Sunday, July 30, 2006



A satisfactory week-end:  son No 2 and wife came and S2 repaired my video recorder, made Film Four available, and got the new DVD working.  As if that weren’t enough he went down to the town and got me ‘Lost in Translation’ knowing how disappointed I had been to miss it.  And he didn’t pay the full price!  Well done my son!

Saturday night we went to an Indian Restaurant and I managed not to christen my new pristine, white skirt – that must be a first.  Today was feeling a little sluggish and the weather seemed uncertain but my suggestion of a ‘pottering day’ went down like a lead balloon.   So we decided on Part 3 of the Coleridge Way – from West Quantoxhead to Bicknoller.  As it was just two miles it would have been churlish to refuse and now I feel tired but virtuous.

MTL was driver – dropping us at West Quantoxhead and meeting us at Bicknoller Inn for lunch.  It was Sunday so we tried to book but they weren’t listed in the phone book and a phone call to the Tourist Office proved that they had no knowledge either but promised to call back if they could find it.  Sure enough they did but we had already left.  MTL’s task was to find the pub and book it.

Having learnt my lesson from Part 2 I had purchased a new map which inadvertently did not include today’s stretch so I deemed it wise to make S2 navigator.  He said later he didn’t realise that meant reading the instructions out loud so that ‘the boss’ (me) could make the decisions As before the instructions went pear-shaped at one point but next time we will be on the map.  Relief all round.

We had extensive views of the Brendon Hills and Exmoor and it was at Weacombe when one felt the writer had maybe nodded off for a while.  Although I have been to Bicknoller several times we had difficulty finding the inn but eventually found someone in this sleepy village to ask.  MTL was there with Sunday papers and a good table.  The owners were new and blamed the secret phone number on the previous owners.  One doesn’t push oneself in West Somerset. Lunch was good and the weather held until we got out of the car.  We walked through forests of ferns so I pray we are tickless.  DIL told me that recently someone near them had died from septicaemia after a tick bite.  Fingers crossed!

Exmoor National Park Authority,
Exmoor House,
Somerset YA22 9HL
TO THE WOODS!  Posted by Picasa
THE BRENDONS  Posted by Picasa
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Friday, July 28, 2006

Sir Philip Sidney
I copied and pasted this onto Word but it wouldn't publish so I photograped it from the web site and put it on Picasa and published - which seems very long winded. Any suggestions?  Posted by Picasa



One of the least attractive facets of the aging process is the inability to dredge up from one’s memory bank names that have been familiar for decades.  Whilst reading The Blonde’s exploits on her Harley Davison
I wondered what she did with her long blonde hair whilst riding and wondered if she was running the risk of what happened to that dancer whose scarf caught in the wheels of her car – I like to think it was a Bugatti – and was killed as a result.  Whatsername!

After a frustrating day – MTL was having a senior moment also – I googled ‘scarf wheel car death’ and immediately got the answer.  Now I find that amazing.
Most of you will have guessed by now that it was the great Isadora Duncan

Whilst writing the romantic episodes of Past Imperfect I have had a constant tune in my head.  We used to sing it in the school choir and I could only remember the first line

My true-love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange, one for the other giv'n.
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driv'n.
His heart in me keeps me and him in one,
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart, for once it was his own;
I cherish his, because in me it bides.
His heart his wound received from my sight:
My heart was wounded with his wounded heart;
For as from me, on him his hurt did light,
So still me thought in me his hurt did smart:
Both equal hurt, in this change sought our bliss:

It as written by Sir Philip Sidney 1554-1586

He was born in Penshurst Kent – where coincidentally my boys were brought up and was the godson of Philip of Spain.  He went to Shrewsbury School (where one of my best friend’s father was a master – rather later – and then went to Christ Church Oxford.  He left before taking a degree to travel round Europe as part of his education and became a courtier to Queen Elizabeth the First.  He wrote many sonnets.

In 1586 aged 32 he was wounded in the thigh bone during a skirmish with the Spanish and died of an infected wound.  Requiescat in pace -
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I’m sold on search engines – how about you?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006



The good news was that although our holiday was almost over – just one more night at Keswick Youth Hostel – Jamie could come back home with me so we would have Saturday and part of Sunday together and I would try to telephone Matron and ask for Monday to be next week’s day off.

Meanwhile Jamie showed me a present his grand-father had left him – an enormous darning needle which he used to darn his socks.  Jamie had confided in one of his uncles about our romance and his uncle had urged him to get back here as soon as possible.  Thank you uncle!  Maddie had once met Jamie’s parents and said only a Scots girl would be good enough for their sons but Liam who was at Yale married Ruth –an Austrian who - with her  parents - had fled the Holocaust.

Whilst Jamie had a wash and shave, Alec, Ginny and I said goodbye to our friends and packed for Keswick.  We were all feeling quite tired and planned to do nothing more than the long walk to Keswick.  We turned up by Rogue Herries – climbed lots of walls and whilst resting under a bridge were caught up by four American girls.  The girls were very friendly and seemed mesmerised by Jamie.  To our amusement and Jamie’s discomfiture they asked if they could take a photo of him.  They did so and went on their way whilst we teased Jamie unmercifully.  It was an eye opener – I had always been fairly immune to his good looks.  It was himself I loved.

By the time we reached Keswick we were tired, hot and dirty and went in search of food.  To our horror (Ginny and I) we saw one of our least favourite ward sisters – a reminder that all good things come to an end.  Fairy floss, cherries, peaches and shortbread lightened our spirits.  The hostel was a bit of a disappointment but Ginny and I donned dresses for the last time, had a very merry supper and set off for a local tavern.  To my shame I had one and a half pints of cider and was completely bonhappy.  

‘Felt safe with Jamie and trust him implicitly.  Walked slowly back – thank goodness there were no white lines.  Stayed out of hostel till locked, then adjourned to stairs till interrupted by assistant warden.  Decided to break completely with Andrew.  Jamie is the dearest, sweetest man in the world.  Went to sleep pretty quick’
                                   Diary entry July21st 1949

Both Ginny and I woke early and at 4.45am walked down to the lake and saw Keswick in its early morning glory.  A mist was rising and the sight of some beautiful chestnut horses standing under a tree was a memory we would treasure when back in our normal gritty surroundings.

After breakfast and our obligatory duties we found a cafĂ© and had one of our usual feasts – a last supper before we bade a tearful farewell to Alec.  What a star he had been.  On the bus we admired the scenery and decided that Thirlmere was our favourite lake.  At Ambleside Jamie dashed off to buy sandwiches- Heaven forbid that we should go a couple of hours without food – and we ate them.  At Kendal Ginny discovered she had the wrong rucksack.  Jamie didn’t flap – just dashed off again to sort it whilst Ginny and I applied Nivea cream in Kendal High Street in a last frantic effort to achieve a honey brown skin tone.
Then a wearisome journey to Manchester and an even more wearisome journey to the valley.  Usual sadness at leaving the Lakes and then saying good bye to Ginny but Jamie was with me.  What more could I ask?

Monday, July 24, 2006



…and the living is easy.
Yesterday was another beautiful day so we decided to leave Tiger Woods at al to cope with The Open Golf Competition without us and went out to lunch at the White Horse in the tranquil Washford Valley on the borders of Somerset and Devon.

In spite of the heat, being true Brits, we had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with all the trimmings.  As I had lots of soft fruit at home we eschewed the calorific puddings and spent time watching two boys fishing in the stream by the pub.  They caught a few little ones and put them back.  True fishermen they told us of a really large one they had caught earlier, upstream.  Suitably impressed we continued along the road to Cleeve Abbey.

