Showing posts with label buildings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label buildings. Show all posts

Sunday 4 February 2018

Getting Back to Normal- Almost There...

My aim is to get back to work at some point this week.

It's been three weeks of mess, shifting things around and no quiet.

During the second week my Internet router died, and then my keyboard- fortunately I had a spare that came with my computer- and yes a third thing happened but I can't remember what it was!

It was wonderful to get a couple of nights in a local hotel as there was no heating or water while the house was re-plumbed (new boiler, new radiators and new pipework). It was a cold mid-January weekend and we had snow!

Sunday morning snow...
The electrics side was officially completed Tuesday just gone.

I spent Wednesday trying to adjust to the lack of disruption- along with the worry about the continuing silence from my characters...

With everything going on their disappearance hadn't bothered me too much, but when Wednesday morning came round and they were all still missing... it was just blackness on the periphery of my mind where they usually lurk.

 It was very scary. But thankfully just as I was settling to sleep that night, my current pair of characters returned with a revealing scene...

The house is still disorganised as we've been stripping old wallpaper off (and some of it was very willing to be removed) while there's nothing obstructing the walls. But of course it does mean redecorating. I'm pushing for paste the wall wallpaper...

Drying plaster on my
 office wall...
      So this week it's dust my office (again) and return         everything to where it was, or was going to be located.

Most of my framed pictures are still in storage, but I do still have my coaching print to look at...

 Sadly my office wallpaper will be remaining in pieces for a   while. But I don't mind as it doesn't stop me from writing.

I've planned a new routine to try and make the most of my time this year, and hit a new word count.

How's your new year gone so far?

Sunday 2 April 2017

As it's Sunday it's the Museum of Bath Architecture...

I'm going backwards for this visit to Bath, and sharing the smaller less well-known museums in Bath first.

Last Sunday we (husband and I) visited the Museum of Bath Architecture (which appears on some tourist brochures/maps as the Buildings of Bath) and it was well worth the visit.

The exhibition is located in the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel along the raised pavement of The Paragon, The Vineyards. It's owned by The Bath Preservation Trust who are also involved with No.1 The Royal Crescent (I visited there on my last trip to Bath in 2014).

It's all raised pavement...

(You'll see a cape belonging to the Countess in a later post.)

Acorn Finials at The Circus
If you don't know anything about the architecture of Bath there's a very helpful video to start you off, before you go on to discover the various crafts and the tools used by the men who built the distinctive houses from the lower to the upper end of the city.

(When I'd been waiting for the Fashion Museum to open the previous day, we'd wandered into The Circus, and one of the pictures I took was of the stone acorns finials that run around the roof line, and we both assumed they had some symbolism.)

So it was a surprise to turn the corner of the first display cabinet and there was a large stone acorn, similar to those in the Circus, though this one was from The Royal Crescent. [1]

Stone Acorn Finial
from the Royal
Yes, it is symbolic.

John Wood (the Elder) who designed The Circus, sadly died three months after the foundation stone was laid, and the building work continued under the Younger John Wood. The elder Wood was strongly influenced by Stonehenge ( he studied and wrote about it) and other stone circles- the Druids were in there too...

On a previous visit to the Circus it was a very sunny May day, the sun was almost in alignment with Gay Street (that leads up to the centre) and it's easy to see the stone circle influence with his design.

The acorns reference Bladud- who is supposed to have discovered the healing hot waters of Bath; his pigs- suffering from a skin disease- were looking for acorns to eat and were cured by the hot spring.

There were a few items that I particularly enjoyed seeing; the Mason's Level with a lead plumb weight. [2]

Mason's Level

Model of 26 Great
Pultney Street...
But the most impressive item has to be the model display of the city, and you can press buttons that lights up the best known locations. (see image at the bottom of this post) [3]

By the time we'd worked our way around the displays you could really appreciate the skills of the men who did the actual building work, they brought the architects designs and visions to reality, using many of the tools that craftsmen today would still recognise.

Even the little models required skill and are interesting too. [4]

You can see a few of the other items from the Trust's collection, here.

