Community Spaces in the North East

I have just returned home from a few days staying in a cottage near Whitley Bay in the North East of England. During the visit I was very interested to see two community projects which were both in different ways a little unexpected. The first was a Community Garden in the walled garden area of a National Trust House and the second was made for the community by an open cast mining company.

The National Trust House was Seaton Delaval Hall given to the Trust in 2009. It was the home of the Delaval family who loved to entertain their guests in theatrical style.Here is some information about them from the National Trust.

‘The Hall was once the venue for the Delaval family’s lavish costume balls, spectacular theatrical productions and elaborate practical jokes. Drunken guests would awake to find their rooms had been turned upside down with furniture fixed to the ceiling. A mechanical bed would give way to drop the unwary occupant into a sobering bath of freezing water. And walls were said to disappear just as guests were undressing.’

The gardens of the hall are beautiful but I was interested in the area next to the carpark that is used as a Cutting Garden for the house and a Community Garden for local people. You can park and see this area without having to go into the hall. Here is what the Trust has to say about them.

‘Just off the main car park at Seaton Delaval Hall sits the Community Kitchen Gardens. Working with the local community, the Community Kitchen Gardens have 28 allotment plots for 16 different groups, as well as raised beds featuring some out-of-the-ordinary fruit and vegetable varieties.’ ‘There is a also the stunning Cutting Garden, which provides the flowers for the arrangements around the Hall, a Wildlife Area, a Herb Garden, and a sheltered and (sometimes!) sunny spot to sit in.’ ‘Pop over and meet garden residents George, Georgina, Herbie and Hilda and chat to our volunteers to see what they’re up to!’The second visit was to Northumberlandia near Cramlington. Northumberlandia is a unique piece of public art set in a community park. This has free public access. There are four miles of footpaths on and around the landform, along with a café and visitor centre. The park’s centrepiece is ‘The Lady of the North’, a stunning human landform sculpture of a reclining lady, scaling 100 feet in height and spanning a quarter of a mile.Far from being a rigid manicured art form, Northumberlandia is a living part of the countryside that will mature over time and change with the seasons. What you see when you visit is only the start of something that will evolve through generations.From the top of Northumberlandia you can see into Shotton Surface Mine. The attraction has been built by the Banks Group taking an extra piece of land donated by the landowner the Blagdon Estate providing a new landscape for the community to enjoy.The area is also a Nature Reserve looked after by Northumbria Wildlife Trust and this is what their website has to say, ‘Kestrels can often be seen hovering over the landform itself. The woodland trails harbour woodland birds and spectacular fungi (in the autumn), whilst the grasslands are hotspots for butterflies and meadow flowers. The ponds do attract some birdlife and insects, including damselflies and biodiversity will continue to improve with naturalisation and improved planting schemes.’I enjoyed both visits and came home with ideas for the new Community Garden Project at St Peter’s Church in Belper.

Adopt a Tree for Belper Arts Festival

This year as a new event for Belper Arts Festival, local individuals and groups were asked if they would Adopt a Tree on King Street.  The trees were decorated for the duration of the Arts Festival. The idea was suggested back in Autumn 2017 and was quickly taken up by a number of people in the town of Belper. Trees were installed on May 5th and taken down on May 28th. Continue reading Adopt a Tree for Belper Arts Festival

Woollen woods 2018

We have just taken down the Woollen Woods and 2018 has been an amazing year. The sun has been very good to us and more individuals and groups have joined in the fun. I have written about previous years on this blog and also linked to videos Woollen Woods 2015 . This one was created for us by a Derby company https://www.ablewild.com . We were written about on the Angel Eden Blog in 2016 and there are links to videos on their page. Continue reading Woollen woods 2018

Belper in Bloom

Once again this year Belper will enter the RHS Britain in Bloom competition. The competition is now over fifty years old and is entered by communities in towns, villages and cities with different categories for each size of settlement. Groups are assessed for their achievements in three core areas: Horticultural Excellence; Environmental Responsibility; and Community Participation. Over 1,600 communities around the UK enter each year, participating in their local region’s  “in Bloom” campaign. From these regional competitions, roughly 80 communities are selected to enter the national Finals of RHS Britain in Bloom.Last year ‘Belper in Bloom’  was selected to represent the East Midlands in the Large Town Category in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom UK Finals.

Andrea Van Sittart, RHS Head of Community Outreach, reacted by saying: “Congratulations to Belper on reaching the UK Finals of this year’s RHS Britain in Bloom campaign. To represent their region on the UK stage is an incredible achievement and shows they are already at the top level of community gardening, going the extra mile to improve their local area and make it cleaner, greener and more beautiful for everyone.”

Belper has numerous  volunteers and groups who get involved with the towns involvement in Britain in Bloom. These include Belper Gardening Group, Transition Belper, the Open Gardens Team, Belper Goes Green, Friends of the River Gardens, Guides, Brownies, Scouts, local schools and for the first time this year St Peter’s Parish Community Garden. As well as volunteers, the staff at Belper Town Council and Amber Valley Borough Council, will be working to make Belper bloom. Once again this year they will be planting thousands of bedding plants in the parks and planters in and around the town, putting up hundreds of hanging baskets, keeping Belper Railway Station and the grounds of Strutts looking beautiful and keeping the Parks, Wyver Lane and other Nature Reserves accessible and well maintained.

