10th October 2017

Our first day out here was to Logie Steading which is very local. There’s a lovely little shopping area with quirky, unusual, independent shops, lovely gardens and a river to walk along. For those in Cheshire, a cross between Lady Heyes and Blakemere.

The entrance to Logie Steading:

Entrance to Logie Steading

We had a mooch around the shops and made a few purchases (as you do), then headed off to see the river Findhorn which is beautiful:

Some huge logs lying on the riverbank:


Logs 2

We spotted Logie House from the river – didn’t know what it was or anything about it, so good old Google was consulted. Details of the recent history can be found here: www.logie.co.uk/estate/family-history/

I couldn’t find anything on its early history though.

Logie House – what a setting:

Logie House 2

The gardens are beautiful – very well laid out, little stream running throughout, dry stone walls and more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place. Not something I expected in the Scottish Highlands in October!

Look at the markings on that rock!

I think we got the best out of the day – it was bright and sunny and not too cold, but deteriorated once we’d got home.



4th October 2017

We arrived in Forres  the afternoon of Wednesday the 4th after a flight to Inverness from Gatwick. We briefly met Elspeth and James, our exchange partners, for a chat. They had to hotfoot it to Glasgow to return a hire car. It’s always nice to meet your exchange partners if you can – and we’ve certainly met some lovely people doing this.

The house is in a fabulous spot – high up on a hill with view from the upstairs windows over the whole town. This is the view from the lounge window from where I’m sitting on the sofa:

View from Lounge Window

View from upstairs:

View from upstairs

The back gate leads straight into the woods where there are paths to follow for woodland walks. The washing line is in the woods! What a lovely place to hang your washing out.

Washing Line

Steps leading to the front door:

Steps to front door

And look at the angle of the car on the steep drive:


The garden is lovely and has clearly had a lot of work put into it over the years:
GardenGarden 2

Although it feels like we are out in the sticks, the town centre is only a 10 minute walk away – and we’ve already sample the local hostelry (The Red Lion, locally known as The Beastie) for both food and drink. They put on a Malt of the Month for £2.50 a shot! Wonderful – except for when you mix up the water jug and the milk jug, as I did. Ever had malt whisky with milk in? No, thought not. Not to be recommended. I rescued the situation by putting the whisky into my coffee.

I’m writing this on the 10th and we’ve spent the first week just investigating the local area, finding shops (there’s a great butcher, Macbeth’s), pubs, eateries and supermarkets. The swimming pool is literally at the bottom of the road, so we’ll be going there a few times, I think, as I missed my usual swimming season in Spain!


28th September 2017

Stonehenge. What can you say? So much and not enough all at the same time.

There is a lot of information in the visitor centre and on the audio guide that you get at the site – but so much is still unknown about it. I’m not at all convinced that we can even be certain of the date that has been allocated to it. If you read Graham Hancock’s books Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods, he makes a very good case for other structures (notably the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx) being far older than we are currently told so who knows?

One thing that is for certain is that this is an awe-inspiring monument that must have held great importance for those who built it and used it. One of the interesting facts on the audio guide is that it may, at one time, have been used as a place of healing, a bit like Lourdes. This is because there are a lot of bodies buried around it that have unusual diseases or broken bones – far more than would have occurred naturally in a normal population. I wonder quite how they used it for this? Would it have been enough just to be inside it? Would you need to be touching the stones? And for how long? There is evidence that bits of the stones have been chipped away – bits and more bits that have resulted in deep hollows in some of the stones, so might they have been using the stone in the way some use crystals for healing today?  For people to continue to go there must have been results. Wouldn’t it be nice to know?

The stones themselves are around 7 metres high with a further 2.5 metres underground. Some that had fallen have been reset in their places and others have had repairs made to them to preserve their upright position.

001 (32)

008 (27)

009 (30)

010 (26)

The picture below is the Slaughter Stone – so named by the Victorians who were convinced that its lying down position meant it must have been an altar used by the Druids for the slaughter of sacrifices. The fact that the stone has a red tinge when wet would, in their eyes, have added credence to their theory. There is no evidence, though, that this was the case.

The slaughter Stone

The surrounding landscape is full of Anglo-Saxon burial barrows. We didn’t notice them on the way in, but once your attention has been drawn to them, you spot loads of them when you’re driving back out again. They’re everywhere.

We’re nearing the end now of our stay in West Sussex and we’ve done loads while we’ve been here, so I think a couple of days chill out is in order. Tuesday will be packing and cleaning day and then we set off on Wednesday morning. We’re flying from Gatwick to Inverness and being picked up at the airport and taken to the house in Forres.

24th September 2017 – Part 2

In the afternoon, we went to Chichester to meet up with Liz, Graham’s sister and to see the house where their mother grew up. Before our meeting up with her Graham and I had a look around the cathedral.

The photos in this blog aren’t mine. I managed to delete mine by accident!! Fortunately, I’ve been able to find most of what I photographed online in various places.

Chichester is a lovely little city – very compact and seems to have everything you need right there. The first thing we spotted was the Market Cross where we were meeting up with Liz. It’s quite a feature and has recently been cleaned. There’s a nice seat running all around the inside where we flopped while we waited (we were pretty tired after doing Fishbourne in the morning):

Market Cross

The Cathedral is right there in the middle of town…

Chichester Cathedral

…and is well worth a visit – even if it is only to see the John Piper Tapestry. What a treat:


The tapestry forms the background to the High Altar and John Piper said it was the most frightening commission he had ever undertaken as he had never deigned a tapestry before.

Everything in the tapestry has been very carefully researched and worked out; it is a complex web of doctrinal symbolism.  Piper studied the presbytery, the area in which the tapestry would hang, and noticed the sixteenth century wrought ironwork on two sides.  At the two ends of the tau cross, the red swirls show the blood of Christ’s wounds where the nails pinned his wrists to the Cross – note the spiral pattern is exactly the same as on the iron grille:

iron grille

The stitched kneelers in the same chapel are also very beautiful. Sadly, I can’t get a photo of these without paying far too much.

Another lovely feature of the cathedral is the Arundel Tomb which commemorates Richard Fitzalan III, 13th Earl of Arundel (ca 1307-1376) and his second wife Eleanor. He had stipulated in his will that they should be buried together.

According to the plaque in the Cathedral, “the knight’s attitude is typical of that time, but the lady’s crossed legs, giving the effect of a turn towards her husband, are rare. The joined hands have been thought due to ‘restoration’ by Edward Richardson (1812-69), but recent research has shown the feature to be original. If so, the monument must be one of the earliest showing the concession to affection where the husband was a knight rather than a civilian.”

Knight and Lady

The tomb is celebrated now in one of Philip Larkin’s best-known poems, “An Arundel Tomb,” in which the poet suggests that while the historical and political importance of people may disappear with time, something more enduring continues to resonate — their capacity for love. However, in his typically nuanced way, Larkin indicates that this may be only (or largely) wishful thinking:

            The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

Look at this ceiling – I got a crick in my neck trying to get a decent picture. I’m sure this one is as good as mine would have been (laugh!):


The other thing we wanted to see in Chichester was No.13 Cavendish Street where Graham’s Mum grew up along with her 11 siblings. It is just a small terraced house, only a short walk from the town centre and is now a Grade II listed building. Where did they put all those children? I don’t suppose they would have all been at home at the same time – the older ones would probably go off into service somewhere as they reached the right age, but still…:

13 Cavendish Street (2)

We finished the day with a lovely meal at Cote – very good food and very good value. Did some shopping on the way home and got home at 8.40 after leaving the house at 9.30!! A long day.



24th September 2017

Today was a busy one – we did Fishbourne Roman Palace in the morning, then drove to Chichester (where Graham’s Mum grew up), to look around, see the cathedral and meet up with Graham’s sister, Liz, who took us to see the house that their Mum grew up in. More of that later.

First of all, Fishbourne – the Roman Palace at Fishbourne was discovered accidentally in 1960 when they were digging the trench for the water pipe for a new housing estate. The housing estate is long since built and a some of the houses are on top the rest of the unexcavated parts of the palace. It was a huge place when it was active; bigger than Buckingham Palace and right on the waterfront (at that time, but no longer) for the arrival of goods from many parts of the world.

This is a model of the whole site as it would have looked:

1 026 Palace Model

It was abandoned after it burnt down. There is evidence of the fire, but nobody knows if it was accidental or arson. There were pirate raids up and down the coast at that time, so arson is a possibility.

The part of the palace that has been excavated and exhibited is the North Wing which would have had views across the gardens and to the harbour beyond. It is possible that this wing housed the owner of the palace and his immediate family. We do not know for certain who the owner was but it may have been Tiberius Claudius Togidubnus, a client king. His role would have been to look after Rome’s interests in this part of Britain. The palace may very well have been built at the Emperor’s expense in recognition of the king’s faithful support.

There were probably over 60 mosaic floors adorning the newly built palace, all laid by immigrant craftsmen who brought the designs with them. The majority were black geometric designs on a white background, a style which was particularly popular in Italy at that time. The coolness of the colours suited the warm Mediterranean climate. Of the original mosaic floors over 20  survive in various states of completeness.  These are some of the earliest floors yet found in Britain.

Full design of one of the floors as it would have looked when complete:

The palace buildings enclosed a rectangular area of 75,000 feet laid out as a remarkable formal garden, the only one to be excavated in Britain. Across the centre and around the edges were paths lined with parallel rows of hedges designed to form ornamental recesses and niches. The plan of the hedges was discovered by tracing the bedding trenches which the Roman gardeners cut into the clay and gravel.

The pathways were served with a continuous water main which supplied a constant supply of running water for fountains and marble basins which were placed at regular intervals. The pipes below the garden paths were made of baked clay units carefully socketed together. Elsewhere in the building, they were of wood joined with iron bands.

The West wall of the garden, which rose to a height of 5 feet, was camouflaged with a bold painting of foliage and in front of it were planted 3 rows of bushes . Anyone walking along the West path would hardly have been aware of the enclosing wall.

Inside the palace, the most common form of wall decoration was painting. This reconstructed wall was found in fragments lying in rubble in one of the central rooms of the North Wing.

4 014 fragments

The room as it may have looked at the time:

5 018 room6 019 room

We went into the store room for a talk from one of the guides. There are shelves and shelves filled with boxes full of all sorts of things that they don’t have room for in the exhibition or the museum – but they all need to be retained for further study. The site has clearly been occupied for many centuries – as sites near water and especially natural harbours, usually are.

We had the opportunity to hold a 500,000 year old Stone Age hand axe – surprisingly comfortable to hold and you can feel that it would be easy to work with:

7 005 hand axe

A tiny, sharp, piece of flint

8 006 flint

And a weight that would have been used to keep a warp thread tight on a loom. The story behind this is that the weaver would have just scooped a handful of clay from the soil, shaped it and stuck a finger through to make the hole and then put it in the fire to bake hard. It’s just a rough, useful, everyday item which people probably made all the time as and when they needed them. The black part is the bit that was lying in the fire and the red part is the part that was facing away from the fire. Fascinating:

9 007 loom weight

Below is a gravestone for a woman called Catia Censorina who died at age 23. Interesting because the name Catia is a Celtic name but Censorina is a Roman name. Is she a Celt who married a Roman?


Some other bits and bobs from the museum – I wasn’t aware that the Romans had glass, but look at the clearness of it and the lovely colours – there is the neck of a bottle and some beautiful glass beads as well as glass for window apertures.

10 012 Glass

Some ceramics with designs scratched into them – these scratchings were sometimes decoration and other times merely a key for the plaster to stick to:

11 011 tile

And a pieced together flagon from the museum.

12 013 flagon

I had to include this one because of its shape. There is a story here. I first heard about Fishbourne Palace in my schooldays – our Latin teacher Miss Diamond (known as Dilly!), had visited the site and purchased a flagon the same shape as this but much smaller. For some reason, they must have allowed people to buy some of the artefacts in those days – maybe to raise money to keep the dig going. Anyway, she had paid £125 for it – a lot of money then. This must have been some time in the 60s. When she was teaching me she had received a letter from whoever was in charge of the archeology at Fishbourne at that time to inform her that the flagon had been incorrectly dated and they offered to buy it back from her for the same amount she had paid. The new date they gave her for it was older than she had originally thought – which meant it was actually more valuable; but she didn’t want to part with it whatever its value. She did agree though that she would stipulate in her will that the little flagon was to be returned to Fishbourne on her death. It’s probably in one of those boxes that we saw that we stacked up on shelves.

Although they were clearly selling items in the 60s, they must have kept records of who bought what and when and details of the item in order to have known exactly what she had bought and to have her contact details. I mentioned this to the guide to see if he knew anything about it, but he was as surprised as me that that had happened.

Last but not least there were some lovely pieces of textile art about the place – a quilt:

And a wallhanging celebrating the housing estate and showing the types of houses and names of the roads as well as some of the local flora and fauna:

15 003 wallhanging

And a couple of details from the wallhanging:

This piece below seems more papery – maybe mixed media art? I couldn’t get close enough for real observation and I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to touch it anyway. Nor was there anything to attribute it to the person or group who made it. The piece incorporates many of the floor designs in the palace:

paper hanging

I’ll do Chichester in a separate blog otherwise it’s just too much reading. Fair to say though, that this was another fascinating visit and another tick on the list of places I never thought I’d get around to seeing.

24th September 2017

This is Sunday and it dawned glorious – warm enough to eat breakfast in the garden! What a treat!

We booked a canal trip for today on the Wey and Arun Canal which is very local to where we are staying. This canal was opened to great fanfare in 1816. It linked the Wey Navigation near Guildford to the south coast via the Arun Navigation. The canal was conceived during the Napoleonic Wars and was intended to provide a safe, efficient rote from London to Portsmouth to carry goods supplying the dockyards. In its heyday the canal carried many tons of cargo, but the end of the war with France and the arrival of the railways sounded its death knell and by 1871 it was formally closed.

The canal fell into disuse but 200 years after it first opened 3,000 members and volunteers worked to reopen the canal for leisure. The canal is now in use by small boats, canoeists and the Trust’s own trip boats. It was one of their canal barges that we went on for our trip:

Canal Boat

200 years after it opened, over 3,000 members and volunteers of the Wey and Arun Canal Trust are working to reopen the Wey & Arun Canal for leisure. With your help we can achieve this seemingly impossible task, and already several miles of the Canal are in regular use by small boats, canoes, and the Trust’s own trip boats.

A bit of traditional barge decoration:


Graham looking forward to the trip:

We’ve been on canal boats before but never been through a lock, so it was fascinating to watch how it worked. We went through 2, one of which is known as the Devil’s Hole. On our way out, the lock had to be filled and on the way back emptied. Here is the first lock filling up step by step:

Lock 1Lock 2Lock 3

Then the heavy gates are opened and the barge floats through.

It did start to rain while we were on the barge, but we were under cover, so it didn’t matter. At least one of the children on board had a go at steering, so there was a bit of veering about, but they didn’t do too badly at all. The trip was very relaxing and we enjoyed it. The rain had stopped again by the time we were getting off and it was still nice an warm, so no complaints about that!

We finished the day with a meal in a pub called Sir Roger Tichborne. Anything named after a person tickles my curiosity, so who was Sir Roger Tichborne?

According to Wikipedia:

The Tichbornes, of  Tichborne Park near Alresford in Hampshire, were an old English Catholic family who had been prominent in the area since before the Norman Conquest. After the Reformation in the 16th century, although one of their number was hanged, drawn and quartered for complicity in the Babington Plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, the family in general remained loyal to the Crown, and in 1621 Benjamin Tichborne was created a baronet for services to King James I.

In 1803, the seventh baronet, Sir Henry Tichborne was captured by the French in Verdun during the Napoleonic Wars and detained as a civil prisoner for some years. With him in captivity were his son, James and a nobly born Englishman, Henry Seymour of Knoyle. Despite his confinement, Seymour managed to conduct an affair with the daughter of the Duc de Bourbon, as a result of which, a daughter, Henriette Felicite, was born in about 1807. Years later, when Henriette had passed her 20th birthday and remained unmarried, Seymour thought his former companion, James Tichborne might make a suitable husband. Although James was close to his own age and physically unprepossessing, the couple were married in August 1827; on 5th January 1829 Henriett gave birth to a son, Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne.

There were 3 more children after Roger’s birth, but the marriage between Henriette and James was unhappy so the couple spent much time apart, he in England and she in Paris with Roger. As a result, Roger spoke mainly and his English was heavily accented. In order to remedy this, his father decided he should complete his education in England so in 1845 he placed him in the Jesuit boarding school, Stonyhurst College, where he remained until 1848. In 1849 after completing his education he sat the British army entrance examinations and then took a commission in the 6th Dragoon Guards in which he served for 3 years, mainly in Ireland.

When on leave, Roger often stayed with his Uncle Edward at Tichborne Park and became attracted to his cousin Katherine Doughty, four years his junior. Sir Edward and his wife, though they were fond of their nephew, did not consider marriage between first cousins desirable. At one point the young couple were forbidden to meet, though they continued to do so clandestinely. Feeling harassed and frustrated, Roger hoped to escape from the situation through a spell of overseas military duty; when it became clear that the regiment would remain in the British Isles, he resigned his commission. On 1 March 1853 he left for a private tour of South America on board La Pauline, bound for Valparaiso in Chile.

Roger travelled through various parts of South America and then he secured a berth on a ship, the Bella, which sailed for Jamaica on 20 April. On 24 April 1854 a capsized ship’s boat bearing the name Bella was discovered off the Brazilian coast, together with some wreckage but no personnel, and the ship’s loss with all hands was assumed. The Tichborne family were told in June that Roger must be presumed lost, though they retained a faint hope, fed by rumours, that another ship had picked up survivors and taken them to Australia. Sir James Tichborne died in June 1862, at which point, if he was alive, Roger became the 11th baronet. As he was by then presumed dead, the title passed to his younger brother Alfred, whose financial recklessness rapidly brought about his near-bankruptcy. Tichborne Park was vacated and leased to tenants.

Encouraged by a clairvoyant’s assurance that her elder son was alive and well, in February 1863 Lady Tichborne, Roger’s mother, began placing regular newspaper advertisements in The Times offering a reward for information about Roger Tichborne and the fate of the Bella. None of these produced results; however, in May 1865 Lady Tichborne saw an advertisement placed by Arthur Cubitt of Sydney, Australia, on behalf of his “Missing Friends Agency”. She wrote to him, and he agreed to place a series of notices in Australian newspapers. These gave details of the Bella‘s last voyage and described Roger Tichborne as “of a delicate constitution, rather tall, with very light brown hair and blue eyes”. A “most liberal reward” would be given “for any information that may definitely point out his fate”.

In 1866, a butcher known as Thomas Castro from Wagga Wagga came forward claiming to be Roger Tichborne. Although his manners and bearing were unrefined, he gathered support and travelled to England. He was instantly accepted by Lady Tichborne as her son, although other family members were dismissive and sought to expose him as an impostor.

During protracted enquiries before the case went to court in 1871, details emerged suggesting that the Claimant might be Arthur Orton, a butcher’s son from Wapping  in London, who had gone to sea as a boy and had last been heard of in Australia. After a civil court had rejected the Claimant’s case, he was charged with perjury; while awaiting trial he campaigned throughout the country to gain popular support. In 1874, a criminal court jury decided that he was not Roger Tichborne and declared him to be Arthur Orton. Before passing a sentence of 14 years, the judge condemned the behaviour of the Claimant’s counsel, Edward Kenealy, who was subsequently disbarred because of his conduct.

After the trial, Kenealy instigated a popular radical reform movement, the Magna Charta Association, which championed the Claimant’s cause for some years. Kenealy was elected to Parliament in 1875 as a radical independent but was not an effective parliamentarian. The movement was in decline when the Claimant was released in 1884, and he had no dealings with it. In 1895, he confessed to being Orton, only to recant almost immediately. He lived generally in poverty for the rest of his life and was destitute at the time of his death in 1898. Although most commentators have accepted the court’s view that the Claimant was Orton, some analysts believe that an element of doubt remains as to his true identity and that, conceivably, he was Roger Tichborne. Who knows? The case captivated Victorian England during the 1860s and 1870s.

Whether the claimant was Roger or not, the pub serves up some fine grub and has a magnificent view from its dining room:




22nd September 2017

Brighton. We had a beautiful day for late September – blue sky, no cloud and warm sunshine. There were quite a few people on the beach and even some swimmers. I even managed to take my cardi off….

We had a very pleasant walk up and down the pier – looking at all the rides we wouldn’t dream of going on (why would you do that to yourself??) and indulging in all the sights, sounds and smells usually associated with summer – what a bonus on the 22nd of September!

Brighton Pier – look at that sky!:

Brighton Pier 1

Brighton Pier 2


Views from the end of the pier:

View from the pier

View from Pier 2

The Beach:

Beach 1

You can’t be in Brighton without visiting the Royal Pavillion which is a Grade 1 listed building  – a former royal residence built as a retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who became Prince Regent and then, finally, at the age of 60, George IV.  Its style is Indian on the outside and Chinese inside – it has to be said that both styles are the English versions and probably wouldn’t be recognised as authentic by either Indian or Chinese people. Neither George nor the architects had visited either country.



Queen Victoria also used the Pavilion after she came to the throne. She initially found it a peculiar place but apparently warmed to it over time. However, being in the centre of town it didn’t afford her much privacy and was too small for her growing family, so it was sold and she purchased an estate and land that was redeveloped for  Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, which became the family’s summer home.

Much of the furniture and interior decoration from the Pavilion was taken to Buckingham Palace where much of it remains.

The Brighton Commissioners and Brighton Vestry successfully petitioned the government to sell the Pavilion to the town for £53,000. The proceeds of the sale went towards developing Osborne House.

Since the end of the Second World War, the municipality of Brighton has spent a great deal of time, effort and money restoring the Pavilion to its state at the time of King George IV. The city was encouraged in the 1950s by the permanent loan of over 100 items of furniture from Queen Elizabeth II. It has undertaken an extensive programme of restoring the rooms, reinstating stud walls, and creating replicas of some original fittings and occasionally pieces of furniture.

Unfortunately photographs are banned in any part of the building. The interior is so much more than I expected. The Banqueting Room and Music Room in particular with their high, domed ceilings and spectacular chandeliers are stunning. The chandelier in the banqueting room is 30 feet long and dangled from a dragon figure that measures 12 feet from nose to tail. Incredible.

Found this picture of the banqueting room on Wikipedia, but it doesn’t do justice to how it feels to be in that room.  I had to keep going back for another look.

Another couple of monuments we passed while walking around are the War Memorial and the statue of George IV:

We ended the day with a plate of excellent fish and chips from Harry Ramsden’s where we were served by a very nice young Spanish waiter who we had a good chat with. He was in the UK initially to perfect his English, because he couldn’t graduate and collect his degree without it. He stayed because he saw a Masters course at Sussex University that he wants to take, so is working to get the money together to pay for it. He’s also a Flamenco dancer and does a bit of that in the bars on the seafront for extra money. Good for him. Hope he gets his place on the course.

We managed to get on the wrong bus going back to the Park and Ride. The route is a circular, so we had to go around the whole circle until we got back to the car – took a while, but on the positive side we got a tour of Brighton!


20th September 2017

Hever Castle – the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and the place she retreated to when things at court got too hot to handle during Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

What a lovely place this is. Not only is there the Tudor connection but all the modernisations done by the Astor family. The building itself is beautiful outside and in, with quirky little staircases and rooms in unexpected places – including  a hidden chapel which for use when it was illegal to practise Roman Catholicism.

If you’re not sure of your Tudor history (and beyond) this is the place to go to bone up on it. Loads of information and all done in a very concise and user-friendly way.

As well as the furnishings and interior decoration there is an exhibition of armour and torture items – makes you shudder to think!

The gardens, which were done from scratch by the Astor family are spectacular. In the Boleyn’s day, the land they are on would have just been marshland. In Tudor times there would have been a small garden and a kitchen garden, but not much else.

The castle is double moated with drawbridge and portcullis. I thoroughly enjoyed being here and would recommend it to anybody.

Pictures below are the Castle and its outbuildings (the small cottages were used by the Astors for guests to their weekend parties):

The Castle

Castle sidedrawbridge


Outbuildings 2

The Outer Moat:

The courtyard reminded me very much of Speke Hall:


Some cushions picturing Anne and Henry:


Anne Boleyn’s portrait painted while she was Queen:


It hangs in the room that was her bedroom:

Anne's Bedroom

Look at that lovely Tudor door. And here it is a bit closer:


I loved the windows in the castle as well:


There are lots of lovely tapestries on display. This one is from 1540:

1540 Tapestry

And this was Henry’s battle taperstry:
tapestry 2

There was no information on this little one, but I just liked it:


The Postillion’s boots fascinated me:

Postillion Boots

Graham’s hand is there for scale. They are enormous. A postillion was a man who rode one of a pair of horses that pulled a coach. It could be very dangerous if a leg became caught between the two horses, so each postillion wore one of these boots on that leg to protect himself from injury.

There are several gardens – a Tudor garden, Italian garden, a small knot garden an enclosed garden with a pool, a rose garden. The Italian garden has a very long, covered walkway that is draped with vines (among other things) which looks out over the main garden to one side, but to the other is walled and this wall is filled with shade-loving plants and mosses, little waterfalls and statuary. I’ve never seen anything like it. Impossible to photograph to get the full impression, but here is just a very small part to give you an idea of it:


The Italian garden holds a lot of statues and sculptures which were collected from all over. Some were made especially for a particular spot but others are up to 2,000 years old.

Some more images of the extensive gardens and lake:

Tudor GardenLakeGardenGarden 3Garden 2Fountain


purple and gold

Had to photograph those purple and gold leaves together – just spectacular. One of my favourite colour combinations.

If you ever get a chance to go to Hever, it comes highly recommended. Loved it.

18th September 2017

We arrived in West Sussex on Monday to a lovely house – Almond Tree Cottage. The weather is much clearer here – it’s so nice to see the occasional blue sky again. I do love Scotland – its landscape, the people etc., but we had no luck whatsoever with weather there. The choice of sky colour seemed to be white, grey or black.  That was for the 4 weeks following the disastrous 2 weeks of torrential rainfall in Newbury. We are very happy to be in reasonably clear skies. I even managed half an hour in the garden with a coffee and a book. Then it rained, but hey ho…..

So last week was arrival on Monday evening – shattered after a long and tiring journey. Had to go through London and the Underground again – not easy with 2 big cases. And then it was standing room only on the local train that brought us from London to Billingshurst – one and a half hours. Somebody passed out on that train and didn’t even fall down it was so packed. Only at that point did they open windows – which were locked. The guard couldn’t get himself down the train to do it, so the key was passed along from hand to hand. What a situation!

Tuesday was shopping and unpacking. Wednesday and Thursday chilling out and deciding where we wanted to visit and what days to do it. Friday we visited Graham’s sister in her new apartment – which is absolutely lovely in every way – inside and by way of location and setting.  After an interesting afternoon looking at all the family tree stuff, we went off to enjoy a very good Thai meal together in Cranleigh. Saturday and Sunday we usually stay home – everywhere is too crowded at the weekends and Graham likes to have the time to watch his sport – and I am very happy to indulge in whatever I fancy doing – usually reading or a bit of stitching while listening to music. We’ve had an ‘escape’ room in most places so I can go off an disappear for a bit in the quiet.

Our first visit was today at Petworth House which is quite local. Didn’t take us long to get there. Petworth is a country house and park with an extensive art collection – lots of Turners as he was a friend of the family. Not just paintings but informal sketches as well. Fascinating. There’s so much art it’s impossible to take it all in in a day. So much information available on everything, we could have spent days reading it all!

