I hope that 2020 will be a happy, healthy and peaceful year for us all.
Meanwhile, if you’re in need of something to cheer you up, why not have a look at the short You Tube video below featuring some scenic railway journeys. I’ve been on the steam train journey and apart from the gorgeous scenery it’s also fun to wave back at all the people along the way who stop to admire and wave at the train.
I heard on the radio during the week that Scotland is still the destination that most people want to visit. It makes me realise how lucky I am to live here!
I took these three photos of my garden in August, that time when the plants take a bit of a breather before maybe deciding to give us a second flush of blooms. The first one was taken looking towards the house from the so called summer house, otherwise an oddly shaped shed which I must say has become more of a potting shed than anything else.
Those pink everlasting sweet peas climbing on the left hand side of the wooden archway have become a bit of a menace though – and they don’t even have any scent! That’s one plant I should definitely have avoided at the supermarket.
Despite the fact that we’re very nearly in November now and have had frost and some ice, the flowers in the old chimney pot in the photo below are still blooming away. Osteospermums and lobelia, they’ve been great this year.
I’ve taken some photos of the garden in autumn, but I’ll leave them for next week.
The Landgate, Rye dates from around 1339 when the powers that were in Rye decided that they need a gate and walls to protect Rye from the sporadic invasions from the French, who managed to burn the whole place down, with only a few stone buildings remaining. We were there early before the shops opened to get this photo sans traffic.
But as you can see there were still plenty of cars about. Rye seems to have been captured by the French and settled by them several times. We’re all a bunch of mongrels on these British Isles between the Viking invasions and the Norman, Saxon and Angles too, there’s really no such thing as a ‘foreigner’. Not that you would believe that if you witnessed how many times we had to repeat ourselves whilst in England, despite not having strong accents – which is more than could be said for many of the people questioning us! It reminded us of why we only stuck it out in the south of England for a couple of years. I must say that I’ve never NOT been able to understand any accent if the person is speaking English – even if they originate on the other side of the world, so it puzzles me how anyone can be so insular.
From there it’s a fairly short walk, albeit uphill to Ypres Tower which is nothing to do with the battle in France in WW1. This was used as a prison until the middle of the 1800s for both men and women. Only in comparatively recent times were the sexes separated. The mind boggles at that!
The view in the photo below is the side which would have been nearest the sea.
People who didn’t ‘deserve’ to be imprisoned might just be stuck in the stocks for a length of time where they might be targeted by people who weren’t so unlucky. They wouldn’t have been throwing tomatoes at them I’m sure.
From the top of Ypres Tower you can see one of the local rivers which will lead to the sea, eventually. The sea has receded about two miles since Roman times I believe.
I think that the presence of three rivers in Rye probably goes some way to explaining how popular the town is as so many people love messing about in wee boats on rivers.
The tower in the photo below is what was the women’s prison when they were eventually separated from the men. It’s not very big so I hope there weren’t that many of them.
A narrow lane from the castle/tower takes you to The Castle Inn which no doubt supplied plenty of beer to the prisoners over the years. Smugglers who were due to be hanged were taken there for their last two flagons of beer.
Over the last week or so I’ve been gallivanting around parts of the UK, specifically spending three nights at Gladstone’s Library at Hawarden in north Wales. Then on to the south of England – Rye in East Sussex for a couple of nights before going on to Ashby de la Zouch in Staffordshire which is around about the English midlands. Lastly one night in Gateshead in the north of England to visit friends. I enjoyed being away and having a change of scene but it’s lovely to be back home again. Of course, books were bought, but I’ll tell you about those later.
I must admit that I had never even heard of Gladstone’s Library when I was given the mini break as a 60th birthday treat, but since then it seems to be popping up everywhere, even being on TV’s Flog It apparently. Our bedroom decor leaned towards the spartan and the rooms don’t have a TV but they do have a radio if you can’t stand not knowing what’s going on in the news. However as a resident you do get access to the books in the library. I was disappointed when I realised that about 80% of the books are on theology – not a favourite subject for me. However as it turned out there were a few books about the sedition trials of 1794 so I was able to do some interesting research on William Skirving, that distant ancestor of mine who was transported to Australia. As a bookworm it was quite a thrill to be given my own key to the library which is locked at 5 o’clock and when I was in there after hours I was the only one there! Most of the other guests were acquainted with each other and seem to have been church groups or choirs. In the blurb on the place it says that clergymen get a discount. I wonder how much as it’s quite a lot more expensive than places of a similar standard accommodation wise.
