Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Hadley Bowling Green Inn

Just over a week ago Mum, Dad, Mark and I went out to the Hadley Bowling Green Inn for a meal to celebrate their 49th Wedding Anniversary.  It was a lovely evening.  The food was a little bit different, showed some originality on the part of the chef and it wasn't too pricey.  When Mark and I first moved to the area, it was a fantastic place to eat and it was a treat to walk over there to sit next to the log fire with sandwiches and a bottle of wine.  Unfortunately the quaint atmosphere of the place was ruined by a really unsympathetic modernisation of the bars about 12 years ago.
We stopped calling in because it didn't feel so 'special' anymore.  We heard through local gossip that it wasn't doing well as a business and it was eventually closed and boarded up.  Recently new people have re-started the business and they seem to pitched things right.  There's a lot of really good 'eating pubs' in our area so they had to create a menu that was going to attract people to a pub in the middle of nowhere.
Luckily for us, it's also conveniantly placed about halfway round a six mile walk.  Perfect for a lunch stop when the sun is shining!  Here's the walk that we did today...
We crossed the Droitwich canal at a little hamlet called Ladywood.
We then dropped down into the shallow Salwarpe valley..

Even the little river Salwarpe showed signs of flooding from earlier in the week..
Here's the front of the pub. 
It's a delightfully quaint old building and it's lovely to see windows again rather than boards.

Here's the bowling green that gives the pub it's name.

And here's the fireplace in the bar...! 
We had sandwiches and chips (very nice) but my days of drinking a bottle of wine at lunchtime are well and truely over!!!
Thank you to everyone who left comments on my last post.  It really helped me to read your experiences too.  Also a huge welcome to my new follower - Marina.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A new addiction!

A couple of hours ago Balisha at Never Enough Time wrote a lovely post about treating herself to some new season apples.  In this post she mentioned eating apple with a little bit of peanut butter.  I immediately commented that I'd never tried this combination before but that it sounded really good and quite healthy (if you don't spread the peanut butter too thick!)

Anyway, I needed a quick snack before my pilates class so I decided to break out my trusty jar of crunchy peanut butter and try it with a large juicy Gala apple.  I can now report that it's not just tasty - it's the stuff of serious snacking addictions!!  Seriously, it's also quite filling so I haven't felt the urge to eat anything else.

I had a Music Teacher's meeting at another school this afternoon so I had to drive myself today.  The down side of this was that I had to keep both hands on the wheel (so no crochet!).  The up side was that I got back to the Worcester area much earlier and had time to have another look at Em's wool sale.  Today I only bought one ball - a pretty pale green yarn which will look fabulous in an Autumnal themed blanket I'm planning.

It was nice to have a treat because the last couple of weeks haven't been particularly great at work.  The pupils are delightful as always.  It's the supposedly 'grown up' people that I work with that have made things very hard.  Yesterday was a crisis point and I feel seriously let down by my Headteacher and his Deputy.  Even though I love working with the kids - and it will break my heart to leave a department that I have ploughed my heart and soul into - I'm not sure how long I can carry on working there.  I've got  to schedule a meeting with the Deputy next week to try and clarify the situation and where I stand.  I'll let you know what happens...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Welcome to my Wool Stash!

I was really pleased when I realised that my local Wool Shop ('Em's' in Droitwich) was having a sale.  I paid £1.00 per ball for all this lovely yarn on Saturday morning.  Mostly it's a cotton mix which I really enjoy using in my crochet projects.
On Sunday afternoon I spent some time bringing order to the general chaos of my wool stash.  I moved it from one of the high level cupboards in the little bedroom to the space under our bed.  I also themed it by colour and wool type.  Here's a picture of all the bags lined up across the bottom of the drawer.  Somehow there's something deeply satisfying about the sight of all this work waiting for my attention!
I'm making good progress towards the completion of my latest granny square blanket.  I think I should be able to post pictures of the finished article in a couple of weeks time.  It's great to maximise our commuting time by doing a bit of crochet in the passenger seat.   Yesterday was an especially awful day and we ended up spending over 2 hours in the car.  It didn't feel anywhere near so bad when I looked at the squares I'd made!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Making the most of the sun..

