Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Monk Bretton Priory

There are lots of lovely local walks where we take Archie but sometimes we just fancy going somewhere different, I'm sure Archie appreciates a change of scenery just as much as we do. On Sunday I was looking on the internet for somewhere we hadn't been before and came across Monk Bretton Priory.

Located on the edge of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, it's about a forty minute drive for us.

As you enter the site you come to the Gatehouse which was extensively rebuilt in the fifteenth century.

To the left is the Administrative Building, this is where the monks would have met with visitors. It's a thirteenth century building but the upper floor was rebuilt in the seventeenth century.

Monk Bretton Priory was founded in about 1154 and was originally a monastery under the Cluniac order.

In 1281, after bitter disputes with the Cluniac priory at Pontefract, Monk Bretton seceded from the Cluniac Order and became a Benedictine house.

In 1295, the Priory housed thirteen monks and a prior. The same number were there when it closed in November 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. 

Although some of the buildings are preserved well, little remains of the church, though there are some medieval grave slabs dotted around. Some of these retain lead lettering whereas others are decorated with crosses.

The cloister buildings are better preserved. Here you can see the high south walls of the monks' refectory with its two windows. The square would have been enclosed and would have linked the various domestic buildings used by the monks.

Here you can see the drains which flushed the latrine block with running water brought from the River Dearne.

There's a good amount of ruins still standing but even where they're not, you can see the markings on the ground of where the buildings would have stood.

The two great windows in the south wall of the monks' refectory.

The west range is almost complete and you're able to stand inside the building and get a real feel for the place with its staircases and nooks and crannies.

The site is now cared for by English Heritage. They do such a good job of looking after our historic buildings, monuments and sites but there's always some who take pleasure in destruction and spoiling things for others. Just look at the state of this information board. Totally senseless. There were bits of rubbish and plastic bags littering parts of the grounds too.

It was a dull day but it was very mild, I didn't need a coat. I like to get out when I can during the later months of the year, you just never know when autumn and winter are going to really settle in and how many fine days we have left.

We certainly got our change of scenery and as dogs are welcome on leads, Archie got a change from his usual haunts too.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

3rd of October

We're in full on wedding fever here at the moment. Eleanor and Jacob got engaged in October 2020 and would have liked to have started making preparations for their wedding straight away but we went into lockdown again after the engagement and it's been a bit uncertain throughout the year with limits being enforced on how many guests were allowed at gatherings due to the pandemic so they thought it best to wait awhile. Most restrictions have been lifted now and though nothing's certain in terms of what's to come, they've decided to start making plans.

The first thing they needed to decide on is where they want to hold the wedding and reception. Neither of them want to get married in a church, preferring a civil ceremony in a hotel, so we've been looking at venues. They've found the perfect place for them and have now booked it, along with a registrar.

Eleanor and Jacob met at university, they were taking the same degree and met on the 3rd of October 2016. At the time, Eleanor had been going out with her then boyfriend for over two years and it would be nearly two further years before they went their separate ways. This left the door open for Jacob to ask Eleanor out on a date, and this he did exactly two years after they first met, on the 3rd of October 2018. When it came to proposing, if it hadn't been for the pandemic and lockdown, I think it would have happened sooner than it did, but Jacob ended up popping the question on the 3rd of October 2020 and She Said Yes. So, as you can imagine, the 3rd of October is an important date for them, they met, started going out and also got engaged on this date. They had thought about having a summer wedding but in the end they've decided to carry on the tradition and they'll be getting married on the 3rd of October 2022.

Although it seems there's lots of time to get things ordered and booked, there isn't really. There's so many things to organise so we've been visiting some wedding fairs, they're such a great place to start as many suppliers come together under one roof and you can take lots of ideas away with you. Many of the suppliers have said that they're taking bookings and orders for 2023 already so we do feel a little behind the game, but I'm sure we'll catch up with things.

The main things we'll have to sort out that I can think of for a start are flowers, stationery, cars, cake, and of course, there's the wedding dress. I remember trailing around for Eleanor's prom dress, that was an ordeal in itself so goodness knows what wedding dress shopping is going to be like. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Wildlife World

I've written about Lotherton Hall on numerous occasions, it's only a ten minute drive from where we live and we usually visit several times each week as it's the perfect place to walk Archie. There's different walks around the estate but we rarely tour the hall or Wildlife World, which is situated in the grounds, as it's rare that we visit without Archie. Last week Archie hurt his leg and he's been limping so he's been on enforced rest at home. We took advantage of the situation on Saturday, visited Lotherton without him and had a look around Wildlife World.

The main attraction in Wildlife World is the colony of Humboldt penguins.

They're always playful, swimming up to the viewing windows and showing off.

These penguins are originally from South America and can live for up to twenty five years.

