Archive | August 2015

I think they’ve gone

I think the house martins (Delichon urbicum) left us today, heading south on their migration to Africa. The RSPB tells me that they leave the UK in September and October, but I wonder whether we saw them leave today. Normally their flight is in loose, open groups, hunting high over the village in a wide open looping flight. At about 10 this morning Chap and I saw something very different, a tight, low flying group of maybe forty individuals flying directly to the south / south-west of us, and not returning. A couple of stragglers followed a few minutes later. I haven’t noticed any over the village since.

House martin. Photo by Ómar Runólfsson.

House martin. Photo by Ómar Runólfsson.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they have left a bit earlier than usual, as we have had a very cold and wet few weeks, more November-like that August-like.

House martins. Photo by Sean - Martin.

House martins. Photo by Sean – Martin.

It reminds me of the time some years ago when I watched a group of at least a hundred house martins all settle on the sloping terracotta tiles of the roof of a nearby tall house. I was alerted to them by the terrific noise they made as a group, a lively twttering and calling that went on for a couple of hours. And then they all flew off. And that was that – they’d gone for the year. I’d never seen that behaviour before, nor have I since, and assume they were marshalling themselves before the grand depart.

N E From designs, #1: asymmetrical concave discs

The more I study Niels Erik From’s modernist jewellery, the more I like it. I don’t know whether it’s to do with my archaeological career, and the years spent working on finds from various excavations, but I am an inveterate typologiser. I just can’t help it. So I have noticed the variations in the various designs that N E From used in his jewellery.

s

N E From rose quartz ring, 15 mm diameter head. NOW SOLD: click on photo for details. Design #1.1.1

Usually he made a suite of jewellery types – rings, brooches, earrings, cufflinks, bracelets, necklaces, pendants – and in a variety of themes all riffing on a basic design, and using a range of different semi-precious stones. Putting my Linnaean hat on, I’m going to start with what I rather clunkily call his asymmetrical concave disc design. It probably has a proper name given to it by From, but I don’t know what that is.

The characteristic features of this design are a dished, concave disc of silver, into which is set, asymmetrically and near the edge of the disc, a cabochon semi precious stone (or sometimes a solid silver cabochon) held in a plain collet. The silver around the collet is oxidised to give a blackish effect, to contrast with the rest of the disc, which is untreated and silvery.

dd

N E From amethyst ring, 15 mm diameter head. NOW SOLD: click on photo for details. Design #1.1.1

il_570xN.702961751_bvoc

N E From black onyx ring, 15 mm diameter head. NOW SOLD: click on photo for details. Design #1.1.1

NE From amazonite ring with a smaller diameter head (13 mm). For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details.

This basic design is also found in brooches:

il_570xN.383493131_l8jl

N E From solid silver brooch, for sale by decotini on Etsy: click on photo for details. This design is also occasionally seen as a pendant brooch, with an additional small loop attachment on the back to allow it to be worn as a pendant. 45 mm diameter. Design #1.1.2

and earrings:

Chysoprase earrings.

N E From chrysoprase clip on earrings.  For sale at Arnold Jewelers on Ruby Lane: click on photo for details. Design #1.1.3

and cufflinks:

N E From tiger's eye cufflinks.

N E From tiger’s eye cufflinks. For sale at vintagecufflinks.com: click on photo for details. Design #1.1.4

and bracelets:

Capture

N E From blue glass bracelet. For sale at scandinaviansilver.co.uk: click on photo for details. Design #1.1.5

and necklaces:

x

N E From solid silver necklace. Design #1.1.6

and pendants:

N E From chrysoprase pendant.

N E From chrysoprase pendant. For sale at The Gilded Room at Ruby Lane: click on photo for details. 19 mm diameter. Design #1.1.7

N E From amethyst pendant. For sale at JohnKelly1880.co.uk: click on photo for details. Diameter 42 mm. Design #

N E From amethyst pendant. For sale at JohnKelly1880.co.uk: click on photo for details. 42 mm diameter. Design #1.1.7

Okay, now we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s start riffing.

