Heidi’s Cat- Log

H & computerHi, I’m Heidi and Margaret has asked me to fill in for her on her blog as she is busy reading books, rather than writing about them and has lots of other things to do as well. So here I am – looking at the computer screen wondering where to start …

Maybe I should start at the beginning – well when I first came to live with Margaret and David. They rescued me and at first I was very scared and kept trying to hide in boxes, behind furniture and even on the top of wardrobes and tall cupboards.

Now I’m very much at home and love living here. There are lots of nice things and best of all lots of mice in the garden. Mice are Nice, but M & D don’t think so – they say Do Not Bring Mice Into the House – that’s not a Good Thing to do. I don’t really agree. It’s great fun to bring them in and let them run around whilst I stalk them and play with them. Sometimes they won’t play and go very still – and then I can eat them – they’re very tasty.

M & D had a lot of trouble with Mice in the House before I came. They got under the floors and nibble at the lagging on the water pipes and even gnawed the pipes and made holes. The water came out, which no doubt the Mice liked – but then the boiler stopped working and M & D had no hot water and no nice warm radiators.

The other thing that I like is watching the birds. They are like Mice but have Wings and Fly so that I can’t catch them (I have actually caught a few, but not for a very long time). Anyway D has very kindly put some birdseed on the windowsill outside and I can see them eating. It’s fascinating – see this video D did:

That’s enough for today. Maybe Margaret will let me write more Cat-Logs sometime and I can tell you some more.

She says this cat-post is just right for Saturday Snapshots run by Melinda  – you can see more on her blog  West Metro Mommy Reads. 

The Lake District – Honister Pass

Honister Pass P1010084

Honister Pass

Whilst we were staying in the Lake District a few weeks ago we drove through the Honister Pass, one of the highest passes in Cumbria. It connects the Buttermere Valley with the eastern end of Borrowdale Valley. There is a slate mine but we didn’t have time to take a tour – just enough time for a quick drink and a look round the cafe/shop/showroom and stone garden.

Honister Slate mine P1010070

Honister Slate Mine entrance

Honister Sky High Cafe P1010069

Honister Sky High Cafe

The little stone garden is most unusual:

Honister - stone garden

Honister – stone garden

Honister - stone garden

Honister – stone garden

and they fly the flag in the cafe:

Honister Sky High Cafe

Honister Sky High Cafe

as well as in words on this slate at the entrance:

Fly the Flag

Fly the Flag

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

The Lake District: Aira Force

Last Saturday I wrote about our trip on Ullswater on a grey, overcast morning, a couple of weeks ago. That same day the the sky cleared, and the sun shone as we went to see Aira Force, below Gowbarrow Fell above the shores of Ullswater.  You wouldn’t have thought it was the same day, as the extra layers of clothing had to come off!

Aira Force (from ‘fors’ the Viking word for waterfall) is a beautiful, wonderful place – a series of waterfalls, cascading down a fracture in the ancient volcanic rocks in a deep gorge. People have been visiting Aira Force for about 250 years. This is the plan of Aira Force on the National Trust board at the entrance to the Glade (with my added notation):

Aira Force plan P1010130

 From the Glade you start to ascend the waterfall walking through the Pinetum, which includes firs, pines, spruces, cedars and yews planted in the 19th century. The photo below shows the trunk of a Monkey Puzzle tree, the top way above me:

Pinetum P1010133The paths are circular, most of them dating back to the early 19th century when visitors were escorted by tour guides. There are three bridges across the Aira Beck – the first reference to a bridge was by Wordsworth in 1787. Below is a view of one of the bridges:

Bridge P1010140There are also several sets of steps:

Steps P1010144and of course, the cascades, falling 66 feet from the top to the bottom:

Waterfall P1010149I managed to snap a rainbow:

Rainbow P1010148

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

The Lake District: Ullswater

The shore of Ullswater is famous as the place that inspired Wordsworth to write his poem ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud‘, after a lakeshore walk in 1802, and it’s also where Donald Campbell broke the world water speed record on 23 July 1955 in the jet powered Bluebird K7. The lake is a ribbon lake formed after the last ice age, sculpted by three separate glaciers.

There were no speed boats on the lake, they’re banned now, and the season for daffodils was over on the dull, cloudy morning when we went on a ‘steamer’ on Ullswater, during our recent holiday in the Lake District. The Ullswater ‘Steamers’ have been sailing on the lake since 1859 and the oldest boat currently still in use is the Lady of the Lake, built in 1877, believed to be the oldest working passenger vessel in the world. It was in steam until the 1930s and it was the boat we boarded for our trip down the length of the lake and back again.

Waiting for the boat at Glenridding Pier

Waiting for the boat at Glenridding Pier

Lady of the Lake P1010111

On board the Lady of the Lake

Even though the weather wasn’t very good it wasn’t raining and we had a pleasant trip with views of both sides of the lake and the mountains .

Norfolk Island, Ullswater P1010103

Norfolk Island, Ullswater

Pooley Bridge pier P1010112

Pooley Bridge Pier

return journey P1010120

Ullswater

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Stone circles are amongst the most tangible and durable connections to the past. They have fascinated me ever since I was a young teenager and saw Stonehenge. We were on our way to Girl Guide camp in the New Forest, travelling overnight by coach from Cheshire and reached Stonehenge just before dawn. I was just about awake as we scrambled down from the coach and made our way over the field to be at Stonehenge as the sun came up. It was magical.

We were the only people there and in those days Stonehenge was fully accessible. I’ve been there since, and seen it on TV but I am so glad I had that experience before full access to Stonehenge was available, before there was a carpark and a visitor centre, shop and café. Now you can only view the stones from a short distance away along a tarmac pathway – after you’ve planned your visit in advance, parked your car and been driven 10 minutes by a shuttle bus, because entry to Stonehenge is by timed tickets. (Access is free at the solstices.)  I understand the need for all this but it still makes me shudder.

When I discovered that there is a stone circle near Keswick I was keen to go there whilst we were staying in the Lake District last week. Although there were more people at Castlerigg Stone Circle than I would have liked I really did appreciate the informality of the site.  There are no restrictions and you can wander around the stones as much you like. I suppose you’d have to get there at dawn or at least a lot earlier than we did to be there on your own.

Castlerigg is set on a plateau near Keswick, surrounded by hills, including Skiddaw and Blencathra. There is no carpark, visitor centre or shop – and I hope it stays that way. You can park in a little lane, where there was an ice-cream van selling delicious home-made ice-cream on the day we were there.

This was our first sight of the stones:

Approaching Castlerigg Stone Circle (1)  P1010056

Stone circles are ancient monuments. There are over 50 stone circles in the Lake District, made with locally available stones. Nobody knows what their function was, although there is much debate about whether they had a ritual and religious use, an astronomical significance or an economic function.

Castlerigg dates from around 5,200 BC which makes it older than the pyramids! Here is part of the circle. It is about 30 metres in diameter, which makes it quite difficult to take photos of the whole circle:

Castlerigg view 2

As you can see that the stones vary in size. The tallest stone is 2.3 metres and the largest weighs about 16 tonnes.

Castlerigg P1010061

And here are two photos of parts of the interpretation boards:

Int Bd Castlerigg P1010051

Int Bd Castlerigg P1010052

Castlerigg Stone Circle is described A Guide to the Stone Circles of the Lake District by David Watson, published in 2009 with colour photographs, maps and directions to the sites. The cover photo shows Castlerigg Stone Circle.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshot – Glen Etive

Here are some more photos from our recent holiday in Scotland. They are of Glen Etive in the Highlands. We drove down a little track alongside the River Etive:

River Etive P1000071until we got to Loch Etive:

Loch Etive P1000091Loch Etive is a sea loch and is part of the Rathad Mara Project to transport timber from the forests using a mobile floating pier, now derelict:

Floating Pier Loch Etive P1000090

An interpretation board by the loch side records that Glen Etive was the home of ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows‘, a first century Pictish princess who was betrothed to Conchobar, the High King of Ulster. According to Celtic tales she fled to Scotland to Glen Etive, with her lover Naoise and his two brothers, where she spent a most idyllic and peaceful time. But promised safe conduct and hospitality by Conchobar, they reluctantly leave Etive for Ireland. It ends in tragedy because Conchobar’s promise is broken, Naoise and his brothers are murdered and Deirdre according to one tale kills her self by falling from a chariot, dashing her head against a rock. In another version she simply dies of a broken heart.

Glen Etive Int Bd P1000075For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

 

Scottish Scenes from Our Holiday

Whilst we were on holiday this summer in and around Glencoe we visited Castle Stalker again. We first saw it nearly two years ago at the end of an afternoon as the light was fading. So this time we went in the morning and looked at it from both sides. We were staying at Kentallen near Glencoe – Castle Stalker is on the same road, the A828 between Kentallen and Oban and there is a view point behind the View Cafe. Just a short distance along the road there is another viewpoint via an old lane. This takes you down to the shore of Loch Linnhe:

Castle Stalker 1and here it is in close-up:

Castle Stalker 2When I say we ‘visited’ Castle Stalker it’s not strictly accurate as although it is open to visitors that’s only for five days a year  – and not during the time we were there.

From Castle Stalker we drove on to Oban, which as it was the holiday season was packed. But we walked up the hillside above Oban to McCaig’s Tower overlooking the town and it was much quieter there. It’s not actually a tower but a Roman style Colosseum built over a five year period from 1895 until his death in 1902 by John Stuart McCaig. It was unfinished at the time of his death. He intended it to have a roof and a central tower.

McCaig's Tower from below P1000051

Inside the tower is a garden with spectacular views over the town, the harbour and out to  the islands of KerreraLismore and Mull.

McCaig's Tower P1000034

 

Oban from McCaig's Tower P1000042

I have more photos to show another day of Glen Etive, a beautiful glen in the Central Highlands.

 Saturday Snapshot is a weekly event hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Cragside: The Turkish Baths

I haven’t done a Saturday Snapshot for months!

