Monthly Archives: October 2012

I haven’t got a lot of time today because I really have to get to work.

Wednesdays and Thursdays are always so busy with normal deadlines and this week the powers that be have thrown another couple of extras into the mix –  a business supplement and the first of the Christmas supplements.

This is another picture of the swans from Monday. I have no idea what it is trying to do, it’s just swimming along with it’s foot ramdomly stuck in the air.

And some more fungi, just because I seem to like fungi.

I am looking forward to taking the new lens to Whitby this weekend.

Whitby is hosting a Goth weekend and I am very curious to see all the people dressed up.

I am currently reading Dracula in honour of the trip and would love to have time to finish it before Saturday but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. And maybe we will pop in to some more churches along the way. I’m not sure when we will be in that direction again.

What I have to do today is make a donation to a charity shop/recycling bank. It’s the last day of October and I said I would make at least one donation every month. So far I haven’t been remotely generous. So some of the things I grabbed that didn’t fit me at the weekend are going to the clothing bank on the way to work,

I am hoping I might get away with just 12 hours in the office today. Sadly I think that might be a little optimistic. But the sooner I get started …



Why am I intimidated by photographers with large lenses?

It’s like a statement of professionalism I suppose, I see them and think “Wow, you must be a professional photographer to have a lens like that – I’d better keep out of your way.”

I didn’t go far yesterday, it was a day of rest. I really need to shake off this cough and cold now, it’s been about a month and I can’t get rid of it.

So I pottered about, did some laundry, took the landlord’s post to the letting agent, changed my address at the doctors, that sort of thing.

Then I popped down to the local lake to try out my new lens (which is where I came across the two guys with lenses I probably wouldn’t be able to carry let alone shoot through).

There have been some changes since I last visited the lake.

They’ve put cattle in my way for example. Not a problem, I’ll just walk round them.

So this is your average picture of a swan.

And this is the photo cropped and blown up to see what sort of quality I could get.

Not bad, I thought.

So the lens works, it’s a question of getting the photographer too as well. So much I have to learn about my camera (and becoming expert at Photoshop is on my list of challenges too).

I tried a variety of subjects without changing the lens.

More funghi.

A damselfly.

And action shots.

Yep, I think me and my lovely new Tamron lens will be able to work together quite happily – thanks Mum, Dad, Girls and their Boyfs for a wonderful pressie :)







St Nicholas Church, Freefolk

After Saturday’s church visit fail, I decided to be a little more organised about my fifty before fifty travels yesterday and add another couple from the Churches Conservation Trust list and actually look up the locations properly before I set out.

I am still full of cold and feeling pretty under the weather so I thought three would do for yesterday.

First stop was St Nicholas Church, Freefolk, Hampshire. What a fabulous name for a village, I like that a lot.

It’s a tiny little church tucked down a single track lane half in someone’s front garden.

But it is very pretty and signposted so I had no trouble finding it.

It has remnants of centuries-old wall paintings on the wall and a small wooden slatted bell tower.

But the real surprise is a huge painted and gilded memorial inside to one Sir Richard Powlett.

Sir Richard Powlett’s memorial.

From what I can discover Sir Richard was the knight of Freefolk House and died in 1614. His memorial features him lying on his side, below him are his two daughters dressed in mourning black and above the memorial hangs his helmet and one spur.

It’s very unusual, I hadn’t seen anything quite like it.

I can’t find out very much about Sir Richard, although Hampshire Records Office appears to hold a couple of letters to him, one of which requests him to appear before a panel of knights ‘to render account for maimed soldiers’. I wonder how they were maimed.

His memorial is certainly impressive though.

Next church on my list was a few miles away in a tiny place called Preston Candover.

One of the added bonuses about hunting down these churches is the tiny little villages and hamlets I discover on the way that I never knew existed.

St Mary the Virgin Old Church, Preston Candover, Hampshire.

This is St Mary the Virgin Old Church in Preston Candover, once again tucked away behind a house but I found it easily enough because of this.

Churches Conservation Trust signposts.

Medieval floor tiles.

This chancel is all that’s left of the church, the rest was demolished in 1855.

The pretty little churchyard is part over grown and the church is estimated to date from around 1190.

Inside there were these incredible Medieval floor tiles. How many interesting people must have stepped on these over the centuries?

I bet when they were new they were really quite vibrant and bright although they look like they’ve been picked up and plonked back in random places, I’m not sure they are in their original positions.

I have no clue what this is though. It is just sitting in the corner in the chancel. In front of it was a lawn mower!

St Mary’s, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire.

My last stop was the church I was meant to see on Saturday – St Mary’s at Hartley Wintney.

