Monday, 31 October 2011


In November 2006, we went to a place I'd always wanted to visit - Stonehenge. When I was a little girl,  I read & re-read a book that my Mum had got for me at a jumble sale. I can't, for the life of me, remember what it's called now, but if I remember correctly, it was written or set in the 1930s. It was about a girl called Molly Kendrick who went to live with her cousins & they either lived in or visited Wiltshire & went to Stonehenge. For some strange reason, that really stuck in my head & ever since then, I wanted to go myself.

Nearly everyone who's been there mentions the feeling & the atmosphere surrounding the stones & I have to say, there really IS an amazing atmosphere. We visited on a very blustery, windy, Sunday & I can remember driving along a country road & suddenly seeing the stones in the distance. I literally squealed with delight - I don't know why I was so excited, but  I just couldn't stop smiling.

The entrance is across the road from the stones, so after parking, we had to go through a small underpass under the road & then followed the roped off walkway around Stonehenge itself. 

The first view really took my breath away.

The sky was dark & overcast, the wind was really blowing & that
all added to the atmosphere, I think.

As we walked around, we could hear the guns from the Army Range on Salisbury Plain. The muffled sound seemed to carry for miles & reminded me of *Great Expectations* when the guns were sounded to let people know that the convicts, Magwitch & Compeyson, had escaped from the prison hulks & were roaming around Romney Marshes.

This is the Heel Stone which lies just outside the main *entrance* to the stone circle.
If you stand in Stonehenge itself, facing north-east through the entrance, looking towards the heel stone, you will see the sun rise above the stone on the summer solstice. There are legend & folk stories about the Heel stone & one of them is that the devil bought the stones from a woman in Ireland, wrapped them up & took them to Salisbury Plain. One of the stones fell into the river Avon but the rest of them rest were carried on to Salisbury Plain. The devil is said to have cried out:  "No-one will ever find out how these stones came here!" A friar replied, "That’s what you think!" & the devil threw one of the stones at him which struck him on the heel. The stone then stuck in the ground and is still there to this day :o)

Finally, this is me, just to prove I really was there :o)

To me, visiting Stonehenge was a bit like going into a church or cathedral, there was a sort of awe about it, a sense of peace & tranquility, but I think a lot of that had to do with the time of year & the weather. When we went again the following July, the feeling wasn't the same, but I think that was more to do with the fact that the place was heaving with tourists & it was a hot & sunny day. It wasn't as easy to take your time & wander around, it wasn't as easy to get photos because people kept popping up all over the place & it was a lot noiser with all the chatting going on. In November, the pace was definitely slower, it was quieter & I really felt that atmosphere that the stones give off.  It  was magical & I'd love to go back one day.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Smallhythe Place

It's been a busy few days here, but I've got 5 minutes to myself now :o)

In June 2010, we pootled along to Smallhythe Place, the home of Victorian actress Ellen Terry. Small Hythe is a little hamlet near Tenterden & stood on the Rother estuary. In the 15th century, before the Romney Marshes silted up, it was a shipbuilding port. Looking around today, it's hard to imagine it being a port, because whichever direction you look, it's all lush & beautiful countryside.

Ellen Terry, said to be the most famous Shakespearean actress in Britain at the time, was born into a family of actors & her great nephew was Sir John Gielgud. She lived in Smallhythe Place from 1899 until her death in 1928. The National Trust own the property now & it's open to the public.

Smallhythe Place is a 16th century building. The front garden is quite narrow, so to get a front-on view of the house, you need to stand across the road :o) This pic was taken from the garden, which is why it's side on, really :o)

The house from across the road.

The back of the house.

This is the Barn theatre in the garden. Ellen Terry's daughter, Edith Craig converted the barn into a theatre as a memorial to her mother. To raise funds, Edith suggested that people paid £1 for a chair commemorating themselves or a friend.

The pond. Good job it has a wall around it, otherwise, with all the algae on top, you'd not know where the grass stopped & the pond began :o)

The little herb garden.

The *doorway* into the orchard & grounds.

Side view of the house from the rose garden. It's called the rose garden even though it has other plants in it. It's fairly small, but very beautiful.

The wild flower part of the gardens.