Turkish Bath P1090264

Here are some photos of the Turkish Baths at Cragside, in Northumberland that I’ve been meaning to post since our last visit. There’s a lot to see at Cragside. It’s now owned by the National Trust and was formerly the home of William George Armstrong (1810 – 1900). We didn’t manage to see this suite of rooms the first time we visited as there was quite a queue.  But on our second visit there weren’t as many people. You go down stairs from the Library lobby to go into the rooms below the Library. The guide book describes them as:

The suite of rooms includes a steam bath, a cold plunge, a hot bath and a shower, as well as water closets and a changing room. They are the lowest and the first completed part of Norman Shaw’s first addition to the original house. His plan, which shows that modifications were still being made, is dated 5 May 1870, and Armstrong’s friend, Thomas Sopwith, recorded in his diary that ‘the Turkish Bath at Cragside was used for the first time on November 4th 1870′.
The baths were part of Lord Armstrong’s innovative provision of central heating for the whole house. The space occupied by the baths is cleverly situated between chambers with huge water-pipe coils, which, heated from the boiler to the north, were the source of hot air that was ducted up into the main house. (NT guide book for Cragside)

Turkish Bath P1090265

Turkish Bath P1090266Apparently, Lord Armstrong was keen to build up foreign business and thought that:

Chinese or Burmese, or Japanese arms ministers would be more likely to agree to handsome contracts, if they were both well entertained and comfortable – even in a Northumbrian winter. (NT guide book for Cragside)

I think it’s an excellent idea and wish we had space for something similar!

Saturday Snapshot

Some time ago I posted a photo of Heidi in her little tepee. She still likes to sleep in it but she has other favourite places to nod off, one of which is our settee, so we cover the seat with a towel as she’s not very good at wiping her wet feet!

The other day we found her like this:

Heidi asleep P1090353

Fast asleep

She didn’t even move when David leant over towards her:

Cat napping

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

Last Saturday I posted a photo of the little Japanese Maple still bearing its flame red leaves. We’ve had some high winds this week and this is what it looks like today – what a difference a week makes!

Japanese Maple 23 Nov 2013Just a few leaves are still clinging to its branches:

Japanese Maple 23 Nov 2013 P1090329

The rest are on the ground or have blown away.

Autumn Leaves P1090328

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

Autumn in the garden:

Jap Maple Nov 2013 P1090302

The leaves are falling from some of the trees now, but our little Japanese Maple is still bearing its flame-coloured leaves.

Autumn trees Nov 2013 P1090305The Wych Elm leaves are a glorious golden colour.

Autumn leaves Nov 2013 P1090313And in our little wood the ground is now a carpet of rustling brown leaves.

D up ladder P1090314

Finally, here’s D up a ladder doing repairs to the roof – I had to watch because falling leaves are one thing …

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Writes.

Library Loot/Saturday Snaphot

After my last post about reading from my own shelves I’m almost ashamed to write about the library books I’ve got out on loan at the moment.

Mobile Library Van

But you see they’re from the mobile library and if we don’t use it the service will close down and that would not be a good thing!  The library van comes once a fortnight and is an invaluable resource. And it’s so convenient as it stops just a short walk from our house.

Lib Loot Nov 13 P1090297

The books from top to bottom are:

  • In the Woods by Tana French – a book I’ve read about and have been hoping to find in the library. It’s crime fiction, a psychological thriller, a murder mystery about a little girl’s death in an Irish wood. It has very mixed reviews on Amazon UK so I’m not getting my hopes too high.
  • Below Zero by C J Box. I keep seeing Box’s name on other book blogs and have wondered about reading one of his books. This is the 9th in his Joe Pickett series – Pickett is a Wyoming game warden. Below Zero is another book about a young girl who had been killed years earlier – or had she?
  • Perfect by Rachel Joyce. This book looks intriguing – in 1972 two seconds were added to time and the question that bothers James Lowe is ‘how can time change?’ I still haven’t read Joyce’s first book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (I have a copy which will be a TBR next year), but as they are two stand-alone books that isn’t a problem.
  • The Day of the Lie by William Brodrick. I’ve read two of his earlier Father Anselm books, so I’m hoping this one is just as good. It’s yet another murder mystery – this time with a monk as the detective, described on the book cover as ‘an unforgettable tale of love, death and redemption.’

For more of this week’s Library Loot posts see The Captive Reader.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

A few weeks ago I posted about the Attack of the Sparrows on the House Martins’ nest. A couple of weeks later the house martins all left and flew off to spend the winter in Africa. Each year they use our house as a building site for their nests. They are beautiful little birds and I love to see them flying high in the sky above our house and the chicks as they poke their heads out of the nest waiting to be fed.

It’s illegal to remove their nests whilst they are building or using them as they’re protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and you could get fined up to £5,000 and/or a 6 month prison sentence for every bird, egg or nest destroyed. And as they’re on the Amber list (because of recent decline in numbers) the RSPB is encouraging people to help them nest.

Well, they didn’t need any encouragement from us and built four nests in the eaves of our house. One was above the living room window, so you can imagine the mess their droppings made on the window and window sill. But now they’ve gone David has taken the nests down and cleaned up the mess they left behind, so he could sadolin the soffits and fascias. The nests came away mainly in one piece. My photos show how they’re constructed – mainly of mud and sticks formed into a cup shape.

House Martins nest P1010917

House Martins nest P1010918For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog A West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

I’ve been spending more time in the garden recently and so have had less time to write on my blog. The garden has definitely been looking as though it needs tidying, deadheading and cutting back to do, and weeds are getting on top of everything!

So when the weather hasn’t been too wet I’ve been out there with my secateurs, garden fork and my dumper truck, cutting, digging and pulling up weeds – nettles, bindweed, ground elder, creeping buttercups, and other weeds whose names I don’t know.

The dumper truck is one of the best things we’ve bought recently and it has made collecting and moving weeds so much easier. Here it is empty:

Dumper truck P1010882and here it is full:

Weeds P1010892These weeds all have strong roots (don’t I know it!) and spread enormously with long, white runners forming a dense network. If you simply break them off they regenerate (I know that too!!). Even though I tried to get rid of these in the spring, they are still in the ground.

The nettles are difficult to tackle earlier in the year when their stings are so painful and they’re growing next to, behind, and in between rose bushes with particularly sharp thorns. What makes it worse is that their roots are the other side of the fence. At this time of year the effect of their sting is only minor and soon disappears and I managed to get at them better.

I hate bindweed – it chokes everything within its reach. I read in Richard Mabey’s book Weeds that the vernacular name for bindweed is ‘Devil’s guts’ – how appropriate.

I think I shall have to resort to weedkiller!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

 

Saturday Snapshot – Flodden

It’s the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden this year – it was on 9th September 1513 that the armies of England and Scotland met at Flodden Field, near Branxton in Northumberland. There have been events this year to commemorate the battle and the men from both nations who died in this last medieval battle between England and Scotland.

Living not far from the site of the battle this week we went to see what had changed as a result of the anniversary. There’s now a surfaced path leading up to the Monument.

(Click on the photos to see them enlarged)

500th anniversary P1010826

There are some more information boards and signs to guide you round the Battlefield Trail:

Battlefield trail signpost P1010837The monument isn’t actually on the site of the battle but stands on Piper’s Hill.

Flodden MonumentFrom the monument you can look towards the north down on the village of Branxton:

Branxton P1010831The two armies lined up south of the monument with a marshy dip between them. The Scots advanced first, unaware of the of the ground conditions below them. Now it’s a ditch but in 1513 there was a brook surrounded by a reeded quagmire downhill – where the Scots were bogged down, the rear ranks pushing forward into the front ranks, crushing the fallen bodies and causing chaos. They were then easy prey for the deadly English billhooks.

It looks like this now – the ditch between the hedge and fence is now nearly dry, after weeks of rain in 1513 it was a quagmire:

Boggy Ground P1010835

 and the two armies came face to face:

Tthe Killing Fields P1010858

Flodden 1513: Scotland’s Greatest Defeat by John Sadler is an excellent account of the strategies and tactics of both armies, with maps and plans showing how the battle began and a time timeline of the various conflicts giving a detailed account of events.

Having read this book and the information boards around the trail I was able to visualise the battle, even on a peaceful weekday afternoon 500 years later. The Scottish troops had moved from their original position on Flodden Edge as the English approached the battlefield, putting them at a disadvantage. The outcome could have been different if they had seen the dip below them as they charged down the hill – or even if the English had attacked first.

But then, the battle needn’t have taken place at all if James IV of Scotland had not invaded England in an attempt to divert English troops from their fight against the French. Indeed he had entered into a Treaty of Perpetual Peace with England in 1502. But in 1512 he had also renewed the Auld Alliance with the French, putting him in the position of either declaring for France against Henry VIII (James’s brother-in-law) or remaining neutral, which would make him vulnerable to any further English expansion, as Henry had revived his claim to the Scottish throne.

Despite pressure from senior members of his council to avoid an outright breach with England, when Henry arrived in Calais preparing to wage war against the French, James decided to go to war against the English. Prior to the battle at Flodden he had crossed the River Tweed into England where he then attacked and captured Norham Castle, and then destroyed both Etal and Ford Castles whilst the English were still mustering their troops. But the outcome was a disaster for Scotland and James was killed on Flodden Field:

The king’s was but one of many hundreds of bodies, sprawled and piled on the bloodied turf. The whole hillside from the brook northwards was a killing ground, the dead, maimed and horribly injured competing for space, severed limbs and streaming entrails spilling fresh gore. The din would have been terrific, with hoarse shouts and the screams of the dying men, the crash of spears, a crescendo rising and spilling like breakers against the shore. (page 82, Flodden 1513 by John Sadler)

Each time I go to Branxton, or see the monument as we drive south along the A697, I think about the battle and all those who died there in 1513.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

It’s been a busy time here recently, as these photos of some of the places we’ve visited show:

We’ve been away visiting family. We stayed at Marlow in Buckinghamshire. The photo below shows the Marlow Bridge – a road and footbridge across the River Thames. The original crossing probably dates back to 1309. The current suspension bridge was built 1829 and 1832 and was restored in 1956-7.

Marlow Bridge P1090134

There were the usual boats, ducks and swans but we were surprised to see this driving up the Thames:

Amphibious car Marlow P1090141We had a flying visit to Eton and Windsor, not far from Marlow. We had lunch at the 300 year old George Inn at Eton on one side of the Thames:

George Inn Eton P1090082and then we crossed the bridge into Windsor for a quick look at Windsor Castle:

Windsor Castle P1090097

 Other trips out were to Silverstone in Northamptonshire where our nephew has a hospitality suite and we watched the practice for the British MotoGP. His suite, located right over the pit lane, has fantastic views over the start/finish straight.

