Friday, 31 August 2018

SPSH - August Link Up

It's the last day of August so it's time to share our progress in finding photos for the Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt. 

First, a few new ones ...

No 8 | a pile of ... padlocks on the bridge in Bakewell. Also the Lapidarium in Hereford Cathedral, which is a collection of carved stones, monuments and architectural pieces.

 No 12 | bells, found in the church in Hale Village. The date on the bell is 1593.

No 5 | pedal power, taken in Hereford.

My other photos for the hunt can be found by following these links:

Something that could be from a favourite book/movie/song

Many thanks to Mary-Lou who is organising the hunt and who will list all the other participants on her blog.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Take Three Thursday | Art Installations

This week for Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday I am sharing photos taken in Liverpool, of three of the many art installations around the city. They were all taken from a moving tour bus, so apologies for the quality of the images!

Hope Street 'Suitcases' by John King, installed in 1998 
- this could also be used for SPSH No 8 | a pile of ...

'Belonging' by Patrick Murphy, installed in 2012

Arbores Laetae (Joyful Trees) by Diller Scofidio & Renfro, installed in 2008

Here's a video that shows the trees 'dancing'!

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Holiday Snaps

I had good news from the consultant yesterday at the Retina Clinic. The left eye (where there is the possibility of malignancy) shows no significant change and is looking healthy, and the right eye (which has the PVD) is continuing to heal and shows no damage to the retina. I have to go back in six months for the next check up.

On to today ... I'm sharing some of my holiday snaps, all of which are possible candidates for the SPSH.

No 1 | stripes, a child's pram on display in Chatsworth House, and Derwent Dam revealing the layers of rock usually hidden below the suface of the water.

No 3 | a framed view taken in Chatsworth House. It actually a trompe l'oeil of a violin and bow painted by Jan van der Vaart c. 1723.

No 4 | wings, taken in Ilam Church and Sudbury Hall

No 8 | a pile of ... hassocks and kneelers in Ilam Church, a pile of wood at Chatworth (part of a display to show the materials used in the renovation of the house), and part of the rockery at Chatsworth.

No 12 | bells, taken in the bell tower of Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral.

No 15 | out of the blue, showing the flag flying above the library in Liverpool

No 19 | picture postcard perfect, taken at Dovedale and Ilam Hall.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018


Just a quick post today as I have another appointment at the hospital to have my eyes checked and I need to rush to catch the train. I'm not really looking forward to it as last time it was very painful when they dilated my pupils. If it follows the same pattern as last time I will have difficulty focusing for the rest of the day so, once I find my way home (train, then bus) it will be a case of sitting quietly and doing very little ... any excuse! 

Back tomorrow.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Holiday Thoughts

Now I'm home and feeling rested I've been thinking about holidays, the recent one and also what I'd like to do in the future. I've been asked for some details about the HF holidays, so expect a lot of waffling!

It was my first experience of HF Holidays and on the whole was a big success. I didn't know what to expect but the organisation was highly recommended by a friend so I booked a couple of breaks - a seven night Discovery Tour and a four night Self Guided Walking Holiday, and linked them together by a three night stay in Liverpool using AirBnb. 

HF run their own 'houses' - think hotel but without a phone in the room or room service meals. Historically the organisation specialised in walking holidays but they are starting to diversify and now offer sight-seeing (discovery tours), arts and crafts, music, and dancing breaks. It was the lack of a phone in the room that I didn't like especially when I discovered that there was no mobile phone signal in the building, so there was no quick way of getting help if needed. That's really my only negative though.

They have lots of repeat business so most of the other people on both my HF breaks knew the ropes and had been holidaying with HF for years. They are full board holidays with everyone eating together for breakfast and the evening meal, both meals served by HF staff, and a picnic lunch is provided for midday. There are no set places to sit so you get to meet and chat to most of the people in the house over the course of the holiday. The social aspect at the meals and during the evening is encouraged and I loved the fact that, with one or two exceptions, people arrived on their holiday expecting to chat and to make new friends. Breakfast is chosen from a buffet (porridge, yoghurt, fruit, pastries, cereals, juices) and there is also a choice of cooked breakfasts, followed by toast, tea and coffee. There is no limit, you can have as much or as little as you want. Sandwiches for the picnic lunch are ordered the day before from a comprehensive 'build your own sandwich' list, and the rest is chosen from a picnic buffet (fresh fruit, chocolate bars, mini pies/pasties, nuts, crisps, cheese, biscuits), but you have to provide your own water bottle, they don't supply drinks for the picnic lunch. The three course evening meal is selected the day before from a list giving three or four options for each course. You can buy your own alcohol to have with the evening meal, settling your bar bill at the end of the holiday.

