Archie, having reached his 15th birthday started to go downhill a bit. His bowel movements became a bit uncontrolled and he couldn’t always manage overnight. His joints became worse and he found himself sitting down unexpectedly, more often. His owner eventually made the decision, with the vet, that it would be better to put him down.
Archie was a much loved dog and had many friends and quite a few dog walkers and his owner invited us to come and say “goodbye” to him. I think most of us were a bit wary, but went anyway, out of respect for his owner. We met outside a chapel (which I understand is no longer used) close to his home and was part of the psychiatric hospital.
Archie was quite interested, but it had to be admitted that he showed……..
……when he discovered that someone had his favourite treats! Lots of people were…..
…..and talking to him, but he was still most interested……
He continued to resist having a decent photo – turning away or moving at the last minute.
The final part of the gathering was taken by the assistant pastor at our church. He gave a little talk, saying how Archie had saved his owner’s life and also the story of how his male instincts had overcome him! There was then a tape of a lovely version of “The Lord is my shepherd” and a prayer giving thanks for Archie’s life. It was a lovely thing to do. Even Archie……
Archie was then taken to his “grandparents” for a last night and was put down the next day. His ashes are now in a lovely wooden box on a shelf with his photo near by.
So was I glad I went? Yes, definitely. Both for the lovely way we said goodbye and as encouragement to his owner, who misses him – “best friend”.
Another walking holiday; same company (hf holidays) as usual but different location. I decided to go by train as that only involved one change and was probably about the same cost as petrol for the journey and the road route seemed quite complicated when I looked it up. Perhaps I should invest in a sat nav?
The journey was as easy as it seemed and the taxi was at Church Stretton station to meet me and take me to the Long Mynd Hotel. Looking from the train and from my room, the hills looked a lot steeper and higher than I expected!
Arriving on the Friday, there was a “Drinks Reception” and time to look round after the meal.
Saturday’s walks started from the house. I went on the easier walks every day and that started last on Saturday. There were so many people on it that it was split into “faster” and “slower” with leaders for each. I went for “faster”. We started by walking down “Rectory Field” and headed onto the Long Mynd by going up the Batch Valley.
We stopped for elevenses part of the way up…..
……and continued up (quite steep) so that we had amazing views. With larks singing overhead it was lovely. We had…..
with views over the valley and hills which…..
We then came down the very steep……
……with time for a cup of tea on the roof terrace of the café at the bottom. Then we walked back to the hotel with plenty of time before dinner.
The second day (Sunday) we took a coach just into Wales and first walked to some standing stones – not terribly impressive. The rest of the morning was mostly through fields….
and on to have lunch at tables outside the…..
……which contained information about the local geology and mining areas. From there we walked up……
…….which has quite a lot of……
We had between one and two miles of walking on…..
……which needed quite a lot of…..
I think it was fortunate that only one person fell over. Some of the stones had some…..
…..but I am glad we did the walk in dry weather. So much concentration was needed on the path that we could only really enjoy the excellent views when we paused. The way down was also…..
..and the path stony so we were glad to get to the pub to wait for the coach back to the hotel for dinner.
The next day, Monday, was our “day off”, when some people leave and others arrive. I went down to Church Stretton and decided there was probably not enough to do for a whole day so got the train to Ludlow which is famous for its….
I walked through the town and to the castle, but decided not to go in. Instead I walked round it.
Having got right round I ate my picnic lunch in……
I explored the town a little more, looking at and round….
I also went down through…..
…and down to…
I also walked along the river before getting the train back to Church Stretton. I even had time to write some postcards before dinner.
The next day, Tuesday, was back to organised walks and we started by coach again and the easy walk was along Wenlock Edge.
Most of the walk was……
The first part of the walk was along an old railway line going passed…..
….and then passed…..
…..which we could see from both above…..
…..and looked down on the site of the more recent……
We continued through….
…..where we had lunch and saw….
…..before going on to Much Wenlock, the “home of the modern Olympic Games” – or so they say. There was time to admire the….
…..look round the museum, giving some history of the games, look round….
…..and still have time for cups of tea and a toasted tea cake before getting the coach back to the hotel.