I've only mentioned a few things, but there is so much more to see and learn.

It's a small museum, and like many smaller places across the country, they like (and welcome) visitors. So if you get the opportunity do go, you won't be disappointed...

The Royal Crescent and The Circus
lit up in the Bath city model...

Images 1,2,3,4 taken with permission.

Raised pavement image courtesy of RP Bevitt.

Monday 13 February 2017

Planning Research Trips...

The arrival of the latest newsletter from the Fashion Museum in Bath reminded me that I'd planned to go back this year so I could see A History of Fashion in 100 Objects. It runs until 1st January 2019.

Alongside the main exhibition there's always a second. Recently opened is  Lace in Fashion, which features items from the 16th century up to the 21st, and  runs until the 1st January 2018.

I hope to go in May for a long weekend, but it's not guaranteed, it depends if I can fit it in around other events and some major work at home.

There were a few other museums that I didn't have time to get to on my last visit, The Holburne Museum- you can walk the length of Great Pultney Street and admire the Georgian architecture as you pass by, then you reach Sydney Place and see the Museum across the road- very impressive.

Also the Bath Postal Museum was missed out last time.

If you're going on a research trip, near or far, do you do any specific planning ahead, so you make the best use of your time? Or do you take a more easy-going pace?

If I'm travelling any distance and need to stay overnight then checking rail fares and hotel availability- within budget- is the first task after deciding I'm going.

If you're travelling by car, parking can be an issue in popular locations, and another cost you need to take into account. On our York trip last year we chose a hotel with its own parking, and walked everywhere...

Many places put on festivals and events during the year, which almost guarantees limited hotel choice- plus more people who may be visiting the places you are, so I try to work around these if I can.

Of course there may be a particular occasion/festival taking place that you're interested in so plan and book well in advance.

The websites of the places I intend visiting will usually have a lot of relevant information- especially if it's a large city that gets a lot of tourists and visitors. Other smaller places are sometimes run by councils so may have limited details.

So it's always a good idea to see what available, opening times, entry charges, and directions. There are less well-known gems around the country...

If you have any difficulty walking it's important to know if there's any areas you can't access, or if there's any lift access- many museums have done work to make as many places as accessible as they can, but that's not always been possible.

Likewise photography can be another issue, so I either ring or email the place via their contact details and ask what their policy is.
I'll also check when I get to the venue as sometimes there can be a few areas within an exhibition that are a no-no for cameras, even if the rest of the place it's okay.

Print off a street map of the central area where museums and places of interest are located if there's one available online. You may even be able to buy a small fold-up map when you get to your destination.

Last summer in York, the hotel had photocopies of the map for city layout at the reception desk, making it easy to find which way to go if you got lost, or were aiming for a particular venue.

Weather you can't do much about, but be prepared for it when you pack (unless you're going hiking in the hills or the wild of somewhere when extra precaution are needed) a waterproof jacket that can be folded up into its own bag is ideal.

Don't forget the chargers for your various essential devices (camera, mobile phone, laptop or tablet) or if applicable, spare batteries.

Plus the ever trusty notebook and pens, and something you can put your receipts and leaflets/brochures into for referring back to later, or for recording in your accounts.

Over the years I've learnt to take a photo of information boards connected with the other images I'm taking pictures off.

Information on stonework
being restored at York
You think you'll remember but you won't, and you might just need to confirm something when you're writing.

But most of all, leave time to just take in the atmosphere and enjoy the place you're visiting. It shouldn't all be work...

A lazy Sunday morning in York...

Is there anything you always do when you're planning a visit somewhere, or do you go with the flow?

Perhaps I plan too much... :-)

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Fun and Research in York...

Finally I've had the time to fully gather my thoughts on York, as well as sorting my photos (there wasn't 600, I misread the totals on the screen- that was how many I could have taken with the memory card. I ended up with 131 images and I'm still naming and tagging them).

Plus my husband took a few for me on his smaller digital camera, which I still need to get from him.

Even on a short break there's time for research and inspiration.

I also did a lot of walking, lots and lots of walking...