The House Manager and the activity leaders organise some entertainment every night. This lasts about an hour and participation is optional, but fun! The entertainment during my holidays included quizzes, ceilidh, poetry walk, drawing by committee challenge, a talk about the Peak District, the inter-house quiz, and the local food taster night (when there is a five course meal and you can choose from options on two of the courses). 

As well as participation in the evening entertainment being optional, so too was any aspect of your chosen holiday. If you didn't want to go on a walk, or in my case, to a particular village then you just told the relevant leader and made 
your own plans for that time. It was all very well organised but flexible. For example, on the Discovery tour there were tea shops at every location we went to and a couple of people only ever went to these shops. They didn't want to look around at anything and nobody tried to force them to - they were perfectly happy with their choices. 

I loved all the sight-seeing I did but one of the unexpected highlights was the pleasure gained from the social meals and entertainment. I eat out fairly often with friends but the reality is that most of my meals are solitary events, and of course this was also the case when I've trotted off on my previous holidays and city breaks. I suppose it's that I've come home feeling I've had a very different experience from my everyday life and for me, that's partly what a holiday should be.

So, would I go again? That's a definite yes, although next time I will leave plenty of time between holidays. I'd like to do a photography one but will learn from the experience of someone I met on the Brecon holiday who asked for and got her money refunded - it was to do with the ability of the 'professional' photographer who was running the course and she advised me to check his/her credentials before booking. There are also some special interest ones I'd be interested in going.

I realised how much I love this country and still have so much to see. At the moment I am questioning how much I really want to travel abroad and if so, whether the places I've been thinking about are really where I want to go. More thought is needed on that one before I reach a decision. It's easy to get carried away when reading the brochures but there is a certain budget for travelling which once spent is unlikely to be replaced, so I need to do some serious thinking.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

The Day I Met A Giant!

The evening before I was due to leave Liverpool I read an article about the Childe of Hale. I'd never heard this story before so, as it wasn't far out of my way, I made a slight detour to Hale the next morning. 

So here he is ... John Middleton, known as the 'Childe of Hale'.  He was born in Hale in 1578, a normal healthy baby of 'humble peasant stock'.

image owned by Brasenose College, Oxford
and used under creative commons licence from Art UK website.
He lived in this cottage and it is said that he grew to be nine feet and three inches (2.8m) tall, so tall that he had to sleep with his feet sticking out of the end windows. That's the tale and, according to the lovely woman who showed me around the church, local children are still told this story today. Another more fanciful reason given for his great height is that as a child he drew the outline of a giant on Hale shore and slept within that outline - when he woke up he found he was a giant!

He worked as a farm labourer and bodyguard to Sir Gilbert Ireland, who was the Lord of the Manor of Hale Hall. Middleton came to the attention of King James 1 in 1617, when he accompanied Gilbert, who was to be knighted, to the King's Court. Middleton wore a specially made outfit of purple, red and gold on this occasion. It is recorded that Gilbert and Middleton visited Brasenose College in Oxford (Gilbert was a graduate and senior member of the college), where Middleton had his portrait painted. Samuel Pepys wrote about seeing the painted outline of the Childe’s hand (which remains to this day) at the college in 1668: “After came home from the schools I out with Landlord to Brasenose College to the butteries and in the cellar find the hand of the child of Hales”.

Whilst in London Middleton beat the King's champion wrestler and in doing so broke the man's thumb. The King was embarrassed by the defeat and displeased with the amount of money lost in betting on the match, so sent Middleton home with twenty pounds, a substantial amount of money at that time. Sadly, Middleton's companions mugged him on the journey back to Hale and he returned to the village penniless. He remained there until his death in 1623. 

John Middleton is buried in the local churchyard. His remains have been examined at some point although it seems they weren't actually measured but just a rough comparison made to other skeletons - this was probably during Victorian times, which is when the gravestone may date from.

This bronze statue is a fairly recent addition to the village. The local pub is called the 'Childe of Hale' and there is large mosaic of Middleton on one of the walls. The reason why he is called 'the Childe' is disputed with one version suggesting that he was childlike and of limited mental capacity. Another reason suggests that his great height marked him out as the child of the village of Hale.