Yesterday's walk was a five mile round trip to the nearby village of Salwarpe.  We are lucky to have loads of lovely churches in the area and Salwarpe is one of my favourites.  It was built in the 11th Century then 'restored' in the 13th Century.  Since then, it's largely been left alone.  It certainly didn't suffer a Victorian 're-working' during the 19th Century.
The interior is cool, dark and very simple.  There are hints of medieval wall paintings on some of the plaster but it's far too dark to make out what the images might be..

Across the road there are two cottages.  These were built as a Grammar School in the early 1600s.  A small plaque on the building tells a little of its history.  We were surprised to read the school even accepted girls from 1730.  I had no idea that girls could receive a grammar school education at that time.

There's a small gate in a corner of the churchyard that takes you down to the Droitwich Canal.  It's a short stretch of canal that links Droitwich with the River Severn and was one of the first canals in the area.  It's unusually wide because the salt barges were wider than normal narrow boats.

Here's this week's 'green cathedral'....

The canal was derelict and unusable until very recently.  It's still quite a quiet stretch of water but it's lovely to see the occasional holiday maker picking their way through the reeds.

After a while we left the tow path and picked up this old lane to climb into the back of my village.  I couldn't resist taking some pictures of the patterns that the sunlight made on the stone wall...

Sadly my village isn't quite so picturesque.  There are a few old black and white cottages but the centre is largely Victorian and grew up round the (closed by Beeching) station.  I live in one of the many little modern developments in a 1990s house.  I just dream about having enough money to live in Salwarpe!
We managed another five mile walk this morning before the rain came.  We walked in the opposite direction, next to the Birmingham and Worcester Canal, so the scenary was generally more urban.  I'm pleased that we're keeping up the 'walking habit'.  The total exercise for the last week has been about 13 miles (two long walks and two short ones) so we're somewhere near our weekly target.
Unfortunately some of the possible benefits of this morning's walk were somewhat compromised by a piece of chocolate cake at coffee time.  I DID share it with Mark however (and everyone knows that husbands get all the calories if they eat off the same plate!!!)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Meeting up with Maddie

On Sunday morning we did our best to maintain our fitness regime by going for a walk round the centre of Worcester.  The city has quite a green heart because there's a race course between the river and the Victorian streets on the north side of the city.  We parked the car and walked along the back of the race course.  This was the view to the south as we turned and picked up the river bank.
I love the way the trees create a 'green cathedral' by the river at this point.  It's really popular with dog walkers from all over the city.

Suddenly we met a familiar doggy face...  This is Maddie, one of our neighbours dogs.  It would be fair to say that we are her number one fans!  Our neighbours have always had Bernese Mountain Dogs and Maddie is a particularly gentle and freindly example of the breed.  She's been a show dog in the past and has also had puppies that have been shown in Crufts.  Now she is enjoying retirement as the most senior dog in a menagerie of two dogs, three young cats and several rabbits.  My neighbours are seriously animal mad and L. has made a business out of 'doggy day care'. 

After enjoying a cuddly fuss with Maddie (and a chat with her Dad) we continued our walk down the river and over the footbridge into the area of the city known as St Johns.  This is the main university part of the town and there were lots of 'freshers' wandering around.  Quite a few of them didn't look old enough to be starting an independant life!!!

Soon we got to my favourite part of the river bank where you can catch some pretty views of the cathedral.  This is the point between the Cricket Ground and the river where the swans frequently gather, hoping for food.  It's one of the best viewpoints to the cathedral buildings - especially when there are plenty of leaves on the trees.
We finished off the walk by crossing the river again at the new footbridge to the south of the city.  We probably did about 4 miles in total. 
In an attempt to stay fit through the winter we are trying to maintain a weekly average of about 10 - 12 miles of walking (plus a Wednesday Pilates session for me).  Given that we leave the house at 7.00 am and get home at 5.45 pm (Monday - Friday), it's quite a challenge to spread this amount of exercise through our schedule on a regular basis.  We've found that the best thing is to pop something in the oven then go out for a 30 minutes walk as soon as we get home.  It's not really ideal when the evenings get darker but I guess it's better than nothing at all...!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pictures from a New Term..

