Ken Law Oldham Landscape original

Original Ken Law Oldham Landscape, etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

We’ve mentioned a few times previously that we love the work of artist Ken Law – and have a small collection of his 1960s prints – Hampstead High Street, Tower Bridge and New York Bridges, to date. Well, I was browsing a well-known online auction website a couple of weeks ago – and did a quick search for Ken Law to see if any of his vintage prints were currently for sale. My jaw dropped when this original oil painting appeared before my eyes – only just listed. Straight away I thought, “Oooooh, early 50th birthday present?!”.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

The painting depicts Oldham – a Lancashire (now Greater Manchester) mill town about 15 miles from here. Perhaps former mill town might be more accurate now; at its peak, it was the largest cotton-spinning town in the world. Justin grew up in the neighbouring town of Rochdale and often went to Oldham on Tommyfield’s flea market day – and for nights out in his youth! So this landscape is very much in his psyche – and mine too, as an honorary Northerner, residing here for nearly 20 years now.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

It’s a classic Northern Industrial scene – factories, terraced houses, chimneys – the Pennine moors in the distance. This picture captures it on a winter’s day, sun low in the sky, snow covering the rooftops and vehicles slipping & sliding down the hill!

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

Ken used oil on gesso – the surface being painted, scratched and gouged. It’s full of character and texture. We’re still researching, but we think that this painting was exhibited at The Royal Academy in the late 1960s.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

By this point, you’ll realise that we can describe it quite accurately and have taken lots of photos – yes, it did become my 5oth birthday present – it arrived today!

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', showing signature, etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

I just couldn’t let the opportunity for a genuine Ken Law depicting favourite subject matter slip through my fingers. There are certainly no regrets now it’s arrived – it makes me happy just looking back at the photos in this post.

Reverse of original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

Much loved already – I’ll always remember when it came to live with us. A real birthday treat!

 Original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 with jug of flowers | H is for Home

Rain

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detail of Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border | H is for Home

We had a lovely long walk last weekend, taking in Blackstone Edge which sits right on the border of West Yorkshire & Greater Manchester (Lancashire really!!).

Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

As we walked along one of the bridleway tracks this striking outcrop of gritstone rock came into view.

Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

Lovely in its own right, but it had a little extra secret to unveil as we got closer.

Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

Expertly chiselled into its surface was a poem entitled RAIN.

Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

We suspected it might have been written by Simon Armitage when we saw the SA, but weren’t sure. Having since done a bit of research, we now know that it’s one in a series of elemental works by him entitled The Stanza Stones dotted around the Pennines. They were commissioned by Ilkley Literature Festival. Other titles include Snow, Mist, Dew, Puddle and Beck.

Simon Armitage's initials from his 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

Ironically, it was a glorious sunny day but the Pennines are certainly no strangers to the watery stuff. It’s a fundamental force in shaping this landscape.

 detail of Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

It’s a beautiful poem and we found it very life affirming – and strangely wished that we were standing in the rain reading it – the rock’s surface glistening and droplets running down our faces. Justin read it out loud and we recorded it on a mobile phone – so we’d be sure to have the words when we got home. We needn’t have worried as there’s a lovely book available called The Stanza Stones published by Enitharmon. Justin is a bit embarrassed, but his open air reading has been embedded at the bottom of this post – his Northern accent suits it! 🙂 All that’s missing is the pitter-patter of rain in the background.

 detail of Simon Armitage's 'Rain' poem carved into rock at Cow's Mouth Quarry, near Blackstone Edge on the West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester border

We’re now very keen to read the book and visit the other works in this series.

RAIN

Be glad of these freshwater tears,
Each pearled droplet some salty old sea-bullet
Air-lifted out of the waves, then laundered and sieved, recast as a soft bead and returned.
And no matter how much it strafes or sheets, it is no mean feat to catch one raindrop clean in the mouth,
To take one drop on the tongue, tasting cloud pollen, grain of the heavens, raw sky.
Let it teem, up here where the front of the mind distils the brunt of the world.