We stayed at a hotel with the enclosed car park at the rear- our room overlooked it. It was only five minutes walk to Bootham Bar, which has been the entryway into York for centuries, so we were at The Minster within ten minutes, and from there a variety of attractions, shops, and eating places were within easy reach.

Bootham Bar
(The picture on the right, there's a car in the distance with headlights on; our hotel was about that far away.)

Unfortunately we didn't sleep well the first night as a car alarm, on one of the vehicles in the hotel car park, kept going off every hour- it finally stopped after 3 am. :(

As I'd arranged to meet up with writer friend Maggie Cobbett at Bennett's, by The Minster on the Saturday morning before my first museum visit, there was no time for a lie-in.

Carol and Maggie met for coffee

It was a Facebook post by Maggie, recommending the Shaping the Body exhibition at the Castle Museum, that led me to book the weekend in York.

(As I've got quite a few photos on particular topics, I'll be using some of the photos I took in future blog posts here, and on my Serena Lake site.)

Friends already know that if there's an opportunity to try out historical dress, I will be the first in the queue. Sadly this time there wasn't a large size available, so I went for the underpinnings- panniers.

Panniers tied at the waist

Now I have to admit these were comfortable, but the real things probably wouldn't be, nor as compact as these. Though they do give you an idea of proportions, and how they would give shape to the dresses of the time.

Like later cages, they do change how you move.

By the time we'd finished going through the museum I was hungry and tired, so I decided to visit the shoe exhibition at Fairfax House on the Sunday, rather than rush through it.

If I hadn't been going to Fairfax House we probably would have followed the riverside pathway for a while. There was a rowing competition running between various universities taking place on the Sunday morning...

Riverside path...

Monday morning soon arrived, as did the rain, and time to pack up the car and return to the regular daily routine.

It's been a busy first half of the year, so the trip to York was just what I needed...

Friday 11 September 2015

Heritage Open Days- This Weekend...

A quick post about a nationwide visiting opportunity this weekend, Heritage Open Days- UK.

I mentioned this to a few writer friends and it was a 50/50 split between those who knew about it and visited place, and those who had not heard about it, so I thought I'd mention it.

In September each year, various museums, private homes and other buildings open their doors to allow the public to visit heritage gems that are not always available to be accessed and seen. Find out how it's brought about.

If you pop along to the website you can search for all the FREE events either by region, county, town or local council, and then print out the details.

Personally I'm hoping to get to see Bromley House Library in Nottingham. It's actually a few doors away from the modern Central Library in the city.

Hopefully I can then get to the places I'd intended to go to last weekend before my plans changed...

I hope to be able to take a few photos for mine and Serena's blog, though they will be different places of course.

So if you get to events near you, have fun...

Thursday 20 August 2015

Label Your Photos Whilst You Remember...

Having two blogs to run, this one and Serena's, I thought I'd have a look through some of my old (back-up) CD/DVDs to choose a few of my archived pictures to accompany the next few posts.

Oh dear...

In (the past) my inexperience of digital photography I never individually labelled the images. So whatever was on the memory card at the start was what it was labelled.

It's not that I don't know the year they were taken, or where, I do, although I'll need to search the exact names of buildings shown in them.

But it's the odd ones that are the issue. Specifically this one.
Postcard image, source unknown...

It's a picture of a postcard of Weymouth Harbour, unknown date.

I've no idea where the postcard was on display, I just know the photo of it was taken on holiday in the summer of 2008.

It may be the detail is written down somewhere, but it wasn't on the photo information, nor on the back-up disc. Then about a year after that my old computer had to be wiped after a damaging virus got onto my machine- despite a security package. So a couple of documents and photos not backed up were lost forever... :(

Since then I've learnt a lot about correct labelling and adding tags to my images, so I don't have this issue now. And I always make a back-up copy too.

So I've now got a lot of pictures that need sorting out and relabelling-including numerous images of my (now grown-up) sons, buried in sand on Weymouth and Lyme Regis beaches, and in pebbles on Chesil Beach. :D

If anyone can enlighten me on the postcard, do get in touch; I want to credit the original source location of the postcard too.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Pinterest at Last...

Hope everyone is well.

It's been taking me longer than usual to get over this latest bug, and actually I think it was a slight bout of flu - considering how worn-out it's left me.

Having lost a couple of weeks writing time I now need to catch up, so I'm going to have to be very strict with getting back to the work in progress.

The end of last week wasn't totally wasted though, as I finally got around to doing something with Pinterest.

I'd actually signed up toward the end of last year, but hadn't had time to actually learn how to do anything. Once I understood the mechanics of it, it isn't that difficult.

(Though there's a lot I haven't yet explored.)

I've created a few boards, begun to follow boards, and other writers I know. Pop over to look at my boards if you are interested.

If you've not looked into Pinterest before, I'd describe it as an online scrapbook, but you aren't restricted to just looking at your own version...

My creative mind does work better with visual stimuli, but of course if I saved every link that triggered something it would be pages and pages long. :D

So now I can assign it to one of my boards- or create a new one.

You can even put together a private board that only you can see, or allow certain people to see it too.

My favourite is my Costume board. There are so many sources of costume and accessories around, so I'm probably adding to that every day because I see something in passing. I haven't just limited it to 18th or 19th century items, but included early 20th century pieces too.

No doubt I will eventually discover why I felt the need to make a board about chocolate; types of, the history of and pictures of chocolate in lots of forms. :D

A couple of weeks ago, on her blog, Rosemary Gemmell was talking about how she uses Pinterest, and how her works in progress benefit from its use. Read her recent post over on her Reading and Writing blog.

Pinterest seems to have developed quite a bit since it first started, and it now has a useful place in social media.

If you're on Pinterest do let me know, and I'd enjoy hearing what you like about it...

Sunday 23 November 2014

Workshops and Festivals in 2015...

As I missed this year's Festival of Romance in September- it was the same weekend as my son was moving into halls at university- I was hoping that I'll be able to attend next year.

Well the dates and location have been announced.

6th to the 8th November 2015 at Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire.

I spent many summers there going to the theatre- a whole week to visit places during the day, and in the audience at the RSC performances in the evening.

It's been a very long time since I last visited...

You can keep a watch for future details on the Festival of Romance website, here.

2015's date is in my diary already. :D

*   *   *

If you're in the UK and within travelling distance of London, then you might be interested in the dates for the Women's Weekly fiction workshops being held in 2015.

I know a number of writers who have attended them and enjoyed the day- they always fill up quickly, so if you're interested get booking.

Each one day workshop costs £75, and starts with coffee and biscuits at 10 am and finishes at 4.30 pm, with an hour for lunch. 

It's held at the Blue Fin Building, in London, which readers may recognise from the magazine address.


Serial writing is running: February 9, April 20, July 3, and October 9.

Short Story: March 2, August 24, October 5, and November 9.

Crime Writing: March 23, October 2.

Twist in the Tail Short Story: April 13, September 7.

You can find out more details by clicking on the workshop date you're interested in, here. You can also book your place and pay online there too.

I'd like to go to one of the short story workshops, but then I'd also be interested in attending one of the serial writing sessions too.

Choices, choices...

Sunday 27 July 2014

Historic Houses Short Story Competition...

I've been busy getting on with my entry for the Mary Street Romance novel competition at the writers club, so I've been missing blog posts.

It's progressing well, but I don't know if it will be one for putting to one side and giving it time to develop, or just writing it and getting it out of my brain, then putting it away until I have time to redraft it...

I do want to get back to the first draft revision of my Nottinghamshire novella.

In the meantime I've come across a short story competition that opened for entries earlier this year in March, and closes to online submissions at 4 pm on the 26th September 2014.

The Historic Houses Association (HHA) has partnered with the publisher Corazon Books for this short story competition.

You can only submit one story between 1,500 and 2,500 words; the story must be set in or inspired by a historic house. You can enter whether you're published or unpublished. And entry is free.

Corazon state, "We are looking for a compelling tale with lots of atmosphere. It can take place in the past or present, in either a real or fictional setting, so writers can let their imagination take them, and us, whenever and wherever they wish!"

The only drawback for the winner will be the cost of taking up the main part of the prize, unless you live close, or have friends you can stay with: the winning writer and their guest will receive a private tour and afternoon tea with the owners of Levens Hall in Cumbria, a cash prize of £150, and a double Friends membership for the HHA. 

There are two runner-up prizes of the double Friends membership of the HHA.

Corazon Books intend to publish an e-book anthology of the best entries, and the writers included will receive royalties for their published story. The author retains the copyright of their contribution.

There's a lot to read, and do make sure you follow the instructions on submitting your manuscript.

Royal Naval College Greenwich
(not part of the HHA)

So here's the links:

General information here.
Submission here.
Terms and conditions here.

You can find out more about the Historic Houses Association here.

Image courtesy of Robert Radford/

Saturday 1 June 2013

Medicines in History...

Sadly I'm indoors with an oil burner infusing the air around me with Eucalyptus pure essential oil- a couple of the family have had a cold and now it's got me- always happens during half terms when everyone is home and exposure is at the maximum- while they recover I get poor breathing...

As much as I'd have liked to spend time in the 18th/19th century, I really wouldn't want to have lived there forever- I would never have survived the various bugs and germs that were lurking...

There's some info about medicine through the ages, here.

Having blood tests done for valid reasons nowadays is bad enough, but bleeding someone as a general treatment for curing many ills as was done in the past, I can only say thank goodness we've moved on!

And you'll find some of the medical equipment used at the time displayed on Pinterest, here.

The local chemist, near where I grew up, still had the big glass jars in the window, (like the big one filled with blue liquid here) and at the back behind the counter area, the chemist's domain, still had the original polished and labelled wooden draws and counters- must have been a high class pharmacy in it's heyday. Sadly the shop is long gone...

Those old shops really had character...

Saturday 18 August 2012

Story Ideas from Memories...

I'm looking forward to September arriving so I can get back to a set routine, and stop causing annoyance to my blog readers, due to my regular posting slots going awry.

All writers get ideas for stories from different sources and I thought I'd share with you a recent inspiration.

I'm very much a visuals person. When characters or situations arrive in my conscious I'm always presented with a scene from the viewpoint of one of the characters involved. Pictures will often get my brain ticking over...

I was looking at a few news pieces in one of the online national newspapers, and an article drew my attention, because it was about a place I'd visited a number of times when I was a child/teenager. The Dreamland amusement park in Margate, Kent.

Like many seaside places over the years, their parks have gone into a decline, run-down and then closed; but the visual archive in my memory still has pictures of the place. They just needed something to remind me.

After a day on the beach, first stopping to brush the sand off my feet, so I could put my white socks on, and then my sandals, we would walk along the prom to go into Dreamland for an hour.
I remember the various slot machines and the general pinging and clattering of coins going into or coming out of the machines.
Then out the back doors into an area where you could get a drink, a cup of tea or coffee, and observe various rides.
I remember greenery and big rocks mixed together as a moving object rides by. The areas beyond that didn't stick in my memories, but I suspect that's because that first outside area I saw-in my young mind-was to me, a jungle, a sparse jungle with hindsight...

I've since discovered that a few of my writer friends have their own memories of the place too.

So now I have a character on the outside looking in. I don't yet know her name, or age, nor what her problem is- perhaps she has a decision to make?

It was fun revisiting my childhood memories, and perhaps some of them will turn up in my mystery lady's story...

Have you ever read about a place you knew when younger, and used it as inspiration?

Friday 8 July 2011

Postcards Are For More Than Writing On...

They can inspire stories...

Earlier this week the writers club held a workshop on this month's speaker evening, it was about short stories.

I have to admit that whenever we have to write something without any idea of what is going to be presented I slightly panic. My brain freezes and I have to remind myself I'm not going to be in trouble if I can't do it. So panic over...

