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, 29 April 2013

Cup or Mug?

I am pernickety when it comes to choosing a drinking vessel.    
I have spring cleaned the pantry and found some of the cups and mugs which have been tried and rejected over the years.
This is but a small selection...

Shape, size and colour are all important.
I  favour fine bone china for when I drink tea.
I don't like fancy, frilly edges, square shapes or, horror of horrors, cups with dark coloured interiors.
I like pretty cups or mugs,  not too big, with the correct amount of curve to the bowl.

Coffee demands something different.
I prefer a cup, not too large, as I would rather have two small coffees
than one large one...
I like my coffee hot!

This is my all-time favourite coffee cup.
I bought it years ago, in a sale.
It is thick china, very plain and quite small.
It has the most satisfying shape to it,
and, somehow, it just enhances my coffee drinking experience.

Do you have a favourite mug or cup?

- Lynne, this is for you... favourite tea vessels.   They are very fine bone china, the transfer design
is wearing off them, but the shape is satisfying
and the size is perfect (for me).
They used to be beautiful but about one third of the design is missing.
They have held countless gallons of tea.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Knocking on Fairy Doors

Spring-like weather has finally arrived, and our little woodland is bursting in to life.

Last weekend George and I worked like crazy to feed all the fallen branches, sticks and twigs into a large shredder.
Ear defenders, face visor, hard hat
were required, along with long-sleeved tops and protective gloves.
It can be dangerous work!

Many hours of labour produced several mini-mountains...

These  mini-mountains of chipped bark (44 heaped wheelbarrow loads) have now been scattered on the vegetable garden pathways in a satisfyingly deep layer.

My dear old Toby supervised the procedure, from the comfort of his bed.    Age is catching up with him.

Now that the rubbish has been cleared away again,  I have been able to enjoy the sight of all the spring flowers, including sweet violets (with their oh so beautiful perfume),   masses of lesser celandines which form gold-spangled pathways,  and plenty of bluebells are beginning to show - just as the primroses are beginning to fade.  Everywhere is beautiful.   The woodland is full of birdsong and full of growth and life.

Best of all, the lily of the valley has returned - just one clump out of the three which had taken last year -  they  are heavily perfumed and utterly beautiful.         I love them for their beauty, of course, but most of all I love them because they were my mother's favourite flower.

In the last few days the cow parsley has shot up to waist height, no flowers as yet, but it won't be long until the woodland is a froth of white, for a few weeks.

It is such an exciting time.

I found this fairy door slightly ajar,  I knocked, but there was no reply...

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A Peaceful, Thatched, Church

St Peter's Church, Markby
The last time I visited this church (if you click on the link you will find lots of other photographs and history of the building)  I was charmed by the exterior, but was disappointed to find that the inside was draped with polythene, it was being re-decorated.

Much of the stone is recycled, from the Augustinian Priory which originally stood nearby.
Interior of Markby Church
The simplicity of the exterior is beautifully matched by the interior.
The box pews are 19thC.
The dog-toothed decoration on the arch,  remnants from the priory, are Norman.

Simple windows add to the sense of peace and tranquillity.

Through this plain little window you can see the overhang of the thatched roof.   

This little rose sculpture - approx 5"x 6" is

This is the former cross beam, it is made of oak and is dated 1611, which is when the church was built.

It is a beautiful and peaceful little building.

Obviously much loved.

It was well worth the wait, and a return visit.

A few weeks earlier there had been a wedding service held there.
Nice to know the old building is still used for joyful

Friday, 19 April 2013

Friday's Fences - Mixed Messages

This little sentinel has a twin who sits on the second gatepost.
They also have a companion on the inside...
How's that for mixed messages.
The dogs look fierce but the bear says 'Welcome'!

It has just dawned on me that I have seen this bear in transit - and posted about it

A little further along, in the same village, I caught a glimpse of another fence...
 I had to turn the car around and go back for a better look.
They like their horses.

As I progressed through the village I saw several more interesting fences featuring gargoyles,
dragons, and more horses.
I hope to return there one fine day when I have a little more time - to stroll around
to get some decent photographs.

For more interesting fences click here.
I am happy to be joining in with Jan and Jer for Friday's Fences.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

One Plate - Endless Memories

I began turning out the pantry today,
doing the spring cleaning.
This plate stopped me in my tracks!