This is the house taken from the lake:


And speaking of the lake – it is enormous and set in a beautiful Capability Brown landscape. This is just a small snapshot of part of it:


There is so much to see at Petworth, I’ve only photographed the things that particularly took my fancy. The most amazing room for me is the Carved Room, named for the wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons that are all over the walls, ceilings and picture frames. They are so precise and delicate – quite literally now as woodworm has got into them and they have to be painstakingly cleaned with the finest, softest brushes to prevent them falling apart.


This room also holds the famous Henry VIII painting from Holbein’s studio (you know my love of anything Tudor by now!).

This carving is my favourite:

Carving 1

Closely followed by this one:

Carving 2

The chapel has lots of heraldic shields celebrating marriages and unions of families. This one (below) hasn’t come out as well as I wanted, but it appears to celebrate the marriage of Henry VIII with Jane Seymour. The HR and crown above, and below Henry 8 on one side and Seymour on the other, with the motto of the Order of the Garter ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ – ‘Shame on him who thinks evil of it’.

There are a variety of interpretations of what the ‘it’ in the motto may be – and I’ve always wondered about it myself. One is that Edward III may outwardly have professed the Order of the Garter to be a revival of the Round Table but it is probable that privately its formation was a move to gain support for his dubious claim to the French throne. The motto of the Order is a denunciation of those who think ill of some specific project, and not a mere pious invocation of evil upon evil-thinkers in general. ‘Shame be to him who thinks ill of it’ was probably directed against anyone who should oppose the King’s design on the French Crown.

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Another interpretation is along the lines of ‘those who laugh at this today, will be proud to wear it tomorrow’.  There is also a story that the foundation of the Garter occurred when Edward III of England prepared for the battle of Crecy and gave his own garter as a signal – dare to laugh or think badly of the king’s garter! And yet another suggests a trivial mishap at a court function when Edward III was dancing with Joan of Kent who was his first cousin and daughter-in-law. Her garter slipped down to her ankle causing those around her to snigger at her humiliation. In an act of chivalry, Edward placed the garter around his own leg saying “Honi soit qui mal y pense. Tel qui s’en rit aujourd’hui, s’honorera de la porter.The two phrases are often translated as follows: “A scoundrel, who thinks badly by it” or “Shame on him who suspects illicit motivation,” followed by, “Those who laugh at this today, tomorrow will be proud to wear it.”

A couple of other things that caught my eye in the house were this gorgeous fireplace, mirror and clock:

fireplace, mirror and clock

And these three delightfully ornate chairs:

3 chairs

Two of the private rooms used by the current Baron and his family were open to the public for viewing today – the White Library and the White and Gold Drawing Room. No pictures allowed in either of these.

We did miss out on seeing the upstairs bedrooms though – they aren’t open on Mondays (the Crompton Curse strikes again!).

Lastly, we visited the servants quarters – a separate building on the opposite side of the courtyard. Here we found the kitchens with every size pan and mould that you can imagine, a pastry oven and scullery. A room that seemed to be specifically for baking with a cooled marble surface for rolling out pastry. Separately, there was dairy with an ice house underneath – clever marrying of functions – and the house had its own emergency fire equipment.

A selection of pans and moulds in the kitchen:

And one man’s observation of the staff at Petworth, which made me laugh. It is fair to say, though, that it seems that the staff at Petworth were very well-treated and many worked there for a number of years – in some cases all their working lives – one housekeeper died at 86 having worked 60 years in the house.

This is from the National Trust information in the Servants’ Quarters:

‘In 1819 there were more than 50 indoor servants living at Petworth. By 1834 there were 135, of whom 73 ate in the servants’ hall.

During the third Earl’s time, the Servants’ Quarters were a far cry from the efficient house-keeping factory of late Victorian times. Thomas Creevey, a house guest, wrote in 1828 that the servants were ‘very numerous, tho’ very advanced in years and tottered, and comical in their looks. They could not bear to be ‘put out’ in any way, and the household tended to go to bed early. Creevey was advised to order a glass of wine while he had the chance. The footman returned to tell him that it was too late as the butler had gone to bed!

Charles Greville in the 1830’s described Petworth as ‘like a great inn where there was nothing to pay but where the guests were not very attentively served’.’

How funny!

We spent so much time in the house that we didn’t have the time or the energy to see much of the grounds. We had a stroll around the lake, but didn’t manage the pleasure gardens, woodlands or deer park. But we did pass the famous rotunda on our way in and out:


A lovely place to visit. You could spend a lot of time here.

7th September 2017

We are now in our last few days here in Lockerbie, getting ready to move on on Monday and I’ve done very little about writing up what we’ve been up to. The rain from Newbury followed us here and it’s been pretty wet. There’s a lovely garden outside but we really haven’t seen too much of it. There is a light, bright and comfortable conservatory where we’ve spent a lot of time reading and generally relaxing. Johnstonebridge is a lovely little village – very small but it has it’s own primary school and community centre, where they serve a reasonably priced lunch every Wednesday. While we’ve been here they’ve had a barbecue and a local produce show, so there seems to be a good community spirit.

