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.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Animals, a Dovecote, and Lots of Snow

This beautiful weather vane pointed the way to Arnold's field...
...sure enough, he was waiting patiently for his treats.     Ninety-six year old John was busy filling a hay net for him, checking on his water trough...a truly remarkable and immensely likeable man.   He was not going to let a few inches of snow get in the way of caring for Arnold.
We continued our walk through the fields and along the Great Eau, making our way towards Belleau.
I couldn't resist this shot which shows the wonderful, old dovecote and to the left of the photograph you can see the tower of Belleau church.     My attention was taken by the sight of a tiny clump of primroses on the far bank of the river (which I photographed, but blogger won't allow me to upload it, grrr) suddenly there was a squeal from Toby.

He had tried to cross a cattle grid,  got his back legs caught and was unable to haul himself out.   Luckily,  only his dignity was hurt.   I hauled him out and he walked very nicely to heel, for a few minutes!

Our walk continued through the village and out across the fields, miles of fresh, crunchy snow.
The first job when we returned home was to check on the hens again.     They were all in good form and quickly demolished their bowl of 'hot' mash.  
Remember those poor scrawny girls of a few weeks ago?  Don't they look different now!
Xiao Ji is in the foreground, then we have  Isadora, Frankie, and Boudica.  They don't mind the snow at all and are still producing three eggs a day.   Good girls!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Logs to Burn!

Logs to Burn
Logs to burn.   Logs to burn
Logs to save the coal a turn
Here's a word to make you wise
When you hear the woodman's cries.

Never heed his usual tale
That he has splendid logs for sale
But read these lines and surely learn
The proper kind of logs to burn.

Oak Logs will warm you well
if they are old and dry
Larch logs of pinewood smell
But the sparks will fly.

Beech logs for Christmas time
Yew logs will heat you well
'Scotch' logs it is a crime
for anyone to sell.

Birch logs will burn too fast
Chestnut scarce at all
Hawthorn logs are good to last
if you cut them in the fall.

Holly logs will burn like wax
You should burn them gree
Elm logs like smouldering flax
With no flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent your room
Cherry logs across the dogs
smell like flowers in bloom.

But ash logs all smooth and grey
burn them green or old
Buy all that come your way
They're worth their weight in gold.

Another one:

Oak logs will warm you well
That are old and dry
Logs of pine will sweetly smell
But the sparks will fly.
Birch logs will burn too fast
Chestnut scarce at all;
Hawthorn logs are good to last
Cut them in the fall.
Holly logs will burn like wax,
You may burn them green;
Elm logs like smoldering flax
No flame to be seen.

Beech logs for winter time
Yew logs as well
Green Elder logs it is a crime
For any man to sell.
Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent your room,
Cherry logs across the dogs
Smells like flower of broom.
Ash logs smooth and grey,
Burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way –
Worth their weight in gold.

There are lots of these poems - interestingly, they seem to have blended, with whole verses transposed from one version to another.    

Logs to burn, logs to burn,
Logs to save the coal a turn,
Here's a word to make you wise,
When you hear the woodsman cry.

Beechwood fires burn bright and clear, Hornbeam blazes too,
If the logs are kept a year, to season through and through.

Oaken logs will warm you well, if they're old and dry,
Larch logs of pinewood smell but the sparks will fly.

Pine is good and so is Yew for warmth through wintry days,
The Poplar and the Willow too, they take too long to blaze.

Birch logs will burn too fast, Alder scarce at all,
Chestnut logs are good to last, cut them in the fall.

Holly logs will burn like wax, you should burn them green,
Elm logs like smouldering flax, no flames with them are seen.

Pear logs and Apple logs, they will scent your room,
Cherry logs, across the dogs, they smell like flowers in bloom.

Ash logs, so smooth and gray, burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way they're worth their weight in gold.

This is a version which I posted in January last year...

