Lincoln Castle and Ely.


Good morning everyone! I’m sitting up in bed with a coffee beside me, Facebooking done and a blog post to complete before breakfast. This is a shot of Steep Hill in Lincoln. This shot does absolutely nothing for the gradient IRL… it’s a killer. I had to take a rest twice while climbing it. We strolled into Lincoln at 9:30AM to see the castle, only to find that very little in Lincoln happens before 10AM. So we walked down and then back up. Scott is a hard task master.


There’s not much left of the original buildings that William the Conqueror put up in 1080 something. The walls remain and so we elected to do the wall walk and ignore the Victorian prison tour and the Magna Carta tour. I saw the Magna Carta in Oxford for free, anyway.  The Wall Walk has an audio tour, so we put on the headphones and got going.


It’s obvious why the Romans, then the Saxons and finally the Normans put up fortifications here. You can see for miles.


As I was listening to the audio tour, they were describing times when the castle was under siege and there I was, looking right down upon the ground where it all happened.


The castle and the cathedral are very close together.


Every now and then I saw an architectural detail that was striking. Love this.


So many kings have been here. They described how Henry VIII visited here with Katharine Howard and they walked the walls so the citizens of Lincoln could see them. They were dressed in green and gold velvet ( a wise decision as the wind was a tad nippy up there) and he was hobbling along on his bad leg, with 16-year-old Katherine walking demurely behind.

Still, every now and then I have to pinch myself to believe that I’m actually touching and walking along the things they’ve touched and walked along. It’s fantastic.




Grafitti in one of the towers where they kept people before they were hanged. On top of the tower, of course, so the whole town could enjoy a nice day’s entertainment.



This is a graveyard from the times the Victorians used this as a prison.


I finished the wall walk before Scott, so while he was coming down I sheltered from the rain (“That’s why it’s such a green and pleasant land”) inside a doorway. It was an interesting walk to take.

Then we scampered back to the car and pushed on for Ely and Cambridge.


This was the first thing we saw when we got to Ely.



They went around the corner, up onto the footpath and disappeared around the corner. They looked as if they knew where they were going.


Look at this pretty house.


This is Oliver Cromwell’s house. He was the guy who led the Parliamentarians in the civil war that ended up chopping off Charles I’s head in 1649. He then ruled the country until he died. After the Royalists came in they dug up his body from Westminster Abbey and beheaded it. Remember where Scott and I first stayed in London? His head was buried in the square just over the road.

I don’t like him because I love the royals and Charles II (Charles I’s son) had to escape from England and live overseas for years and years before he was able to come back. Imagine his poor dogs!! He’s the king that made Cavalier King Charles Spaniels a thing. So I think it’s funny that as a puritan… they didn’t like people to do anything that was fun… his home was subsequently used as a tavern and is now the tourist information session, where they sell bottles of cider. We didn’t tour the house as it didn’t seem as there was anything that was much original still there, apart from the walls of the building which of course we’d seen, so we pressed on towards the cathedral and lunch.


Now I’m no food blogger, constantly photographing plates of food, but OMG. What is this travesty? Since when is it acceptable to bring out a serve of sandwiches with some potato chips on the side?? Not hot chips, which would be marginally more agreeable, but junk food???? Apparently it’s quite the thing here.


The cathedral was old and large.


The town comes right up to it.


This little scrap of painting right up near the roof in one of the side chapels is original Norman work. It’s nearly 1,000 years old.


It has a painted ceiling and they’ve thoughtfully put a trolley with magnified glass on the top, so you can view the paintings close up. They don’t have audio tours though, which was a bit of a shame. We had to look at it the old fashioned way, using a guide book and scurrying around.



One thing that I noticed that was different in this cathedral than the 14,000 others I’ve seen on this trip was that the side bits were actual corridors and levels. They weren’t just all one level soaring up to the roof. Whoever designed this cathedral had a good sense of utilising space. You still get the massive sense of space in the middle bit with the painted ceiling, but along the sides you can Get Things Done.


I like him. He’s jaunty.


They’re very proud of their octagon in the roof.


I LOVE this!! This guy tried to big-note himself and now he’s shamed for evermore. Here he is, the stupid social climber:


The cathedral site was actually established by a woman. This link is really readable and has a few things about St Ethelreda that are slightly hard to believe, but make entertaining reading. But hey, what do I know!


They have a small chapel dedicated to her.


Still, I found it a little ironic that the only statue or marker surviving from those days wasn’t of her, but was of her steward… a man.




This tugged at my heartstrings a bit. You can imagine the grief of the family at the loss of this boy. (This was carved when they used ‘f’ where we use ‘s’.)


Then we headed for a quick walk along the river, then onwards to Cambridge.

Cambridge and Kenilworth today! AND it’s half an hour towards another full English breakfast! Mmmmmm bacon…….

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The most exciting tree you could ever see.


Here’s a couple of shots of the cats before we left on our road trip. Rose in the kitchen.


Here’s my BFF Ruby, wearing her resting bitch face. Scott (with a link to his current blog) assures me that she’s feeling all sweetness and light inside….

I’m just glad they’re locked in another room at night. I would’ve had a heart attack if I’d woken in the middle of the night to see that that expression hovering over me.


Our first stop, after a quick car boot sale in a little town, was Woolsthorpe Manor, the birthplace and home of Isaac Newton.  Arguably the most intelligent man who ever lived, he certainly came up with the goods as far as physics and Maths are concerned.


Here’s the bed he was born in on Christmas Day in 1642. He was born prematurely and had a very weak neck, so they put a kind of brace around it to give him time to get stronger. Lucky baby.



Here’s another view of the room. There are only 7 people allowed in it at any one time; the floor is made of reeds woven together and over the centuries it’s collapsed slightly. There’s a definite tilt in the angles of the floor.

I was able to walk around through the doors without ducking, but only just. The parlour roof was higher, but Scott only just cleared the beams.



Newton’s dad died before he was born and when he was 3 his Mum married again and left him here with his grandmother to raise. She let him graffiti the walls because very year or so they’d be replastered. A couple of them remain. Sorry about the reflection but it was the best photo I could get.



Here’s the guide in Isaac Newton’s bed demonstrating the origins of the saying, “Goodnight, sleep tight.” It’s all to do with the ropes the mattress was lying on.IMG_2593

You’d tighten them every so often to get a better night’s sleep.

Good night. Sleep tight.


These next 3 photos are really interesting. Newton was a very religious man and these sheets of paper are his writing about all the sins he’s committed up to the age of 19. The first couple of pages are mainly related to him doing or not doing things on “your day” (ie Sunday) but as you go along they get more interesting.