In the evening a local male voice choir performed. They had their own local words to the songs and were good (as far as I can tell!) and very amusing.
The next day was forecast to be very hot and we were told that the walk was totally exposed, without shade, so I decided that I couldn’t cope with that and opted out. In fact it actually clouded over so I might have managed, but it was very hot. Instead I went down to Church Stretton and looked round the town and found a place to get an excellent iced coffee, then looked round…..
…..which had a surprising and very attractive modern re-ordering inside. I then took the main path into Rectory Wood……
I then walked upwards and…..
…..where I found a bench and had my lunch….
I then returned to the hotel and spent the afternoon reading in the lounge.
There was the “HF quiz” in the evening and I was asked to join a team. I was, as usual, hopeless on the music, film and TV parts and moderate on the rest. As the rest of the team were not much better we came joint last in that hotel!
The final day initially followed a trail starting in the hotel grounds. We passed various….
….and then went down into the town and through the back streets and headed for Caer Caradoc. The easy walk didn’t go to the top but it was initially……
We followed round and along the slopes on the far side from the town, still…..
…..and then continued on….
and still further, ‘admiring’ the sheep…..
We stopped for lunch when we were part way down and it rained a bit.
The final part was across a railway line – a train came just after we had crossed over – and then a very boring walk from All Stretton along the road. There was time for a pot of tea and a toasted tea cake in the café I had been in the previous day. It started to rain hard while I was there, so we got very wet on the way back to the hotel.
In the evening, as well as dinner, we looked at the 6 word statements about the holiday and made contributions to the “Pathways Fund” by the ones we liked most and then had an interesting talk on bees and bee-keeping.
The next day was return home by train, which was fine, except for the Hen Party that were in the same carriage as me for part of the way.
So was it a good holiday? Some of the walks and the scenery were very good, but I think the hotel is probably too large and it was difficult to get to know people well. The weather was dry and sunny until the last day, but maybe a bit hot and humid a couple of days, so overall it was only a satisfactory holiday!
As “we” have the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta and on June 15th it was 800 years since it was signed, there have been celebrations in the city. I can’t really imagine why. King John appealed to the pope and tore it up within 3 months and most of it is now totally irrelevant. The copy is written in Mediaeval Latin and uses abbreviations that most of us cannot understand so we can’t actually read it. I believe 2 clauses still have relevance: one saying in effect that the king is not above the law and the other that freemen must be judged by their peers – in effect trial by jury. The second would, at the time, not have applied to the vast majority of people who were peasants and almost certainly not to women. I am told that all this (eventually) led to our democratic system and fair trials. Maybe – but it took a long time and a lot of other things before it got there.
The big celebration was a “pageant” through the streets of the city……
…..to the Cathedral on the evening of the 15th. Each of the community areas of Wiltshire had…….
…….and paraded them through the streets with…..
There were also various other……..
There were some interesting things represented.
They finished in the Close, where there were speeches and music and (after a long wait for it to be dark enough, I am told) a firework display. I watched the procession, but didn’t go on to the last part as I had a busy day next day. It was quite fun.
There have been 25 “barons”……..
………placed at various points around the city – they have all been painted by local people and come in a variety of designs. They were apparently “delivered” by the fire service on the night between the 11th and 12th June.
There is a trail to follow to see them all and I saw many as I have gone about as normal. Some were relevant to the place they were in, such as…….
….but others showed different Salisbury features, such as the one showing the story of…..
……..to find the place to build the new Cathedral. Some were quite amusing such as the back of Busy Bee Baron, showing……
Tom. a friend of mine, painted……
……that was actually relevant to…..
Someone else I knew painted a baron representing……..
…….that nest on the Cathedral. Both said how long it took – but then it was equivalent to 2 large pictures. The varnish on the top was also a bit of a problem, causing smudging in some cases.
I used the afternoon of bank holiday Monday to look at the remaining 8, visiting some places that I have never been before despite having lived here for over 20 years! There were some I hated and some beautiful ones and some that were just OK. The one painted by Terry Pratchett’s illustrator was good (if not relevant to anything much!) and was supposed to look like…..
…….and the back showed illustrations of…..