Beechwood flames are bright and clear
if the logs be kept a year
Oaken logs burn steadily
If the wood be old and dry
Chestnut's only good they say
If long dry years it's laid away
But Ash when new or Ash when old
Is fit for a queen with a crown of gold.
by Dorothy Tilson

Birch and Fir they burn too fast
Blaze too bright and will not last
Build a fire of elder tree
Death within your house you'll see.
If you would bake the sweetest bread
Use Hawthorn, or so 'tis said
But Ash when green or Ash when brown
Will please a queen with a golden crown

Elm will burn like churchyard mould
Even the very flames are cold
Poplar gives a bitter smoke
Burns your eyes and makes you choke
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells of flowers in bloom.
But Ash when wet or Ash when dry
A queen may warm her slippers by.

Each version has something to offer.    I must conduct an experiment next autumn...cut some Hawthorn (second poem) then, when it has seasoned, use it to fire-up the Rayburn when I am baking bread (final poem) ...  
It is cold and snowy outside - another day for sitting next to the fire and dipping into old books - life is tough!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Potions and Salves from the Old Farmhouse Receipt Books

We awoke to find that snow had fallen through the night - not a lot of snow - but enough to make the world look beautiful and certainly enough to cause problems on the roads.  As the day grew lighter the snow grew heavier.  The gardens were transformed into a winter wonderland.

Definitely a day for sitting by the fireside.  

Time to pull out my favourite recipe books...the old, dog-eared and tatty ones which have probably done duty in five or six kitchens before they ended up loved and cherished in mine.

There is a huge vat of vegetable broth simmering on the Rayburn, the bread has been baked, the kitchen is warm and filled with delicious aromas.   No need for food recipes then, but how about some good old-fashioned home cures for those pesky sore throats and colds?

Linseed Tea ~ a remedy for sore throats and colds.  Take half an ounce of linseed, wash it, and put it in a saucepan with a print of cold water.   Simmer for half an hour.    Add half an ounce of liquorice and a quarter of an ounce of sugar candy.   Strain and drink a little at a time.

Treacle Posset ~ Warm a pint of milk, and pour into it a tabespoonful of black treacle.  Boil for five minutes. Drink it hot.  It is very good for a cough.

Cough Mixture ~ To a pint and a half of water add a pound of black treacle, two ounces of liquorice and boil for half an hour.  Add a pennyworth of paregoric*, a pennyworth of aniseed, and some oil of peppermint.   When cold, bottle tightly.   One tablespoonful every four hours.

* paregoric - a camphorated tincture of opium
Raspberry Milk ~ No draught is more agreeable to a feverish patient than a dessertspoonful of raspberry vinegar mixed in a tumbler of cold water.  It should never stand in any metal or glazed vessel for the acid would act upon the surface to an injurious extent.

Raspberry Vinegar ~ Put two quarts of white wine vinegar and two quarts of fine freshly picked raspberries.   Let it stand three to four days.  Then strain, and to each quart of liquid add a pound of sugar.  Put both fruit and vinegar into a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.   Bottle when cold.  Take two teaspoonfuls for a cold.   Blackberry vinegar may also be used.

Honey Cough Mixture ~ Put into a bottle 4 ozs pure cod liver oil, 1oz of glycerine, 4 oz honey and the strained juice of 3 lemons.   Shake well.  This mixture should be taken three times a day, after meals.  

Perhaps you have a few aches and pains?

Liniment ~ A drachm of oil of cloves and two drachms of amber, with nine drachms of camphorated oil.  Mix together and rub on the chest or between the shoulders.

Old-Fashioned Sulphur Salve ~ Mix equal parts of home-made lard and flowers of sulphur to a smooth paste.   This very simple ointment is ready for use immediately, and has always been a wonderfully quick cure for most affections of the skin.

Farmhouse Herb Salve ~ This salve is excellent for all sores and bruises, and is particularly good also as a veterinary aid for softening the udders of newly-calved cows, or for sore teats.   Its healing properties are remarkable.
You will need 1 lb home-rendered lard and 1 good handful of each of the following: elderflowers, wormwood, groundsel.   Cut the herbs into 1 inch lengths.  Put into and earthenware pot with the lard, and bring to the boil in the oven.   Simmer for half an hour.   Then strain into pots and tie down when cool.
This salve can be made from dried herbs, but it is better to use them fresh.

