Up supporting Penkhull

I don’t know when it got so serious!

I live in Stoke-on-Trent and the village at the top of our hill is called Penkhull. It was mentioned in the Domesday book and was a Royal Manor from 1086 to the time of Edward the Second. It is a village in a city and people like it so much that they had a competition to design a flag.

The flag has a golden Cockerel symbolising the weather vane on top of the church steeple. It stands on a blue ground which is for the blue of Spode, the old pottery firm in nearby Stoke-upon-Trent that manufactured ceramic products including the willow pattern pots that became synonymous with the factory.

The yellow oval and lines radiating out are for the road around the village green and the four roads each leading downhill from the village.

The green is to show that is a green place in the middle of a city. The whole design was approved by vexillologists (no I didn’t know that word before the competition) from a charity called the flag institute.

So why am I up? Penkhull is taking part in a competition being run by @theflaginstitute on Twitter. It is in the #WorldSeriesOfFlags and is up against the golden rays of barley from #tiree in Scotland. This is the final. I have not been able to sleep since I saw that Tiree had got ahead of us in the final they are on about 51.8% and we are on 48.2%? Something like that. Its very even between the two places.

Don’t know if I can get back to sleep…. The vote on Twitter ends at 11am. I think I’m in for a long night.

Hello duck!

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This was a sign in a local museum that someone shared on Facebook.

It was strange coming to live here. In my home town people would say hello chick, or love. But Stoke people say ‘duck’. I had no idea of the origins, and the first few times I heard it I literally did duck! I thought someone was warning me! Eventually, though, I got used to the greeting. Together with the phrase ‘cost kick a bow agin a woe an it it wi yer hed til ya bost it?’ I may have misspelt this but it means ‘Can you kick a ball against a wall and hit it with your head until you burst it?’

As you can see, the old dialect and pronunciation is interesting. But as someone with a west Midlands accent. Oim not reealy botheered abowt iyt.

Anderton Boat Lift

_20200115_003550The Anderton Boat lift is somewhere I would like to visit. Its near the village of Anderton, in Cheshire, England. It is fifty foot high and joins the Trent and Mersey canal to the river Weaver. Boats go from the  canal or river into a lift filled with water and the boat and water is either lowered or raised to the other one. It’s called a two caisson lift lock, although I’m not sure why it’s called that.

The lift is a scheduled monument, and was built in 1875. It was closed in 1983 because of corrosion, but luckily it was restored in 2001and reopened in 2002. We intend to visit later in the year, there is a visitor centre run by the Canal and River Trust. I’ve checked and it is open at the weekend.

Half way home

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We’ve found a place to stop for lunch when we are driving home through the hills of North Wales. Its about halfway or a little less. Before you come back down the hill into Wrexham and cross the border into England. On a sunny day its good to stop for a refreshing cup of tea and maybe a scone or a salad.

With all the rain we have just had I wish we were back up in the hills. Bathed in sunshine, watching fish in the pools.

It’s a pleasant daydream instead of watching water run down the glass of the living room window. Hearing it patter onto the window ledge from the guttering, spattering the plants. Letting moss grow on next doors roof…..

Sunshine, that’s what I need. Xx

Old painting, maiden castle

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Painted several years ago, my painting of Maiden Castle Hill Fort imagined a woman dancing in the landscape, and also her bones as if they were found in the land.

The idea was inspired by visiting Maiden Castle in the 1990s,thinking about it being a hill Fort and part of the Celtic world.

It is located in Dorset near Dorchester. If I remember correctly it is reached by a small road, then you walk up through the ditches and mounds that lead up to the top of the hill Fort.

I think I got the idea from watching archaeology programmes on TV. I imagined the woman being aware of the changing seasons and how time passes. The little skull below her is a rabbit skull we found on a walk.

It’s a bit weird, but I wanted to include a figure in the dramatic landscape.

Astle Park traction engine rally

We visited Astle Park Traction Engine rally today. There were a vast number of stalls with everything from crafts, car spray paint, antiques, archery and many more things. There was a show ring and tractors, Land rovers, steam traction engines and other vehicles trundled round it to the delight of the crowd. We enjoyed a drink from a bar in a marquee and some food. There was an old fashioned fairground with a galloper roundabout and steam organs, there were also old lorries and military vehicles. We had a go at archery and firing cork guns and paint ball guns.

It was overcast and threatened rain but it kept off. The ground was churned up in places but because it was dry it was starting to dry out so there was only a bit of mud.

Astle Park is just outside Chelford in Cheshire, its near Jodrell Bank Observatory. The event happens in August every year.

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I want to be by a beach

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An old watercolour of Bovisand Bay. Choppy waters, Devon coast near Plymouth. Cornwall in the distance. Thus is where I want to be. Staring out at sunshine or showers, paddling in the water or splashing about further out. Looking at the plants and animals in the countryside around the bay.

The rocks on the left hand side are where local youths “tombstone” or jump off the top into the bay when the tide is in. Round the headland is another part of the bay. A woman died trying to swim round to it several years ago. There are shops and bungalows High up on the cliffs in the other part of the bay, but the last time we went the carpark above it was partly fenced off due to the cliff collapsing. With more storms and bad weather it is possible that costal erosion will increase and many costal properties and land will be lost to the seas.

Today’s drawings

Today I had the pleasure of going out with The Orme Art group for our annual trip to a landscape venue at an old house and its grounds in Staffordshire.

The weather was very windy,  so I decided to take a small sketch pad  and coloured pencils,  soft pastels, and fine tipped ink pens. I thought I had my portable chair in the back of the car but it wasn’t there when I opened the boot. Luckily there were chairs in the garden of the large house for us to use.

The other artists there were either painting with watercolours or acrylics, but we were in a reasonably sheltered spot, so they were not affected by the wind. There is something wonderful, sitting in a green space,  looking at the landscape, the shapes of the trees and leaves. Noticing where the shadows fall, which direction the light is coming from. Choosing the medium which is most appropriate for the drawing you are doing. I find using black pens are good for quick sketches, and outlining and shading shadowed areas. The pastels bought out the colours on an old tree, where only one section of bark was still attached and so only a few branches were still in leaf. I used the coloured pencils to try and give an impression of the solidity of the house with feathery leaves superimposed on the walls and windows. Finally I drew a quick sketch of one of the other artists as she painted the tree that I had drawn.

Having a small A5 sketch pad that is ring bound is really useful. You can draw across the whole page without it flipping shut on you. Yes the holes and wire can get in the way a bit, but being able to fold the whole book back allows for easier handling. You can use it in portrait or landscape positions, and it is easier to fold shut if you get caught in a sudden rainshower.

I spent about an hour on the drawing of the house, and 20 to 30 minutes on the landscape/tree. The quick sketch of my friend took about 15 minutes.

The one thing I should have worn is sturdy shoes! There were a lot of insects about and I’m lucky I didn’t get bitten!