Multiple discs in a row:

N E From Baltic amber moderist brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

N E From Baltic amber brooch. NOW SOLD: click on photo for details. Design #1.2.1

Multiple discs in an equal sized trefoil arrangement:

Capture

N E From amethyst brooch. NOW SOLD by VintageJewelsNL on Etsy: click on photo for details. Design #1.2.2

NE From rose quartz pendant.

N E From rose quartz pendant. #1.2.3

Multiple discs in an unequal sized trefoil arrangement:

N E From silver earrings. For sale on Etsy: click photo for details.

N E From silver earrings. For sale on eBay: click photo for details.

Rings of six discs:

x

N E From rose quartz brooch.  For sale at Estate925 at trocadero.com: click on photo for details. Design #1.2.5

N E From amber pendant.

N E From amber pendant. Design #1.2.6

Discs interspersed with open circles:

x

N E From amethyst bracelet with five discs. For sale at Vintage Jewels: click on photo for details. Design #1.3.1

il_570xN.800385126_i9x4

N E From rose quartz bracelet with six discs. NOW SOLD: click on photo for details. Design #1.3.1

N E From rose quartz necklace.

N E From rose quartz necklace. (Possibly a bracelet later converted into a necklace?). Design #1.3.2

Discs with surrounding circles:

N E From rose quartz earrings.

N E From rose quartz earrings. Design #1.4.1

N E From chrysoprase bracelet.

N E From chrysoprase bracelet. Design #1.4.2

N E From amber necklace.

N E From amber necklace. Design #1.4.3

N E From amethyst pendant. NOW SOLD: click on photo for details. Design #1.4.4

N E From tiger's eye pendant.

N E From tiger’s eye pendant. For sale at Blackbird Hill Antiques at Trocadero.com: click on photo for details. Design #1.4.4

Discs with surrounding double circles:

62a8d90b2f522ad91279680ad28e26d0

N E From chrysoprase brooch. NOW SOLD by VintageDesignSilver on Etsy: click on photos for details. Design #1.5.1

N E From rose quartz earrings.

N E From rose quartz earrings. NOW SOLD by PatriciaJon on Etsy: click on photo for details. by Design #1.5.2

N E From amber pendant.

N E From amber pendant. Design #1.5.3

Discs with surrounding ovals:

N E From amber bracelet.

N E From amber bracelet. For sale at vintage-jewels.nl: click on photo for details. Design #1.6.1

N E From rose quartz necklace.

N E From rose quartz necklace. Design #1.6.2

I’m sure there are plenty of other variations I haven’t come across yet. It’s fun looking!

Cabochon semi precious stone types I have seen used in the various designs:

Single arrangements:

Design #1.1.1 (ring): amber, amethyst, chrysoprase/green chalcedony, glass (blue), ivory, malachite, onyx (black), rhodochrosite, rose quartz, solid silver, tiger’s eye.

Design #1.1.2 (brooch): amber, chrysoprase/green chalcedony, glass (blue), rose quartz, solid silver.

Design #1.1.3 (earrings): amethyst, chrysoprase/green chalcedony, rose quartz, solid silver.

Design #1.1.4 (cufflinks): amber, rose quartz, tiger’s eye.

Design #1.1.5 (bracelet): chrysoprase/green chalcedony, glass (blue), rose quartz, solid silver.

Design #1.1.6 (necklace): solid silver.

Design #1.1.7 (pendant): amber (small and large), chrysoprase/green chalcedony (large), rhodochrosite (small), rose quartz (small and large).

Multiple arrangements

Design #1.2.1 (row brooch): amber, rose quartz, tiger’s eye.

Design #1.2.2 (equal trefoil brooch): amber, amethyst, rose quartz.

