stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Summer days

Well I had a totally amazing, refreshing, inspiring and relaxing 21 days Zen mindfulness retreat in the South of France at Plum Village with Thich Nhat Hanh (of which more in a later post!) and am now enjoying the summer in delightful Dorset.

The weather has been deliciously warm, but with a few showers at night. I am very aware that my retired status has been well earned, and enjoy every moment of relaxing in the garden - and have just about got over the guilt of "not doing anything" and having no apparent schedule for the day.

So that you can share my enjoyment, here are a few photos of my sitting area aka patio.

The trusty (and slightly rusty) old swing seat - still going strong after many summer's of lazing and reading. It looks out onto the rest of the garden. Its in a very shady and cool spot, protected from the wind.

The table and chairs, right outside the patio door. I love to be able to step outside with the first cup of Earl Grey of the day. I shall probably still be doing it when I need an overcoat and umbrella! The garden shed has seen better days but still serves it purpose to keep all the tools and lawnmower out of the elements.

Close up of the hanging basket on the shed - purples this year, though I am not sure what colour the climbing/trailing nasturtiums will be. Tropaeolum majus 'Jewel of Africa' The packet of seed said " climbing nasturtim with cream marbled foliage and bright colour range" - perhaps the growers dont know either!

The first sweet pea to flower. Ive planted it with some climbing French beans (and some of the climbing/trailing nasturtiums too) in a pot next to the shed. The beans are the first to have made it to the top of the small metal pergola which you can see in one of the photos, but the sweet peas are first to flower. Round One to them!

The rest of the patio - I really must sort out the pots, but the new hebe in the front is doing very nicely. Red geraniums in their pot are still doing very well - they are on top of the barbecue which consists of the bottom of the cast iron stove that was still used for heating the school in the winter up until 1972. Two of them were the only heating in the school (built in 1863).

It makes an excellent barbecue - the logs (we dont bother with charcoal!) go in the top and get fired up, and the amount of air can be adjusted by the hinged lid - which can also be used for clearing the ash out if needed. The whole body gets red hot and holds the heat for hours - very good for chillier evenings.

One of their catalogues of Smith and Wellstood in the National Library of Scotland has the notes against it :-
"The firm of Smith & Wellstood was established in Glasgow in 1858 to sell American-style free-standing stoves in Britain. Outlets were subsequently opened in Liverpool, Dublin and London. The firm was the driving force in persuading the British public to invest in efficient, slow-burning stoves in place of open fires. These stoves used less fuel and produced more heat than the type being used in Britain in the 1850s. The founders were James Smith and Stephen Wellstood, both Edinburgh-born entrepreneurs who had begun their business careers in the United States. Smith decided it would be more economic to produce the stoves in Scotland than to import them from the United States. In 1855 James Smith had contracted the services of George Ure, an ironfounder of some repute and a partner of Crosthwaite, Ure & Co. of Camelon. Ure opened his own foundry - the Columbian Stove Works - in Bonnybridge in 1860 to make the castings for the stoves. The finished products were transported down the Forth-Clyde canal to Smith's warehouses in Glasgow."

Thence to a new school that the Lord of the Manor was opening in a small village in Dorset for his villager's children! I bet the makers never thought when it was made over 136 years ago, that it would be used for cooking outdoors!