October 28, 2016


Seventeen years ago I lost my Dad. He was fine in the morning. He and mum were planning an afternoon out. He dropped her off at the hairdresser's, went to pick up his pension from the post office, then went home for a shower. He didn't quite make it.
Here's five photos of him.

1943. Dad joined the navy to avoid being sent down the mines. He was not quite 18.

 A couple of years later and he's stationed in Scarborough, where he meets a WRNS communications operator who was to become his wife, my mum. He got his taste for a pipe while he was in the navy.

1956. Chelmsford. St John Ambulance first aid demonstration. He eventually became a Serving Brother of the Order of St John after years of public service. Just like his dad, who was a railway first aid officer for many years.

Mid 1960s. Before joining the navy Dad was training as a market gardener. He put his skills to good use in our back yard; working the land like a professional to ensure we had a plentiful supply of fresh veg all year round. Still puffing on that pipe!

July 1999. As far as I know this was the last photo ever taken of him. He always loved gardening and he was very pleased with the solar-powered fountain he'd been given.

Sorry if you think this is a sad Five on Friday. It isn't. My Dad was a wonderful man who I loved very much, and I have nothing but happy memories of him.

Now hop over to Any at Love Made My Home to see what everyone else has gathered this week.

PS. Please bear with me if it takes a couple of days to get back to your blogs.  We're having some 'us' time.

October 21, 2016

Five from Leeds

Last weekend went went to Leeds to see a concert by the magnificent Bad Company, fronted by the voice of rock, Paul Rodgers. Of course I thought about Amy and Love Made My Home while I was there and took some photos.
The magnificent Kirkgate Market stands on the site of an earlier market. Originally it was the home of Leeds vicarage but a fruit, vegetable and cattle market was begun there. In 1857 the city erected a covered market but it was swept away in 1904 to make way for the spectacular building you see today. If anyone happens to be in the area, the wool shop on the right offers very good value!

While you're in the market you might spot this, because Kirkgate is where Mr Marks and Mr Spencer first got together to launch their now internationally-regarded chain of stores. This isn't just any market..........

Just down the road you'll find the magnificent Corn Exchange, now a collection of little independent shops and a gallery space, but once the place where merchants gathered to agree the price of grain. The domed roof was designed to allow in as much as possible of the clean, northern light, because it gave a true image of the goods being traded. Built in 1861 and in use until the 1950s.

It wasn't just pure grain that was traded. Local (ish) brewer John Smith needed malt to produce his fine ales and so had an office in the Leeds Corn Exchange where experts could assess and buy what was required.

If you look very carefully at the photo of the Corn Exchange roof you will see a coat of arms, and if you have extremely good eyesight you might be able to make out a pair of owls that flank it. There are owls all over the city. This one is outside the town hall. (And I admit I took the picture on an earlier trip to Leeds a couple of years ago.)

Now please drop by at Amy's blog to see what other fives have been featured there this week.

October 14, 2016

What's in a name? Pargeter

Most people are aware that surnames are often derived from an ancestor's job. Coopers made barrels, fletchers made arrows, bowyers made bows, smiths worked with iron, etc. But what do you think of when you hear the name Pargeter?
Green man, Clare, Suffolk. Modern example.
Pargeting is decorative plaster work found mostly on the outside of buildings, and it is skilled work, hence the recognition in the surname. Although it is found throughout the UK pargeting mainly occurs in East Anglia. The first recorded use of the word was as early as 1237 when it was included in a description of work carried out on internal walls.

Langley Chapel, Shropshire. 17th century. 
Pargeting ranges from simple incisions to elaborate swags and floral sprays, to geometric designs, to symbolic features such as the Green Man, to figurative work and even full pastoral scenes. It can be either cut into a layer of plaster that has already been applied to a wall, or built up into low reliefs by the addition of some form of fibrous material that acts as a binder.  

The Ancient House, Clare, Suffolk

It mainly features on timber buildings and forms a weatherproof outer skin. Although plaster is not waterproof the application of pargeting prevented draughts and hence made homes warmer.
In the late 19th century there was a revival of the fashion and, in typical Victorian style, pre-moulded motifs could be bought to apply to smooth plaster base coats. The effect is much crisper than traditional work and frequently much simpler. Single motifs in large, blank areas, rather than overall patterning, denote later work.

Simple, early example. Also in Clare, Suffolk.

Internally, the work is often called stucco, and the fashion for such designs was known as early as Roman times. So whenever classical design enjoys a revival it tends to bring decorative plasterwork back with it.  The fine example below is from the 18th century Music Room in Lancaster. 

This has been a post for Five on Friday to join in with Amy at Love Made My Home.
Apologies to my regular readers. I've got a busy weekend coming up and I might not get back to visit your posts for a couple of days.

October 07, 2016


Here we are again on Friday so it's time to join in with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday. Don't forget to visit to read other people's fives when you're done here.

October 11
Yes, I drew that.
If you haven't tried any of this year's blackberry crop you'd better hurry - you only have until Tuesday. By tradition, the Devil flies over them and spits on the fruit on the night of Michaelmas. He took a dislike to the plant and the day after falling from the sky (it's a holy day, after all) and landing in brambles. Anyone who has picked blackberries knows just how sharp the bramble bush can be. Hence Old Nick's anger and his annual attack on them.  Of course, you might also know that Michaelmas is celebrated on September 29, but back in 1752 Britain converted from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and 'lost' 11 days in the process. (Read more here.)
October 11 is therefore 'old Michaelmas', but the Prince of Darkness is a bit set in his ways!

While you're out gathering, see if you can find some apples. They have all kinds of superstitions associated with them, many to do with divining who a young girl might marry. (Peel off the skin in one piece, throw it over your shoulder, then see what letter it makes. Don't get too excited if you are currently seeing someone called Steve or Simon!  Or extract the pips, give them all names and put them on the fire. Any that 'spit' are likely future husbands, but if they fizzle they're no-hopers.)  On the other hand, if you have any warts you can charm them away by cutting the apple in half, rubbing the cut sides on your wart, then put the halves back together, tie with string and bury it. As it rots away, so will your wart.

Falling leaves
If you're in need of some good luck you might also keep an eye out for falling leaves. If you can catch one before it hits the ground it is supposed to be very lucky, and some versions of the lore suggest you can make a wish. But be careful what you wish for - it might come true!

Something else you might spot at this time of year is a robin. They're friendly birds, and somehow they seem to be more common as the seasons turn colder. If you see one say hello to it, and it should bring you good luck. Just don't let it get indoors. It's extremely bad luck for any wild bird to be in your house.

A couple of useful old saws for this time of year concern the weather.
A rhyming couplet you might remember: When ditches and ponds offend the nose, watch out for rain and stormy blows.
And some warnings of a harsh winter to come: a large crop of acorns; autumn leaves clinging to trees; and thick skins on your onions!