Silverstone P1090230And then we were off to Coventry to see our other nephew’s show The Prodigals (he’s the musical supervisor/director). Before  the show we managed to go to Coventry Cathedral, but only to see the outside as it was near to closing time for the Cathedral and opening time for the show. The photo below shows the entrance to the Cathedral through the huge Screen of Saints and Angels, with a reflection of the ruins of the old Cathedral:

Coventry Cathedral P1090236and finally the next photo shows the enormous bronze statues, designed by Sir Jacob Epstein, of St Michael defeating the Devil:

Coventry Cathedral P1090238

I’ve got more photos – plenty for several Saturday Snapshot posts!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots: Pisa

I’ve been looking through some old holiday photos – these are from 2000 when we visited Pisa whilst staying near Florence.

This is our first view of the Leaning Tower, which doesn’t actually look as though it’s leaning much at this angle:

View Leaning Tower Pisa DCP_0104But when we got nearer you can see just how far it leans:

Leaning tower Pisa DCP_0105That’s me in the sun hat.

And here’s another view of the Tower taken from the roof of the Cathedral:

View Leaning tower Pisa DCP_0133We didn’t have long to spend in Pisa itself after we had looked round the Cathedral, but I was interested in this little church we passed on the way to the Cathedral Square. It’s Santa Maria della Spina, tucked away next to the river Arno:

Santa Maria della Spina, Pisa DCP_0101A lovely Gothic church, in sparkling white marble and very eye-catching as we walked by. I wished we’d had time to see more but we had to catch the train.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots: Wallington

Griffins' heads, Wallington

Wallington is now owned by the National Trust but was for generations the home of the Blackett and Trevelyan families. It’s in the village of Cambo, Northumberland, to the west of Morpeth, approached down a series of country lanes. We visited it just over a week ago, never having heard of it or of Cambo until I looked in the NT handbook. There’s a lot to see, including these strange objects on the front lawn – they’re griffin heads that were originally on Bishopsgate in London (according to wikipedia this was the gate where the heads of criminals were displayed on spikes).

I took lots of photos, mainly inside the house, which was built in the late 17th century. We didn’t have time to see everything and spent most of the time looking round the house. I’ve just posted a few of my photos today (click on them to enlarge):

First the entrance to the property is under a Clock Tower topped by a cupola on nine Doric columns:

Clock Tower, Wallington

This opens into a grassed courtyard where people were sitting having picnics and children were playing ball games. Crossing the grass takes you to the entrance to the house:

Wallington entranceI think the Central Hall is impressive, but one of the house stewards told me not all visitors like it. I suppose not everybody thinks an Italianate Renaissance palazzo type courtyard is right for the house, or perhaps it’s the wall paintings they don’t like.

Central Hall, Wallington P1080991The wall paintings illustrate the history of Northumberland. They are the work of William Bell Scott, a friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The photo below shows three of the paintings, featuring Egfrid, King of Northumberland with St Cuthbert, Danish Vikings landing at Tynemouth and the death of the Venerable Bede.

Wall paintings, Wallington P1080993Just a few more photos – below a photo of one of the cabinets containing a collection of model soldiers, 3,800 in total. These belonged to the three sons of Sir George Otto Trevelyan. They set them out following the plans of the battles of Marlborough and Napoleonic wars to re-enact the battles. Now they are laid out in regiments:

Model soldiers, Wallington P1090002There are the usual rooms – Kitchen (my photos of this are a bit dark), Parlour, Study, Drawing Room, Dining Room, Library, Nusery, Bedrooms and Galleries, all with many paintings, sculptures, beautiful furniture and collections of ceramics and textiles.

I was intrigued by this large boot in one of the bedrooms:

Boot Bath, Wallington P1090021It’s a Boot Bath – used by Sir William Blackett in the 18th century. It’s made of metal sheets soldered together. I don’t think I’d have liked using it, but it was designed for modesty – just your head and shoulders could be seen when you’re sitting in it – and for warmth! It was originally used in a bedroom downstairs and placed near a fire. I don’t think I’d like to have been one of the servants either, whose job it was to fill it up or empty it.

One final photo. After going round the house and part of the garden we needed some refreshment: a cup of Earl Grey tea with coffee and walnut cake for me and and mug of coffee with chocolate fudge cake for David (you can see my reflection in the teapot):

Teatime, Wallington P1090036

That’s enough for now – more photos another day, maybe of the Cabinet of Curiosities on the top floor of the house.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Peacock Butterfly: Saturday Snapshot

Peacock butterflyWe’ve seen lots of butterflies in the garden recently and I just managed to get a photo of this beautiful Peacock Butterfly when it landed on the decking the other day. It’s quite a big butterfly, as butterflies go, and is easily recognised by the eye-spots on its wings. It flew away before I could creep around it to get a better shot, but you can still see the eye-spots.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshot: Ben

Today my Saturday Snapshots are from old photos. This is Ben, the X-Border Collie when he was a puppy.

Ben - puppy 01

He never grew very big and had health problems all his life. As a puppy he had pancreatitis. When he was older he developed diabetes and we had to give him an injection every day, but he never complained.

Ben 003

 

He was a lovely dog.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

 

Saturday Snapshots: Wych Elm

We have a wych elm in the back garden. This year it’s been absolutely full of seeds, many more than usual:

Wych elm P1080810

The seeds have been blowing all over the garden, covering the lawn and borders. They grow in clusters:Wych elm P1080813One got caught in a cobweb:

Wych elm seed P1010780Here it is in close-up:

Wych elm seed P1080809Wych Elms are hardy trees and have greater resistance to Dutch elm disease than other elms. The name ‘wych’ comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning pliable and refers to the tree’s twigs. Its wood has many uses, including underground water pipes (in the past), boat building and the seats of chairs – it’s also the traditional wood used for coffins.

I love trees – and they are good for you:

A garden without trees is as hard to envisage as an art gallery with pictures. Trees soften the landscape. They provide shade in the summer and protection during the winter. A screen of trees around the house can provide enough wind-shelter to reduce by a tenth the energy consumption in the home. Their canopy of leaves acts as a highly effective pollution filter, absorbing many of the major atmospheric pollution gases, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen and sulphur dioxide. Research also reveals that we are happier and more relaxed when we are in leafy surroundings … (The Therapeutic Garden by Donald Norfolk page 105)

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Saturday Snapshots: Loch Ness

My Saturday Snapshots are some more photos from our last holiday in Scotland. We had been to Inverness and decided to drive back to Coylumbridge along the road following the western shore of Loch Ness. We stopped and went down these steps from the road.Loch Ness steps P1080650It was a calm peaceful scene – no sign of anything on the loch – not a monster in sight.Loch Ness P1080647There are a few interpretation boards by the side of the road above Loch Ness. They are not in very good condition now, a bit dirty, but you can still read them. The one below states that St Columba is said to have seen the monster in the 6th century, that ospreys fish in the loch and that seals sometimes visit chasing salmon and trout. What I didn’t know is that a Wellington bomber had crashed in the loch during a snowstorm in 1940.

Loch Ness Interpr Board P1080651

The next board states that the loch is 38km long and up to 238m deep, rivers feeding into the loch generate hydro-electricity that was first used industrially in 1895 for smelting  aluminium. This board includes information about the Caledonian Canal, which links Inverness in the north to Fort William about 60 miles to the south. The canal, constructed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1822, is really a system of four canals linking to the lochs, one of which is Loch Ness.Loch Ness Interpr Bd P1080653I think it’s time for some new interpretation boards to replace these old and grubby ones!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads

Saturday Snapshots

This Saturday I’m continuing to post photos from our recent holiday in Scotland.

This is Loch Morlich  is in the Glenmore Forest Park, 300 metres above sea level, between Aviemore and Cairngorm Mountain.

Loch Morlich P1080591

Loch Morlich P1080595

There is a level circular walk around the Loch, which has a Sailing Club. I took the two photos shown above on a wet and cloudy afternoon when there weren’t many people around. I hadn’t expected to find a beach so close to the mountains and about 30 miles from the sea!

Later in the week on a brighter day we went back to Loch Morlich, just a bit further round the shore. This part of the Loch is the home of Loch Morlich Watersports Centre and we arrived just as groups of young people were leaving, so we had the beach to ourselves: :

Loch Morlich P1010773 There is a Beach Cafe:

Loch Morlich watersports 01

Loch Morlich Boathouse Cafe

Loch Morlich is managed by Forestry Commission Scotland and is the first and only fresh water loch to ever have received the Rural Beach Award in Keep Scotland Beautiful’s (KSB) Seaside Award campaign.Loch Morlich watersports 02

Click on the photos to enlarge.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy.

Saturday Snapshot

We’ve been away last week – we went here:

Caringorms P1080750the Cairngorms – and there was snow in May.

Cairngorm shop P1080752Lower down the snow fell too but didn’t stick. The photo below is of a beautiful little loch in the Glenmore Forest Park, An Lochan Uaine the ‘green lochan’ (although in my photo it looks blue – it was really green!). ‘Lochan’ is Gaelic for ‘ a small loch, or lake’.

An Lochan Uaine P1080677The green shows up more in this photo:

An Lochan Uaine P1080681

We have many more photos, which no doubt, I’ll be posting and writing about later. Click on the photos to see them enlarged.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy.

Berwick’s Elizabethan Ramparts

Following on from last Saturday’s Saturday Snapshots here are a few more photos of Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is the northernmost town in England. It’s a Border town that changed hands between England and Scotland 14 times until it finally became part of England in 1482. It’s a walled town; the original medieval walls were built in the 13th century and the Elizabethan Ramparts, dating from 1558 are virtually intact.

Berwick Elizabethan Ramparts

The fortifications replaced the medieval wall on the North and East sides of the town. The photo above shows part of the Elizabethan wall that is now the boundary wall of a car park.

Below are two photos of sections of the walls:

Berwick Ramparts 1

Berwick walls & bridges

The photo below shows a Russian cannon, captured in the Crimea. Before the Second World War this part of part of the walls was once bristling with artillery. All that remains now is this cannon which was brought back as one of the trophies at the end of the Crimean War (1854-56). The top of the barrel of the gun is embossed with the double-headed eagle emblem of the Russian Tzar.

