A postcard from April 2022

Quarry Bank Mill at Styal

Hello there and welcome to this latest Postcard from April – if a little late! It’s a teeny look back at what I got up to in April and as spring has sprung well and truly round here, it meant spending a lot of time out in my little garden.


Where we live we are surrounded by streets and roads filled with trees. I believe the local town planner back in the 1930s believed that there should be a tree planted for every person who lived in the district, so we have him to thank for all the lush greenery around here.

One of the side effects of having so many trees about is that they drop their seeds in autumn and as I discovered last spring (our first in this house) those seeds produce dozens and dozens of tiny seedlings in our pebble driveway. This is just one handful of seedlings picked during about 10 minutes one afternoon – there are approximately 124 seedlings there. I reckon in total I’ve pulled up at least 200 – which would have left me with a jungle or even a forest between our front door and the pavement! It’s no trouble really and rather therapeutic, although they can be hard to spot against the pebbles, and are easy to miss.

Fence panel painting before & after (left panel is painted, right panel isn’t)

Also in the garden, I decided that this year, it was time to give the fence panels a treat. Thankfully the previous owner had left a partially used pot of fence paint, so I was able to set to work straight away once the mood took me. Once I ran out of the original stuff, a quick trip to the local DIY shop had me back to work. One day over Easter weekend I managed to paint 15 fence panels. I was a little tired that evening!

I also thought the shed could do with a treat, despite painting it last year, it was looking a little tired. So that got a coat of paint too along with a new trellis and a new honeysuckle which I bought from the local allotment which was having a plant sale. It’s more than doubled in size since this picture was taken!

Birthdays

There were two birthdays in the household in April. One was a big one as Eldest turned 18 – eek! I have no idea how that happened. I’m just mentally preparing myself for the fact he’s going to be leaving home (all being well) in September to go off to University. Not sure how I’ll feel when the time comes….

Another birthday I celebrated last month was the 2nd birthday of Making Stitches Podcast – but more on that later….

Psyduck (minus his tuft of hair/feathers)

I was invited to a special 21st birthday party last month too. Special in that it was 2 years late. A very good friend of mine has a lovely son who turned 21 in April of 2020, at the time a party had been planned and of course lockdown happened so he had no celebration at all. In fact his parents only managed to deliver a cake to the driveway of where he was living and sang happy birthday from the car, before driving home.

Unlike certain other people, he didn’t have a party….. that was until this year, when, two years later than planned, family and friends were able to get together for a better-late-than-never celebration. Oh, and the amigurumi I’m holding above is Psyduck (a Pokémon character – in case you didn’t know). This young man was a huge fan of Psyduck when he was younger, so I made him one – albeit with out the tuft of hair he’s supposed to have because I left it to the last minute and forgot to in the rush! But the recipient was happy and the party was a great night.

Easter holiday trip out

We are very fortunate to have a few really great National Trust properties close to where we live. One of those is Styal Mill near Manchester Airport. Our great friends and neighbours across the road were going for the day, so I took youngest along with me (the other two were otherwise engaged) for an Easter treasure trail and picnic on a lovely warm and, at times, sunny day.

We hadn’t been for a few years – it’s so easy forget what’s down the road isn’t it? But I’m so glad we had the invitation to join our friends. The kids had fun and ran off some energy whilst learning about the industrial revolution and leeches (on the tour of the apprentice house). It had particular resonance for my young man because the mill was actually used as a location for the filming of the new CBBC drama Dodger, which he had very much enjoyed watching.

The grounds were looking gorgeous and the picture of spring with tulips galore and azaleas too – the rhododendrons were just about to explode into colour too.

A trip down to London

As mentioned before, Eldest has his sights set on University for later this year, and last month was invited for a look around one of the Unis on his list. I tagged along so I could see where he might be disappearing off to. Blimey, universities have moved on a lot since I was at one! The services and support are so much more sophisticated than I can remember, which certainly put my mind at rest as a slightly anxious parent. Another positive of the day trip was plenty of time for hooky on the train!

