Yesterday morning I had a nice lie in and didn’t get up until just after 6am.

I sat in the garden with my coffee for a while before I decided it was too lovely a morning to waste and I should head out with my camera. Now usually I would head to the Common or a lake or something like that, but I fancied a bit of a change and as it was Good Friday, I thought an empty town centre would make a nice change so I headed to nearby Camberley.

I parked the car just off a main road and walked around the corner and saw this little dog tied to a bicycle outside a newsagents and then, in a service area usually confined to parking for Smart cars shrink-wrapped with the McChina Wok Away logo, I spotted an old London Routemaster bus.

So I had to go and investigate. There was a man in a hat  standing next to it.

“Hello,” I said, “I like your bus.”


The owner was a guy called Chris, who lives in Worthing and works in Camberley and he was waiting for his mate so he could park his Lambretta in the back of his bus (as you do) and head off for a car rally.

I took his photo and Tweeted it to our live blog team so they could put it up on our website.

Chris has owned buses before but this one is special. The chassis number is RM1955. The number 955 is significant to him because it was his father’s Air Force number. The first time Chris saw the bus, his father had just died. So he bought the bus.

I chatted to him until his friend turned up and then went to take a photo of the war memorial.


I took close ups of the names too for our First World War project at work.

I did have a walk along the river on the way home.

This morning I headed off in a different direction to do a bit of research for a feature I am planning to write. I went to the neighbouring village of Hartley Wintney to follow a trail through the village and beyond.


It’s a pretty little place and I found parts of it I had never seen before.

I had no idea, for example, that the village had planted a Millennium Orchard.


The board lists all the different variety of trees. There must be about 40 different varieties of apple, a dozen or so nut trees, various berries – I thought it was a lovely idea.


I also added another war memorial to my collection. I shall collate all the names from it at a later date.

I was standing by the pond on the village green, wondering whether I have the time to start a village green project, when an elderly man came up and started talking about the young Egyptian ducklings. Good grief, could he talk :)

Within five minutes I knew he had moved to the village from neighbouring Odiham as a teenager and, apart from eight years living in London, had spent the rest of his life in the village (he’s nearly 81). He’d like to move back to Odiham but his daughter wouldn’t be able to visit him there, so he’s now stuck in Hartley Wintney till he dies. And that, apparently, is the fault of the Conservative government and inflation (both of these are also responsible for the fact there are now only two pubs in the village instead of seven). He’s not a big fan of the Conservative Party, in fact, he would go as far as to say the only good Tory is a dead Tory. He’s also very pleased David Cameron got stung by a jellyfish because he probably deserved it.

It was a very entertaining chat (albeit a little one-sided).

When I finally extracted myself from our deep and meaningful conversation, I decided I deserved a coffee and grabbed one from a little artisan bakery with tables outside.

I was sitting there enjoying the sunshine when an elderly lady and an equally elderly dog stopped by the table. She looked a little flustered.

I smiled at her.

“Now I am in a muddle,” she said.

“Why, what’s the matter?” I replied.

“Well I want some bread,” she said, “But I can’t take Rosie in there.”

“Would you like me to look after your dog?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “And my shopping.”

And that’s how I ended up with an old lady’s shopping and a random dog sitting outside a cafe in Hartley Wintney.


I have to say the dog was very cute though :)


It’s nearing the end of my week off, yesterday was a beautiful spring day and so Man and I drew up a pretty ambitious list of eight Churches Conservation Trust Churches to go and look at. I’ll tell you about those in due course.

We headed for remote areas of Lincolnshire and successfully ticked off four of the eight churches when things started going pear-shaped.

We arrived in the next village we were looking for from an odd direction.

Come on, it looks as though it is still a working church doesn't it?

Come on, it looks as though it is still a working church doesn’t it?

There is a lovely church in the middle of the village. I say “It can’t be that one, it still looks in use,” and we drive down a road that was just  a little lane, believing it to head towards a chapel we could see about a mile before we arrived at the village.