“Calling Dorothy a jade.” Oh my.

IMG_2596“Setting my heart on many learning pleasures more than thee.” Thank goodness he did!


Here’s his death mask.


I had to take a photo of the maid’s bedroom. On this trip I’ve stayed in two, at the Scottish castle and at Scott’s place. So far my accommodation has been better than this.

Ooo! I’m sitting up in bed in Lincoln writing this. It’s just gone 7AM and I can hear the cathedral bells striking the hour. We’re a block away from them. It sounds lovely.

Anyway, back to Newton and the most exciting thing here. The tree.


Oh my wordy yes. This is the ACTUAL tree that Newton was looking at in 1666 when the apple fell and started him wondering about why everything falls straight downwards. Why don’t things stay as they are or float and drift instead of plummeting straight to the ground? And so the what-is-gravity-and-how-does-it-work was born.

Now, it’s one thing to have a building last that long, but this is a living thing. They’ve done many tests on it and proved conclusively that yes, this is the same tree. OMG.

It has heaps of apples on it, which the guide says don’t taste very good, unfortunately, and there are many clones of it all over the world. I can imagine that every university wants to have Isaac Newton’s tree. How fantastic is that?? I’ve got a pruning of it on a keyring. It’ll go with Jane Austen’s acorn from her oak tree.

I just love this country.

Oh! And by the way, I’m not really this fat. I’m wearing 6 layers of clothes. As I said on Facebook, the English ‘summer’ is a changeable and interesting beast.

Anyway, after a hearty Sunday roast at a pub, where I tried Yorkshire pudding for the first time (meh) we drove on to Lincoln.


It has a cathedral. I’m beginning to think that every man and his dog in the UK has a cathedral. But it also has a castle. Coolio.


We attacked the cathedral from the back and saw these leany-uppy things holding it up. They look really lovely. It was still raining.


Look at what I saw as soon as we entered the cathedral! A bit of an Aussie connection.


We went in just as Evensong was starting, so we stayed for some of the service. It would’ve been extraordinary except for the stupid woman who was sitting next to me. The choir was singing and their voices were soaring up into the vaulted ceilings and sounding pure and heavenly, while this woman was constantly fidgeting while wearing a leopard print raincoat that made scratchy noises every time she moved. Then the noises intensified as the priest/dean/vicar was doing the reading. I looked around and she had a bright pink mobile out and she was texting someone, then nudging her husband and having a whispered giggle with him.

We all stood up while the choir sang the next hymn. She stayed put while she finished her text convo, then noisily stood up just when the choir was singing a quietly dramatic bit. Now I’m not religious, but I could’ve wrung her neck at the lack of respect. My murderous thoughts weren’t really conducive to appreciating the vicar’s sermon so we left and went out to explore.


I forgot to show you the old town gate that we had to go through to get to the cathedral. I still get a kick about going through these.


This one’s for you, Dad. I walked past it on the way home and glanced in. It was bright yellow and black upholstery.


Such a pretty town. See the red shop? This is the Annushka Russian Doll Shop, which is something that Scott collects. It was on his ‘must-visit’ list for Lincoln. Fortunately it was open late on the Sunday afternoon so we raced in out of the rain and stayed a while.


I’ve never liked these things before, purely because I’ve never seen a good one up close, only the mass-produced ones that kids have. I bought a set very similar to this one, except mine has a not so anime face and slightly different colouring. It was exquisitely done. They’re all hand-made, right from the lathing of the wood down to the painting. I think mine only has 5 dolls, though they had a set of 20 in the shop, with the smallest doll (still painted) being as smaller than a ladybird. Incredible stuff.

There was an American woman in the shop before us, buying up big. Her exchange rate was great, so she was whooping it up. I’m getting 47p to the dollar… :(


Scott may have bought some things here too…


Guess when this house was built?


1170 – 1190??? And it’s still being used…


This is the first theatre Lincoln had. It’s so much younger… about 200 years or so. Hardly worth looking at, really.


Here’s a shot Scott took. I love it. It’s at the bottom of Steep Hill, and look at the lines, with the cathedral rising in the distance. It’s not hard to believe that for nearly 300 years this cathedral was the tallest building in Europe. As we were walking down I saw a grey squirrel dash across the road and into the garden.


And finally, here’s another childhood dream ticked off. I always wanted to sleep in an attic room… and now I have. :)



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Travel day.


After I wrote the previous post we went out to dinner at Queensferry, the place where St Margaret-who-dropped-the-prayer-book-in-the-river established the ferry.


There’s a couple of bridges here now.


And some old buildings.




And some good friends. :)

The next day I jumped on a train, (after losing some tickets and having to organise new ones at very short notice… thanks ‘Mr Life’!), and zipped down to Leicester to stay with Scott, Mark and the cats for the night.


I finally got to see the house and the renovation in person!


Ruby became a bit like my BFF.


She was very interested in my Scottish teapot.

We go off on a little road trip for a few days today!

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Wandering through the gardens.

IMG_2459You know that you’re in the right place when your hosts supply the breakfast condiment of champions. I’ve been chowing down on full English and Scottish breakfasts during the trip, so I was enjoying the taste of bacon (mmmm bacon), but the taste of Vegemite on a bread roll for the last two mornings has been very lovely indeed. I’ll be right for the next few weeks. 


The Georgian house was fantastic. It’s a house in the New Town (which is only 300 years old), which is where all the rich people moved to. The Georgette Heyer people would have lived like this, so pop it on your Bucket list, Bek!

It has all sorts of things in here, and the rooms gave me such a clear idea of how they used to live. Unfortunately, they had very attentive guides so there’s no photos. However, the guides were amazing and I learned a lot.


Did you know that during dinner parties, after the ladies left the dining room to retire to the drawing room, the men would bring out the chamber pot and use it while they had their port and cigars??? OMG.

They told us lots of other things too, but for some reason this stuck in my mind.

After this tour we wandered around looking for a café for lunch, but then we wandered into a lovely shop called Anta. I ran a bit mad and came out with a cream thistle small teapot. It’s going to be lovely to sit down with a teapot full of tea, drinking from my Worcester porcelain cup and saucer. Scott, we’re going to need a fairly large box to post things home. The girl in the shop put a lot of bubble wrap around it.

Actually, maybe I should’ve asked if she had bubble wrap filled with helium. Then the parcel would be lighter and I’d pay less postage….


After lunch in Starbucks, because I had a slight case of buyer’s remorse, we decided to go for a walk around the Botanic Gardens. The first thing we saw when we entered was this sculpture. I really like it.


I also love this garden seat.


A hedge made of holly. Not sure about this one, especially when it needed pruning. Still, it’d keep marauders out of the garden.


