Wednesday, 13 June 2012

An Afternoon in a garden

A pleasant way to spend an afternoon is to sit in the sunshine in someone else’s cottage garden admiring their hard work whilst eating a picnic. But the admiration was not confined to the hard work but the layout of meandering paths, beautiful flowers, a fabulous variety of shrubs and trees, very productive raised beds for vegetables and a caged area for soft fruits. The rear deer fence had a section with a woven willow hedge to hide the utilitarian wire from view. My wife was in her element and arranged with the garden’s owner to have some surplus plants during the year.

When the garden contains a museum and archive of a village for me it is even more interesting. The village in question is Pennygael on the side of Loch Scridain and the museum with its papers and artefacts gives a view of what the village was like in the past. The private museum building is a refurbished cottage, light and airy setting off the large range of exhibits admirably. For me the collection of old tools was a delight, it is a hands on museum so I could pick up and get a feel for tools of yesterdays craftsmen. With a friend I attempted to name the some of the items that as yet had not been identified and determine just how they were used. We both agreed on the adze, but was it one used on the loch shore by a boat builder or as a framers adze for shaping roof timers when cottages were erected in the village.

 There were some old blacksmithing tools that took me back to my childhood when my father had a forge, anvil and all the same types tools that fitted in the hole on the anvil know as the hardie hole. We explored the pile of tools, now well rusted looking like “junk” to the untrained eye, for tongs, hardies, pritchels, fullers, swages and chisels. Unfortunately, there was no anvil to complete the collection. Nearby were two pairs of working boots, one pair studded and the other interestingly iron shod with what looked like small horseshoes.

The workman and his wife needed “tools” for everyday living. It was a delight to find a peat cutter, various garden tools and some kitchen utensils but what caught my eye was the marmalade slicker for preparing the Seville oranges for the home made marmalade.

There was also transport! Leaning against the wall outside the door was an old “Pashley” parcel-carrying bike; this was a very early model that eventually became the well-known postman’s bike of the 1960s. Parts of it were made by  my family sheet metal working business so for me evoked many memories.

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