Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 13th & 14th April, 2021

On Wednesday, after my Wii Fit workout and our breakfast, I watered the seedlings whilst Jon made sandwiches and we took Gilbert on his longest journey in over a year, a forty-minute drive up the road to Warwickshire.


Our destination was Packwood House, one of our favourite National Trust properties. When I was researching Jon's family tree I discovered that his 9 x great-grandmother, Alicia Fetherston (1592 - 1645) was born at Packwood. Initially, I assumed she was born on the estate but after some research, it turned out that the Fetherstons were Packwood's original owners.


In about 1570, William Fetherston built a "great mancient howse" which was handed over to his son, John, in 1599. The house he inherited was tall, detached and nearly square in plan, with triple gables and a great brick cow barn to the north with further farm buildings to the east. The Fetherstons were yeoman farmers and each subsequent generation expanded the estate through industry. John Fetherston II was a lawyer and built the stables and outhouses with their complex brickwork, cupolas and many sundials. At the time of his death in 1714, the Fetherstone family commanded an estate of almost 690 acres. 


 During the 18th Century, the house passed down the female line to the Leigh family and then the Dilkes. The last of the line died in comparative poverty until Packwood was sold to a solicitor who died in 1901. I wrote about Alfred Ash, the Birmingham businessman who then brought the property for his beloved son, after our first visit to Packwood HERE.


Now we've discovered a family connection we love Packwood all the more although Jon's not so happy about having to share it with the general public.....Get orf my land!


The day couldn't have been more perfect, gloriously sunny with the most incredible blue skies and, despite the early morning frost, we could feel the warmth of the sun on our backs.








I adored this cheerful Spring border...





To our delight, the ancient Yew Garden was finally open to the public, the first time we've ever been able to wander around it. Incredibly, some of the oldest trees are over 350 years old and were planted in the reign of James I by Jon's ancestors, the Fetherstons. That's what I call a family tree!




More hellebores! We're definitely planting some in Stonecroft's garden come Autumn.













We also visited Packwood in December 2020 (HERE) and June 2020 (HERE). I told you we loved it, it's the National Trust property we've visited the most. If only Jon and I had been born in the 16th Century, it could have been ours! 


It was lovely opening Gilbert's doors, boiling the kettle to make tea and eating our sandwiches at the table whilst listening to the birds singing. I was so overwhelmed I slept all the way home!


Back at Stonecroft we got changed and spent the remainder of the day in the garden. Tea was a weird (but tasty) mix of poached eggs, sweet potato fries and gherkins accompanied by a bottle of beer. Later we watched Waking The Dead and collapsed into bed before 10pm.


Wednesday was another gorgeously sunny, but chilly, day. I threw a load of washing in the machine, pegged it out on the line and did my Wii Fit workout before breakfast. Liz popped round bearing a plant her brother had grown from a Goji berry seed (above). We chatted, drank tea and explored the garden, which she hadn't seen since Jon had cleared the top part. Al had his AZ jab yesterday so we've all had our first dose now. She left with some of the laurel we'd dug up yesterday, along with a root of forsythia for her mum. 


We'd run out of bananas & were almost out of toothpaste so Jon & I walked down to Johal's, taking the grab stick and a bin bag with us. By the time we'd reached the shop, five minutes down the road, I'd filled the sack with the usual Mcskanky takeaway wrappers and, inexplicably, loads of Waitrose paper coffee cups - the nearest branch is 11 miles away! Back at home, we changed into our gardening gear and got stuck into the gardening, taking a noodle break midway through.


Jobs included building a wigwam for the Greek beans using sticks foraged from the top of the garden, fitting a solar-powered pond pump, putting up the birdhouse Liz & Al had bought us for Xmas, emptying out the chimney pots in readiness for planting with nasturtiums, splitting up the chives and moving a couple of clumps to the herb bed, planting some marjoram & fennel we'd dug up from elsewhere in the garden, clearing the borders of fallen leaves, cutting back ivy, chopping down a holly bush, pruning a hawthorn (an evil spiky bastard) and taking down the shelter in readiness for a gloriously sunny summer (I'm the eternal optimist!)



