Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Brontë Country

After watching the BBC's superb bio-pic about the Brontës, To Walk Invisible, back in December last year, I decided that when we were next in Lancashire we would nip across the county-line into West Yorkshire and visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Well, that's what we did during last week's half-term holiday and I was so pleased that we went as its a place I've longed to visit, especially after reading and re-reading all the Brontë sisters' books ever since my teens. 

Haworth Parsonage - the Brontë's family home between 1820 and 1861 - was sold after the death of the Reverend Patrick Brontë, with all the family's possessions and furniture also being sold off soon afterwards. Although the parsonage was modernised by a later nineteenth century inhabitant (including Charlotte's earlier remodelling of some of the rooms), it essentially remains the same structurally since the Brontës. Luckily, the parsonage was brought for the Brontë Society in 1927 by a benefactor and has been run as a museum ever since. Over the decades, the Society have been able to acquire a significant amount of the Brontës' fascinating personal effects and furniture, which are all on display.

Once inside the parsonage, we were allowed to take photos but only without the flash, which explains why some of my photos are a bit grainy. 

The above is the dining room where the Brontë sisters did most of their writing at the table pictured, witnessed by its scratches, ink stains, a candle burn and Emily's initial carved into it.

These photos were taken on the stairs with their worn stone steps; including a niche where a longcase clock is positioned. This is the original clock that Reverend Brontë used to wind up each night before going to bed.

Upstairs are all the bedrooms, including a little room (above left) which was known as 'The Children's Study' before it later became Emily's bedroom. One wall still has pencil marks on it from when the sisters and their brother Branwell, were children.

The blue-coloured room was Charlotte's bedroom (she also died here) and is painted in the exact same colour as when Charlotte used it. It also contains lots of displays showing Charlotte's possessions such as her shoes, letters to her friend Ellen Nussey, her wedding bonnet and drawings.

From this we went into Bramwell's dark and tiny room and then into a larger room, which housed more exhibits including first edition copies of the sisters' novels, their art and needlework boxes, paintings, sketches and even the brass collars worn by their dogs, Flossy and Keeper. 

A letter signed by 'Currer Bell' aka Charlotte Brontë

Also on show was a brooch containing Anne's hair, a lock of Charlotte's hair and a spotted handkerchief belonging to Anne, which was stained with her blood - probably from her TB.

Afterwards, we made our way down a cobbled lane past the churchyard, which was crammed full with gravestones.

I'm glad that the weather was drizzly and very misty during our visit as it made the parsonage and graveyard so atmospheric. 

Haworth itself is a pretty village with its period stonework buildings and it didn't seem to be too 'touristy' either - probably because we made our visit in the winter rather than the summer! 

It has some lovely independent shops too like The Cabinet of Curiosities, which sells soaps, bath salts and lots of other fabulous things all housed in an amazing apothecary shop interior.

Not forgetting Monkeychild's favourite shop of all...

...Mrs' Beighton's Sweet Shop crammed full of sweets - I chose the liquorice torpedoes!

This is what I imagine Stella Gibbons' 'Cold Comfort Farm' to look like!

On our way back to Preston, we had a few stop-offs to admire the wild moorland landscapes, which are truly beautiful and have left me feeling inspired to paint them.

P.S. Do you have a favourite Brontë novel, if so which one?

I think mine would be 'Wuthering Heights', closely followed by 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall'.

Monday, 13 February 2017

A House Where Time Stood Still

Its great when you have wonderful neighbours, but we've sadly waved goodbye to ours as they've recently sold their house, which has been in their family since 1928. How amazing is that?

Their house was like stepping back in time to the 1940s or earlier; full of brown furniture and plenty of original features like this wall paper:

But, as our neighbours spend most of their time abroad, they only wanted to take a few select pieces of furniture with them, not a complete houseful. So as a "Thank You" to us for keeping an eye on the house over the past few years, they asked us to take whatever we wanted before they sold it off. 

Seriously, I couldn't believe what they said and kept asking if they were sure. Their reply was that they'd rather us have the things that we liked as they knew it would be treasured and wouldn't be far from its original home. 

Husband was particularly happy with his choice of a dis-armed hand grenade, which was originally kept on a bedroom mantlepiece; cue lots of 'pull out the pin' jokes!

There were so many lovely pieces of furniture like marble washstands, a chaise longue, chest of drawers etc., but we couldn't fit it all in our house and I didn't want to take things just for the sake of it. So, we settled on some smaller objects, like the Staffordshire flat-back watch stand above, some Union Jack flags to add to our collection...


I reckon these must be from the inter war period, as the large one is printed linen, whilst the bunting appears to be rayon.

The large flag lives in this old iron umbrella stand, which stands in the same place in our hall as it did in our neighbours'...

I'm going to black it up with grating polish once I get the time. Doesn't the owl look lovely?

We didn't take much furniture either; only this mahogany what-not that fits in neatly beside my craft table and makes a handy place to store my art equipment, and a stick-back chair; the cushion cover is a recent sewing project. The arms of the chair are well-worn and as its surprisingly comfy, I'm sure this was once someone's favourite seat.


However, I did find wallspace for this Victorian pastel of a Romany boy. I'd always admired this picture and the boy's face reminds me of a friend's son. Its such  beautiful picture and his eyes follow you around the room, but not in a freaky way though, more of an inquisitive look.

To give you an idea of how much of a timewarp the house was, these are some of the newspapers that were scattered about...

...these date from 1916!

Our neighbours also asked Husband if he could clear out their sheds for them too, which hadn't been touched for at least twenty years. That'll be another blog post, but Husband did find this marmalade jar in one of them that only needed a good scrub up to be as good as new...

 It makes the ideal vase don't you think?

Monday, 16 January 2017

New Knits & Free Finds

Fingerless gloves have to be one of my favourite knits. They're quick, practical and ideal tv-knitting during episodes of Sherlock - what's not to like? I've completed two pairs already this year and am planning more. 

For the first pair I returned to one of my favourite patterns by Twisted Stitches, which uses 4ply sock yarn and 2.5mm dpns. Instead of my usual choice of Colinette 'Jitterbug' yarn, I used some stash yarn in the form of Cascade  'Heritage Paints' that a friend gave to me years ago. 

In contrast for the second pair with their cable pattern, I used some chunky Rowan 'Felted Tweed' in the 'Aubergine' colourway, which knitted up far quicker than the thinner 4ply! 

The pattern is 'Beech' from Rowan Knitting Magazine No. 50; again knitted on dpns but 8mm this time. 

Photo source
Now, I love the colour and texture of the Rowan yarn, but I found it so splitty to work with and it broke at inconvenient times when I was doing the cable pattern, which resulted in me having to rip back a few rows to re-join the yarn. I wasn't happy about that! However, these are the ideal mitts to wear when driving Archie the Morris.

I'm having a bit of a creative rush this month, as I'm also doing some embroidery (I'll save that for another post perhaps) and I've got back into life-drawing at long last. 

I've always enjoyed life-drawing and went to various classes over the years, but it was after talking to a friend who also goes to the same class, that gave me the impetus to sign up for the spring term. My first lesson was last week and I really enjoyed it, getting back into the flow, working with charcoal and pastels.

Finally, I'll end this on a 'kindness of strangers' note. Walking back home on Saturday I noticed a sign outside an open garage reading: "Free - please take otherwise its going to the tip". Well, you can't resist an invitation like that, can you?

There wasn't much there, but I did leave with a hoe (practical eh?) and these lovely 1950s/60s glass Christmas baubles and artificial berries:

Luckily I had a pen on me, so scribbled a few words of thanks under the original message. 

Wasn't that a lucky find?

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