Berwick Ramparts Canon

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Berwick Castle

There is little left of Berwick Castle. Ruins are almost as enticing as libraries and bookshops to me. If there are any of these in an area I love to go and explore, so it’s amazing that after living near Berwick-upon-Tweed for over three years the most I’ve seen of Berwick Castle is the view of a wall from Berwick Railway Station. It was the building of the railway that caused the Castle’s final destruction when in 1847 substantial parts of the Castle were demolished to make way for the Station! Apparently the walls were so thick they had to use gunpowder to reduce them to rubble.

We were in Berwick on Wednesday; it was a dismal afternoon as rain blew in from the North Sea, not ideal for taking photos, especially on a camera phone. I’ll go back another day, when the sun is out, to take more photos.

The photo below shows the approach to the Castle ruins from Coronation Park above the River Tweed. The Park was created to celebrate the coronation of George VI in 1937. The area at the top of the Park was known as Gallows Knowe. It was the place of public executions in Berwick, the last being in 1823 – maybe the very place where we stood to take photos.

Berwick Castle grounds IMG_0459

The Castle was first recorded in 1160, probably built by King David I of Scotland, and was completely rebuilt by Edward I of England, after he captured it in 1296, with a strong circuit of walls,  towers and turrets, including royal apartments, a great hall and a chapel. Berwick- upon-Tweed is the most northerly town in England. a border town that changed hands between England and Scotland many times until 1482 when it was retaken from Scotland.

The photo below shows the castle mound, and the remains of the castle walls, including a rounded gun tower . On the right of the photo the White Walls are visible – this was a battlemented wall that still runs from the corner of the castle down to the River Tweed. It was built to defend the river approach to the castle and town around 1297 – 1298. Also, just about visible on the extreme right of the photo is the Royal Border Bridge carrying the railway line into Berwick Station.

Berwick Castle mound and wall IMG_0469The next photo (below) shows more detail of the Bridge and White Walls.

Berwick Castle and Royal Border Bridge IMG_0475For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

This is the Flodden Visitor Centre. It’s in a former telephone box in the village of Branxton in Northumberland. Flodden Visitor Centre P1080503It claims to be the smallest visitor centre in the world:

Flodden Visitor Centre P1080499

It’s part of the commemoration of the Battle of Flodden which took place 500 years ago in September between the English and Scottish armies in the fields near Branxton.

Flodden Visitor Centre P1080501Inside there is a map showing the routes of the two armies and indicating several sites related to the battle. There are leaflets and even a button to press the hear about the battle.

If you are in London on 14 May you can get tickets for a lunchtime lecture on the Battle of Flodden 1513 by historian Clive Hallam Baker at the Tower of London. He is the author of The Battle of Flodden: Why and How.

Other books about Flodden, with links to my reviews:

Fiction:

Non fiction:

  •  Flodden: the Scottish Invasion of Henry VIII’s England by Nigel Barr
  • New Light on Floddon (sic) by Gerard F T Leather – I have not written about this short book published in 1938, which Leather, a member of the Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club had written after studying the battle for a talk. As he explained there were actually four distinct fights going on a more or less the same time and the old name of the battle was that of Branxton Moor, a more correct title, in his opinion, as the battle scene was a mile and a half from Flodden.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Spring Flowers

DaffodilsIt’s spring at last!

Yesterday was beautiful – sunny, with blue skies – but still quite cold and breezy. Today promises to be the same. The daffodils are out (actually they have been for a few days now). I like to see them growing but it’s been so windy recently that I rescued these and brought them inside.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots: Alnwick Treehouse

I’ve posted photos of our visit to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland before. Adjacent to the Castle is Alnwick Garden, a formal garden with a cascading fountain. Also in the Garden there is a fantastic Treehouse and a Poison Garden, safely secured behind locked gates. When we were there there a very long queue to go into the Poison Garden, so we left that for another day and went to Treehouse.

Treehouse Alnwick

Treehouse Alnwick

It’s an enormous structure made from sustainably sourced cedar, redwood and pine, extending high up into the trees.

Treehouse Alnwick

Treehouse Alnwick

There are wobbly walkways:

Wobbly Walkway

Wobbly Walkway

treehouse Alnwick P1050990

Wobbly Walkway

and a restaurant:

Treehouse restaurant

Treehouse restaurant

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots – on Sunday

A few years ago we had a holiday in Gloucestershire – in Painswick. I’ve posted some photos in the past but not these of a walk in Frith Wood, which is on a ridge between Slad and Painswick. It’s a beautiful, magical wood of magnificent beech trees, with a mix of oak, ash and sycamore and it’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Frith Wood

Frith Wood DSC_0106

Frith Wood DSC_0100 Frith Wood DSC_0109For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

By this time last year I’d read about twice as many books as I have this year. One reason is the length of books I’ve been reading, but another reason is that I’ve been doing a jigsaw. I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles and once I’ve got started on one I find it simply addictive – and I’m often surprised at the length of time it can take me.

Just as I have a backlog of books waiting to be read, I have a backlog of jigsaws and I bought this one, Northumberland Castles when we first moved to the county three years ago. I put it to one side at the time, busy settling in the house and promptly forgot about it, until recently. I finished it last weekend:

Northumberland Castles

Northumberland Castles

This puzzle shows from top left, looking at the photo, Dunstanburgh Castle (which we have yet to visit), Bamburgh Castle (see this post), second row from the left, Alnwick Castle (see this post), Lindisfarne (one of my favourite little castles – see this post), then Warkworth Castle (we have visited but I’ve not written a post yet) bottom row again from the left Chillingworth Castle (not visited this one), and Norham Castle, right on the Scottish Border (see this post).

Bamburgh Castle and part of Warkworth Castle

Bamburgh and Lindisfarne Castles with part of Warkworth Castle

I use a PuzzleKaddy to do the jigsaw. It folds away keeping the pieces held together and has a carrying handle. When I’m not doing the puzzle I fold up the board and slide it under the sofa out of the way.

I also use a Jigsafe to hold the pieces. This is a series of nesting boxes. I think the idea is to sort the pieces by colour. Each tray has a separate cardboard base so that you can do small sections and then slide them complete onto the jigsaw board. I don’t actually do that very much but use the trays just to hold the pieces, as shown in the photo below where I’ve sorted the pieces for the next jigsaw I’m doing. I separated the side pieces into the smallest box and just put the rest in the boxes as they came to my hand. Heidi was very interested!

Jigsafe and Heidi

Jigsafe and Heidi

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots

Coldstream Old Marriage House

This is the 18th century Old Marriage House in Coldstream. It was also the Toll House for the bridge, which crosses the River Tweed from Coldstream in Scotland to Cornhill-on-Tweed in England. The Old Marriage House is at the Scottish end of the bridge and is now a private home. But from 1754 until 1856 it was popular (like the Smithy at Gretna Green) for runaway marriages, because during that period under Scottish law couples could get married without parental consent and without giving prior public notice.

In the 19th century 1,446 ‘irregular’ marriages, valid in Scots law were conducted by ‘priests’, whose numbers included local men such as shoemakers and molecatchers. During that period five earls and at least two, maybe three, Lord Chancellors of England were married there.

Coldstream Bridge P1060422This is the Coldstream Bridge, built between 1763-6, designed by John Smeaton. It replaced the old ford across the river.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Heidi doesn’t like the snow

We’ve had snow and more snow, our garden and the surrounding fields are all white, but the main roads are clear, and we haven’t had the snow that’s brought some parts of the UK to a standstill.

This morning the sun is shining, and the snow is sparkling in the sunlight.

Snow P1080401

The paw prints in the snow shows that Heidi has been across it, but she’s not keen. This morning she wanted to go out through the patio door:

Snow Heidi 26 Jan 13

but she didn’t want to get her feet cold and wet:

Snow Heidi (2) 26 Jan 13

So she came in and tried the back door, but that was no better:Snow Heidi (3) 26 Jan 13

She stayed away from the snow and soon came back inside the house.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot: more cat pictures!

This time it’s the Cheshire Cat!

Last Sunday was my granddaughter’s birthday. Her party had an Alice in Wonderland theme and so instead of pin the tail on the donkey it was stick the smile on the Cheshire Cat.

I drew a cartoon version of the Cat and M and I painted it in pink and purple stripes:

here’s the Cheshire Cat minus its smile:

and here with smiles added by the children blindfolded:

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots: Cats again

Sometimes I think I should call my blog CatsPlease as well as BooksPlease because of the number of cat photos I post. Today’s photos are of a called called George. He came to live with us when D’s mother moved into an apartment on the third floor. He was quite a character and liked to sit on/in things. He was also quite vocal!

One day out in the garden I heard him miaowing:

George in the compost heap

He was sitting on top of the compost:

It was just the same inside. He liked sitting on tables:

And he especially liked sitting in the laundry basket on top of the clean clothes waiting to be ironed:

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots

My snapshots today are of Inchree Wood and Righ Falls in Glen Righ, on the eastern side of Loch Linnhe, near Glencoe. It was a cool day in September this year when we walked up the woodland trail to see the waterfalls, but the views were still spectacular.

The walk is through woodland with views of Loch Linnhe below:

The waterfall comes into view:

It cascades down the hill side:

The trail continues uphill through broad-leaf and conifer trees:

It’s a good place to see red squirrels:

through the viewing holes:

But we were disappointed not to see one!

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

My Saturday Snapshots this week are some holiday photos from our holiday in Brittany way back in 1988. We had quite an eventful beginning to our holiday because soon after we landed  our car broke down and my French was immediately tested trying to say ‘the accelerator cable has broken’.

After a wait of two hours it was mended and we eventually got to our camp site at Ploumanach, near Perros Guirec on La Cote de Granit Rose, the Pink Granite Coast. The coast with its amazing rock formations was a few minutes walk from our caravan.

Just a few miles along the coast is Le Gouffre, or ‘abyss’, a place where the waves crash against a gap in the cliffs.

And near by is this amazing house wedged between huge granite boulders

It was built in 1861.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s Blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Rosslyn Castle

During our recent visit to Scotland we went to Rosslyn Chapel and also to Rosslyn Castle. This was our second visit to the Chapel, but our first to the Castle. (We went to Rosslyn Chapel three years ago – see this post for information on the Chapel and some photos.) On that first visit the Chapel was surrounded with scaffolding and you could go up to the roof. From there you can see the Castle far below the Chapel built on high on a rocky promontory in the Roslin Glen.

