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Yesterday I managed to take a half-decent photograph of a bluebell (that’s it above, I was quite pleased with it), explored two 12th century churches, visited a cathedral and witnessed four colleagues throw themselves off the top of it, tracked down three more First World War Memorials, conned my way into the Military Garrison Church and visited a rural life centre, where I became a bludger … and I was still home in time for tea.

It was a pretty full on day, so let’s break it down into bite-sized chunks.

The weather report on Friday told me it was going to rain all weekend. It lied. When I sat in the garden with my coffee when I got up there were distinct signs of blue above so I grabbed the camera and headed out. First stop was an old church (more on that later) and then heading back through Guildford, I realised I was in time to see four of our reporters abseil off the cathedral tower in aid of the fund to repair the building. As I’d sponsored them, I thought I’d go and make sure they got the job done.

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Now poor James here was first over the edge and it  was chucking it down with rain when he made his descent.

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It had brightened up by the time Matt came down. And all four actually completed the challenge so I had to cough up the cash.

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They were helped by a bit of patriotic cheerleading on the ground :)

Having never visited Guildford Cathedral, I thought I’d take the opportunity to go and explore.

It’s made of brick, featured in The Omen and was begun in the 1930s only for work to stop during the Second World War. When building restrictions were lifted, work recommenced and services were held there from 1947, although it wasn’t consecrated until 1961.

It’s imposing with its stark red brick sitting at the top of Stag Hill overlooking the town. Inside, it is beautiful in an austere sort of way and it has lovely lines, which I quite enjoyed.

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But I have to confess, I don’t really like it.

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It’s peaceful and it has an air of serenity.

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And everyone there was very lovely and welcoming. And for a while I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it.

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And then I realised … it has no history.

You see, I don’t visit churches to be spiritual, I go because they tell stories. And this cathedral has no stories to tell, no quirkiness to uncover, no gargoyles insolently mooning at me from on high. It’s just too new. It can’t help it, it’s not its fault … it just really isn’t my cup of tea.

It was fun watching the guys jump off the roof though.

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And I did love the view across Guildford from the top of Stag Hill.

So, wanting to step back in time a little, I headed to a couple of small villages further south in the county. And by accident stumbled across the Rural Life Centre at Tilford, so I thought I’d take a look. It was woodworking day but there weren’t many people there.

I did, however, meet a lovely man who was turning wood on a foot-powered lathe. He reckoned humans had been working wood in this way for millennia. He let me have a go and it was loads of fun. Apparently this officially makes me a Bludger. I shall be adding this to my CV. In fact, we are having our annual reviews at work at the moment and under the ‘do you have any skills not utilised in your current role?’ box, I shall now be able to write Bludging.

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I shall fill you in on conning my way into the Garrison Church, the First World Ward Memorials and the two 12th century churches I found in another post.

 

 

 

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Many will know of my Fifty before Fifty challenge and that one of those challenges is to attempt to visit all of the Churches Conservation Trust churches. And, as you can see from the countdown clock on the right, I only have 18 months to go.

Well during my period of blogging absence, I also failed miserably to knock many of my challenges off my list (except perhaps reading) so I really have to get a bit of a gallop on here.

On Monday, Man and I went to Skegness. It’s his birthday this week when he will once again become as old as I am for six months and he wanted to ride a roller coaster (more on that in another post). However, it seemed a wasted opportunity to drive straight past a perfectly good church, so we took a little detour to Haceby, Lincolnshire.

I checked before hand and the church of St Barbara was open all day. 170b

And indeed it was. I love locations like this. It was a couple of miles off the A52 up a single track road and when we arrived it was pretty  much in the middle of nowhere.

Haceby was mentioned in the Doomsday Book and must once have been a thriving village. Now it is a farm and a couple of cottages and this pretty little church on a hill.

Now it was called St Barbara’s but the CTC pamphlet inside the church said St Margaret. That confused me. A little research and I discovered it actually had a double dedication. I find St Barbara more interesting. Turkish, over-protective dad who locked her in a tower to stop her getting sullied by the outside world (Rapunzel origins?), she secretly became Christian. He didn’t like that, tried to kill her, a miracle created a hole in the wall and she escaped. Chase ensued, he caught her, there were a couple more miracles. He chopped her head off and was struck by lightning on the way home – serves him right. On the other hand, another argument is she didn’t exist at all.

