Thursday, 30 October 2008

Now and Then or Then and Now!

I answered the bell of my front door at about 9.30 pm last night to be confronted with a guy, certainly not a child, standing on the step wearing a hideous mask on his face. I rather jumped at the unexpected sight of him and was so glad that both my son and husband were not too far behind me. I courteously declined a 'trick or treat' at which point he walked away and took off his mask and walked up the street.

I got to thinking how this Halloween thing has come from America and become big retail business in recent years. Whole areas of grocery stores taken over with hideous costumes and anything to do with witches and the like.

It took me back to October 31st when I was a young child. We did not celebrate All Hallowes Eve, this being a night of the supernatural, and the occult side at that when witches and evil spirits were believed to be roaming freely. What we did have was 'duck apple night' where parents filled a large container with apples and the only way to get one was to duck for it with ones hands behind ones back. We also had apples hanging on string from some high beam and again had to eat them with hands behind backs. Sometimes there were home made toffee apples. It was soon after the main apple harvest season so I guess apples were more plentiful.

Continuing the picture of then and now took me to Guy Fawkes night which is celebrated here on 5th November in rememberance of the foiled Gunpowder plot to blow up parliament in 1605. Some Catholics led by Guy Fawkes were out to murder King James I.

Today there are very few private bonfires and people go to hugely organised bonfires and watch masses of very sophisticated fireworks where 'health and safety' play a huge part. Added to that there are fireworks being set off every night for some time before this event and well afterwards with the odd ones going off right into the New Year or later.

Wind back to my childhood. Just about every street had a bonfire in the middle of the road (very few cars around then) and the only fireworks would be maybe a small catherine wheel or rocket and maybe a couple of penny 'bangers'. Mostly we had hand held Sparklers. Children would build a 'guy' by stuffing old clothes with straw and he would be taken around the street where neighbours would hand out small change with which we would buy fireworks. What we did enjoy very much were the potatoes that we would roast in the fire. No baking foil then, just a potatoe shoved in the fire. If the fire got too hot it was not unknown for a window pain to shatter and the houses nearest to the fire would be showing blistered and peeling paint on the front door the next morning. Lots of innocent fun and I was too young to wonder what happened about the paint. I'm sure there were complaints but childhood amnesia is a good thing.

Ending this little tome brings me to an interesting conversation I had recently with a 23 year old friend. She is a bright third year medical student and this conversation brought home to me how little our young people are aware of our recent past.

Some of the young people in our house church were talking about things one had to go without when camping. When I said that we did not have central heating when I was young, one 35 year old asssumed that we must have heated the home with an electric fire. She could not believe it when I said that we did not have electricity, the only heat was from a coal fire. We discussed some more of the things that we did not have, during and just after the war, and when I explained that we had to cut newspaper into squares for lavatory paper, my 23 year old friend very seriously said, "Why didn't you use kitchen roll (paper kitchen towels)". She was serious.

Things have changed so rapidly in my lifetime that one forgets that young people of today have only ever known, and take for granted the little luxuries of life. I guess my grandparents would have felt the same about my generation.

Which brings me to the big '0' birthday that is coming up - more in next post - this one was just a little extra that I have shoved in!

Blogging Surprises

I finally seem to have figured out a way to access 'add page elements' which of course now is 'add a gadget'. From the very beginning of blogging I accessed it via. Dashboard which has not worked for me for many months. I have now found that I can use this facility via. Customise on the blog page. Why I could not get it when everyone else seemed to be able to I will never know.

Another outstanding problem I have is that Outlook Express is sending quite a lot of my comments from other bloggers straight to 'Deleted Items'. I do not know why but at least now that I have realised this I can keep a check on it.

Well it snowed in London this week, first time in October since 1934 apparently. Only a light dusting but in my daughter's town, just 50 minutes away they had a covering of 2 inches which then froze overnight causing quite a weight on plants and trees. Just 2 weeks ago it was so warm that people were flocking to the beach and swimming in the sea. Today in Devon in the South West the storms have caused bad flooding and the TV showed hailstones to a depth where they were half way up the sides of the cars that were trapped in them. Nothing to do with blogging but thought I'd add this little touch. Now back to blogging.

I recieved this lovely gift, all the way from California, from my dear blogging friend Sara of Much Ado about Something.Three beautiful C.D.s arranged,compiled and played by her husband who before retirement was a professional musician. Thank you Sara they are being played often.

Then I received this gift in the post, again from California. A box of rubber stamps for making greetings cards from Paula of The Baby Journals. Thank you Paula. I will enjoy using them.

Then yesterday this birthday card came through my letterbox from Oklahoma. This was from Teresa of Honeycomb. I knew Teresa had my address as she was the winner of my last giveaway but how did she know it was my birthday next week. (More about this special celebration in my next post).Teresa it seems kept a note of it from a post I did last year. Bless you Teresa.

Blogging fun of a different kind last week. I had the pleasure of phoning 3 of my close blogging friends. Sara (already mentioned), Susan of Penless Writer in Oklahoma and Vee of A Haven for Vee in Maine. Whoever thought blogging would be this much fun. It is so nice to be able to put a voice to faces, sometimes it takes a little detective work to come up with the phone numbers though.One cannot ask direct as then it would not be a surprise. It is the second time I have phoned Sara and Susan but initially there was a little detective work.