We were given a postcard each, mine was a black and white semi-nude male with a large jar held on one arm- very classical. (If it didn't inspire us we could change it for another.) But it immediately triggered a character for my potential story, called Adam.

We had about ten minutes to write details about our character and some of us couldn't avoid starting to tell the story as we wrote. A few of us read out our descriptions. So far so good...

Next we were given another postcard and this was for our second character. I had a young girl sat in a restaurant with a waiter to one side with his back turned, so you couldn't see his face. This girl was Maria- very West Side Story connotations. Again another ten minutes to write about her.

Finally we were given a postcard with a scene, a building or a place like a river. I had a tall rounded building across a street, the painting's aspect gave the impression that you were in a high place somewhere across the road. Above one window was a striped red and white awning.

Adam, I decided, is a would-be artist earning money by posing as a life model. Maria works in an Italian restaurant across the road...

The final part of the exercise was one or both has a secret- what is it?

So it's on my list to do.

You might remember (or not) some time ago I mentioned that I had a box of postcards somewhere. Well I found them and they brought so many memories back as I looked through them.

There were postcards from exhibitions I attended in London when I was about twenty. Reminders of holidays I took in York, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Scarborough. Then there were the costume postcards from various museums, and cards of the beautiful Sutton Hoo exhibits, the real things held me mesmerised whenever I went to see them in the British Museum.

All the postcards triggered mental images of the past.

So I've decided to start gathering interesting postcard images to add to my box, like those used in the workshop, so when I need some different ideas I can look through and see what stories and characters they inspire.

But first I need another box...

Friday 10 June 2011

Office Furniture Envy...

Today I had to go and buy a new chair to use at the computer.

Now it's not that I have suddenly gained an office to do my writing in- if only- no my swivel chair was falling apart and it had to be replaced.

Have you seen how much adjustable swivel chairs can cost? I'm not talking executive types either- I don't have room for those anyway. They cost!!!

I didn't need new, second hand would be fine and within my budget.

So off we went to the Office Equipment place, based in an early 20th century building that looked like it was once a large expensive car showroom with attached garage.
Within was a cave of delight for any writer.

Filing cabinets of assorted sizes and designs. Big desks, curved desks, desks with draws and shelves, and then the chairs: black, orange, brown and blue; the plastic sort you find in church halls and schools and the metal legged sort that wouldn't look out of place in a hospital waiting area. There were a few bucket chairs in black imitation leather and a reception sofa...

It was hard to concentrate on the chairs when my eyes kept lingering on the other equipment, but I forced myself.

I bought a used operator chair with adjustable height and back, and enough wheels to move the chair with ease and still swivel.

There's even room for my wide posterior to rest comfortably on the blue seat.

My dear hubby lifted it into the back of the car for me and drove us home.
Then it was a couple of hours before I actually got to sit at the computer in my 'new' chair as the males in the house got to it first...

In the meantime I will dream of the day when I can have my own office... :-)

Friday 20 May 2011

I'm Not Crazy- I'm a Writer...

Nothing heavy for my weekend post this time.

Most writers probably wouldn't admit to strangers/non-writers that they have people hanging around in their head holding conversations and generally trying to get attention, or admit to characters even being there.
It gets you strange and worried looks if you do...

Flash back to this Wednesday just gone...

It was manuscript night at the writers' club and I'd popped down to the bar for a top-up of fizzy apple before the meeting began. Since my accident I've found climbing the stairs very tiring in the evening, so I opted for return via the lift...

As I stood there waiting, a thought popped into my brain, then the door began to slide open and I saw a body slumped in the corner with a trail of blood running from his head- don't worry the lift was actually empty.

With only a momentary pause I returned upstairs and the first thing I did was grab my notebook and without thought said 'hold on I've just got to write down the body in the lift'. There were a few smiles and jokes in response.

That is one of the joys of being among a group of writers, you can say something like that aloud and it's considered quite normal... :-)

My only worry now is why did some unknown girl slug this reasonably attractive man round the head- it's now on my to consider list...

Anyone had any moments like this when they were in less understanding company?

Monday 16 May 2011

A Boat on the River...

