Saturday, August 17, 2013

The turning of the year...

Over the years that I have written this blog, this image must have appeared before - you might think.  Pears on one of our two espaliered pear trees, a heavy crop.

Apples on the fan-trained Worcester, planted more than twenty years ago, again a bumper crop.

And the pear on the other side of the garden, again dripping with fruit, which won't be too long before it is ripening.
But here's the thing: last year there were only four pears on this tree - just four, because it was cold and wet when the blossom appeared.  This year, a different story.  And pears do not keep: once they are ripe they must be eaten. 
I always wonder what it would have been like for those living in earlier centuries.  How would they have dealt with such enormous seasonal variation?  I guess that is where the expression "a feast or a famine" comes from - they would have starved.
There's certainly something autumnal about today, but at least this year we have had a summer before the year turned.



Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Day out

First, some more vintage images for the pattern lovers among you.  Can you imagine a girl in her twenties wearing the tea-cosy hat?

Women's magazines of the time promoted a fantasy lifestyle - as did knitting patterns.  All older men played golf and smoked pipes.  Horse-riding and skiing were, supposedly, very popular with the young crowd.  This Aran Coat pattern offers two "looks", for country walks or for shopping in town.  Compare this to the "Technical" walking gear in favour now.

Today we took a short drive to Audley End, a mansion in the care of English Heritage.  It is a place with a past, built originally by Thomas, Lord Audley who was Henry V111th's Lord Chancellor.  It was remodelled and reduced over the centuries and became Station 43 in World War Two to house Polish airmen in training.  Now, the interior of the house is curiously dislocated, with spendid rooms and spectacular ceilings presented in a way which does not suggest that anyone ever lived there.

The gardens, however, are wonderful - peaches in hothouses and a full-scale orchard house and vinery.  Miles of old brick walls lined with every kind of fan-trained pear and apple.

 And this extraordinary building from 1610.  Notice how the bottom row of leaded lights is blacked out.  This is because soon after it was built it was refitted as a stable block, and three lovely animals were patiently receiving visitors today.