Monday, 31 August 2015

Me on Monday

taken in Buckingham Palace Gardens
Me on Monday ... I can't tell you as I have absolutely no idea where I am.  Don't worry, I haven't lost the plot ... I'm on a mystery tour, so at the time of writing this (scheduled) post I don't know the destination, but because the forecast is for rain I think it is unlikely that I'm near the coast!  
It's been a busy weekend.  Saturday I was on a coach trip to London where we visited St Paul's Cathedral, had a guided tour around London and did the Buckingham Palace tour.  I had a fantastic time and I recommend the Palace tour to everyone.
On Sunday, I was still tired from the London trip so had a quiet day at home.  I spent the day catching up with some laundry, updated my blog, and had several phone calls with Julie - we are planning a trip to Weston-Super-Mare to see Banksy's Dismaland if we can get tickets.  Most of the day was spent curled up on the sofa, reading - I was in the mood for an undemanding crime thriller, so picked one at random out of the bookcase and ended up with 'The Bird That Did Not Sing' by Alex Gray, which so far has proved to be a good choice.

Hope you all had a good weekend.  Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

My Day in Photos| Saturday 29th August 2015

August 29th was the date set by Jane for her monthly Photo an Hour meme.  For once, I have an interesting and exciting day planned!  Many thanks to Jane for organising this.

5:30am | I've been up for half an hour, I've washed, am dressed and in the kitchen getting my breakfast.  It's going to be a long day but I've been looking forward to it for months and am excited that the day has arrived at long last.  I haven't slept well so am tired and today of all days my joints are painful, but even that can't dampen my spirits.

6:30am | I've arrived at the bus stop and thankfully the coach is early so I won't have to stand for too long. 

7:30am | The coach is full today so an hour after I got on we are just stopping at the last pick up point. 

08:30am | We're on the motorway and making good time.  I need the loo but don't like using the one on the coach but we'll be stopping at Fleet Services in about 30 minutes so the situation isn't too desperate ... although this cup of hot chocolate probably wasn't a good idea!

09:30am | Still on the motorway and a pretty boring photo ... sorry!

10:30am | We've arrived at our first stop in London - at St Paul's Cathedral. This stop is quite short and really just enough time for a comfort break and to get some food in the crypt cafe.  I've chosen to wander around and take some photos. 

11:30am | We're back on the coach and a Blue Badge Guide has joined us to provide the commentary for a guided tour around London, the theme being 'Royal London'. 

12:30pm |  We've been dropped off on the Southbank for a lunch break. I've spent some time wandering around the street food market trying to decide what to have and settled on a Caribbean chicken curry from the Curry Shack. It was delicious!

1:30pm | We're back on the coach just about to go through Admiralty Arch to arrive at the main event of the day ...  

... the Buckingham Palace tour. There are no photos of the actual tour as you're not allowed to take photos inside the Palace.

I've wanted to do this tour ever since it started over 20 years ago. It lived up to my expectations and more ...

  • being amongst all that history and walking where not just our current Queen but all the previous generations of Royals have walked.
  • walking up the Grand Staircase!
  • the excitement of seeing the original of paintings that I've only ever seen in books or on TV
  • seeing the table set for a state banquet ... such an amazing sight
  • seeing some of the Queen's dresses and realising just how small she is
  • learning about the chandeliers and how they clean them (that episode from Only Fools and Horses came to mind!)
  • learning about the roles of the numerous staff involved in the running of the Palace
  • being able to say I've eaten at Buckingham Palace, even if it was only a cream tea in the visitor's cafe!
I'll definitely repeat the tour at some time in the future.  I would have like a lot more time, particularly in the Picture Gallery, to see everything and to just have the time to enjoy what I was seeing.

4:30pm | Walking through the Palace Gardens, towards the exit.  It had just started to rain and, although visitors are restricted to one path, it was still possible to get some decent photos.