Schools produced smaller barons which were displayed in the Cathedral for a while. The larger ones will be auctioned on 1st October for the Trussell Trust.
And so…? Well, I am not convinced that either the pageant or the barons had much to do with the Magna Carta but they were both quite fun and provided things to entertain tourists to the city – as well as locals. There do seem to have been more tourists this year which hopefully has been good for local businesses, although is quite annoying when one is trying to do ones shopping!
A friend suggested that we got together to make a “Cosy for Christmas” – which is a sort of dressing gown made from knitted squares. I think we only started in November and as we needed either 79 or 112 squares we started knitting hard. It soon became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to get it done for Christmas, so relaxed and took things at our own pace. When we had got quite a lot of the squares, I started to sew them together and my friend continued knitting…….
It was after Easter before we finished all 112 squares, plus an extra as a pocket. I then finished sewing it up and did a crochet border.
It was then ready to send off to the organisation that suggested it.
I then got a polite request from my three year old great-niece for a T-shirt for Charlie – or even better, 2 T-shirts – one in blue and one in red! Charlie is a doll, who was female and had a pink dress, but it turns out that he is male, so the dress has gone to Millie (I think) and Charlie has no clothes.
I made the blue one – well it was actually a jumper from a pattern I had for dolls clothes and was also really for a female doll – but don’t tell Charlie (or Sofia). I sent it off to make sure that it fitted – which I am told it did – before making the red one.
I then also attempted a pair of shorts, for which I had no pattern so it was all guess work. I got onto the mark 3 version before I thought they might be O.K.
Although I have been given all the relevant measurements it is another question as to whether they will actually fit. That will have to wait until they are tried on the doll.
In addition to this there is a project locally, mostly from our church I think, to knit blankets for Syrian refugees, so people are knitting squares. We have been given the sizes and the number of stitches and rows, but if my trials are anything like that of other people they will come out a mixture of sizes. I offered to sew up (some) of them and was almost immediately given a bag of squares that someone’s mother had made. They don’t match the sizes given and are not of uniform size, so I have worked to patch them together to make a blanket of the appropriate size – which has included knitting some extra bits, most of which are not squares but strips of various sizes. We were asked to use bright colours and the squares I was given are a bit dull so I have used bright green for sewing up and my extra bits are mostly bright colours. I had to do a crochet boarder too, to make the size roughly correct and that is bright red as there was not enough of the green.
Now I am knitting squares while I wait to be given others to sew together and red shorts to go with the red T-shirt for Charlie.
Do I like knitting? Well, completing something is quite satisfying and it gives me something to do with my hands when I am listening to the radio.
Archie was 15 – I am told that is 105 in dog years.
He got six cards – not bad for a dog.
He also got lots of presents – mostly treats of various sorts……..
The one from his “cousins” Phoebe and Rollo (spaniels) was a voucher and with that he got a new collar, a portable water bottle and dish for hot weather – and more treats!
Did he have a good time? Don’t ask me – he is a dog!
The last six months have seen big changes at choir. I suppose it really started before that – after Easter last year -when the venue moved from a place to which I could walk, to a hall about a 15 minute drive away. This is also a bit cold and bare and not as pleasant as the previous one. We moved as the first place was getting too small for the numbers. My major problem was that instead of a 10 minute stroll to the charity shop where I work in the afternoon, there was the drive back and then a 20 minute walk to the shop. Not very convenient, really…..
Then we were supposed to be learning the community version of the Messiah that Fiona had produced, ready for Christmas, but we did not seem to have enough time to learn it and I just was not getting it at all. I decided I really wasn’t enjoying the choir, so I decided to give it up, at least until after Christmas and the Messiah was over.
On the day that I had decided was to be my last one, Fiona didn’t come and we were given a message when we arrived, that she had been rushed into hospital. We heard later that she has serious heart problems. I gathered that the next few weeks her husband took some rehearsals and then that the Messiah was cancelled. The choir continued, with her husband leading or with someone else standing in and with Fiona doing one or two – or so I gathered. By Christmas, Fiona had decided she would have to give up the choirs, but she had found someone else to run them.