Anyone know what this is? I’d heard the name but when Pam said what it was I had to take a photo. Here’s a longer view:


It’s a Monkey Puzzle tree! o called because they’d be very difficult for a monkey to climb. I know why, because they’re VERY sharp and prickly. Again, not the sort of thing you’d want in a garden.


Pam’s not a veggie grower, but we split our time between flowers for her and veggies for me. I like the way there’s a clump of flowers at the end of the bed for bees. We saw so many bees here, particularly bumblebees. I love bumblebees.


The clump of flowers close up.

IMG_2479A handy hint in case anyone is wondering what to do with their old shoes.


I had no idea sweet peas had such a beautiful fragrance.


We went to the Queen Mother’s memorial garden. They have a weird maze here… very low and all the hedges are shaped in the letter E for Elizabeth. It didn’t grab me; it seemed an off choice as you could never get lost in it and the E’s didn’t look all that effective.


A grove of silver birches. We have one in front of our house… one silver birch, I mean, not one grove. They look beautiful in a group, don’t they?


And here’s Pam walking in front of me, just before we saw the squirrel in the wild. This was a lovely afternoon. :)

I’m off to Leicester tomorrow!


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Edinburgh Day 1. It’s a Mary Queen of Scots extravaganza!!









IMG_2326Having a blogmeet is such a lovely thing, because even though you’ve never met the person before, you already ‘know’ them a bit through their writing. I’m here in Edinburgh with Pam and her husband for a few days, and on the first day we hit the ground running and went out to explore the general area in and around the Royal Mile.

First stop was of course the Castle. I’ve just been reading this link and a lot went on in the castle over the years!  The things I was most interested in particularly revolve around Mary Queen of Scots, as that’s the history I know, though there was another link with the tour I’ve just finished that was a bit exciting as well.


After the tour, we went in and saw the Scottish crown jewels, (no photos allowed), along with the Stone of Scone. I’ve seen the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. :)

Then we went into the building next door, which housed the royal apartments and also the tiny room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her only child James, the future king of both Scotland and England.





A bit odd to have a drawing of the first husband here… it’d be like me having a framed picture of my ex-husband upon the wall… Still, I was excited to see what he looked like, poor boy.




A young Charles II. :)




I’ve spent the last 10 minutes trying to find out the significance of this trunk. If someone know, can you let me know in the comments? It was in the tiny room where the future king was born.



This is the view from the window, though perhaps there were fewer cars and buildings in her day. You can see Arthurs Seat, where we went after dinner on the previous night to look at the view of the city.


Look up!


This hall was built to celebrate the marriage of Henry VIII’s older sister Margaret to the Scottish King.


The ceiling was made by shipwrights; not a single piece of metal was used and it looks like the hull of an enormous boat. I’m learning very quickly that whenever you walk into a room over here it pays to look up. They really love their ceilings!



This was at the battle of Waterloo. Imagine carrying this huge flag around. It would’ve been so heavy and difficult to control, particularly with a strong wind whipping it around. I know it was an honour to be given the job, but I don’t know that I’d be putting my hand up too quickly for it. It was a bit sad to read about the 15-year-old boy at Waterloo.


She married Malcolm in MacBeth!! Also, remember when I was in Oxford and saw the exhibition of all those first edition manuscripts and rare books? I also saw the actual book that this plaque refers to, the one that was dropped in the river. OMG!!




How glad I am that I took a photo of it. They have a replica in the chapel but here’s the real thing. (Much to Pam’s disgust that the English have the actual prayerbook and it’s not here, which I admit to feeling a bit of sympathy for.)

The end of Margaret’s story’s a bit sad. She was renowned for her good works with the poor, in particular establishing a cheap ferry service that allowed pilgrims to cross the river and go to a shrine at St Andrews. When she was here one day, news came to her of her husband Malcolm and their son/s (can’t remember if it was more than one) being killed in battle. She died a couple of days later of a broken heart.


Her chapel, behind and to the right of the very jovial fellow in the front, is the oldest building in Edinburgh.


Not a great deal of headroom. Pam’s the same size as me.


Here’s Pam, squeezing herself out of the way of all the tourists. You know, all those people who get in the way of me seeing all I want to in perfect peace and quiet. I don’t think the builders of this chapel visualised its popularity 1000 years or so in the future.


Miraculously the view of the altar was free of tourists for 2 seconds and so I can show you a clear view. See the thickness of the walls near the window?


I looked up towards the back of the chapel. No decoration on the ceiling.


This owl was hanging around outside the castle, raising money for an animal park I think. It’s HUGE.


We had lunch at the Elephant Café, one of the places where J K Rowling penned the first Harry Potter. I was too hungry to take more than the one photo, so take my word for it… it was warm, cheerful and the jacket potatoes are very good.

We made our way down the Royal Mile for the rest of the day, but not before stopping at a MUST SEE that was just a few doors down from the café.




Greyfriars Bobby.


I remember Mum telling me about Bobby when I was a little girl. As we were walking along to the church, Pam told me that you are supposed to bring a stick for Bobby to fetch. I looked down at the cuity street and lo and behold! There were a few sticks lying there!

Well, to be honest, they were twigs, but I guess Bobby was 16 when he died, so he wouldn’t be all that strong. A twig would be fine.


You can see that the day had warmed up for 5 minutes. It’s literally the middle of summer and I had my cowl and summer jumper (thanks, Deanna) on, but I’d removed my poncho. Earlier in the day, at Edinburgh Castle, I dragged the sunnies out. Honestly, it’s like being back in Melbourne, but even more changeable! On the way to Hollyrood Palace later on, I had the umbrella out. :)


We visited St Giles Cathedral, where I saw this statue of John Knox. We visited his house later. I don’t like him very much. He caused so much trouble for Mary Queen of Scots, and although she was a bit of a ninny and had the WORST taste in men that you could possibly have, I still think he was to blame for much of the misfortune that happened to her.


But his house was pretty interesting.

Particularly this. Look up!


These ceiling paintings date from the 1500s. They were discovered under layers of plaster.


They’ve worked out that they would’ve originally looked like this. The medieval people liked their strong colours!


Outside St Giles, this is where they used to execute people. It’s supposed to be a tradition to spit on it, but I didn’t feel like doing that.


This is the view from John Knox’s house.


This is an amusing shop name.


Edinburgh is built on hills. Quite a lot of them.


Can you see the little passageway someone built above the lane?


