it's highly unlikely that I am at risk of having picked up the virus as all my interaction with Danielle was outside and at least two metres distance between us, plus she sprays and wipes down everything she touches before she leaves. However, the safest approach is to self isolate for the requisite fourteen days as the majority of my immediate circle of friends and family are classed as vulnerable. So I cancelled my trip to Stonehenge yesterday and have postponed meeting up with J and L for a couple of weeks ... better to be safe than sorry! I haven't met up with anyone else since Tuesday so I can count the fourteen days from then. I  suppose this is all part of our new normal! 

So what am I going to do with myself? More planning and dreaming probably. There's the central flower bed to decide on and I also want to choose some more shrubs for pots. I think it'll be a lot easier to make the decisions on these plants as I have a much clearer idea of what I want in this part of the garden.

However, all of that has to wait because I want to finish reading Lyssa Medana's new book - Out of the London Mist before I do anything else. It's not my usual genre but I am loving it! Lyssa blogs over at Sybil Witters On.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Garden Update No 4: A Change of Plans

I've been thinking! (I've started with those word as a bit of a warning, so feel free to abandon this post if you want).

Forget the list of plants I said I'd be ordering in yesterday's post ... it's all changed ... again. I've been struggling to come up with a combination of plants that I was completely happy with for the bed behind the garage, so last night I looked back at my original lists of plants/ideas, played around with a few minor changes and then went back to the drawing board. I have now made a significant change from the ideas I posted about previously but am confident that this change is right. There are no lingering doubts at all. 

Only one corner of the bed behind the garage is visible from the dining room and I can't see it at all from the living room so I'd only see any flowering shrubs when I use the wheelie bins. I've settled on a more practical use of the space and will use the bed to grow a selection of fruits.

I'll stick to the columnar fruit trees and will buy a 'collection' offer from my chosen supplier, which is five trees giving a saving of £15. The collection is one each of Concorde pear, Victoria plum, Sunburst cherry, Scrumptious apple and Cox's apple. With the space available one may have to be grown in a pot but that was always the case before I made this change so I'm okay with that. These will all go in the half of the bed farthest from the garage and the end of the bed nearest the garage will be the home of a Di Giffoni cob nut bush. There is only just enough space for this so it's a bit of a gamble and will have to be kept slightly smaller than the recommended size. I know I could make better use of the space but I've wanted a cob nut bush for years, so it is worth having a try ... it's now or never!

I'll also buy their collection of two blueberry bushes (another small cash saving buying them this way). I'm expecting that these will be grown in pots as they are fussy about their growing conditions so will probably end up against the other end of the garage wall. 

I like to have some raspberries but won't think about buying them until everything is planted and I can see the space. Strawberries and blackberries will be grown in hanging baskets, which will probably be set up on the garage wall above where the blueberries will live but they will wait until next year. The hanging basket approach may be the way to grow raspberries if there isn't room for the traditional canes.

I've emailed Danielle to see how long she'll need to prepare the bed and then will place the order for delivery in whatever week we agree on for the planting.

Now I'm happy with that side of the garden I can start thinking about the planting for the centre flower bed. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Garden Update No 3

There's not much change this time as Danielle spent most of her time potting up the cosmos and osteospurmum, and tidying up some of my other pots. She was only here for an hour this time.

I just made use of the pots and single bag of compost I had stored in the garage for this year, so it's not quite what I want in the long term but it gives me the chance to work out what I do want. 

We also discussed my choice of plants for the two bigger beds. I have planned what I want but although I have a picture in my mind of what I want it to look like, I can't get a clear vision of how the chosen plants will work together in terms of colour and I'm not  very good at visualising them together in the space. The conditions in my garden are right for the selection I've chosen but to save any expensive mistakes I'm only buying a few of the bigger plants this year. Once they're in I will have something to actually see and can move forward from there. 