I'm in no rush to get back to the shops (or the beer garden), I'm happy at home. Look at what the postman delivered today, a wood and brass weed brush with an extra-long handle to prevent back injuries! It's absolutely brilliant and definitely beats getting down on my hands and knees and tackling the gaps between the bricks with a butter knife. I'm not sponsored (I wish!) but you can get one HERE and P&P within the UK is free. Talking of gardening bargains, the light bulb in my olive tree is part of a string of solar-powered garden lights Jon found in Morrison's last week for £5. I am looking forward to my hairdressing appointment next week, I can tuck my hair in my waistband now and it takes an age to dry!


It was halloumi with roasted veg for tea accompanied by a glass of wine.



 Later we'll be on the rum and watching the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee. I just hope that I manage to stay awake!

Source

Stay safe, happy & healthy and see you soon! 

47 comments:

  1. Ooh am I first in? lol Excellent tour as always - looking vibrant; will come back laters - a Mum phone-a-thon is imminent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was quick! Hope all's good with you, Elaine! xxx

      Delete
  2. Both you and Jon should take pride in the roots of your family trees. Clearly, the energetic engagement with any opportunities that arise -- be they artistic, entrepreneurial, or even horticultural -- remains an active gene in your DNA! Let's hope further investigation reveals some historic portraits. No doubt that richly colored fedora and coat would have looked well on a lady in a Gainsborough landscape, and Jon's beard...would he wear a top hat, just for a portrait pose?

    Loved the ducks and geese and a swan! Now that's what I call a pond! Do wish I could have sniffed the yew gardens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The yew gardens really did smell wonderful, well worth the four year wait!
      I've managed to find a portrait of one of Jon's ancestors complete with a ruff, he's very proud of that discovery! xxx

      Delete
  3. You will love your hellebores- I’m a huge fan and there are so many different colors now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Such a lovely day out - you got wonderful weather for it. So cool Jon's ancesters came from there. Your garden is looking magnificent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had such a wondeful time at Packwood we didn't want to go home! xxx

      Delete
  5. Such a nice day out and at such a beautiful place. I'm still so amazed at all you're finding out on the ancestry searching. I love the outfit you wore that day, the color looks great on you! So much happening in your garden already too. Enjoy your rum and watching The Great British Sewing Bee this evening. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing how far back you can get with the ancestry, it really is addictive. x

      Delete
  6. So Jon is an aristocrat not bohemian afterall. That side flower bed is stunning. I'm glad your friends can poo around now. I'd be horrible on a British spelling bee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jon's mum and dad didn't have much, they'd have been amazed at their grand ancestors! x

      Delete
  7. I can imagine Jon with a shotgun and dogs chasing down any trespassers who get on his land lol. It’s like my dad we took him to a place were you can dress like a samurai and when he explained to the man, he actually got his correct armour and helmet for his lineage isn’t that cool. Scared me whitless though !!
    Gardens are wonderful this time of year, I love looking at shinjuku goyen this time of year it just makes me feel alive as I have sad and I don’t do winter . My mum sent me Geoff Hamilton’s book ages ago a year in your garden and I keep flicking through it. It’s full of tips . It worth picking up if you can find it cheap.
    Mum told me there has already been loads of fighting in pubs in York isn’t that sad ! We don’t really go out now I feel like covid has put a new concept on life and living and I am enjoying it. Take care and keep safe love and huggs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He felt very special strutting around his ancestral home, I can tell you! Luckily the other people vsiting were all friendly so he wasn't too upset about sharing it.
      I think Gardeners' World showed a clip of Geoff Hamilton last year, he used to present it back in the 1980s, I think. The gardening books I find in charity shops are either really technical or very old fashioned but I shall keep looking!
      No problems with the pubs here, I think a group of girls had to be told off for dancing although it's so cold at night at the moment they probably just needed to keep warm! xxx

      Delete
  8. That sounds like an exhausting couple of days, Vix! Jon's definitely got that, "Get off my lawn, ya damned kids!" vibe going. So exciting that you and your friends have all gotten your vaccines - I registered (not booked, just signed up) today. Woot!