Then we came to Holyrood Palace. This is where the Queen lives when she’s in Edinburgh. Thankfully she wasn’t here today, because I got to see the state rooms and all of the artifacts inside. No photos allowed, which was a shame because I would’ve loved to have shown you the tiny little withdrawing room where David Rizzio was stabbed to death; the place where they dragged his body and continued stabbing it for around 57 times, (may as well be thorough, I guess), nd the glass cases that had things like Mary Queen of Scots’ hair (it was white), the tooth of a boar that tried to savage Charles II; lots of things belonging to Charles I and William and Mary… the list goes on. It was terrific.


The abbey that was slap bang beside the palace was hauntingly beautiful.



But the most exciting thing was yet to come. I really hope some people who were on the tour with me see this:


Pam has a squirrel come to her garden every day. A squirrel!!! A real one!


I took 53 photos….




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Mary Queen of Scots, Abbotsford and the Da Vinci Code.


Today was the last day of my backroads tour into England, Wales and Scotland. I can’t believe how quickly this 9-day tour has gone.


Russell stopped the bus in the middle of the road, which was ok because there was absolutely no traffic here. We were winding our way around the hilliest, most spectacular country. I was really glad that I chose this tour, as there’s no way a big coach would be able to get to some of the places we’ve been.


This sort of scenery id how I’ve imagined Scotland to look like.


Then we came here to stretch our legs, as this last day has a lot of driving in it. The modern-day reivers were out in force, with someone popping out of a little hut demanding money for us to walk around it. I politely declined and went back to sit in the bus.


But here’s the explanation of why it would’ve been nice to have a look. Still…!


We arrived at Abbotsford at lunchtime. Not a convent like at home, but the house where Sir Walter Scott lived. He was huge in his day, with people reading his books by the ton, but honestly… I’d vaguely heard of him, I knew a few book titles but I hadn’t come across him before. I leafed through a couple of his books in the gift shop, but the print was very small, the pages were very numerous and the paragraphs were very large. I decided to keep my ignorance of his works intact.


He was quite a good-looking man in his heyday.


As mad as a hatter though. He’s like the early version of those


Here’s a section of his entrance hall. Maybe Scott could take some decorating tips from this guy?


His library was till as he’d left it. No glass in front of the books, just crossed wire.


In a large cabinet in the library were some fantastic artifacts. Some of the photos will have reflections from the lights they had above the cabinet, sorry. Sir Walter Scott was very big on history.

Napoleon’s pen case.


More Outlander. Souvenirs from Culloden.




Bonnie Prince Charlie’s hair?!?!


The one I was most excited about was Mary Queen of Scot’s crucifix.




The whole library was floor to ceiling books.


Here’s a view from the second floor of the river Tweed. When I was a kid we used to go and visit my grandparents up in Queensland and we’d walk along the Tweed river with my Grandma. I decided to walk to the river and have a look at the original version. Sir Walter Scott, in my headphones, kept banging on about how good it was and how he wanted to die within sight and sound of it, so I thought it might be a good thing to do.


I asked a friendly gardener the way.


Look! A hollow tree!


The river with a birdy thing on the other side.


The view to the left was ok.

IMG_2312But the view to the right was lovely. It was very nice, standing there, listening to the river and the birds and the wind. I have to say that the original river is far prettier than my memory of the one in Queensland.


Then our last stop on the tour was a trip to the Rosslyn Chapel. This was brought back to the public eye by The Da Vinci Code. I hated the book; thought it was badly written, so I didn’t bother to see the movie, which has scenes shot here. I wasn’t fussed about seeing the chapel, but this is why it’s good to go on these tours, as I never would have hunted this out, but I’m so glad I’ve seen it.


Being a chapel and a place of worship, they don’t allow photos inside. They DO, however, allow a black and white cat called William to sleep there on a pew all day. :) Have a look at the link about the chapel that I placed in the paragraph above. The whole place is covered with the most intricate carvings. It’s a riot of whimsy, artistry and religion. It’s magnificent.



This was the only carving I could get close to. The inside of the chapel is isane… the carvers here must have had an absolute wow of a time coming up with all their ideas. It would’ve been a very creative and competitive space to work.

Then I was met in Edinburgh by Pam. I jumped off the bus, after we’d dragged her on to say hi to everyone, and then I went back to Pam’s place to begin the next stage of my Big Adventure… Edinburgh!

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The Stone Circle…and the Stone Castle.



Today we left the Lakes and drove through many little lanes to see this: a stone circle at Castlerigg. MatchingPegs put me onto the Outlander books when I went and did a thermomix demo for her, which consequently meant 3 or 4 weeks went by that I have no recollection of, since I was totally engrossed by the series, totally resented anything that dragged me away from it and totally wanted a Jamie Fraser of my own, particularly as he grew older.

I raced up here, took some photos, then promptly raced back to the bus as the heavens opened.




This was a stone circle within the circle. It was lovely being able to see this and walk around in within it, with the hills around and the rain softly falling . At first. When it got harder it wasn’t quite as romantic.



Then at our lunch stop I found this in a bookshop, marked down. I was wandering around on my own so it was perfect to read over my lunch of the best pea soup I’ve ever had. It’s now living in my bag, in case I need to whip it out and occupy myself.



After lunch we had quite a long drive up to the border to see Hadrian’s Wall. I know it doesn’t look all that impressive and wouldn’t keep out a single Jamie Fraser in its present form, but when it was new it was over 15′ tall. It would’ve been very impressive.



Centuries of the locals picking apart the wall to use in their houses and churches have left the wall either gone or somewhat shorter. This stretch of it is said to be the longest intact part of it still in existence. It was a museum tacked on at the side.



Unfortunately the most potent memory I came away with was the incredible stench of sheep manure that was hanging like a cloud of ill omen at the first part of the wall I visited. To be fair, it wasn’t unwashed Roman ghosts wishing us ill, it was the flock of sheep who were in the field the wall is in. Either someone just stepped in a pat just before I got there, or the grass in this area is incredibly injurious to their systems. Either way, I leaped on top of the wall in a mighty bound and picked my way along it back to the museum, where I saw this on the door:

IMG_2236When we drove into another country. Scotland! We were staying at Comloggan Castle, a Victorian manor house that just happens to have a 13th Century castle on the grounds. As you do.


I was visualising being put up in a room fit for a princess. Some of us on the tour had 4 poster beds in all magnificence. Me? I was put in ‘The Maid’s Chamber.’

It was very nice. I’m a lucky maid.



When they said they had a castle on the property, I was visualising it set fetchingly in the field next door, with a short walk through cunningly landscaped gardens to reach it.

Well, it was a short walk…


Look at how close it is!


The laird does a tour of the castle that take over half an hour. He was really interesting. It was a down-to-earth look at life in the era of when the castle was built and used and it was amazing being able to stand in front of (and then inside of) the castle as he’s talking and be able to see all of the things he was talking about. It was a mishmash of a history lesson and looking at the actual features that survive in the castle itself.

