• Pistyll Rhaeadr on my lovely woman's birthday

    Jannie's birthday yesterday, so knitted a picnic, poured everyone into the car, and headed up to Pistyll Rhaeadr in Mid Wales. What a cracking place - uber-peaceful retreat at the end of a valley. A stiff climb up the fellside to the top of the waterfall and then an infinity view across the top pool of the falls out across the wonderful glacial valley.

    Dodged the showers, sat on the edge of the falls and munched eggy sarnies and soggy chocolate cake and watched the pools of sunlight skidding across the distant hills. There was a distinct nip of autumn in the air, leaves beginning to turn and rowan berries glowing on the ancient trees springing from the crag sides.

    Checked out the four massive wild cherry trees in a field close to the end of the valley - they are the biggest of their species in Wales, and I featured them in my 'Heritage Trees Wales' book back in 2012. Sadly, half of one of them has collapsed & died.

    A splendid day. If you've never been try it - you'll love it.

    Happy Birthday Jannie XX

    Before we leave just time for a couple of gratuitous Flossie, Molly & Eric pics. That boy really thinks he's part of the pack.



  • Found for a pound revisited

    It's pouring down today, so no car boot moochings this weekend, but last Sunday turned up a couple of found for a pound bargains.

    The Staffordshire figure of a young woman, seemingly dancing, and with a little tray of coins in her lap, is one of the genre usually known as Staffordshire flatbacks - although in this case she is in the round. Barring a few tiny chips to the paintwork she is in remarkable condition for a piece that dates back to the mid 19th century. As usual there are no pottery marks and one suspects that numerous Staffordshire factories were churning these cheap figures out for the mass market. While I have never collected these I can enjoy their rustic charm and the very period feel that their faces and fashions impart. I've tried to find out more about the reason the figure appears to have a small tray of gold coins in her lap. Is she supposed to be dancing for money? Is she even dancing? Could she be selling something? Can't think what would be small, gold & round. Fascinated to hear if anyone has a lead on this.

    Jan found this porcelain plate featuring an old print of Broadway Tower in Worcestershire. Has a lovely ring to it and is in perfect condition. Almost certainly this image would have been copied from a contemporary engraving of the day - I'm guessing c1880, but could be earlier - and yet Google doesn't come up with very many possibilities & certainly not this one. Close examination with an eyepiece reveals this to be a very finely rendered image. Again, no pottery mark underneath to aid identification and dating. Any thoughts gratefully received.



  • Two handsome new arrivals

    Time to announce two handsome new arrivals for the historical tree archive.

    Two images drawn and etched by William De la Motte (or Delamotte) in 1805 and published January 1st 1806 feature a massive old oak tree in Rycot Park, Oxfordshire and an equally impressive beech in Windsor Forest (with the castle faintly viewed in the distance). Both trees almost certainly long gone, but you never know - a bit of canny detective work may find that they do still exist. If we think the fascination with ancient trees is a recent phenomenon then just look what was going on over 200 years ago.

    William Alfred Delamotte (1775-1863) was a renowned painter and engraver, who experimented with many print processes throughout his life. He enjoyed the patronage of King George III, and he certainly had a good eye for trees.

    (Prints or repro. rights available for both).



  • At last - someone with a bit of moral fibre

    Congratulations to Baroness Warsi for having the correct moral judgement to resign from the government over their Gaza standpoint. With various other countries around the world condemning Israel for its totally unacceptable and indiscriminate bombing of Gaza it is utterly appalling that Britain has not joined with this international voice of condemnation and, more's the point, placed a total embargo on further arms shipments to Israel. We can see by the balance of fatalities and casualties the difference between Israel and Palestine - effectively sofisticated armaments against a few old blunderbusses and pea-shooters. A handful of soldiers against hundreds and hundreds of women and children, hospitals, schools. Please!

    Cameron, you wimp, if you had anything about you then you'd stand up and be counted and represent the horror and outrage of millions of the British people you're supposed to represent. Oh, silly me, you have to look after the interests of the British arms industry. I despair, I really do.

    Apologies to readers who enjoy my trees and other daft stuff, but sometimes there are important things that need to be said.



  • A Grand Day Out

    On Tuesday, the weather being exceeding clement, my dearly beloved and I partook of a small excursion to Packwood House, near Hockley Heath in Warwickshire. I must admit that we're not regulars at National Trust properties, but once in a while.....and I had always wanted to see the exceptional Yew Garden.

    Essentially a fairly modest farmhouse, built in the 16th century by the Fetherston family, Packwood was inherited by Graham Baron Ash in 1925. He then spent the ensuing twenty years creating a fine Tudor house with furniture, art and architecture bought from various places and woven into his period dream house. It's famous for its wonderful collection of antique wall hangings, but Jannie & I found delight in some of the lesser details of the house - bits of carving, massive old floorboards and a bathroom we both would love to own....or at least have a bath in. Not to mention spotting the spotty dogs! The gardens were a riot of colour with beds tumbling on to the old stone paths - the lack of formality, but clever combinations a real joy. And then of course the Yew Garden - known as The Sermon on the Mount - the oldest yews are about 350 years old - these are The Master on the mount or mound, four huge towering specimens called The Evangelists, twelve large trees called The Apostles, all the rest being The Multitude. One hell of a job to keep them all trimmed, praise the Lord for the cherry-picker.

    On top of a cracking house and garden - very friendly, helpful staff and a yumptious lunch at the eatery.



Archie Miles photography

Archie's Blog

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