pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Day Spanning 90 Years

I managed to take a very quick snap of the Buttercross in Burwell as we drove past.  We were in convoy with a ladened car transporter, a very nice convertible,  and a tractor.  Luckily we knew we could turn off the main road once we got round the corner.
I have heard various stories about this building, some say it was the gaol, but I think the truth is that it was converted to a dovecote and now serves as a village hall.  It was built somewhere around 1700 and has obviously undergone many alterations.

Burwell itself is a very small village, which is tucked very neatly into the folds and bends of the Lincolnshire Wolds.  In medieval days it was a market town, and there was a Benedictine Monastery which was founded before 1110 but which was dissolved in 1427, so we can't blame that one on Henry VIII.

Burwell now consists of a few houses, the village hall, a redundant church, a pub/restaurant which serves Thai food, and several farms.

This large and very old barn always gets my attention as we turn off the road, one day I intend to find out its history.  

There used to be a large and very grand house, Burwell Manor House, but that was demolished in 1958 and now all that remains are the stables, more is the pity.
This dried-up lake/pond is one of a series of lakes in the grounds, Lincolnshire is suffering drought conditions - it doesn't bode well for the summer.
Here is the walled garden right next door to the dried out pond.  I wonder whether these are the legacy of those long-gone monks, utilised and expanded in 1760 when Burwell Manor House was built.

So many questions, so many books I need to read, so many local history classes to attend!  Another avenue I want to explore is the Roman connection, because I have heard from one local historian that there was a Roman bowling green here!
This photograph is for Ms Sparrow because I know how much she loves our snowdrops.  This particular house is right around the corner from us, I love the way the snowdrops have spread.
Claythorpe Manor is another old and interesting building - but that is for another day.

We spent this morning looking after my (90 year old)  Aged Aunt, then we came home and spent the afternoon and early evening looking after our five week old granddaughter.  Time to take a break and put our feet up.  It will soon be 7.30am and our grandson will be on the doorstep!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Once on a High and Windy Hill

Once upon a time, long, long ago...   

... a young man and a young woman went out on a blind date.  

I fell madly in love.  
Does it show?

Sixteen months later we were married.  
I came across the bill for our church wedding, the other day, and it made me smile.
We were married in a large and beautiful parish church, with vicar, organist, choir, bell-ringers, etc all for the princely sum of £31.55.  What a bargain!
My wonderful mother made my dress - it was white velvet - and I carried a bible and a single red rose.   George's family  travelled down from Newcastle, in a mini-bus.  Unfortunately they were a little late and my father and I were driven round and round until they were seated!
I'm sure our reception was lovely, however my main memory of it is that people kept disappearing and reappearing - it turned out that Newcastle United Football Club were playing in an important match...the League Cup, whatever that is..and they were nipping out to find out what the latest score was!

When we arrived at our honeymoon destination in The Lake District the very first thing George did was to put on the television, to watch 'Match of the Day' as the Newcastle United football match was being shown...   
We are still married, so I must have forgiven him!
George's lovely Uncle Jimmy quietly gave him a bundle of cash during the reception and told him to have a good time.  Thanks to his generosity we were able to treat ourselves to a fabulous seven course meal at the Aynsome Manor Hotel, which was just a short drive from where we stayed in Cartmel.  Here is the bill - a fabulous meal, wine, coffee and superb service all for the sum of £10.80!  The couple who ran the place were wonderful to us and really went out of their way to make it memorable and enjoyable.    

That was 36 years ago.

A lovely meal is going to cost a little more than that today, 
but you're worth it!
Happy Anniversary George.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunrise, and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker

They say that country life is quiet - not so in the early mornings!

I could hear a neighbour's cockerel crowing, wild geese were squabbling on the fish pond across the road, plus there was a wonderful dawn chorus.  It was unbelievably noisy as the birds seemed to hurl insults at one another. 
So much scribble in the sky!
Gradually the light increased and the noise diminished a little as the birds got down to the serious business of feeding.
One bed down, eight or nine to go!
We spent today doing lots of digging, tidying up the winter debris and generally finding plenty of outdoor work.  It was a beautiful day, mild and sunny and it felt good to be outside.
I found some spare time to play with the camera - during my tea-breaks, of course.
Image borrowed from
While I was working outdoors I was delighted to hear the drumming of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 
he often comes into the garden for food during winter, although I haven't seen him much in the last few weeks.