So orders will be soon be placed for a standard rose, a half standard rose and a clematis (still have to choose them), a minarette gala apple tree (provided it is a self pollinator, if not I'll choose a different variety), and a Victoria plum minarette tree. I also have some bigger pots which can be planted up with some smaller shrubs so it's time to start choosing the varieties for those as well. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

My Favourite Things

I've copied this idea from Joy, who shared her favourite things yesterday. Many thanks for the idea, Joy.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens.
Brown paper packages tied up with string.
These are a few of my favourite things . . .

1.  My favourite film - watching films is a relatively new thing for me and something that's only found a place in my life in the years since losing Ced. I love all the Disney classics but outside of that genre it isn't easy to make a choice as it depends on my mood. Two that stand out as I was trying to think of some titles are Brassed Off, and Les Choriste - I could watch both of these over and over again!

2.  My favourite book - my 'go to' nowadays for an easy and relaxing read tends to be detective/crime novels though I don't really have a favourite author in this genre. I can't really go past this question without mentioning the Harry Potter series which I re-read regularly and always enjoy (much better than the films!) and Terry Pratchett's Discworld series also deserves a mention. Two books I read when young have always stayed in my mind - A Vicarage Family by Noel Streatfeild, and I Heard The Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven.

3.  My favourite dessert lemon meringue pie or fresh fruit salad.

4.  My favourite dinner I love curries, but not the mild creamy ones. It has to be at least a medium heat for me. Coming a very close second on the list is a proper roast dinner with all the trimmings.

5.  My favourite drink I don't drink alcohol at all. At home I stick to black coffee or water, but socially tend to choose elderflower or sparkling water.

6.  My favourite music this is almost impossible to answer! My favourite musical is Les Miserables - that was an easy choice! As for all the other possible choices, it all depends on my mood, but favourites choices to listen to include The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Chopin's Nocturn, and Holst's Planet Suite. If I'm singing then a favourite is Benedictus by Karl Jenkins, and if I'm playing a brass instrument then my choice would be Slaidburn, or any of the traditional brass band marches. 

7.  Favourite time of day - Early evenings in autumn and winter as the nights draw in, the curtains are closed and it's all snug and warm indoors 

8.  Favourite colourreds and pinks, with purples and blues a close second. 

9. Favourite place to be on holiday - I don't have an actual location, just anywhere by the sea. 

10.  Favourite artist - I have two - JMW Turner and LS Lowry - completely different in style but they both 'speak' to me on a level that no other artist does.

Feel free to join in. I'd love to read all about your favourite things.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Me On Monday

After a quiet weekend spent indoors because of the weather, Me on Monday is feeling well and is ...

... hoping that the weather forecast is accurate and we have the week of sunny days we've been promised.

... looking forward to my weekly adventure on Thursday. This week my chosen destination is Stonehenge, in the hope that the limited access to the site means I can take some people-free photographs of the stones, something that's usually impossible to achieve.

... attemping to organise a face-to-face meet up with L and J. It's looking increasingly unlikely that the three of us can agree a mutual date this week so I may end up meeting up with each of them individually. Rather than just sitting and talking I'm hoping to persuade them to walk and talk, maybe around the Country Park or one of the woodland walks.

... shopping online for a replacement oil mister. Mine finally broke on Friday and now won't spray at all so I have to look for another. It's frustrating when a 'much used, just right' piece of equipment has to be replaced so I'm hoping I can find another that's just as good - I don't know the make as the logo disappeared many moons ago!

... listening to Heart radio when I'm busy on kitchen duties. I must have retuned the radio, although I can't remember doing it, as I usually listen to Classic FM but for the time being am enjoying the music choices. 

... watching the repeated Dangerfield series on UKTV Play. It suits my mood and is a pleasant, gentle watch without the violence of so many current shows.

... reading up on local history and choosing the places I'd like to visit. The list is huge! ... I'm going to have a lot of fun if I ever manage to see everything on the list.

... eagerly awaiting the arrival of my wonderful gardener tomorrow. I'm hoping the annuals will be repotted and an agreement reached on some of the shrubs and fruit trees so that orders can be placed.

