April is being appropriately unpredictable, but so much for April showers! We've had wall to wall rain in recent days. It's usually the case that just as our magnolia tree blossoms, the blooms are decimated by the elements.
Still, we took advantage of the brief window of opportunity offered up by Easter Saturday's sunny interlude...
...and set about creating a bark chip path from the centre of our garden, up and around the side of the pond. As per any task in our garden, it took three times as long as it should have done, courtesy of the numerous pebbles lurking just beneath the soil in any given spot. Gareth marked the path out and loosened the soil, I turned it over with a garden fork and then we both painstakingly pulled pebbles - large and small - out of the ground and threw them into a bucket. Upon completion of the task, we had a bucket full. I'll rinse them off at some point and use them elsewhere to decorative effect.
We also agreed to allow the teen of the house to throw a party over the Easter holidays, forcing us to address niggles with the interior, including re-arranging of furniture (never underestimate the joy of a fresh layout) and the removal of a now redundant fire hood from our kitchen diner fireplace, which was finished with a fresh coat of paint and the addition of a fire extinguisher lamp to light the void.
Lotte wisely gave us a wide berth and slept the day away on the bed upstairs. I prefer for her winter coat not to be left behind on my clean sheets, so use a honeycomb blanket during the day, which she makes good use of.
On Friday, I braved the wind and rain to pick up some weekend and party supplies. On my list was "plasters" as I'd recently noticed we had none in our medicine box. This decision must have been prophetic, as on the way into Morrisons, battling with what turned out to be a broken umbrella I'd found on the rear seat of the car, I cut my right hand index finger across the middle joint. Initially it looked like a paper cut, but within seconds had started to bleed profusely. I headed straight to the pharmacy and tried not to bleed all over their counter. The supermarket's first aider provided me with a plaster and something to stem the bleeding before I was advised to clean myself up in the toilets and report back to the pharmacist so that she could assess the damage. She thought I needed a stitch. Having planned an evening out with Sarah to mark our recent birthdays, an evening in A&E was not something I relished.
I promptly took myself off to another local pharmacy to track down some adhesive stitches and some bandages, which the second pharmacist thought should do the trick. I agreed to monitor it for a couple of days. Mercifully, after applying the stitches and adding two bandages, the bleeding seemed to slow and I felt more confident in my decision.
I met Sarah at the Thai restaurant just around the corner for an evening of cocktails and curry. I snapped the interior of the restaurant - the former function room of the adjoining real ale pub "The Woodman" - whilst waiting for Sarah.
We were so busy catching up, that I only remembered that we hadn't taken a photograph of the occasion as we left. Sarah took this atmospheric shot of the two of us illuminated by the pub's doorway. Classy eh?
Over the weekend, having exhausted most of the National Trust properties in our area, we decided to head out to Wenlock Edge to visit a more unusual property, namely Wilderhope Manor. Wilderhope is a grade one listed gabled Elizabethan manor house built from local limestone for one Francis Smallman in 1585. So far, so generic National Trust. Except it isn't. If you come expecting walls weighed down by works of art and rooms stuffed full of antiques, you will be sorely disappointed. The manor remained in the Smallman family until 1734 when it was sold to Thomas Lutwyche. However, it is not believed to have been used as a main residence after this time and by 1936, was in a poor state and unoccupied. In 1937, the property was purchased by W.A. Cadbury trust and soon after, John Cadbury donated Wilderhope to the National Trust on condition that it was used for a Youth Hostel...and so it remains to this day.