New Places

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Lyveden from mound 2

Well, another glorious weekend in the sunshine and husband and I decided to visit a National Trust property that had always passed us by in the past. Lyveden New Bield near Oundle – an unfinished moated country house.

The house was started by Sir Thomas Tresham who inherited the estate in Northamptonshire in 1559 when he was only 15. As a staunch Catholic in Elizabethan times when Catholics were persecuted, he designed his house to be packed with Catholic symbolism. It really was fascinating to see how he had used numerology when designing the property with its use of three and sixes. The setting was perfect – not a building in sight and everywhere huge expanses of green. Add to this my favourite bird, a red kite, which was circling low overhead and I was in heaven. There is nothing better than wandering through country estates on a sunny day. So where shall we go next weekend?

However, what a shocking end to a wonderful day – the horrific events in London were terrifying, especially after the event in Manchester only a couple of weeks before. My son lives in London and first thoughts are always – is he safe? Second thoughts then go out to families of those caught up in the bloodbath. We were in London last weekend and events like that will not stop me from going to London. The British spirit is to carry on. I refuse to spend my life cowering behind closed doors – just in case.

God bless those suffering. Stay strong – you are not alone.

A Perfect Saturday

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My idea of a perfect weekend – reading and baking. Nothing I love more that being in the kitchen – even if the sun is shining. So today – ginger biscuits and lemon and blueberry cupcakes. Have decided to try adding stem ginger to the biscuits this time. I’m sure you all do that already, but I have never tried doing this before. Why? I think the only reason is that sometimes I am a little afraid of straying too far from the recipe. At my age, I think I can now start to be a little more daring. Lemon and blueberry cupcakes are an old favourite. Once everything is out of the oven, then time to sit in the garden and read.

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In the middle of Zadie Smith’s ‘NW’ at the moment. Wasn’t sure if I would like it, a bit different to my usual read, but I do like the characters. I am still editing Mike Malone’s latest adventure and he will be appearing very soon. Watch this space.

Sunshine and Biscuits!

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That big yellow ball has been in the sky today so a visit to one of our favourite gardens
for a walk. Love being outside when it is warm, enjoying the colours and the sound of the birds. Highlight was definitely a low flying red kite – such a graceful, magnificent bird. A few hours wandering around, stopping for a coffee, just sitting before returning home for a cup of tea and some of the chocolate biscuits that I made before we went out. A perfect Sunday.

Whitby Discovered

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Nothing revives you like a break in routine, does it? A week off work to recharge the batteries. Thing is, a week off work often leaves you wanting another break to recover but not this time.

We have just spent a few days in Whitby and have walked and walked and walked. Never having visited the town before, and living in the flatest area in England, my poor muscles were unprepared for this picturesque little town with its ups and downs and cobbles. There were also the climbs. The 199 steps upto St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey just had to be done, especially when there was such a prize awaiting the intrepid traveller at the top. St Mary’s Church was breath-taking. Never before have I seen a church with box pews, some with little heaters, or a three tier pulpit. It had a really cosy feel to it. Incredible.

Next to it, Whitby Abbey’s magnificent ruin overlooks the town almost like a guardian. What struck me was the way that the stone has been eroded by the elements. The striations could have been painted by an artist, they were so intricate. Beautiful but deadly, this brushwork will in the centuries to come, eventually destroy this wonderful, evocotive building.

Whitby is a gem, and now that I have discovered it, it is a place to which I will return in later years.

Now that I have returned home again, and with a renewed vigour, I have been able to finish the latest Mike Malone. Once it has been edited, it will be put on Amazon. I really should have a break away more often.

 

 

Spring Flowers

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This is always my favourite time of the year when everything is bursting into life; the trees are that vibrant fresh green and daffodils and spring flowers are colouring the landscape.

Here in the Fens spring means Flower Festivals. The churches in and round my town put on week long festivals when they are adorned with beautiful displays – usually themed. But more of that later.

When I was growing up this area was famous for its Flower Parade when decorated floats would wind through the town. Crowds would flock to our quiet little town in their thousands and would be four or five deep on the paths watching these glorious floats pass by.

This one – which is from a postcard – is from about 1981 and you can just spot me behind the Womble. At the time I worked for Midland Bank (now HSBC) and for the bank to get the Wombles to appear was a big thing then. The floats that went through the town were all of a comparable size in those days but as the years went on the floats became much smaller and less and less firms participated.

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Sadly the parade ceased about ten years ago as the costs became just too great. To give you an idea, back in the early 80’s a float of this size would have cost about £10,000.

What we do have now are the Flower Festivals in the local churches which again is a tradition that will die out within a couple of generations. We visited a few churches last weekend and the average age of the helpers was late 60s, early 70s. There are no young people involved which is really sad. The displays in the churches are beautiful and so imaginative. Look at the flamingos made out of flowers – stunning.

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This weekend we will be visiting even more – I’ll post more pictures in another post.

National Theatre Live

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The person who came up with the idea of live screenings for National Theatre productions has my heartfelt thanks; it was a stroke of genius. Our busy lifestyles do not always allow us to drop everything and shoot down to London to catch a show. Added to this, short runs often mean that tickets become gold-dust. Therefore, to be able to sit in a cinema and watch an amazing production is a real treat.

Since the National Theatre started doing this, I have had the chance to watch many productions. Stand out plays are ‘Frankenstein’ with Benedict Cumberbatch and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ with Luke Treadaway. Don’t get me wrong, all of the shows are excellent but these had that extra little sparkle.

Coming close was the production that I saw at my local cinema this week, ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead’. The main characters are played by Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua Mcguire with the Player King being played by David Haig. This is a play by Tom Stoppard and is the back story of two minor characters in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and blends into the action of ‘Hamlet’ which is threaded into the play. Radcliffe and Mcquire are a super double act and Harry Potter has been well and truly banished. They make jokes and muse about death while waiting for Hamlet, unaware of their fate but aware that something may be happening. David Haig is superb and almost steals the show. I loved it.

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