Saturday, 14 November 2015

Pathway to Heaven

I haven't had time to write anything of late - always a sign that work/life balance is out of kilter!  Anyhow, we have not been idle during this period and I have a backlog of reporting to do.

Firstly, the vegetable patch.  And my vision is to have four squares divided by paths.  And because we are lucky enough to have a ton of stone (proving that every cloud, including a collapsed wall, has a silver-lining), we decided to go for crazy paving.

I'm not an aficionado of fashion in relation to paths but my best guess would be that crazy paving is passé, a thing of garden design of the '70s along with pampas grass and patios.  But we have the stone and we are going to use it.  And perhaps we'll start a new trend.

Me.  Doing the Hard Work.

Sand and Cement Down, Stones Placed

Getting Longer...

S Needs Supervision

Supervisor Gets Distracted by a Passing Dog

And One Path Down!

Now we've got one path down, though, we now have decided to point it to make it look really fab.  And we still have two more of the same length to do.  But now the weather has changed.  My plan is to spend nice weekends in the garden and bad weather weekends indoors.  We seem to have spent months and months doing outside jobs.  While we wait for more good weather, the trenches for the other paths have filled with fallen chestnut leaves and  

Happy Birthday, Sprocket!

Four today!  And I noticed that they played the National Anthem on Radio Four in his honour.  Or perhaps it was for Prince Charles who shares his birthday.  The bow tie courtesy of H.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Arbor Again

Did I mention that I'd finished painting the arbor?  It's still not in its rightful position though!  So, fear not, dear reader.  It will feature in this blog again.

Me and My Arbor!
And in close up...
An Interesting Angle on Tomatoes
Proud Tomato Grower
Proud Apple Grower
Dog in the Grass
In Close Up
Mother and Daughter
Back to the Arbor

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Monday, 14 September 2015

On the Tiles

We're all of a buzz at the moment.  Things are happening left, right and centre round here.  If you remember, the targets for the year were overly ambitious.  A quote from my review of last year:

And looking ahead, what do we want to achieve in 2015?  For me, I’d like the heating completed.  This will mean sorting out the pantry where the boiler is destined to go and fitting another water tank in a cupboard on the first floor.  I’d like to repair the chimney where the jackdaws roost and, while the scaffolding is up, get the roofers in to do a quick once over.  I live in terror of major roof repairs, which I think will cost a small fortune.  

I'd like the rotten pillars that prop up the porch repaired.  I’d like the sitting room chimney lined and a wood-burning stove installed.  I'd like to decorate the sitting room and S's study.  And, dare I suggest, another bathroom for my mum or (whispers) a new kitchen? 

And now it's September and none of this has been achieved.  But we are focused and determined to tick some of these things off the list before the end of the year.  First up is the stove.  It was supposed to be fitted on 27th August but getting things to happen in the right order defeated us.  (We'd had the date in the diary for months but hadn't thought about the lead times for actually getting the stove bought and delivered!)  We also decided to retile the hearth.  It was red quarry tiles, not particularly refined or in fitting with the lovely fireplace so we wanted some new ones.

And, for once, some 'before' pictures.  Although S had already started work on the bricks.

We finally got our act together and the stove is due to be fitted next Friday.  It's sitting with me in the sitting room as I speak.  S has remortared and cleaned the bricks in the fireplace.  The tiler arrived today and fitted the rather lovely Fired Earth tiles.  They are large, limestone tiles, fittingly called 'Cathedral' and, supposedly, "reminiscent of the ecclesiastical floors after which it has been named...truly looks as if it has been walked on for centuries".  They are lovely though.

Our tiler was once described to me as the 'John Lewis' of tiling so has a rock star profile in my world.  Here are some pictures of him at our 'gig'.

Equipment in place
Cutting Begins
Three Down
Final Stages

I think he's pleased with it...
The Hearth

Rapturous Applause!
The scaffolding arrives tomorrow, two lots, one for the chimney in the sitting room and one above H's room at the back of the house, which is colonised by jackdaws, and then the only other thing we need to do is to mend the chimneys, get the roof checked and then hand over to the stove fitter to sweep chimneys, cap them and fit the stove.

Friday, 4 September 2015

And Then A Miracle Occurred...

As you know, I have been sanding the wretched arbor for weeks and weeks and weeks.  Then suddenly last weekend, it all came to an end.

A reminder of how it was when you last saw it...

And here it is undercoated...

Then with the first layer of duck egg blue...

Sprocket was impressed!

Another coat for good measure...