***Do not try this one!***  A cure for lumbago was to carry a little bag of quicksilver in your pocket.

Household Hints

'Reviver' for Blue Fabrics ~ Take an old saucepan - iron or enamel, not brass or copper - and fill it full of ordinary green ivy leaves.   When as many as possible have been pressed into the pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.  After boiling for 20 minutes, stand the pan by the side of the stove and simmer for 3 hours.  Strain off the leaves and to every pint of liquid, add 1 tablespoonful of liquid ammonia.   Put into a bottle and cork, and for safety, label "Poison" .  It keeps indefinitely.

Spread the garment to be cleaned on a table, and with a cloth (preferably a piece of old blue serge) sponge, giving extra attention to the most soiled patches.   Press with an iron afterwards.

...this next one could be particularly useful while we have so much snow around...

Waterproofing Boots ~ Melt two parts of bees-wax with 1 part of mutton fat.  Thoroughly blend.  Rub on soles and uppers.  More easily applied if slightly warmed.  

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Tim, This is for You!

Dear Tim,

I came across a box of old family letters - in amongst the letters was a sheet of blue airmail paper, which was covered with your writing:

I should like to see into the middle of the biggest black hole in the universe.

I should like to take home a fire-breathing dragon on a cold winters day.

I should like to touch the rainbows colours when they glisten in the rain.

I should like to feel the early morning sun's rays on a flouer (sic).

I should like to paint the sound of the nightingale as she sits on a branch.

Love from Tim xxx

It must be more than twenty-three years since you wrote that.  
I still think it is wonderful.  
I'll let you have it next time you are up for a visit, providing you keep it safe.



Thursday, 3 January 2013

Angels and a Cannon in Utterby

Lift up your eyes in St Andrew's Church, Utterby and you are in for a wonderful treat...
...a host of heavenly angels.

They are paper angels and were made by Martin Pidgen.

He is so talented.

Each angel has a different face, different hairstyle.

I couldn't help but wonder whether they were based on people or children he knows.

They are individually beautiful, but collectively amazing and fit so well into the church.  He made them for Christmas, however, I hope they remain for a long time.

Over the years Martin has made lots of different sculpture groups -  a group of carol singers, Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, Pocahontas and John Smith, Unsung Heroes, What the Dickens, to name a few.   His artwork has also been displayed in Lincoln Cathedral, as well as other local churches.

He makes them up as he goes along - not following any design simply feeling his way with them, finding what works.
Outside St Andrew's the remains of the medieval cross can be just a three tier plinth.  Quite unremarkable, you may think.   But the story of the missing cross is quite interesting.

Local history says that this cross was knocked off its base by a misdirected cannon ball  which was fired from the vicinity of the packhorse bridge (which I posted about here) by Cromwellian troops.   The target,  Utterby Manor, which lies directly opposite the church,  was the home of a Royalist sympathiser.
Here is a little glimpse of the Manor house; opposite the church and less than a hundred yards from the pack horse bridge.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Intriguing Bookmark

One of the pleasures of reading a pre-loved book is that sometimes an unusual bookmark is found between the pages.   Over the years I have found  bus and train tickets, a shopping list, sweet wrappers, a piece of string, a cigarette card.   Presumably just whatever was handy.

Today I came across one of the most intriguing.   It was tucked into an old book - probably one which I bought at an auction years ago.   It is a postcard.   Nothing special or intriguing about that then...

Except that this postcard is printed on thin wartime card.  
 It is a wartime postcard, but it wasn't posted until 11 August 1962, sent  from Torquay in Devon, to an address in London.   It was addressed to 'Oberfuhrer ....'.  
No valid postage had been paid on it, so the 'Oberfuhrer' had to pay the princely sum of 5 old pence to have it delivered.

I suppose it was written as a joke...but I shall never know.