The Castle is in Roslin Glen – the nearby village is spelt Roslin, but the Chapel and Castle are spelt Rosslyn – like the earldom. The derivation of the name is from the Celtic words ‘ross‘, a rocky promontory and ‘lynn‘, a waterfall – not as described in The Da Vinci Code as deriving from a longitudinal Rose Line on the north-south meridian that runs through Glastonbury!

This time we decided to go to the Castle after seeing the Chapel. It’s down a little lane between trees and you walk over a bridge to get to the ruins.

It was a dismal rainy day but still the castle ruins stood out – stark and dramatic against the  skyline:

These are the ruins of the original 14th century castle, built in the 1330s for Henry Sinclair, the Earl of Orkney. At that time there was a drawbridge – replaced now by the modern access bridge. Behind the ruined walls you can see what looks like a house:

My photo is dark because by this time it was raining quite heavily. The castle was largely destroyed during the 15th and 16th centuries and was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries as a fortified house with five floors. The building from this side looks like any other house, but from the other side it is enormous. We didn’t go round to see it, but there are photos on the Landmark Trust website showing its size and the renovated rooms that are available to let as holiday accommodation.

The photo below shows the remains of the west wall:

and here are the remains of the gatehouse:

There were only a few other people walking round the ruins, whereas the Chapel was packed, with people arriving in cars and coaches. In fact inside the Chapel it was so crowed you could hardly walk round for other people. I suppose it’s the popularity of The Da Vinci Code that attracts so many people, but it’s hard to get a proper sense of its history and to see its beauty with so many other people there. There is now a Visitor Centre, where you can buy books and souvenirs and get drinks and sandwiches etc, also very crowded.

I preferred the Castle – so atmospheric.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots: Stirling Castle

We spent last week in Scotland. Except for Monday the weather was atrocious with torrential rain on most days. But Monday brought blue skies and glorious sunshine, so we took advantage of the good weather and visited Stirling Castle, maintained and managed by Historic Scotland. This is a most spectacular castle standing high on a volcanic rock. It was one of the most favoured homes of Scottish kings and queens from the 12th century, although it is an ancient site.

I have many photos – here is just a small selection:

A statue of King Robert the Bruce stands outside the modern entrance to the castle:

Robert the Bruce statue

In the background is the National Wallace Monument which overlooks the scene of Scotland’s victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.

Stirling Castle Forework

The Forework (above) was installed by James V around 1500, originally the main entrance, it is now an inner entrance to the castle.

The photo below shows the Queen Anne Garden, which on Monday was being used for a crossbow demonstration – children were queuing to have a go for themselves. Behind the garden is James V’s Renaissance Palace of Princelie Virtue which he had built for himself and his French Queen, Mary of Guise (the parents of Mary Queen of Scots) on the site of earlier buildings.

The pale golden building peeping out beyond the Palace is the Great Hall, commissioned by James IV (who died at Flodden Field in 1513) and completed in 1503. It almost glows in the sunlight because it is covered with ‘king’s gold’ limewash. It has been renovated and was reopened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.

Stirling Castle Queen Anne Garden

Just visible in the photo above are the statues on the facade of the Palace and the Prince’s Walk. The statues are grotesque and warlike, portraying monsters hurling missiles south against any invaders. They include one of the Devil, with breasts:

Stirling Castle Devil Statue

There is so much to see and so much history within the Castle that I’d really like to go again one day. As well as the Official Souvenir Guide Book there are guided tours of the castle and an audio tour that you can listen to on your own, if you prefer – which I did.

I have far too many photos for one post, so maybe ‘ll post more photos in due course.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

I still haven’t sorted out my photos of Glencoe and Glen Nevis from our holiday there the other week. So, in the meantime here are a few photos I took the day we didn’t go to Lyme Regis.

We were staying with my sister on New Year’s Eve nearly five years ago. We had wanted to go to Lyme Regis – to see the Cobb and so on, but when we got there it was so full of people and cars that there was nowhere to park and so we carried on along the coast to Seaton, a small traditional seaside town at the mouth of the River Axe. In contrast to Lyme Regis there were just a few people strolling along the promenade and beach.

Its coastline is part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. The whole Site is 95 miles long and covers a complete record through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of geological time. The White Cliff at Seaton is composed of white chalk about 90 to 110 million years old.

At the other side of the bay the cliffs are red, which the interpretation board told me are from the Triassic period and the red colour (caused by iron oxide) indicates the climate was hot and dry for much of the year just like present day deserts in the Middle East!

I suppose the lure of fossils, combined with the literary association of Lyme Regis – the Cobb in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and John Fowles’s setting for The French Lieutenant’s Woman mean that more people are attracted to visit Lyme Regis but still Seaton is an interesting place to see – I don’t imagine there are many places you can see a 185 million-year ‘geological walk through time’. And I had walked along the Cobb the last time we went to Lyme Regis.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

I had intended to post some photos of our holiday near Glencoe, but I’m so pleased with ‘these’ that I decided to do a bookish Snapshot instead.

‘These’ are … Book Darts

I first read about them a while ago and couldn’t find a supplier in the UK and then just the other day I was reminded of them by Stefanie’s post on Reading Accessories and searched for them again – and found they’re available in the UK  through Amazon!

Sometimes I use the very small post-its to mark pages I want to refer to again, but the book darts look so much better. They’re archivally safe and won’t mark or stain the pages and are so neat …

… compared to the post-its:

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot: On Holiday

We’ve been away last week, over at Kentallen on the west coast of Scotland – near Glencoe. These were the views of Loch Linnhe from our bedroom windows, taken late afternoon on the day we arrived. Click on the photos to enlarge them:

Here’s a close-up of the flag:

We got back home last night and I’ve got lots more photos of the places we visited – I just need time to sort them all out.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot

Heidi’s new bed –

We bought this little bed yesterday and deliberately didn’t attempt to put Heidi in it or even to show it to her because cats are fussy creatures and like to find places to sleep for themselves. So we just left it on the worktop in the utility room, where she likes to sit and this morning this is where I found her. I’m so glad she likes it.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Duddo Stone Circle

Stone circles fascinate me. They have done ever since I was a young teenager and went to Stonehenge. It was dawn as we were travelling to the New Forest for our annual Girl Guide camp there. The coach driver stopped so we could get out and see the sun rising over the stones. This was in the days when the stones were open and we ran across so we could be in the circle when the sun came up – it was magical. These days Stonehenge is fenced off and going there is just not the same experience.

There is a small stone circle not very far from where we live and we went to see it last Saturday. Duddo Stone Circle is a group of five Neolithic/Bronze Age stones – radiocarbon dating indicates they were erected around 2000BC. Originally there were seven stones. Excavations in the 1890s revealed the socket holes of the missing stones and also the cremated human remains in the central pit.

This is the view of the stone circle standing proud on a low hill next to the small Northumberland village of Duddo as you approach the stones along a permissive path:

Farmers used to plough across the inside of the circle.These days they don’t, but farm all around the circle:

It’s fantastic up inside the stone circle. Unlike Stonehenge (which is of course much bigger) you can walk right up to the stones and go inside the circle. The stones are sandstone, varying in height from 1.3 metres to 2.3 metres. The site is listed on the Schedule of Ancient Monuments – No. 1006622.

It was very windy last Saturday and I found it hard to keep my camera steady, but I did manage to get some close ups of the stones. Stones that have been sculpted by the wind into weird shapes.

We had the stones to ourselves and it was easy to imagine what it must have been like up there on the hill all those years ago, with views all round to the Cheviots and the Eildon Hills in Scotland and to wonder just why the stones were there and what they had meant to the people who erected them. The Defra information board below the stones indicated that the fragments of human bones found in the central pit dated from 1740 – 1660 BC suggesting that the use of the site for burial was a later event. Its original purpose remains a mystery – I like that.

As we left more walkers arrived:

The small figures on the skyline show the size of the stones.

Also in Duddo are the remains of a medieval tower house. We didn’t have time to look at it last Saturday, but we’ll go there another day.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

Another photo from the family snapshots. I actually quite like this one of me, taken years ago.  I’m not sure of the date but it must have been a hot day, or I wouldn’t have been wearing a little strappy top. And it must have been a long time ago because our son is all grown up now, with three children of his own! I think he must have been about 12 years old (is that right P?).Click on the photo to enlarge.

I like it too because it’s not a posed photo – I’m smiling naturally – and you can see our son casually walking into the picture. I’m holding our next-door neighbour’s new puppy, introducing it to our two dogs. Ben, our black, tan and white border collie/cross is interested and wants to play, but Zoe, our golden retriever isn’t bothered about it and instead wants to go to the photographer – my husband – so you can only see the top of her head. And I do like my Scholls. I used to wear them all the time, so comfortable. That reminds me I need to get another pair.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

I’ve been going through family photos again:

When I was a child of five (living in Cheshire) my grandparents came from Wales to live with us. They had the front room in our house and on the mantelpiece were two miniature framed photos of my Taid’s (grandfather’s) parents. He was immensely proud of them and it’s a great shame that those photos have gone missing, so I was delighted to find this one of my great grandparents. It shows my great grandfather, Isaac Owens and my great grandmother, Elizabeth Owens, the lady wearing glasses. I have no idea who the other lady was (the one wearing the white blouse). Nor do I know when or where it was taken.

I know very little about them.

Isaac was born on 7 August 1848 (August 7 is also my birthday) in Bryn-y-Baal, a small hamlet near Mold in Flintshire, Wales. His father, George was a coal miner. Isaac’s occupation is described in the census returns as a Brickworks Labourer, an Agricultural Labourer and a Tin Plate Worker.  He married Elizabeth Hughes in 1877 and they had five children, my Taid was their second child. Two of their children died, aged 17 months and 11 months, with a third, John dying when he was 19.

I have the family Bible in which he recorded the family births, marriages and deaths.

Family Bible (click to enlarge)

From the census returns I’ve discovered that he moved around the local area, presumably to get work and on some of the censuses he is not living with the rest of the family. He and Elizabeth spoke both Welsh and English. Isaac died aged 79 in 1928 at my grandparents’ home.

I’ve posted photos previously of my great grandmother, Elizabeth and also of the sampler that she stitched in 1867, when she was twelve.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Marlow

D took this photo of Marlow Bridge in Buckinghamshire several years ago. Marlow Bridge crosses the River Thames between Marlow and Bisham in Berkshire. There has been a bridge here since the 14th century, but this suspension bridge was erected in 1829 -1832.

