"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Oak and Shires Event, Books and Christmas Baking

D and I went along to an "Oak and Shires" event at Yorks Wood last Saturday afternoon.

Yorks Wood covers around 11 hectares and is ancient semi-natural woodland comprising mainly Oak and Birch plus some Ash and Willow. Invasive species are controlled within the woodland. It was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1991. The wood, originally known as Kingshurst Wood, was first mentioned in 1456 when it was owned by the Mountford family. The wood became known as Yorks Wood from the 19th century named after the family who then owned Kingshurst Hall. Birmingham Scout movement bought the wood and surrounding fields in the 1920's and set up a permanent County campsite. But during the 1970's the site was sold for housing development although thankfully most of the wood was left untouched to act as a buffer between housing estates.

There were several displays of traditional woodland craft including pole lathes turning wood and hurdle makers and this display by a company from Malvern who make products from locally coppiced wood.

These beautiful gypsy flowers were made in a couple of minutes.

Good to see the Green Man there providing music and storytelling.

There were various activities for children including face painting and the RSPB had a stall.

Tan Tan, a working heavy horse, was demonstrating how horses can be used to help manage woodland.

Babbs Mill LNR is adjacent to the woodland. Sadly, currently part of this area is under threat from possible housing development.

I've put my gypsy flower in among the dried flowers I bought from Tewkesbury Abbey.

I've just finished reading the Green Road Into the Trees where the author Hugh Thomson walks ancient ways from Dorset to Norfolk (highly recommended) and was about to start reading Claxton by Mark Cocker and Inglorious by Mark Avery until I got sidetracked. Recent visits to Herefordshire together with reading the Merrily Watkins books reminded me about these two books. I bought and read "The Old Straight Track" by Alfred Watkins back in 1979 but "Timpson's Ley Lines" is a more recent purchase albeit 15 years ago. Its been lurking on my pile of books to read since then! Apparently Timpson also wrote a book on Country Churches unfortunately now out of print but I'll be keeping an eye out for it in second hand bookshops.

I finally started my Christmas Baking yesterday - Christmas Puddings first of all. I use a recipe by James Martin - note the pen scribbles concerning cooking time experiments!

Ready to be steamed.

Those of you who've been reading my blog for a few years might recognise the mould on the right - it makes a canon-ball shaped Christmas Pudding!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Halloween Ghost Walk Stratford on Avon - 30th October

I meant to type up this post days ago but I seem to be going through one of those phases with Blogger where I find it hard to get motivated to produce posts.

Anyway, after we'd visited Holy Trinity Church I moved the car to a car park in Church Street behind the Courtyard Theatre and we went in search of somewhere to eat and ended up in Barnabys - a fish and chip shop which also fortunately sells vegetarian pizzas!

It was still too early for the Ghost Walk we were booked on so we went and had a look round the RSC shop something we rarely had time to do when we used to go and see plays there.

There were several Halloween Ghost Walks taking place on the Friday evening and ours was led by Jocasta the Witch - it was great fun and rather spooky walking round the old streets of Stratford listening to tales of ghosts, murders, misery, witches and spells with quite a bit of history mixed in too.

The walk included a private tour of the "haunted" Hall's Croft which we visited earlier this year. Its a half-timbered building dating back to the 1600's and was the home of William Shakespeare's eldest daughter Susannah and her husband, Dr John Hall, a physician.

The visit included a glass of Mulled Wine :)

More haunting tales told around the churchyard of the church we had visited earlier.

Although the car park was lit we had a very spooky walk back round the rear of the Courtyard Theatre along an unlit road and alley - not the sort of thing you want to experience after a Ghost Walk!

We stopped off at Wootton Wawen on the way home to take a photo of St Peter's Church - a Saxon Sanctuary. This church is always lit at night but this is the first time we'd had a camera with us.

A little purchase from the RSC shop which I couldn't resist (although again it'll be going away for someone to give me at Christmas!).

Last Friday evening D and I went to Birmingham Rep to see the Regent's Park Theatre production of "Lord of the Flies" - it really was excellent. I believe the production is touring the UK at the moment so I would recommend it if it comes to a theatre near you.

Yesterday and today visits to The Range and Hobbycraft mean I am well stocked up to start knitting some of the "Knit and Purl" toys in the book I posted a photo of recently. Also have finally finished knitting squares for D's blanket and am in the process of sewing the pieces together. Photos of finished products at some stage in the future!

Most of the photos above were taken by D with the Canon - sorry about the date on each one - didn't realise it would be impossible to remove!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Shakespeare's Grave and Misericords

D and I were going to an event in Stratford last Friday evening so decided to go early and pay a visit to Holy Trinity Church to see Shakespeare's grave - it was the one place with connections to William Shakespeare that we didn't have time to visit during our day out in Stratford earlier this year.

Unfortunately, things did not go to plan (blame local roadworks and a congested M42 on the journey!) so instead of arriving at the church mid-afternoon we finally pulled up at 4.35 p.m. (25 minutes before the church closed). Fortunately there were car park spaces available right next to the churchyard.

Holy Trinity Church at dusk

There has been a church on the site since AD 713 when a Saxon monastery was built here. The oldest sections of the present church (Tower, transept and nave pillars) date back to around 1210. The North and South Aisles were added in the 1300's and the Chancel constructed in the late 1400's.

The new Font is a Victorian copy of the original font (see photo later).

The Pulpit which dates back to 1900 is made of green marble with alabaster statues around the side.

St Peter's Chapel

William Shakespeare's Grave

Other members of his family are buried nearby.

This is the original Medieval Font in which Shakespeare (on 26th April 1564) and his children were baptised. The damage to the Font occurred when it was removed from the church in 1747 and used as a water cistern! It was returned to the church in 1861.

The Clopton Chapel where members of the powerful Stratford family are buried - the oldest tomb is 15th century.

As it was dark outside it was pointless taking photos of the stained glass windows. The church was very beautiful and I really must return in daylight and when I have more time to spend there (have lost count of how many times I have said this about churches and cathedrals!!).


I've left the Misericord photos until the end of the post as there are rather a lot of them and I appreciate not everyone is as interested as me in them!

There are 26 dating back to the 15th century and they show human, animal and foliate carvings with wide ranging symbolism inspired by Christian literature, ancient tales, heraldry, real and imaginary creatures and scenes from everyday life.

According to the Souvenir Guide you can buy a book giving more details of the misericords from the shop but sadly the shop had just shut as we arrived!

In the evening D and I went along on a Halloween Ghost Walk through the streets of Stratford and including a visit to Hall's Croft - I'll do another post in a day or so with some photos of night-time Stratford.