We were wrong. Okay, okay I was wrong :)

We drove for about half a mile down this lane as it got less and less road like and became a dirt track (seriously, I was throwing up dust clouds behind me). Eventually, maybe after about half a mile or so we came to a junction.

We could see a farm in the distance ahead of us and one to our left. I wanted to go straight ahead but then we noticed a woman in front of the farm to our left waving at us. We headed towards her instead.

When we got there, I lowered the window and was about to ask if she knew the location of the church when this little old lady dissolved into floods of tears.

I stopped the car and we tried to ascertain what was wrong. She was pretty incoherent and it took a while but we worked out her name was Rosemary and she used to live on the farm. She said she had got a lift from home to the village and walked the half mile to the farm and her husband was meant to be coming to pick her up and he hadn’t turned up and she didn’t know what to do.

She said she had come out to the farm to feed the pigs. Well, having a quick scout around, there were certainly animals there but no people. There was an extremely old and run down pre-fab building that Rosemary said was an office and a place to make a cup of tea when they were there working.

She had expected the door to be open, she said, but it wasn’t. There was a dilapidated old caravan covered in moss and lichen that obviously wasn’t in use, but there was new light machinery in some of the sheds and a lorry that looked like it was in working order. There were just no people and Rosemary was still confused and crying.

We asked her if there was anyone we could call for her and she said she wasn’t very good at phone numbers. She started pulling bits of paper out of her handbag and one had a mobile phone number on the back of it. I tried to call it but there was no answer.

Rosemary sat in the drivers seat of my car and we tried to get some more information out of her.

She said she was waiting for her husband who was coming to pick her up. He was working somewhere in the fields, she said … at least she thought he was. To be honest by this stage, I wasn’t convinced poor Rosemary had a husband.

Maybe we should take her home. I offered but Rosemary said she lived a long way away near Lincoln and she wasn’t quite sure of the address. I tried to call the mobile number on her piece of paper again – still no answer.

By this time poor Rosemary had been crying on and off for about half an hour, she was getting more and more confused, we appeared to be on an abandoned farm in the middle of nowhere and no one had arrived, driven past, even been seen on the horizon so we decided to call the police.

We called the non-emergency number and told the guy what had happened and that we weren’t at all sure what to do with this confused old lady we had stumbled across.

He said he’d send an officer out immediately. We told Rosemary that a policeman was on his way to help her and she got more upset. Kept saying that she was a stupid old woman and she’d ‘get a pasting’ when she got home.

Then she said she had to get something from the dilapidated pre-fab. I helped her walk over there (and suddenly wondered how she’d managed to walk to the farm as she was so unsteady on her feet).

The pre-fab that she had said was locked was, in fact, open and in she went. She refused to let me go in with her saying the dog would escape … and there was a lot of barking inside.

I sort of hovered by the front door not quite sure what to do and just as I was beginning to get worried, Rosemary reappeared again.

She went and sat back in my car. She told us she had lived on the farm for 17 years before moving to Lincoln and said again she had got a lift and walked to the village because the animals needed feeding. She said her husband was 60 (Rosemary appeared much older than that) and was working in the fields. He would be back to pick her up but she wasn’t sure whether that was meant to be at 5.30pm or 7.30pm or maybe not at all (it was about 4.30pm). She kept saying she was a stupid old woman and everyone would be cross with her and then bursting into tears again. And that she had expected to find someone at the farm when she had arrived.

About 20 minutes after I had called the police we saw a car in the distance and a four by four drove towards us. A man, bit older than me I suppose, looked at us with a ‘who on earth are you’ look.

It was Rosemary’s son. Two minutes later the policeman appeared too.

It turns out Rosemary doesn’t live in Lincoln, she lives in the old pre-fab on the farm. Her husband wasn’t working on the farm, he had gone to Lincoln, and he wasn’t coming to pick her up and take her home, she was already home. Her son had just driven out to check on her.

He decided to check on her because this wasn’t the first time Rosemary had decided to go on a little adventure: in fact the last time she had made it all the way to the village at 10.30pm, quite an achievement along a dirt track that’s not lit in the middle of nowhere with deep ditches either side of it.

I’m just glad we didn’t stuff Rosemary in the car and drive off with her as we had thought about doing. You can imagine the scenario, son would have turned up, reported her missing, we would have to explain how two strangers ended up on a remote private road, kidnapped a random old lady and driven her to a town miles and miles away.

Poor Rosemary. It wasn’t the fact that she had dementia that worried me, it was the fact she was so upset. My grandmother had dementia but was perfectly happy about it.  She was always smiling and thought it was funny when she couldn’t remember anything or got things mixed up.  Rosemary was just very confused and upset.

I suppose if we hadn’t have chanced upon her, in that hour she could have wandered off, fallen in one of those roadside ditches or hurt herself some other way.

Oh, and the church we sailed past with me saying it was still in use turned out to be the one we were looking for after all :)

20130213-204307.jpgDo you like my flowers? Cheerful aren’t they? I love the bright colours, they remind me that spring is on the way.

They are from my lovely colleagues from work and I think they’re gorgeous :)

The last time I wrote on here was the day I headed home from Man’s house near the end of January.

Before I left his house I had a weird thing happen to me.

We were sitting watching the television and all of a sudden I got really bad double vision and the left side of my head had pins and needles, even the left side of my tongue, it was like there was a line drawn down the middle.

Then the pins and needles switched to the other side. It last about 15 minutes during which time I panicked and Man had me do sensible things like stick my tongue out and raise my arms in the air (can be indicators of someone having a stroke).

Anyway, half hour later I felt fine and decided to drive home, despite Man’s protestations that I should go to hospital. So drive home I did.

The following day I went to the dentist and then to work and worked all day (about 12 hours). Just as I was about to leave I got pins and needles in the left side of my head and down my left arm. They lasted about 15 minutes again.

Having promised Man I would seek medical advice if it happened again, I popped in to the reception at A&E on my way home and asked the receptionist whether or not she thought I ought to see someone.

I spent the next three hours having blood tests and ecgs and being monitored, speaking to the doctor and then being discharged with a referral for a CT scan.

Apparently I hadn’t had a stroke but it was highly likely I had had two TIAs or mini strokes.

I was also told I couldn’t drive for four weeks from that date.

I also had raging toothache from the dental appointment that morning. I was hoping it was just the anesthetic wearing off … turned out it wasn’t. You know that ‘never rains but it pours’ sort of day.

Unable to get to work and not sure what was going on, I worked from home for the rest of that week. By Thursday I could stand the pain of my tooth no longer and had to return to have the first part of root canal treatment done. By Saturday I was back there getting a prescription for antibiotics because I then had an infection in it as well.

On the Monday, I spent the day at the Stroke Clinic.

Such fun. I had a CT scan and an MRI scan and an ultrasound of the jugular, blood tests, another ecg and then a long chat with a consultant who spoke in sentences I didn’t understand. (But at least the antiobiotics were kicking in for the infection in my tooth!).

The upshot was that I should have been admitted to hospital the week before and I was at serious risk of having a full blown stroke. I ticked most of the risk factor boxes – overweight, bad diet, until ten days previously I had been a smoker, family history (grandmother), stressful job, two TIAs in a 48 hour period and a cholesterol level that was more than double what it should be.

And this was on top of my two hernias and gastritis. Not exactly a picture of glowing health.

I took the week off work, I felt dreadful. But, to be honest, I felt/feel dreadful mentally more than physically. Although I fell asleep (a lot).

The consultant, who I didn’t understand, scared me. Was he telling me I was seriously ill? I think he was trying to but I didn’t know what things like statins and lipitors were – his customer relation skills sucked.

I did understand that he was telling me I had to rest, I had to take regular but gentle exercise, I had to eat a low cholesterol diet, I had to cancel the operation for the hernia that I had scheduled for the following weekend and I wasn’t allowed to drive.

I also understood I had to have more blood tests, see my GP, have a 24 hour ecg and go back and see him in a month.

So I walked down to the GP (it’s a two hour process to walk down there, see the GP and walk back) and spoke to her and then I walked back the following day to have more blood taken.

Man came down for the weekend and we walked a lot on the common. Gorgeous daughters one and two have been taking me to the shops and my parents have run me to dental appointments and hospital appointments.

I have been working from home around the medical appointments and trying to make sure I get lots of sleep. But the two lots of tablets the stroke guy gave me (the blood thinners and stuff to lower my cholesterol) set my gastritis off, even though he also doubled the dosage of the medication for that.

I have been trying to get out for a walk every day but sometimes the weather in February isn’t very conducive to that and I have been trying to eat a very healthy, low fat, low cholesterol diet.

And I have been trying to get my head around what I need to do to make some serious lifestyle changes.

Everyone has been extremely kind and helpful and I have been a bit snappy. I’m not very good at talking about things. So people ask me how I am and I say fine, and I say it in a manner which indicates no further questions are welcome. I don’t mean to, well actually I do. I suppose it is a defence mechanism. I just find it very difficult to express myself without being overly emotional and I don’t want to cry all the time :). So I don’t want to discuss it with people. Even though I know they are being kind and they are concerned. It’s almost as if I am embarrassed about it.

But if I bottle things up I explode and so the answer, for me at least, is to write them down. Then I can organise my thoughts into some sort of order. Then, and only then, can I talk about things without running the risk of being hugely emotional.

So, I need to make a lot of changes in my life. My daughters only have one parent and that is me and so I need to look after myself better and that means having a good, hard look at my life and making changes where they are needed.

I had already decided that changes were needed and sort of half-heartedly started making them but I have had my wake up call now so it’s time to get serious. Gorgeous daughter number one would say I am being my usual over-dramatic self and she’s probably right lol.

I called this post Reasons to be cheerful, 1, 2, 3 and yet, it’s been mostly miserable and self-pitying  so far :)

But I do have some very good reasons to be cheerful.

Firstly, some people aren’t lucky enough to be given the warning signs that I have and to be, therefore, given the opportunity to do something about their medical issue before it either kills or seriously disables them. I have been given that opportunity.

Secondly, I haven’t had a cigarette now for 32 days 23 hours and 44 minutes and, according to the NHS smokefree app on my iPhone, this has saved me £252.78 to date.

Thirdly, I have some very beautiful flowers on my windowsill from some lovely colleagues.

Three reasons to be cheerful :)






Do you know what I did yesterday?

You’re never going to guess.

I sat down and wrote out a list of all the churches on the Churches Conservation Trust list with keyholder information and post codes and opening times where they were specified so I can print it out and keep it in my car.

Yes, I know, I’m getting a little obsessed.

I also found some pictures of the church that started it all.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. Years ago I was the editor of a local paper in a town called Esher and I was invited to an event at St George’s Church. That was looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust but I didn’t think much more about it.

Then Man and I were in York for a day or two and we were wandering through the shopping area of Goodramgate when we came across a little alley way. Now I like arches, alleyways, doors and I’m always curious to know what’s behind them.

There was a sign on this one saying Historic Church. So I walked down between Poundland and whatever was the other side and found this.

035bModern buildings either side, artisan workshops from the 14th century, an 18th century archway and then the medieval church of Holy Trinity tucked into this quiet little oasis of a churchyard that seems a million miles from the town centre.

I went inside for a closer look and discovered that this little gem of a building was also cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and it sparked my interest.

This was also the first place I came across box pews and, although I have seen them many times now, I still think they are weird. I really think the congregation ought to have been looking towards the altar and the preacher and not facing the opposite direction. They could have been smirking when he was preaching hellfire and damnation for all he knew.

044bThe church is mainly 15th century but 12th century foundations remain. From the outside you can see the wear and tear on the architecture over the years.

Inside, the floors are all uneven and there are steps here and there.

040bI liked the iron work dotted about.

Now these photos were taking in July this year on Man and my last trip to York. This was before I had invented my Fifty before Fifty Challenge and therefore before I had made a decision to go and see all these churches.

