Archive | May 2015

Persian turquoise

Among all the jewellery types and styles that I sell and have sold in my Etsy shop, I unsurprisingly have some favourites. Scandinavian silver is at the top of the list, but jostling for position not far behind was Victorian and Edwardian Persian turquoise jewellery. Just look at these beauties!

n

Victorian Persian turquoise brooch. Leave me a message in the comments field below if you would like to buy this: price £78.00.

Austro-Hungarian brooch with seed pearls (some missing) and Persian truquoise, and a more modern dangle added. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Austro-Hungarian brooch with seed pearls (some missing) and Persian turquoise, and a more modern dangle added. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Turquoise has been mined in the region of the Ali-Mersai mountain near Neyshabur (Nishapur) in the Khorasan Province of north-eastern Iran for at least 4,000 years. Until the 20th century, Iran was known as Persia, but confusingly the bright blue and much-prized stone that came from Persia became known as ‘turquoise’ as it was imported to the west via Turkey, and was assumed to have originated there. Persian turquoise was highly prized by jewellers round the world as the best pieces come in a beautiful rich blue colour with no matrix, and the stone is harder than turquoises mined elsewhere in the world.

The tiny cabochons of Persian turquoise were particularly popular in the late Victorian and early Edwardian era, when they were used to make small brooches and lace pins in a variety of shapes. The ones pictured below are those I have sold in my shop: there are many other shapes and designs yet to be added!

Edwardian brooch. (NOW SOLD).

Edwardian Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

(NOW SOLD).

Edwardian Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

Pendant in 900 silver with Persian turquoise.

Pendant in 900 silver with Persian turquoise. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

v

Edwardian Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

293a

Edwardian Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

Edwardian Persian turquoise brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Edwardian Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

mm

Edwardian Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

Persian turquoise crescent moon brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. #433.

Persian turquoise crescent moon brooch. (NOW SOLD).

Pavé late Victorian Persian turquoise and gold-tone mount brooch. (NOW SOLD).

v

Persian turquoise pavé brooch with marcasites. (NOW SOLD).

mm

Tiny Late Victorian or Edwardian Persian turquoise pavé brooch. (NOW SOLD).

#385.

Late Victorian or Edwardian Persian turquoise pavé brooch. (NOW SOLD).

x

Edwardian Persian turquoise bar brooch, hallmarked 1918. (NOW SOLD).

https://www.etsy.com/uk/transaction/1138972355

Edwardian Persian turquoise bar brooch in 800 silver. (NOW SOLD).

Victoriian Persian turquoise dagger jabot brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. #290.

Victorian Persian turquoise dagger jabot brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Mother of pearl and Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

mm

Arts and Crafts blister pearl and Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

#300.

Victorian Etruscan Revival gold and Persian turquoise brooch. (NOW SOLD).

In the Victorian and Edwardian periods turquoise was a favourite gemstone. In the language of stones that was so popular then, turquoise represented a ‘pledge of love, a gift to the betrothed and an affirmation of feeling.’ Some of this jewellery was made with small, irregularly-shaped cabochons in a variety of colours ranging from light blue, the classic turquoise blue, through to greeny blue. Sometimes these turquoises were set in pavé style, which takes its name from the cobblestones of a street surface and their close-set appearance.

Turquoise is still mined in the Ali-Mersai mountain in north-eastern Iran. A fascinating photojournalism article about the mine, published in January 2010, can be read here. The conditions look very hard and probably haven’t changed too much over the millennia, and this makes me appreciate the stones even more.

Sunday stroll: Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay

Yesterday Chap and I headed south, to Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay in the Purbeck Hills of Dorset.

Tyneham has a fascinating and rather sad history. For centuries it was a small, isolated village near the Dorset coast, its inhabitants subsisting mainly by agriculture and fishing. In 1943, the Army took over the area for training and preparations for the D-Day invasions, and this required the evacuation of the 225 inhabitants of Tyneham. They were given just 28 days’ notice. The villagers left, believing they would return after the war, but 72 years on they have not been allowed back to Tyneham, nor are they ever likely to be. The area is still used as an Army Firing Range, and access is limited.