... hoping that you all have a good week.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...
  • cosmos plants on the patio 😁
  • enjoying a Zoom presentation on macro photography
  • phone calls with friends 
  • celebrating birthdays via Zoom
  • visiting Great Chalfield Manor and Garden on a hot, sunny afternoon
  • finally getting my hair cut and the chance to catch up with G
  • hearing that my sister's house sale completed on Friday
  • booking a ticket for next week's adventure

I am grateful ...
  • for  the UK postal service 
  • for mobile hairdressers, avoiding the need to go to a busy salon


It's been a good week and once again I've been feeling upbeat and happy with my lot. The biggie this week was my second solo excursion which I was much less anxious about doing after testing the waters, so to speak, with my trip to The Hall the previous week. This opens up so many possibilities for me, even with all the necessary precautions in place, and I am relieved to have transitioned relatively easily to the next stage of expanding my life.

I've lost 1.5 lbs this week. I started my new eating plan on Wednesday evening and since then have been successful in eating my 5 a day, which I'm pleased about. I'm still managing to exercise every other day, not as much as I'd like but at least it is consistent. I'm thinking about buying a bicycle with a view to cycling along the canal towpath (which is also part of the National Cycle network) but which, with the use of an appropriate stand, could also be used as a stationery bike on days when the weather isn't playing nicely. I'll need to clear space in the garage before it can happen though, so even if I do decide to do this it won't be any time soon!

Saturday, 18 July 2020

A Day Out at The Hall

I've driven past the main gates too many times to count but thought the driveway only led to the Moulton factory. I had absolutely no idea that there was also a house, or that the house and its grounds were quite so grand. This was my first sight of the house, peeping through the trees.

2020 is only the second year that the house and grounds have been open to the public. Covid restrictions were in place so there was a one way route to follow which very quickly led to the front of the house. There is a separate tour of the house, currently on hold until safer times return but which I will do as soon as I can, so for now I will only give a brief history of the house. 

The Hall is Jacobean, built c 1610 by John Hall ll, a wealthy clothier (and the family that also owned Great Chalfield Manor). It stayed in his family for about 200 years and then there were numerous changes of ownership until it was purchased in 1848 by Stephen Moulton who was the man responsible for establishing the rubber industry in England. It was during his ownership of The Hall that the building was restored and the formal gardens laid out. His son inherited in 1894 and continued the work to improve the gardens, planting a wide variety of flowers, plants, and tree. The estate eventually passed to Dr Alex Moulton, the great grandson of Stephen Moulton, I think in the 1960s but I can't find the actual date.

Alex Moulton had very strong views on what a garden should look like and according to him "a garden is green shapes and gravel", which explains the absence of flowers. It's not completely lacking in flowering plants as he was a cat lover so planted a row of catmint for his cat, Toby, and there is a rose which I'll mention later. The grounds of The Hall are Grade ll and ll* listed.

These redwoods were planted in the mid 19th century, sadly off the prescribed route so it wasn't possible to explore. 

Carrying on from the redwoods led to a gravel path around the edge of the estate which leads up towards the archery lawn.

At the end of that gravel walk we were treated to a sight of the famous Moulton bicycle, designed by Alex Moulton. They are still made today and one part of the factory is still in the corner of the grounds, out of bounds to visitors though. I desperately wanted one of these when I was younger but never got one and I definitely couldn't afford one now - check these prices!

At the end of the gravel walk is the temple where the archery target is stored and where Alex Moulton liked to sit and enjoy a cup of tea. The shelf on the right of the temple is laid out with his kettle and cup as it was in his lifetime, although the primus stove has been removed for safety purposes! We were told that he preferred sugar cubes - you can just make out the blue wrapped sugar cubes on the saucer.

The temple was the perfect place to sit and rest painful knees! It looks out over the archery lawn to the side of The Hall.

This is the only photo that show the detail of the original window glass.

This photo was taken from the top corner of the archery lawn looking down over the lower garden. It shows the 'green shapes' approach loved by Alex Moulton!

On the other side of the house is the pergola, currently lacking the wooden beams which would be on top of the pillars. The pillars are taller than they look in the photo - I was standing at the top of the steps when I took this.