5:30pm | We've been sitting on the coach for the last 30 minutes waiting for two ladies to turn up but are now on our way home. They were eventually found and helped back on the coach by one of the Palace staff - apparently, they'd lost their way and had been found by the Palace Police wandering where they shouldn't have been. The Police were armed and they were both a bit traumatised by it all!  

7:30pm | There's no 6:30pm photo because I forgot, but here's a poorly focussed shot of the reason for a quick stop at the services!  

I didn't bother with any more 'on the coach' photos as the light was failing and there is a limit to how many 'through the window' shots I want!

21:15pm | The key in the door. I'm surprised I summoned up the energy to take this photo - I'm absolutely shattered and won't be that long out of bed.

It's been a fantastic day and it's another thing crossed off of my 101 in 1001 days.  

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Photo Pairs

These were taken last week in Imber, the uninhabited village on Salisbury Plain which is now part of the British Army's training ground and to which the general public are allowed access on certain days throughout the year.
I visited Imber as part of a photography walk/day out and whilst there, spent ages photographing the thistles.  My Photo Pair this week is ...

 Linking with Helena who organises Photo Pairs every week.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Dust If You Must

I saw this on Facebook yesterday ... and today I've followed the advice and spent the day reading!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Me on Monday

Me on Monday ... at home, playing catch up after a week without the laptop working properly.  It still isn't right but at least is usable for the time being - I don't know if it can be sorted or whether it is time for a replacement.
It's pouring down so I'm quite content to be at home.  I'm back to my 1, 2, 3 lists and the approach is working well; things are getting done and the load is starting to feel lighter.  Today is set aside for sewing name labels on new school uniforms for Little Miss C who's going into Year 2, and Little Miss H who is starting in Reception. I've nearly finished that task and then I'll be finishing up the scanning of the family photos so that the originals can be returned to my sister. It's not all work though - I'm taking regular breaks to read my latest book,  I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, which is proving to be as good as I was told and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
On Saturday I went on a day trip to Greenwich.  The high spots were a ride on the Emirates cable car over the Thames and a visit to the Cutty Sark, both memorable events and, more importantly, gave me more photos for the Summertime Scavenger Hunt (which I'll post later in the week).  I did plan to visit the Observatory but suffered from a bad attack of the dizzies on the way - due to the heat - so abandoned that idea.  I made my way back closer to the coach pick up point and sat for a while with plenty of drinks and amused myself by people watching, and then pottered around the shady part of Greenwich Park looking for photo opportunities.  It was a lovely day out but I would have preferred it to be a little cooler!
On Sunday I had a lazy start to the day not doing anything much and then spent the afternoon with friends completing a photo treasure hunt around Melksham.  The photo at the start of this post was taken as part of the hunt, for 'looking up'.  Back at home I settled down for an evening watching Les Miserables on the TV.  Another enjoyable day.
According to the forecast, it will be raining all week so I doubt I'll be going out much.  I'm off to London again on Saturday, but I'll tell you about that next time. 
Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Photography Treasure Hunt

Today I was finally able to access my blog again so I can start writing about what I've been up to during my absence from the virtual world.

Starting with today.  This afternoon I organised a photography treasure hunt with friends; I prepared a list of 10 words which we had to find photos for within an hour, and then meet back (at Costa Coffee) to share our photos with each other.  It was pouring down this morning and I thought it would have to be cancelled but fortunately the rain stopped so we were able to meet as planned and complete the hunt.

Here are my photos from this afternoon ...
1. Something beginning with C - chimney pots
2. Circle
3. Reflection
4. Legs
5. Number
6. Edible - photo of one of the adverts outside a pub
7. Green
8. Stripes
9. Communication
10. Looking up

This is the first time we've done anything like this and I was a bit worried that it wouldn't work, either not enough time or the prompts too hard to find, but everyone enjoyed it so we're not going to make any changes to the format for now and just see how it goes.

Our next meeting will be at the start of September when we're off to the Cotswold Wildlife Park to photograph the animals.  P will be taking the lead on that one as she has lots of experience of photographing animals.  They have a giant tortoise there so I'm hoping to get a photo for the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Photo Pairs

This week's photo pair is slightly different from my usual approach.  Here are two blue flowers, seen at the Courts Garden in Holt.

I've no idea what they are, so please don't ask me!

Thanks to Helena for organising this every week.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Computer Problems

This is a post to tell you that there won't be a post today!  My computer is playing up and I'm too tired to work out what's up with it, so my proper post for today will hopefully be posted tomorrow. Hope you all followed that!
This photo was taken on the way back from Imber this morning.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The Escape Room, Part 2

Well, we managed to escape the room and solve the case and I'm now back at home and will share the experience with you.
The photos in this post have nothing to do with the Escape Room experience.  They are some of the Magna Carta Barons currently on display in the city - I wasn't following the trail but photographed the ones I passed on my way to the meeting point.

I can't tell you anything specific about the puzzles we had to solve as that could possibly spoil it for some of my friends who I know want to do it themselves.  So I'll just natter on and keep it fairly general, without giving anything away.
think it's okay to say that it wasn't just one room but a series of rooms, each with a locked door.  There were numerous puzzles in each room which had to be solved, some easy and some more demanding ... but not impossible. 

It really was a Crystal Maze sort of experience with a couple of physical tasks, simple(ish) puzzles and plenty of logic problems.

We didn't manage to open the final door in the allotted 60 minutes but we'd got to the final door and we were still trying to find the code for the last lock when our time was up.  In the end we took 66 minutes to complete it all.

It was a brilliant afternoon.  They will be changing the theme in October so we are going to return for the new one, probably in November and we're also going to try the Bath Escape rooms and their detective tours. Apparently, these escape games are very popular on the continent and are just starting to gain popularity in this country. 
We'll definitely be going again ... we're hooked!

The Escape Room

Just a quickie today because I'm off to Salisbury for the day and will be leaving in a few minutes.  I'm meeting with five friends to play the Salisbury Escape Room; a Crystal Maze type game, where we'll be locked in a room and have to solve all the clues and escape the room within 60 minutes.
I've wanted to do one of these for ages - it's on my 101 things in 1001 days - and I'm really excited about it.  I'll let you know how we get on.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Today Has Been Cancelled!

I stuck my head outside the front door to see how heavy the rain was and decided to cancel my plans for today ... definitely not the weather for a picnic at the beach.  Plan B is now in force ... curled up on the sofa to finish my latest book (in time for the book group meeting), only stopping for food, drink and toilet breaks.
Before I go, I must tell you my good news.  Last night I organised a board game evening in one of the local pubs and I got chatting to S, who I was meeting for the first time.  It seems that we have a friend in common; she knows, and is in contact, with a very good friend of mine from way back who I'd lost touch with and she is going to pass on my contact details.  S also knows another friend of mine who I've recently got back in touch with.  It's a small world isn't it?
Finally, the best news of the lot ... my friend's youngest, Lauren, got the required grades and has been accepted at her first choice university to study English Literature.  I'm so pleased for her as she put so much time and effort into studying and she deserves this success.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Yesterday, I met with a friend for lunch at Lowden Garden Centre.  These frequent lunches with various friends could well be the reason the diet isn't working, but that's something to puzzle my brain about on another day!
After lunch we had a look around the 'gifts for gardeners' section and I was pleasantly surprised to see that their orchids were half price. I'd been thinking about getting some for my home and these looked healthy enough, so I bought two ...