Beautiful early morning skies from the study window..

..and dramatic sunsets from my bedroom at the front of the house.
Burning candles around the house...
The pretty candle lamp in the hall that my friend gave me for my 40th Birthday..
And candles all over the lounge fireplace...

Spending lots of time with my family....
I bought these flowers for my parents last weekend....
On the 7th of September Dad was 73 and Mum was 69.
On the 7th September 1962 they also got engaged - so the flowers were for their
"Golden Anniversary".
Life's good - but time on the internet is very limited!

Monday, 10 September 2012

A 'Brideshead' Experience..

On Sunday Dad, Mark and I went to a Vintage Sports Car event in the shadow of the Malvern Hills.  It was a lovely - slightly quirky - day where we saw loads of beautiful and unique cars.  The event took place on the drive of Madresfield House - a private property on the edge of Malvern.

Madresfield House is interesting in lots of different ways.  The author Evelyn Waugh stayed there regularly and it is said to be the real 'Brideshead' of 'Brideshead Revisited' fame.  When the book was made into a television series in the 1980s the owners were asked if the house could be used for filming.  They declined so the film makers went to Castle Howard instead.
In the 1940s the house was idenfied as the home of the British monarchy, should there have been an invasion during World War 2.  I've also been told that some very interesting, 'Profumo-style' parties were held there during the 1960s....!
The Vintage Sports Car Club have been holding a rally on the drive since 1947.  On Sunday 50 cars from the 1919 - 1936 era carried out a series of 'mobility tests' against the clock.  It was so interesting to see such rare cars actually moving on tarmac.
The parking areas were as interesting as the paddock. The decent weather encouraged lots of people to bring out their 'pride and joy'...
I was very amused to see that people brought picnics that were completely in keeping with the style of the event.  At lunchtime tables were set with real linen and cut glass, and I saw more than one group of people snacking on quails eggs, salmon and cold chicken.  Plenty of people had interesting bottles of wine and one lady had a boxed bottle of Bollinger!  My 'normal' picnic seemed a bit tame in comparison...!
Normally motorsport events can be a bit expensive to attend.  This event had almost 1930s entrance fees - £3.00 for all three of us AND parking for the car.  Not a bad price for a really alternative day's entertainment!  It was a great distraction from some of the hassles of the first week of term.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Cheering Mark Up

Poor Mark has had a rotten return to work this week.  During the first week of our holiday we heard that a contractor, who was also a good friend, had died.  He was fishing on the rocks at Tintagel in Cornwall and an unexpectedly large wave washed him off.  He drowned before anyone could get to him.  It was in the national news at the time.  Mark took time off work to go to his funeral on Thursday afternoon.

Mark and Dave were working closely on a multi-million pound project just before the holidays.  Dave was supposed to be creating paperwork to support the spend ready for Mark's return to work.  On top of the loss of his friend Mark is having to handle the implications of this missing paperwork, which had resulted from weeks of meetings.  Mark's boss had the audacity to ask it would be ready for next week THEN sent him to a sequence of unrelated meetings for the rest of the week.

By yesterday evening Mark was exhausted, stressed and really unhappy.  I'm used to seeing him frustrated by the working environment created by his boss but I was worried that he needed space to come to terms with Dave's loss properly.  It hadn't really hit him while we were away... but had hit him fully once he went back to work.

Anyway, Mark tends to chill and quietly process his thoughts when we are walking so today we did a real BIGGIE.  We parked the car at Bewdley, walked up the River Severn, then picked up an old railway track that cuts into the back of the Wyre Forest.  We then created a walk of about 9 miles along forest tracks and back down into the town. 

The path that follows the old railway line..  Sometimes you can hear the whistle from the steam engines on the Severn Valley Railway.  A strange quirk of acoustic make them seem very close at this point.  It's almost like a ghost train is following us along the track!

Tracks in the main part of the forest.  A lot of the coppices are old Oak trees.  In a couple of weeks they will be really beautiful as they start to change colour.

After all this hard work we had to stop for lunch in our favourite cafe.  Normally I dissuade Mark from the chocolately cake pudding but today he looked like he needed a bit of sugar...!