The road down into Tyneham.

The road down into Tyneham.

We have previously visited Imber, a similar deserted village on the Salisbury Plain Training Area, where the houses are closed up but well preserved. Tyneham is very different. All the buildings apart from the church and the school house are dilapidated, with roofs missing, no floors, no windows and generally in a really ruinous state: the once-beautiful family homes are now just shells.

The approach to the village. Army 'keep out' sign to the right of the road.

The approach to the village. Army ‘keep out’ sign to the right of the road.

Row of four cottages. The village has been 'prettified' for the visitors: the pavement and kerbing postdate the village's abandonment.

Row of four cottages, and an old phone box. The village has been ‘prettified’ for the visitors: the pavement and kerbing postdate the village’s abandonment.

Fireplaces inside on of the cottages.

Fireplaces inside one of the cottages.

Another ruined cottage. The tie bars are holding the walls upright - without the roof they have started to spread quite markedly.

Another ruined cottage. The tie bars are holding the walls upright – without the roof they have started to spread quite markedly.

The Rectory.

The Rectory.

Noticebaord at the Rectory. The photo shows that it was once a beautiful Georgian building.

Noticeboard at the Rectory. The photo shows that it was once a beautiful Georgian building.

A picturesuw ruin now. Since the village's abandonment, trees have grown where would once have been beautifully-tended gardens.

A picturesque ruin now. Since the village’s abandonment, trees have grown where would once have been beautifully-tended gardens.

It really brings it home to you on a visit to Tyneham how much a community is about the place as well as the people. And when the people were moved away from the place they loved, and settled in different locations, their community died.

The last villagers to leave pinned a poignant note to the door of the church:

download

Sadly the houses were not treated with care. I don’t know whether Tyneham itself was used for target practice, as were and are the surrounding hills, or quite how they came to be so ruinous in such a short period. Certainly the Army is trying to keep them from further decay, but in general their repairs are very unsympathetic to the fabric of the old buildings, with hard Portland cement being used rather than lime mortar, and infills and repairs made with engineering bricks and cement. I know the Army is not a conservation body, but it is so sad to see the buildings as they are.

v

View on the way down to Worbarrow Bay.

v

Worbarrow Bay. Lots of landslips round here.

Thrift or Sea pink (Armeria maritima).

Thrift or Sea pink (Armeria maritima).

Bulbarrow Tout, and a party of kayakers who pulled up on the beach.

Worbarrow Tout, and a party of kayakers who pulled up on the beach.

May blossom. The hawthorn flowers certainly look nicer than they smell! (Crataegus monogyna).

May blossom. The hawthorn flowers certainly look nicer than they smell! (Crataegus monogyna).

A pretty small area of meadow planted at Tyneham Farm barn.

A pretty small area of meadow planted at Tyneham Farm barn.

v

Another abandoned farm on the way out of Tyneham.

We drove past this on our (circuitous) way home: the Osmington White Horse, a hill figure created in 1808, and 85 m (280 feet) long and 98 m (323 feet) high.

We drove past this on our (circuitous) way home: the Osmington White Horse, a hill figure created in 1808, and 85 m (280 feet) long and 98 m (323 feet) high.

Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay are open to visitors at certain times: check the visitors page on the Tyneham PC website for details.

Stourhead in May

Yesterday Chap and I took a day off work and spent the day at Stourhead with Elizabeth, a family friend of old, and her friend Sue. The day started gloomily, with dark lowering clouds and heavy rain showers. But we were so lucky: the sun came out and the rain held off, although the impressive clouds remained. Sue hadn’t visited Stourhead before, so it was a joy seeing her delight at meeting this stunning garden for the first time.

I’ll let the photos do the talking. Click on any to embiggen/bigify:

The Palladian Bridge and in the background, the Pantheon.

Stourhead: The Palladian Bridge and in the background, the Pantheon.

The view from the Temple of Apollo. The colours are so zingy at this time of year, and the rhododendrons and azaleas were looking amazing.

Stourhead: The view from the Temple of Apollo. The colours are so zingy at this time of year, and the rhododendrons and azaleas were looking amazing.

