Saturday, 29 January 2011

Stocks & Stones

I've been passing through Faulkland about twice a month now for years but have never bothered to actually stop and look at the stones which are clearly visible from the road.

So today was the day. Nice and early when no one was about as the stones are in the middle of the village green, surrounded by houses and I hate being conspicuous!

There are other stones around  one of which can be seen in the picture alongside.

An interesting feature is the use of the stones to frame a set of stocks - I've never seen them in use  by the way!

I'm told they date from the 16-17th century.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Grey Mare & her Colts

The Grey Mare is the remains of a neolithic long barrow near Abbotsbury in Dorset. Now a rather disordered heap of stones it dates from around 3000BCE.

The capstone has slipped but it is still an impressive monument even if it is close to a field gate. At least there were no cows although they had left plenty of evidence of their presence!

This was a pleasant stroll from the Kingston  Russell Stone circle although it was further than we expected and a lot of peering through bushes occured in case we were walking past it on the wrong side of the hedge!. Once we were close enough though it was hard to miss.

The Kingston Russell circle itself was very hard to photograph and surrounded by a standing crop. There are certainly better pictures than mine available but for what it is worth - here is a bit of it

This is an English Heritage site and they had a helpful sign pointing in the right direction as the circle itself was almost completely obscured by the barley crop.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Too much of a good thing!

Being an inveterate magpie I have a habit of picking up interesting “bits and pieces” during my wanderings and have managed to acquire a rather large collection of rocks and pebbles over the years – there is definitely a limit to how many boxes of them can be considered reasonable and I have now exceeded that ( and then some!).

So what to do with them? A friend on another forum said she was going to buy a “stepping stone” kit to make something for her garden. This sparked the idea.

Having never seen a stepping stone kit in the UK, I was obviously going to have to start from scratch. A check of the garage revealed that there was no concrete lurking deep in its depths so a trip to the builder’s merchant was required for the basic cement/aggregate mix and some sand.

Having got them home I then used a soil sieve to remove the larger pebbles from the concrete mix.

Next was a mould – I used an old sweet tin, one that had previously held wrapped chocolates and because it had a “lip” at the top I lined it with cardboard so I’d be able to get the stepping stone out. A completely smooth interior would be better but I couldn’t find anything suitable and I certainly wasn’t going to pay for a commercial mould.

Once a couple of inches of concrete had been poured into the mould I was able to concentrate on the fun bit – making the design. I chose a sun wheel motif for this one. If you use quick drying concrete you’d need to have this pre-planned and ready to go but as I was using the traditional mix I had plenty of time to keep changing my mind.

You need to push the stones well in to ensure that they stick but not so far that they disappear.

The whole thing was allowed to set for a couple of days before unmolding. I was really pleased with the way it turned out and it is now the basis of an outdoor shrine in the back garden.

I’ve still got a huge number of stones to find a use for so all ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ancient cookery

There is a fairly important archeological dig going on a few miles from where we live and every so often they have an open day to allow people to look around and see what is going on. Sometimes there are some special events and I go occasionally.

Last time there was a demonstration of ancient cookery. The picture isn't great, it was hot and smoky and raining to boot and I didn't get as close as I should have.

The cooking was done in a fire pit on hot stones. There was a basic bread made from spelt grain and roasted hazelnuts which tasted a lot better than you would think.

Coming home I decided to experiment myself with spelt as a bread grain. Spelt flour is reasonably easy to obtain and there are plenty of recipes on the internet.

I've used This one several times now with great success. I've made both loaves and rolls. The main downside is that it goes stale fairly quickly but that isn't generally a problem around here!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Marvels of Mandrakes

Is this the smallest mandrake ever? Before you say this is only a seedling the plant is actually over a year old!

There were originally 5 seedlings and I was feeling very pleased that I'd managed to germinate all but one of the seeds I'd planted. Unfortunately I was away for a few days during a viscious cold snap last January and when I got back the seedlings were dying off.

Mandrakes have a reputation for going dormant for months on end and then starting to regrow but these seedlings were only a few weeks old and I wasn't expecting them to have the reserves to do that. However I left the pot untouched more in hope than expectation.

Well as you can see I was wrong! One popped up again just after Christmas and is just starting to grow a second leaf. This year's batch of seedlings dwarf it already.

Monday, 24 January 2011

A beginning...

Hello and welcome to this corner of the internet. If you've taken the trouble to find me I hope you enjoy your visit!

Well one has got to start somewhere so why not with a trip to Wentwood in South Wales to visit the Curley Oak.

This was an accidental find - just came across it whilst wandering ( fairly aimlessly it must be said) through the the woodland. The tree certainly stands out amongst the pines - a venerable old oak that is completely hollow yet still manages to cling to the vestiges of life.

A bit of quick googling turned up some statistics but no estimate of how old this tree might be. I guess I need to look that little bit harder.
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