This year as part of the town effort the Belper Woollen Woods are asking  local people who can knit, crochet or felt to make flowers which will be used to brighten up part of the route that the judges will walk along.Belper is a fantastic town full of residents willing to be part of Community events. So I am asking everyone who reads this to help make flowers for the Belper in Bloom Group. There are plenty of free patterns on the internet that can be used for events such as this.

I am a knitter so I am adding a few quick and simple knitting patterns to this blog post. However flowers can be crocheted or made out of felt.Flower OneOne main colour of DK Yarn (A) and a small amount of a different colour for the centre of the flower, (B). Needles size 3.25 (10)

Body of Flower Using Col A Cast on 60 stitches
Rows 1 –10 : K2, P2 across whole row. Row 11 : Knit 2 stitches together across the row (30 sts).
Row 12 : Slip 1 stitch, Knit 2 stitches together then pass the slip stitch over… repeat across the whole row (10 stitches).
Break off yarn with long tail and thread back through remaining stitches and pull tight. Join edges with mattress stitch

Centre of Flower Using B, cast on 20 sts, knit 2 rows, cut the yarn and thread through all the stitches. Pull the thread tight and sew base to the centre.

Flower TwoUsing 3.23mm (10) needles and DK yarn, cast on 160 sts, Knit two rows. Next row: Knit two together across the row (80 sts), Knit the next row.

Knit two together across the next row (40 sts), Knit the next row.

Knit two together across the next row (20 sts), Knit the next row.

Knit two together across the next row (10 sts)

Break off yarn with long tail and thread back through remaining stitches and pull tight. Join edges with mattress stitch.

The flower will naturally curl to make an interesting shape.

Flower ThreeUsing 3.25mm (10) needles and DK yarn, cast on seven sts

Row 1: knit,  Row 2: Knit 1, kfb k to last two sts, kfb, k1. (9 sts)

Row3:as Row2. (11sts),     Row 4: as Row 2. (13 sts)

Rows 5-8: knit,    Row 9: Knit 1 (knit two together through the back of the loops) twice,   k to last four sts, (k2tog) twice. (9 sts)

Rows 10-12: knit,   Row 13: (k2tog through the back of the loop) twice, k to last four sts, (k2tog) twice. (5 sts)

Rows 14-16: knit,    Row 17: knit 1, slip 1,k2tog, psso, k1. (3 sts)

Row 18: knit and then Cast off.

Make three or four more petals to complete the flower.

Sew lower sections of petals together by threading a length of wool through all five petals and pull up tightly.

Centre of Flower Cast on 20 sts. Knit 2 rows.

Cut the yarn and thread through all of the stitches and pull to make a circle, sew onto the centre of the flower.

Flower FourUsing DK yarn and size 3.25 (10) needles cast on 86 sts. Knit 2 rows.

Last Row, (Knit 2 sts, cast off 12 sts) repeat this across the row.

Cut the yarn and thread through the remaining stitches and pull up to make a flower that looks a bit like a daisy. Put in a few stitches to hold in place.

Flower Centre Cast on 20 sts. Knit 2 rows. Cut the yarn and thread through all of the stitches and pull to make a circle, sew onto the centre of the flower.

It would be fantastic if lots of people would help with this effort and we do not have very long before Britain in Bloom. The completed flowers can be left in a box in St Peter’s Church Chesterfield Road, Belper or given to me Anne Clark

If you would like to print off the patterns here is a PDF Flowers

Up-Cycling and Mending

In 2016 I made two shopping bags and a garden cushion from some coffee sacks. They were made from old jute sacks that coffee beans are imported in. I had used the sacks originally to collect garden clippings but didn’t find them very useful as twigs got caught in the weave. The instructions for making these were written up and posted on the Angel Eden Blog. Because the original sacks had been used in the garden they had to be washed but this is not always necessary. Continue reading Up-Cycling and Mending

Beeswax Alternative to Clingfilm

As a family we are trying to reduce our use of plastic items, particularly single use plastic. Everyones lives are full of plastic which for years has proved to be very convenient and useful. However we now realise the harm it is doing to both animals and the environment. There is also the problem of potential toxins leaking out of the plastic we use to store and cover food.

We have stopped buying bottled water and now use refillable bottles. I have to admit these are plastic but at least not single use. I have however bought a bamboo reusable, take away coffee cup rather than using the ones supplied by the coffee companies. I have already found I can benefit from a 25p reduction in the cost of the take away coffee from some companies. Continue reading Beeswax Alternative to Clingfilm

Handmade Christmas

I know Christmas is nearly over for another year, tomorrow is twelfth night and then traditionally the decorations are taken down. On the subject of decorations I love to make homemade ones and have done so for many years. I also have been given ones made by family and friends and absolutely love their uniqueness. I thought I would take some photos for this blog. Decorations could be made during the year ready for next Christmas, in fact it is best that this is done way ahead of the season before all the busyness begins. Continue reading Handmade Christmas

Simple Patterns for Woollen Woods

The Woollen Woods are once again planned to come to the Parks Wood in Belper during May 2018. Lots of individuals and groups have already expressed interest in being part of the event. There are no set patterns and it is perfectly acceptable to make one item or to take on a whole tree. At the moment I am enjoying myself making woodland birds to install in the wood. Continue reading Simple Patterns for Woollen Woods

Belper Christmas Angels

I thought I would write an update about the Christmas Angel project. Knitters and Crocheters in Belper have been very busy this year making small angels as a Christmas Gift of Love for the people of the town. The project had been adopted by Belper Churches Together as their Christmas initiative but it has also been very much a community activity with hundreds of people getting involved. Continue reading Belper Christmas Angels