Podcast Update

In podcast news, as well as celebrating 2 years of Making Stitches Podcast, I released a couple of new episodes. Episode 42 was ‘Crochet-tastic’ and packed full of crochet chatter featuring a conversation I had with Hannah Cross of Hanjan Crochet and another with Amanda Bloom formerly of Little Box of Crochet and now from Cosy Life Boxes about her amazing fundraising efforts for Ukraine with her ‘Blanket of Hugs’ for Ukraine appeal. You can find a link to the episode here.

Hannah Cross of Hanjan Crochet (l) & Amanda Bloom (r)

Episode 43 was bright and colourful (if you can do that with sound) and featured the lovely Clare Albans from Hello Hooray Blog about her creative journey from music teacher to hand-embroidery designer and small business owner. Last year, Clare was able to open her own bricks and mortar studio and haberdashery shop thanks to a Kick-starter campaign. You can find a link to that episode here.

Clare Albans from Hello Hooray Blog

And that’s just about it from me for this month. I have been working on a few crochet projects behind the scenes but I hope to be able to share them with you very soon, and I’m still working on up-coming episodes of Making Stitches too.

I hope you have enjoyed this little look back at April in my world and that it hasn’t been too boring for you! I hope you’ve had a good month too.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time, bye for now!

Lindsay x

A history lesson

  
We have been lucky enough to visit two National Trust properties this week; Quarry Bank Mill and Dunham Massey. They are both in Cheshire and less than an hours’ drive from Manchester. We were blessed with good English summer weather with just a few light showers of rain. 

   
At Quarry Bank Mill, we learned about how cotton production moved from a domestic setting to an industrial one. We also learned the origins of several common English words and phrases; ‘spinster’ – an unmarried woman would spin cotton into thread in order to make a living; ‘spinning a yarn’ – the practice of gossiping while spinning cotton; ‘ heirloom’ – a manual loom for weaving cotton (and the knowledge of how to use it), which would passed down from generation to generation, thereby guaranteeing an income in lean times.

 
The spinning wheel and hand loom would have been a common sight in homes at around the time Gibraltar was ceded to Britain (1713).

   
Quarry Bank Mill was built in 1784 when water power became widely used to run machinery. It uses the water of the River Bollin to run it’s machinery.

    
The machines were so noisy! Not all of them were running – it must have been deafening to work there.

  This giant waterwheel powers the machinery upstairs.

 
Quarry Bank Mill was built by Samuel Greg, a Unitarian, who along with his wife, Hannah, believed in providing a better standard of living for their indentured workers. Conditions at Quarry Bank were tough by today’s standards, although vastly better than in some of Manchester’s inner city mills.

   
A short walk from the mill is the Apprentice House (above). In this three storey building, sixty indentured children would live while working at the mill – yes sixty. They would come to Quarry Bank from workhouses (mainly in Liverpool) at the age of nine and sign up to spend the next nine years of their lives working six days a week in the mill.

 
This picture (above) is of the girls’ dormitory, forty girls would be locked in here at night, two to a bed. The children would rise at 5:30am and have a quick breakfast of porridge before beginning work at 6am. A thirteen hour working day would follow, with a 30 minute break for lunch (porridge again, with added vegetables). A great guide took us around the house, beginning with the school room, where children would learn the basics of reading and writing and on to the treatment room, where a doctor would use leeches and other delightful remedies to keep the workers healthy and productive.

   
The kitchen made use of the nearby allotment garden, where the boys would help grow crops to eat.

   
It was a great day out for the whole family, and helped my boys realise just how lucky they are to be born nowadays.

   
  The River Bollin  
  

Quarry Bank Mill is a beautiful and fascinating place to visit, I would highly recommend it.  
 
As I mentioned before, we also visited Dunham Massey. The property is a finalist in the Museum of the Year 2015 for it’s recreation of a World War One military hospital. The Stamford Military Hospital is re-enacted inside the main house with actors, the property also has beautiful gardens. We, however just took advantage of the beautiful estate parkland to give the children a chance to ‘run wild’ for a bit. In more than thirty years of visiting the park at Dunham, I can never remember being so up close and personal with the resident fallow deer. They are beautiful creatures and seemed incredibly tame this time.

   
 
Another treat for the boys was a great den built with storm fallen branches! You can’t beat a bit of stick collecting and tree climbing to while away an afternoon.

  
For more information on Quarry Bank Mill and Dunham Massey, please click on these links: Quarry Bank MillDunham Massey