I’ve wanted to go to Rye for years as I love E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia books and Rye is the setting although in the books it’s called Tilling, named after the River Tillingham which flows through Rye. The town is as quaint as you could wish and it’s easy to imagine the place being awash with smugglers as it was in times past. The American writer Henry James loved the town and eventually managed to buy Lamb House which had been the home of the mayors up until he bought it. He lived there for 25 years and when he died E.F. Benson leased the house from the James family until his death. So the house has been frequented by hordes of writers over the years as they each had friends who also wrote. Lamb House now belongs to the National Trust and the house and garden are definitely worth a visit.
Photos of Gladstone’s Library and Rye will be forthcoming – when I get organised.
Way back in February Duncan our eldest son got married to Alex and since then I’ve intended to put my favourite photos of the day on ‘Pining’ but haven’t got around to it – yet. A few days ago Duncan wrote a lovely blogpost about his own memories of the day, illustrated with photos, so if you are interested you can have a look at it here.
For the last fortnight we’ve been cruising around the Baltic on Magellan and I have to say it was about a week too long for me. I was really desperate to get home after we had visited St Petersburg, but we had three more stops after that. Mind you, one of those stops was to Stockholm, a place I hadn’t been before and I was very pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it is.
I found the actual cruise to be rather boring, but I did manage to read six books, some of them chunky classics too. Unfortunately just about everyone on the ship ended up with a cold which developed into a hacking cough – including me and Jack, I’m still not feeling great. The air conditioning just about guarantees that any lurgy is liberally shared around everyone. On the plus side – despite having five course dinners – we both managed to lose weight! The food is another aspect of cruising that I didn’t enjoy. Most people seem to feel that as they’ve already paid for the food they’re determined to eat as much as they possibly can. It’s really off-putting.
Otherwise the highlight of the cruise was St Petersburg – as expected. We took loads of photos, well, Jack took most of them but at some point I’ll be using them in blogposts soonish. Meanwhile, I was so glad to get home and so impressed with the lush green growth since I had last seen my garden, I had to take a photo of it.
People have often commented on how green it is and I must admit that I’ve always taken it completely for granted but after having been surrounded by a grey Baltic and even greyer North Sea for two weeks – and what was worse – absolute flat calm all the time, I now appreciate my garden even more than I did before.
I love a good rough sea but Neptune seems to go to sleep as soon as I get on board a ship!
We’ll be leaving soon for our Baltic cities cruise, and wifi on those ships is dismal so I’ll be offline for a fortnight. I was just having a look around the garden today and noting how many plants are just about to come into flower, including several clematis and roses. Remind me never to go on holiday at this time of the year again! The clematis alpina above has been flowering for a few weeks already, this is the best it has ever been.
The acers/Japanese maples are all at different stages of growth.
Golden elder, euphorbia Fireglow and amelanchier are good and colourful in the photo below.
Yet more Fireglow is beside the dwarf apple tree, that apple tree was the only plant that was in this garden when we moved here – unless you count loads of grass as a plant.
The Rosemary below is in bloom and a spirea has become entwined with it, but the spirea will flower much later.
The heathers will have finished flowering by the time I get back so one of my first gardening tasks will be to cut it back.
I’m going to miss pottering about here, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy visiting – Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Taillin, Warnemunde, St Petersburg and Aalborg. I think I’ll need another holiday to get over this one coming!
It has been very quiet here over the past week – for a good reason as I’ve been too busy preparing for our eldest son Duncan’s wedding to the lovely Alex. The venue was The Cowshed in Crail – I know it doesn’t sound too romantic but it turned out to be a great place to have a wedding and the Humanist ceremony was perfect. I haven’t even looked at our photos yet – apart from the one I took on my phone, but I’ve nicked one that has appeared on the internet elsewhere, is that allowed?
Happy New Year! I hope that 2019 will be a good one for you, wherever you are.
I live in hope that 2019 won’t be quite as bad here in the UK as I fear it will be. We do have one lovely thing to look forward to in February as our eldest son will be getting married. I think we’ll be making the most of that celebration – before the disaster coming at the end March.