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.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Buried Treasure for 'Show and Tell'

I found this pretty little Victorian scent bottle about seven years ago.   

At the time we were renovating our house, a former stable/cow shed/cart shed.   The area designated to become our kitchen needed to have the dirt floor level lowered by about three feet - major excavations were needed.   It soon became apparent that the excavated soil contained lots of broken china, bottles and jars...  It must have been the rubbish heap from many years ago.

Luckily, I was able to get the builders to work on a different part of the building, while I got down to some serious, and careful, excavation work of my own.    I found old poison bottles, lots of ink bottles, glass stoppers,  stone veterinary medicine bottles, jars, lots of beautiful broken china and stoneware, huge old hand-made nails and assorted agricultural equipment.   
It was exciting stuff!

As I carefully scraped the soil away from each 'find' I would get very excited
sometimes that care and excitement were rewarded.

The prettiest item I found was this scent bottle.  
 It was covered in dirt, and filled with mud and looked very different from this.

It was buried in the soil, three feet down, with lots of detritus and mud around and above it.
The stopper was immovable and no matter how much I soaked it, I couldn't get it out.
It has lived on a shelf with all my favourite finds - up high and out of reach of young grandchildren.

A few days ago I picked the bottle off the shelf and found that the stopper was loose. 
  It was a real 'Sword in the Stone' moment!     
Finally, I was able to get the soil out of the bottle and clean it up to reveal the true beauty of the cut glass.

It is very small and measures about three inches.  
Originally it would have had a silver top, something like these.  
The design has been cut through the top layer of cobalt blue glass to reveal the clear glass underneath.
It dates from about 1880.  

A similar scent bottle
A little research has turned up these similar scent bottles.
Another similar one - see the bottle stopper ?
My bottle is lacking the silver lid - such a shame!

Isn't it remarkable that mine has survived intact, and that the tiny glass stopper didn't get lost!

It would have been wonderful to have it with the silver top, but even without it, the scent bottle is beautiful!

I will never know who owned it, or why it was thrown away, but that doesn't matter.   
It is a pretty little object and I am delighted that I managed to rescue it.

I am  to happy to be joining in with my dearest friend,  Meggie on the Prairie, -  for 'Show and Tell'.
Her blog is a truly delightful pot pourri of life in Texas.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Horses Have Fun

I left the main roads behind and took the quiet country roads back home.

Borrowed Image

There were alpacas in one field and just along the road there were horses... not just any old horses -  these were sleek and handsome dressage horses,  well wrapped against the cold of the day in their smart coats.
Borrowed image

Big, small, sleek, or rough, I love horses  ...  although I must confess a particular fondness for 'cart' horses, heavy horses, and rough ponies.
Borrowed image

What caught my eye this afternoon was a group of three horses.      They were by themselves, in a large paddock on the hill, this was a horse to horse moment.   Two were standing watching, while one appeared to be performing, as though in the dressage ring.

Borrowed image

I watched them for a while, then drove on,  pondering on the question of whether horses play and have fun, or do they worry about things.

Was the 'performing' horse running through a particularly tricky exercise, trying to get it right?
Was it showing the others a manoeuvre it really enjoys doing?
Or could it simply have been having fun or showing off?    I'd love to think so.

Borrowed image

Before I knew it I was back home and there were groceries to unload, logs to be fetched, hens needing a hot mash, and a sick husband to tend.

Back to the real world.

I took Toby to visit our neighbour,  Arnold.   A sweet old horse, enjoying his retirement.   He knows how to have fun.

Friday, 15 February 2013

How an Old Book came to Life

I love books and I particularly like old handwritten books.
I have told you about my old handwritten recipe books, but I don't think
I have told you about my collection of old account books.

At first glance, they look pretty dull.
Not so!
This is a page from an 1898 blacksmith's book.
I have thoroughly enjoyed wading through the entries, trying to decipher the writing,
checking out the charges, the names of the customers,
their farms.

This afternoon our lovely neighbour, John (aged 96 and still cares for Arnold the horse)
called in.   
He was great company and conversation was wide-ranging and interesting.

John spent his working life as a farm manager
and is a mine of information on the old ways of farming.
I showed him the ledger.

Suddenly that book came to life as John pored over the entries, deciphering the old writing.
Words which had puzzled me often turned out to be trade names which he recognised.

He told stories of the old days when farms had large numbers of working horses
and the local blacksmith was in great demand.
Machinery would be repaired, if possible.

We read entries about sheep cutters, turnip planters, dog chains, plough traices,
knives sharpened, a crow bar sharpened and repaired,
gates and  pitch forks, 
wheels were repaired and oak boards supplied for a coffin.

There is an entry to show that they cut 15 acres of hay for Lady Lothian at Blickling...
details of which can be found here,
suffice to say it is a very large old house and Lady Lothian ran the place after her husband died.
I'm not sure why a blacksmith would send his men to cut hay, but I guess money is money.
They charged 2/- per acre... 10 new pence.

The book has about 460 pages, packed with entries and the prices charged.
It will take a while to work through it, but I'm sure it holds
lots more stories.

Meanwhile, I am going to lend it to John.
He enjoyed poring over it, remembering the old days,
I think he will have hours of fun!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Webbed Feet Would be Useful

We are in the midst of a very wet winter.     I am grateful that at least we are not having to cope with snowstorms of epic proportions, gale force winds, or ice... and I am truly thankful that we have not had flooding problems near the house.