© Simon Armitage 2010

Click the little triangle on the left to hear Justin reading the poem

Stanza Stones is available from Amazon.

If you fancy giving the walk(s) a go you can download the poetry trail guide from the Ilkley Literature Festival website.

Cakes & Bakes: Butter pie

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Home-made butter pie | H is for Home #recipe #pie #butterpie #savourypie

Last week was actually British Pie Week so, being big pie fans chez H is for Home, we just had to get involved! We went for the vegetarian variety and decided upon a local, Lancashire favourite – butter pie.

It’s my meal of choice when we get a take away from Grandma Pollard’s, our local chippy. It’s a very humble pie –  😉 – the filling consists of few, very affordable ingredients – potatoes, onions and of course lashings of butter. There are free-to-pick herbs planted all around Todmorden courtesy of Incredible Edible, so we added a bit of fresh thyme too. I’ve not made it before but it proved a very quick & easy dish… and utterly, butterly delicious!

It’s a real celebration of simple ingredients. We served it with stir fried greens, drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar – pickled cabbage is another traditional accompaniment.

Butter pie

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: makes 2 portions

Butter pie

Ingredients

  • For the pastry
  • 115g/4oz plain flour
  • 25g/1oz butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • Ice cold water (2-4 tbs)
  •  
  • For the filling
  • 2 medium potatoes (such as Maris Piper or King Edward)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 25g/1oz cold butter (made into curls using a peeler)
  • 50g/2oz butter (for softening the onions)
  • sprig of thyme, woody stalks removed
  • 4 tbs milk
  •  
  •  

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl
  2. Add the butter incorporating using your fingertips or pastry blender until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Add just enough cold water to make the pastry form a ball
  4. Put the pastry ball into a plastic bag (or wrap in cling film/Saran wrap), press out the air and refrigerate for half an hour
  5. Peel the potatoes and onion, slice the potatoes a little thicker than a pound coin, and the onion into half rings
  6. Parboil the potatoes until just soft but still holding their shape (8-10 minutes)
  7. Sweat the onions and thyme over a low heat in the butter until soft. Stir regularly so that they don't stick to the base or colour
  8. Roll out two thirds of the pastry and use to line a 20cm/8inch diameter round pie dish
  9. Trim the edges using a sharp knife around the circumference
  10. Drain the potatoes into a colander/large sieve and allow to cool
  11. Once cool, layer the potatoes, onions and butter curls into the lined pie dish. Season with salt and white pepper
  12. Using a pastry brush, brush around the edge of the pastry with the milk
  13. Roll out the remaining third of the pastry (also using the trimmings from the base if necessary) and carefully lift it over
  14. Using your fingers or a fork, press the edges of the top & bottom layers of the pastry together
  15. Remove any excess pastry lid with a sharp knife
  16. Make a few holes in the pie top to allow steam to escape
  17. Brush the remaining milk over the top of the pie
  18. Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 for 30 minutes until golden brown on top
  19. Slice & serve immediately
http://hisforhomeblog.com/cakes-bakes/cakes-bakes-butter-pie/

The Tardy Trestle!

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vintage wooden trestle table from J Sergeant, Tardy Gate, Lancashire

Here’s something for all you vintage industrial or shabby chic fans. We think this old decorator’s work table is gorgeous.

vintage wooden trestle table from J Sergeant, Tardy Gate, Lancashire

It dates from the 1920s/30s era, and as you can see, it once belonged to J.Sergeant from Tardy Gate which is (or was) a small settlement in the South Ribble area of Lancashire. It’s now been somewhat consumed by Preston & its suburbs, but was once a farming community. Great place name isn’t it?

vintage wooden trestle table from J Sergeant, Tardy Gate, Lancashire

The trestle table has a hinged plank top & folding base for ease of transport & storage. We’ve been told that Mr Sergeant actually travelled around by bike!

