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, 30 May 2013

The Fox and the Hens - the Barn Owl and the Rat

I found this four-leaf clover today.

I admit that it looks as though it has seen better days,
but it has already brought me 
some good luck...

...for on today's walk I spotted these little dots
and managed to snatch 
a photograph

just before their mama hid them in the bank
of the Great Eau.

The weather is cold, damp and gloomy
but the hedgerows are
filled with the golden buttercups

and red campion.

I found this fairy door...

... and my good fortune continued,
for I found these two families
on the fish pond.

Moments later a large and beautiful Barn Owl flew out of the trees,
a mere fifteen feet away from me,
she had a young rat in her mouth.

It was an incredible sight - no time to get a photograph, alas.

Image by dries gaerdelen

Home Sweet Home!
However, Mother Nature hadn't finished with me yet...
for as Toby and I made our way through the garden 
to the Boot Room
I was treated to the sight of a large and very beautiful fox...

...I had a moment of sheer delight at the beauty of him/her
then my thoughts were for our hens
who free-range in the woodland.

image by irishfieldsports

Mr/Mrs Fox had run off through the wheat field by this time.
I think I got home just in time to deny him his breakfast.

It may take more than a four-leaf clover to keep our girls safe.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Walking to Heel...

The last ten days or so have been spent very quietly.   
I have much to learn about Toby Too and he has a great deal to learn about what I expect of him.    
So we have walked.

At first he was spooked by some of the more unusual sights,
like this giant boot lives in the Enchanted Forest,
opposite the old watermill.

We have trudged many miles along the pathways
and through farmland and beautiful countryside.
The weather has been wonderful.
Toby has sniffed and explored to his heart's content -
on an extendable lead.

He has seen sheep, horses, cattle,
pheasants, rabbits, dogs and cats.

At some point in his short past someone has taught him to sit, to shake paws
 and also to sit and wait for his lead to be put on him.

He has manners.

It is just that he forgets everything
when he gets excited.
He gets excited when he sees, rabbits, cats, dogs,
sheep, cattle, pheasants...

Luckily, I know a woman who can help me.
She is a dog trainer, of 20 years experience, and she lives just down the road.

As soon as it can be organised this handsome dog and I will be taking lessons.
I have no doubt that I have more to learn than the dog,
so it could take some time.

As you can see, Harry and Toby-Too work well together.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Welcome to an Interior of Theatrical Excitement...

I love old church buildings.    
This one is particularly special, although you wouldn't know that from the outside.

Located just a few miles from Lincoln, on a single track road which leads to nowhere,
it has a plain and simple exterior.
Step inside...

...and prepare for a surprise...

The very small interior is filled
with enormous marble
and alabaster

They are decorated
to the nth degree, sculpted,
painted, gilded,
every surface, inside and out.

It was difficult to capture the whole of this
marble six-poster bed.

This is the view through the monument, down to the entrance
and font.
The figures are Sir Thomas St Paul and his wife, Faith.
Thomas was a Member of Parliament for Grimsby
and twice Sherriff of Lincolnshire.
He died in 1582.

The canopy of the bed is richly decorated,
the small figures are their eight children,
only four of whom survived infancy.

The base of the tomb bears family crests
and an inscription..

Here lies Thomas St. Poll, knight, who died on the 
29th August A.D. 1582, 
in the twenty-fourth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth,
and rests in Christ.   
Reader,  you see what I am, 
you know what I have been.
Consider what you yourself must be.

There are two more monuments.
The larger one depicts Sir George St Paul, who died in 1613 and his wife, Frances.
He was the richest and most influential of the St Paul's.
This vast structure is about twelve feet high
made of alabaster and marble.

It is full of Jacobean symbolism - I have tweaked the intensity
of colour so that you can see just how elaborate
it really is.

Sadly, the lower part of the monument
bears the effigy of their
only child,
a daughter.
Mattathia St Paul, who died before
she was two.

She was buried in the church
'and since then her mother
has never been free from mourning
and weeping for a single day'.

Mattathia St Paul
Sir George was a staunch Puritan, who even worried about
whether it was right to kneel on a cushion
during his long prayer sessions.
It seems it was fine to spend a vast amount on a memorial, though.

He left a legacy to 30 'poor old men' from the area.
They received cash and a free gown annually.

His marriage was unexciting but happy.
He was survived by his wife, Frances.

She went on to lead an interesting life...

...she was a wealthy widow.
After much wooing she was persuaded to marry
the rather unsavoury Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick, depicted
in this monument (which is considered, by some,  to be the finest of the three).

Robert Rich was very wealthy, but had little else to recommend him.
His first wife was a beauty who had been forced,
by her guardians, to marry him.
He ill-treated her
and in retaliation she sought consolation with another man
who fathered at least five of her twelve children!
Robert Rich divorced her in 1605
and began looking for a suitably wealthy replacement.