Brasenose College rowing club's first eight still retain the 'Childe of Hale' as their mascot and wear the colours of purple, yellow and red in his honour. In 1928 they presented an oar to Hale Village as a commemoration of this connection and the oar hangs on the gallery in the church.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

At Home ... and Planning!

It's going to be a reasonably quiet day at home. I have the rest of the holiday washing to do, but that's about it. It was lovely to sleep in my own bed, even if it is the spare bed in the smallest bedroom - I'd forgotten that the furniture had already gone to Dorothy House. Best of all was having a long soak in the bath, something I'd really missed as it was all shower rooms when I was away.

I placed a Tesco order before I left Brecon and that will be delivered later this morning so I'll have some fresh fruit and veg in the house. I've definitely overeaten while on holiday - you certainly don't go hungry on an HF holiday. At some stage I need to sit down and plan my meals for the next couple of weeks and get back to eating sensible portions ... losing weight and increasing fitness levels is a must. I go back to the gym on Thursday when I'll be given my exercise routine and shown how to use the various machines, and then it'll be a case of getting on with it. No excuses! 

I also have to get on and place the rest of the orders for the bathroom suite, door handles, and taps. They should be starting work the second week in September and the decorator will be here as soon as they've finished. I also need to choose carpets and bathroom flooring and get that scheduled in. Best of all, it's time to get the new furniture chosen and ordered.  It's all very exciting!

Friday, 24 August 2018

Holiday Day 15: Homeward Bound

Actually, I'm home. I left immediately after breakfast and had a nice, steady three hour drive home. I opted against the shorter Servern Bridge route as the SatNav was advising a 30 minute delay and kept recalculating alternatives. In the end I took the slightly longer route and went via Ross-on-Wye - this is where I traced Ced's family to and I wanted to see if any of the addresses still existed. They didn't!

I've had a fantastic time away but am so glad to be home. The first load of washing is in the machine, the camera equipment has been checked and put away, and most of the unpacking is done. I'm waiting for the water to heat up so I can have a soak in the bath, the bread is out of the freezer and defrosting on the worktop, and I've just finished my first coffee in my own mug!

The garden has survived without me and is looking good so there must have been plenty of rain in my absence.

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my holiday posts. I will catch up with all your blogs over the next few days.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Holiday Day 14 & Take Three Thursday

Day 14 of my holiday found me exploring Hereford Cathedral. As it also happens to be a Thursday, I'll share three of the photos for Mary-Lou's 'Take Three Thursday' and say a big thank you to Mary-Lou for organising this weekly meme. 

I joined a walking tour of the building, and also visited the Chained Library and Mappa Mundi Exhibitions. I've taken loads of photos (!) which I'll sort out once I get home so for today will share three taken in the Mappa Mundi exhibition. The Mappa Mundi is a medieval map of the known world dating from c.1300 and is the largest medieval map of its kind known to still exist. 

The first photos shows a modern copy of the map with all references translated into English.

Then there is a modern tactile version of the Mappa Mundi. It's life size, three dimensional and, 'by stripping away the visual content of the map, reveals a landscape that exposes the maker's marks, human interactions and conservation scars of its 700-year history.'

Finally, it's the Mappa Mundi itself ... protected behind glass in a special housing, illuminated by low lighting and maintained in a temperature controlled environment.

The map itself is difficult to read so I've included a link to an interactive version of the map which can be found here

Last night was the inter house quiz - we didn't win! Tonight it is the local food night with a five course meal to celebrate Welsh foods - obviously one of the courses is lamb but we couldn't quite work out how the vegetarian option, a Nepalese dish, can be classed as local. If I find out I will let you know!

Tomorrow is going home day. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Holiday Day 13

It's been an intentionally quiet day today. I didn't have a good night, totally self inflicted as I forgot to take my daily meds yesterday. I woke with a thumping headache and knew that my BP was high so, after a tiny bit of breakfast, I went  back to bed for an hour. I woke feeling fragile but thankfully pain free, so stayed in my room for most of the day just reading and relaxing. Tonight is the inter house quiz so I hope to join in with that after the evening meal.

Here's a photo from yesterday ... a bit misty and drab, but showing a typical scene from this area.