I spent two hours on the river today. Well I was inside the boat, which was fortunate as it was a bit breezy and dismal outside.

A friend was celebrating her birthday and she chose a two hour boat trip up and down (parts of) the River Trent-where still navigable, so we could enjoy sandwiches and scones as we passed by some of Nottingham's past- warehouses, canal locks leading to other once connected waterways, and the two football grounds (Nottingham Forest and Notts County).

It was interesting to see the backs of the many buildings whose frontage I'm so familiar with that I don't pay much attention to them anymore, or even think about what is behind them.

Each of the places we passed had stories attached and could give a writer ideas- I have enough ideas to deal with at the moment...

So if you ever get the chance to take this sort of river trip, a mystery tour or an open-topped bus trip around a historic city, then go, look beyond the obvious and discover...

Tuesday 28 December 2010

A Few Winter Photos...

Here are a couple of photos from my recent trip to Yorkshire. These were taken on Monday (27th) after a lovely dinner at Nont Sarah's (just on the right edge of the first photo) then we drove a short way to one of the parking areas on the Marsden Moor Heritage Trail-Buckstones. I took a quick snap of the ridge line despite my hair being blown all over my face and my fingers turning icy without my gloves on...

From Nont's there are spectacular views over to Scammonden Water and Halifax in the far distance, which can actually be seen from the restaurant's dining area. It's 1155 feet above sea level so you'll realise how cold it was up there with all the snow around. In fact while we were eating our lunch there was a light snow flurry.

Considering how far away from the sea the building is, it does actually have some nautical connections. The maple wood panelling that surrounds the front of the bar area came from a stateroom on the trans-Atlantic liner, Mauritania after it was scrapped.

This place has provided lots of memories for me as I first went there with my (then) boyfriend (now my husband).

road,pub sign,snow,hotel,moors,slush
                                                                           Looking toward the Moors...

No matter the time, distant past or present, you wouldn't want to travel across these moors in bad weather.

I was grateful I could go back to a warm hotel room eventually.

Snow Everywhere...

Friday 3 December 2010

"sex, scandal and soft furnishings"

I'm certain that I will be finding inspiration from the new series 'At Home with the Georgians' that started last night (Thursday the 4th) on BBC 2- available on BBC IPlayer- for UK only).

The programme has been written and is presented by historian Professor Amanda Vickery who clearly enjoys the Georgians and her enthusiasm oozes out of the screen to the viewer.

There are three parts (not enough for me!) and in part 1 we were treated to revealing thoughts from a few men and women of the early 18th C via their diaries.

It certainly made me reconsider the important role men played in setting up home. Many men today wouldn't necessarily see that as their main priority in the way her chosen Georgian males did.

I'm looking forward to part 2 when the subject is 'taste'. Consumerism 300 years ago perhaps? There will certainly be a lot of choice...

There is a very interesting post by Amanda Vickery on the BBC TV Blog which I'm sure you'll enjoy reading, explaining some of the places she visited in her research, as well as some dangerous contraptions.

Her book 'Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England' is going on my Christmas wish list.

Do explore some of the links that you'll find on the BBC pages, they always lead to other useful information.

Yes the inspiration bug is working already...

Monday 15 November 2010

Learning the Ropes...The Ropery

window sill,thick rope

When we start learning the skills we need to improve our writing you could say we're learning the ropes. But that is also the term for anyone learning about the ropes on a ship or making rope.

So to my visit to The Ropery at the Chatham Historic Dockyard...

It's very popular so you need to get your tickets for the free timed guided tour when you pay for your entry to the dockyard- it's worth every penny.

Admiral Nelson's ship Victory couldn't have run without the miles and miles of rope that were used for the rigging, the sails and even the anchor- three different sizes for the different uses.

I have to admit that I didn't take notes of the names (yes, bad girl for not writing it down I know ) as I was trying to keep hold of one of my children and I was enjoying the commentary by the lady guide who was entertaining us as we went along.
The Ropery is shown to visitors set in 1875, when mechanical spinning machines were used and women were working and had their own entrance door- so they didn't mix with the men...