You can't really see a galleon in full sail making it's way along here, can you ? But, this is really all that's left of the Rother in Small Hythe. It continues across the road & sort of disappears from view after a while, but it's very pretty to look at.

The 16th century meets the 21st century just down the road from Small Hythe, on the Romney Marshes - wind turbines :o)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Things You See On A Roof :o)

Twice last year, I had a bit of a surprise when I opened my bedroom curtains & saw what my neighbours had on their roof !! :o) Not just the usual tiles, aerial or sky dish for them, oh no :o)

In February, they had a big, brave cat crawling, commando style, up the roof to try to catch a seagull !! Of all the birds he could have gone for, he had to try for a big'un !! :o)

I'm gonna get you, not-so-little birdie !!!

Ummmmmm, where'd he disappear to ?

How do I tackle this ? Do I let him dive bomb me & then roll him, or do I leap, ninja style & meet him in mid air ?

He decided it was better just to let the seagull go his own way & jumped down into the garden, while the seagull flew off into the early morning sky.

Then, in May, there was a huge racket going on - squawking & hissing, mewing & a sort of barking. When I had a look, I saw this:

A young fox. Just sitting on the roof, being watched by some crows & . . .  

a load of parakeets :o) They were making a heck of a racket & the fox just sat there, ignoring them.  I think he saw me at the window though, because it looks like he was actually looking right in to the camera lens :o)

After a while, he thought it'd be a good idea to try to get down, so he had a good look around & came face to face with  . . . 

 commando cat !! :o) Uh-ohhh, he'd heard all about commando cat from the seagulls. His reputation as a warrior was legendary in the animal kingdom !!

By now, though, the parakeets were getting bored & started flying off .

In the time it took to take this pic, the fox had leapt off the roof & was gone. Just like that. So quick, I didn't get a chance to see in which direction he went. The cat was still there, looking left & right, no doubt wondering if his warrior reputation was going to be in tatters once the parakeets & crows had told everyone that he hadn't managed to catch the fox  OR the seagull a couple of months earlier :o)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Christmas Cards

It's only 8 weeks or so till Christmas - panic, panic - & I really have to get on with making more cards. Like the rest of my crafty bits, my cards are all plain & simple. Elaborate & beautifully embellished seems to evade me, somehow. I don't have the imagination or inspiration that so many others do, more's the pity :o)

I love stamping, although I'm not very good, but who knows, maybe one day, practice WILL make perfect :o) This is a Forever Friends stamp, which - along with Penny Black stamps - is one of my favourites & it's coloured with water colour pencils.

This card looks better in *real life* than it does in a photo :o) I just experimented with rubbing an ink pad over a Cuttlebugged background & I really liked the effect it gave,

Another stamped image, coloured with water colour paints this time. I used some glitter glue to make the snow stand out  & added 2 large holographic snowflakes to add to the sparkle.

Penny Black stamps - I LOVE Penny Black stamps :o) Because there's not a lot of scope for colour in this particular stamp, I decided to keep it simple & just use red, white & glitter. Again, it's coloured with water colour pencils.

Another Forever Friends stamp, only this time, I used pro-markers to colour it. Yes, I know, I need more practice !! I was never particularly good at art when I was at school. My Mum was a fab artist & my sister inherited that more than me :o)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Wedding Scrapbook Pages

I love scrapbooking. I'm not one of those really brilliant scrappers who use loads of colours & embellishments,  if I try that, my pages look awful, so I tend to stick to my usual plain & simple. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I like the photos to be the main focus of attention. I've only made albums for my daughter of her 2 boys so far, but I have an album that is permanently on the go for me & Shaun & the pics that follow are wedding ones of some members of our families.

This page is of my Great Aunt Kit & Great Uncle Harold who were married in 1947.  They were two of my most favourite people.

Shauns's Nan & Grandad, who married in 1929.