Design #1.2.3 (equal trefoil pendant): rose quartz.

Design #1.2.4 (unequal triple earrings): solid silver.

Design #1.2.5 (ring of six discs brooch): chrysoprase/green chalcedony, rose quartz.

Design #1.2.6 (ring of six discs pendant): amber

Discs interspersed with open circles

Design #1.3.1 (bracelet): amethyst, rose quartz.

Design #1.3.2 (bracelet): rose quartz.

Discs with surrounding circles

Design #1.4.1 (earrings): rose quartz.

Design #1.4.2 (bracelet): chrysoprase/green chalcedony.

Design #1.4.3 (necklace): amber.

Design #1.4.4 (pendant): amethyst, tiger’s eye.

Discs with surrounding double circles

Design #1.5.1 (brooch): amethyst, chrysoprase/green chalcedony.

Design #1.5.2 (earrings): rose quartz.

Design #1.5.3 (pendant): amber.

Discs with surrounding ovals

Design #1.6.1 (bracelet): amber.

Design #1.6.2 (necklace): rose quartz.

Sunday stroll: Larmer Tree Gardens

Yesterday we headed out to visit the Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal in south Wiltshire. These beautiful Victorian gardens have the distinction of being the first privately owned gardens in the UK that were opened for the enjoyment of the general public.

The Larmer Tree Gardens: the Temple on the left and the General's Room on the right.

The Larmer Tree Gardens: the Temple on the left and the General’s Room on the right.

The gardens are on the Rushmore Estate, which is in the ownership of the Pitt Rivers family. In 1880 Augustus Pitt Rivers inherited the estate, and started work almost immediately on the gardens, the development of which continued over the entire 20 years that the gardens were open.

Bust of Augusts Pitt Rivers in the Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Bust of Augustus Pitt Rivers in the Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The gardens became a massive attraction, at one point entertaining 44,000 visitors a year. Thomas Hardy visited, and even wrote a poem celebrating an evening spent there. The gardens closed with the death of Pitt Rivers in 1900, and gradually fell into disrepair.

The Lower Indian Room (left) and the Singing Theatre (right) at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The Lower Indian Room (left) and the Singing Theatre (right) at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The central lawn area is surrounded by various structures and buildings; others are set further back in the gardens, linked to the central lawn by wide grass paths flanked by cherry laurel hedges. These hedges also enclose several small picnicking areas, all part of Pitt Rivers’ design to allow the maximum enjoyment of the gardens by his estate workers and the general public. Around the edges of the garden are woodland areas and a few herbaceous beds. However, it is the buildings around the lawn that characterise this extraordinary garden, though the free-roaming peacocks and macaws are pretty iconic too.

Free-roaming peacock at the Larmer Tree Gardens. In the background are the Singing Theatre (left) and the Lodge (right).

Free-roaming peacock at the Larmer Tree Gardens. In the background are the Singing Theatre (left) and the Lodge (right).

By the entrance gate at the southern edge of the gardens is the Lodge, which now houses the cafe and a private residence. Next to this around the lawn is the magnificent Singing Theatre, with its wooden structure and painted backdrop. The paintwork is peeling and faded, and mercifully the theatre hasn’t been restored from its gently and elegantly ageing state.

x

The Singing Theatre at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The Singing Theatre at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The Funeral of Phocion by Nicolas Poussin (1648).

The Funeral of Phocion by Nicolas Poussin (1648), the painting on which the Singing Theatre painted backdrop is based.

Detail of the painted backdrop: you can clearly see the curved boards onto which the painting has been made.

Detail of the painted backdrop: you can clearly see the boards onto which the painting has been made.

Detail of the painted backdrop.

Detail of the painted backdrop. There are three doors hidden in the painting: one at the back and one at either side.

Next is the Lower Indian Room, and then the General’s Room. Both of these are traditional Indian buildings transposed to a bucolic English setting.