So, the church. It dates from the 12th century and was added to over the next 400 years.

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The outside is quite plain, no gargoyles or grotesques, but I did find this tiny little blocked door in the north wall.

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I love these tiny doors, they must have had very miniature clergy. Apparently the arch around the door is called a Caernarfon Arch because it is predominantly found in castles in Wales. Why is it here? We’re a long way from Wales.

St Barbara’s is famous for the remnants of a wall painting.

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This was originally a Doom painting, you can just make out the devil directing a group of big-bellied lost souls towards hell on the right and Christ sits at the top with saved souls and angels.

But is has been overpainted with the Royal Coat of Arms of Queen Anne and you can see the lion on the left and make out the three lions of England and an Irish harp on the shield in the centre.

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The interior is light and airy. You can see the very plain 14th century font in the corner.

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The arch to the bell tower caught my eye. It is seriously wonky. The right hand side appears to bow quite drastically. Really, it isn’t just the camera angle, it is definitely lopsided.

But for me the exciting part of this church was in the porch.

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Graffiti. We all know how I love graffiti – ancient and modern – it appeals to the reprobate in me and, for me, it brings the people using this fine building to life, makes them more real. There are a few dates on here. TE was merrily scrawling away in 1677 for example.

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On the other side, it looks like someone has engraved the sails of a windmill. There are certainly a lot of windmills is this lovely flat part of the world and I can only imagine there were more in times past, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

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Strangely, if I saw modern graffiti on a church, I would probably say it was desecration and not be impressed at all – but I enjoy this old graffiti and I wonder who the local vandals were.

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These I thought were strange. On the seat in the porch there are several outlines that look distinctly like footprints to me.

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I can’t find any information about them except a few mentions that they are there. Well, I know that, I saw them, what I want to know is why people felt the need to etch round their feet.

It’s nice to be on the church trail again, I’ve missed it. According to my list, I have now checked off 50 CTC churches – so, less than 300 to go then.

Before we leave St Barbara’s, Man noticed this.

There’s a cheese string in the churchyard :)

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Well it amused me anyway.

It's spring

It’s spring

Hello :) It’s been a long time – more than a long time, it’s been almost six months. I hope everyone’s well.

I spose saying I’ve been busy is a bit of a lame excuse after all this time. To be honest, I have been busy but it’s been more than that. I sort of lost my mojo.

I’m not sure why, a combination of a huge project at work, the rain (and not getting out to take photos), a lack of funds to go on road trips and just getting out of the habit.

So, Happy New Year, I will attempt to catch up on some favourite blogs and also will try and get back into the habit of blogging again.

I woke up this morning and realised I’d missed it.

Maybe it was because the sun was shining and it feels like spring is on its way.

I have actually been out taking some photos this weekend. A few favourite haunts – Fleet Pond, Horseshoe Lake, my garden – but also a new project, mainly for work.

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This one is Horseshoe Lake last night. It’s a bit of an experiment. I was trying to see what a sunset would look like in black and white. The flying ducks were just a bit of a happy accident.

038bAnd this one is Fleet Pond this morning.

I woke up and looked up. There’s a window above my bed and I always keep the blinds open a little bit so the first thing I saw was the sunshine.

Within 15 minutes I was in the car and at Fleet Pond by about 7.15am. The light was lovely and it would have been peaceful but for the din of the workmen creating some huge metal monstrosity on the neighbouring car park of the railway station.

But you can’t hear the noise in a photo, so it does at least look peaceful.

I met a very nice man walking in the opposite direction who asked me what they were doing at the railway station. We got chatting. He is an artist and the pond society has invited him to go and paint at a special weekend in May. I promised him some publicity.

And as for my special project … with the centenary of the First World War coming up, we decided it would be a great idea to try and document all the memorials to fallen soldiers within our circulation area. The problem is, there are more than 900 in Surrey and we haven’t counted the ones in north East Hampshire yet.

We thought we’d get photographs of all of them and then create a database of all the names on them so people looking for information about their relatives will be able to see the memorial where they are immortalised. Although I think we are going to have to crowd source this one and ask members of the public to help us.

