The Trentham Estate Fairies

22nd September 2014
Fairies – They’re a complex bunch and are generally described as human in appearance and having magical powers. Their origins however are less clear, being variously described as dead, or some form of demon, or a species completely independent of humans or angels.
Some folklorists have even suggested that their actual origin lies in a conquered race living in hiding, or in religious beliefs that lost currency with the advent of Christianity.
More worryingly, they’re also know as Siths, which is likely to worry The Jedi somewhat.

Whatever the truth (if there is one) The Trentham Estate, just down the road from us, is the home of a large number of them.

Trentham HallAlthough the Hall doesn’t quite look this any more, a gentle stroll around the gardens will, if you keep your eyes open, reveal at least 15 of these bewinged creatures, lovingly constructed from stainless steel wire.

Trentham Fairy   Trentham Fairy

Incidentally the artist, who creates these amazing creatures, lives in our beautiful village of Oakamoor, where you can see some of his creations adorning the chimneys of various properties – and all for free!

We’re off on holiday tomorrow, so we’re leaving the Oldies in charge again. Given that nothing untoward happened last time, we’ll probably let them stay up late, as long as they promise not to have a rave whilst we’re sunning ourselves in Cyprus 😉

Landslide, Piling and Stuff

21st September 2014
You’d be forgiven for thinking, as we haven’t mentioned it much, that all our landslip woes have been wrapped up in a nice pretty pink bow and consigned to history.
Unfortunately, some 10 months on from the initial signs that things were going south, no work has actually taken place to rectify things here.
According to the latest plan, the work to install the ‎french drain, in the adjacent field, is due to start any day now. We don’t know what day, but any day in September is fine by us.

According to The Boffins this will be closely followed by putting some engineering fill in the hole excavated by the builders. I’m pretty sure that’s what they said anyway because, given my background, one could get the impression they were taking the michael if they’d actually said Engineering Phil.

Following the installation of poor old ‘Phil’ in the hole, some time around January 2015, 68 piles are going to be placed around the perimeter of The Laurels. These concrete columns will be 75cm in diameter and about 12 Metres deep with a concrete beam across the top, joining them up.
They’ll then be anchored into the ground via a large cable which, at some points, will be in the farmer’s field. This  goes some way to explaining the extended time frame, as planning permission has to be gained before the farmer can have the drainage in his field improved and for us to install some steel cable under the ground where they’ll never be seen by the grazing cows above….

In the meantime, we’ve been advised our rear wall and the bank behind it, although not subject to any landslide or other unusual forces, has come under the microscope by our insurers.
It would seem things still have a long way to run before they could be considered hunky dory.
Those of you, like us, that are intrigued by the derivation of such phrases may be disappointed by the fact that hunky dory used to be known as hunkum dunkum.

Carsington Water

11th September 2014
In keeping with my unhealthy interest in the weather, it struck me today that I wasn’t sure where the term “Indian Summer” came from.

I’d always imagined it was something to do with India and the fact the weather improved in September after the monsoons. But no, apparently it comes from the Red Indians in the good old US of A.
No doubt it’s now called a “Native American Summer”, by the increasing number of politically correct “people of challenged intellect” (that’s idiots to you and me), but who knows.

Anyway, the reason I mention this, apart from the fact the Met Office have promised an extended period of sunny weather (yippee), is that it led us to venture out to Carsington Water for a few hours to enjoy the sunshine.
Carsington Water, as I’m sure you know, has a capacity of 35,412 megalitres. What you probably don’t know is that it’s only 30 minutes from us and is a centre for sailing, windsurfing, cycling, fishing and rafting.
Rather than engage in any of the above activities we decided on a quiet stroll, during which we took numerous photos.

As the weather was somewhat odd, I decided on some moody, into-the-sun-kind of shots. 
    Carsington Water Carsington Water Carsington Water

Helen meanwhile had clearly discovered the remains of a deer, who’d been stuck in the mud since 1984 when the reservoir was first constructed…..
Deer Legs




The poor thing also seemed to be suffering from the same issue, in the testicular department, that had afflicted Hitler.