Followed by a third...(yes, I know it looks no different)...

 And then a fourth for the roof.  I'm a great believer in layering, whether clothes or paint.

My plan was a final picture, showing it in situ with cushions in place and perhaps me sitting there with a glass of something bubbly in my hand.  However, the damn thing is so heavy that we haven't been able to move it to the final resting place yet.  So you'll just have to use your imagination until the great day comes.

The text on the paint tin claims that it will last for six years.  As you can see, that final shot was taken on 29th August 2015, so I am fully expecting not to have to paint the blasted thing again until 29th August 2021.  And this is for the record and will be used as evidence in any forthcoming court case.

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Continuing Tale of Rectory Folk

So, back to my detective work on the Rowden family.  We left them in 1841, having identified the eight year old Ellen as being the Reverend Edward Rowden’s daughter from his second marriage to Ellen Trenchard, but still musing on the others listed as being resident on the day of the census return: the seven year old Elizabeth, six month old Margaret and 25 year old John Rowden.

It turns out that you can’t always trust online census material.  I can’t be sure as some of the facts don’t quite tally but it seems likely that the names are incorrect, that it was not Elizabeth, Margaret and John Rowden, but rather Elizabeth, Margaret and Sophia Robinson who were staying in the Old Rectory on that day.  

Sophia was the eldest daughter of the Reverend Edward and his first wife, Elizabeth. She was married at 19 to the Reverend Francis Robinson, Rector of Little Staughton in Bedfordshire. The wedding took place in H________ on 10th September, 1831.  Her new husband, Francis, was the son of Thomas Robinson, who was Mayor of Oxford between 1817 and 1818 and, rather remarkably, he went to Corpus Christi College in 1819 at the tender age of 14.  It’s a story that would make the tabloids nowadays (and, come to think of it, probably the broadsheets as well!) but I’m not sure if it was a more commonplace event in the nineteenth century – yet another fact to check. 

The large family thing was obviously in the genes as Sophia and Francis lost no time in having numerous children:

Francis Edward was born at Begbroke in Oxfordshire in either 1832 or 1833.
Sophia Elizabeth Rowden (who is the Elizabeth of the 1841 census) was born in 1834 at Stonesfield in Oxfordshire, where her father was the Rector from 1834 to 1882.
Thomas Auriol was born at Stonesfield on Christmas Day, 1835.
Georgina Margaret was born at Begbroke in 1837.
Walter Croke was born at Stonesfield in 1839.
Margaret Maria (who is the Margaret of the 1841 census) was born at Stonesfield on 3 December 1840.
William Henry Carns was born at Stonesfield in 1842 and died one year and five months later in 1844.
Ellis Ashton was born at Stonesfield in 1845.
Ellen Mary was born at Stonesfield in 1846.
Charlotte Barbara Spooner was born at Stonesfield in 1850.
Ellen Trenchard Goodenough was born at Stonesfield in 1856.

This is a picture of Francis, the eldest son, who took over as rector of Stonesfield from his father, just as his uncle, Edward, took over from his father in H_______.

This family don't seem to have been very imaginative with regards to names.  A mother and daughter with the same name is not that unusual but it’s a bit odd, having two daughters called Ellen.  Sophia obviously had a good relationship with her stepmother! And, of course, she also had a sister called Frances and a brother called Francis so could probably see nothing confusing about having two daughters with the same name.  Names seem to have been a bit limited in those days.  Had no one thought of Chardonnay or Troy?  But it was OK because the first Ellen was handily known by her middle name of Mary. Which begs the question why not just call her Mary in the first place?  And similarly with regards to the daughter named Sophie but apparently called Elizabeth.  So, a grand total of eleven children for  Sophia, beating her mother’s record by one and, moreover, managing to stay alive during the process! 

At the time of the 1841 census, the Reverend Francis (the father, not the son depicted above) is registered as being at Stonesfield with Thomas, then aged five, Georgina, three, and Walter, aged two.  The family moved to 24 Beaumont Street in Oxford, shown below, around 1881 where Francis died in 1886 at the age of 82.  Sophia died in the same house four years later on 7 December 1890.  She was 78.

Oh, and I should point out that there were also seven servants listed for the Old Rectory on that day in 1841.  They were Mary Knitts, aged 20, Sarah Barrett, 35, Ann Poole, 25, Sarah Morse, 20, Mary Peopall, 15, Daniel Bond, aged 30 and Frederick Green, aged 15.  And I should point this out because we somehow manage with no servants.  And when I say 'manage'...