Monday, 12 April 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 11th & 12th April, 2021

I was up first on Sunday morning and mopped the utility room floor before taking mugs of tea back to bed. We read until 8.15am, had a toasted muffin each for breakfast, watched the Andrew Marr Show and I painted my nails. 

Although it had snowed for almost 2 hours, it hadn't settled and by 10.30am it was dry and sunny so we spent another day in the garden. I weeded and Jon continued with clearing the top of the garden. 

After a break for noodles, we made a rustic strawberry planter from an old oak pallet the joiners had left us when they fitted the windows last September along with some bits salvaged from the woodpile. 

Back indoors I wrapped the weekend eBay sales and swept the upstairs rugs. Jon couldn't find Stephen and walked around the garden searching for him spotting him frantically tapping the window in the Kinky Shed window, I'd not noticed that he'd followed me in when I got the stock out and I'd locked him in!

Jon made veggie sort-of-gyros for tea - thinly sliced vegeburgers & salad on naan. We watched a couple of episodes of Waking The Dead and, the highlight of the week, Line of Duty.


I continued reading Lone Wolf in bed. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Jodi Picoult's writing. 


On Monday morning, after my Wii Fit workout, I gave the lounge a proper clean, washing my collection of vintage glass, polishing the furniture, sweeping the hearth and scrubbing the chandelier. I washed the throws and cushion covers and hung them outside on the line before joining Jon for breakfast.

Jon did the post office and supermarket run whilst I dug a family heirloom out from under the bed. After four months, non-essential shops reopen in England today. Much as I enjoy a rummage in a charity shop I'm having far too much fun at home to bother with the town centre.



My Great-Grandma, Mary Alice Chapman (1880 - 1957) was born in Stone, Staffordshire and known as Alice. As mentioned in my last blog post (HERE) her mother, Elizabeth Adams (1854 - 1933) was a descendent of the Adams pottery dynasty. Her father, John James Chapman (1854 - 1910) was, according to the 1881 and 1891 census, an architect and sanitary inspector - the Victorian equivalent to an environmental health officer.


This monogrammed silver locket bears Alice's initials. It was a 21st birthday present from her parents and contains their images. I occasionally wear it as, unlike most antique jewellery, it's pleasingly chunky.


Alice had five younger siblings, Andrew, Dorothy, Bertha, Florence & Winifred. They were an affluent family, employing a number of live-in servants including the splendidly named Fanny Wildblood, who was listed in the 1891 census as being 17 years of age. I visited the family home in Kings Avenue, Stone, as a child, an impressive Victorian villa where Great-Aunt Phyllis lived until her death in 1976.


Here's me wearing Alice's wedding dress in 1977 and posing in Stonecroft's garden...



And here I am 44 years later in the same garden. The gazebo is still standing and Jon thinks I'm a freak because I'm exactly the same size as I was when I was 11! I beg to differ, I'm slightly taller. I used to think that Alice was my body double but realised that she'd have worn stays beneath her dress, I've just got my flesh-coloured pants on, the dress is terribly see-thru'!  




After I'd posed for photos I got changed and helped unpack the shopping. On the list was a raspberry bush but Jon being Jon, got a bit carried away. Morrisons is excellent for plants if you didn't know already!


After our noodles, we got stuck into some more gardening. I cleared an area next to the gazebo, planting the new clematis beside it and popping the jasmine next to my Indian Bean Tree, hoping that it will scramble up it in the summer. The raspberry bushes, all four of them, were dotted around the raised beds and cloches. 


Morrisons were giving packets of sunflower seeds away free to customers this morning so I planted them along with some more basil (the first lot had failed) and some ruby red chard. My dahlia seedlings are doing well so I've pricked them out and moved half to another tray.


Jon repotted the Greek beans & mini-munch cucumbers, thinned out the cauliflower seedlings and then got Gilbert ready for tomorrow's road trip. 


Tea was half a pizza with salad. We'll be watching more Waking The Dead & 24 Hours in Police Custody later. 