We used to live in Buckinghamshire and often visited Marlow. I took the photo shown below when the grandchildren were younger, playing in Higginson Park.

Marlow is also the home of Sir Steve Redgrave, the Olympic Rowing Champion who won gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000. His statue stands in Higginson Park – in the background of my photo. For a better photo of his statue see Wikipedia – I was taking a photo of the grandchildren, not Sir Steve’s statue. 🙂

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Views of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne is one of my favourite places, cut off from the mainland of Britain twice a day by the tides and accessed over a causeway. We went there last Tuesday and here are a few photos I took then together with one I took on an earlier visit.

Lindisfarne Priory was founded in 635 by Aidan, an Irish monk who came to the island from the monastery on Iona, founded by St Columba. It was the home of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

I took the photo below in February 2011, on a cold winter’s day. It shows the statue of St Aidan in the Priory grounds with Lindisfarne Castle, across the bay, in the background.

The monastery was originally wooden buildings  and the remains that we see today are those of the 12th century priory, probably standing on the site of the 7th century monastery. The Priory’s former grandeur is still there to see:Lindisfarne was also the home of Cuthbert, who became the prior in 685. Eleven years after his burial it became a shrine when his body was exhumed and was found to be undecayed. One hundred years later when the monks fled from the island during Viking raids they took his relics with them, eventually re-establishing his shrine in Durham Cathedral in 995.

This sculpture of St Cuthbert is cast in bronze, originally carved from an elm tree. It shows a contemplative Cuthbert:

Last Tuesday was one of the hottest days of the year. We had intended to visit the castle as well, but as so many other people had the same idea we just went for a walk round the foot of the castle, then along the coast and back inland. This is the route we took.

We stopped for a look at the walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1911.

And then carried on to the coast line: On the way home we stopped at The Barn at Beal, on the mainland, just over the causeway, for a cup of coffee.

A Saturday Snapshot post – see more on Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot

Today’s Snapshot is looking back to when I was 16 and my friend and I  had just been presented with the Queen’s Guide Award. For some reason, which I can’t remember we were photographed with the Girl Guides District Commissioner and the Town Mayor as though we were giving them a cup of tea and biscuits!

 I’m the Girl Guide on the right, next to the District Commissioner.

For more Saturday snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

On a grey, dismal day in May we visited Smailholm Tower in the Scottish Borders. It’s a four-storey tower house on a base of volcanic rock, a stark feature on the skyline between Kelso and Selkirk in the Tweed Valley.

(click on the photos to enlarge)

It was built in the 15th century by the Pringle family on Smailholm Craig, providing protection from the elements and from raiding parties of English reivers (raiders).

Standing 650ft (200m) above sea level, it’s walls are 9ft (2.5m) thick and 65ft (20m) high and it has one small entrance in the south wall and tiny windows.

Inside it’s quite dark and most of my photos inside aren’t very good. There’s a spiral staircase giving access to all five floors and the battlements.

In 1645 the Pringle family sold the tower and Smailholm Craig to the Scott family. Sir Walter Scott lived at Smailholm for a while with his grandmother and Aunt Janet after he’d had polio because they thought the fresh country air would be good for him. It was his aunt who told him tales of the Border countryside which gave him his passion for folklore and history.

The three upper floors house an exhibition of costume figures and tapestries to illustrate Sir Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Borders, his collection of ballads. The photo below is of the Queen of the Fairies:

and below is one of little Walter Scott and his Aunt Janet:

I was fascinated by the roof of the tower, because it’s covered in turf, making a living roof:

There are spectacular views of the surrounding countryside on the way up. Below is the view of the Eildon Hills through a window:and even more panoramic views from the battlements:

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

I didn’t do a Saturday Snapshots post last weekend because I was away from home for most of it, celebrating D’s birthday. We had a lovely time with the family. I made a cake and the grandchildren all had a hand in decorating it – E did the writing and the hearts! M & G added the smiley faces and other decorations.

We put a few candles on it – no room for all of them!!!

M gave him a big hug and G gave him the required number (66!) of thumps – pats – on his back.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

We’ve had mixed weather this week, with days of torrential rain and a few sunny, although not hot, days. One sunny evening we were eating dinner and looking out onto the back garden and to our surprise saw this hedgehog marching purposely across the grass.

It was making for the bridge over the little stream in our garden. I wish I’d videoed it to capture the way it walked.
When it got to the bridge I could see its legs more clearly – such long legs, I thought. I found this fact on the Hedgehog Preservation Society fact sheet: ‘They have relatively long legs – about 10cms (4″) – and these enable them to run as fast as we can walk.’

Hedgehogs do carry fleas, but I read on The Mammal Society website that they have only one specific type and they don’t carry the type that bite cats and humans, which is good because we’ve just got rid of Heidi’s fleas – that also liked to bite me!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

We’ve had lots of rain recently, which Heidi doesn’t like. Yesterday she looked out of the cat flap and then settled down on the mat to wait for the rain to stop.

Is she going out? It looks like it, but no – she sticks her paw out and its still raining!

Back to the mat!

Just in case you think she was banished to the mat – it was her own choice. Later in the day, whilst it was still raining she made herself comfy on the sofa, with a handy cushion for her head.

She’s not as sweet as she looks because first thing in the morning I was greeted by feathers in the kitchen! But all was well as the baby bird had managed to escape by hiding on the windowsill and flew away when D rescued it.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots – Jubilee Celebrations

Last Saturday I posted photos of the coronation procession I took part in in 1953. Irene asked if I would post photos of what was happening in my area for the celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Well, it was relatively quiet where we live, nearly 350 miles from London. We watched some of the River Pageant on television:

I liked the aerial views and the close-up shots of the Queen and Royal Family, but it was different from actually being there:

The next day our son and his family came to stay and we had a barbecue on the decking, decorated with our daughter-in-law’s hand knitted bunting:

Food was eaten, drinks were drunk and games were played:

Then in the evening we went to one of the 4,200 Diamond Jubilee Beacons that were lit all over the UK and the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Commonwealth and Overseas UK Territories. Ours was at Watchlaw Farm in Northumberland, where there are magnificent views of the Cheviots and the Tweed Valley:

The beacon was lit just after 10pm:

and soon it was blazing away:

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

D took a video which is on YouTube – watch out for the rocket towards the end of the video!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

This year it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. She acceded to the throne in February 1952 and was crowned on 2 June 1953. There are many celebrations around the UK this weekend celebrating her 60 year reign, which got me thinking about celebrations in the past.

I remember the Coronation. We didn’t have a television but my parents had friends who did and we all gathered in front of their tiny TV and watched the ceremony in grainy black and white. I was at primary school and we were all given a Coronation Mug (I have no idea what happened to it!) and drew pictures of the Queen and the Coronation Carriage. I made a scapbook cutting out newspaper and magazine photos.

My photos today are of a procession around the village where I lived to celebrate the Coronation, waving Union Flags.

In the photo above I’m in the middle at the front, the one with dark hair and a white floppy bow in my hair, behind the girl with short brown hair and next to my friends who lived in the same road as me.In this photo I’m near the back on the right of the procession just behind a bigger girl. The man on the extreme right of the photo in the mac, with a cigarette in his mouth (!) is my dad, just stepping into the road.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

Heidi asleep

About four weeks ago I posted a photo of our new arrival. Since then she’s settled in well, after a period of hiding on top of wardrobes and anywhere out of sight. We’ve renamed her Heidi, because of that. She knows her name and comes running when we call her.

She’s not really allowed on the furniture, but she’s tired out after a session in the garden hunting for mice and there plenty out there for her. She brought a dead one in this morning. I wish she wouldn’t bring them in, but she’s proud of her catch.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

This scene has become very familiar to me over the last four weeks:

It’s the Edinburgh skyline I can see from the Edinburgh Western General Hospital. The tall spire towards the left of the photo is the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens. Moving to the right of that is the fortress that is Edinburgh Castle and below that the green dome is the copper-clad dome of West Register House, one of the buildings of the National Archive of Scotland, in Charlotte Square.

And this is why – it’s the view from the Edinburgh Cancer Centre, where I’ve been going for the last four weeks. (Last week I wrote about being diagnosed with a breast cancer – see this post.)

It’s not as grim inside as it looks outside – it’s quite nice actually. I’ve got two more sessions of radiotherapy next week and then that is the end of my treatment, apart from follow-up appointments and a bone density scan. I’ll be glad to get back to ‘normal’. Maybe then I’ll get back to writing about books – I’ve got quite a pile lined up to review.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

I couldn’t decide what to choose for today’s Saturday Snapshot, so I took pot luck and picked a photo at random from the loose photos waiting to be sorted.

 This photo was taken years ago, when I used to belong to a spinning group.  We had an open spinning day, demonstrating how to spin. That’s me, on the left of the photo using the smaller, dark wood spinning wheel. You can tell how old this photo is because I’ve got dark hair and am not wearing glssses (I had contact lenses).

We spun the wool from fleeces, first of all carding the unwashed wool, thick with lanolin – very good for your hands! I knitted the finished wool, making mittens and a cardigan. But eventually I gave up spinning as really I preferred knitting and it’s hard to spin enough wool at  the right ply to make a garment successfully.

It’s good to have a record of a hobby from the past and I enjoyed remembering my spinning days! We also dyed the wool and made felt.

See more Saturday Snapshots at Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshots

Today’s Saturday Snapshots were taken on a local walk near home over two years ago. It was a few days after Christmas and the ground was still covered in snow, when we walked down to the River Tweed:

View of River Tweed from the public footpath

We walked through the woodland above the Tweed back home climbing over the ladder style from the woodland into the adjoining field. The photo below shows our  grandson climbing the style:

Climbing the ladder style

And this one is on the footpath in the field :

Walking back home

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Bamburgh Castle

Last Monday we visited Bamburgh Castle on the coast in Northumberland overlooking the North Sea. It’s a dramatic sight, a huge castle extending over ¼ of a mile, built on a volcanic outcrop, 45 metres above sea level. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

Bamburgh Castle from the carpark

Bamburgh Castle was bought by Lord Armstrong (who built Cragside) and renovated by him at the end of the 19th century. The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, and is open to the public. It also hosts weddings and corporate events and has been used as a film location since the 1920s, featuring in films such as Ivanhoe (1952), El Cid (1961), Mary, Queen of Scots (1972), and Elizabeth (1998).

