Sunday 31 December 2017

New Years Eve

As we leave this old year behind, I wish everyone who visits WFVM, a very happy and peaceful 2018

'In the walled garden' 
illustration by granddaughter 'P'

Over the Christmas season our youngest Granddaughter 'R' has brought my attention to the excessive and increasing amount of Palm Oil that is being included in our diets along with many domestic items found in our shopping baskets.
As a result I aim to check all product labels carefully during the coming year to see what they contain. If they have Palm Oil in them, I will not purchase - you may be as surprised as I was at just how many items there are. The writing on the labels is tiny so I shall have to carry my little pocket magnifying glass which I use to identify silver hallmarks.
Palm Oil is a huge source of profits for multinational corporations, whilst at the same time destroying the livelihoods of smallholders. It causes the displacement of indigenous peoples, rainforest destruction and loss of wildlife; it is the main threat to the survivial of the orangutan population. These changes in our biodiversity are all the consequence of our palm oil consumption. 
Here are a few of the products which may have Palm Oil in them,  and that is why I shall be looking carefully at their labels

Thursday 21 December 2017

Happy Christmas to you All

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun.
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir. 

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Winter Wonderland

 Arrived safely at The White Hart Inn and enjoyed a tasty festive evening meal. After breakfast the following morning, we discovered that the snow was already in retreat from the High Street.

However, the countryside view at the back of the Inn told a very different story. 

 The roads were mostly clear for the return journey home, unlike the day before. Then we encountered several hazards - apart from snow on the roads, there were some abandoned vehicles and large fallen branches unable to take the weight of the snow.

I don't normally relish snowy weather, but this was exceptional for our area, and much enhanced by wonderful skies and brilliant sunshine. A pair of cosy boots, warm coat, scarves and gloves found us ready to enjoy a walk.
Back home the Christmas tree in the garden looked lovely. This was a tiny tree when purchased nearly 20 years ago.

The late afternoon sun created a wonderful finale to the day. It lit up the snow and ice covered branches which twinkled like thousands of fairylights.

Sunday 10 December 2017

Winter has arrived

Like a thief in the night winter slipped in quietly taking us by surprise. It is 5 years since we last saw snow on this hilltop, and never before so early.

 We have a pre-booked Christmas night away at an inn, fortunately not too far. The journey could be intrepid, but hopefully all will be well. Fingers crossed, see you again on our return. 

Saturday 9 December 2017

To Be or Not to Be continued....

 The comments received on the previous post were very helpful - thank you.
 Some thought that we might be putting ourselves in a dangerous situation or be compromised by what we might see, but fortunately that was never an issue.
It was the ethical situation only that gave us concerns. However, several blogger friends rightly pointed out that across the ages there are many countries that have a less than perfect record concerning their human rights. I only have to read the history of my own country to know that is correct.
We will continue to mull over the situation until the New Year, and then we will make a decision. 

Tuesday 5 December 2017

To Be or Not to Be!

Are our codes of conduct decided as we journey through life, or are they instilled in us from childhood?
We personally are currently facing an ethical dilemma!
There is a country that we have talked about visiting for years, and now an opportunity has arisen. However, since making up our minds to go, the current regime is treating a section of the population in a way that makes our blood run cold.
Do we go or stay away
Of course there are two sides to this coin as many other people in this country rely solely on visitors for their livelihoods - cooks, cleaners, farmers, shops, drivers, guides.
If you have been faced with similar challenges what decision did you make? 

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Pyclets (pikelets) - a Childhood Memory

In 1864 Mr. Monk opened a Crumpet and Pyclet Bakery in Derby. He and his sons baked whilst the women sold them from a barrow situated beneath the large entrance archway leading to Derby's Market Hall.
Interior of the Market Hall
As a child, trips into town with my mother, usually ended with us visiting Monk's barrow to buy pyclets or crumpets for tea. Sometimes she purchased their oatcakes too, which are large and flat like a pancake, then heated for breakfast with a topping of crispy bacon and an egg.
Until she died in 1963, Emily Monk sold pyclets "every day bar high days and holidays". The baton was then passed to Rose (pictured) who continued the tradition until 1974. A combination of the Oil Crisis and the growing rise of supermarkets spelt a lack of interest from the younger members of the Monk family and Derby Pyclets passed into history.

 I was in our local Waitrose shop and to my delight discovered that pyclets (pikelets in the shop) have recently been resurrected.
Pyclets and crumpets are similar, both are made on a gridle, but traditionally pyclets are made using buttermilk, they are thinner, lighter and airy.  Crumpets are much thicker, equally tasty and good, but normally made using sourdough.
Pyclets like crumpets are eaten toasted then topped simply with butter; they can also have either a savoury or a sweet topping. A drizzle of honey, a spoonful of conserve, or even some lemon curd. A savoury topping could be marmite, stilton cheese with chopped walnuts or maybe a slice of smoked salmon accompanied by a spoonful of horseradish and dill cream. The connotations are endless, they are very versatile, but you can use whatever happens to take your fancy.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Amber Glow

 Late autumn colour is still plentiful here, especially from the many large Beech Trees.

Walking through our neighbourhood Beech wood in the bright autumn sunlight is both rewarding and uplifting
The high or the low path?

Monday 13 November 2017

The Kennet & Avon Canal

Begun in 1724, the Kennet & Avon Canal is 87 miles long, and has a total of 105 locks. It incorporates some fine examples of early engineering skills.

The Caen Hill, Wiltshire stretch of the canal, has the longest continuous flight of locks in England. It was begun in 1794 and took 16 years to complete. There are 29 locks built in three distinct groups which have a rise of 237 feet, and cover a 2 mile stretch of the canal. 
On the first section at the lower level there are 7 locks spread along the canal for ¾ of a mile - the next 16 locks painstakingly climb up Caen Hill in a gradual ladder until reaching the top. These 16 locks are followed by the final 6 locks which then convey the canal through the town of Devizes and beyond. For a canal boat to negotiate all of these locks it takes a minium of 5 - 6 hours.
Moored at the bottom of Caen Hill, and awaiting their accent are two canal boats, but it was late afternoon, the lock keepers gone home, so no more boating activity until morning.

The canals are a haven for waterfowl - a flock of Canada Geese along with a male and female Mallard

and a flight of swans overhead
At the top of the hill

and dusk is rapidly approaching.

The swans fly off into the sunset,
and the boats that climbed Caen Hill during the day, moor up for the night, before proceeding on their journey. 

Saturday 11 November 2017

Armistice Day

Today two minutes silence are observed at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month to remember when hostilities formally ended following more than four years of battle during World War 1 - poppies are worn as a symbol of respect. 
In Cheltenham Spa Town Hall 9,000 individually handmade poppies - some knitted, others made from fabric - have been draped to form a waterfall in one of the buildings smaller entrance halls.
The Spa Well situated in this small hallway features an octagonal counter complete with Doulton Ware inserts and urns. This originally dispensed Spa Water transported from the splendid Regency Pittville Pump Rooms in Cheltenham. Unfortunately, these health giving waters, which were so sought after by wealthy Regency visitors, are now only available to sample at Pittville. Health waters, which once tasted, will almost certainly ensure that you will not return for more!!!
Unlike most town halls, this building is a public venue and not the seat of the borough council, which is housed in the nearby municipal offices.  
The hall was built at the turn of the c20th to accommodate the many balls and concerts which featured in the town's extensive social calender. Cheltenham Town Hall was quite literally built for celebrations.
Today the Town Hall is used for concerts, banquets, meetings, dances, balls, exhibitions, conferences and is one of the major venues for the many Cheltenham festivals held throughout the year. 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium