8th July 2017

Well, it’s nearly a week since I updated the blog – and what a busy week its been! I’ve just had no time to sit and sort the photos and get them into some sort of order, so that’s my task today. And, apparently, it’s a good day to do it. We have a full moon in Capricorn, so I’m reliably informed it’s a perfect day for tying up loose ends. We’re getting towards the end of our stay in Glasgow; you never manage to see everything but we’ve done a lot here.

The Babbity Bowster over the road has an informal jam session for traditional Scottish music on Saturdays. Whoever wants to play that afternoon just turns up  and then they leave when they want to, so there’s a rolling group of people all the time. There were up to 13 of them last week which went down to one guy playing a whistle and then up again to half a dozen or so. We’ve been over there again this afternoon. Such a friendly place. Both times we’ve got chatting to other people.

Musicians in the Babbity Bowster:

Babbity

Sunday we had an interesting lunch in the Italian Caffe which is just on the corner of the road. Italian tapas, I suppose you could call them – all small plates so you can just pick and choose which you want. I must admit really like that way of eating.

Monday and Tuesday were our 2 days on the tourist bus. Roth, the owner of the flat we’re staying in advised to stay on the bus until the furthest point, which is the Riverside Museum, do that and then continue round, and that worked out really well.

The Riverside museum is a transport museum with every type of transport you can think of through the ages – bikes, cars, trams, motorbikes, ships, commercial vehicles. There’s also a Victorian street set up with typical shops and what went on in them. Really interesting. The photographer’s was the one that made me step back a bit as one of the services they offered was post mortem photography, with the dead person made up to look asleep and photographed with the rest of the family!! How gruesome.

The museum itself is an interesting building:

Riverside

And this was outside:

Tree

I’ve seen a couple of these around Glasgow, but I can’t find any information about them – who has done them or why.

I didn’t take many photos inside the museum because there was just so much in there. Couldn’t resist the penny farthing though with the quote from Mark Twain. I read his description of learning to ride a bike a long time ago and it made me laugh so much. This just reminded me of it:

Mark TwainPenny Farthing

And I couldn’t leave out Natalie the carousel horse:

Natalie

Outside the Riverside Museum stands the tall ship, The Glenlee which was built in Glasgow in 1896. It was sold to Spain and used as a training ship and then came back to Glasgow to be restored. You can see the sailor’s bunks, the officers’ quarters, the Captain’s Cabin, Galley, poop deck and cargo holds all restored to look as they would have when she was sailing as a cargo ship.  The between deck is now used as a function/conference/educational venue.

Glenlee

After that, we took the ferry over to Govan to see the stones.

We’ve seen lots of Crompton references on our travels, but just for once the Ferry name gets in on the act:

Ferry

The Govan Stones are a collection of early medieval stones carved in the 9th-11th centuries to commemorate the power of those who ruled the Kingdom of Strathclyde. There are 31 in total and they were always in the graveyard of the old church since being carved until somebody twigged on that they might actually be old and important and had them investigated. They have now been taken indoors to protect them from further weathering.

Some of the stones were re-used and carved with dates and initials.

Then we thought we’d do the Mackintosh House but that turned out to be a Crompton Special (we were there on Monday):

Closed

So we had a look at the university and then got back on the bus and did the Kelvingrove Museum which is absolutely packed out with all sorts of interesting stuff and is a fantastic building. There are so many huge, impressive, monumental buildings here. The photos I can get with my little camera just don’t do them justice.

The University:

University

Kelvingrove Museum building:

Kelvingrove Museum Building 2

Artwork in the main entrance of Kelvingrove. Loved this – it lights up in different colours from underneath:

Art

That was a very full Monday and we got home pretty exhausted.

Tuesday we covered all the Rennie Mackintosh exhibits. It was pouring down with rain in the morning and our first stop was the Lighthouse which is situated in a Mackintosh-designed building. Not easy to find, though. Especially in the teems of rain. We very nearly gave up. There’s a brightly lit sign outside it, but it’s down a tiny, dark alley that you really wouldn’t spot unless you were looking for it. And the building itself has a large ‘To Let’ sign on the part that fronts the road, so that puts you off the scent as well. But we finally found it and it was worth the effort to get there.

The Spiral Staircase:

We lost count after 100 and something of the number of steps in the spiral staircase in the Lighthouse. But you can’t not go up something that looks as spectacular as this, can you:

From the bottom up:

Staircase

And from the top down (just to prove we did it!):

staircase top

Views over Glasgow from the top:

View 1

We can see the building with the pink frontage from the flat but we see it from the other side. From our windows we are looking at the right hand side of the building.

Loved this street view:

view 3

After The Lighthouse we went to have a second try at the Mackintosh house which is a recreation of the house that he lived in with his wife, Margaret Macdonald. They were both designers and the house is fabulous to see. You can see just how innovative, clever and ahead of their time they were. The house was just an ordinary terraced property, one of a row all the same, but what they did to the inside was to die for. Clean lines, elegant, everything echoing the design of everything else, clever little twists such as cupboards that are plain white on the outside but decorated to suit to the room on the inside of the doors. Loved it.

 

Some Mackintosh pieces that I particularly liked. These are taken in the house, from Kelvingrove and from the Lighthouse:

That was another exhausting day, so Wednesday was chilling out, reading and just generally vegging around.

Thursday we took the subway to Hillhead to find Oran Mor to do the famous ‘A Play, a Pie and a Pint’. You have to get there early to get a seat – it’s really popular. Place was packed out. The play was hilarious. Done in the style of a panto called Pun-occhio. Very topical, very political. A real good laugh. The pie was good too – and you can have a glass of wine rather than a pint, thank goodness!

We’ll be leaving here Tuesday afternoon to sample Virgin Trains First Class service to get us back to Runcorn to spend some more time with the family.

Never done First Class before, so that should be interesting.

 

2nd July 2017

Another busy few days here in Glasgow. Today is Sunday. Friday we went to Edinburgh so we were out early (early for us anyway), on the train to Glasgow and then the tourist bus to get a birds eye view of all the sights. We stopped off at Edinburgh Castle and saw as much of that as we could. So many people there – thousands pouring in and out in both directions. The queue for the crown jewels was horrendous, so we gave those a miss but saw the great hall, the royal apartments, including the room where Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to King James (I’m a fan of that period so always interested in information from that time), replicas of Mary’s stitching that she did during the time that she was in exile and just generally walked about the place getting a feel for it. The views are fantastic and seeing how the castle is constructed on top of that rocky, volcanic outcrop is amazing.  I couldn’t get a good photo with my little camera that did justice to the sight of it as you approach, so this one is from the internet:

Edinburgh-Castle-UK

Some more views of the castle from inside the walls:

Castle approachcastleGreat HallMons MegSt Margarets Chapelswords 2swordsView from castleWindow

Copies of Queen Mary’s tapestries:

Once we’d seen the castle it was back on the bus to complete the tour and then meet Irene at the Scott Monument – apparently a popular meeting place in Edinburgh. We hoped we’d be able to find it ok – and then we saw it….

Scott Monument

….couldn’t really miss it, could you? That gave us a laugh…

Met Irene with no hiccups and went off on the no. 22 bus with her to Leith for lunch in a lovely little pub called the Roseleaf…

Roseleaf

…where they have a collection of hats you can hire to wear while enjoying an afternoon tea…

Hats

And then we had a walk around Leith itself which is lovely. Only a little way outside the city, but a whole different feel to it. Situated on the coast of the Firth of Forth at the mouth of the Waters of Leith, it has a maritime history and still handles cargo to this day.

The Waters of Leith:

Waters 2Waters 1

Waters 3

The Merchant Navy Memorial:

Merchant Navy Mem

The Merchant Navy Memorial stands in a beautiful, open space. It is finely decorated on all 4 sides with depictions of seafaring life. Leith was chosen as the site for this because it was Scotland’s premier port for more than 300 years and served as Edinburgh’s trading port for more than 700 years. The memorial also aims to recognise the 132 years of service dedicated to the Merchant Navy by Leith Nautical College between 1855 and 1987 with its training ship, the Dolphin.

The memorial was designed by artist Jill Watson and made at Powerhall Bronze.

The Signal Tower:

Signal Tower

The Signal Tower stands on the corner of The Shore and Tower Street. It is one of the oldest buildings in Leith. It was built in 1685-86 by Robert Mylne. Originally it was a windmill.

In 1805 its domed roof and sails were removed and it was topped by battlements. it was used as a signal tower from which flags were displayed to let ships entering the harbour know the depth of water at the harbour bar.

Sandy Robinson

Life size sculpture by Lucy Poett of Sandy Irvine Robertson, founder of the Scottish Business Achievements Award Trust.

Ornamental gates at the dock:

Gates

Statue of Robert Burns:

Robbie

We left the house around 9 am and returned at 8pm, so it was a long day. We decided we would have a day at home to recover on Saturday, but got up to the sound of a marching band outside, so got dressed and dashed out to see what was going on. We just missed it, so went for a bit of shopping that we needed. Got back (up the 51 steps to the flat) and unpacked the shopping only to hear the band returning, so dashed down again to see it. All this before we even thought about breakfast! The band was the orange lodges marching – and there were some lively characters in amongst the marchers.

Later on in the afternoon there was an informal group playing traditional Scottish music in the Babbity Bowster over the road, so we went down again to see that. The musicians just turn up to play together as long as they want, some go and some more come and it’s open to anybody for as long as they want to be there, so it was back down the 51 stairs again to see that and up again at the end. There were 13 of them at one point and the numbers dwindled until there was just one guy on a tin whistle. Great night though. We got chatting to a couple who live in the suburbs of Glasgow and were in for a shopping day and a few drinks. Good company, good conversation, good music and a great vibe. I must say, I am loving Glasgow. Need to get about and see the rest of it now.

 

 

29th June 2017

I’ve a few days to make up here because we’ve been pretty busy since arriving in Glasgow. We had dinner on Sunday with the owners of the flat we are staying in – which was a lovely evening. You do get to meet some very nice people when you do home exchanges.

The weather, mind you, is something else. As I’ve said before, we brought the ‘summer’ case only for these 2 months as it was just for June and July – but we’ve had to admit defeat and go and buy waterproof coats. Thought we’d try the charity shops first and struck lucky in the first one. So, we are at least warm and dry! It’s pouring with rain as I type and has been all day. More is forecast for tomorrow…

Tuesday, the 27th we took the train to the Whitecraigs area of Glasgow to meet up with our neighbours from Spain, Natalie and Howard. Had lunch with them at their place – which is lovely – and then went off to Ayrshire to see Robert Burns’s cottage and museum.

Outside Cottage

The inside of the cottage is in 2 separate parts, the left hand side for livestock and the right for living space. His father built the house and he was born here, the eldest of 7 children, on January 25th 1759.

There’s a lovely  exhibition of nightgowns showing the names and dates of birth of 4 of the children:

Nightgowns

It seemed quite pleasant and cosy inside the cottage and I wouldn’t think they were among the poorest of families as they could all read and write. The pictures below are from inside the building and of Robbie Burns’s chair and desk. The chair is tipped back as it was said he had a habit of doing that when he was thinking.

The Burns monument is a little further down the road overlooking the river Doon and the Brig o Doon (Bridge over the Doon) that Burns’s father is said to have travelled across every morning to his work.

The monument is a housing that holds a life size statue of Robert Burns holding a bunch of daisies and reciting his poem ‘To a Mountain Daisy’. The sculptor was  John Flaxman RA.

Monument

A nice little sculpture of a mouse is in the gardens to reference the poem Ode to a Mouse:

Ode to a Mouse

We had a walk over the Brig o Doon:

The River Doon:

The next day, Wednesday, we thought we’d do something local. The cathedral, Necropolis and Provand’s Lordship are literally just a short walk up the road from where we are, so we went off and did those.

The history of the cathedral is linked with that of the city, and is allegedly located where the patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo (or Kentigern), built his church. The tomb of the saint is in the lower crypt. There is a list of bishop’s names in the cathedral going back to the 1100’s.

Some tiles inside the cathedral that I liked the look of:

And a lovely Celtic cross:

Celtic Cross

Then we walked up to the necropolis. This is a Victorian cemetery built prominently on a hill overlooking Glasgow. The views are magnificent from there. Fifty thousand individuals have been buried here. Typically for the period only a small percentage are named on monuments and not every grave has a stone. Approximately 3500 monuments exist here and many are quite spectacular. There was obviously plenty of money around i some quarters in Victorian Glasgow.

Along with the cathedral, the Provand’s Lordship is one of the surviving buildings from Glasgow’s medieval period. It was built in 1471 by Andrew Muirhead, Bishop of Glasgow,  as part of St. Nicholas’s hospital. The Muirhead coat of arms is still visible on the side of the building. It was likely used to house clergy and other support staff for the cathedral.  Since that time it has been an inn, housed a variety of shops and was occupied by the Lord of the Prebend of Barlanark and perhaps was shared with the priest of St. Nicholas Hospital and Chapel and became known as Lord of Provan and then Provand’s Lordship.

There is an uncorroborated story that Mary, Queen of Scots stayed in the house with her second husband, Lord Darnley. She is supposed to have nursed him through an illness there.

Once the significance of the building was realised, it was taken over by  the Provand’s Lordship Society in 1978 who offered it to the City of Glasgow.

Today the house is furnished with a collection of seventeenth-century Scottish furniture donated by Sir William Burrell.

Provand's Lordsh

The Cathedral Square contains a statue of William III (King Billy) on horseback.

William 3

Tomorrow will be Edinburgh – probably in teems of rain – but we are meeting up with Irene for lunch and hopefully have a look around the Leith area with her.

 

24th June 2017

The flat we are in here is a top storey, corner flat. Light and bright with windows to two walls in the living room. The building used to be industrial – workshops and maintenance depot for the Glasgow Corporation Gas Department and is a category B Historic Scotland Building. Because it is on the top floor we have 48 steps to come up to reach the front door! That’ll keep us fit. Here are some pics of the apartment:

Living roomLiving room

kitchenKitchen

bdmBedroom

bthrmBathroom

viewView from living room window

There’s certainly a big difference in temperature here. We had 34 degrees in Bedford, it’s down to 13 here – and now raining as well. Bit of a shock to the system…

We went for a walk around today and I took some general shots of the city:

City 1City 2The old and the new side by side.       Can you spot Graham?

City 3

Wellington

Who did that to Wellington? Must have been a good night out…

City 4

City 5There’s Graham again being a tourist…

City 7

City 8

City 9

City 10This one made us feel at home

City11

City 12

 

Mercury

Mercury…..you can leave your hat on..

Anybody got a spare sewing machine?

 

 

 

23rd June 2017

Our day started with a 5 hour train journey – Milton Keynes to Glasgow Central and then a taxi ride to Liz and Roth’s city centre flat. Very central – minutes to walk to anywhere. I just hope the injured knee holds up!

In Bedford Graham managed to leave both his phones behind, I left some medicine  and we incurred a £30 fine for inadvertently driving in a bus lane!! We think we know how that happened. Graham was cut up by a bus and swerved to avoid it – probably swerved into the bus lane. Never mind.

So we’ve been in Glasgow around 6 hours, seen 3 men in kilts – (all completely separate, not in a group and all wearing different tartans), a tartan van:

van

…a fabulous mural (on the wall of a car park)…

Mural 3Mural 2Mural 1

…and had a drink and a meal in the pub over the road with the intriguing name of ‘The Babbity Bowster’ who were selling dishes of Cullen Skenk. Google tells me that ‘Babbity Bowster was an old Scottish country dance which was often used to finish off a ball; it also became a children’s game with different rules in various parts of the country. ” Babbitymeans “bob” and “bowster” was the wheelshaft in a watermill.

Babbity Bowster

Cullen Skenk sounds a bit like a fish chowder made with smoked haddock. Irene will probably put me right on that.

Every day a school day, as they say…

 

22nd June 2017

This is our last night in Bedford as we move to exchange number 7 in Glasgow in the morning. So, this is a catch-up on what we’ve done over the last week or so. Two of the places we visited prohibited the taking of photographs inside, so there wasn’t much to write up about. The first of these was the Bunyan Museum in Bedford.

bUNYAN

The only thing I knew about John Bunyan was that he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress – but I’ve never read it. There was a precis of the book throughout the museum – which is only small but very well done. I did take one sneaky photo though – I couldn’t resist capturing another ‘Crompton’ mention. It’s a bit shaky, but readable:

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Mum and Dad went home on Saturday morning and we had a relaxing weekend in the garden, same on Monday because it was so very hot. Too hot to be walking too far. Tuesday was slightly cooler – at least in the morning – so we went off to see Woburn Abbey. No photos permitted inside, but we got some nice ones of the garden.

One of the things I liked inside the Abbey was a needlepoint bell pull worked by the current Duke’s mother.  It is really long, but not as long as the curtain header I’ve been working for the last goodness-knows-how-long (not much to do now, though), so I was interested to see how she’d finished it on the back. All my quilting friends will know that you always need to see the back to get the full picture! I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to touch it and this was confirmed by the guide so I asked him if there was any chance he had a pair of white gloves to hand to turn it over for me. He looked a bit taken aback but said that no, he didn’t. About 5 minutes later, he came chasing after me with a white cloth in his hand and offered to turn the piece over for me so I could see the back as I’d wanted. Very helpful. And it was beautifully finished, I must say. I hope I can make as good a job of mine when I get to that stage. Disappointed that I couldn’t photograph it though.

Here are some pictures of the outside of the Abbey gardens:

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Garden1

There are lots of waterliles:

Garden2

Waterlilies

And a distinct Chinese theme – lots of red, lanterns, pagoda, little bridge etc.

Pagoda

And an interesting sculpture by Sophie Dickens. Five figures each one performing different stages of a cartwheel. I’ve had a look at her website – and she has done other similar sculptures. Brilliant piece of work. I only seem to have captured 4 of the figures on my photo but there’s a much better picture on her website:  http://www.sladmore.com/media/sladmoremedia/pdf/Sladmore-Sophie-Dickens-IWB.pdf

Sophie Dickens

One of our favourite haunts while we’ve been here – The Flowerpot. Great live bands at the weekends and a recommended Thai restaurant over the road – the Thai Lagoon. If you’re ever in Bedford…

Flowerpot

I finally managed to get a bit of stitching finished while we’ve been here. Two little postcards done completely by hand. I’ve used a needlepunched handbag liner in place of the wadding and pelmet vilene that I normally use and I really like it. I’ll probably continue to use it when I get home:

The yellow one isn’t quite finished – it still has the tacking stitches around the outside. I only need to whipstitch the sides together and it’ll be finished – and just in time with these. The heart one is being left here as my Thank You, as I’m down to the last one of the ones I brought and I’ve thought of something else I want to do with that.

We are leaving the garden in full fruit and bloom. It looks gorgeous and we have carefully tended David’s lettuces and kept up with deadheading the surfinias while we’ve been here!

The cherry tree in full fruit:

Garden 4

The hanging baskets:

Garden 1

We’ve had a lovely visit here. Spent a lot of relaxing time in the conservatory and garden. We’ve had unexpected cold (and the wrong clothes) and heat that surpassed the famous summer of ’76, so a real mixed bag. What awaits us in Glasgow, we wonder?

 

 

 

14th June 2017

Cambridge was the trip of choice today.  We learnt a lot of facts while on the tourist bus looking at the sights. The ones that stick in my mind are that Cambridge has educated 80 Nobel Prize winners, that the railway station is a long way from the centre to stop the students succumbing to the attractions of London and that the students are not allowed to keep a car within 5 miles of the college so there are 35,000 bikes in the city. Here are just a few of them:

Bikes

We travelled down the street that holds the dubious honour of being the originator of the term ‘pub crawl’. The students had to race down the street drinking a pint in each bar and not relieving themselves until they reached the last one, by which time some would literally be on their hands and knees.

There is an interesting sculpture outside the Guildhall.

sculpture

The story attached this is the story of Snowy Farr, a charity fundraiser who mostly operated in the streets of Cambridge. He collected thousands of pounds for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. In recognition of his efforts he received an MBE.  He was often dressed in eccentric clothing incorporating antique military wear and was accompanied by tame animals including mice, dogs, and even a goat.

This memorial artwork, designed by Gary Webb, was unveiled outside the Guildhall in Cambridge’s Market Square in August 2012. The statue resembles a combination of Farr’s tame cat and mice, whereby his cat was trained to sit atop his hat, and the mice trained to run circuits of the rim.

We had glorious sunshine for a walk along the Cam watching the punting.

punting

punting2punting3punting4

We saw just one college up close and that was Jesus – we couldn’t go into the grounds because – guess what – closed for exams!! Beautiful building and grounds though.

JesusJesus2

The next main stop was:

cemetery sign

It’s quite difficult to find the words to describe this. It’s beautiful, peaceful, well-kept, sad, humbling….and even that doesn’t say it all, so I won’t try and go any further. Judge for yourself.

Americam cemetery standard (2)

american cemetery 2

Americam cemetery

The wall at the side of this picture lists the missing. Thousands of them – and largely from bomber command.

One of the doors to the chapel:

chapel door

Inside the chapel is this wonderful piece of art showing the planes, ships and submarines involved in the war and who they belonged to. The picture doesn’t do it justice and I couldn’t even get the whole thing in the photo.  It’s a fantastic piece of work and very informative.

americam cemetery art

 

 

 

13th June 2017

The weather looked a bit indecisive today, so we thought we’d play it safe and have a road trip around some of the Bedfordshire villages.

First one we drove through was Bromham where there is a watermill – but it is only open at the weekends, so we didn’t stop. Stevington was next and was one that we took time to have a good look around. The village appears in the Domesday book and is a charming village which won the accolade of “Best Kept Village” in 1965,1969,1979 and most recently in 1985.  Stevington has one of England’s finest examples of a ‘post mill’ windmill.

The post mill is the earliest type of European windmill. Its defining feature is that the whole body of the mill that houses the machinery is mounted on a single vertical post, around which it can be turned to bring the sails into the wind.

Windmill

The key to the windmill can be obtained from the landlord of the local pub The Royal George. We spotted the windmill from the road and found the pub with no problem. It was closed but the landlord was in there working on his laptop (phew! could have been another Crompton Special there!) and he gave us the key and directions for driving to the windmill.

None of us had ever been inside a windmill before and we were fascinated when we saw that the whole of the top part – the bit where the sails are attached – can be turned around to make the most of the wind direction. There is a large, thick pole sticking out from just behind the staircase and to make the job easier (easier??? really???) for the miller, he had a yoke which he attached to this pole to pull the top of the building to face the way he wanted.

I took a photo of the information inside the mill…

Mill Info

…and then didn’t think any more about it until I uploaded the photos this evening. The two names – Pool and Keech were the same names that we came across time and again in the graveyard in the grounds of the local church.

The inside of  the mill is small but has reasonable light from the two small windows:

Inside mill

The millstones would have been in the centre and the post that turned the structure (and maybe turned the millstones, as well?) is quite low and can be seen at the top of the photo.

The photo below is my feeble attempt at capturing the workings from below. Quite difficult to get the idea in such a small space. The main post is the wood with the crack in it and around it is the circular wooden structure that does the turning.

post in mill

Below is a windmill sail and the view from the site:

sailview from windmill

In the centre of the village is the market cross. It is not known when the cross was carved or if this is indeed the original cross but a cross is thought to have been on this site in the village since the 1200s. The earliest mention of a cross at Stevington is in the Hundred Roll of 1279. The design of the present Cross indicates it is of 13th century origin. The base and steps were repaired in 1888.

Cross

The building for  sale behind the cross is what used to be the other village pub, The Red Lion.

We followed the road past the stone cross to get to the village church – the church of St Mary the Virgin:

St Mary Virgin

We couldn’t go into the church as it was closed, but we could see that there was a very old, roofless, derelict part to it. This apparently dates to the early 10th century – and the church does have a Norman look to it.

The church has what is known as a Holy Well – it is outside of the church walls and you have to go down a track to find it. It is probably a spring, but it has never been known to freeze or fail in times of drought.  In the Middle Ages various miraculous powers were ascribed to the waters, particularly in respect to curing ailments of the eyes. It has been suggested by some researchers that the waters may have been the site of earlier veneration, possibly dating back to the Iron Age. The area around the well is protected as there is a proliferation of Petasites Hybridus, a plant commonly known as Butterbur, so named because its leaves were commonly used to wrap butter in times past. I managed to get myself nettled taking the photo, but we found a dock leaf at hand to soothe the sting.

The Holy Well:

Holy Well

The Bedfordshire villages are very pretty – but in quite a different way to those of the Norfolk villages. The old stone is a lovely honey colour – very like the Cotswold stone. Here is a selection of the houses that we liked in Stevington:

What to do with an old car…

Car

 

We left Stevington and passed through Pavenham and Felmersham and by the time we got to Odell it was definitely Lunchtime. We were all pretty hungry as the time had run past us and it was getting on for 2.30 by the time we reached a likely looking pub that was advertising food:

Pub no food

Doesn’t it look lovely? The menu was very tempting as well – but sadly, after serving our drinks , they told us that the kitchen had closed at 2pm! So four rumbling tums got back in the car to search out somewhere that didn’t put a time limit on when you could eat.

Next to view on the journey in search of food were Harrold, Carlton and Turvey – Turvey is simply gorgeous but the need for food prevented us stopping to take photos – and then on to Olney where we were assured that there were lots of unusual little shops and eating places:

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As you can see Olney is actually in Buckinghamshire and holds the title of best kept town.  Olney is a popular tourist destination and is best known for its Pancake Race which we saw advertised.

1024px-UK_Olney_(Pancake_Sign)

(picture from wikipedia – mine didn’t come out too well!)

First mentioned as Ollanege (Olla’s island) in 932, the town has a history as a lace-making centre. The place, later called Olnei was held in 1086 AD by Bishop Geoffrey of Coutances as its overlord, according to the Domesday Book.

During the English Civil War, Olney was the site of the Battle of Olney Bridge on November 4, 1643, in which Royalist forces attacked the Parliamentarian forces holding Olney Bridge. The Parliamentarian forces held the bridge, and the remaining Royalists  retreated.

The bridge for which the battle is named remains to this day. A memorial to the dead can be found on the site – sadly, we didn’t know about this, so didn’t go looking for it.

In the late 18th century, William Cowper and John Newton collaborated here on what became known as the Olney Hymns. John Newton, author of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’  was curate of Olney and is buried here. His guest was William Cowper (English poet and hymnodist (1731–1800)). The town has the Cowper and Newton Museum dedicated to them. The museum was adapted from Cowper’s former residence, which was given to the town in 1905 by the publisher William Hill Collingridge (who had been born in the house). Newton was succeeded as curate in Olney by the biblical commentator Thomas Scott (1747–1821).

We found a lovely little cafe called The Courtyard, situated in a delightful little courtyard, where we got some delicious food at very reasonable prices. They did have Olney pancakes on offer but by the time we’d eaten the generous portions we were served, everybody was too full to sample one!

Part of the pretty courtyard:

courtyard

Some of the buildings and sights around Olney:

 

 

 

12th June 2017

We brought with us a ‘summer’ case and a ‘winter’ case because we didn’t want to take 2 cases on the plane to Ireland. So, we took the winter case to Ireland and left the summer case with our daughter, Jenni, until we got back to Runcorn. We then left the winter case with her and took the summer case with us for the months of June and July while we are in Bedford and Glasgow. First day or so in Bedford was glorious weather. Then it got cold – and it rained – and it rained some more – and the wind blew – and we only had the summer case. All the wrong clothes. But, to be fair, even if I’d had a raincoat with me I still wouldn’t have gone out in the downpours we had, so we’ve had a week of chilling out. David has a lot of music in the house, so we’ve listened to some of that, read, watched tv and generally had some r&r.

Finally, the weather has brightened up and my Mum and Dad have timed their visit to us well, so we managed to get out and have a proper look at what’s around us.

A prominent feature of the town centre is the sculpture ‘Reflections of Bedford’ by Rick Kirby. Two enormous faces, 5 metres high stare at each other almost nose to nose at the entrance of the pedestrian precinct. It represents the diversity of ethnic backgrounds in the town and its links with brick and lace. The faces are etched with designs of brick and lace at the front (facing the high street). The backs are plain. It was apparently quite controversial when it was first erected – but that’s often the case with public works of art. As a visitor to the town I was quite impressed with it.

The river that runs through Bedford is the Great Ouse. The locals seem to refer to it just as the Ouse which made me wonder if it was the same Ouse that York stands on. It isn’t. Apparently there are several rivers called Ouse – this is the longest of them and, at 143 miles, one of the longest rivers in the UK –  and the name comes from a Celtic or possibly pre-Celtic word that means simply ‘water’ or ‘slow-flowing river’. Its best known tributary is the Cam which flows through Cambridge.

The Great Ouse has been historically important for commercial navigation, and for draining the low-lying region through which it flows. Its lower course passes through drained wetlands and fens and has been extensively modified, or channelised, to relieve flooding and provide a better route for barge traffic. Though the unmodified river probably changed course regularly after floods, it now enters the Wash after passing through the port of Kings Lynn south of its earliest-recorded route to the sea.

We had a lovely walk along the embankment today. The area is very pretty and well-kept and obviously well used by the locals. There are loads of swans on the river. More than I have ever seen in one place before.

Swans on the Great Ouse:

Swans

The War Memorial

War Memorial

The sculptor Charles Sargent Jagger was commissioned in 1920 to create this memorial which was unveiled on 20th July 1922. Although it was initially created to commemorate the men of Bedford who died in the First World War, it has since become the town’s main war memorial and now also marks the Second World War, the Korean War and subsequent conflicts.

The armour-clad warrior figure is made from white Carrera marble and is named ‘Justice Armed’. When it was completed, the sculptor visited the town to see its proposed location and was told the story of a great 10th century battle thought to have taken place in the area between the Mercians , led by Queen Aethelflaed and the invading Danes. This story had an immediate appeal to him and he felt it appropriate to encompass it into the design. He decided to rework the figure revealing pigtails and softening the face so that its appearance was changed from male to female.

We ended our Sunday stroll at a local hostelry and enjoyed a lunch before returning home to sit in the sunshine in the garden.

4th June 2017

Home exchange number 6 is in Kempston, Bedford. We arrived feeling pretty tired late on Thursday night (June 1st) and we’re here until the 23rd. Our time in Runcorn was busy, busy, busy. Every spare minute spent with family and grandchildren. Our time with them is limited so we made the most of every moment – hence not much in the way of blog updates for that period. If I had the time, I didn’t have the energy and if I had the energy I was doing something else!! Had a great time with everybody and we’ll be back there in July.

We did manage to revisit Speke Hall while there. I can’t remember the last time we went. I do remember going by bus with a friend when I was about 15 or 16 (it was a very long walk from the bus stop!!) and we walked around the gardens with Grahams Mum and Dad when Jenni was a baby, but other than that…it’s the old adage; if it’s on your doorstep, you don’t do it.

Speke Hall

Speke Hall

It’s a lovely old place – I’d forgotten how much charm it has. The 2 big trees in the courtyard known as Adam and Eve estimated to be around 500 years old. Curious features such as the Priest’s Hole and the Eavesdrop where a maid would look and listen to make sure whoever was at the door was welcome.

We listened to a fascinating talk on the mores and morals of a Georgian gentleman when in London. The heiress married one such gentleman who spent a lot of time in London. Gentlemen those days could buy a book which listed the addresses, skills and talents, and prices of the current ‘ladies of the night’. The ‘ladies’ themselves were referred to merely as Miss S or Miss A. Can you imagine? It had it’s downside though as they were all pox-ridden and syphilis was rife! The symptoms of which you don’t really want to think about.

Spent a lot of time with these 3 – Anaya, Kit and Lucas in that order:

And now here we are in David and Ellie’s house in Bedford:

Front

Garden

We arrived by train on Thursday night – easy journey. Runcorn to Crewe and then the Milton Keynes train from the same platform. Only took just over 2 hours. Then a taxi from Milton Keynes station to the house. Friday was shopping and unpacking and getting ourselves organised. It was also our anniversary (38 years) and David had recommended us some restaurants. We chose a Thai and there was a lovely old pub over the road – The Flower Pot – that had live music, so we returned there after the meal and had a great night.

Saturday and Sunday have been chill out days. A bit of time to take a breath and catch up with ourselves. Lots of places to go and things to see around here, so we have a list….

And finally – a happy 2nd birthday to Lucas who has gone to Gulliver’s World today with family and friends.