vintage wooden trestle table from J Sergeant, Tardy Gate, Lancashire

It’s not a fine piece of antique furniture, but we love everything about this object – the design, the lettering, the colour, the wear & tear, its original function and the fact that it can be re-used today. We could see it in a craft room, studio, office or even kitchen – it would also make the perfect display table for a shop or market stall.

vintage wooden trestle table from J Sergeant, Tardy Gate, Lancashire

We bought something of a similar ilk just recently. These vintage step ladders might also have belonged to a decorator – or a shop maybe. Again they have their original lettering – don’t you just love that stylised ‘S’?

vintage wooden trestle table from J Sergeant, Tardy Gate, Lancashire

We have a friend whose surname is Sutcliffe (hello Rebecca if you’re reading this!) who snapped them up when she saw them – how could you not? They can still be used for their original purpose – but you can also use them for displays, plant pots, hanging clothes or towels – and we saw some recently bedecked with Christmas baubles which looked great.

T is for… Todmorden

Since we launched the website back in March we have wondered what to do with the furniture that we’ve got in stock.

Furniture poses a slight problem – unlike standard packages the cost of getting it to different parts of the country, indeed the world, vary wildly. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to incorporate into a website where postage is calculated automatically at checkout.

We’d almost decided to abandon furniture altogether but we thought that would be a great shame as we already have some nice pieces available. Also, what would we do the next time we see a great chair at a great price?

St Marys Parish Church, Todmorden

So, after some thought, we’ve now decided to include these larger items on the website – available via courier or collection in person.

What’s all this got to do with Todmorden? Well, that’s where H is for Home is based!

‘T is for…’ is an opportunity to show you a bit of our town – and also suggest some of the shops & sights that might be of interest to someone making the journey to pick up that table, desk or chair.

Tod, as the town’s affectionately called, is a small Pennine town situated in the Calder Valley on the border between Lancashire & Yorkshire. In fact, the border used to follow the river which runs through the town centre – where the town hall now stands.

It’s officially been in Yorkshire since the 1880s, although not everyone agrees – and just to add to the confusion, it’s got a Lancashire postcode!

The town was heavily involved in the textile industry. The ready supply of running water was ideal for the cotton, wool and dye-work mills. The settlements of the area were originally linked by pack horse trails. Canal, rail & road links were later constructed in the 18th & 19th centuries.

The canal, rail, road and river all criss-cross the valley bottom to this day. It now has a varied mix of light industry from metal fabricators to mineral works. Farming in the surrounding fields and hills. Also service industries, retail etc.

A lot of people live & work in the valley – and an increasingly significant number commuting to either Manchester or Leeds, being more or less mid-way between the two cities.

There’s a wide variety of housing stock – workers’ terraces, stone cottages, converted mills, farms and some quite grand villas.

The valley is quite steep-sided, and in some areas the buildings appear to almost topple down on to each other. We recently discovered this Marrimekko Mokki fabric

…we love it – it really captures the feeling!

So, what else might you be able to see & do if you make the trip? We’ve already spoken about the market in the M is for Market post – remember, Thursday’s flea market day!

In terms of other interiors-related shops, there’s a nice little group in the Water Street area. We have a decent-sized antiques centre – Picture House Antiques. They have a few traders housed under one roof and over 3 floors – traditional antiques, rustic bits & pieces, vintage & retro too.

Next door is The Bear Co-op, housed in the old Industrial Cooperative building – a lovely health food/grocery shop with café upstairs.

Recently opened is Hogarth & Hunt, specialising in French country interiors.

Across the street is Makepiece

…who sell ladies & children’s clothes, hand-spun and knitted using wool from the shop owner’s own rare breed sheep. Also handmade soaps, potions & lotions.

You can design & make your own greeting cards at Vanilla Pod. There is Water Street Gallery which showcases contemporary pieces of glass, ceramics, textiles and paintings.

Also, Lyall’s, a small second-hand bookshop, Todmorden Toy and Model Museum and a few charity shops close by.

