Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Penlee Park (again)

Our walk on Sunday started at Penlee Park but this time we went straight down the main path and out into the surrounding streets.  We knew the park had been bought for the people of Penzance in 1946 as a war memorial.  Penlee House, which became the museum and art gallery at that point, was once the home of the Branwell family who were prominent merchants in Penzance and established the first Wesleyan Methodist chapel, something I had not known as my family belonged to the Primitive Mehodists.  Maria Branwell married Patrick Bronte and was the mother of the novelists Charlotte, Emily and Anne.  By now you have probably realised that their brother, Bramwell, had her maiden name as his Christian name.

The house is a typical nineteenth century gentleman's residence with two large living rooms that are now the main galleries.  There were additions to the building at some point and it is now a lovely place and, I hasten to add, until very recently the only disabled friendly building in the whole town.

Like all gentleman's residences at this time, it had extensive grounds and it is these that are now Penlee Park.  Even in January there were flowers in bloom as this is the warmest part of the UK (except for the Isles of Scilly) and the vegetation is very interesting with lots of plants from Australasia.

I like the little tree in this shot which looks as though it was someone's Christmas tree!

Part of the grounds are now an open-air theatre.  There is also a memorial garden and a sensory garden.  http://www.penleehouse.org.uk/visiting/the-park-and-gardens  I posted photos of the English trees in my post on New Year's Day.

Having walked through the park on Sunday we found ourselves out in the street.  This is a very nice Victorian part of town which always reminds me of the part of Wellington where my maternal grandparents lived.  Walking down the street towards the sea and the promenade we made a detour around a crescent which is full of bungalows and again looks very like New Zealand.

We then walked through several streets, none of which we had ever been down, and finally found ourselves at a gate which led back into the park.  Somewhat to my surprise we were back at the top of the hill.  Back at the house we noticed a sculpture which is called 'The Broccoli Juggler'.  It is by Kurt Jackson who is a famous (and now expensive) artist from this area.  kurtjackson.com

Then outside the house, we stopped to photograph the cross that stands near the main entrance. I knew this had been the Penzance market cross and that it has been moved from the Greenmarket in the centre of town but I had not known its history.

It is called the Ricatus cross and there is a legend that it belonged to the last king of Cornwall.  It certainly dates from the eleventh century but evidence for this version of its history is rather thin on the ground.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Dogs for twins

Well, I have made them: two patchwork dogs for the new twins next door.

They are the same as the ones I was making for my sister's new grandchildren last summer.  In fact, I had started the first one without considering who it was for.  The twins, Felix and Jo, were born ten days ago.  I have to confess that the standard of my work is beginning to slip but you cannot see the places where I had trouble.  As my right (non-dominant) hand weakens from the IBM I find it more difficult to hand sew.  You would be amazed at how much you use two hands sewing, not to mention your right foot if using a sewing machine.  I am beginning to find threading needles a slight problem as I cannot pinch my thumb and forefinger together.  Also I managed to thread the machine up when I moved it upstairs but I have yet to try changing the needle, something I normally do at the end of each project, or threading up with different thread.  I was never any good at using the Bernina needle threader as when I acquired this machine a series of train strikes meant I could not go to the free lesson in London!

I can see that my sewing days are coming to an end but I have become very aware of how many of us are getting older and having practical difficulties.  I started off an interesting conversation on the CQ Yahoo group this week by saying I needed to pass on my books.  Now everyone is at it with lots of suggestions of charities, educational establishments etc. which will take books and supplies.  There must be an awful lot of fabric in British houses!  I have always said that I would paint when I got to this stage as it only requires one hand.  Unfortunately I am not nearly as skilled at painting and drawing as I am at stitching and at the moment I prefer to concentrate on what I know for as long as I can.  However, do not be surprised if this blog mutates into something about art more generally.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

More winter walks

We have been trying hard to get out when the weather lets us.  Over New Year we went to Marazion beach where we have learnt you can park for free at this time of the year.  We did not walk but just looked at the sea from the car.

Marazion is very popular with local people at this time of the year so it was quite crowded.

The sandy stretch in front of the car park is ideal for dogs as there is plenty of room for chasing balls.  Here is the view towards Long Rock and Penzance.  Looking straight ahead there is a view right across Mounts Bay.  As with so much down here, everything is much better in winter: no crowds, free parking in a lot of places and not nearly so many people especially once the Christmas hordes have departed.

And here is a reminder of what the beach has to offer.  Look at all the warning  and 'do not' signs!

Last Saturday we braved quite a cold day in order to try out my new four-wheel walker.