It’s a pleasant area to walk in. Down the road to the left is an old abandoned church and graveyard with the old manse which has been refurbished and is occupied. A little bit further on is a newer graveyard with a war memorial. Interestingly, most of the graves give the address of the deceased person and you can pretty much track the occupants of houses that are still standing – and still occupied – through the years. A little bit of local history. Walking to the right leads you through the rest of the village and out to the main road and it isn’t too far to walk to the motorway services. In the other direction from the motorway services is the Lorry Park where there is a shop selling drinks and snacks, a cafe that has good food and a bar/function room which seems to be the hub for the area on the weekends. We went to a Rod Stewart tribute show on one of our Saturday nights.

We’ve visited the local towns: Lockerbie, Moffat and Dumfries. Pretty little towns with all the usual places. The sheep certainly seems to be an important part of the economy. Sculptures of sheep all over the place:

Sheep in Moffat

And sheep on the roads – drive carefully!


Until this year, Moffat used to have a sheep race through the town. Each sheep would have a little knitted jockey on its back. They decided to stop it though this year and strangely enough I read about it in the paper on the train as we were travelling to Lockerbie.

A few pictures of Dumfries where we went for a look around and to the cinema (Dunkirk – excellent film):

There’s a waterfall not far from Moffat – the Grey Mare’s Tail which has a drop of 60m making it one of the highest cascades in Britain. The water flows from Loch Skeen into the Tail Burn and then tumbles down the rocks and crags before joining Moffat Water. Loch Skeen is southern Scotland’s highest upland loch and sits over 500m above sea level. You can walk up to it if you are fit enough but it’s a long way up and pretty steep, so we passed on that one. We just got far enough up to see the waterfall:
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I finally got to see Hadrian’s Wall on an astonishingly cold August day (wished I had worn scarf, hat and gloves!)

And the final visit was to the lead mine at Wanlockhead. The mine was fascinating. it is one of many in those particular hills. There were 70+ working mines at one time, all now closed even though there is a lot of lead still in there. It is now cheaper to bring in the lead we need  from abroad.

The entrance to the mine:

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We went 150m into the mine, which felt like a long way. It is narrow, dark and drippy wet. When we saw the map of the full mine, we realised we had really only seen a tiny part:

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The part we walked was the Williamsons Adit up to the first junction. The lower levels were accessed by a miner putting one foot into a bucket to be lowered by rope and winch to the next level – with only the candle on his hat for light. It could take 2 hours to actually get to the lowest levels to work.

Because of the proximity of the lower levels to the water table, the mines had to be constantly pumped to keep the water level down. This is the water driven steam pump that was used at Lochnell Mine. The water to drive the machine came from the burn and the pumped water was returned to the burn. You can see the burn running right through the area for miles. We’d noted it as we were driving up to the village.

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We also went to see an example of a miner’s cottage through the ages. All the miners cottages are still standing and the majority are refurbished and still occupied.

The back wall of this cottage is the hillside:

Most of the cottages in the village have the same look and are about the same size more or less.

The area was first mined only in the summer time. The men would arrive with tents, do their mining and move back home for the winter. It was very cold up there in September, so you really couldn’t be up there in a tent in the winter!! After a while, the Duke of Buccleuch, who owned the land, allowed dwellings to be built and for the village to develop – and of course charged rent once it did.

The exhibition inside the cottage was about how the miners lived through the ages.

1750 – earth floor, earth back wall, no windows, no chimney, goods and foodstuffs hanging to keep them off the floor and away from rats, bed pallet stuffed with heather (prickly and itchy), very few possessions. The peat fire would be very smoky and the smoke would be allowed to drift away very slowly through the roof. Seating was low to be as far as possible from the rising smoke.


1850 – Improvement in that now there were chimneys, covering on the walls and a boxed-in bed area which would have had a pull out section underneath for the children to sleep on.


The 1900’s  brought an interior that is looking more familiar. Love that there is a Singer treadle in the room:

There was no such thing as an old age pension so miners worked until they dropped. There was, however, a library in the village which moved from place to place as it grew. Looking at the titles on the shelves, these were very well read miners. It was a popular and well-used library with strict rules about the care of the books. The library held 3,000 books and all the books are beautifully bound and in surprisingly good condition.


After our sightseeing, we had a very nice lunch in the highest pub in Scotland which features a tree sculpture of a miner in the garden and several hexagonal glamping chalets – you can just see one behind the sculpture:

And while eating our own lunch we watched the sheep eating their in the car park!

sheep from pub