The natural surfaces and pool allow the penguins to behave as they would in the wild and also breed, which means that Lotherton can contribute to the national breeding programme as the species is listed as vulnerable.

Most of the flamingos were doing what flamingos usually do, standing on one leg. It's believed they do this to avoid muscular fatigue, it's an energy saving activity.

There always seems to be something new when we visit Wildlife World, this time it was the Nocturnal House. We didn't manage to see Bonnie and Clyde, the cloud rats, endemic to the cloud forests of The Philippines, but we did see the Egyptian fruit bats and Seba's Short-tailed bats, though they were far too fast to photograph. I did manage to take a picture of Pablo the Kinkajou though. He came to Lotherton from the Isle of Wight, though they're native to the tropical forests of Central and South America. 

It was very dark in the Nocturnal House so my photos aren't the best but you get the idea.

Another animal in the Nocturnal House is Gaston the Southern Three-Banded Armadillo. Gaston lives in the same enclosure as Pablo the Kinkajou but Pablo seems to spend his time climbing on the ropes and branches which have been especially installed for him, whereas Gaston scurries around the ground. A member of staff entered the enclosure while we were there and Gaston was following her round wanting her to pet him. He's such a cutie.

A different member of staff invited us into the educational centre to get a closer look at the tortoises and while we were in there, we were being watched. Apparently, this white peacock just turned up at Lotherton about ten years ago and has stayed ever since. He's free to wander wherever he pleases.

The African Grey Crowned Crane is the national bird of Uganda and features in the country's flag and coat of arms. His crown makes him look very majestic.

This Southern Helmeted Curassow is called Angus. The conservation status was changed from Threatened to Endangered in 2005. They're found almost exclusively in Bolivia and some northern parts of South America but their numbers have declined due to deforestation for agriculture - shrinking the habitat area. The male will present the female with choice food gifts to entice her. If she accepts the gifts they will breed. I thought the way to a man's heart was through his stomach, obviously the other way round in this case.

Have you ever seen anything as cute as a Patagonian Mara. A relatively large rodent also known as the Patagonian cavy, Patagonian hare or dillaby. Found only in Argentina, they prefer to live in habitats with plenty of shrub cover. Being monogamous, pairs of Maras stay together for life. The male will follow the female wherever she goes, living in pairs or warrens of up to twenty nine pairs. That's quite specific, isn't it. I wonder what happens if thirty pairs get together.

I really enjoyed our little look around. Although we visit Lotherton often, it can be a few years between our visits to see the animals so I always look forward to it. Before we left, we went to have a look in the hall but unfortunately it was closed for cleaning. I do want to return as there's an exhibition there at the moment which I want to see so we might do that in the next few days.

I hope you enjoyed coming along for a visit to Wildlife World with us.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Taking Stock

Last August, I started working on a few of my older projects with the aim of getting some of them finished off. I wrote about it in My Crafting Rotation post. Since then, I've finished off quite a few of those projects, I've started some new things and finished those too. So I thought I'd do a post to document what projects are still outstanding at this time.

My first scrappy blanket is being knit out of hand dyed yarn and to date this blanket consists of one hundred and twenty squares. I'm not sure yet how big I'm going to make this blanket but it's already quite heavy so I don't think I'm going to let it grow to massive proportions. I shall just keep adding the squares until I think it's time to stop.

The second scrappy blanket I've got on the go is being made from commercial yarn. There are fifty two squares in this blanket so far so still some way to go. I really enjoy working on scrappy blankets as each square I knit is different to any I've already added so every single scrappy blanket is totally different, and the squares don't take long to knit up. They're nice projects to have on the go and add to every now and then.

I started the Twelve Days of Christmas sampler last September when I asked Who Fancies A Bit Of Stitching? I didn't expect to have this finished quickly as for one thing I'm a slow stitcher, and another, I work on many projects at once so it never gets worked on for long periods of time. I don't mind that though, I really enjoy each and every stitch that is added, and for me, it's the working on something which brings me the greatest pleasure rather than the finished article.

English paper piecing is very new to me, though I started this last year I'd never done any kind of sewing before, hand stitching nor machine sewing, so this is something completely different. I only add two or three hexagons every so often but it is getting bigger. I love the fabric I'm using, it's the Botanic Garden design from Lewis and Irene. I'm not sure what I'm going to make this into but for now I'm just enjoying the process of stitching the hexagons together.

I won't have any of these four projects finished any time soon but I do enjoy having some longer term projects on the go to pick up when I fancy. These will continue to be worked on as the mood takes me.

I'm taking part in the Strictly Sockalong again this year so I recently started my socks for that. I haven't got very far yet but as I haven't knit any socks since last year, I'm really enjoying having a pair on the needles again.