Also on Water Street is Todmorden Fine Art, one of our absolute favourites and the location of many of our moments of weakness. The gallery specialises in Northern artists such as William Turner, Geoffrey Key & Peter Stanaway.

We have a large park, Centre Vale, in the town with a leisure centre and swimming pool. Swings & things if you’ve brought young kids… and wooded trails if you’ve brought the dog! There’s no shortage of hills, trees and water in the area generally – making it great walking country.

Seventytwo is a family-friendly cafe situated opposite the park – and there are plenty of other of places to sip a coffee in the centre of town.

There are a few villages & towns in the valley. Five minutes drive in either direction are Walsden and Hebden Bridge.

Walsden has a large garden centre, Gorden Riggs and Cottage Antiques which specialises in rustic country furniture – beautifully displayed in a two storey barn and courtyard.

And no mention can be made of Walsden without talking about Grandma Pollard’s – a famous fish & chip shop in these parts – people travel from far & wide to sample its delights!

Hebden Bridge is a lovely little town famous for its independent shops and cafés. It also has an antiques centre… as does Mytholmroyd, a further 5 minutes drive up the valley.

Back to that furniture -here are some of the items that we’ve recently put on the website…

…all available to collect from Todmorden!

M is for… Market

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Todmorden Market stall | H is for Home

We live in Todmorden – and run our website from here too.

It’s a small market town in the Pennine hills on the border between Lancashire & Yorkshire. Todmorden Market is one of its major assets.

Olives for sale on Todmorden outdoor market

Thursday is flea market day, with a mix of regular traders & one off stall holders having a clear out or raising money for charity.

Free cakes with the bric-a-brac on Todmorden Outdoor Market

We try to get there most weeks, trawling stalls for potential H is for Home stock. We’ve picked up all manner of things over the years – from 200 year old chairs to 1960s lamps.

Bric-a-brac for sale on Todmorden Flea Market

Some traders know what we like now and draw our attention to things they’ve got or will be getting hold of soon.

Bric-a-brac for sale on Todmorden Flea Market

After the second-hand stalls have been scoured, there’s a great place to stop for coffee – it has an unbelievable choice of teas & coffees all on display on their shelves… with home-made cakes and doughnuts to boot!

Exchange Coffee Co on Todmorden Indoor Market | H is for Home

Florist on Todmorden Indoor Market | H is for Home

Jams for sale on Todmorden Indoor Market | H is for Home

Also on the inside market are a florist, greengrocer, cheese stall, biscuit seller, haberdasher, butchers, bakers, but alas, no candlestick maker! Having said that, there’s Dawson’s – a great, traditional hardware stall that never fails to have that little brush or screw that no one else seems to stock. They, no doubt, have candlesticks… and the candles that go in them too!

Dawson's Hardware on Todmorden Indoor MArket | H is for Home

The market has at least 4 different butchers – everyone has their own regular or favourite. Ours is Paul Standsfield whose stall greets you as you enter through the main doors. He’s Fudge’s firm favourite too as he’ll always throw in a big, tasty beef or venison bone for him.

Standsfield Butchers on Todmorden Indoor Market | H is for Home

On other days of the week, the outside market has the usual range of food, clothing and homeware stalls.

Todmorden Outdoor Market | H is for Home

Cheese for sale on Todmorden Flea Market | H is for Home

Fruit & veg for sale on Todmorden Outdoor Market | H is for Home

Special mention has to go to Alexander Gourmet Med, a Mediterranean food specialist who’s usually there on a Saturday. Alex is extremely passionate & knowledgeable about everything he sells. He knows where it was made, which family made it, the methods they used and what makes it unique. We buy great olives & other antipasti, honey, chocolate, coffee, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. He’s an endless source of birthday & Christmas presents for friends & family!

Alexander Gourmet Med Mediterranean stall on Todmorden Outdoor Market | H is for Home

We hope you get the chance to visit one day!