I heard that the new woman, Kate, leading the choir was good and was given her e-mail address, so e-mailed in the new year and was told it was fine to re-join. In fact it took me several weeks before I actually got there because of weather or others not going. When I did go, lots of people said they were pleased to see me, which was nice. It took me several weeks to catch up with what was going on.
Kate is very different from Fiona, but fun in a different way. She expects us to sing the right notes (!! not sure Fiona ever cared!) and seems to think we can read music a lot better than many of us can. She never tells jokes (probably a good thing – some of Fiona’s were pretty crude) and expects us to stick to the rests, come off notes at the right time and put expression and meaning into the words and even to smile! She is also talking about doing some choreography! She works us quite hard each week. It does mean, though, that we – well, I – have a much better idea of what we are doing than we/I did before. Her latest trick is to get us to sing some of the songs without the words/music – that is really pushing it, especially in the altos as we are few in number and half of us haven’t a clue!
So am I enjoying it? Not really sure – think I feel clearer about what I should be doing – even if I am failing to do it. And I have continued to go – not totally because I give someone else a lift.
Celebrating my birthday? Not what that I normally do, but as I was 21 (x3!) this year, I thought that for a change I would do something. I am not that keen on parties and my house is too small for one anyway so I had a different idea and sent out these invitations.
To celebrate being 21 (x3!)
I am holding an “At Home”
on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st January
between 2.30 and 5.30 pm.
You are invited to call in for
as long or as short a time as you wish and
have a cup of tea/coffee and cake/biscuits
on either day, between these times.
(NO presents please and no need to RSVP.
I would love to see you, but understand
if you can’t make it.)
These went by email to all my University friends, all my family and a couple of people in Surrey (from where I moved 3 years or so ago). Then I handed out paper copies to a carefully selected set of local people. I have to admit that I didn’t see a couple of people, so they didn’t get the invitations!
The trouble with this was that everyone then knew when my birthday was! This meant that I had more “celebration” than I expected. The first was a meal out with 3 friends in a local pub, where they treated me to lunch. Good meal, good company – and I didn’t have to cook or wash up.
The second, was at the coffee shop/community centre, on the day before my birthday as that was when I volunteer there. I was given flowers and also a cake – with a firework on top instead of a candle! That was a bit scary, but it went out before I had to cut the cake and I didn’t have to blow it out. We cut up the cake and shared it out and it didn’t last long. Good cake though and it was great to celebrate with people there.
For the “At Home” I had ordered cakes, from the lady who makes them for the coffee shop. I chose lemon drizzle cake (because I really like it) and ginger and pear (because it is more unusual). I also made some chocolate peppermint slices and some shortbread. There was a large tin of biscuits in reserve, as I had no idea how many people would come or how much they would eat.
On the days of the “At Home”, I also had to clean the house – well, dust and hoover and other basics anyway – and then in the afternoon it was just a matter of waiting to see who would come. A few people had said they would definitely come, and on which day, and a few others had said they couldn’t make it, but generally it was part of the fun to see who would arrive and when. In fact the two days turned out completely differently.
On the Friday, almost everyone arrived at about the same time and we all sat down and had drinks and cake and a good chat. Everyone was local so almost everyone knew each other. People mostly left at about the same time, too. There was one exception who arrived when most people were leaving – but that was what I had been expecting – people arriving at different times. A very enjoyable afternoon.
I think I am going to have to teach some of my friends to read though. As well as flowers and chocolates there were some other “no presents please”!
On the Saturday, it was totally different, partly because it was mostly for people who work on Fridays, so have less time. The first to arrive was one of the people from Surrey – which was a lovely surprise and gave me a bit of a chance to catch up on the gossip from there. My sister and brother-in-law arrived next and my niece and great-niece and -nephew after that. The last 2 created more noise and they definitely wanted cake – but were a bit suspicious of the ones I had, except the shortbread. After that people started coming and going – some staying for quite a long time and some just dropping in briefly. Both were great and was what I had been expecting. Only one person came twice – I think she liked the cake! (Actually, she had said she was coming on the Friday, but came again on the Saturday with her husband.) None of my university friends came – but I didn’t really expect them to.
The last to arrive and only there for a short time, was a friend from school! She actually lives locally and we had lost contact years ago, but met up again when I was originally in T. I then taught her daughter and since I came back here we keep meeting up as we are walking to or from our homes which are quite close. She had phoned to say that she was coming but would be quite late. The last to leave were my sister and family and that was after a discussion about where they could eat on the way home.
The last celebration was at the charity shop where I work and was the next week. They gave me a card and cake – with a candle to blow out – which we shared. That made 4 cakes – not bad, hey?
About a week later I got the card my nephew had posted without a stamp (due to sleep deprivation, he said, on the other card he sent WITH a stamp) and a few days after that the people at the coffee shop gave me a card too. It had been “hidden” so I didn’t see it when it was being passed round for people to sign and wasn’t found for a couple of weeks! The interesting thing was, that with those 2, I got 21 birthday cards – how appropriate!
So would I celebrate my birthday that way again? Maybe – I really did enjoy it, but all the cleaning and organisation……. So maybe in a few years?
I don’t have a dog of my own – I am out too much and they have to be walked (at least once) every day so are too much of a tie. The dog in my brother’s family, Sasha, is also extremely badly behaved – out of the house, even though she is lovely inside. She barks at all people and all other dogs – a rescue dog, so we blame the previous owners! I do like dogs, though, so walking other people’s well behaved dogs is fun.
Hector belongs to one friend and is quite young and energetic.
I go with my friend when we walk him.
When we get away from the roads he comes off the lead and goes off to investigate all sorts of exciting smells and rabbits and ……? He comes back every so often to check his mistress is still there (and get a treat from her pocket!) and when he is whistled for. The latter sometimes takes two goes – did she really mean it? He is really well behaved though.
He has to have two long walks a day, but walks much further than us, running backwards and forwards. Good thing – we would never keep up with the exercise he needs. He is fit, though.
The places we go with Hector are lovely – great views over the city and of the Cathedral and all within walking distance of the city.
The other dog I walk is Archie, who is elderly, nearly 15, had a stroke about 17 months ago and is extremely well behaved but quite slow when on walks – unless he has detected a female dog in season!
He could be left off the lead all the time, but I always keep him on it when we are near roads because he is not my dog and very special. He doesn’t always come when he is called (but part of that is deafness) but he does always follow if I change direction. Well, he knows that I have the treats in my pocket!
In the summer and autumn he loved to go in the river – wading not swimming.
That is partly because he has a very thick coat and gets hot so the river cools him down and also he can get a drink. He “bites” the water, not laps it when he is in the river, although he laps normally from his dish at home.
Recently he has not been able to go very far and as a result of his previous stroke his back legs have been giving way so he finds himself sitting down – when he looks surprised and a bit sheepish. He scrambles up and keeps going, though. He has been starting to look as if it is “Oh, not again” and his owner said it took him ages to get up the other day. We hope it is just the weather but sadly he is quite old.
He still loves to go out, though and likes to investigate every smell – sometimes for a very long time!
He then has to leave his own mark to show he was there. It is a pity he cannot always manage the three legged posture and has to behave like a female!
I think my favourite bit is when I arrive and he gets very excited because he knows I am taking him for a walk. He would jump up at me if he could now do that, but as it is he looks as if he is dancing!
So is dog walking fun? Yes, most of the time, but less so when it is raining or very cold! I still wouldn’t have a dog, though – as well as being too much of a tie they do make a lot of mess in a house. They not only leave a lot of hair around but also have a tendency to bring a lot of mud in.
This year we met up in Kings Lynn. I left on the Thursday and went to stay with one friend at her new house in Hitchin. Very nice it is too, even if there are rather a lot of stairs! We had an excellent meal out in the town in the evening.
Friday morning we had a wander round the town, so I had a better idea of it and then had lunch and after that we were picked up by another friend who was taking us up to Kings Lynn. We went to look at “his” charity shop first – the people there say they have only seen him working there once! Then to his house and had a cup of tea. His wife came back from work and only had time for a very quick cup of tea and to finish her packing before we set off.
The road up was quite busy and finding the hotel and the way in was not that easy either. The sat nav seemed to take us to the back….. We found our rooms and then made our way to the pub where others had gathered for an evening meal. We moved a table and weren’t the last to arrive. Food, drink and lots of chat and noise followed…..
The following morning we had a guided walk round Kings Lynn given by a friend of the people who organised the weekend.
I was so busy taking photos that I missed the introduction (and various other bits) so the history didn’t make much sense to me – whoops!
I picked up that this was supposed to be King John’s sword, but couldn’t have been because of the dating and I did like some of the wonderful old buildings, quite a few of which were merchants’ houses. I think they were profits from exporting wool and corn from the port – if I remember rightly? The town was also part of the Hanseatic League in mediaeval times.
I also liked……
….and the high tides. Clever!
We didn’t block the roads all the time we were listening.
I did quite like the idea that a salesman is supposed to have suggested that……
And I thought this………
We came out near the river at one point.
We looked at several courtyards with old buildings round them and finished up at…..
After that we split into groups/pairs/whatever, depending on what we wanted to do. Four of us decided to take the Coast Hopper bus to Hunstanton – 3 of us having bus passes! When we got there we took the land-train to the lighthouse at Old Hunstanton – mostly because it was due to arrive at about the time we got there. We then walked back along the beach.
The cliffs are interesting with the layers of colours.
They were presumably laid down in different ages and are limestone/chalk type, but I have never done any geology.
Looking out to sea, in the distance was…….
…..which would probably not be visible if the day had not been clear. Looking at the picture, I wonder if it was actually on land at the other side of the Wash rather than at sea? When we got back to the main town we found one café open and it could provide all of us with what we wanted – different for each of us! Then it was back to Kings Lynn by the bus and time to get ready for the evening meal.
Some people dressed up really smartly – unlike the usual jeans and T-shirt.
We had to walk to the restaurant, which was beside the river. The sun was just about setting as we got there……
The meal was very pleasant – with lots of the usual chat. I was so busy eating and talking that I forgot to take the photos until we were about to leave!
From there some of us went back to the Customs House where there was a light show depicting the history of Kings Lynn. Some of it was hard (impossible?) to interpret but other parts were more obvious, like……
Then it was back to the hotel.
Next day, after breakfast, we checked out and then went on to do different things – some going straight home, but quite a few of us going on to the grounds of the Sandringham Estate. My friend and I were getting a lift back with different people and that is where we went. We had coffee there and some of us had a wander round and then had lunch – meeting up with various of the others for that. Some of them had looked round the house, or what they were allowed to see, but the general consensus was that it wasn’t really worth the money – the grounds are free! We had managed to grab a table, which was good as it was busy as it was another wonderful warm, sunny day.
After lunch it was back to Hitchin, to show the people who gave us a lift the house. After they left we had the evening there and the the next day it was home for me.
So – a good weekend? Yes, I would say so! I think I managed to get an answer from everyone to my question of the year – “What have you done that is new this year?” Apart from the moved house (x3) and the arranging weddings and the new grandchild there were some interesting answers – even if I wouldn’t want to repeat all of them here – Hugh!
The slugs (and snails) have decimated my garden this year. They ate 3 of the 6 plants I bought for my new rockery,
the flowers and then the leaves from the red and white dahlia I bought, most of my salad leaves, some of my radishes, the tops of all my carrots (actual carrot, not just the leaves)
and even the chives that came up. Slug pellets seem to have had no effect at all, so I have started a war.
Whenever I see a snail it gets squashed or stamped on and slugs get cut in half or squashed. This has not had much effect, so when it has rained I now go on a slug hunt.
If they are crawling across the path they are……
……and moved to somewhere that is not the middle of the path.
If they are on the soil they are……
…….joining previous victims. They don’t actually stay there long. I have seen other slugs crawling on them (are they cannibals?) and if it is not the slugs it is the ants who tidy them up.
Small slugs are harder to see, but easier to squash, as are the very small snails. I rather think the snails have been breeding…… Last winter was too warm and damp and didn’t kill enough off and I probably needed to clear up more leaves so there were less hiding places. I am going to have to hunt harder – the edges of the lawns seem to be one place the slugs go and the leaves of the shrubs harbour snails. I need to reduce the population more.
So am I winning? From the number I find when I am not even on a proper hunt, then I suspect the answer is no. Hope they don’t eat all my winter violas and my new cyclamen…..