I am finding already that my visits have a different intent now. When I visited Holy Trinity in July, I went because it’s a pretty church, tucked away from the crowds and I have always liked religious buildings.

Now, when I visit one of the Churches Conservation Trust Churches I want to know the history, I want to track down a quirky fact, I want to know why this building is different and what made it worth saving. I want to know who used it, who preached in it, and I want photographs that aren’t going to be the same as the photographs I took at the last 25 churches I visited. I want history, I want art and I want story-telling.

Holy Trinity has this to make it stand out.


The windows are beautiful. And the thing I like best about this church is that you sort of get the feeling that you have discovered a secret treasure that no one else knows about.

Anyway, despite the face that I went to visit it before I started my Fifty before Fifty Challenge, I intend to count it. Firstly because I have been there, and I have photographic evidence that I have been there, and secondly because in writing out my list of churches yesterday I discovered that there are now 343 on the list and not 342.

When did that happen?

I must pay close attention to this because if, during the next 2.8 years, there are more added I could think I have completed my task when actually I haven’t.

I didn’t even consider new ones may be added :). I am now racing against time and additions lol.

018bI have bitten the bullet and started doing my Christmas shopping. I suppose it had to happen at some point.

But we still took the cameras when we went into Nottingham city centre, because the Christmas market was outside the Council House as usual, and it makes a tedious, horrible task (shopping) much more pleasant.

I love markets of all types but Christmas ones are particularly fun.

026bThere was stuff for him…The names of these beers were hilarious, as were the labels, and perfect for the bah humbug of a Man I shall be spending Christmas with (he likes Christmas really, he just pretends very loudly).


And there was stuff for her … yummmmmm :)



And there was stuff for the kids (and big kids) … more yummmm :)

012bFather Christmas put in an appearance.

009bAnd there was the biggest snow globe I’ve ever seen.

Had I been brave, liked spinning round in circles and enjoyed heights, I would have had a go on this.

024bBut I’m not, so I didn’t :) Bet the views were good from up there.

014bI love the colourful carousels though.

006bAnd the craft stalls. We bought a few bits and pieces and the Christmas market made the shopping experience bearable. At least I didn’t suffer from as much shopping rage as usual (until I braved Primark and had to go home).

But this is Nottingham and so some of the stalls had to have a certain theme.

005bWhere else would you buy your Robin Hood equipment if not in Nottingham?


And quite obviously your 13th/14th century historical/mythological character would have been sustained by food introduced to Britain in the 16th century :)

021bActually we opted for that traditional Christmas fare, chicken and chorizo paella.

020bAnd a styrofoam cup full of mushy peas and mint sauce, eaten with a plastic spoon … when in Rome and all that.

The Christmas market is always colourful and fun … and if I could just have got rid of about 50% of the other fellow shoppers, it would have been perfect.

We went off to visit Man’s mum after that. She granted us a five-minute audience but was too busy to chat because she was about to play bingo. So she sent us away and told us to come back tomorrow. You can do that when you’re 85.










I took a little series of photos from the hill by the Royal Observatory on Sunday with the specific intention of doing this.

Stitching them together to get a panoramic city scape. I bet it looks brilliant up there after dark when it’s all lit up. And Man suggested we go back and have another go in the twilight one evening. Good plan Man :)

Now, I didn’t have the foggiest what I was doing and I am sure there is a foolproof way to do this in Photoshop, I, however, opted for the fool’s way and just created one big canvas onto which I dumped copies of I think four photos and tried to line them up as best I could.

I was reasonably pleased with it but I am sure there must be a better way. And as number whatever on my Fifty before Fifty challenge is to become expert in Photoshop, I feel it is probably time to open that very large Photoshop workbook I have and start practicing with some pictures.

This is me straddling the Meridian.

The other thing I need to do is to acquire a better technical knowledge of my camera and of photography. I know very little. And also to study other people’s work and practices. I need to learn more if I am going to be a better photographer.