It is over 50 years old and has had a hard life;

it is the sole survivor of the everyday china which
my mother used when we lived in Hong Kong.

The plate has endured countless moves and bears the signs of 
much wear and tear.

Funnily enough, the times I remember most are those meal times in Hong Kong, although
the service was used in the many places which my father's 
postings took us to.

They were magical days.
Perhaps it was because we were all young  -  children and parents. 
Rose tinted memories,  but I don't mind.

Memories of my mother's wonderful lemon meringue pies, orange mousse,
bread and butter puddings, ice-creams, home-made cookies, melting moments...
I've always had a sweet tooth!

I know we had good wholesome meals,
but oh those puddings!
(I wonder whether I resembled the baby elephant on the back-stamp!)

Memories of my young and glamorous mother, dark and handsome father,
and my two brothers.
Steven was four-and-a-half years older than me
and seemed to know everything about everything...
he could even whistle the tune to 'The Dambusters'  ... enviably well.
Baby brother Ian (Owlwood) was cute, with curly hair and golden skin.
He could speak Cantonese before he could speak English.

It's going to take me an awfully long time to spring clean the pantry at this rate.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Tenants in the Owl Wood

Image stolen from my brother, sorry owlwood.
Each spring I keep my eye on the owl box in our little                woodland and watch for signs that it has become home to Tawny Owls again.  
 Most years I am disappointed.   

Image stolen from my brother..

This year is no exception.    

Despite hearing Tawny Owl calls most nights, it seems that our box was not up to standard.   
They have chosen somewhere else.    

We do have new tenants.


 Handsome birds, but they are not owls.    

Image borrowed from

A few years ago we were fortunate enough to have a brood of three beautiful Tawny Owls hatched and raised in the woodland owl box.

All three survived and were fledged.     
I had such hopes that one would come back to repeat the process.

Maybe next year.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Stewing Sparrows, and Lambs Tail Pie

This is a very old Kentish pie recipe taken from one of my wonderful old cookery books.
Borrowed image
In spring, when the lambs' tails are cut, they are collected.    About half the tail, the thicker end, is used.   It is flayed and jointed: generally about two dozen tails are used in making an ordinary-sized pie.    Of course the crust is made in the usual way.  

(I have been told that the soft bones in the tails when cooked are like gelatine.)

Here is another version, from Suffolk.

Skin the tails and then stew them a little.   Take them out of the saucepan, cut them up and make a pie, with potatoes and so on.

According to someone who ate lambs' tail pie:  "It was delicious.   I can taste it now.  Delicious!"

There was a widespread and legitimate custom of collecting Sparrows for food - (sorry, Ms Sparrow!).
Borrowed image

They would be netted and caught, then skinned and stewed.    If a piece of pork was available this could be added for flavour and a pie could be made,  sparrow dumplings,  or soup.

Times were hard, people had to be fed...not sure how many sparrows it would take to make a decent pie though.

This next recipe is an eighteenth century one for Rook Pie.

Skin and draw six young rooks, and cut out the back bones; season them well with pepper and salt, put them in a deep dish, with a quarter of a pint of water; lay over them half a pound of butter, make a good puff paste, and cover the dish.   Lay a paper over it, for it requires a good deal of baking.

My final offering is A Heron Pudding.

Before cooking it must be ascertained that no bones of the heron are broken.  These bones are filled with a fish fluid, which, if allowed to come in contact with the flesh, makes the whole bird taste of fish.   

This fluid, however, should be always extracted from the bones, and kept in the medicine cupboard, for it is excellent applied to all sorts of cuts and cracks.

The heron is first picked and flayed.  Then slices are cut from the breast and legs to make the pudding.   The crust is made exactly like that of a meat pudding and the slices of heron put in and seasoned exactly as meat would be.   The pudding is boiled for several hours, according to its size. (I have been told that, as a matter of fact, it tastes very much like a nice meat pudding.)

Thank goodness for Quorn.

Thank you all for your very kind comments on my previous posts.   They were all much appreciated.  Aunt Lillian is making good progress - I can measure this by the number of complaints she makes!

I'll sign off with a few photographs taken on my early morning walk with Toby.