This page is of me & my brothers & sister showing us as kids & then on our wedding days - me & Shaun on the top left & then from left to right Steve & Debbie, Dave & Donna, Karen & Martyn. Comparing the photos of us as kids with those of us as brides & grooms, I think it's pretty easy to see which of us is which :o)

Shaun's Great Uncle Bill & his wife Kathy who were married in 1926. For a wedding group, they look so miserable, don't they ? :o)  Maybe they knew the marriage wasn't going to last :o)

I've got a few more wedding pages to do yet, as well as other events & daily happenings, but time is fast disappearing on me at the moment :o) I need more than 24 hours in a day to fit everything in these days  :o)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Portchester Castle

In July 2008, to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we went to Hampshire for a few days. Unfortunately, the weather was NOTHING like it had been in 1983 & we were subjected to driving rain, flash floods & temperatures more suited to January. It really was awful. However, we managed to visit a couple of places, Portchester Castle being one of them.

Said to be the most impressive and best-preserved of the Roman 'Saxon Shore' forts, Portchester Castle was originally built in the late 3rd century. In 1130 the Normans built a great tower within the walls. The keep was originally only two storeys high and was built with stone imported from Caen in France

The castle backs right on to the Solent & because of this strategic position, quite a few medieval  Kings spent a lot of money on improvements & maintenance.

It would have been a lovely view if the weather had behaved :o) However, you can still imagine the ships that would have sailed up the Solent & the view it would have been from the castle.

To enter the castle, you cross a small bridge over a little moat. As you can see, it's been spitting with rain.
A LOT !! :o)

This was the main entrance into the actual castle itself.  On either side of the door are the places for lights - probably candles or lanterns of some sort. Quite an impressive entrance, I think.

Although the castle is in ruins, you can still see how the windows & the floors used to look.

A view from one of the top windows.
You can just make out the top of St. Mary's Church in this photo. The church was built in the 1120s as an Augustinian Priory & is still an active church, with services every week.

Some internal views. The castle was used as a jail from the mid 1600s until the 19th century when it housed over 7000 prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars. 

A *wee* room :o)

I don't know how old this painting on the wall is, but the colours are still so vibrant. To the left of the big picture is a smaller one of  what looks to be Portchester Castle itself, & underneath, is some graffiti dated 1869.

See how narow the passageways were, leading to stone spiral staircases. I wouldn't want to be rushing up or down there & meeting somone going in the opposite direction. With no passing places, who backs up ?! :o)

The beams are where the floor used to be. When the castle was used as a prison, the prisoners were issued with 2 shirts, a blanket, a mattress & an under mattress made of straw. The Keep was used to house 3000 prisoners & they slept on hammocks slung on hooks in the beams.

This room was fairly bright, even on such a wet & miserable day. The 2 windows allowed in a fair amount of light, so with candles as well, it would have been quite a nice place to sit & get on with whatever Medieval people got on with in a castle :o)

Some objects found around the castle. On the west side of the castle was once the prison hospital - now a private house - & those that died in captivity were quite often buried in what is now the mudflats on the south side of the castle. Bad storms have been known to disturb these burials & bones have been discovered.

And lastly, 2 views of St. Mary's Church, which is diagonally opposite the castle :o)
The entrance to the church.

View from the churchyard.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bodiam Castle

We love castles, museums, all places of historical interest & so here are a few pics of some of the castles we've been to over the years. Today - Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, which we revisited last year.

The last time we'd been there was way back in 1991 or 1992 & it was interesting to note that we both thought it was much larger back then !! :o) Whether that was due to more bits falling off or just a memory lapse, I don't really know, although truthfully, I suspect it was the latter !! :o))

Cross the bridge & enter the castle. Quite scary when you don't like heights & can see through the gaps in the planks. GULP !!

This is my artistic shot - castle reflections with ducks :o)

Inside the castle ruins. I'm pretty sure those stocks are a modern addition !! :o)

A model of how the castle would have looked when it was first built.

I love this photo - it looks like two skulls having a head to head chat with each other.
The Smith & Jones of the Middle Ages !! :o))

Looking up . . .

Now THIS ceiling is creepy - looks to me like a pair of eyes spying on us !!

A view to a bridge :o)

Entrance to the tower this way :o)

Anyone fancy a nice drink of water ? Unfortunately, you won't get it from THIS well !! 

Graffiti is not a sign of the modern times - this bit has been adorning the walls of Bodiam Castle since 1855 :o) Kilroy was 'ere in the Victorian Era :o) Except in this instance he was called W Kirkham, or something similar :o)

Bye bye Bodiam, but before we go . . . . .

Fish supper, anyone ?! :o)