Thursday, 30 June 2011

Salvo Fair, Knebworth

Went off to the Salvo Fair earlier in the week.

I still remember Knebworth as a place where psychedelic raves and music festivals were held. It’s all a bit quieter these days… or perhaps it’s just me that’s quieter – viz: “The grounds of Knebworth House near the village of Knebworth has become a major venue for open air rock and pop concerts since 1974 when The Allman Brothers Band attracted 60,000 at the first large concert held at the venue.

Since then, it has been the scene of outdoor extravaganzas featuring Pink Floyd (1975 & 1990), The Rolling Stones & Lynyrd Skynyrd (1976), Genesis (1978, 1990 & 1992), Frank Zappa (1978), Led Zeppelin (1979), Mike Oldfield & The Beach Boys (1980), Cliff Richard (1983 & 1990), Deep Purple (1985), Queen (1986), Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Elton John & Dire Straits (1990), Oasis (1996), Robbie Williams (2003) Sonisphere Festival (2009/2010).”

The Salvo Fair is the usual eclectic mix of bygones, architectural salvage, fascinating small antiques and general rubbish.

There’s always something literally monumental near the entrance and you would need to be building your own minor stately home to make use of it. Indeed, that’s the way a number of historic buildings got their various features – by recycling them from other, older buildings. Or, Like Peter Jackson in his settings for Lord of the Rings, you could strew them around the landscape to give an impression of an earlier, grander history.

I did rather like these box pews, but have no idea where I would put them. There seemed to be rather a lot of pews, and some religious statues – see later. Looks like a number of churches are closing and being demolished.

I always go looking for inspiration for my stained glass and there’s always plenty. Here, some beautiful plain art nouveau glass just to teach us that not everything has to be wildly coloured to be entrancing.

This marble floor really knocked me out. It would be worth building a house just to have somewhere to put it!

More stained glass in various sizes: the 4 dividing doors were spectacular – totally undamaged and very tall. They extend below the piece of glass that’s leaning against their bases.

More, and lovelier.

If you were refurbishing a house or building from scratch – this is exactly what you would need: multiples of knobs, handles and other fittings, all matching. One wonders where they have come from.

There’s also, I have to say, rather a lot of what is simply junk...

And here’s more junk. Makes a good photo, but wouldn’t want to expend any hard-earned cash on it.

And just what would you do with these rather forlorn statues (though the fireman looks more cheerful)

Back to the monumental and a 7ft high cast iron urn for the garden.

This is a child’s (play) shepherding hut converted from a chicken shed. It’s a bit twee and makes me think of sending children up the chimneys or out into the fields to glean discarded ears of wheat.

A Yellow submarine – not a film prop but a genuine working 2 man sub.

And this is the iconic tribunal desk that appeared on the Salvo website – hold your own trials! I don’t know whether they sold it.

But what I really wanted was this Blue flashed starburst glass. I didn’t really want to spend the money while I was there but will probably drive down to the Cotswolds to buy from the dealer.
Altogether, this year’s Salvo Fair was much like last year’s – full of fascinating objects but. We thought, very over-priced. Whether this is because it’s the Salvo Fair and they get all sorts of people who don’t know the market or whether they start high, knowing that their customers are knowledgeable and will drive a hard bargain.
We enjoyed it but didn’t really spend (we bought a couple of small teapots made for P&O in the 50s; that’s all).

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Mole Man cameth...

... and the Mole Man tooketh away.

Towards the end of the last entry, I had noticed that the new lawn was lifting along the edge.

Checking a little more carefully, I found that there was a tunnel all round the edge of the lawn and that the plants which were falling out of the soil and for which i had accused Marea of 'just sticking them in' and not planting them properly, had been undermined by the digging of a mole.

Raising the edge of the lawn, it became clear that, unless we solved the problem, the mole would burrow under the lawn and areas would drop making the whole thing unlevel and hazardous. I rang the Mole Man.

He came, set two traps under the soil and left, telling me to watch out for the tell-tale lifting of a tiny lever showing that the trap had been sprung. Well, he hadn't been gone more than an hour when I was showing Marea where the traps were and I noticed the lifted lever. Extracting the trap, we found a large male mole which the Mole Man came and took away. We now have to wait a few days to see if there are any others, but, since he was a male, this is apprently unlikely.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Retirement: week one. The Summer Garden

I've now been retired just over a week and I don't seem to have had time to sit down.

I know there's lots to do around the house and in the garden... I've had to dead head and prune this rose around the door (Paul's Scarlet) so it will produce another flush of blooms later in the Summer.

It's now officially Summertime - poppy time!

We have a number of varieties because we both enjoy them. our favourite is Patty's Plum but we also have small Californian poppies,

and, of course, the garden's full of roses at the moment.

I've forgotten the name of this white rose but it's one of the best and fragrant too.

Just Juliet


Just Juliet can always be relied on to look wonderful and Handel is exquisite and beautifully scented.

The bottom of the garden where we redesigned it before having the lawn put in has come on quite well and is beginning to look settled. Paul's Himalayan Musk looks wonderful falling over Cleopatra but the laurel hedge will have to be cut hard back in the Autumn and, with it, some of the rose. It's so vigorous it probably won't even pause.

Pleine de Grace is coming into its own where it grows over the shed. It produces good hips in the Autumen so I'll wait until deep Winter to cut it back after the birds have had their fill.

We have a real love of rambling roses. This is one of the best known, Rambling Rector. It can get out of hand if not watched carefully.


Of course, one of the great things about being retired is having the opportunity to take Molly for a walk whenever I feel like it. I can choose the best part of the day and go and admire the dog roses and say 'Hi' to the rabbits.

Summer, of course is not without its hazards; here are just a couple:

This is where the new lawn is lifting at the edge. I wondered what had caused it until I saw a molehill just off to one side. We've never had moles in the garden but it looks like we've got them now. Under this edge, there's a long tunnel. Plainly the disturbed soil made an easy dig for the mole.

And this, much more difficult to decipher as a picture, is where a birds nest is lodged behind our digital TV dish and disrupting our picture. I don't know whether there are young in there, but we're going to have to get up and have a look.