Oakamoor Festival – Murder Most Horrid

7th September 2014
One of the many things we love about living in a small village is that they still do small village type things.
The annual Oakamoor Village Festival took place again this weekend and, as we’re having an enforced rest, decided to enjoy the festivities.

Friday night saw us attend the Murder Mystery play in the village hall. The local thespians did their best to put us off the trail of the real murderer by adopting names like Lance Boyle, Emma Royde and (my personal favourite) Tess Tykell, but unlike some Agatha Christie plays you actually had a chance of working out who did it. Well some people could – we didn’t have a clue.

Saturday morning saw us in the village hall entering our wares in a couple of competition categories. Helen opted for the Six Dessert Apples class – displaying the best match of those she’d plucked off the tree just 30 minutes earlier. Meanwhile I weighed in with a photo of the village to see if I could luck in with a prize. 
Secretly we’d hoped to entered category 13 – A Lettuce, but the only one we had to hand was one from Morrisons, which is probably cheating, and I’d already destroyed its good looks by putting some of it in a sandwich 🙂

In the afternoon we happened across a rather large hog who’d sacrificed himself to the flames, in the garden of The Lord Nelson public house.
Having pigged out on that (sorry!) we returned to the village hall to discover we’d actually had some success in our chosen categories 🙂

Apples Competition             Photo Competition

After our success of the day before, we smugly returned to The Park , Sunday morning to visit the dog show.
What can I say. There were lots of dogs…..

    Dog Show        Dog Show
…. although I was slightly confused by the fancy dress category, in which a dog was dressed up as Sherlock Holmes.

All of which leads us to the main event of the weekend (well, in my mind anyway). The raft race!

Raft Race    Raft Race   

Raft Race
    Raft Race

I have to say we probably weren’t expecting the ramming, sabotage or egg-throwing, but hey, that’s why we love living in Oakamoor 🙂


Emma Bridgewater – A Rainy Day to Remember

1st September 2014
If there’s one thing you can rely on in the UK – it’s the weather.

Yep, you can always rely on it to mess up your plans on a regular basis. Especially when you’re on holiday.

I’ve always loved holiday-makers, in the ‘hot spots’ of England, wandering around in their shorts, sandals and cagoules, bracing themselves against horizontal rain. We’ve even done it ourselves (minus the sandals) on more than one occasion 🙂

We’ve a nice long list of things to do within 45 minutes of The Laurels. However we also wanted to make sure there were things on that list, that you could do when the weather was somewhat inclement.
With that in mind we thought we’d pay a visit to the Emma Bridgewater Pottery in Stoke on Trent. For just over two quid (That’s two pounds Sterling if you’re from The US of A) you can book a factory visit that demonstrates the whole process from start to finish. So that’s what we did!

Mould makingHaving wandered around, staring over the shoulders of the employees engaged in their various tasks, we moved on to the glazing department. The glaze is applied in a very fetching shade of purple (or fuchsia, lavender, magenta – who knows), which apparently allows any missing bits to be spotted more easily.

Foot wipedThe thing with glaze though, it makes the bottom of the bowl, plate, or whatever, stick to the shelf in the kiln. This clearly isn’t a good thing. So if you’ve ever wondered why your cup has a rough ring around the bottom, that’s why.

To get round this, one of the workers acts as a ‘Footwiper’. This task involves taking every single piece of pottery produced in the factory and wiping its bottom free of glaze. I sure hope the pay’s good.

The best part is saved for last though. If you want to, you can also book up a decorating session. This allows you to paint a piece of your choice, have it fired, then take it home. Obviously not on the same day though, as it’s likely to be a tad warm…
Having initially looked upon this activity with all the glee one does of a wet Bank Holiday (oh wait, it was a wet Bank Holiday) I very soon warmed to this activity as we chose our paint colours and decided on our designs.

Tea cup                 Laurels cup

Having spent 90 minutes fine-tuning our designs, (you can probably guess which one’s mine) we were ready to start again and create even more pottery perfection.
The finished articles should be ready for collection in a week or so. We can’t wait! 🙂