The Lower Indian Room

The Lower Indian Room at the Larmer Tree Gardens, with peahen resting on the front verandah.

The General's Room at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The General’s Room at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Detail of a window of the General's Room at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Detail of an intricately carved window of the General’s Room at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The final building around the lawn is the Temple, a beautiful small stone building in the Palladian style. It has a fireplace and a beautiful floor (including a maze mosaic) and decorative ceiling, and I can so easily picture Augustus sitting there with his pipe, reading a tome or working on his archaeological notes.

The Tenple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens. The reddish hue on some of the stonework is due to lichen.

The white marble fireplace in the temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The white marble fireplace in the temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The maze mosaic in the floor of the Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The maze mosaic in the floor of the Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Domed stone ceiling with carved sun-ray motif in the Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Domed stone ceiling with carved sun-ray motif in the Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

A steep flight of steps lead down from the Temple to a series of ornamental ponds with small waterfalls, with a small grotto complete with statue of Neptune complete with trident.

The Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The Temple at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

View of the Temple across the ornamental ponds at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

View of the Temple across the ornamental ponds at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Neptune in his flint nodule-lined grotto at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Neptune in his flint nodule-lined grotto at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Further behind the central lawn are two small thatched wooden shelters, Band View and Stag’s Arbour, and the corrugated iron-clad Jubilee Hall, built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria.

Following Augustus Pitt Rivers’ death, the gardens were neglected, with the cherry laurels gradually taking over and swamping the carefully-maintained paths and small picnic gardens, and the buildings slowly falling into disrepair, with some rotting away all together: the octagonal base of the bandstand is still visible by the lawn, and another building base on the opposite side near the Singing Theatre. The restoration was started in 1991, and the gardens reopened in 1995.

The gardens have a wonderful atmosphere. There are deck chairs available for visitors’ use, as well as a croquet set, apparently. Peacocks roam freely throughout the gardens: the lady in the cafe told us that one of the peahens had two chicks, but we didn’t spot them. The males have lost their glorious tail feathers in their annual moult, but were still very spectacular.

A canny peacock lurking at the cafe garden at the Larmer Tree Gardens. Lovely bark on the Acer griseum tree in the foreground.

A canny peacock lurking at the cafe garden at the Larmer Tree Gardens. Lovely bark on the Acer griseum tree in the foreground.

My haul of shed peacock feathers.

My haul of shed peacock feathers.

And we loved seeing the pair of macaws sitting in an ash tree: such an unexpected sight for an English country garden!

Spot the macaws!

Macaws in an ash tree at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

They are totally free to come and go as they please, and apparently are often seen at the nearby Rushmore Golf Course.

An extra treat for children (and the young at heart) visiting the gardens are the eleven fairy doors hidden in the base of trees the gardens. We found three:

Peacock fairy door at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Peacock fairy door at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

x

Peacock fairy door at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Scottish fairy door in a Western Red Cedar at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Scottish fairy door in a Western Red Cedar at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Scottish fairy door in a Western Red Cedar at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Scottish fairy door in a Western Red Cedar at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Red fairy door in a yew tree at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Red fairy door in a yew tree at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Red fairy door in a yew tree at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Red fairy door in a yew tree at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Luckily there’s a fairy door trail leaflet to help you find them all.

A little way away from the gardens is a massive and very strange Indian-style folly. We walked over to it: it is in the middle of a field, surrounded by quite a deep ditch, and there is a ride cut through the trees to allow a vista of the folly from King John’s House in Tollard Royal. Pitt Rivers owned King John’s House, a 13th century manor house.

The Indian-style folly near the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The Indian-style folly near the Larmer Tree Gardens.

The gardens are open at a small charge (currently £4 for an adult). Unsurprisingly they are a favourite venue for weddings, and there are also a couple of festivals held there each year (the Larmer Tree Festival and the End of the Road Festival). Consequently there are often times when the gardens are closed: I have driven to it quite a few times now only to be disappointed. Needless to say it’s highly recommended to check opening days and times online first!