I found time to sit and have a chat with the hens, and while I was with them I spotted this ladybird tucked deeply and snugly into a tree trunk, so I photogaphed it using the macro lens.  I wonder whether woodpeckers eat them?
Lets go for a walk.
Harry offered to take the old girls for a walk around the wood - they never walk this neatly for me!
The end of a busy day - mustn't let Harry sleep for too long,
he has to go home.
We came indoors for some tea and cake, all became very quiet, and this is how I found my three boys a short time ago!

I hope you have all enjoyed your Sunday as much as we enjoyed ours.

Saturday, 25 February 2012


We have spent a quiet, but satisfying day, working on small projects around the place.  The unusually mild weather has drawn George and I out into the vegetable garden, and the wood.  The list of jobs to be done is as long as our legs.  They could overwhelm, so we must break them down into manageable pieces!
We visited dear Arnold, gave him some time, some attention, a couple of treats.  The treat is all ours, he gives so much love back to us - and to Toby.  The first time we took Toby along he was fine, until Arnold bent his neck over the fence and 'said Hello' - he nearly wet himself!

Now that he is used to Arnold - and Arnold is huge, compared to Toby, he responded in kind and greeted Arnold back.  A small moment.  A simple thing.  A magical moment for George and I as two of our favourite critters communicated.  I was too busy enjoying the moment to photograph it, sorry.
George has already planted lots of seeds and has them dotted around the greenhouse and the conservatory.   The seedlings are thriving, but need careful attention for a few more weeks yet.

I have been busy digging the first of the many vegetable beds, it is wonderful to see how much the soil has improved.   George 's first batch of home-made compost was put to good use this week - to say that I was impressed is putting it mildly.   It looks wonderful - just like the kind you buy, only even better because it was made from garden and kitchen waste.

The Spring flowers are starting to appear everywhere, even peeping out from  large stones.

Beautiful colours, lovely forms.
We need to continue collecting the fallen branches from the wood, chopping, sawing, storing and drying the wood for the coming years.  We also need to get to work and prepare the site for the polytunnel.  We have decided where to place it, now the ground has to be cleared and prepared, part of a blackthorn hedge must be removed and the base constructed.  

We have cleared the space to construct two more raised vegetable beds, now we need time to do the construction, etc.  

I need another soothing turn around the gardens!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Arnold and The Village Blacksmith

We may have lost our school, post office, butcher's shop, grocery shop, cobbler and church, but our tiny village still has a pub, a village hall and a blacksmith!  

In 1908 a blacksmith fresh out of his apprenticeship set up in business at the far end of the village.  Horses from the nearby villages were brought to the premises for shoeing, and the blacksmith would also travel to several other local villages which had small forges.  
In 1936 they moved the business up to this end of the road.  The main business was shoeing horses but they also made and repaired cartwheels in conjunction with the carpenter.  I have heard it said that the carpenter also used to make coffins, on the top floor of the black corrugated building.  When the coffin was ready to be loaded it would be discreetly loaded down a chute onto the back of a wagon!

During the Second World War the blacksmith was commissioned to provide 1000 shoes for mules.
To this day a member of the same family is still active making weather vanes, wrought iron gates and commissioned works.

I like this place for many reasons - including the beautiful worn and weather doors, the quaint roof tiles, the old metal work around the place, the sun-bleached wood and, of course, the sense of continuity.

Of course, on the way home I called in to see Arnold.
His sheep friends have been taken away because the farmer doesn't want any more accidents.  So poor Arnold is on his own again.
See Bennie having a wash as Arnold prepares to frisk my pockets for some more carrot or apple!
Except, who should I spy there but Bennie,  sitting having a lick and a wash near Arnold!
I had a chat with John and he said she has been spending time up there recently.
I'd like to think she is keeping him company, they certainly seemed very relaxed together.

As I was leaving Bennie was checking out John's workshop
 -  which pleased him -
 apparently he has quite a mouse problem.
Not for much longer with Bennie on the job!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tomato Seeds

A few weeks ago Meggie had a fantastic Garden Seed Giveaway.  She was very generously offering some heritage seeds.  I chose a variety of tomatoes - Tomato Carbon, which have won many taste awards in the last few years!
They arrived today - and I am thrilled and delighted.
Thank you, Meggie!