The entrance is through two gatehouse towers, which still have some of the original stonework. They were altered and added to in the 19th century.

Gatehouse Towers

From there you walk along the Battery Terrace, with its cannons facing the sea, placed there ready to defend the castle when Napoleon threatened to invade Britain.

Battery Terrace

From the Battery Terrace you can see Lindisfarne to the north and the Farne Islands to the south. Lindisfarne is just a dot on the horizon above the first cannon in the photo.

Inner Farne on the horizon

The photo below is of the Keep, which was originally built in the 12th century. It sits on a massive plinth to prevent attackers digging beneath it and setting fires to collapse it.

The Keep

And finally a view of Bamburgh Castle taken from the road from Seahouses to Bamburgh:

Bamburgh Castle taken from Seahouses

See Alyce’s blog At Home With Books for more Saturday Snapshots.

Saturday Snapshot – our newest arrival!

We went to get the car MOT’d yesterday. Whilst we were waiting we walked down the road a little way to the Animal Rescue Kennels – just to have a look, you know. Actually we’d been thinking about going there for months, but yesterday was the day. And look who came home with us:

She’s two years old and a little timid and camera shy at the moment, but I managed to take this picture. Whitie, that’s the name she knows, so I think we’ll carry on calling her that – she comes when you call her name, is sitting where Lucy used to sit – on the computer room windowsill. Lucy died a year last January and it’s taken us this long to feel it’s right to get another cat. She’s seems to be settling quite well.

Here she is deciding whether to sit down or not – she did and she’s sitting there now as I type.

Here’s another photo – taken last night in the kitchen:

No doubt there’ll be a few more photos soon.

For more Saturday Snapshots go to Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Dewars Lane

Berwick-upon-Tweed is an interesting English town near the border with Scotland, with three bridges crossing the Tweed. There are the Elizabethan Town Walls, Ramparts, Barracks, a ruined castle and quaint passageways like Dewars Lane, which dates back to medieval times. This is what it looks like today.

The white building on the right at the end of the passageway is now a Youth Hostel, Art Gallery and Bistro. It was built in 1769 and was originally a granary. Its fantastic tilted walls are the result of a fire in 1815, after which it was propped up rather than being rebuilt. It was used for storing grain up until 1985 and was then left unoccupied, gradually becoming derelict. It has recently been restored by the Berwick Preservation Trust.

The artist L S Lowry sketched it in 1936  on one of his many visits to the town and it is now part of the town’s Lowry Trail. Below is Lowry’s pencil drawing of the Lane.

And here is my sketch:

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

Coldstream

Coldstream is our nearest Scottish town, the other side of the River Tweed. The view as you approach from the English side of the border is dominated by this monument that towers 70 feet above the town. It’s known as ‘Charlie‘ and was erected in 1834 as a tribute to Sir Charles Marjoribanks who was the first Liberal Member of Parliament for Berwickshire after the Reform Act of 1832. He died in 1833 at the age of 39.

'Charlie' - Sir Charles Marjoribanks

Below my photo is rather dark, just showing the silhouette of the statue as it rears up behind the houses in front and below it.

Coldstream - Marjoribanks Monument

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot

There is a field at the back of our garden which is on a steep slope (it is much steeper than it looks in my photos). A couple of weeks ago I spotted three roe deer at the top of the field, grazing, and quickly took a few photos using the zoom lens.

They soon were aware I was around and began to move away.

They jumped over the fence and were soon out of sight. You can just see their white rumps – one getting ready to jump and two on the other side.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Cragside Again

Following on from last Saturday’s snapshots of Cragside here are a few more photos.

There were many other visitors when we were there and it was difficult sometimes to get a good photo and I had to be quick before someone moved in front of my camera. So, some of my photos are a bit out of focus and rather dark. (It’s amazing that you can take photos in National Trust properties – in the past it was strictly forbidden. I asked one of the room stewards why they allowed them now and he explained that because you can take photos on mobile phones it was impossible to stop people. It’s good to take your own photos, but actually there are much better ones than mine in the guidebook.)

The first room we saw was the kitchen. As you can see the area is fenced off. It’s not very big but there are also sculleries and larder and cellar storage beneath the kitchen, with a ‘dumb waiter’ to carry food and equipment up and down. The Butler, Housekeeper and Cook each had their own areas.

In the next photo you can see the spits with joints of meat in front of the range.

There is a dishwasher. Rather primitive compared to the modern models this dishwasher has wire compartments for crockery, a motor turned it whilst hot soapy water was squirted into it from a boiler. This had been invented in 1886 by a wealthy American, Josephine Cochrane whose servants had chipped her fine china.

None of the rooms at Cragside are very large, apart from the Drawing Room, and I could imagine being comfortable in most of them, such as the Dining Room. It has a lovely inglenook fireplace with stained glass windows designed by William Morris.

The windows either side represent the Four Seasons. the photo below shows two of the windows – Spring and Summer.

I still have more photos, but these are enough for one post. (Click the photos to see a larger view.)

Cragside is open to visitors from today. I  would really like to go there again this year, there is so much I didn’t take in and I only had a brief look at the grounds.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

My photos this week are a few of Cragside in Northumberland, now owned by the National Trust. It was built in 1863, with further extensions over the next 15 or so years, by William Armstrong, who later became Lord Armstrong. Armstrong was a remarkable man – a scientist, an innovator and a successful industrialist.

We visited it last year. Here is the view of the house approaching from the public car park:

and the view from the gardens:

It has to be one of my favourite National Trust properties and it’s a very popular house with everyone else too – the place was packed when we were there last April. There is so much to see inside the house, too much for one post. The house was very modern for its times, with all the latest and advanced technical devices of the day.

One of my favourite rooms is the Library, with its  stained glass windows, comfy chairs, leather sofas and the latest lighting available. This was the first room in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity.

The light suspended from the ceiling has four bulbs within the ornate and fringed light shade. I tried very hard to get a photo without any of the other visitors, but gave up when there was just one person looking out of the window – anyway he gives scale to the room.

There are four more bulbs around the room, place in globes, sitting on vases:

The books are in oak bookcases around the room:

Note the library steps at the left-hand side of the photo.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

At a later date I might post more photos – of the kitchen with its dishwasher, the lovely dining room with its William Morris stained glass windows and of the amazing Gallery, with its collection of paintings and sculptures. As for the Drawing Room, this was not to my taste at all with its huge marble chimney piece.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

Our back garden isn’t the usual type of garden as it’s mainly grass, a stream and woodland. At the end of January we had a tidying-up session in the woodland and a small fire burning small branches that the wind had blown down.

Further down the wood the snowdrops are still in flower.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog, At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

Here’s another old photo from my family photos. This is my Great Aunty Emily, who was born in 1886 and died in 1935. On the back of this small photo, mounted on card, my Mother wrote ‘Aunty Emily Miss Taylor at Blackpool’. You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.

I doubt she was actually sat on the beach at Blackpool when this photo was taken, that deck chair looks remarkably near the waves and the sand looks very solid. I suppose she was on holiday there, but as the photo isn’t dated I don’t know when this was.

She was my Grandmother’s younger sister and I’ve found out from the Census Returns that she was born at Lostock Junction, Bolton in Lancashire. My Great Grandfather, her father was Thomas Taylor, a domestic gardener, born in 1856 at Bulwick, Northamptonshire. He had another daughter, Florrie, born in 1901 and a son Thomas William born in 1892. All his children were born in different places, as he moved from Northamptonshire, to Lancashire and then to Cheshire.

Emily never married, but stayed at home acting as Housekeeper for her father after her mother died in 1911. I have a copy of her death certificate 1935, which records that she was aged 51 and died at 94 Victoria Road, Hale, Cheshire of a cerebral haemorrhage. Her occupation was described as ‘Housekeeper (domestic) Daughter of Thomas Taylor a Gardener (domestic) (deceased) of 6 Oak Road, Hale’. My Granny, Evelyn Owens, was present at her death. Had my Granny come to stay with her because she wasn’t well – at that time Granny lived in Pen-y-fford, in Wales?

I knew Florrie because when I was a child she lived in the next road and I used to visit her each week with my Mother. She was lovely and looked very like Emily does in the photo (only older).

I also have a vague memory of Thomas William – Uncle Tom, because when his daughter, Joyce, her husband and their daughter Jennifer (who was born just over a year later than me) emigrated to Australia there was a family party before they left. I don’t know how old I was at the time, probably about 5. I remember Uncle Tom as a very large old man, who was very upset about his daughter emigrating! As usual I’m left wishing I knew more about these people.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog, At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

Here are a couple of photos taken in December 2010 when we were snowbound. I came into the kitchen early one morning and there on the decking outside was this little mouse, eating the bread we had put out for the birds:

There were actually three mice climbing all over and round the back of the loaf nibbling it. I wasn’t the only one interested. Lucy came to the patio door and wanted to go out for a closer look.

See more Saturday Snapshots on Alyce’s blog, At Home With Books.

 

Saturday Snapshot

This is the Bell Tower at the northern side of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the most northerly town in England. It was built about 1577, replacing a 14th century tower on the medieval walls of the town. There used to be a warning bell in the tower that sentries would sound at the sight of danger to the townspeople. At one time there used to be a beacon on top, which could be lit if the country was invaded.

These days it’s an odd sight on a grassy mound at the end of a residential road.

But in earlier days it was in a prime position overlooking the sea, the fields and the town. Nearby is Lord’s Mount, a fort built in  around 1540 during Henry VIII’s reign. It was orginally on two floors but all that remains are parts of the ground floor and you can see fireplaces, a flagged kitchen floor, a well and a privy.

There used to be guns mounted on the parapet and I climbed what was left of the steps to see the view. I didn’t venture on to the top; it was very windy and I don’t have a head for heights!

Photos taken September 2011.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

I’ve been spending time doing some family history these last few days and looking at old photos. I came across this one of my father as a baby, with his brother Jack and sister Mary. He was born in 1914. How children’s clothes have changed! And none of them look too happy – click on photo to enlarge and see their expressions.

And here is a more cheerful one of Dad with his brother-in-law – I think this was taken at Mum and Dad’s wedding in 1938.