It's my last full day tomorrow before the drive home on Friday. I'm tired but happy - who knew sightseeing could be so exhausting! I'm hoping to go to Hereford Cathedral tomorrow to see their chained library, and maybe have a quick look around Hay-on-Wye on the way back. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Holiday Day 12

In the HF houses there is always some form of entertainment organised each night, usually quizzes and talks although there was also a ceilidh at the Derbyshire house. Participation isn't compulsory but it is a good way of getting to know people so last night I stayed on after the meal to see what was on offer.  

We split into teams and it was a 'drawing by committee' challenge. Team members had to take turns to draw a cow, each turn had to draw the named part, so first the tail and then the ears and then the udder and so on. Once we'd finished the drawings were exchanged with another team who then had to mark each element of the drawing out of a possible 5 marks. Surprisingly we were the winning team being awarded 47 out of 60. 

Here's the view out of my bedroom window this morning ... a grey, misty start to the day. The roof you can see is one of the garden rooms in the hotel grounds.

I started my day up at Usk Reservoir. A beautiful place with several easy walks around various parts of the reservoir but the weather hadn't improved and some workmen advised that the mist was still 'setting low' and not to hang about too long as driving on the tiny country lanes wouldn't be much fun if the mist did come right down. The water level in the reservoir is still very low despite the recent rainfall - the water normally comes up to the grass line. 

From Usk, I got a bit sidetracked when I saw a sign for a red kite feeding area, thought it would be a great photo opportunity so headed off to find it. Miles of winding lanes and one very unhappy SatNav later and I reached the place only to find that feeding time wasn't until 3pm ... as it was only 10:30ish I abandoned that idea and made my way to Crickhowell. I may go back later in the week if I have time.

Crickhowell has the remains of a castle, just the ruins of one tower and traces of the motte. 

There's also a lovely old bridge over the River Usk. The current bridge is 18th century and, at over 420 feet, claims to be the longest stone bridge in Wales. An unusual feature of the bridge is that it has 12 arches on one side and 13 arches on the other side ... I couldn't photograph all of the arches, so you'll have to take my word for it!

Anyway, who needs a SatNav when there are helpful signposts like this ...

... and a local peak called Table Mountain!

Monday, 20 August 2018

Holiday Day 11

Today was the transfer to Brecon. It started off well with a stop in Hale to learn about the 'Childe of Hale' (but more about that in another post) and then a long drive down through Wales to Brecon. 

As soon as I left Hale Village things started to go wrong - roads closed, diversions that were sending me round in circles, new roads just opened that the SatNav didn't recognise - I am calling this stage of the journey 'Ordeal by SatNav'. In the end I just ignored it and headed off in roughly the right direction accompanied by the SatNav advising me to 'turn around when possible'. When it started to give sensible directions I started to pay attention to it again.

It's rained on and off for most of the drive but I did manage a few photos ...

The grey sky gives an indication of the weather! In the end it took me about five hours including the stop at Hale and another one for refreshments, so not too bad.

I arrived at the HF House in Brecon to the news that I've been given a free upgrade to a premium room ... a wonderful surprise! I've ordered my evening meal and my sandwiches for tomorrow's packed lunch, and now have a couple of hours to relax until afternoon tea is served at 4:30pm. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Holiday Day 10

I met up with friends for breakfast/brunch and spent a lovely couple of hours catching up with all the news. Then they dropped me off at the World Museum to see the exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors, eight of which are currently on loan to Liverpool.

The exhibition was amazing, much better than I was expecting. Photography was permitted but it was low lighting and the use of flash was prohibited so, although I took lots of photos, I am only sharing a couple for now.

These are the eight warriors but there is so much more in the exhibition - cooking pots, armour, horses, bells, jewellery to name a few things. The exhibition covers life as it was then, not just about the reason behind the creation of the warriors. As I said, I've taken lots of photos but they will need to be edited before I can use them. If I can get them sorted I will write a post about this exhibition when I get home.

I'm off to Brecon tomorrow for my second HF holiday. It's another four hour drive but will take longer as I'll stop here and there on the way. Liverpool has been amazing and I've only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer so I'm sure there will be a return visit within the next couple of years. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Holiday Day 9

I put my 'tourist' head on today and have been soaking up some of the Liverpool attractions. 