St Johns Windlesham memorial bYesterday I visited Thorpe, Laleham, Chertsey, Longcross and Windlesham. This is the War Memorial at St John’s Church in Windlesham. I have transcribed all the names on each of them today.

This morning I photographed Yateley and Fleet. I transcribed the names from the Yateley memorial but I’m not sure which are the names for the First World War and which for the Second World War on the Fleet memorial so I haven’t done those yet.

But I will.

And I’ll be back on the church trail too.

The fifty before fifty challenge has rather taken a back seat recently so I now only have 18 months left to fulfill the challenges I set myself. If it wasn’t a big enough challenge to start with :)

Hi all.
I haven’t been around for a while because things have been manic.
We’ve moved house (again). That was fun! The gorgeous daughters, their boyfriends, Man and I with a hired van and a borrowed carpet cleaner managed to shift all our stuff and blitz the old house in a few hours one tiring Saturday two weeks ago.
This is our fifth home in four years, you’d think we’d be used to it but we’re not.
However the new landlord and his family are lovely. And they say they want to let long term. The new house is easily the best we have rented in the last four years and it has four bedrooms and a big conservatory and a lovely mature garden that comes with a gardener … bliss.
Gorgeous daughter number two went on holiday the next day and came back on the Wednesday. Thursday was GD1’s 23rd birthday and Man and I came on holiday to Northumberland on the Friday.
In addition I started a new job (same company) the week before the move. I have accepted the job of Group Deputy Editor which appears to mean I still run the production department but I also have a young team of reporters and a couple of papers to edit and group-wide I am responsible for the community news and the user generated content – the quirky stuff that I love that is about real people not celebrities or politicians :)
The job came with a new car. A diesel. More miles to the gallon means more road trips for me and Man. Yay.
And most exciting of all. I finally got a new camera (lots of yays) Well I say new, it’s a reconditioned, second hand Canon 50d. But it’s mine and I love it.
Now currently, while I am exploring the North East, I have no laptop to upload my photos too and very limited connectivity so the 1,000 plus pics will have to wait.
Suffice to say our tour has so far included churches, castles, countryside, wildlife and a few pubs :)
Watch this space.

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Cleared for take off :)

Cleared for take off :)

Well there have been no further recurrence of the mini strokes that I experienced, my ecg results were fine, MRI scan showed no permanent damage, cholesterol results, that I was initially told were 11.6 actually turned out to be 5.6 – still high but not unbelievably, dangerously high and blood pressure is down.

And all that means I can drive again WOO HOO. Sadly, it also means I don’t have to work from home any more so I am back in the office from Tuesday BOO. Although my consultant did suggest I ought to work from home more often … I wonder what would happen if I suggested it :) Might be worth mentioning.

Anyway, other than having to see the GP on Wednesday, I am clear of medical appointments for three months when blood tests need to be done again to see if anything has changed. In the meantime I intend to continue with the health kick – low cholesterol/fat healthy diet and lots of walking. Oh and I can go back on the list to have my hernia operation now.

The thing I am most pleased about is I am still not smoking. According to the app on my phone it has now been 43 days, 11 hours and 48 minutes and this has saved me £333.26.

Quite where the money has gone I am not sure, because I am certainly not any better off at the moment. All I can say for sure is I am slightly (very slightly) less debt ridden.

I am sure the financial benefits will come at some point. Although I am spending a fair amount in prescription charges instead now!

And dental treatment – although I had the final piece of dental work done last week, so now I am clear until the next six month check up. There is progress after all. Slow and steady wins the race.

So what have I been up to for the last few weeks?

Well I have been working from home but that means the housework keeps up to date as well.

I’ve taken to walking on the Common a fair bit when the weather hasn’t  been diabolical. I have watched every single episode of every series of Criminal Minds and got through the first two and a half series of Merlin.

I have rediscovered my interest in cooking. I am eating loads but it’s much healthier than it was. If it doesn’t involve oats or lentils, I don’t want to know lol. No, it’s not quite that bad but I do actually love fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses and whole grains etc etc so I am making an effort to use them. My ten bean chilli is gorgeous, as is a recipe I discovered/adapted for apple, oat and honey cookies made with no sugar and no butter yum.

