Friday, 24 June 2016

New Floors - Day 3

Almost done, just the final door and furniture trims left to do,

The entrance hall was finished today. It looks really good, and I'm so glad I chose the lighter-coloured stair carpet.

Charlie managed the threshold between sitting room and hallway extremely well.

Now we just need to replace that terrible door frame colour. MWNN, some years ago "What colour do you want on the door-frames?" Me "Any colour but pink".

The threshold between hall and shower room will be covered by a metal bar, inside the shower room.

The parquet is such a good match for the oak hall-table.

We're very pleased with our beautiful new entrance hall floor.

Ron is not so pleased. He hates the new floors - ball-games are banned,

Thursday, 23 June 2016

New floors - Day 2

Today saw the installation of the new parquet floor in the sitting/dining room.

Decisions about furniture and location have yet to be made, but the Edwardian oak bookcase has already moved to its new position..

The parquet will be continued across the door threshold, into the front hall.

Some items of furniture have already gone from the house (thank you British Heart Foundation), leaving lots of space in the walkway between sitting room and dining room.

Ron is a bit confused.

The hearth needs a bit of renovation and paint work on its concrete base.

The rooms feel light, airy, and more spacious  without a carpet and with less furniture.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

New floors - Day 1

The furniture has been moved, the carpet removed, and the floor boarded

in preparation for the new parquet floors.

Day 1 saw the sitting room parqueet pattern started.

We chose a 3" border with a 3mm contrast strip in dark oak.

Karndean blonde oak parquet

Once again, Wymondley Flooring is installing the new floors. Watching Charlie working on the parquet border and contrast strip around the hearth, reminded me why Wymondley Flooring is our company of choice.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Queen's official 90th birthday party

at Hitchin Priory, was organised by Hitchin Band,

Despite the rain, over 100 people turned up to hear the Hitchin Band, with the relatively new, musical Director Graham Chambers,

and twin-town Bingen-am-Rhine's Band, Sponsheim.

Before the performance started, the Master of Ceremonies for the Event, Tim Wheeler, read out a message from the German Band - in German. Apparently the translation was that the Germans hoped that Hitchin Band would play better than their English football counterparts would play against Germany in the Euros 2016.

I ordered the Party Full Afternoon Tea, and we settled down at a table that we shared with a couple who had moved to Hitchin, from Stevenage, five years' ago.

Hitchin Band kicked off with a virtuoso posthorn performance of the posthorn gallop.


Quality playing was evident from then on, from the whole band, including the award-winning cornet section.

Dianh Birch Won the Outstanding Cornet Award for the 1st Section 2016 at the London and Southern Counties Region of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, 2016.

The Hitchin Band was placed third in the 'Premier League' of the Championships.

Hitchin Band, Putting on the Ritz


The Sonsheim Band followed Hitchin Band's first set, opening with the Radetzky March. I assumed we were going to be treated to lots more music from Vienna, or at the very least, their home country, but the band from Bingen followed the march with a Beatles Medley, followed by some Coldplay and Adelle.


MWNN and I finished our tea just as Hitchin Band returned for their second set. This included some great Jazz and Big Band pieces. I have yet to find anything that was uploaded to Social Media but it showcased just how far the band has progressed since we first heard them, 30 years ago.

We left after Hitchin Band's second set,even though we were keen to hear both bands together for the finale, and drink a toast to the Queen. MWNN had put on a loaf to bake just before we left, and it was nearing finishing time,

What we missed, was this


and this

Guest 2nd Baritone player in the white coat is former Hitchin Band player (now Dereham Band, Norfolk) Colin Warburton (note the name)

This was a smashing event. We saw lots of familiar faces, including a former Hitchin Band player-turned-science-fantasy-writer-in-retirement, CJ Burton

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Stressless Magic

The most comfortable Stressless Chair ever made

In the middle of sorting stuff for when the flooring man comes to lay a new hard-floorin the sitting-room, dining room, and hallway, MWNN decided it was time to look for a new chair. So we packed the dog into the car and headed to Hatters in Bedford. The plan was for me to take Ron to Priory Park to walk, while MWNN selected his chair. It was way past lunchtime when we arrived.  I parked the car in a shady spot in Hatters' Car-park and gave Ron a quick pee stop. Before I returned to the car, MWNN summoned me into the store to see the selected recliner.

The chair is made by Elcornes It's the large version of the Magic Model - the most comfortable chair Elcornes make. Chair purchased, delivery date sometime in September, we made out way to Priory Park for a very late (3pm) lunch.

After lunch, I left MWNN and SiL to rest in the shade, while I took Ron for a rapid 30 minute walk.

The path from the Marina runs alongside the main lake.

This lake now occupies the site of a Roman Villa.

The lake is now home to a diverse population of flora and fauna.

There were several pairs of swans nesting on the bank.

Flag iris looking splendid.

Deadly belladonna.

Don't know what this tree is. It is covered in a cotton-wool-like mass of seed pods, but has long, narrow leaves. Could be a willow, as the air was filled with seeds floating on the light breeze.

Ron was more interested in the water than the wildlife. When we reached the far end of the lake, where there is a gently sloping shingle bank, he rescued some twigs that were in need of a good retrieving.

He loved this part of the lake. His high-trotting in the shallows (very Patterdale) drew comments from two young women sitting on the bank,

I needed a rest, at this point, but the only available seat was in full sun.

I took as much advantage of the shade as I could on our return to the restaurant, letting thetrees, wind, water, and wildlife work  their magic.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Nature in the back garden

I've just finished a Facebook challenge, where I posted a photi every day for seven days. Each of the photos illustrated my love of nature.