See you soon!


50 comments:

  1. I love the grow pleats at the bottom, like they would take them out as you grew.

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    1. I've never heard that term before. I do something similar when I take clothes up just in case I ever decide to sell them. x

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  2. What a fabulous tale about the family again and you wearing the dress again after all these years. You look stunning Vix.
    What a busy couple of days you’ve both had. I wonder how you will feel when you eventually return to the outside world. Looking at all the pics on the news today, it won’t be anytime soon for us xxx

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    1. Thanks, Lynn. It's lovely to find out a few more facts about Alice through geneology, it makes her a bit more real.
      Tony says his first few days back in the shop have been hellish, he hasn't even had time to eat his lunch such is the demand for furniture. I might go to the big charity shop next week when the madness has died down. xxx

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  3. I think I literally gasped loudly when I saw your gorgeous chandelier and the little table filled with your beautiful, colorful bottle collection. I love both so much! The antique wedding dress is gorgeous too and it looks fantastic on you. Love that the same little gazebo is still standing too. Your pizza always looks so delicious - yum!

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    1. I love coloured glass, it seems to change in the light throughout the day. xxx

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  4. As soon as I saw that first photograph I was so curious to read about that dress. I could tell it was vintage, but I didn't know the interesting history behind it. How incredible that this beautiful vintage dress used to belong to your great-Grandma Mary Alice Chapman. It's a treasure for sure. I also love the pedants with photographs. I cannot believe they had such beautiful photographs back then. Were they coloured by hand, these portraits? I remember that some historical photographs would be coloured by hand. My grandmother has some of those. The portraits of Alice's parents look beautiful. Great gift for her I'm sure. I didn't recognize your child photograph initially. I think it's because I picture you with dark hair. I know you are a natural blond and I remember some of the photographs you have shared before, but still I wouldn't have made the connection if I hadn't read it was you. Yes, you definitely got taller. The dress used to sweep the floor when you wore it as a kid. That's pretty incredible you wear the same size as when you were 11 despite being taller, that must mean you have gotten even more slender with years. I wear the same size as I did when I was 11 and I think I weight about the same too but then again I stopped growing when I was 11-12...and I was pretty big back then. I developed a bit earlier than most girls, I distinctly remember being the heaviest kid in class.

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    1. You and I sound very alike. I was one of the tallest girls in my class at school and then I stopped growing and became one of the smallest! My brother was the opposite and is now 6' 3"! xxx

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    2. My brother is 6'3 tall as well.

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  5. Vix, I have some very exciting information for you! Your ancestor William Adams had a share in a Cornish China Clay Quarry at St Dennis, Hendra Commons (now flooded). He was in business with other great Staffordshire potters Wedgewood and Minton and Poulson. The reason I know this is when I researched the Poulson line of my family tree, it led me to the Poulsons of Staffordshire - in particular Joseph Poulson (Great x 5 uncle, if the suggestions are correct). Weirdly, I know St Dennis a little as Monsieur's mam used to live there.

    'Minton was a prime mover, and the main shareholder in the Hendra Company, formed in 1800 to exploit china clay and other minerals from Cornwall. Named after Hendra Common, St Dennis, Cornwall, the partners included Minton, Poulson, Wedgwood, William Adams, and the owners of New Hall porcelain. The company was profitable for many years, reducing the cost of materials to the owning potters, and selling to other firms.' SOURCE : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mintons

    I have a book somewhere with some research from a couple of years ago. I shall have to dig it out! Lulu xXx

    p.s. The wedding dress and arbor looks totally Dickensian and I love it.

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    1. Wow! thanks so much for that, Lulu! How utterly fascinating. We have a ancestral connection in that our ancestors were business partners. I'm off to investigate Hendra pottery. xxx

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  6. What an incredible dress, Vix! The amount of work that would have gone into it is mind-boggling, isn't it? How fun that it fits you all these years later, and even the gazebo is still standing. Yes, we forget that the women before us would have work full corsets with stays and loads of pettiskirts and undergarments.