Finally, here’s a photo of Mum and Dad, which I really like. It was taken in Llandudno, probably on their honeymoon.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot – Happy Christmas

There may not be much time for blogging next week, so today I’m wishing all of you a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

The photo below is one of me taken a long time ago when I went to see Father Christmas in Fairytale-Land – actually it was in Lewis’s Department Store in Manchester (not John Lewis), but I thought it was wonderful.

Santa & Me001Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot – Newcastle’s Castle

A few Saturdays ago I posted photos of Newcastle uponTyne’s bridges. Today here are some more photos I took on that grey, gloomy day. This time they are of Newcastle’s Castle Keep and Black Gate.

Our first sight of the castle was as it appeared behind the railway line:

The Castle was was built in stone during the reign of Henry II, between 1168 and 1178, at a cost of £1,144. There was an earlier castle on the site, a wooden motte and bailey castle built by William the Conqueror’s son, Robert Curthose. This was replaced by the stone castle – hence the name of Newcastle! It stands high above the River Tyne – Newcastle upon Tyne.

This is the Castle Keep, which is the only remaining part of the 12th century Castle:

It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is open to the public, but we didn’t have time that day to go inside. On our next visit to Newcastle, we will make time to have a proper look at the Castle Keep!

The Gatehouse to the Castle is still standing – the Black Gate. It was added to the Castle site in 1247 by Henry III.  The wooden footbridge was originally a drawbridge.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot – another look at the family album

Time to revisit old family photos. This week I’m featuring my Granny Leighton, my father’s mother. I loved visiting her, she was the epitome of a grandmother, with her white hair done up in a bun, and her lovely smiley face. She even sat in a rocking chair by the fire knitting, when she wasn’t dashing around the kitchen, singing whilst she cooked.

Here she is with her sister, who wasn’t such a happy lady – I was rather scared of her. I don’t know when the photo was taken or where they were, but they’re sitting on a wall, maybe on holiday or on a day out, both with their knitting. Granny is on the right of the photo – smiling, Great Aunty Alice on the left – not smiling!

And here she is in her garden with my cousin, Sylvia:

And another photo taken in her garden, this time with her big black cat:

Granny and Granddad had a large garden, divided into many sections for flowers and vegetables, and they also had an aviary full of birds. I loved going there, although I was scared of my Granddad’s dog, which fortunately for me, he kept tied up to his chair when he was in the house. It was a horrible dog, with a very fierce bark and growl.

See more Saturday Snapshots at Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot – A Walk Along the River Till

On Wednesday we walked alongside the River Till in Northumberland, England to its junction with the River Tweed, in Scotland.We started at the medieval Twizel Bridge – the bridge crossed by the English Army  on their way to the battle at Flodden in 1513. The bridge is now a pedestrian route, the traffic speeding along a new main road. Both bridges across the River Till are shown in my photo below. (The medieval bridge is in front of the new bridge) :

Here is a closer look at the medieval bridge:

As we went along the river bank the salmon were leaping out of the water, but no matter how quick I tried to be with the camera I couldn’t snap a fish as it leapt out of water. This is the closest I got:

The nearer circle is where the fish jumped out and the further one where it went back into the river!

We carried on down the river bank to Twizel Viaduct. This stands 90 feet over the Till and used to carry the Tweedmouth to Kelso railway line. It was built by the York Newcastle & Berwick Railway between 1846-9. This line closed in 1965:

The autumn trees still have most of their copper leaves:

But when we got to the junction of the Till and Tweed there were these leafless trees on the opposite side of the river. The angle of the trunks is just amazing:

We weren’t the only people out enjoying the autumn sunshine – the fishermen were there too.

There is a ruined castle on the ridge overlooking the Till, but more about that in a later post.

Saturday Snapshot post, hosted by Alyce, At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Bridges on the Tyne

Every now and then we go to Newcastle upon Tyne, usually only managing to go round the shops, but on Tuesday we decided to see a bit more of the city.

Even though it was a grey, misty day (as these photos, taken in the early afternoon, show) we decided to have a look at the River Tyne. The river is crossed by several bridges and went to the High Level Bridge, designed by  Robert Stephenson and built between 1847 and 1849. It’s a road and railway bridge. Below is the view of the pedestrian/road crossing below the railway line.

From this bridge we could see more bridges crossing the river. Below is the view of the Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge between Newcastle and the Gateshead Metro Centre :

We walked about halfway across the bridge to see more bridges  across the river. The photo below shows the Swing Bridge (red and white) and the Tyne Bridge, in the centre with The Sage, an international music centre in the background:

East of  the Tyne Bridge is the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (white):

Standing on the High Level Bridge, my eye was caught by this statue on the top of a building below:

This is King Neptune with two fishwives seated on both sides. This was the old fish market, erected in 1880.

Saturday Snapshot post, hosted by Alyce, At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshot – In the Garden

Autumn is now well set in here. Our garden is well on the way to being covered in leaves. There are still some leaves clinging to the trees like this red maple:

whereas others still have their leaves, like the Japanese Maple shown below.

I was a bit concerned earlier this year that this little tree wouldn’t survive because its leaves were scorched by a late frost soon after the new shoots had opened.

A Saturday Snapshot post, hosted by Alyce, At Home with Books.

Saturday Snapshots – Great Hetha Walk

We’ve been having a mix of weather recently what with wet days, windy days, dull grey days and a few beautiful sunny days. Wednesday was one of the days when the sun shone the sky was blue and it even felt a bit spring-like. So that afternoon Dave and I decided it was time we took a walk in the Cheviot Hills.

We’ve lived just north of the Cheviots for nearly two years now and have been saying ever since we arrived that we must go walking in the hills. I don’t know how many hills there are that form the range, but there are many of these rounded hills bisected by valleys. They straddle the border between England and Scotland, that area of land fought over in the past, a land where the Border Reivers held sway. The Cheviot, itself is the highest point at 815 metres and the last major peak in England, but we decided to start small with Great Hetha above College Valley and work up to walking the Marilyns.

The photo above shows the view at the start of our walk with Great Hetha on the skyline. It’s 210 metres at the summit where there are the remains of an ancient hillfort. We parked in the car park just south of Hethpool and the walk began easily enough along the private road through the Valley. The photo below shows the Valley looking south:

After a short distance and turning right it’s a steep uphill climb described in Walks in the Cheviot Hills by David Haffey as a ‘strenuous climb‘! I was soon struggling for breath. We stopped halfway up to look at the view northwards to Scotland (and to get our breath back!).

Looking up at that point we could see a small cairn on the summit, still a steep climb ahead.

It was worth the climb to reach the hillfort. This is an Iron Age hillfort dating from about 500BC. The remains of the stone ramparts are still there and it was easy to imagine what it must have been like in such an isolated place, being able to see for miles around, aware of any approach to the hill. According to the Walks guidebook such hillforts would have contained several timber-built round-houses within the stone ramparts, probably being occupied for several centuries.

From there we left the route in the guidebook and walked down the other side of the hill to the valley below and crossed the Elsdon Burn. The sky was most dramatic:

It was getting towards the end of the afternoon and as we headed back to the car, the sheep were being rounded up in the field, below a wooded dome-shaped hill known locally as the Collingwood Oaks (after Admiral Lord Collingwood – there is a hotel in Cornhill called the Collingwood Arms, more about that another time maybe). I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo of the running sheep (they were galloping!) but I managed to snap the farmer and his three sheepdogs on their way back, with the Collingwood Oaks in the background.

There are more photos of our walk on Flickr.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce, At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot

I’ve been reading Joan Leegant’s novel Wherever You Go, which is set in Israel and America. I’ll be writing about this book, which I really liked in a future post. It reminded me of our visit to Israel in 1993, so I got out the photo albums and here are just a few:

First a sight of camels on the skyline – photo taken from the coach on the way to Jerusalem.

Then a view of Jerusalem showing the Dome of the Rock, but not the usual view of the golden dome because this was in 1993 when the covering was being refurbished. It was covered with scaffolding all around it!

The Chagall Windows get a brief mention in Wherever You Go, when one of the characters talks of them disparagingly – Mariah the self-appointed arbiter of taste saying to Yona, one of the main characters:

I suppose you’ll go see the Chagall windows in the famous hospital in Jerusalem, Mariah had sniffed, the legendary artist deemed by the gallery crowd to be the painterly equivalentof Fiddler on the Roofall mush and sloppy sentimentality, colorful art, like colorful clothes, against the law. (page 122)

The beautiful Chagall Windows in the Synagogue of the Hadassah Medical Centre were on our tour and I loved them. You couldn’t take photos inside but here is one of the outside:

I bought a tapestry canvas of one of the windows, Zebulon, whilst I was there. I still haven’t bought the wool to actually stitch the tapestry! I’d love it to look something like this when I’ve stitched it:

The whole visit was very memorable, and we have loads of photos, but one in particular was very special – the Yad Vashem Memorial. The photo shows the statue at the entrance to the Children’s Memorial in an underground cavern. You go down into a dark chamber where candles are reflected so it seems as though you are lost in space surrounded by stars:

Maybe sometime I’ll post more photos of our visit.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce on her blog At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot – Stepping Back in Time

Whilst looking through old photos last week (when I posted one of my husband rock climbing) we came across photos of our holiday in Budva in what was then Yugoslavia. We had a wonderful holiday even if I was feeling sick every evening, which I thought was ‘holiday tummy’ until we returned home and realised I was pregnant.

In this photo I have long, dark curly hair (a very curly perm which fortunately was nearly grown out)  – sadly it’s now grey! It was the era of the mini-skirt and hot pants, but here I’m covered head to foot in a delightful yellow creation, borrowed from one of the other holiday makers to cover up when changing out of my bikini.

And here we are in Dubrovnik with the owner of the ‘cover-up’ on the left of the photo. I’m the one second from the right next to my husband.

Saturday Snapshot is host by Alyce of At Home With Books.

Saturday Snapshot: Rock Kids at Ratho

Yesterday we went to watch our grandchildren rock climbing at Ratho at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena.

This is our oldest granddaughter, underneath the overhang, looking like spiderman:

and grandson, in the middle of the photo, nearing the top of his climb – white stripe down the side of his tracksuit trousers:

and finally our youngest granddaughter, who was fearless as she scaled the wall!

We’d been to watch them once before – see this post.

And here is their granddad in his youth, rock climbing in Wales – note no rope, or helmet! Safety standards have improved since then!

But he is using a rope in this one:

More Saturday Snapshots can be seen at Alyce’s blog At Home with Books.