We drove to Helston where there is a park situated next to a large pond/small lake.  I was able to walk right round it although I learnt that there are lots of tree roots under the surface which means walking very carefully.  The pond itself is a haven for swans and ducks

and a wide variety of birds although I can never identify the species!

Because the whole area is level and paved it is a popular place for people with families.  There is even a skate park at one point although I do not have a photo of it.

The designer in me was interested in the vegetation around the lake, including this tree and the clump of bamboo.

At the far end of the lake there are good views back to Helston.  The town, which is famous for the Flora Day ceremony and dance, is built on a hill and the buildings stand out well.

Here you can see the parish church and in the next photo, the Methodist chapel.

Helston is the market town for the Lizard.  Most people also associate it with Culdrose airbase which until recently was the home of the Search and Rescue organisation.  Helicopters are frequently seen round here, planes less often except for large ones very high up. I have been told that after the really large jet liners are serviced they take them out on a test run over Cornwall and the Western Approaches so vapour trails are part of the Penzance landscape.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Relocating my sewing area

In this house I have been very lucky to have had a sewing area where I could shut the cats out,  It came about because when we moved in eleven years ago there was no utility room so we converted the garage (which is underneath the sitting room) into a combined utility room and studio.  We chose not to knock a hole in the wall from the room I use as a study because (a) we needed the wall on the study side for books and (b) that was the sensible place to put the sinks. I was lucky enough to get two sinks with this arrangement.  However, it has meant that we can only get into the studio by walking across the yard.  In the past I have tripped over the door sill which could be serious so now, with my disability getting worse, I have decided I should not be sewing out there in case I fall.  No-one would hear even though I have a Lifeline alarm and carry my mobile phone at all times.  What a bore!

So since New Year I have been trying to move some things back inside the house.  I now have my sewing machine set up on the table in my bedroom  where I use to sew before the studio was built.  There is a pendant light above it with a daylight bulb in it so that is good.

One of my symptoms is that I cannot get up off normal height chairs and need them raised with cushions or 'elephant feet'.  Then I realised that I had been issued with a 'perching stool' which I have never used so I have put that in the bedroom at the machine.  It is an ideal height although I have to be careful not to bump into it as I walk over to the corner where the electric plugs are!

A second problem which I have not yet solved is where to iron. Originally I had an ironing board in the bedroom (it is quite a large room but an odd shape) but this went a long time ago.  I do not have room for another table so I have to go downstairs on my stair lift each time I need to press a seam which can be very often.  I am considering getting one of those portable ironing boards but I already have a Lakeland ironing pad in the studio and realise that would be easier.  But as you can see there is not much room on the table for that as well as the machine.

And now I find myself in the situation where half my stuff is in the studio and half in the house!  It was ever thus. If I want to do a lot of cutting I need to be in the studio so this morning I was out there but aware that John knew where I was and the neighbour who does our garden was also in the yard a lot.  

And what am I making?  I need to keep it simple as I have not done any sewing since the summer.  Then I was making patchwork dogs for my sister's new grandchildren.  Now I am making two more for the twins our next door neighbour had last Wednesday.  This morning I finished cutting out the squares for the second one.  Now I need to sew them all together, going up and downstairs to the iron of course.  And being January it is very gloomy and sometimes a bit difficult to see the work and stay motivated but I am trying!  Will post again when I have something to show.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

A walk in the park

It is interesting how you can live somewhere and never go to some of the places that are really near.  On Friday we attempted to go up onto the moors but it was very soggy underfoot so we turned round and drove into Penzance.  Penlee House where I have done room stewarding for a long time sits in a park but I cannot remember ever having gone for a walk there.  As there are disabled parking places outside the museum we were able to park there and then walked down the main path.  I often see people walking through there as it leads to one of the main streets on that side of Penzance.  Now I learnt that the path is sealed and quite wide so ideal for someone who cannot walk far, even with walking poles.  There were lots of people there, many with small children.

I appear to have managed to take photos without people in them!  The path leads slightly downhill past a number of large trees which look really good at this time of year

I particularly liked this trunk:

At the bottom of the slope is a small pond with steps behind it.

Those are arum lilies on the left and yes, they are in bloom but this is Cornwall where the winters are mild.  On the right is a clump of papyrus.  We have some in our garden, planted by the previous owner, but I have never known what it was called.  It is very tough and ours recovers well from the odd frost.

Walking back up the path we noticed that there are memorial plaques on a couple of the trees at the top.

The whole park is a memorial garden as Penlee House was given to Penzance as a war memorial.  We will be going there again.  I knew about some of the other features of the garden such as the scented garden and the Open Air Theatre so it is a little surprising that I was not more familiar with this part of it.  And the photos of the trees might be worth fiddling with in Elements to create designs.