As we climbed up the very narrow spiral stone stairs u to the Great Room, I looked left as I got into the room (thankful I wasn’t a servant having to carry a large tray of food or wine up there) and saw a niche in the walls where minstrels would play during dinners.


Here he is standing beside the fireplace. Quite a good size, isn’t it? He said that these fireplaces were mainly used as sources of light.


This little niche in the wall was up beside where the long table would have been. This is where the owner of the castle would go for private convos. The castle in in the Borders, and the people here owed no allegiance to the English or the Scottish thrones. They were basically robber barons, using their reivers to carve out their own little empires.


Here’s a close up of the convo nook.


This is the minstrel’s niche again. Look at how thick the walls are.


This was on the other side of the big table, where the scribes would sit while the baron was doing business during the day.


One of the most interesting parts of the talk was when we were outside and he was talking about how the castle’s defences worked. Basically, unless you bribed someone to let you in, the castle was basically impregnable. It was never attacked… Edward I or II actually passed within 200 feet of it on his way into Scotland once but just passed it by.




Here’s the gibbet, where bits of condemned criminals would be placed, in order to be a deterrent to the local population against doing the wrong thing against their local lord. Or, as was more common, people would be placed for public humiliation if they’d done something wrong.


This place is also used for weddings, so there were some very pretty gardens. People get married up in the great Hall (which is why those two big candelabras were there; purely for artistic licence), but then there are these gardens for people to wander around in and enjoy.



This leads out to fields where cows and the loudest donkey in Christendom live. I was awake at 5AM the next morning…

Still, at least at that hour of the morning I was the only one trying to access the wifi and so I was back in connection with the hive. :)


I SO want little whimsical touches like this in my garden one day!

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Potter, Wordsworth and general Lakes business.


There’s Russell the bus driver and the guide as we reached our first stop for the day: the schoolhouse where Wordsworth had his schooling before he went to university.


It was founded in 1609 (I think) and here’s the letters patent from Elizabeth I.


It’s a small room. In its heyday they’d cram 70-odd boys from 7 – 16 in here from 8AM to 5PM, with 2 hours off for lunch. The only subjects they learned was Latin, Greek and Mathematics. The small boys were downstairs and the bigger boys were taught in the schoolroom upstairs by the headmaster. (One of them was Fletcher Christian’s brother, from the Bounty mutiny.)


These are the original desks from the 1600’s onwards. They’d put 6 boys in here, then there was a seat attached to the front where another 6 boys would sit.

You’ll no doubt be relieved to know that the boys were allowed to drink 3 pints of ale a day, they were allowed to smoke and once a fortnight they could have a cockfight and bet on it. No other gambling was allowed, but cockfighting was considered sport and so it was ok.


They were also allowed to have penknives and they were not discouraged from carving their names into the desks. Here’s where Wordsworth is said to have done this.

Here’s some other bits and bobs:


How can something be this old and is still nonchalantly hanging around?




Actually, this last photo reminds me of something funny that happened on the bus this morning. The English have some weird and wonderful place names. Have a look at where Wordsworth was born….

We passed by a sign showing this place this morning. Both Barry and I said at the same time, “OMG! “

:HOW could you say you lived there?” I said.

“YOu might has well just call it ’69’ and be done with it!” said Barry.

I thought the bus driver would never stop laughing. Apparently Australians notice things that the English never do. Or maybe the English are too polite to comment on them.


Then we went 5 minutes down the road to Beatrix Potter’s house. This is the entrance to Mr McGregor’s garden. :)

IMG_2095Looks nice, doesn’t it? I’ve never been a huge fan of the Potter books (unless it was Harry Potter) but I learned a lot here and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve never seen the movie, but I used to read her books to the boys sometimes. Jean and Bet on our tour were really excited – they were almost levitating. I guess this was their Brontë parsonage. :)


This was another of those places where they forbade you from taking photos. So here are some sneaky peeks.


Here’s her room. But there was something here that I went all a’tingle when I saw them.


Look! They are really rare! I took this one for Jenny, Poppy and Jeff’s breeder, but I had to rush it because the guide was just outside. I’ve only ever seen these in an antique shop once and I nearly had a heart attack at the price, but every Cavalier breeder wants a set of these.

What do you mean you don’t know what I’m talking about? I took a close up but someone was coming up the stairs so I had to rush:


See the Spaniels on her mantlepiece in her bedroom??? OMG!! I warmed to her right away.

Ok, so it’s not my best shot…


These books were scattered all through the house. They’re open at the page where there’s something in that particular room that is in the picture. It’s really special when you see the thing or the view that she used.

In the gift shop there was a little china ornament that I fell in love with. It’s from The Tailor of Gloucester and it’s a little mouse sitting on a cotton reel and reading a book. I bought it and the book. When I was in the house I asked a guide if there was anything in the house that she’d used in the book. The guide looked up a little reference book and said that the big grandfather clock in the lounge room was on one of the pages and she showed me which one. I was rapt, because as I stepped over the threshold that clock struck 11. Irreplaceable memories… 

But I don’t have a photo because the guides in that room were everywhere, being omnipotent and omniscient. Stupid guides.


This is a dolls house. Somebody else who was visiting was talking about the two naughty mice in connection with it, but I don’t know.



And here’s Mr McGregor’s garden!


A view back up to the house from the veggie patch.


They supplied umbrellas here. This is Gordon and Jean from NZ taking a photo.


I saw this in the garden too… very cute.


She was an accomplished sheep breeder as well, just so you know. A couple were wandering around here as well.


Apparently in one of her books there’s a picture of Peter Rabbit posting a letter. Here’s the postbox. :) It’s just down the road from her place, on the corner.

The thing I really loved about this place was the acute sense I got that this was her place. You could tell that this was the place she could come to and have everything the way she liked it and could do whatever she wanted. I knew nothing much about her life before coming here, but one of the guides upstairs was fantastic. (But too vigilant.) The little book in the room upstairs where she did her drawing and writing was open at an outdoor setting. I was looking out of the window, puzzled, when the guide said, “If you look in the background behind the mouse, you can see the lane winding up the hill behind the white house.”

It was true. Then she went on to say, “The white house is the marital home. After she got married (at the age of 47 or so) they decided that there wasn’t enough privacy here, with the farm manager and his family living right downstairs beneath this room, so they bought another house. But Beatrix would still come here every day to work. If any visitors came from London she’d meet them here. The marital home was kept very private.”