Cleeve Abbey (also known as Vallis Florida) was founded towards the end of the 12th century and is the only Cistercian Abbey in Somerset.  It was never a populous monastery and at the time of the Dissolution it had (apart from lay brothers) only 12 monks – ‘priests of honest life, who kept good hospitality’.
Eventually the estate was sold to the Lutterells of Dunster in 1949 – (coincidentally the same year my blog is at).  Now it is in the care of the Department of the Environment.  It is a very peaceful place; you can see the Monk’s Dormitory, the Refectory where the roof is embossed with angels and the Chapter House.  There is a tea-room and a shop where I bought birthday presents for three ’girl’ friends.
Dessertless - I succumbed to a chocolate ice cream cone encased in thick cardboard which, by the time I got it open was runny and christened my top.  This delighted MTL as one of his mantras is ‘never eat chocolate in the cinema or in a car.’  Drat!
Back home we were in time to see Tiger’s triumph and his moving tribute to his father who died eleven weeks ago.  A perfect day until the long awaited ‘Lost in Translation’ film – promised on a new channel in the evening failed to materialise.  But that’s life – so I did a post instead.

THE WHITE HORSE  Posted by Picasa
DISTANT VIEW  Posted by Picasa
CLOISTERS  Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 21, 2006



Another gruelling day – we were getting very fit.  We went up Dale Head – a steep and rough climb and once the mist had lifted there were stunning views of the valley, Great Gable and Scafell and we spotted some of our hostel friends steaming over the railway track. We then went on to Eel Crags where we could see Borrowdale on the left and Newlands on the right and dropped down to Maiden Moor via a pony track with great views of Derwentwater.  There were beautiful colours on the hills – a deep turquoise and Ginny and I just wanted to leap into the Newlands Valley – it looked so enticing.

An extremely blustery wind came up and we donned our macks for the long haul onto the moor.  The long, long trek down to Grange played havoc with our knees and at the bottom – sweaty and exhausted we closed our eyes listened to the babbling brook and imagined it was a hot sunny day.  I posted a letter to Jamie and then the heavens opened and we squashed into a telephone kiosk to shelter and Alec told us that the whole of Borrowdale had been given to the monks of Furness by Alice de Rumeli in 1209 and that Grange was where they stored their grain and also the salt made at the salt springs near the village.

We walked to the famous Bowder Stone (see photo archives June 30).  We agreed that even in the rain, Borrowdale is probably the most beautiful valley in Britain.  At the nearby studio we bought mementoes and I got some hairy Harris Tweed ties as gifts.  Later on my father, my brother, Paul and Jamie were all wearing them one night and were asked if it were some sort of club.  We signed Jamie’s name in the visitor’s book and wished he were with us.  By now we were shattered and had tea at Hazel Bank – site of Rogue Herries House – the famous chronicle written by Sir Hugh Walpole
Back at the hostel we had a merry sing –song with our friends after supper and they said they thought I was sixteen so my hair came out of bunches before you could say Jack Robinson!

Next day there were letters from Jamie, Maddie and Mum.  Most importantly Mum was very sympathetic about Jamie’s bereavement and said of course he could stay.  Maddie said yes she would chaperone ( I never doubted it – she loved to know all that was going on and to be in the centre of any drama) and Jamie’s letter was very loving but didn’t sound as if he would be able to get away in time.

Today was going to be a comparatively easy day – we were all feeling stiff and achy so we walked to Seatoller and bade goodbye to friends who were going home then bussed to Keswick and bought vital food supplies – biscuits and cherries.  After coffee we took a bus to Braithwaite and walked for miles in another deluge.  We found a bridge to sit under to have our lunch and Ginny and I had to laugh at the sight of Alec, for once speechless with raindrops dripping down his noble nose all enthusiasm sapped.  We were all soaked to the skin but as so often happens our spirits suddenly rose and before long we were singing our heads off.

Later we saw Walpole’s house and found a lovely place for tea with copper kettle, warming pans and spinning wheels.  In the beautifully carpeted hall we felt obliged to remove our boots, smooth ourselves down as best we could and opened the door in to a room full of posh northerners( and there ‘aint many posher) taking tea – and what a tea.  I could blame our behaviour on privations during the war but you and I know we were just greedy pigs which is why we were the last to leave and ate every scrap that had been left by the posh folk.