The small building at the end of the pergola is a garage housing this iconic car. Alex Moulton, as some of you may know, was the man who designed the innovative rubber suspension system for the mini. 

Beyond this garage is the Moulton Bicycle Factory, not visible from the garden and obviously out of bounds to visitors to The Hall.

The following photo was taken on the croquet lawn, looking back towards the house. The rose you can see on the right of the photo (by the small pillars) is a Juliet rose which was presented to The Hall following a performance of Romeo and Juliet by the local amateur theatre group ... that's where the balcony scene took place although you can't see the balustrade and terrace in this photo. I can see why it's been planted but am disappointed that it isn't in keeping with the "green shapes and gravel" approach of the rest of the grounds. 

The croquet lawn leads in to the rock garden which has its own temple. I loved this garden but it is in need of some love and attention. 

From here, the route leads to the Japanese garden which I didn't photograph as it was so overgrown. This building dates back to the times when The Hall was owned by clothiers and is a converted cloth drying house.

The Moulton family prided themselves on living next to their Mill, unlike the mill owners in the north of the country who lived miles away from their factories. This is part of the Japanese garden on the edge of the grounds and the modern house visible through the gap in the trees is built of the site of the original Moulton mill ... of course, thanks to the tall trees (and before some trees were damaged and had to be removed) they couldn't actually see the mill at all! 

So much of the grounds are in need of restoration. The kitchen garden, the Dutch garden and the Japanese garden are all suffering from years of neglect, as is the boat house. The volunteers are currently focusing on restoring the rock garden so it'll be good to follow their progress over the coming years.

Friday, 17 July 2020

The Day I Went to Great Chalfield

It was a perfect, sunny afternoon, just right for a walk around the gardens of this beautiful property. There were a lot more people there than I expected but, for the most part, social distancing was observed. We had to follow a one-way route so without my usual meandering all over the place, it didn't take too long to walk round. I didn't take many photos of the gardens this time as there were too many people around and I have been to the Manor countless times before. 

So to set the scene, Great Chalfield Manor is a moated late medieval English manor house. It was built between 1465 and 1480 for Thomas Tropenell who made his fortune as a clothier. Alterations to the estate in later centuries means that the moat no longer completely encircles the house. I won't list all the owners here but there is one coincidence I'd like to mention - in the mid C17, the Chalfield estate was owned by John Hall and later by the 2nd Duke of Kingston who both also owned The Hall in Bradford on Avon, the house I went to see last week.

These first three photos were taken outside of the grounds looking over the upper moat towards the Manor House and Church.

This is the upper moat, looking in need of some attention. 

The current family still live at the Manor and maintain the property for the National Trust. The gardens are beautiful, thanks to their efforts - I fell in love with this window!

Because of Covid 19 there was a one way route to follow which leads you to the church first. Although it is inside the moat, All Saints Church it is actually the church for the parish of Great Chalfield and in more normal times regular services are held here. It was built c 1480 and still has features from that time although I didn't get to photograph any today ... sorry!

In the garden there are four of these yew 'tree houses', formed where four yew tree have grown together and been hollowed out inside so people can walk through them.

I'm not sure what this little building is used for but I have taken some photos of the inside which I'm saving for my 'lines' photo challenge - you may recognise the structure inside when you get to see them.

The route then took us out of the garden and around the lower moat.

This is looking beyond the lower moat to the Chalfield Brook where this tree has its roots in the water. At this point, the brook runs parallel to the lower moat so the moat was behind me when I took this photo. This is the area where you often see a heron and a buzzard but I was out of luck today. I could hear the buzzard but couldn't see him anywhere.

The following three images are of the house and gardens, taken from inside the moat so the moat is behind me. There were loads of good photo opportunities but sadly too many people about, both for safety and for people free images. 

Does anyone know what this fruit is? I wondered if it is a medlar.

The route today took me out through the stable yard where I had the opportunity to meet Percher, and which gives me another possibility for the SPSH No 2 | something with or in a knot.