I just LOVED that. Even though, by today’s standards, the house was very poky and dark, it still has a very warm, cosy feel about it. It wasn’t just that it belonged to her, because I’m not a huge fan of her works, but the warmth and general loveliness of this place is undeniable. I really loved the independence of it.

The guide also told us another really lovely anecdote. Her parents must have been shocking. The woman was 46 and wanted to get married. Her parents were getting old and they wanted her around to look after them so they were dead against the match. Now get this: her older brother had bought an estate in Scotland and moved up there about 15 years previously. He’d married a girl from a family engaged in trade and only told the parents in support of Beatrix when Beatrix was embroiled in arguments with them 11 years later.

I wonder if my boys would ever be that scared of me?

After that we jumped on the bus and headed off to a scenic lookout that Russell, the bus driver, knew of. The tour I’m on is with a company called ‘Backroads Tours’, and they stay off the motorways as much as possible so you get to see more of the real countryside.

When they say ‘backroads’ they’re not kidding.


Some of these country lanes are insanely narrow.


This one only had a sheer drop down one side of it and one lane to drive on.


It’s when there’s only one lane and two dry stone walls on either side that you wonder how on earth these people do it.




We ended up for lunch at this place, on a recommendation from one of the Thermomix girls back home. Lunch was beautiful and very reasonably priced.


Plus how can you go past a place with a name like this?

After lunch the heavens opened. What an insane climate to have in the middle of summer. Though as Russell blandly keeps saying whenever we have a whinge, “Ahhh, but that’s why it’s such a green and pleasant land…”


Beatrix Potter lived in her place in the early 1900’s. Wordsworth lived in Dove cottage in the early 1800’s. The differences between the two were fascinating.


This place was an old pub that Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy bought and converted into a house. Later on he married and brought his wife (and subsequently 3 of his children) to live there as well, along with many friends. It must’ve been very cramped and very smelly.


Being such a rainy day, the rooms were so dark that it was impossible to take photos in the downstairs ones, because they obviously don’t want you to use a flash, which is fair enough. The only thing I could take a photo of was this painting of a family pet. Sir Walter Scott used to breed dogs and he gave this one to the Wordsworth children, probably because it was a bit weird around the eyes and ears. He used to name his dogs Pepper, Mustard or Ginger, depending on the colour, so the Wordsworth dog was one of about 19 Peppers that Sir Walter Scott named. They must have loved him a lot because it wasn’t a cheap thing to get a painting done.


Downstairs, right below this room, was a cool room called the Buttery, where the pub used to store its kegs and the Wordsworths used as like a fridge. A stream runs underneath it and floods it a little when it rains, which we saw, and it was COLD. The poor kids slept in the room upstairs, all in the one bed. The walls were lined with newspapers to try and keep some heat in. The guide said that it’s an indication of how interested Wordsworth was in keeping up with current events, as he would’ve had to pay quite a bit to get the newspapers sent up from London.


You can still read them.


This is the tea caddy. The guide said that tea was very expensive back then. The Wordsworths were living on 70 pounds a year and they spent a third of that on tea. But they were very frugal with it… they’d use the tea leaves twice and then Wordsworth would dry them out and send them to a friend.


Exciting to see these.


When he was an old man, someone gave him this cuckoo clock. When visitors came he’d wind the hands around to 12 just so they could see the cuckoos go off.


I tried to take a shot inside but you can see how gloomy it was. How those women ever saw enough to set a stitch, I have no idea.


But the garden is charming, even in the rain.



Here’s the window of the Buttery, and above it the children’s room.


The small sitting room window. This is the room with the dog in it.


The last excursion of the day was a trip across Lake Windermere.

Then after dinner, Russell got me to try an English beer. (I hate beer; I’m a red wine girl.)



I only managed about a third of a half-pint. Beer is definitely not my thing!

It just occurred to me when I looked at this photo, I have some earrings on from Bali, my watch from Singapore and my necklace and ring from Thailand. Maybe I need to buy a tiara in the UK or something?

The hotels’ wifi on this trip have been … interesting, to say the least. Yesterday we had my UK IT advisor Scott in Leicester, Evan18 in Melbourne and myself in Ambleside on Lake Windermere all bumping into each other around in my little share of the cloud, trying to fix up the photo uploads, downloads, whatever. We were communicating through Facebook in our evening and Evan18’s morning. Actually, I’m lucky he was even up in the morning, come to think of it. IMG_2207

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Castle Howard, Thirsk and Jervaulx Abbey

IMG_1874Bright and early we were up and going to Castle Howard, a beautiful spot in its own right but for me, the setting of much of Brideshead Revisited, the BBC series that absolutely captivated me when it was released WAY back in the day.


Look at the little entrance. The minibus only just managed to get through!


How gorgeous is this?


I chose to walk through the gardens to reach the house. The house is set down from where you pay to get in, so you can either take a little ride down or choose to walk. As a hardened walker now, after spending a week in London with Scott, I elected to do a gentle stroll down through the rose and veggie gardens ( a fabulous garden, that one) to reach the fountain where Julia and Charles have that very fraught talk towards the end.


It’s pretty darned impressive. Here’s a close-up:




A herbaceous border.


This was all they did with the edgings. No mulch either.


There was a MASSIVE veggie garden. I got a little bit excited and took lots of photos. See how they have a bean arch into the garden (at the back of the photo) with some roses to make it look pretty and bring the pollinators? The beds were edged with these wire fences, which I’ll have to do to keep Poppy and Jeff off the beds, but they didn’t look too bad.


A herb bed. Doesn’t it look great?


Now I know what kohl rabi looks like. I have the seeds to plant when I get home; now I know what to look for.


This is how your veggie garden looks like if you’re the Earl of Carlisle. *sigh*


I took masses of garden shots because I was sure they’d be against taking photos in the house. But they were fine with it. So following are shots of how the other half lives.


But first here’s me with my souvenir. Even though I’m SO not a soft toy person, I just had to get my own Aloysius. The lady in the gift shop was lovely. At first she just let me choose from what was there, but after I talked with her a little while about my holiday and how much fun I was having, she came out from behind the counter, dug around the back of the bears and produced the closest one they had to the real Aloysius. It was 10GBP cheaper than I one I was going to get and a good deal lighter too. (Scott, we’re going to need a fairly large box to send some souvenirs back home. I don’t think I can close my case now…)


Remember the shot of the house at the top of the post? It has PEOPLE on the top of it.


I was walking in the long gallery and there was this painting in the corner. Every Cavalier owner worth their salt knows this face… and sure enough, it’s a happy snap of Charles II. I was so glad I noticed it.