Entrance to Spinning Room-Women Only

The fun began when a few of the visitors were chosen to make rope. The yarns were fixed and had to be twisted- you don't need a bad back for this- then they are combined together and with the addition of a cone shaped  device and more turning you eventually get a length of thin rope. The victims- I mean volunteers- received a section of rope they had worked hard to produce, but we could all imagine how physically exhausting the rope production was, even though we'd only seen a small piece produced.

yarns,machinery,making rope

We finally moved into the Ropewalk and looked down the length of the building, it was a long long distance and they must have been very fit...

Down the Ropewalk

Here's some of the machinery. It is still working making rope.


Well I'm just glad I don't have to go up and down the building all day.

If you get the chance to visit  you will certainly learn about history and the part  The Ropery played in  the shipping history of this country...

Monday 8 November 2010

Rye in the rain...and Inspiration

It has been a long time since I visited Rye and it was warm and sunny the day I did visit. This time it was cold and very wet...

If you have heard of Rye then it may be in relation to sheep and smuggling. But it has a notable literary claim- more later.

The sheep provided the wool that supported the community, along with fishing, especially needed when land reclaimed from the sea reduced tidal-flows and allowed silt to build up in the rivers and harbour reducing the advantages of their seaport.

Smuggling thrived in the Rye area, so when luxury goods were added to the agenda the gangs involved didn't hesitate to employ violence- murder and intimidation- if required, and blood was spilled...

(Reality truly was very different to the smuggler heroes of historical romances published in this century.)

If you're interested, find out about the Hawkhurst Gang in 18thC Kent and Sussex.

As to the literary side of the town, it was actually the home of a lot of authors, among them - Henry James the American Novelist who lived at Lamb House and wrote a number of his books there. (Lamb House is now a National Trust Property.)
17th C dramatist John Fletcher. Children's author Malcolm Saville and Author/Cartoonist John Ryan who is best known for his TV cartoon 'Captain Pugwash', loved by children and adults alike.

I even got a story idea from visiting the Ypres Tower (built in 1249). The tower under the ownership of a Trust and is staffed by volunteers who are knowledgeable and interested in the building's care and preservation.
On the upper floor, apart from the display material you can walk out onto a observation area and view the Romney Marshes and the surrounding landscape- a spectacular view.
I appreciated it from the doorway...

As to the inspiration, the upper room got me thinking...What if you woke up in a tower room but couldn't remember how you got there...

Saturday 6 November 2010

Tunbridge Wells and The Pantiles...


My trip to Royal Tunbridge Wells reminded me of my years in college. I would often  meet up with my friends and (just like young women do now) we'd shop, have coffee and chat. This often included a stroll along the colonnade in The Pantiles.

The modern shopping area is at the top of the hill, updated and still as busy as it was thirty years ago. While the older part of town is at the bottom, almost in a valley.

To reach The Pantiles you walk along a road of old shops, old but not tatty. They have fresh paintwork and clean windows. On one side, the pavement is stepped up and there are black benches to rest on- and my legs did need a rest for a few minutes...or more!

When you walk into the Pantiles the outside intrusions of the everyday world- and the traffic running alongside the area- is dampened and for the time you are there you are cocooned from the hustle and bustle of the modern high street. 

The Pantiles are a good example of the modern world meeting the past harmoniously and each benefiting.

The surrounding Georgian buildings house businesses of all sizes, and one in the centre of the square, houses the tourist information centre.

Former names,Square,places

Tourist Information-not established in the 18th Century...

tourist information,square,red paving

Tunbridge Wells was a watering place of the aristocracy, even rivalling Brighton and Bath. The Chalybeate Spring (discovered in c1606) is still there and working.

Spring,red paving,columns,water

This facade was restored in 1987 and the water is still served by 'Dippers' between Easter and the end of September.

You can post your letters or postcards into an elegant Victorian post box with a decorative top-much nicer than the standard round boxes.


columns,tables,chairs,signs,clocks,treesAnd a final view before I strolled away at a lady-like pace...