He decided he wanted Frances, so he set about winning her;
eventually she married him in 1616.

Lady Frances proved herself to be a very able business woman and rapidly
increased her personal fortune.
This enraged the Earl,
as he lost money in poorly advised ventures.

He died in Lincolnshire in 1619, and was buried in Essex.

Frances remained in the tiny
hamlet in Lincolnshire
'doing good works',
until she died in 1634.

Perhaps surprisingly, she chose to be buried with her second husband, the Earl, in Essex.
Presumably he had something good about him.

There is so much more to tell, but I have gone on too long already.
I'll save those stories for another time.

Given that these Elizabethan and Jacobean monuments
are of national importance
it is quite astounding to think that the church is open at all times,
other than when repairs or maintenance are being carried out.

I love Lincolnshire.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Rainbows, Radishes and Toby Too

A couple of evenings ago I was treated to the sight of this wonderful rainbow.
It stretches right along the old disused railway track
which borders the barley field.
It was magical.
Within moments it had disappeared.

The old Bramley apple tree is beginning to unfurl its beautiful pink blossom,
our little woodland
is full of Queen Anne's Lace, or Cow Parsley.
This froth of tiny white flowers grows to a height of five or six feet and completely swallows up cats, hens, 
and grandchildren.

Scattered on the woodland floor are these - Arum maculatum -  
Lords and Ladies and Cuckoo-Pint
are just two of the common names for them.
In autumn they form a cluster of bright red berries which are poisonous.  
Our grandchildren must learn to avoid them, for there are 
far too many to eradicate.

The bluebells are blooming.
Don't you just love that colour?

Our long hours of work out in the vegetable garden are giving us some reward for our efforts.
These radishes are crisp, hot and peppery.

Lettuces are crisp and flavoursome...

...and the first strawberries are ripening.

*   *   *   *   *

Imagine my surprise, when a few nights ago I was browsing the pages of some dog rescue charities and found this mug shot.

He is an unclaimed stray,
less than two years old,  and was saved from death row
simply because a kennel had become available at the charity.

How could I resist the appeal in those eyes?
Especially as he, quite coincidentally,
comes with the name 'Toby'...
can you believe it?

I have been to visit him a couple of times and taken him for a good long walk.
He is a real sweetie. 
He is not my old Toby, but he is a dog who needs the love that I can give him.

He is coming to live with us on Friday.

His name is Toby Too.

I haven't forgotten my darling old boy, he is irreplaceable.
However, this boy needs a home
and I need a dog.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


I spotted these outside a shop door... patio furniture for children?

No,  a chair big enough for a giant to sit upon!

I took a peek inside and found a man carefully making these...all disappointingly standard sized!

*   *   *

Thank you for all your wonderful support and helpful messages.
My heart has a dog-sized hole in it, but I am getting there.

The rescue centres are full of strays and abandoned dogs.
Dogs who need time, love and patience.
I know how rewarding they can be...
that's how I found my Toby.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Today I Made a Difficult Decision

Regular readers know how much I loved my dear and reliable companion of many years, Toby.    

He has been in failing health for a while now and this morning I had to take the decision
to have him put to sleep.


I won't disable comments, but please forgive me if I don't reply.
It is all too raw and too painful.

Dandelion Bouquet

Beautiful dandelion bouquet from Harry.

I recently had one of those days where, like it or not, you become another year older!
I had a wonderful day, which I will be telling you about soon, but the loveliest moment was when 
Harry came bursting through the door with a bunch of freshly picked
These joyful offerings came straight from the garden
and were given with love.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mapping in May

My May Day wanderings took Toby and I along our favourite riverbank.   
It was tranquil, beautiful, restorative.    
Toby was happy to amble and give his nose a really good workout, so I fell to thinking about the countless people who must have wondered along the riverbank through the centuries.

This 1610 map shows that very river,
below you can see what it looks like today.

Some villages have disappeared, and the placement of  other villages on the map is definitely not accurate, but who cares?
I love maps, especially of places I am familiar with.
I read them with almost
the same excitement as I read a good book.
How quaint the old spellings of place names. 

The big red blobs (as splodged on by the cartographer) show the churches which existed at that time.
Many are still standing and are much loved.
However, others, including the one in our village,
have long-since disappeared.

We roamed the fields and river sides, 
When we were young and gay
We chased the bees and plucked the  flowers
In the merry, merry month of May
                                                        Stephen Foster

We had company, for part of our walk.
She was exceptionally friendly and came out of her way to walk alongside us.

No walk would be complete without a visit to Arnold.
He was happy to feel the warm May sunshine on his back.

Aaah!  Bliss.

Time to go home to begin the mowing and the weeding,
the growing season has begun.