The Temple of Apollo. The lake is off to the left of shot.

Stourhead: The Temple of Apollo. The lake is off to the left of shot.

The Temple of Flora, the Palladian Bridge and the Bristol Cross photographed from outside the Pantheon.

Stourhead: The Temple of Flora, the Palladian Bridge and the Bristol Cross photographed from outside the Pantheon.

Inside the Pantheon.

Stourhead: Inside the Pantheon.

The deliberately wonky, shonky windows of the Gothic Cottage.

Stourhead: The deliberately wonky, shonky windows of the Gothic Cottage.

A memory board within the Gothic Cottage.

Stourhead: The memory board within the Gothic Cottage.

A lovely not pinned on the memory board

Stourhead: A lovely note pinned on the memory board. Ah, huge congratulations to Ben and Vicki.

Naughty Grace!

Stourhead: Naughty Grace!

View across the lake to the Temple of Apollo.

Stourhead: View across the lake to the Temple of Apollo.

Gaudy rhododendrons and azaleas among the acers and other trees.

Stourhead: Gaudy rhododendrons and azaleas among the acers and other trees.

View from outside the Temple of Flora to the Pantheon.

Stourhead: View from outside the Temple of Flora to the Pantheon.

The Palladian Bridge from the Temple of Flora.

Stourhead: The Palladian Bridge from the Temple of Flora.

Stourhead: Big skies over the lake and the Pantheon.

Stourhead: Big skies over the lake and the Pantheon.

Cottages and the National Trust estate office at the village of Stourton, just outside the Stourhead landscape gardens.

Cottages and the National Trust estate office at the village of Stourton, just outside the Stourhead landscape gardens.

And this is the view from just by those cottages: the Bristol Cross, the Palladian Bridge and the Pantheon.

And this is the view from just by those cottages: the Bristol Cross, the Palladian Bridge and the Pantheon.

Stourton Church, viewed from the same spot as the previous photograph.

Stourton Church, viewed from the same spot as the previous photograph.

National Trust gardeners training some young fruit trees in the walled kitchen gardens.

Stourhead: National Trust gardeners training some young fruit trees in the walled kitchen gardens. Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ popping up between lavender within box hedges in the foreground.

The restored glasshouse with the beautiful collection of species and variety pelargoniums.

Stourhead: The restored glasshouse with the beautiful collection of species and variety pelargoniums.

A wonderful bee, insect and other critter hotel made out of pallets, old terracotta roof tiles and ridge tiles and bamboo, among other things.

Stourhead: A wonderful bee, insect and small critter hotel made out of pallets, old terracotta roof tiles, ridge tiles and drainage pipes with bamboo, among other things, against a wall in the walled garden.

Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' growing against an outbuilding. Gorgeous.

Stourhead; Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ with its tiny yellow pompom flowers growing against an outbuilding. Gorgeous.

And watching the Chelsea Flower Show coverage on the Beeb yesterday evening after our return, what do I hear but architecture critic and broadcaster Tom Dyckhoff say this:

‘In fact, I would go so far as to say that the greatest contribution that Britain has made to worldwide design has been the landscape garden and its relationship to architecture. I mean particularly from the classic periods, the late 18th century, that kind of period of picturesque garden design, places like Stourhead. That was arguably our greatest design moment, certainly our greatest contribution.’

(edited slightly to remove ‘you knows’ and ‘like’s)

I couldn’t agree more. And we are so lucky to live so close and to be able to visit its wonders frequently.

National Trust visitor information for Stourhead.

Grapey delights

The other day Chap and I enjoyed a really terrific bottle of red wine, given to us by my Aussie wine loving lovely, wonderful Pa: Peter Lehmann’s The Pastor’s Son Shiraz 2009. Dad is a massive Australian wine fan and regularly gives us great thumping great Aussie shirazes (his favourite grape variety for wine and ours too). All his wines are fantastic, but this one had that extra something.

So. Not that I’m a lush or anything (hic), but I somehow seem to have amassed a collection of grapey jewellery in my Etsy shop.