Here’s a shot of the chapel at the back. The guide there was telling someone how in a Howard wedding in the 70’s?? 80’s??? They flew out Rod Stweart to sing in here for the wedding, as the bride was a big fan. They were very nice and allowed all the people who were working at the wedding to attend as well.




Nice gilding.


This original poem by Burns was up in the corner of one of the bedrooms. No one pointed it out… I had to ask the guide. Makes you wonder what else is tucked away in these big houses.


The guides here were fantastic. I especially liked an elderly gentleman who was in the music room. He got a bit flirtatious while talking about Melbourne… he’d visited a couple of years before I was born; kissed my hand when I left the room… but he told me some fabulous stories about the house and the people.

The guides are all very proud of the fact that this house is still lived in. The Howards want their kids to live with their feet on the ground, so for their kindergarten and early primary years they sent them to the village school. Now they’re in secondary they go to a private school but in the holidays and on the weekends they still have friends from everywhere come over and they race around “like gadflies.” They guide said,” It’s lovely to hear. The kids are all over the place and you hear, “I say, what do you think you’re doing?” Then you hear, “I’m not doing nuffink. Wotcha fink you’re doing?” It’s a lovely mix.”



The statues along the hallways are incredible. Some are ‘only’ a couple of hundred years old, while some are a couple of centuries old. I noticed that some were on tables but were bolted to the wall. I assumed it was because they didn’t want tourists either knocking them over or knocking them off. According to the guide, it’s because the kids ride up and down the halls on their skateboards and they didn’t want any accidents!


A beautiful old lady with the loveliest Edinburgh accent (I asked her) was in ‘Lady Georgiana’s bedroom.” She was telling us about the pictures in the room.


The movie, ‘The Duchess’ was about Lady Georgiana’s mother. Here are the two of them together.

The guide in the music room also told me about how close the family got to certain people who worked for them. One of the ladies, I can’t remember which one, had her ladies maid with her since she was 14. The maid is buried next to her in the family mausoleum.


No real reason for this shot. I just like the look on the face of the goat.


Here are some shots of the rooms they did up when shooting Brideshead Revisited.



After I finished the house I went out (with a cheery wave to the nice lady in the gift shop as I went past) and then I stood in front and looked at the view. Imagine having this as your front yard? All I could hear was the wind through the big trees to the right and the sound of water lapping, with every now and then the quack of a duck. It was beautiful.


I have to say I love this boar. I’d love something like this in my garden, though probably on a slightly smaller scale. It’d make me laugh every day.


I then chose to walk back up to the bus through the trees. I like the way that the English leave sections of grass to grow wild, so that the bees have something to nibble on.




Back up at the top gift shop I met a few more dogs, thus easing my Poppy and Jeff pangs, and then off we went on our next adventure.



This is just for any cricket fans out there, you wild and crazy kids.

We went to Thirsk for lunch. I was so excited when the bus driver said that’s where we were ending up. In Venetia by Georgette Heyer, they live near there and Damerel rides off to Thirsk to get lint for Venetia’s brother’s injured leg. OMG!!!!!!

You know, it’s a little frightening just how many place names and characters’ names I’ve retained from those novels. I’m seeing them pop up everywhere. It’s giving me little thrills every time I see one.


Thirsk also happens to be where James Herriot lived. Not his real name of course. I don’t know his full works, but I own a well-thumbed copy of his ‘Dog Stories’, so I grabbed a panini and ate it while I walked to his house and surgery.




They’re very proud of this statue. It’s only 3 months old. His back yard wasn’t all that big, was it?





They’ve done a beautiful job of it, aside from scary-looking mummies sitting on chairs. One has a fake dog in its arms that has a motion sensor. I went into the first room and I nearly jumped out of my skin when I was barked at.

The rooms are like little time capsules from the 1940s.


It even had an air raid shelter under the house. Now THIS was really interesting.

This fan in the window was really effective. It was bringing in fresh air really effectively.










On our way through the countryside we stopped for 20 minutes or so at this abandoned abbey. Jervaulx Abbey. It was a thriving community until Henry VIII came along.






It’s a beautiful place. I met Charlie here.


Then we arrived at Ambleside, next to Lake Windermere, where we spend the next two nights.



After dinner the others retired to bed, but as has become our habit, the bus driver and I went out for a drink. This is where we were sitting beside the lake at 10:30PM. It was still and clear and the swans were floating past. The ducks were too but they’re not as poetic. It was lovely.


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IMG_1682Meet George. He’s the guide for our free walking tour that we took. He was supposed to go for 2 hours; he went for 3. Now that’s what I call real value for money.

George is a story teller. He doesn’t just give you facts and figures, he gives you anecdotes. At first I was a bit restive, but after a while I got into the groove and I loved it. He has a real passion for the history of York and he loves sharing it. I took masses of photos to remind me of his stories and I’ll share some of them with you.


We started off by walking through some gardens at the back of King’s Manor in York. He said that the people of York are a bit quirky, a bit left of centre. The university were given permission to use this garden as an experimental one, to grow plants from all over the world and see how they did, but they had to publish their plans in the paper first to see if there were any objections. They decided to plant a fern garden. They published what they were wanting to do with all the ferns, but mentioned that there was a dead tree in the centre of the garden bed that had to be removed.

A flood of objections came in. “You can’t remove that tree! It’s been there forever!” “My husband proposed to me under that tree! It has to stay,” etc. So they solved the problem by pulling it up and then turning it upside down. Those are the roots you can see. Everyone was happy.


Here is the old Roman wall down the bottom, with the medieval one on the top. Can you see how it’s in a dip in the earth? It wasn’t always like that; we’re just standing on 2,000 odd years of rubbish.

See the coffins to the side? York has tons of Roman, Viking and Medieval artifacts, to the point where it has to be really special before it rates more than an uninterested yawn. The Romans used to do most of their burials along roads, because once the spirit of the dead person woke, they’d eat the chicken placed there with them, take the coins left on their eyes to pay the ferryman, then they’d move the massive slab of concrete or rock on top of them and start walking along the road to get to the afterworld.

Two coffins they found side by side were opened and found to contain two females. They each had a small casket at their feet, which was unusual. When opened, these caskets contained the most beautiful sandals. That tickled me. Can’t you imagine these two friends popping their cool sandals on, because you can’t turn up to the Underworld looking ill-dressed, and then walking down the road arm in arm together?


Here’s the remains of the monastery. After Henry VIII got rid of the monks, the townspeople were given permission to demolish the buildings and use the stone elsewhere, which they did with great gusto, as this particular manastery was very fat, rich and corrupt and they weren’t at all well-liked. The abbot’s house, which was turned into the King’s Manor as his seat of government in York, was built with a moat around it for added protection from the townspeople. The mystery is that this beautiful portion of the wall is still here today. Why did they stop taking these stones away?  No-one knows. The university does quite a bit of open-air plays and uses this as the backdrop.