It wasn’t open, but I knew that was going to be the case. Some of the churches owned by the Churches Conservation Trust, have keyholders living nearby and, although the telephone numbers are on the doors of the churches, it seems a bit intrusive to me to ring up and demand the key be brought down now. I think I would prefer to call in advance and arrange a convenient time.

As this church is on my doorstep, I can visit again.

Now somewhere in this graveyard is the grave of Henry ‘Hangman’ Hawley, Lieutenant-General in the English army and defeater of Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden. He lived locally at  a house called West Green in the village.

I didn’t find the grave (it was cold, I am ill) but as I will be returning there anyway, I am sure I will on another occasion.

The church is another mish mash of architecture, started by nuns, it now has a 13th century chancel and nave and a flint tower from the 19th century, but it is so much prettier than the church of St John’s that is in use in the village and I wonder why they stopped using it.

All the churches managed by the Churches Conservation Trust are no longer in regular use, but all are still consecrated so services can take place there.

So that was my journey yesterday. Incidentally, today I have started signing the guestbooks Dory’s World instead of my name, just for fun really :) And I always give a donation while I’m there.


And elsewhere in Dory’s World, this is the newest addition to the family. This is Barry who arrived from the fairground on Saturday night.

It took the terror that is Marvin the Marvelous (cat) all of half a day to stick his head in the goldfish bowl so now Barry is living upstairs in Pud’s bedroom.

Kerry’s boyfriend John also won one for her. This has been named Jeremy and is currently residing at John’s house.




St John’s Church, Hartley WIntney

I was very disappointed with the church I visited yesterday as part of my fifty before fifty challenge. It was St John’s at Hartley Wintney in Hampshire.

There was scaffodling everywhere, building work in progress, the door was locked and there was nothing to say it was a Churches Conservation Trust church.

But there was a reason for that … it wasn’t. I got the wrong church! When I checked the website this morning, the correct church is St Mary’s, is just around the corner and looks much more beautiful than the one I visited! Church visit fail.

So I shall probably head back there this morning, it is just around the corner after all.

But it’s true what I have said before about these churches being hidden gems. I have lived in this area for the majority of my adult life and had no idea there was another church in the small Hampshire village of Hartley Wintney.

Never mind, I shall discover it today.

I did however manage to find the right castle. Although, to be fair, castles are so few on the ground even I can’t get them mixed up!

Farnham Castle Keep.

Farnham Castle was owned for centuries by the Bishopric of Winchester and many royal visitors have stopped by including George III, his wife and some of their 17 children. I wonder if Ms Charlotte Finch, governess to the children and the creator of the jigsaw puzzle and whose memorial we found the other day in Rutland was with the Royal Party.

Queen Elizabeth I stayed there and many more.

The complex that includes the castle is a real mish mash of architecture. It would seem that each Bishop added to the project.

Now the ruined keep is owned by English Heritage and there is a lovely little exhibition telling its history and great views over the park from the top of the keep.

The weather was perfect for viewing.

There was some interesting information about travel writers who had mentioned the castle – so now I would like to find out more about William Camden, who apparently wrote a guide book to Britain in 1586 and Celia Fiennes, who wrote of her travels around Britain with her maid in 1698. Seriously, what was this woman doing roaming all over the country on her horse in 1698. And here was I thinking women were downtrodden before the Suffragettes.

Actually, you come across strong, forceful women throughout the ages. Women who defied convention and just did what they wanted to do. They fascinate me. People like the Victorian Edith Durham who traveled around Albania, Queen Elizabeth I, Boudica, the 18th century writer and diarist Fanny Burney, one day I’d like to write a book about some of them.


Anyway, back to the castle and English Heritiage has put nice perspex bits on holes in walls so visitors can view safely.

I liked the way the perspex split the light to form rainbows on the walls.

There has been a lot of work done on making the site more interesting with the exhibition and display boards and it’s worth a visit .

Oh, did I mention there’s no entrance fee? We all know how I like free stuff.

On the way home – before I arrived at the wrong church – I found an aritsan market and bought some beautiful breads :).

The gorgeous daughters and their boyfriends had disappeared out when I got home. When they finally reappeared they came complete with five huge pumpkins.

This is what we did with them.

We were all quite pleased with our handiwork. We are going to put one on each of the long concrete steps to our front door on Wednesday to encourage trick or treaters (yes, we encourage them in our house – the girls are always very disappointed if none turn up).

Then I made pumpkin soup. There’s quite a lot of it, we are going to be eating it for a while I fear.

Many apologies before I even begin because today I am quite blatantly going to just moan.

I am absolutely sick of businesses being able to hijack people’s money and hold on to it ad infinitum … and there doesn’t seem to be anything people can do about it.

We moved house recently, from one privately rented house to another. The houses were operated by two different lettings agents.