    Stephen sounds like he's got a touch of the Vizzini in him (I've locked Vizz in my closet so many times!). At first, I thought, "What's Frank doing way up there?" then realized it was just two photos. Phew!

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    1. It is scary how much work went into that dress - handmade lace, millions of pleats and all that intricate boning. You can tell her parents were well off, it must have cost a fortune.
      Stephen is so nosy, you've only got to open a drawer and he's in it. I think tuxedo cats are madder than the others! xxx

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  7. Oh my gosh=your great-great grandmother Elizabeth in the little picture in the necklace was absolutely beautiful! I can see where your looks have come from-a bit form the great great grandfather as well. Normally the old pictures look so sad or mad, but these two look vibrant. the dress is gorgeous as well-I could see my daughters, both of who would like vintage dresses if they decide to get married. I've offered my 1987 number, but I think at most, they might both use a bit of lace or some pearl buttons from it. Poor Stephan! I'm glad Jon found him before too much stress.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sam! The portrit is lovely, she seems so relaxed and at ease. you're right, there's usually a derranged, strained look about the subjects normally! xxx

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  8. That will be quite a lot of raspberries if they all fruit at the same time. You can always have a roadside fruit stand.
    Victorian necklaces are so strange-either they're two seed pearls set in a tiny circle or you get giant lockets like yours or Vulcanite bracelets you could use for self defence.

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    1. Two are summer raspberries and the other two are autumn ones so hopefully we should have a good crop for a sustianed pweriod - that if they grow!
      I can't see the point of small jewellery. I inherited a Victorian ring set with seed pearls and turquoise, it fits on my little finger but it's just lost! xxx

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  9. Your more recent photo of The Antique Dress - timeless, beautiful. Love it.

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  10. Interesting reading Lulu's comment above, I am sure you will be excited with that connection to the ancestors pottery connections, you have a very interesting background there Vix and to have kept family heirlooms through generations like this is, to say the least, unusual - I think there will be museums that would be interested in that beautiful dress and lockets. our garden seems to be never ending - are you sure you aren't doing tricks with mirrors!! It's a fantastic work in progress :)

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    1. your garden - not ours typeo! ours is about 20 foot of grass and probably mirrots would improve it lol!

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    2. Isn't it exciting about Lulu and I's connection via pottery? I keep expecting to discover that Jon & I are related, there's even been ancestors on both sides living in the same village in Shropshire back in the 18th Century!
      Both Mum's parent's families seemed to hold on to things. Dad's family were miners on both sides, I remember one of his sister telling Mum that when someone died their posessions were often burnt or smahed to bits to stop family arguments! I'm not sure if that was a Black Country thing or wether his side of the family were all mad! xxx

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  11. That dress is beautiful they would call it Lolita over here and probally wear it!! your family history is so interesting. My dad told me a bit more about my grandmother her parents made kimonos and high quality garments in Hiroshima, but with the war and the bomb they were displaced to Tokyo but soon ended back in Hiroshima. I know I have relatives there. But I would feel a bit odd knocking on door as I am a halfu so I might not get a good reception.
    Not like in Tokyo were everyone is welcome. The further south you go the rarer a Westerner is. I might get the courage one day.
    My mum used to work for Morrison’s and used to send me all sorts of weird and wonderful reductions I miss them! My brother is a night shift manager there. He seems happy. I am reading jo nesbo I am really enjoying him and then elly griffiths she’s really good. I thought you would have been down to the charity shops having a nose around. Mums sending me an asos package so I cant wait. Take care and keep safe.