Then we went for a walk around the town. This sign was unrelated to it. I just saw it and liked it.


When the Victorians came along they decided to clean up certain parts of York. There was a street that was wall to wall brothels. Outrageous! So they got rid of them and then decided to change the name of the street. But changing the name of anything that’s been around for hundreds of years is hard. People just revert back to the familiar. So they decided to change just one vowel. Change the ‘a’ to an ‘o’ and you’ll have the original name of the street. :)


No visit to York is complete without a visit to the Shambles. It’s absolutely awesome. It was thronged wth people when we went on our walk, but later I went back because I’d noticed there was a wool shop there, (there’s a cowl in my future that’s going to be made with wool from the Shambles.. that’s my York souvenir) and there were fewer people in it. We were there about lunchtime during the walk.


George was standing here talking to us at the head of the street when I took this photo. Do you see how it’s fairly open and wide where we are, but then it narrows down as the buildings come out?

Apparently back in the olden days you paid property tax on how much land your place of business occupied. So those canny businessmen built their shops with a small-as-possible ground floor, then they’d add on a few extra inches on the second floor, then a few more on the third floor….


Here’s how close the buildings would’ve been all the way down the streets, not just in this one part. George said how the people who came to this part of town wore very wide-brimmed hats and long cloaks to protect themselves from chamber pots being thrown from the upper floors into the middle of the street. You can see from the photo that there wasn’t much room to dodge.


Here’s a shot of the middle of the street. You can get a better idea of the size of it two photos up. This would’ve been open sewage, just waiting for rain to come and wash it away. Now I know it rains a fair bit in England, (even in the middle of summer… ) but when you keep in mind that this is a butcher’s street, with shops with open shelves (no glass of course) lined with raw cuts of beef and mutton, with raw sewage literally a couple of feet away…. mmmm yummy.


This house is a shrine to Margaret Clitherow, the catholic saint. She was believed to have lived here when she was married. After the Church of England came in she took instruction and decided to become a Catholic, which was a big mistake. She taught kids in the catholic faith, hid priests and did all those sorts of things. When she was arrested she refused to recognise the authority of the court, arguing that it wasn’t a case of following the law, but of  her following her own conscience. Of course this wasn’t listened to and she was sentenced to be pressed to death.


Unfortunately, after they bought this house and set up the shrine, it was discovered that she didn’t actually live in this house… it was few doors up. They held a meeting and decided that the catholics wouldn’t mind, so it was left as it is. I went inside and there’s an altar there, where people can pray, with a few things about her on the walls.


Someone lives at this address… notice the number? It’s not 1A or 1B…

After the walking tour ended I went to the most disappointing exhibition of Richard III at the York museum… I should’ve waited till Leicester… then asked some lovely people the way back to the Shambles to get some wool. My theory of always talk to people with a dog was proven right again… and just LOOK at the dog. It’s a sign, everyone!


She’s a 14-year-old mini wire-haired dachshund.  She was so sweet. (I’ve emailed a breeder. It’s going to happen, everyone. It may take a while, but it WILL happen.)


Then I went to the cathedral. Minster. Whatever you call it. It was HUGE. We walked around the outside of it on the tour and it was extremely windy. As in gusty. The legend, according to George, was that the devil was chasing St Peter/Paul/someone around and around the cathedral. As Paul/Peter/whoever rounded a corner he jumped inside a little door and slammed it shut behind him. The devil didn’t see and so to this day he continues to race around and around the cathedral, believing that his quarry is only a few paces ahead of him. We can feel him rush by.

You might have noticed in some of the photos on this trip, I’m wearing a grey poncho. I bought this in China when I was in Hong Kong 2 years ago and it’s light but WARM. This is in the middle of summer, people! It was dragged out of my bag when we were at the cathedral. Minster. Whatever you call it.



York has many stained glass windows, and most of them are still the medieval glass, which is very unusual after Henry VIII and then the puritans. When we were at Worcester Cathedral the guide told us how Cromwell told his troops to stable their horses in the cathedral, use one of the chapels as their latrine and to shoot out every window with colour on it. The same orders were sent here, but apparently there was a commander in Cromwell’s army who, although he was a puritan, was still a boy from York and had grown up with the cathedral. He sent a message to Cromwell saying something along the lines of, “if you ruin the cathedral you’ll have to do it over me and my army.” Cromwell didn’t have power or available men enough to do that and so the cathedral’s glass was saved.



Look at this screen. It’s got the kings of England from the conqueror up to… I think Richard III. (Don’t quote me on that last line. I can’t remember and I’m trying to get this finished before I race down to a full English breakfast. Mmmmm… bacon…. where was I?)


Here’s William the Conqueror and his son.


Here’s the stone coffin of an archbishop. See the hole in it? That was so as the body decomposes the juices run out of it and into the ground. Apologies to anyone who may be eating right now.


Underneath the cathedral they found the remains of a Roman fortress. This is a glass floor.

Further along I saw this:


I love that a sewer that the Romans built still works!


Now look at this. I was underneath the cathedral going through a (frankly, not that interesting) exhibition, when I see this. What a country. Who has Tsar Nicholas’s cross and then just casually, almost as an afterthought, chucks it into a glass case underneath a bloody big church???


Here’s a close-up.


York doesn’t have any interesting tombs, but it does have a few interesting knick-knacks.


I love the devils’ faces.



I loved this statue. Because of course the Virgin Mary would’ve been educated.

This next one was really impressive.




It’s 1,000 years old!!!!! I was talking to the guide near it, who stops people from using flash photography, and she said the pages are made of vellum, not parchment, and that’s partly why it’s survived.


While I was there (and this happened at Westminster Cathedral too), everyone stopped to say the Lord’s Prayer. It was very moving. Look at where I happened to be sitting when it happened:



How beautiful.



There were a couple of markers I found interesting. Here’s the first one.

This next one was fascinating, as it’s been translated from the latin.


Can you believe it? She was 38 and had 24 children. OMG. The poor thing would’ve been absolutely worn out.



I liked this shop sign.



Then as I was on my way home, I was like a salmon swimming upstream. A soccer match had finished. Then I could hear singing. It was getting louder and louder and then I could see the guys were going out on the road.



A bystander told me that they’d recognised their club president’s car. They’d surrounded it and were singing and clapping and it sounded great. They were slowly moving with the traffic and it was all very good humoured. (Though I don’t mind betting the people in the car would’ve been slightly on edge.) It was big and loud and powerful and I loved it.



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