In order to be allowed to let the new house, the new lettings agents required references for myself and gorgeous daughters number one and two. They used an external agency who charged £120 per person plus VAT for the privilege.

Now these references involved an email to the current lettings agency and emails to each of our employers to check our salaries.

The girls both work at the same company.

So one email to their firm, one to mine and one to the lettings agent – we are the best part of £400 out of pocket.

But to add insult to injury, the old lettings agent would not release the references until we had paid them £25 per person plus VAT.

So that’s four emails in total and it cost £500! Is it me, or is this just legalised theft?

Now, the old lettings agent is holding on to our original £1,300 deposit.

I had agreed to pay for professional carpet cleaning and window cleaning (roughly £200) but they are now trying to charge me £200 to fill a couple of holes in two door frames (where coat hooks had rubbed) and £400 to replace the carpets downstairs because, they claim, they stink of our cats, which I dispute. (despite two lots of professional carpet cleaning and odour control).

But, here’s the thing. New tenants moved in three days after we moved out and seem to be living there quite happily. And on the two occasions I have returned to the house since moving out to collect post (the last time being yesterday) the carpet quite obviously has not been replaced. It is still there, I can see it.

Basically the carpet was old and threadbare when we moved in – it was only a cheap carpet anyway – and the landlord appears to just fancy replacing it and we are being told to pick up the tab.

I have refused and will take them to court if I have to.

Yesterday I asked the old letting agent to return that part of my deposit that was not in dispute – about £450.

To enable them to do that I apparently have to pay £25 plus VAT!

To say I am angry is an understatement. I have no idea why these companies can be allowed to get away with such outrageous charges and practices.

On a much more positive note, I received a post from America yesterday with next year’s calendar for the children’s eye health foundation.

That’s my photo :) I am February. I was very excited.

And this is what I came home from Man’s to on Monday.

Pud had made me a birthday cake – how fabulous is that? :)




Oh thank goodness it is Friday!

Back at work three days and I am exhausted already … and I still can’t shake off this cough that has been bugging me for weeks.

I’ve almost forgotten about my wonderful couple of weeks off, the good work of R&R has been completely undone already. Never mind.

So I thought I’d post a few more photos from the 1940s day, just to remind me.

I am actually going to have to buy a space upgrade for this blog this weekend I think. I have used 86% of the available space in five months, I am going to need more if I am to continue my ramblings.

This weekend I am at home alone. I am not visiting Man again until Friday of next week when we plan to visit Whitby where they have a Goth Weekend that weekend. I am not planning to dress for the occasion, just experience and photograph those people who have.

And, in honour of the event, I am currently reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula (and loving it).

So, this weekend I have a number of people to shout at – the new gas and electricity suppliers which appears to have got the address wrong so that I am now paying the next door neighbour’s energy bills, the old gas and electricity supplier, which has failed to send me a closing bill and owes me money, the old letting agent, which has not returned any of my deposit for the last house we rented. Such hassle.

I also plan to continue with the knitting of Man’s jumper and perhaps visit a church or two and a castle. I have never visited the church on my list or the castle on the other list that are most local to me – and both really are just a couple of miles down the road.

It’s strange how I spend half my life trekking across the country to visit things and avoid things on my doorstep.

I also have lots of lovely vouchers to spend at a camera shop, courtesy of gorgeous daughters number one and two and their lovely boyfriends.

I am also trying to decide whether or not I have the time to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Can I fit in attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days with work, my fifty before fifty challenge, home and everything else? Are there actually enough hours in the day?

I still have a few days to decide.

But, right now, I really ought to get dressed and go to work.

Happy Friday :)




Still harping on about my Fifty before Fifty challenge, at number 7 we have visit every castle in England.

Now I already have an awful lot of churches to visit – 11 down, 331 to go – and the list of castles I have chosen to complete (which can  be found here) includes 170 castles.

So I have decided to cheat. Well, not cheat exactly, more to award myself previously earned credit for those I have already been to.

But I do need to prove that I have, in fact, attended these places and so only ones for which I can provide photographic evidence are eligible to be officially ticked off.

So, in alphabetical order, I present to you:

Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Leicestershire.

Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire.

Clifford’s Tower, York, Yorkshire.

Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire.

Dover Castle, Kent.

Lincoln Castle, Lincolnshire.

Newark Castle, Nottinghamshire.

Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire.

Porchester Castle, Hampshire. See the church down there? My brother was christened in there. We lived in Porchester for a couple of years.

Scarborough Castle, Yorkshire.

The Tower of London, London.

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire.

And Windsor Castle.

There you have it. Proof of my attendance at this Baker’s Dozen of castles.

That’ll be 157 to go then :)