The back garden is blooming and full of nature busily doing natural things. For the first tine ever, blue-tits nested in the nesting box, which, by now, is covered in ivy, affording them protection.

Beneath the nesting box, the border under the crab apple has been colonised by the common columbine, predominantly a stunning blue, but with some white and pink also.

MWNN says that we acquired them from a beighbour, and I'm sure the first pair were planted by the gardener. They've spread (they tend to do that, native wild flowers) and the lawn may well be at risk.

The Columbine is very at home in this corner, in the shade of the trees, beside the wood pile and old bench,. They are in the spot that was once covered in ground polygonum that used to drive me wild in late summer and early autumn, by encroaching ever further along the border. The Columbine sbould be easier to control.

Beside the Columbine, a variegated holly seems to be flowering for the first time, so we may get some berries this winter.

In the space vacated by one of the many Viburnum shrubs, I have planted some Sweet Williams  They, too, should spread and provide some much needed colour at this time of the year,

The wild Hawhorn, that seeded itself decades ago, is in full flower, providing shade for the Columbine and stretching along the border to the

Variegated Euonyums Japonicus behind the statue of Minerva. The statue was called 'Rosemary' by the makers, Inigma, and I thought she was a fitting memorial for my Mum, who fostered my love of learning,

To the right of Minerva, is a mock orange, in full flower, but showing some signs of damage and age.. We need some warm, humid days for the scent to be noticeable in the evenings.

Across the terrace, the Red Hat Lady Rose has put out its first bloom. It will be followed by a profusion of flowers that cover the dwarf shrub throughout the summer.

On the opposite side of the garden, the Dogwood is giving a wonderful display of masses of flower heads. They will become dark purple berries in the atumn. When the leaves have dropped, the lovely red stems will bring colour to that corner of the garden throughout the winter.

The birds that have benefit from the berries in the garden include the thrush. They've been absent for a few years but have been spotted feasting on snails on the slate-covered bed containing the lavendar. I found a few pieces of evidence of the work of the thrushes in the  border this morning,

MWNN doesn't like me cutting flowers to bring into the house, so he bought me some carnations (big brothers of my little Sweet Williams) for the spot in the kitchen where I like to have a vase.

Friday, 13 May 2016

A special third-year anniversary

celebrated with lunch at Roberto's.

A table near the window, but not beside it.

A menu, and a specials' board to peruse at leisure.

No fast-food here and the chef's signature dish, rack of lamb, was worth the 35 minutes wait.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Plus ├ža change. Out of the mouths of babes

It's exam time, again. Teachers all over the nation will, no doubt, be noting the amusing blunders made by some of their pupils.

This morning,, I finished cataloging Jill Grey Books, Box 17, at the British Schools Museum. My favourite, was a book from 1905, called "School Room Humour", by Dr Macnamara. Many of the humourous sayings are taken from the Schoolmaster Publication (the organ of the National Uion of Schoolmasters.).

 It was all I could do to stop myself reading the whole book. The Preface warned of those stories of which the author, like the Scotsman ' hae ma doots!' One such was the Bristol schoolboy who wrote 'The bowels are five in number, a, e, i, o, and u.' Had I stopped to read, the box would not have been finished within the three hours I had worked.

I made a note of a link to the Universal Library, where I found a copy of the book (third edition, 1913) available for download.

In addition to it being time of exams, it is also a time of Elections and, in the UK, a Referendum. . In the early 1900s, one girl wrote an exam essay which began 

An election means two things. 

First, the voice of the people spoken by choosing the most eligible person or persons to represent their creed, requirements, or grievances.

Secondly, an election means lies, treachery, hypocrisy, drunkenness, anxiety, disappointment, and glorification.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Which is the oldest

The People's Friend or The Lady?

Both claim to be the world's oldest women's magazine.

The  People's Friend claims that it was firsr issued in 1868, No image of this edition is available on the internet, the earliest I can find being 1893

The Lady was first published  on Thursday, 19th February 1885.

This week's edition dropped through my letterbox this morning, 131 years later.

So, there is little evidence for the age of The People's Friend, while that if The Lady is confirmed.

Which are you, the people's friend, or an elegant woman with an elegant mind?

Which is your favourite?

Children's periodicals, 19th century style

I love my work at the British Schools' Museum. At the moment, I'm working with the Jill Grey Collection of books, entering details into the museum database.

Today, I had the privilege of handling the 1870 bound copies of the Chidren's Treasury  and advocate for the  homeless and destitue magazine.

The printed incription on the frontespiece states "An annual for "children of the rich, for whose improvement and instruction the following pages were wrtitten, and the cildren of the poor for whose benefit they were puvlished and circulated."

I also entered the details of  the June 1910 edition of St George's Magazine for boys and girls,which ran from 1906 to 1915.

It was the magazine of the St George's club ,for boys and girls ,whose motto is "onwards and upwards" ,whose members promise to ,1. befriend ,those in need,weak,poor  or aged. 2.not to torture dumb animals or rob bird's nests. 3.not to wantonly destroy wild flowers.4.not to drop litter ,or chalk on doors or walls.5.not to throw orange peel or banana skins on the pavement ,and pick up other peoples peels and skins.The magazine has stories ,riddles,competitions ,approx 47 pages ,and is like many other childrens magazines of the time.

These antique publications provide a fascinating insight into the way children were raised in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It's a pity that I can't spend more time browsing their contents. It's easier with books from the same time, as they are often to be found in online libraries, and can even be downloaded.