The creamy coloured one will eventually make its home in the front room, once I've had a bit of a change round, but for now it will keep the other one company in the dining room. That's assuming I manage to keep them alive!
Oh, and I bought these as well ...
Lyn's job was to be my conscience and stop me spending too much, so she failed miserably! She bought plants and a smaller version of the grey pots above, so she was a bad as me ... maybe we shouldn't go to garden centres together.  Joking aside, I had planned to get the terracotta ones and have plants waiting to go in them.  The other two grey ceramic ones were too good a bargain to miss; they will eventually have roses in them and will stay on the decking/patio.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Photo Pairs

I took these photos last week in the Courts Garden in Holt.  My photo pair is ...


and, as a bonus, here is zoom right out!  This is a wider view of where they were growing ...
Thanks, as usual, go to Helena for organising this.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

All about ... the Art Course Day 10

Well that's another of my '101 in 1001 days' completed and ticked off the list.  It was the final session of the art course today, and I'm really sad that it is over - I have loved every single part of it.  It's not just the learning and the attempts at the art but also the people I've met.  We got on well as a group and the other four are all planning to continue on the intermediate course, starting in September, but it runs during teaching time so I can't join them.  I feel more than a little sad about that, but we have plans to meet for lunch and to keep in touch.
Anyway, on to today.  Still life! 
Up till now our starting point has been a very simple line drawing to show the base for blocking in the colour, but today we were actually drawing what we could see on the table in front of us. We started with a practice sketch (which I've forgotten to photograph), with Maggie taking us through each stage of drawing the bowl and the lemons.  We then painted the whole page with a cream coloured wash so that it could dry while we stopped for coffee and cake, and after the break we applied the dark blue background.
Then on to our smaller piece of paper to practice painting a lemon, created by applying four different paint colours.  I messed up my shadow on this one, it's too heavy and doesn't have enough of a curve on it to create the correct rounded shape.  Interestingly I actually have five colours because I also seemed to have picked up some red, which you can see in the dark orange streaks in the centre.  I've no idea how I managed that as the red was nowhere near the yellow on the palette, but I quite like the effect!

The background was dry (it is supposed to be mottled like that!), so we started adding the pale blue lines on the bowl, then a darker blue and a darker creamy brown on the right of the bowl to add shadows.  And finally, we painted the lemons.

I'm really pleased with this painting, although I think it needs some shading on the inside of the bowl as it wouldn't be the same shade on both sides - there should be some shadow on one part of it. Anyway, that's where we stopped and I'm happy with my effort. 
We also got to bring the lemons home with us so I'll be making some lemon curd tomorrow!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Me on Monday

Me on Monday ... drying out after getting soaked to the skin during my early morning walk, part of my 'get-out-and-walk-whatever-the-weather' exercise drive.  I may have to rethink this approach, as I now don't feel like doing all the other things on the list for today!
It's supposed to an at home, catch up with chores day - a food shopping, trip to the skip, do some housework sort of day.  Unfortunately, I've lost my enthusiasm for chores and it feels unlikely that much will get done.  I'll have to do the shopping because I've nearly run out of loo paper, which could be a bit dire, but as for the rest ... as the saying goes, tomorrow is another day!
You may have gathered that I have a bad case of lazyitis.  Again! Still, it's only me affected by it so I'm not beating myself up, just going with the flow.  I've had a busy holiday so far and, although I had a quiet Saturday, the rest of this weekend was packed with visits from friends and a trip out yesterday. This week will be a bit quieter so, if the weather behaves, I'll be able to get out in the garden and do the necessary around the house.  

So, that's Me on Monday.  How about you?

Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky. 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

A Visit to Seend Head House

Today I went with friends to see the gardens at Seend Head House, which were open to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme to raise money for charity.  It's only about six miles from my home but I had no idea that this property existed.  To get to it you have to turn to the left off the main road just as the main road is following a steep up-hill blind bend to the right; luckily there were marshals around to direct the traffic and avoid any accidents.
All I know about the house is that is was originally an 18th century mill owners house on a 13 acre site, with lawns sloping down to the river.  The current owner are renovating the place and overhauling the garden, creating an orchard, planting more trees in their parkland and creating vibrant flower beds.  It's early days yet, but I think it'll look absolutely amazing when they've finished - if it is ever possible to finish something like this! I hope to be able to go back in future years to see the progress.