First a walk round the corner to a cafe recommended for their breakfast sandwiches ... only I didn't like the look of the place so wandered along to another place and had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Then a bus into the city centre and a short walk to Albert Docks to join the 'hop on, hop off' City Explorer bus. There was a very funny tour guide on the bus which added to the experience, although I know the Scouse sense of humour isn't for everyone. The whole tour took about 50 minutes so I stayed on the bus for the entire route while I decided where I wanted to 'hop off'. 

First stop was the Anglican Cathedral. I didn't get to look around as the place was packed with people listening to an organ recital. I've been to this cathedral before so I wasn't too upset. I tried to listen to the recital but ... it was awful, too loud and just a cacophony of sound ... not my thing at all. So ... I did the tower tour instead, which thankfully uses lifts for most of it - the lift to the 4th floor, then stairs to the 5th floor, lift to the 10th floor and then 108 steps to climb to the top of the tower. Here's a couple of the photos I took from the top of the tower, the first one looking back towards the Catholic Cathedral (known to the locals as Paddy's Wigwam), and the second one looking across the Mersey to The Wirral.

After a very slow descent, I treated myself to a toasted sandwich and a refreshingly cold drink. The organ recital had finished by this time so I settled down on the sofa in the cafe and read my book. When I'd finished I was hoping to look around but it wasn't to be - they were setting up for a service so as I'd already spent about two hours inside, I went to wait for the bus.

My second 'hop off' was at St Luke's Church, which was bombed in 1941. I'd seen this statue on the first circuit of the bus and wanted to photograph it. It's called 'Truce', is by Andy Edwards, and commemorates the moment when British and German soldiers called a temporary truce during World War I.

I couldn't go inside as it had been hired for a private event, so from here I walked along the road into Chinatown to take a few photos, and then wandered back to the bus stop. I caught the last bus of the day so that meant I'd have to find my own way if I got off again. I stayed on until we reached the bus station and then puzzled out which bus I needed to get back to my temporary home. I had a lot of help - Liverpudlians are very friendly and helpful - and they put me on the correct bus, explained to the driver that I probably wouldn't recognise my stop, and waited to wave goodbye! The driver actually remembered and, when we reached my stop, pointed out my route home!

So a quick stop off in Tesco to buy something for my evening meal, and I'm home, looking forward to a relaxing evening.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Holiday Day 8

... and I'm now in Liverpool!

I've spent the afternoon at the beach in Crosby to see 'Another Place' by Anthony Gormley. It wasn't the best conditions for photographing it but I have taken some. I realised that I'd need my big zoom lens, currently in a cupboard at home (!), to achieve anything like the photos of seen. The statues are spread out across a much wider area than I realised so I concentrated on one, coincidentally the closest one as my knee was playing up. I have more photos but for today I'm just sharing this one which is for the SPSH, No 15 | out of the blue. I'll hold my hands up and confess that I had to tweak the colour a bit as it is one of those typical English seaside days - grey, dreary, windy and drizzly rain, and the sea just looked a muddy greeny brown.

I have friends in Liverpool who have seen this many times and they reminded me that it is an art installation and to spend some time watching the changes as the water level rises or falls. So as well as photographing this statue from time to time, I also watched the effect on the whole beach as the tide came in. It's mesmerising to watch the iron men disappear as the water rises. I often find it hard to still my mind but this worked for me. Despite the disappointing weather it was a perfect afternoon.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Holiday Day 7

It's raining! I didn't have a good night and have woken with a headache and a bit of an upset tummy, so haven't gone on the organised trip today. The others have gone for a walk along Cromford Canal, with stops to see the stone quarry, a memorial to the Sherwood Foresters and Arkwright's historic mill. I decided to give it a miss and will go out later if I feel up to it.

I'll just share a selection of photos from the holiday so far:



the bridge at Ilam

amusing myself whilst waiting for the coach!

carving of a Green Man in the Church of St Oswald in Ashbourne

This is the final day of my holiday in the Peak District. After breakfast tomorrow I'll load up the car and head off to Crosby to see the art installation, 'Another Place'. Low tide is about 10:30am so I want to arrive in time to start photographing the statues when the tide is completely out, and then at various intervals throughout the day as the water level rises.

I'm booked to arrive at the Airbnb accomodation in Liverpool by 5pm so will have plenty of time to take the photographs I have planned in my head. If not, there is always Saturday for a return visit. I'll be in Liverpool until Monday morning, and plan to rest, catch up with friends who live nearby, see an exhibition, and maybe some shopping.