We will get them planted and I'll let you know how they progress.
I am really looking forward to the taste test!

I wonder how they will fare
at this year's Village Show

We had a huge amount of fun last year,
notching up far more successes
than we expected.

The trouble is that it puts the pressure on this year! 

I am counting on these purple tomatoes to win at least one class.
Thank you Meggie.

PS.  Check out Meggies seed list  - new varieties she is trying out this year.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Buried Treasure

H L Atkinson is the name on the flyleaf of two rather scruffy hardback notebooks, which I found hidden at the bottom of a box of books purchased at auction.
The illustrations are mainly, but not exclusively, heraldic in nature.  
They are rough and unfinished,

but have a certain charm.
I had decided that it was the work of a male, but then I came across these
with full and detailed descriptions of the fabrics and styles a couple of pages further on. 
I love these sketches.
Several sheets of this headed notepaper were tucked into the book, most with little sketches on the reverse.  I wonder whether this was the father to H. L. Atkinson.  So far my dabbles into research have produced nothing of any great interest.  Except for this
Borrowed Image
an illustration done by one L Atkinson, ARCA - I believe it shows the aftermath of bombing in a city.  

It is an interesting little collection - and one of these days I will knuckle down and start exploring the internet and records to see what I can find out about these two people.

I love handwritten, and painted, treasures like this.    They were an added bonus which I delight in looking through every now and then.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Joan and the Wild Man

Belleau Manor House  was demolished in 1978.  Joan, one of our village elders, was brought up there, she remembers it as being very damp and very cold and, although she has fond memories of living there, I think she is more than happy to be living in her much cosier bungalow.

Formally a school teacher, Joan is a mine of information about local history and is well known locally for her paintings and pastels.   I think she must be in her late seventies or early eighties.  She is one very determined woman and keeps on going, despite severe problems with her eyesight.

On a recent walk we went over the little Belleau bridge, it is a post medieval, arched, brick bridge which leads into a farmyard - at first sight it is like any other farmyard.  Explore a little more and there are great treasures to be seen.
Lovely ramshackle buildings with ancient beams.

This is a working farm, we just hit lucky that it was a quiet day and we were free to explore a little.  The original medieval Belleau Manor House stood on a moated island, the moat was up to 14 metres wide in parts.  Most of this has now been infilled.    The little brick bridge is thought to occupy the site of the original access to this island.
The listed barn, see all those alterations and exciting remnants
The medieval manor house was replaced by a hall in the 16th century and the remains of the hall, along with some 18th and 20th century alterations have been incorporated into the barn in the middle of the 'island'.    Just look at all the architectural remnants in that barn wall!   Unfortunately we couldn't gain access to the side for a better photograph.

The Belleau Manor House which Joan lived in was a late 17th century building, and was thought to have been an extension to the earlier hall.
This strange little building is what remains of a 20th century stable block.  It was constructed in 1904 and incorporates all that remains of the house of Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, which belonged to Sir Harry Vane after the Civil War.

The gable has reset deeply moulded Tudor archway with a Wild Man, or Green Man, corbel.  The Wild Man is a symbol of the Willoughby d'Eresby family, and the archway was formerly in the gatehouse of the mansion.  Unfortunately because there were animals in the field (protected by an electric fence)  we couldn't get any closer - not even for blogging purposes.  Sorry!
Just across from the farmyard  is this lovely old Tudor dovecote.  Built in the 16th century, it is octagonal in shape and is made from brick with a slate roof.  All the original roof timbers survive, internally it is full of nesting boxes.  You can see the one tiny entrance (for humans) in this photograph.
I would love to have the time to dig and delve into some more of the history of Belleau, but at the moment we are coming in for lots of baby and child-sitting duties.  Days whizz by.  Once things settle down I will do that research and post.  How I would love to have free access to roam around and try to absorb some of the atmosphere of this place!  On the plus side, at least it is only a ten minute walk away!

PS Sir Henry Vane lived at Belleau Manor from 1650-1660.  He was a Parliamentarian during the Civil War although he later became disenchanted with Cromwell’s government. During the reign of Charles II, when the monarchy was reinstated, he was beheaded at Tower Hill.