Here’s a vine leaf ring:

A vintage Danish 830 silver ring by S. Chr. Fogh of Copenhagen, for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo for details.

A vintage Danish 830 silver ring by S. Chr. Fogh of Copenhagen, for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo for details.

A vine leaves and bunch of grapes brooch:

Baltic amber and sterling silver brooch, for sale in my Etsy shop. Click for details.

Vintage Baltic amber and sterling silver brooch, for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

A bunches of grapes bracelet:

Vintage Danish 830 silver link bracelet by Chr. Veilskov.

Vintage Danish 830 silver link bracelet by Chr. Veilskov. Click on photos for details. (NOW SOLD).

and a French Art Deco brooch with fruit, leaves, and two birds after the crop:

Art Deco silver brooch by H Teguy, France, 1920s, Basque jewellery. For sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo for details.

Art Deco silver brooch by H Teguy, France, Basque designer, 1920s. For sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo for details.

(Okay, this last one might be a bunch of berries rather than grapes because the leaves aren’t vine leaves … but it has a grapey vibe that’ll do for me!)

Update. And the viticulture love goes on: a recent(ish) addition to the shop is a pair of blue glass grape earrings:

Grape earrings, for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo for details.

Grape earrings, for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Orange and almond cake

When my younger sister opened her garden for the National Gardens Scheme, we sold plants and laid on tea and cakes as well, as a way of increasing the amount of money we took for the various charities that are the NGS beneficiaries. The days in the run-up to the two-day weekend opening would be a mad frenzy of fudge making and cake baking. My sister’s lovely work colleagues all joined in too, and so we always had a really impressive array of cakes and scones and flapjacks and brownies and all sorts of goodies to offer to the visitors. I had a massive grin on my face when I overheard one visitor say to her friend that our cakes knocked the spots off the National Trust ones! Quite properly, given that my sister lives in Devon, the third most popular was a West Country apple cake. The best seller was coffee and walnut cake, but it was very closely followed by a wonderful, zesty orange and almond cake.

This is only about half of the syrup.

Orange and almond cake. This is only about half of the syrup.

Almost all slurped up - it takes a few hours.

Almost all slurped up – it takes a few hours.

So scrummy it didn't last long!

So scrummy it didn’t last long!

There is something very moreish about this cake. It’s got no flour in it, using ground almonds and semolina instead, and as well as having orange zest and juice within the cake, after baking it is drenchedand I mean drenchedwith a fresh orange and lime juice syrup. The smell while the syrup is cooking is divine, and reminds me so much of the smell that pervaded the whole house when my Mum used to make her batches of marmalade every January. When you make the syrup you think that no way can the cake take all that liquid without turning into a soggy mess. But hold your nerve. The cake gradually sucks it all up, and it gives the cake a wonderfully moist texture, as well as ramping up the citrusness (Is that a word? Citrusosity? Citraceousness?). Yummy.

Orange and almond cake

Serves 8

115 g / 4 oz butter

grated rind of 1 large orange

115 g / 4 oz caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

175 g / 6 oz fine semolina

100g / 4 oz ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

3 tbsp / 50 ml / 1.7 fl oz freshly squeezed orange juice

For the syrup

175 ml / 6 fl oz freshly squeezed orange juice

5 tbsp / 90 ml / 3 fl oz freshly squeezed lime juice

115 g / 4 oz caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F / gas mark 4.  Butter and line a 20 cm / 8 inch round cake tin. Beat together the butter, orange rind and caster sugar until light and creamy. Gradually beat in eggs. Mix together semolina, ground almonds, mixed spice and baking powder, and fold half into the creamed mixture with half the orange juice. Fold in remaining dry ingredients and orange juice. Spoon mixture into tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until well-risen and firm. Leave to cool for a few minutes, peel off the lining and turn out on to a deep plate.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a pan, heat the orange juice, lime juice and sugar until sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Spoon over cake. This might take several goes depending on how deep your plate is and how much liquid it will hold. Leave to cool. Makes a nice pud served with crème fraîche as well as a great teatime cake.

National Gardens Scheme website.

National Trust recipes we beat!