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    1. I can see my two favourite Japanese customers wearing that dress, too - they both love ultra-feminine clothes with lots of ruffles and lace.
      That's fascinating about your great-grandparents and the kimono business. I think I'd be tempted to write them a letter and see what happens.
      Morrison's is fab. I don't do the shopping but Jon says the staff are always lovely and he often comes back with free plants and stuff they're given him.
      I love Jo Nesbo especially his Harry Hole books. A few bloggers have mentioned Elly Griffiths. Someone to look out for when I do go to a charity shop! xxx

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  12. What a beautiful dress! You look stunning in it now and then. Loved reading about your great-great-grandparents and how wonderful are those silver lockets!
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  13. its so amazing that the wedding dress still exists!!
    alice wore not only stays under it but a shift/camie and a massive underskirt too..... and bloomers :-D
    love the rustic strawberrie planter - but poor stephen! we locked lisbeth in in the coal shed or the cellar several times by mistake and searched her for hours then...... now we learned finally.
    you make me want some sunflowers too!!
    xxxxx

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    1. I know! It's starting to show it's age now but it really is a masterpiece.
      You're right, bloomers and an huge underskirt in addition to the stays. I wonder what happened to them?
      Cats are so inquisitive. I wish they'd be as vocal about letting us know where they're going as they are when their food bowls are empty! xxx

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  14. The dress is stunning. Mind not wrap it in plastic though but I'm sure you already know that. Acid free tissue paper is best. I wonder if that's Nottingham Lace on the dress as well?At any rate, it's beautiful and so perfect on you. You're doing a belter on the garden. I made great raspberry jam last week from the raspberries that I froze last year. My sister gave me a silver locket years ago which I left it on a London bus but that's another story! Line of Duty - I don't think Dot is the one. The 'nominal' wasn't a police officer. All sorts of theories flying around as to who it could be! Poor Ted too. I have a feeling he's not going to go quietly! Have a good week.xxx

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    1. Thank you! The dress has been in the same tissue paper and cardborad box since 1908 but it dies get holier by the year, poor thing. When I watched The Secrets of the V&A I wondered about donating it to them and hoping they could restore her for future generations.
      I hope we get a good crop from those raspberries, I love them.
      I missed the bit about the nominal not being a police officer - I wish we didn't have to wait a week between episodes, it's cruel! xxx

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  15. Happy sunny tuesday Vix! no wonder you are the same size you never stop! The hose looks brill and the garden well you are so ahead and loving following what you are doing! Clemati and jasmine - love them. Our tulips have come out in full glory and you are right I don't know where to start but we will and then off we go!! Love that you have Alice's pendant. I wear a ring of my grandmothers always. Anyway lovely lady I bet you are up to all sorts in that garden and hope you have a great day. Shazxx

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    1. Happy sunny Thursday back at you, Shaz! It looks like another glorious day for gardening when the frost evapourates!
      I'm jealous of your tulips, I wish ours would hurry up and burst into bloom. xxx

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  16. Your glass collection is gorgeous and I ~still~ covet that chandelier 😊

    The wedding dress is stunning - you look gorgeous in it, and how fabulous you can recreate that family photo. If it is any consolation I am also the same size I was in my teens, so it's not just you đŸ€Ł

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only freak out there! xxx

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  17. Quite correct about the "teen size" assessment for your Edwardian wedding dress! Our little museum is hunting out teen mannequins in order to display a recently discovered box of similar summer frocks. I'll be laundering them in Orvus, hoping their ribbon lace proves as sturdy as yours. And unless another box of corsets, combinations and petticoats surfaces, I'll also be stitching up some slips. These old cottons are indeed "Eqyptian linen" sheer!

    Poor Stephen, on the wrong side of a door and no one to hear his howls. My Great White Floofmeister occasionally turns up missing -- on the 3rd shelf of the linen closet. When he was just a puff of fluff, he once 'disappeared' into a kitchen drawer of tea towels.
    Good for Jon, rescuing Stephen before he settled into an old cat's deaf-as-stone nap!