I always think of the gardens being in Dorset rather than Wiltshire, possibly because Pitt Rivers is so inextricably linked with his groundbreaking archaeological work in Cranborne Chase in Dorset; looking at the 1:25,000 OS map of the area I see that the county boundary between Wiltshire and Dorset actually runs along the southern edge of the gardens. Unusual to park our car in Dorset to visit a garden in Wiltshire!

Timeline of the development of the garden buildings:

* 1880 The Temple

* 1881 The Lodge

* 1882 Stag’s Arbour

* 1886 Band View

* 1895 The Singing Theatre; The Larmer Tree studio attached to the Lodge

* 1896 Jubilee Hall

* 1897 Lower Indian Room

* 1899 The General’s Room

Can't resist it: I'm not a grily girl by any strecth of the imagination (I wear a dress about twice a year), but look at this gorgeous dress on a bride at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Can’t resist it: I’m not a girly girl by any stretch of the imagination (I wear a dress about once a year), but look at this gorgeous gown on a bride at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

Larmer Tree Gardens website.

Outlander at Wilton House

One of my earlier blog posts was about Wilton House, the wonderful pile not too far from where I live belonging to the Earl of Pembroke, and its use in various films as a location.

I’ve just learned that the British-American television series Outlander has finished filming at Wilton House in the last few days. The film crew were in residence for two weeks, with Wilton House standing in for the Palace of Versailles. To fully create a French milieu, all the British furniture was moved out and appropriate French furniture moved in its place. Filming took place in the Double Cube Room, the Single Cube Room and elsewhere. The actors include Simon Callow, and the candle budget was £1000 a day!

Wilton House Double Cube Room.

Wilton House Double Cube Room.

Certainly as you drove past Wilton House you could see droves of trailers and trucks parked up inside the high estate walls. We’d wondered what was going on there, and now we know!

I haven’t seen Outlander, but apparently it’s hugely popular in the States, and has spawned something of an interest in the fashions and jewellery of the period: the Jacobite Rebellions in Scotland. These took place from 1688-1746 and the series is set in 1743.

So if any fans of the series are reading this, I have a good selection of Scottish vintage jewellery in my Etsy shop which would look just the part (click on the pictures for details):

Capture

Fabulous Scottish craftsmanship!

Wilton House website.

Outlander official website.

Zingy summer flowers

I picked a bunch of flowers from my garden the other day: I just love the colours, so zingy and bright this time of year.

x

A rainbow of zing: red Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, orange self-sown Crocosmia, yellow Inula hookeri, and purple Lythrum salicaria, our native Purple loosestrife.

And then my lovely and clever friend Sam gave me a bunch of roses for no reason other than she saw them and knows orange is my favourite colour. What a darling and aren’t they gorgeous?

DSCF2228

Sunshine in a vase!

More Frommery

Oooh, oooh, oooh, I have just put five new N E From pieces into my Etsy shop  each one a peach, and bringing my total number of Niels Erik From pieces to 15. Here they are all together:

All the Niels Erik From goodies in my Etsy shop at the moment. Click on photo for details.

All the Niels Erik From goodies in my Etsy shop at the moment. Click on photo for details.

So excited to have them! Aren’t they gorgeous?

N E From tiger's eye ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

N E From tiger’s eye ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

N E From rose quartz modernist ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

N E From rose quartz modernist ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

N E From Baltic amber moderist brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

N E From Baltic amber modernist brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

N E From green chalcedony ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

N E From green chalcedony ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

N E From Baltic amber modernist ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

N E From Baltic amber modernist ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

I’m not saying I’m slightly obsessed with Niels Erik From … okay, I am. Is there a Twelve Step Programme somewhere?

29 August 2015 update: I’ve added some more and my total is now 18, with another to come!