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is amazing news about Jon's family heritage, it must feel so strange to walk where your ancestors have walked. I loved your dress, coat and hat, that rust colour really suits you. Those bird houses are pretty I hope you get residents. Like you, I prefer my own back garden to the pub and have got used to this lifestyle :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To think of all the houses we've visited one of our top three was an ancestral home, no wonder we felt an affinity to it!
      It was lovely to be able to shed a few layers on Tuesday, I'm tired of woolly hats now! xxx

      Delete
  10. lord jon - eh?! ;-D
    thanks for the very needed up cheering read. you totally look like the lady of the estate in your fabulous outfit and the tulips and lilies are gorgeous - here´s still to cold.......
    i was´t a shopper before and beergardens have not much to appeal me anyway - but having friends over at our summer salon and garden is something to look forward to. if they ever get around with the vaccination here - its so worse.
    we had halloumi yesterday evening too - with "bratkartoffeln" and.... roasted veggies!! :-D
    xxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That seed catalogue must have known what they were doing when they addressed it to lord Jon all those months ago!
      I absolutely loved that cheerful Spring border. I think the walled garden at Packwood creates a microclimate as the bulbs were the most advanced I've seen!
      xxx

      Delete
  11. Morning there Vix! no wonder Packwood is one of yur favourites - it is gorgeous! I remember you trips last year and what with "Sir" JOn's connections hey. I loved the pic of the spring border our tulips are out en masse this year. So pleased you got something to make your gardening a bit easier. Remember last year when I said I used a dooberlacker instead of your trusty knife (seriosusly where do you get your patience from? lol) you won't know yourself. Have a lovely day Shazxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Shaz! I do remember your dooberlacker - I'm delighted that I've got one now!
      I'm still waiting on my tulips! xxxx

      Delete
  12. Goodness, you certainly got a beautiful day at Packwood and even more so now you know of Jon's connection with the house.

    Did it feel funny being "so far from home"?

    I find it rather worrisome how quickly we have accepted not travelling very far and have spoken to a few people who admit to starting to feel a bit institutionalised. Of course, this does not apply to the endless pillocks driving hundreds of miles to the Lake District and leaving all their rubbish ... grrrrr.

    The current ancestral home is looking splendid - you should be so proud of how the garden looks.

    I stayed up late to watch Sewing Bee (yeah, I know, part-timer, that's me!!) Wasn't it lovely?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't believe my eyes when I discovered that Packwood link on Jon's family tree!
      It still feels like we're being a bit naughty travelling out of Walsall. It's got to be done or we'll all start developing Stockholm Syndrome and falling in love with our captors and I certainly don't want to enslave myself to BoJo!
      Sewing Bee was wonderful, I love both sewing challenges and all the constestants were lovely! xxx

      Delete
  13. Isn't it exciting to find out that you both are gentry-no wonder Jon receives post with his title of Lord Jon and you are Lady Vix of course-someone must know x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it exciting? How funny that the seed catalogue knew about Lord Jon's posh ancestry before he did! xxx

      Delete
  14. You certainly had the weather with you on your visit to Packwood House! Look at that gorgeous bright blue sky! I'm sure you both looked at the property with different eyes now that you know Jon's 9X great-grandmother Alicia was born here. Jon scaring the general public off made me giggle. The Spring borders look delightful, and I must definitely get my hands on some Dog Toot's Violets (Erythronium) again, as they seemed to have upped and left our garden. I love their pagoda shaped early Spring flowers!
    Stonecroft's garden is going from strength to strength. One advantage of being stuck at home is all the time we are able to lavish on our gardens, in our case without worrying about having to leave it behind untended during our annual two-week holiday. Not that I would say no to the latter if I could ... xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! We couldn't have chosen a more gorgeous day to visit Packwood!
      I was thinking exactly the same as you, mush as I love pottering around and planting if someone offered me a holiday right now I'd drop my tools and go for it! xxx

      Delete
  15. You and Jon both look to the manor born. I loved your pun about the family tree!