And now to my latest award. Blogging Friends Forever. I received this twice,the first came from Vee , and the second from Lorrie. The idea behind this award is that you send it to bloggers who have regularly commented on your blog and also to one new bogging friend.
The 3 people that I have chosen to pass this award on to are bloggers that came and commented on my blog right at the beginning 22 months ago and have continued to comment ever since. I have many regular blog friends now but these 3 have been here from the very beginning. Susan, Betty, and Lorrie.
For a fairly new blogging friend and regular commenter I award it to Elizabeth.
I very much appreciate all who visit and comment. You really add a sparkle to my day.

Monday, 27 October 2008

A Walk around Ightham Mote Estate

It's been a nice day so far, coffee when we arrived before touring the house and gardens and then a picnic. The National Trust do very reasonably priced home cooked type meals with locally sourced food but today we brought a picnic for a change. We thought it was going to be a warm and sunny day but half way through our picnic it began to rain lightly, the sort of thing that we call 'Scotch mist'. Having finished eating we went into the restaurant for some hot tea.

It was then time to take a walk around the estate. The landscape comprises plateau hilltops with steep valley sides dropping to Dinas Dene to the north and the scarp edge of the Greensand Hills to the south. Southwards the land is gently undulating. Woodland clothes the hilltops and the valley sides, giving the estate a secluded and intimate atmosphere. So let's go and enjoy it and take in the scenery.

Our walk begins by transcending a long and steady slope and it will take us about 35 minutes to reach the top. I thought the seed heads on this loose strife were even prettier than the summer flower.

We are half way to the top and are taking a little time to look across the corn fields, get our breath back and drink some water.

We have come down the steepest part of the hill and are now on the other side of the estate. We will cross over the style and continuing walking down a pretty steep path enjoying the scenery on the way.

Don't fall over the edge - it is steep

We are getting nice views over the Kent Weald now as we begin to leave the woods behind and are nearing the bottom of the hill.

The Estate Farm, incorporating Oust Houses. There are Oust Houses all over Kent which used to be a Hop growing area and these were used for drying the Hops.

It's been a good and exhilarating walk and in about 20 minutes time we will be back at Ightham Mote where we will have tea and lemon cake before making the journey home.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Ightham Mote

We are off to Ightham Mote today (pretend it is September) and it is only 50 minutes away, providing the M25 is clear of hold ups. Fortunately it was, both ways. I think this will be our 5th visit as we have taken a number of guests here over time.

Ightham is a superb moated manor house, nestling in a sunken valley and it dates from 1320 AD. The American business man Charles Henry Robinson left the property to the National Trust in 1985. The main features of the house span many centuries and include the Great Hall,Old Chapel and Crypt, Tudor Chapel with painted ceiling, drawing room with Jacobean fireplace, frieze and 18th century wallpaper,Billiards Room and the Robinson apartments. There is also an extensive garden and interesting walks in the surrounding woodland of the estate.

What I like particularly about this residence is it looks and feels very livable in. The many rooms are cosy and small with nooks and crannies and many interesting stairways.

Sorry I cannot take you in (as always photos not allowed) but I can take you around the outside of the house and into the inner courtyard before we take a look at the gardens.

If Charles Henry Robinson had not handed this property to the National Trust it was going to be demolished because of the cost of renovation and upkeep.

We will also do a fabulous walk around the perimeter of the estate but that's another post.

We are now walking down the slope deeper into the valley

We will walk clockwise around the outside of the house and mote

The entrance is over the bridge seen here in the centre

Over the bridge and into the cobbled inner courtyard we go

Here we see a Grade I listed dog kennel

Sorry you did not see inside but at least you can see the garden

See the duck half way up the steps

Private cottages in the grounds

Kitchen garden

Part of the cottage complex used as an exhibition area

Hope you enjoyed the visit - do come back and join me on the estate walk
My daughter Janie has not posted for a while. She has just put up a post explaining why, so here is a link if you wish to visit her. You will also see a picture of my second grandchild and one of Oliver.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Waltham Abbey

Yesterday we woke to our first frost of the season which resulted in glorious clear skies so it was not a day to stay indoors. It's a spontaneous decision so let's go somewhere fairly local. Waltham Abbey is the choice, just 30 minutes drive.

On our way into the abbey gardens we pass this little bit of history, the excavated ruins of Bloomery Forge, dating from 1200 AD. It was used to smelt iron to produce metalwork for the abbey.

The wall we see was part of the Chapter House and was restored after the dissolution of the monasteries using the rubble from the ruined cloisters.

. There has been a church on this site since the 7th century. The stone church erected by Harold Godwinson,later King Harold II, in the 1050's, replaced an earlier one which had housed a famous cross brought from Somerset. Harold had been healed of a paralysis after praying before the Cross, and it remained a focus of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and the probably site of his grave lies outside the present building.
The community of 13 secular canons established by Harold was replaced by one of 26 Augustinian canons in 1177, when Henry II re-founded and enlarged the church to 3 times it's present length as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170. It became an abbey in 1184.
Waltham was the last of the English Abbeys to be dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540. The church you see today was just the Nave of the Romanesque church.

We will walk around the outside and look at some of the architectural features.

And now we will take a look inside.

The ceiling

The Chancel

The Lady Chapel

And inside, looking out. A mixture of images and reflections

An ancient Fresco on the wall of the Lady Chapel

The Denny Monument dates from 1600. The Denny family acquired Abbey lands from the Crown after the dissolution.

The site of King Harold's grave
Apparently some locals place flowers on the date of his death

We are now ready for lunch and these little private tearooms face onto the Abbey gardens.

We go inside and have some delicious homemade tomato and lentil soup
Should I mention the Carrot Cake!

The other side of the tearooms which are attached to the Inn in the town square

Some of the old ruins

Time to go home now but I thought this mural of the Bayeux Tapestry at the town Museum entrance interesting.