Saturday, March 28, 2009
A little bit of catching up here as I never did the Sunday bit of last weekend - we went to the Museum of East Anglian Life which could easily have the word 'rural' in its title as that is what East Anglia basically still is. There have always been a lot of Romani travellers in Suffolk and the museum has a small exhibit about them including some fascinating recordings by an old Romani lady telling about their way of life including some interesting bits about the herbal remedies that they made and used. Above is a traditional bender tent which is what the gypsy people lived in until the mid-19th century when the traditional vardo (caravan) started to be used. The benders were made from a framework of saplings tied at the top and covered in canvas which was held down by stones.
The interior of a vardo showing how highly decorated they were - this one could use a little bit of restoration! They look small but the gypsy people lived an outdoor life so needed only a place to sleep.
I find the Romani people very interesting, they carry a huge fund of knowledge of the natural world and especially the uses of herbs. My interest is increased by a family legend that my grandmother had some gypsy blood. I have no idea whether there is any truth in this but I can certainly see why people would think it was so. My dad also had her jet black hair,high cheekbones and swarthy skin. I got the high cheekbones and fairly dark skin but not,unfortunately,the black hair.
However, back to the Museum, this is one of the room settings, a lovely cottage kitchen. Though not so lovely if you actually had to use it. My gran (the one in the photo above) had something similar but smaller with a cold water tap, a shallow stone sink and a big mangle in it. She did have a gas stove though the old range still provided the heat in the little living room. This is getting bad, I keep wandering off the subject!
This fabulous old machine is a chaff cutter which would have been powered by a steam engine. It cuts straw chaff, hay and oats into very small pieces, it is then mixed with chopped mangolds, swedes, sugar beet pulp and is given to the cattle and horses. The straw is much easier for them to digest when it is cut small so they gain more nourishment from it. This information all came from the man who owned and was restoring it. Cesca and I were standing by it making all kinds of unlikely guesses as to what it was for and I don't think we'd have come up with the right answer if we'd stood there for the rest of the day.
Gabriel and his other granny standing by one of the steam rollers - Gabriel looking rather doubtful about the whole thing:) I remember quite clearly when these were a common sight wherever the roadmenders were at work. I used to love the smell of the tarmac - still do but usually they only patch the roads up these days instead of replacing whole sections so there isn't much tarmac to smell.
George looking highly unimpressed by his brother's driving skills!
On Tuesday Steve, Hannah, Kaitlyn and Lucy came over for the afternoon and we went to Padley Gorge for a walk. The wind was bitter on the road above but once we dropped down into the trees it was fine. This is the Burbage Brook which runs through the gorge, once forming part of the boundary between Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
Hannah, Kaitlyn and Lucy ( yes, she is in there!) striding out along the rocky path through the woodland which is mainly oak and birch with alder along the river.
It was difficult to take a photo that gave any real impression of the steep sides of Padley Gorge. Some parts of the path are very steep indeed especially if you aren't quite three yet. Kaitlyn walked the whole way holding my hand on the very steep parts while Steve helped Hannah who had Lucy strapped to her in a Hugabub. There were one or two very muddy patches which I carried her over but that was because she only had ordinary shoes on rather than wellingtons. No whingeing either - a real little trooper. We pretended we were intrepid explorers :)
My evenings have been spent finishing this blanket for Lucy. Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while may have a sense of deja-vu and you'd be right, you have seen it before. This is the fourth time I've done this pattern, one for each grandchild but a different colour for each. To be honest this has taken ages, I feel as though I've been knitting it for years! There are 48 small squares in it as well as the border so the sewing took nearly as long as the knitting. I'm going to make something really, really small next - I have in mind a dishcloth. Watch this space!
And finally, I was researching on Google for a detour I have in mind as I go down to Sussex later this year. I can't remember how long it took me last time to get from Avebury to Winchester so was trying to get some clues and came across this little gem which made me laugh:
Arthur Tour to mysterious southwest England
Meeting time 12.00 noon. He will take you to Winchester in his tour bus. ... probably built around 3000 BC)
Now that's a trip I'd like to take - King Arthur as guide and a 5000 year old tour bus :)