At some point, also given the increased levels of activity, I am hoping the weight will start falling off. At the moment, I am just happy to have lost a few pounds despite the fact I have stopped smoking.

Man has been down to look after me for a couple of long weekends and on Friday I drove to his in Nottingham for the first time for ages and ages.

I have been trying to capture lots of different birds with my camera as I have been on my wanders on the common (although it was lovely to be able to go a bit further afield and visit Attenborough Nature Reserve yesterday) and this has become a bit of an additional hobby.

I’ve also read a bit.

I haven’t been able to get out to see any more churches, but now I’m back on the road again, who knows :).

And I think it’s time to start blogging again.

So here’s some of my birdy photos … rest assured there will be more pictures to follow :)

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009bIt snowed overnight on Sunday/Monday in Nottingham. Not as much as there was in the north of the county but certainly enough to put another covering on the roads and pavements.

I would have stayed and worked from home for a couple of days if it hadn’t had been for the dental appointment I have booked for this morning and the raging toothache I have put up with for two weeks.

As it turned out though, England seems to have been a lot more prepared for the snow this year than for the last few years.

The roads – certainly everything other than the estate and minor roads – were almost completely clear. Gritting lorries and snow ploughs have been out in force and, from what I have experienced in Hampshire, Surrey, Nottinghamshire and the bits en route, the world has kept moving.

So I opted for driving home during daylight, left Man’s just before 1pm and arrived home at 3pm. Pretty damn good, the traffic was really, really light :)

Actually, I didn’t arrive home … I decided to arrive at a church in the next village because the light suddenly brightened from the constant one-tone grey that we have had for the last few days so I thought I would take advantage of it.

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This is St Mary’s Church at Eversley, I think it looks lovely in the snow. I like the simplicity of the War Memorial and the cross.

This church is not one of the ones on my Churches Conservation Trust list. It is still in constant use. But it does have a literary history. It was here that the author Charles Kingsley preached for many years and where he wrote The Water Babies (which I have never read – maybe I ought to add it to my list).

If you wander behind the church and down a tiny footpath, you cross a little stream and very quickly reach open fields.

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Finally the cloud cover breaks after days and days of grey I’d quite like to live in that nice house on the bottom right hand side of the picture. I bet I’d get lots of birds in the garden then.

027bIt looked quite dramatic and eerie.

Got home to find Pud and John had made good use of the grit bin at the end of the road and gritted the steep concrete steps to our house and up the garden to the gate at the back. Good job people. The rest of the house looked like a pigsty … but I suppose I can’t have everything :)

 

 

I did manage to get out for a walk yesterday morning.

I went across the Common to the nearby airfield and then explored a bit more.

Then I crossed the road and walked across behind a scrapyard.

Then I got lost. You wouldn’t think it was possible to get lost so close to home, but it is.

I lost the path completely and ended up clambering through the undergrowth. I got stuck in the brambles several times and then finally slipped down a slope and fell over.

II now have a lovely bruise at the base of my thumb and it is quite swollen and sore. But it moves ok so I don’t think I’ve done enough damage to keep me off work (sadly) even if it is my right hand.

It was only later that I realised quite how mismatched I must have looked as I was walking around. Among the Christmas presents from gorgeous daughter number 2 was a pair of very funky pink, flowery wellie boots which I’d teamed up with some beige leg warmers to keep my khaki-coloured trousers tucked in.

Among the Christmas presents from Man was a pair of very funky fingerless gloves in oranges and reds with flip over mittens. They’re great, they’re lined and warm and I can flip the lid off and still operate the camera. They clash, however, with pink flowery wellies … and the blue and white striped sweatshirt I also had on.

Oh well, I never was very fashion conscious.

Anyway, nursing a sore hand and scratched legs from the brambles I got tangled up in, I eventually found my way to a main road about half a mile away from where I thought I’d be, which wasn’t too bad :)

I found lots of fungi and lots of interesting shapes and, because it was such a grey day, and I was wearing such an odd combination of colours, I set myself a little challenge of trying to find some natural colour.

These are the results – reds, yellows, greens … there was quite a lot of colour to my grey day when I actually looked for it :)

(Incidentally, I am still loving this gallery style)