Tag Archives: Recycling

Why Felix the perchcrow needs your love

25 Aug
Felix the unloved perchcrow

New friend: Felix, the unloved perchcrow

I’m thrilled to tell you that I’ve got a new penfriend. Felix the perchcrow has written to me from Caversham Court Gardens in Reading, home of my lady admirer Flora.

I was very touched by his letter because he explained that he lives in the shadow of my love rival, Fred the under-gardener. Felix wrote:

Dear Fletch,

This is to introduce myself as Felix the Perchcrow. I was built using beanpoles at a beanpole day in May at Caversham Court Gardens. Sadly, I am not allowed to go back there on display as I am not considered to be good enough.

Flora and Fred are regularly put on display there but I have been consigned to the back garden. I have asked my maker Mike to send you my photograph.

I am a much troubled perchcrow and I know I am not good looking, but I feel I deserve more public acclaim. Look at my attributes. I am made from wholly recycled materials, and my hazel beanpole structure is sourced from sustainable environmentally friendly coppicing.

I feel you and I have much in common. We understand what it is like to live out in the wind and the rain. Perhaps a sympathetic reply would make life more bearable.

Yours truly, Felix

I’m so pleased to have heard from a fellow perchcrow who isn’t as sartorially perfect as Fred.

We perchcrows are by nature very sensitive creatures and we all want to be loved, so I’m delighted to have this chance to introduce Felix to a wider world, where I’m sure he’ll find the recognition he deserves to boost his confidence.

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A heads-up about fun to come

19 Feb

AlAmIt’s less than three weeks until Wordsworth House and Garden opens for the new season. There’s lots still to do, but we’re getting really excited. We’re so looking forward to welcoming all our visitors – seeing old friends back again and making many new ones.

There’s so much going on – and I don’t want to spoil the surprises for when you visit – but here’s a taster…

Work is nearly complete on our brilliant new hands-on Wordsworth Room – we’re just waiting for the artist to come and cover the walls with poetry!

In the cellar, my friends John and Will have been beavering away to re-create the Wordsworth family’s larder. Here’s a picture of John lime-washing the walls – but we’re not going to let you see anything else, as we want you to experience this amazing room first-hand.

cellar work 012

Our fabulous new garden exhibition made with upcycled textiles, created by local artist Dianne Standen, is just about to be installed. The picture at the top shows Amanda and Alex getting heads-on with some of Dianne’s creations!

Recycling Georgian-style

16 Aug
The mortar at the back door of Wordsworth House

Pre 2004: The mortar at the back door of Wordsworth House

The mortar back in the kitchen

After 2004: The mortar back in the kitchen with a pestle

Amanda was looking through our photo archive the other day and spotted something intriguing. In an old image of the back door of Wordsworth House, there was the mortar from our 18th-century kitchen doing duty as a plant pot!

We knew it was found in the garden by food historian Peter Brears and brought indoors, as part of our 2004 renovation, to return to its original purpose, but we didn’t realise we had a picture of it in its ‘other’ life.

The Georgians were very keen on recycling – they reused everything from tea leaves to hair, teeth and the contents of their chamber pots – so the Wordsworths would probably have approved of the fact that our mortar has had more than one career.

Well-to-do Georgians also filled their kitchens with early labour saving devices, such as the amazing smoke jack that used convection currents to turn meats roasting in front of the fire.

The giant pestle that goes with our huge mortar was another of these – it’s attached to the wall by a metal loop, so rather than using lots of energy to pound your oats for making clapbread and other recipes, you merely had to roll the handle between your thumb and first finger to grind them down to the required size.

Our fabulous working kitchen is hands-on, so if you come to visit have a go and see for yourself how easy it is! And ask the costumed servants about 18th-century recycling – they’ll tell you stories to make your toes curl.

Oh and don’t forget to look in your own garden and see if you have any historic artefacts masquerading as planters.

Hands on: Our working 18th-century kitchen

Hands on: Our working 18th-century kitchen

Recycled roof slates and crocheted mice

23 Jul
A slate label in Wordsworth House garden

New Life: A slate taken from Wordsworth House roof

Kat in Wordsworth House garden

Lady in red: Kat, skilled secretary and calligrapher

Amanda has found a clever new use for damaged roofing slates taken from the house here and other National Trust-owned homes and farms around the northern Lake District. With the help of garden volunteer Kat, who’s a whiz at calligraphy, she’s turned them into giant plant labels – and they look wonderful.

Kat, who’s also a skilled secretary, says Amanda’s handwriting is worse than a doctor’s, hence her offer to help out.

Visitors have always been interested in the wide range of heritage fruit we grow, but up to now Amanda hadn’t found sympathetic labels for them. It truly is a unique collection, as most of the apple, pear, plum and other wall-growing varieties date from pre 1800.

The garden volunteers bring all sorts of skills – Lynne who crocheted my pals Bubble and Squeak, the mice, also makes the tea cosies that you can see on TV’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch.

The only other place we know of that does something similar with slates – in this case with poetry written on them – is Calke Abbey, a glorious hoarders’ paradise in Derbyshire, packed with generations of fascinating collections and bric-a-brac.

The Georgians were great recyclers – reusing everything from tea leaves to human hair and teeth – so we think William and the rest of the Wordsworths would have approved.

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