And that's it at the moment, just five projects on the go, and none of them near completion, though I'm sure the Strictly Socks will get finished before the Strictly Come Dancing series ends in December. Perhaps it's time to start something new.

Monday, 4 October 2021

The Thursday Murder Club

There were over one hundred people in front of me waiting for The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman when I put in a reservation at the library, it's been a very popular book. I could have bought it but I do like to use my local library whenever I can as so many libraries are fighting to stay open these days and that will only happen if people make good use of them.

"In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it's too late?"

This is Richard Osman's debut novel and I think he's done a brilliant job with it. It's a cosy crime novel, nothing too graphic or gory, it's written with humour and the characters are people you'd love to come across in the real world. The plot itself kept me guessing right to the very end.

This gets a big thumbs up from me, I can't wait to read Richard Osman's next book, The Man Who Died Twice (The Thursday Murder Club Book 2) but I'm currently 63rd in the reservation queue at the library for that one so I doubt I'll be reading it any time soon!

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Little White Cat

I've finally finished the cross stitch which I started many years ago, I'm not sure exactly when it was started but it was definitely more than forty years ago as I know my brother bought it for me one year when he was in the army and that was between 1976 and 1981. I wrote about this cross stitch in my Rusty Cat post and you can also see in that post the stage it was at when I rediscovered it. 

I can't say that I've enjoyed finishing it off, it wasn't a pleasure to stitch with so many quarter and half stitches, and I abhor backstitch, but I've finally done it. I just picked it up for an hour here and there and managed to chip away at it. I actually considered leaving it there once I'd done all the cross stitch but I'm glad I persevered as the back stitch really does make it stand out and finishes it off nicely.

It would have been nice to pop it in an oval frame but I couldn't find one which was the right size anywhere. The next best thing would have been to use an oval photo mount inside a frame but it would have meant that I'd need quite a large frame so in the end I just went with a straightforward 8 X 6 white frame. I think it looks okay. I took the above photo before the glass was added to avoid the glare.

It certainly doesn't deserve pride of place but I'm relieved that it's finally finished and I have to say that it does please me to still have my very first piece of cross stitch after all these years.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Hobonichi Cousin

I've mentioned lots of times in the past that I've kept a journal for many years now. Back in 2019 I bought a Hobonichi Techo in the A6 size. I really enjoyed using this little journal, it was compact and as it was dated, it encouraged me to write something each day. In 2020 I decided to continue journaling in this way and used a Hobonichi Techo again but this year I've gone back to my old A4 journal which I've been using since 2006.

I miss writing something in my journal every day. I know I could do so if I so wished, but I don't think an undated journal encourages this. I've also been watching lots of journaling videos on You Tube and I follow journaling accounts on Instagram, they've inspired me to go back to using a Hobonichi. This time I've decided to go for the Hobonichi Cousin in the A5 size to give me a little extra room as I'd like to have a go at more creative journaling where you not only write but decorate the pages too.

My order from The Journal Shop was delivered last weekend, not only have I bought the Hobonichi Cousin but I've also bought a lovely cover to keep it in, along with a pencil board which you place underneath the page you're writing on to prevent marking the sheet of paper underneath. Hobonichi pages are printed on Tomoe River paper which is very thin. It keeps the book compact allowing one whole year to fit in one journal and it's bleed resistant, ink doesn't show through onto the next page, but as it is so thin, indentations from writing tend to appear, the pencil board should prevent this.

I'm very happy with my purchase and look forward to getting started with it in the new year. Do you keep a journal? Have you started making any plans yet for 2022?

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

He's A Flake

I started He's A Flake by Little House Needleworks at the beginning of last year and I actually had it finished quite quickly, or at least quickly for me, but it's been languishing in my craft room waiting to be made up into an ornament.

It's a lovely design which I stitched on 28 count Brittney Lugana. It has a few beads added, beading was something new for me to learn and it definitely adds to the finish. I found it a little bit fiddly but I hadn't done it before and it certainly wouldn't put me off using beads again.

I love the actual cross stitching but I'm not confident at finishing things off properly so I end up putting them to one side for months on end. This could have been made into a lovely ornament in plenty of time for last Christmas and I decided that if I didn't get a grip, it wouldn't be finished in time for this coming Christmas either. I will admit that I chickened out though and it's actually Mick who has done the finishing for me.

I think Mick's done a very good job. He's not the least bit crafty but didn't mind measuring, adjusting and glueing. I got the idea for this on the internet so popped into Poundland to see if they had any of these little wooden serving boards, they're ideal for crafts such as this.

I'm happy with how it's turned out, I just need to have a look at the Christmas decorations appearing in the shops and then I can find something to trim the borders up with. I think it will look very festive.