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    1. Some of tose antique pieces are so tiny it must be a real headache to try and display them to their best advantage. I hope the ribbon lace survives the laundering, I fear that Alice's wedding dress won't outlive me, it's really starting to wear out now despite it being in the same box & tissue paper since 1908!
      Your Floofmeister sounds as troublesome as Stephen. If there's a door he has to get behind it! xxx

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  18. Absolutely fabulous photos of you wearing this wedding dress!, it doesn't cease to amaze me that this kind of pieces are still wearable!, they're really works of art!
    So delightful to see you posing with the gazebo as you did when a teenager!.
    This post has put a smile on my face!
    Lovely that Stephen was rescued from his accidental prison. Typical cat's behaviour, going into rooms or closets without nobody noticing and then having to be rescued! and making life more interesting!.
    And wish you luck with all the gardening, it's going to look fabulously in the summertime!, loving strawberries!!
    besos

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    1. Thanks, Monica! Jon had a bit of a shock when I opened the door to him dressed in a wedding dress when he came back with the shopping on Monday morning! xxx

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  19. Your vintage glass collection is gorgeous - you've such a great eye for putting things together. Amazing that you're the still the same size - I am seriously jealous lol.

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  20. Road trip! That should be fun. You two have become serious gardeners in the last year. What a lovely wedding dress and I bet that is as far as you will be getting in terms of Weddings lol.

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    1. It was fab - all the more exciting for it only being the second time in four months we've left Walsall!
      Yep, that dress is the closest I'll ever get to being a bride! xxx

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  21. By the looks of it, we weren't sharing weather on Sunday and Monday - yesterday was a total washout with snow flurries Etc. - but at least today we were able to do some gardening and, taking a leaf out of your book, we cleared an overgrown area - a small corner, especially compared to yours - and I cannot wait to get some more plants later this week. Morrisons seems to have a decent selection. Lucky you!
    Love the rustic strawberry planter, Alice's wedding dress and the fact that you are still the same size even if slightly taller than at age 11. And how wonderful is that locket!
    I can understand you're not in a hurry to go shopping. If it's anything the same as here in Belgium, it would have been far too busy anyway, with people chomping at the bit to go and spend their money on fast fashion after all those months! xxx

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    1. April weather is always so schizophrenic, isn't it? I had to chip the frost off the bin lid this morning but no doubt I'll be gardening bare-armed later!
      My favourite bit about gardening is clearing over-grown spaces and dreaming of what I'll plant in them.
      The news reports I've seen of queues outside Primark is mind-boggling. People really are slaves to consumerism! xxx

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  22. I love the glass wear. I admire your talants. clematis is plant I would love to have, although I don't see it happen this year.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. Thanks, Dora! We've got a couple of clematis that grow up the front of the house, they're really hardy. You ought to give them a go. x

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  23. I love your collection of vintage glass - such jewel like colours. The wedding dress was magnificent! Fancy being able to still fit into it. I also loved the locket; especially the beautiful initialling on the front of it.

    You're both gardening up a storm at the moment; the strawberry planter is a great idea and I hope you grow lots. I didn't know about Morrisons and plants - but I do now! Our Morrisons is the other side of town and I've only ever been in there once since they opened about 6 years ago.
    xxx

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    1. I love coloured glass, there's something so lovely about the sun shining through it at different times of the day. The locket is a proper big chunk, I think the ladies in my family must all have loved big statement pieces of jewellery as much as I do!
      It's well worth a trip to your Morrisons, their plants are always healthy and really good value. Our olive tree was £20 last year. xxx

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  24. Poor Stephen getting stuck in the shed! It's his own fault, tho.

    That wedding dress is beautiful. Some Edwardian clothing is so sheer... I know they wore a lot of underwear, with corsets and chemises and long drawers and so on, but it still must've been at least slightly visible through the fine cotton. Saucy!

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  25. What a beautiful dress, and it's amazing that not only you have it - but it fits you so perfectly! Lovely old photo of you, and really beautiful pictures of you today in this gorgeous dress!

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Thank you for leaving a comment. If you have a blog I'll pop over and return the favour.

Lots of love, Vix