There was a storm raging by the time we reaches the hostel so Ginny and I donned our cossies and literally bathed in the river that ran through the grounds.  After supper wrote to Jamie.

Only two days left and my spirits dropped when I saw there was no letter from Jamie. Turning away from the notice board I bumped in to someone who had just come through the doorway.  I was blinded by the sun but I felt two strong arms round me and felt Jamie’s rough unshaven cheek and I clung to him and wouldn’t let him out of my sight.  It was July 21st – like today and I didn’t have a clue that two years later, on this very day I would be married.
TOGETHER AGAIN  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 19, 2006



The ‘big stuff’ Alec had promised we were doing the next day wasn’t the only thing that had me tossing and turning that night.  I wondered how Jamie was coping; there was no sign of him returning and time was running out.  As soon as we knew about Jamie’s grand-father’s death I had written to my parents to beg them to let me bring Jamie home after the Lakes, for the couple of days I had before returning to hospital.  The difficulty was that that was precisely when it was Wakes week
And – as surely as day follows night – when they themselves would be going on holiday.  Even after my parents had retired they stuck rigidly to these dates – possibly because then, the valley became like a valley of death.

Of course my parents would never agree to us staying in the house alone {Gran was in the States visiting Auntie Janet) so I wrote to Maddie, who was at the aunts, to ask if she would come home to chaperone us.  It seemed so cruel that we should be separated at this special time

And then there was Andrew.  These last few days everything had become crystal clear
And I had to tell him.  But I couldn’t just write a ‘dear John’ letter
I had to tell him in person and I dreaded it.

Before we left the hostel I asked the warden to please be sure he posted the letter to Jamie and then concentrated on what Alec had in store for us.  We went over Brandreth and Green Gable and then Great Gable and Alec showed us how to scree run down Great Gable (see photo July 4th).  It really was awesome but we trusted Alec implicitly; you were really using the mountain as an escalator –  and digging your heels in and the zigzagging from side to side, more or less ensured you didn’t go hurtling off  the mountain.  Now it is considered a danger to the environment and is banned in some countries. (Guyana-Gyal pointed out that it could be considered dangerous to the perpetrator)

There is a memorial on Great Gable to twenty four members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District who died in WW1 and a service is held there every year on Remembrance Sunday,

Then there was Black Sail Pass where we met up with, by now, familiar hostellers who told us they had seen Ben on Great Gable – having a snack as usual and no hint of how he had got his portly frame there.  Somehow we found the energy to race up Scarth Gap and then dropped down into Buttermere (not literally) going very fast.  Buttermere is an enchanting little lake; we had seen so much beauty in one day that it would surely help us to survive the rest of the year in the Manchester environs.
Alec was frightfully pleased with us and when we found a welcoming farm for tea happiness reigned.  We ate lashings of bread, butter and jam followed by scones and then a nice old man gave us his.  We walked swiftly over Buttermere singing and all but fainting by the wayside.  When we reached the hostel, which had the nicest wardens yet, Alec told me all we had done so I could copy it in my diary whilst we waited for supper.  After an overcast day the sun came out at night.  Slept like tops!

Sunday, July 16, 2006



It has become a family tradition, when visiting the Sussex branch of our family – on a fine summer day to say
‘Let’s go to Nymans.’
Nymans is a beautiful local garden open to the public.  We set off in two cars – the men leading the way and following tradition found it was closed so - as was our wont- we decided to go to Wakehurst Place – the only difference being that this time the men got lost and, as it is written in tablets of stone that men must never ask for directions the whole morning was spent up and down the highways and byways of Sussex.
Eventually we happened upon it and my daughter in law, grand-children and I manfully did not smirk or snigger.  At all!

Wakehurst Place holds the famous Kew Garden unique collection of endangered plants and the staff spend many years experimenting to produce seeds.  It is all very clearly laid out and tabulated and the gardens are a joy to wander round.

My D in L – who spoils me rotten took me for a treat to a beauty salon – hence the fish, I had the best facial ever which encompassed head, neck and hand massage.

Sussex in the summer is stunning.  A great little break.
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