The soil around here is mostly clay and already sodden from the very wet summer and autumn rains.

Recently, walking by the fish ponds has become difficult.  

The ponds have reached out watery hands to one another, the River Eau has extended damp fingers and the whole area has become a soggy mess.   Each new rainfall just adds to it.

Hey ho!   

The geese and the swans are happy.   

Paddocks are soggy,
even dear Arnold has taken to spending time in his stable...
He doesn't choose to do that very often.

Friday, 8 February 2013

More Bookmarks

I spent much of this morning dusting and cleaning some of the older books on my bookshelves - I found some nice surprises and one rather nasty one.

From the pages of a beautiful old atlas fell some old papers.

One is a 1917 receipt for a baby carriage - an expensive one, for it cost the princely sum of £6-6s-0d...a lot of money in those days

The other, far more interesting, was a bill from a general carter to a Mr Adams,  for work undertaken in April, May and July 1908, some in 1909 and then yet more work in August 1910.

The work undertaken was for hauling 'muck'. cutting hay, carting hay, ploughing, more work with hay, carting oats and straw, etc.   It took two and a half years for the carter to finally get his money - all that work was done for the sum of £3 10s 0d.    I hope he charged interest.

Yet again it shows you just how expensive that baby carriage was!

An old cookery book which I purchased recently had a clutch of four-leaf clovers held within the pages.
Some are a little the worse for wear, but there is no mistaking what they are.

Another book yielded this very pretty card... looks very old and has been hand trimmed around all those delicate flowers and tight corners.   It is really pretty and, although fragile, it has been well protected within the book for many years, by the look of it.

I have replaced it, let it be a lovely surprise for someone else further down the line.

I didn't take a photograph of the nasty surprise.    It was a large spider which had settled on the back inside cover of a rather nice book...and had been squished at some point.   Most annoyingly it has left a large black mark.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Spanish Layde's Love

Today I bring you  a tale of romance, honour, and sadness.

Will you hear a Spanish Lady,
How an English man she woo'd.
Tho' he held her as his captive,
Ever gentle was his mood.
Tho' by birth and parentage of high degree
Much she wept when orders came to set her free.

"Gallant captain, shew some mercy
To a lady in distress,
Leave me not within this city,
I shall die of heaviness;
'Tis an empty mockery to set me free
While my heart in prison still remains with thee...etc

Sometimes you don't have to travel far to find a good story.   This tiny, greenstone and chalk church is about two miles from our village.   It is surrounded by horse paddocks, with a manor house right next door, and a handful of cottages dotted around.   The church is still a place of occasional worship.   Luckily for me it is left unlocked, so I was able to explore it at my leisure.

This is one of the tales it has to tell...

The year was 1594 when a force of 150 ships and some 8000 soldiers set sail from England, their aim was to lay siege to the Spanish Navy in the port of Cadiz.   Among the soldiers was Sir John Bolle of Lincolnshire,  a captain in the army of the Tudor Queen Elizabeth I.  John Bolle was 34 years old, handsome, and chivalrous, a gentle man.
image of Sir John Bolle borrowed from flickr

The Spanish fleet was destroyed and the town was taken.

Hostages were seized, and among those prisoners assigned to the care of John Bolle was an exceptionally beautiful young woman of noble birth and great wealth, thought to be Donna Leonora Oviedo.  

During the 13 days of the siege John Bolle treated her with such courtesy and kindness that she fell deeply in love with him, although, (so the story goes)  he remained faithful to his wife.

Upon her release, beautiful Donna Leonora threw herself at his feet, professed her love and begged to be allowed to travel with him to England.   John Bolle explained that he had a wife and family waiting in England.

Heartbroken, Donna Leonora presented him with many gifts, including jewels for his wife, a bed and bed coverings,  caskets of plate, and a portrait of herself wearing a green dress and black veil.      Donna Leonora then took herself off to a nunnery, where she spent the remainder of her days...

This sad story has been retold in the ballad 'The Spanish Layde's Love' which was composed shortly after the fleet returned...(see top tab).

John Bolle and his family lived at Thorpe Hall in Louth...much altered and added to over the centuries.
Image of Thorpe Hall borrowed from

The gifts which Donna Leonora showered upon Sir John were brought back to Thorpe Hall.   Unfortunately the portrait was sold many years ago, but Louth museum purchased a beautiful red velvet coverlet, with silver lace borders, which is said to have been among the gifts.  Sir John's family is said to have felt her presence at the Hall and his heir, Sir Charles Bolle always had an extra place set at the dinner table for her.

It is still said that the 'Green Lady' haunts Thorpe Hall, she is supposed to sit near a particular tree in the grounds, waiting for her love.

Sir John Bolle died in 1606, aged 46 years.   He is buried in this little church, along with other members of the Bolle family.

This marvellous monument depicts Sir John and his wife, their three sons and five daughters.

The manor house next door was built in the mid 1500's, it was the home of the Bolle family until the much grander Thorpe Hall was built.

St Leonard's Church has its origins in the 10th century, although there have been many alterations and additions since.   These days it is suffering badly.   Great chunks of plaster have fallen from the walls, green damp marks are everywhere, there are lots of bird and bat droppings inside and it feels neglected.   I'll post about it another time.