I sense another mini project coming on.

I know I go off at tangents but most of my projects sort of overlap each other :) And, for some reason, it has become very important to me to develop my photography (excuse the pun) further.

The Camera Obscura at Greenwich.

I want to push my boundaries a bit and move on from just taking snapshots. So, as with anything, I need to practice and learn and apply some creativity and then practice and learn some more.

This is an amazing sundial at the Royal Observatory. The shadow created by the tails of the dolphins show’s what the time is – it was spot on.

Visiting a place like that really brings home that there is such a lot to discover in this amazing world of ours, whatever your sphere of interest.

It was the home of pioneering and discovery, of creativity and innovation and of exploration. These early astronomers really did know how to push the boundaries.

And it’s never to late to learn is it?

And then I might be able to create a panoramic shot that I’m really proud of :)






Yesterday morning on the way to work I heard a story on Radio 4 that made me sad.

The very last typewriter to be produced in Britain was being manufactured that very day – and being shipped straight to the Science Museum.

That’s it, there will be no more, the typewriter is a thing of the past.

To be honest, part of me was surprised anyone was still manufacturing typewriters at all. But this factory (Brother) in Wrexham has, apparently been continuing to supply electronic typewriters to the legal industry in the USA, parts of which still prefer not to have legal records stored on a hard drive – well that’s what Radio 4 said anyway. Now, however, the business is no longer viable and so that’s it, no more typewriters will be manufactured in the UK.

The typewriter is as dead as a dodo.

My old friend the typewriter and I had a love/hate relationship for many years.

In a brief spell at college, an elderly lady with pointy glasses and a business suit attempted to teach me to touch type … and failed. My short stubby fingers weren’t having any of it.

Although I spend half my life typing and am pretty damn fast,  I still only type with four fingers and one thumb on a good day.

When I started on work experience at a local newspaper, my typing got faster and faster.

We typed our stories on tiny, tiny pieces of paper – the one sentence intro went on the first page, you could probably get three paragraphs (short ones) on subsequent pages. You had to type mf (more follows) on the bottom right hand corner of each sheet until you reached the end, then you’d type Ends.

On the top right hand corner of each page you typed a catchline – one word that described the story – your initials and the page number.

Then there was carbon paper. The bane of my life. We had to do several copies of each story, one for your files, one for the news editor, one went to the subs, others were filed for various reasons.

So you had these tiny pieces of paper interspersed with carbon paper, at least one piece of which I would get back to front, which you would force in to the typewriter. Mistakes were corrected with xxxxs over the top of words or tippex,

When we finished our articles we had to count our words (typewriters couldn’t do that) and write the number of words on the front.

The first work typewriter I had had 1908 on the front, yes it really did and no I’m not that old.

It had keys on long stalks and clattered loudly. But at least the letters were still visible, the newer ones with soft plastic keys, wore away after a little while. The typewriter ribbon got tangled regularly and I used to get covered in red and black ink trying to reload the damn thing.

I remember the noise of the newsroom, I’m not sure I could work with that row anymore but I loved the buzzz – and the fact that if I got fed up in there, I could pick up the typewriter and cart it to the staffroom, outside, even to the car and still work.

I also remember getting new typewriters for the office. We placed an advert in our own papers asking for second hand unwanted typewriters and then the news editor and I drove round the respondents,  road tested the typewriters, loaded the good ones into my boot and drove them back to the office. Local newspapers had small budgets then too.

I broke nails, got covered in ink, got carbon paper round the wrong way, could rarely hear myself think or people on the phone because of the noise, went home with my fingers throbbing through bashing the keys and swore at my typewriter regularly.

But you know what? When it comes down to it, I’m actually quite sad about its demise.

In a rose-tinted, nostalgic sort of way it was my friend, it helped me write and I liked (still like) to write. It was one of the tools of the trade in a profession that I loved. It was part of a new and exciting world that I was proud and astounded to have been allowed to join, it was part of my dreams and ambitions and a huge part of my life.

So goodbye my friend, I have fond memories and you will be missed.