From the Tuesday until Thursday I was (supposed to be) on the walking holiday from the same location – Abingworth Hall in Sussex.
The walk on Tuesday took us first to the viewpoint at the Devil’s Dyke…….
……where we enjoyed the (slightly misty) views.
Those of us on the easier walk then got back on the coach, which took us to the “Jack and Jill Inn” in Clayton village. Here we first admired the railway tunnel where there was apparently a train accident in the 19th Century.
I am not sure that I would fancy a house above the line like that, but apparently someone does!
We then went to look at……
….because it had wall paintings on three walls inside. These were rather unusual as they were painted in a style with men wearing a fez, which we could just about make out in some of the pictures. They were not in very good condition, but it was possible to make out some details.
From the church we walked up to the Jack and Jill windmills (Jill is white and in good condition, Jack is black and has no top) where we had elevenses.
The walk continued…..
……which we left after passing Ditchling Beacon. We stopped for lunch on a bank beside the downwards path which had……
………and was full of flowers, including orchids.
The walk continued down to the roads and……
…..into Ditchling, where there was time for a pot of tea and a toasted tea cake before we got the coach back to Abingworth Hall.
On Wednesday’s walk the easier group were dropped at the wrong place and had a fairly long road walk to reach the place where we headed into some woods. We were fortunate enough to see a fallow deer run off as we went along the path. We then found the route along a field edge, with difficulty and followed a not very clear path through very long, wet grass. This was quite hard for some people, especially as part of it was down a quite steep hill. We did eventually reach the village of Singleton, which was quite attractive.
We had drinks in a cafe and then had lunch by the church.
As we were supposed to be visiting some gardens at the end and had been very slow through the previous part of the walk, our leader suggested a “short cut”, which turned out to be mostly road walking and I don’t think was much shorter. It led us up to a point where we had views over the Goodwood Estate.
From there we walked down to the Lavant valley and followed the Lavant stream for a bit.
We then headed for the West Dean gardens, which turned out to be much further than described and involved more road walking. Having got there we then had to pay if we wanted to go in – and that was quite expensive for about an hour, even with the reduced rates organised by our leader.
We were also not happy to find the middle group had got there first, especially the people who had chosen the easier walk so they would have more time in the gardens! I went to have a look round the walled garden…..
……and the Victorian glass houses, which were quite pleasant.
Being tired and also longing for a cup of tea I made for the cafe and sat down and had a pot of tea. I decided there was just time to have a look at the sunken garden and pergola, if I hurried. On reaching the sunken garden the first thing I heard and then saw was…..
……singing it’s heart out. The sunken garden was also attractive…..
…….as was the pergola.
I walked through the pergola……
……which had a good variety of climbing plants on the pillars. I think the gardens would have been enjoyable if we had half a day there to explore them. It was then time to go and get the coach, which took longer than expected, as I got a bit lost. I need not have worried – we had to wait 20 minutes before it arrived.
In the evening it was the hf quiz, and though our group didn’t win we weren’t last either.
The next day was the Seven Sisters walk, which I have done before. The Seven Sisters bit is quite nice, but the part at the end wasn’t and as the weather forecast was for heavy rain and thunder later, I opted out and decided to go to the Amberley Museum instead.
The museum contains buildings rescued from the local area and is really about the local industry and work. There are apparently some craftsmen there each day, but the ones who were there were packing up by the time I found them, except the printers, who I found near the start. A volunteer there explained the old ways of printing newspapers and showed the machines used.
There were various buildings, including lime kilns with explanations of their working, one about electricity including a fascinating display of electrical appliances through the decades, one on road building, one on communication and several others.
Other exhibits included an…..
…..and a bus garage with old buses some of which gave rides.
There was also a village garage and cycle shop with petrol pump and old cars inside, a cafe moved from elsewhere (but only used when the museum was busy), a fire station, a wheelwrights’ yard and other fascinating places.
I took a ride on the narrow gauge railway.
One gets issued with a real ticket…….
…….although it is actually free (but there was a box for donations). This was similar for the bus ride which I took…..
It was an interesting place to go and there was a lot to see and do. An added advantage was that there were very few children there, except for one school party, so I got a chance to press all the buttons and try the telephones etc. myself, instead of watching children play! I left about 3.30 or thereabouts, when it started to rain quite heavily.
The walkers had only got wet at the end, but there had been problems as the cafe and information centre both shut before their coach came.
So did I enjoy this part of the holiday? The first walk was quite good, but the second was terrible (except for seeing the deer and the wren) and the museum was fascinating. That makes it a bit of a mixed bag!
On the Monday, when some people went home and others arrived, those of us who were staying had a free day. After writing my postcards I went into Storrington to buy stamps and post them. As it was pouring with rain and I still had some time on the parking ticket, I also found a cafe/bakery and had a coffee. By the time I had finished the rain was a bit less, so I set off for my intended target – Bignor Roman Villa. This was reasonably easy to find but the last part was along a lot of narrow and winding roads – with a fallen bush partly blocking one of them! I did manage to get passed that and arrive in the rather muddy car park.
The building was under the care of a young lad – although there did seem to be one or two others – almost equally young, I discovered later. He sold me a ticket and directed me in the right route to take.
There was a model of how the villa had (probably) been; it was very big by the end of its life, with a large enclosed courtyard and buildings on 4 sides with a gateway. Most of this is now back as farmland but the original bit has been enclosed and is in a building – which I was in! There was a display of some of the pottery and other finds and I found it very interesting to look at the difference between the fine ware and the course ware. This was something I had read about during two of my online courses and looked at the pictures, but seeing the real stuff made the differences come alive and was very interesting.
I then moved on through the rooms, which had their mosaic floors. We were walking on the edges, where there were no pictures, but still where the original owners would have walked. Wow!
This one was not a mosaic, but one can just about read the sign (well, the main title).
I liked the men across the bottom of this – I think they were warriors or maybe gladiators?
This is just a bit more detail from the top of the previous one. The blue on the birds was apparently blue glass.
After looking round the main building, including seeing some of the original lead pipe-work and parts of the underfloor heating system, I saw a coach full of children arrive. (Glad I didn’t meet the coach on the approach roads!) I therefore decided it was time to have lunch and as it had stopped raining, went and sat outside on the picnic tables provided. I then saw that there was another enclosed building and after lunch went to have a look – it was part of the bath house.
I then went to the cafe area of the building and the lad made me a pot of tea and I chatted to the coach driver and another couple who were there.
It was then time to make my way back to Abingworth Hall so I could join with the new arrivals for tea and cake.
After dinner, there was a “village fete” type activity. We either were in teams or were put in a team as we arrived and then we played games like roll-a-penny (the old pennies!), how many pegs can you collect from the line before you drop one, hoopla, bouncing a ping-pong ball into plastic cups etc. We got a score for each and these were added up – our team apparently didn’t win, but we weren’t last either.
So was it a good day? Yes – I really enjoyed the villa and looking round at my own pace and relating it to the on-line courses I had done. The evening activity was fun, too.
As a change from a straight walking holiday I decided to do something different – although still with hf holidays. I chose a Leisure Break from the Heritage section on “Jane Austen – Life and times”. This was a good excuse to re-read all six of her major novels. I spent the previous few months doing this, fairly slowly and saw and understood quite a few things that I hadn’t done earlier.
On arriving at Abingworth Hall, I found a pack of information on the bed. This included a quiz and a booklet for each day including readings relevant to where we were going. After the usual cream tea and briefing about the house there was time for a short guided walk and then dinner before we had a talk explaining what we would be doing in the next 2 days.
After breakfast and collecting lunch we had to be on the coach by 9.30 for our fist day.
We headed first for Chawton and the cottage where Jane Austen wrote or re-wrote her major novels.
We had some time there to look round and although there have been alterations it was interesting to see the size of the rooms where she lived and slept (sharing a small bedroom with her sister). I especially liked seeing and touching the table where she wrote and seeing the amber cross that a sailor brother brought back for her – using some prize money c.f. William bringing Fanny a topaz cross in Mansfield Park.
Sadly we did not have enough time, so I couldn’t spend as long as I would have liked or explore the gardens properly.
We then went on to Steventon where she was born and her father was rector. The rectory was pulled down and all that is left is a field, but there is a steepish bank behind where the rectory was, so maybe Jane used to roll down that as a child, like Catherine Morland (Northanger Abbey)?
She would have worshipped at the church, but I believe this has also been altered, with the steeple an addition since Jane’s day.
We then went on to Oakley Hall, where we had cups of tea or coffee as it is now a hotel. In Jane Austen’s time it was the home of the Bramston family, friends of the Austens. Jane apparently walked there often and she and her sister Cassandra were often invited to share the Bramston’s carriage when invited to balls. She also enjoyed dancing at Oakley Hall.
One of the other places where she was invited was Deane House, then owned by the Harwood family who were also friends of the Austen family. She danced there with Tom Lefroy, a young man who was called home to Ireland by his parents as they feared an engagement – neither Jane or Tom had enough money for that to be a realistic prospect in those days!
Tom was staying with his uncle, the Rev. George Lefroy and his wife Anne, at nearby Ashe Rectory – another place where there were private balls which Jane and her sister attended. Mrs Lefroy was apparently a close friend of Jane’s, even though Mrs Lefroy was over 30 years older – maybe a model for Lady Russell (Persuasion)?
Having visited all these places, we drove to Winchester, passing through Overton (Jane was sent to a wet nurse there as an infant) and Whitchurch (the Austen family did shopping there).
In Winchester we went to the Cathedral to see the tomb and memorial window.
Some of us also went on to see the house where Jane and her sister stayed when Jane was very ill and being treated by the doctors. She died there.
There was again not much time in Winchester, before we had to get the coach back to Abingworth Hall.
After dinner our group leader gave an illustrated talk: “Jane Austen’s Shin Bone – 10 facts about Jane Austen”. The illusion comes from a quote from Mark Twain – “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone”. It was fairly amusing, as you might guess from the title!
The second day, Sunday, we again had to be on the coach by 9.30.
We initially drove to Westhumble to see the house where Fanny Burney lived. Jane Austen was supposed to enjoy her books, so that was the link – too tenuous for most of us! We then drove on to Leatherhead to see Thorncroft Manor – now used as business premises. This was possibly the model for Hartfield in “Emma”. Jane Austen is supposed to have told her nephew that Leatherhead was the model for Highbury, but our leader was suggesting Great Bookham instead. Leatherhead has changed so much it is hard to see it, but it is possible if I look back 50 or so years as I knew it then.
We then drove up to Box Hill, as that was the setting for a scene in “Emma”. As I know it fairly well, I did my own thing, which was mostly do “The Hill Top Stroll”. This took me passed Peter Labilliere’s grave (he insisted on being buried head downwards), to the top of the Burford Spur, up which Victorian tourists walked to visit Box Hill.
Then on to the Old Fort, apparently built in the late 1880s as one of 13 supply centres for tools and ammunition storage in case of invasion by the French. I don’t remember seeing it before.
I then went back to the view point and on a bit for a quick and early lunch – we were leaving at 12.00!
We drove on to Great Bookham, to the church, as Jane Austen’s godfather was the rector there and so it was somewhere she visited fairly often.
The rectory from Jane’s time has been pulled down, I believe.
Our leader’s theory that Great Bookham was the model for Highbury is based on of The Crown there, which is the name of the Inn in “Emma”.
We then drove on to Loseley Park, as the BBC used it to film parts of Sense and Sensibility (Barton Park) and Emma (Donwell Abbey).
We were provided with tea and excellent cakes there and had time to admire the gardens. The rose garden was probably nearly at its best and the scent was amazing.
Our final stop was at Chawton House, where Jane Austen’s brother Edward Knight had one of his homes. He had been adopted by the wealthy Knight family as they had no children. It is now a library for women’s literature, I believe. We had the chance to look round and see some of the places where Jane and her sister would have been when visiting their brother when he was staying there.
It was surprising to see how short the “Long Gallery” was, especially as this is where women would have taken their exercise in bad weather. Apparently women were not supposed to take much exercise! Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) walking to visit her sister would (probably) have been unusual for someone of her class, hence the comments of Bingley’s sisters?
It was then time to drive back to Abingworth Hall where, after dinner, we were told the answers to the quiz.
I got most right, left out a few and got a couple wrong! The leader had got one of the questions wrong and, looking it up on the internet and in the novels when I got home, gave two incorrect answers! However I did better than most people, many of whom had not attempted any of it. I must admit I enjoyed the challenge, though. Our names were all then put in a hat and one drawn out to win “Jane Austen’s Ring”! It was my name that came out – so I won the ring – or rather a fridge magnet with a picture of it.
So was it a good holiday? Yes, I enjoyed it and the scope it gave for my imagination. Also seeing the links between Jane Austen’s life and some of the things she wrote in her novels.
A friend reached her 50th birthday on the Friday and she had been planning a party for months. She has not been at all well, so her sister took over most of the organisation – putting the plans into action. As the sister lives near Cambridge, a few of us who live locally were also involved in the local parts.
So on the Friday, there was a lunch at a local pub for some of the close family and 3 friends who had done local organisation.
Unfortunately, one brother and his family didn’t make that part as they got totally stuck on the M25!
The younger members of the party went outside to play in the garden when they got bored – supervised by their older cousin.
After the lunch, the birthday girl was taken home to rest, and most of the others went to “granny’s house” for a swim and to meet up with the very delayed family. The rest of us gathered at SP2, where the party was to be held and prepared the rooms for the next day.
That included moving tables and chairs, arranging the balloons and banners and setting the tables for the meal…….
…….and the table for the bar.
The party day several of us were there quite early to finish setting out the tables, with flowers (arranged by some of the family) and water……
………set up the “bar”……..
……and prepare some food and collect and set out more. As some people arrived they brought food, which was also set out, with some kept in reserve to replace what was eaten.
When people arrived they were directed to the top floor for drinks and nibbles.
When the last people had arrived and had time for a drink and to greet the birthday girl, the food was served – starting with the disabled, then the frail elderly, then the children and finally others! We put out replacements as plates were emptied – notably the salmon, the meat platter and the Coronation chicken.
Everyone sat down to eat and chat – collecting seconds as required.
Again when the youngsters got bored their older cousins took them back upstairs to play. I am very impressed with these older cousins and the way they take this responsibility.
When everyone had eaten enough of the first course, we cleared it away and tidied up and started the dishwasher – brother in law was noted as being very helpful! The cake and desserts were then put out.
It was decided that it wasn’t safe to light the “candle” on top of the cake, because of the proximity of the balloons, so it was placed by the side and lit there, while everyone sang “Happy Birthday”.
My friend’s father then gave a short speech and we drank a toast to her. She then did manage to reply, without getting too emotional. Everyone enjoyed desserts and more chat, then people gradually had to go, especially those who lived some distance away.
That left the clearing up to do!
So was it a good and successful party? Yes, I think so. People seemed to enjoy it and the birthday girl was very tired, but seemed to think it had been good. Big sister is especially to be praised for ideas, decorations, hard work, ordering and collecting food and especially organisation – bet she is a really efficient administrator!
As a thank you for taking her to various places (and as a treat for both of us), a friend bought tickets for “Singin’ in the Rain” at the local theatre. Neither of us had been to the theatre for years, but we thought this might be fun.
We arrived early so we could pick up the previously ordered/paid for tickets and my friend could have a drink. We sat at the table outside as it was a very mild evening. We gave ourselves time to use the loo and then went to find our seats – on an aisle of the third row. We noted the plastic ponchos over the front row seats and didn’t really worry until we found that no-one was in the seats in front of us!
There was a bit of time to look at the programme before it started.
The performance was great, right from the start – fun, full of energy, amazing to watch. The performers could all sing, dance, act and play an instrument – and then they moved all the props, too. Some of them were also tap dancing (in parts) and doing somersaults and such like, too. It could make one tired just watching – how did they do it every night and with matinees, too? They must have been really fit.
Have you ever seen someone dancing while carrying around a double bass? Well, the girl who played it was doing so and I am sure the instrument was as big as her. They sang all the traditional numbers to illustrate the story – very light hearted and amusing.
There was real rain in the appropriate number, with the actor ending up very wet the first time, but they had umbrellas and macs the second time. He made sure that his dancing splashed the water around, too – hence the ponchos. He did just manage to get us on the third row both times they sang it – but not very much. I can see why they provided the ponchos, though!
There was the usual interval – drink for my friend, ice-cream for me. One of my friends from my school days volunteers at the Playhouse and she was the chief usher the night we went and helped my friend carry her drink back to her seat. She also sold me my ice-cream.
So was it worth going? Yes, definitely – one of the best evening entertainments I have seen. It was great to see my friend enjoying it too. Other people who went on different nights enjoyed it equally and many said it was the best thing they had seen at the Playhouse for ages. We obviously made the right choice to go, but anything we choose to go to in future is likely to be a disappointment!
Pentecost Sunday saw our church having a celebration in Queen Elizabeth Gardens and baptising people in the river!
The idea for this came form our rector, apparently, some time ago. He managed to rope in the suffragan Bishop of Ramsbury; so they did baptisms, renewal of baptismal vows, confirmations and combinations of these. They chose Pentecost Sunday as that is apparently a traditional time.
It apparently started at about 12.30, but I arrived at about 1.00. Everyone was having their picnic and chatting and having a good time, as it was dry and mostly sunny. There was an awning and stage for the music group, 3 tents for the people involved in baptisms to change in (male, female and Bishop!), shelters for SP2 (drinks and cakes) and for the barbecue and a bouncy castle for the children. People sat on the benches, chairs they had brought, blankets….. I had my lunch and then wandered around talking to people I knew.
The actual programme started at 2.30.
It started with a traditional opening and then there were worship songs that could apparently be heard more clearly in Harnham than in the park (wind direction). This was followed by testimonies from 2 or 3 of the people involved – the others were in the programme. Unfortunately, it was not easy to hear what was being said – people who are not used to it speak too quietly and too fast, however good the microphones.
There were then readings and they were followed by a sermon from the bishop. He pitched it about right in terms of both length and content. This was followed by the traditional questions and answers and the signing of each person with the sign of the cross.
While a song was sung, everyone went towards the river, and the bishop (in shorts), the rector and the youth leader waded in. The bishop prayed over the water (the River Nadder) and the candidates went in one at a time and were baptised by full immersion. Only one person exclaimed at how cold it was going in, but most did on the way out! What a pity that I forgot my camera.
More songs were sung as the candidates and clergy changed and then the bishop lined up those who were being confirmed and laid hands on each one in turn. There was then a final song and a blessing and the service was over.
So was it a good idea? Well, it was a good service and it was great to see so many people out and enjoying themselves, which was helped by the sunny weather. Lovely to see 16 people wanting to come forward and be baptised/confirmed very publicly and to see a bishop in purple bishops’ shirt and shorts in the river!
New managers at the Coffee Shop/Community Centre and at the Charity shop – both within a month! Mind you, the Coffee Shop had been working with only one part-time manager for a month and the Charity shop has had an acting manager and assistant manager for about a year, so the changes were not unexpected.
The Coffee Shop lady is only part time and is young and competent – but not “our Lucy”. She has a different style but as she has worked there longer she has become more relaxed and is starting to talk more to the customers and get better known. She seems to get on OK with the other manager, as far as I can tell, but it is all early days yet. She is getting married soon, so will have some time off – so we will see how things change after that!
I met the Charity shop manager one week when she was still training with a manager from another shop. They were both working in our shop for a couple of days, having previously been doing training in the other manager’s shop. Then, when I went in the next week, I didn’t recognise the place! It was tidy, one could walk along the aisles without tripping over bags – and I couldn’t find anything! Not sure I can cope with this…… The style of working has changed too, so we put less on the tags and put things that are ready in crates, for pricing (except the things that hang up). Most of that is because some people were making too many mistakes. As I have got to know her a bit more she also is relaxing a bit and getting more chatty, which is good. I think she is competent in ways the previous managers haven’t been, but maybe needs more experience on what will sell and what won’t?
Another change is my hairstyle. It is either so close to what it was before that most people haven’t noticed or they don’t think it suits me so haven’t said anything!
I have also got a new (to me) car as the other one was about 11 years old and I had had it for 10 years.
So are the changes good? I think we will have to wait a bit longer to see. All change is difficult, so it is a matter of getting used to it and if I decide I don’t like it or can’t cope then I am only a volunteer so I can give up and do something else and change my hair back. New car is not so easy to change again!
So what have I been doing? This and that! Usual weekly activities – charity shop, choir, community café, church, gym (but not much/enough of the last). Also “helping” with a “Community Alpha Course” (Youth Alpha adapted for adults) and now “Christianity Explored”. Extras like coffee with friends and progress on the jumper I am knitting.
Did another on-line Course – “In the night sky – Orion” – which was fairly basic astronomy, but quite fun. Seems to have inspired one of my friends into more star gazing after I gave her a star wheel which shows which constellations are where and when.
Totally failed in my attempt to take a photo of Orion – can’t work out how to leave the camera shutter open for as long as I want, so couldn’t get enough light and street lights and such don’t help.
I am now starting a new course on “England in the time of Richard III”.
Have also been doing quite a lot of visiting a friend, first of all in hospital and then at home, where she is temporarily stuck upstairs until they get all the rails and supports needed so she can get downstairs safely. I can’t believe how long it is taking. Carers come in 3 times a day, but half an hour at lunchtime is not enough to make a proper meal, so I have made a decent one a couple of times. Some of the carers are really good and have started to prepare a meal in the morning when they know they are in again at lunchtime, but others cannot even wash up properly. One tried putting mashed potato in the microwave with the paper wrapping still round it and the without piercing the film lid. Apparently all she can do is microwave “Wiltshire Farm Foods”, where one doesn’t pierce the film lid! Another problem is getting my friend up (and breakfast?) at say 11.00 then the next carer coming in at 12.00 for lunch. Good thing that she frequently doesn’t have breakfast anyway and that she can make coffee upstairs and has fruit and a few other bits if she wants them.
Not done much dog walking recently but have been given quite a lot of flowers – first for my birthday and then as thanks for the visiting etc. which has been lovely. Still collecting leaves from the autumn, and still probably got another bin full to go…… Have even managed a bit of cleaning(!) lots of ironing and the usual domestic tasks.
So? Life goes on ……
As my nephew and his family were over from Spain for a fairly short time, it was decided to have a family lunch so everyone could meet up and see them.
A venue was decided on which was not too far to go for anyone – a problem when Cambridge and Bristol (with a bad traveller) were the furthest starting points. Newbury, was the final decision – in fact it was Highclere near Newbury and my sister booked a table for a large number!
The weather was horrible – misty and raining – when I set off and didn’t improve on the way. I managed to get there with only having to go all the way round one roundabout to find the right exit! Mine was the third car to arrive, so those of us who were there went in and bought drinks and the others arrived soon after. My brother only brought one daughter, the other being away at university and wife and son having too much work to do, but all my sister’s family were there.
We went to our table and when everyone had arrived were chatting and choosing from the menu.
Some of the younger members of the party were doing colouring as well.
Between courses there was some gap as it took a while to produce food for so many.
I left before the final course, so there was a different place to enjoy the colouring!
I got fairly lost going home – heading back the way I had been going at one point, I think. Andover has too many roundabouts! Did still manage to get back before it got dark, though.
So was it worth it? Yes – good to see the Spanish branch and catch up with others.
So – it was my birthday again…..on Saturday.
The Tuesday before, in the charity shop, I was given, among other things, an individual cake with a candle on top.
On the Thursday, I was given (along with cards, flowers, a plant) a sponge cake – with one candle on top. I took it home as there was no-one who wanted cake in the morning. I should have left it there, as there were more people who would have appreciated it in the afternoon! Instead, I took 3 slices to have as dessert when I had lunch with a friend and her husband on Saturday. She had intended to make another cake, so I managed to stop her in time, BUT we had éclairs with our morning coffee!
Then on Saturday afternoon I had tea with a friend and she provided 4 cupcakes. As she doesn’t eat them I had one and left her one and she told me to take the other 2 home…..
That was 3 cakes (or pieces) I ate in one day!
With over half a sponge cake and 2 cupcakes, I decided that I would never eat them all before they went off, so took a large chunk of sponge cake to the “family meet up” and gave it to my niece to share with her husband and children. In fact I think her children didn’t get any but her brother and partner got some instead. Still got quite a lot of cake left, though.
I got even more cake (as well as a card and roses) the next Thursday from someone who had not been at the café the week before. She seemed to think that a fairy cake would be least appropriate for me so got that one! I did give quite a lot away this time though, to friends who came in.
Can one have too much cake? Yes! But I did actually appreciate the thoughts behind and effort involved in producing it.