    I am very excited to visit an NT property next week when we're in Cornwall; there'll be more than one I'm sure...

    I must tell OH about the weed broom; he's like you down on hands and knees with a knife. I loved your bird houses; I hope they become inhabited. The garden is becoming a full time occupation for you and Jon.

    Lovely outfit; beautifully coordinated colours.
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm dying to hear about your Cornish adventures. We only visited once, back in the noughties and it snowed!
      The weed brush is brilliant, whoever invented that needs a medal. xxx

      Delete
  16. But just imagine the taxes on Packwood! Better to just visit.
    The weed brush is a great idea-never seen anything like it.
    Take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True! We'll just keep going back!
      Isn't that weed brush a genius idea? xxx

      Delete
  17. The Sewing Bee was hilarious. I actually laughed out loud for the first time in yonks! I love the symmetry of that lovely house. I'm in no rush to get out and about now that our restrictions have been lifted a little as of today. My eldest granddaughter is anxious about starting back to school next week after 5 months off. Sitting at a desk all day with a mask on is causing the most worry. Have a good weekend M'Lud and M'Lady.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wasn't The Bee fabulous? An hour of absolute joy!
      I keep seeing all the footage on the TV of crowds of people and it really puts me off. Can you imagione what it must be like to have 5 months off school? I used to be itching to get back after the 6 week summer holiday. xxx

      Delete
  18. I can understand you returning to Packwood both the house and gardens are lovely. I’m looking forward to visiting Holker Hall and Levens Hall again once we get back to the caravan. Like you though we are quite happy at home for now.
    I’m watching the Sewing Bee and absolutely loved the new Jewellery Challenge, even though I’m not struck on the presenter,
    Philip has got one of those weed brooms. My favourite thing has been my heated rollers. I’ve been using them once a week and have managed my mop of hair a lot better this time. Saying that Angela was back this week and gave it a good trim, so I feel human again now.
    Hasn’t having a good size garden been a blessing for you over the last year xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so happy to be able to visit NT properties again. Trouble is my list of plants and ideas seems to grow longer after each visit.
      The Bee was wonderful, wasn't it? I didn't watch that jewellery change as, like you, the presenter annoys me. xxx

      Delete
  19. What a beautiful estate! So nice that the weather was on your side. I love your outfit, that hat is gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oooh, I could do with one of those weed brushes. Packwood is very beautiful. I reckon Jon should just lay claim to it. He certainly has the lord of the manner swagger going on in those photos. You garden is looking lovely Vix. Lulu xXx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love my weed broom - go on, treat yourself! xxx

      Delete
  21. What a delightful property and it must feel even more special to have a connection with it. Jon looks perfect as Lord of the manor :)
    Much like yourself, I'm getting desperate for a hair appointment. It looks like it's the same length as yours and I keep getting in trapped in my car door if I shut it too quickly :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'd happily live there
      I'm counting the days till my trim! xxx

      Delete
  22. wow, no wonder you've visited Packwood House several times through the years, as it's a magnificent place, and the spring garden looks so joyful!. Love to see you looking so fabulous in your rusty and Green outfit, with the delightful dress and matchy mittens!. And so amazing that Jon's family was involved in the building and first times of this beautiful house!. AmaZing!
    besos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still can't believe Jon's ancestors used to own Packwood! xxx

      Delete
  23. You would have made brilliant estate owners, I can just see you now welcoming the visitors to your pile in the country. I used to have one of those long handled gap weeders, I've left it behind in Wales, rather typically just as I will have paved areas to weed ... aarrgghh :-(

    ReplyDelete
  24. I love visiting places with family connections - I bet Jon was looking at those trees wondering how they'd looked to his ancestors, and what sorts of conversations and shenanigans went on around them.

    Looking further up your comments, I'm with you and Lynn on the jewellery show - the presenter isn't my cup of tea. It's a shame as the craft side of things is fascinating. At least Sewing Bee is as good as ever. (Patrick unable to speak because of the 'pussy on the front' had us chortling.)

    ReplyDelete

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

Lots of love, Vix