Thursday, 31 July 2008

Morning Dew

Looks like it's going to be another sunny day.
Want to join me for morning coffee in the garden, anyone?

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


This petunia found a tiny place to put down roots....

... on the steps of the local travel agent.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

The many faces of Callum

Here's the young man who will be playing horsies with this quilt when he gets a bit bigger.

Callum says "I'm five months old already! Time sure flies when I'm having fun..........

.........'specially when I'm wrestling on the floor with Daddy.....

......... and I'm winning!"

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Horsey Tales

Once apon a time, there were four wild ponies. They were brothers, but you wouldn't know it just by looking at them. They were all so different.
And they were looking for a home.

The black one was called Sooty. He was very proud of his muticoloured mane and tail and he loved grazing in the clover patch in the sunshine.

The palomino was called Goldie. He loved to rear up on his hind legs and make everyone think he was really important!

The brown one was called Ginger. He was very fond of the taste of flowers, especially pink ones, which he ate at every opportunity.

The green one was called Gooseberry. He was rather shy and liked to hide in the forest. When he was hiding under the big leaves, nobody could find him.

One day, when the ponies were out galloping across the fields, they met Farmer Callum, and told him that they were looking for a home.
"Come and live on my farm", said Farmer Callum.
And so they did.
Goldie's idea of good fun was going for a ride in the back of the farmer's pick-up truck.
Ginger liked hiding in the haystack. But he soon came out when it was feeding time.

Gooseberry liked hanging around the water cooler to hear the latest farm gossip.

And Sooty just adored his new home in the farmer's red barn.

And all four ponies lived happily ever after at Farmer Callum's farm.
No, I didn't make this delightful quilt.
It was a gift from a family friend to baby Callum when he was born five months ago.
I've been commisioned to sew loops at the top to turn it into a wall hanging until Callum is old enough to have it on his bed.
But I thought you'd like to see it before I give it back.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Back Yard Summer

While I've been posting about England, my back yard has been blooming!

Clockwise from top left: Purple Coneflower (echinacea purpurea); Lady's Mantle leaves with jewels of rain (and a fly); vivid blue Delphinium; Day Lily (hemerocallis); red Blanket Flower (gaillardia) with a bee laden with pollen; sweet blue Forget-me-nots; green tomatoes, soon to be juicy and red I hope; pink and white Impatiens or Busy Lizzie; and in the centre the blue sky of summer (if you enlarge the image there's a tiny bee flying across the sky.... or maybe it's a 747 very high up.... you decide).

Sunday, 20 July 2008

England Part XII - Stonehenge, Wiltshire

I caught a red double decker bus from Salisbury Railway Station to Stonehenge.

Of course, I sat upstairs.... you get a better view from the top, plus it brought back memories of when I rode a double decker every day to school, but that's another story.... and after travelling about 8 miles through the gently rolling fields of Salisbury Plain, I saw my first glimpse of the ancient stones.

One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones.

The standing stones were erected around 2200 BC and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC

The stones themselves are no longer accessible to the public, but I remember as a child being able to stop by the side of the road and walk into the site, and even climb on the stones.

In Victorian times, it was perfectly acceptable to hire a hammer from the blacksmith in the nearby town of Amesbury and come to Stonehenge to chip bits off the stones to take home as souvenirs! Needless to say, that sort of naughtiness is frowned on today.

Stonehenge was built in several stages. The design enables observation of astronomical phenomena - summer and winter solstices and eclipses. Many of the stones are missing, having been used as building materials over the centuries. Perhaps this is what Stonehenge originally looked like.
My ticket entitled me to an MP3 player that gave me an audio tour of the site, but sometimes it was hard to hear due to a busload of very noisy and enthusiastic Italian tourists who arrived at about the same time as I did.

The sarsen Heel Stone is approximately 16 feet high (4.88m) with another 4 feet (1.22m) buried below ground. It probably stood upright originally.

More pictures and an explanation of the site here. This will tell you all you ever wanted to know about Bluestones, Aubrey Holes, the Sarsen Circle and the Trilithons, the Station Stones, and the Slaughter Stone.
And then you can test how smart you are by taking this quiz.

And I didn't meet a single Druid!
For further posts about my vacation in England, please scroll down.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

England Part XI - At the Pub

Fed up with the weather?
Can't keep up with the rising price of fuel?
The boss getting you down?

I'll meet you at the pub on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

England Part X - Salisbury, Wiltshire

When in Salisbury's Market Square, it's a tradition to eat at Stoby's Fish & Chips.
Stoby's was originally an open yard between two buildings, and was enclosed with a wall either end and a roof to create a building about 250 years ago.

It's the narrowest restaurant I've ever been in, measuring about 12' wall to wall.

The fish'n'chips is yummy.

The gooey green stuff is mushy peas. Never tasted any? You've missed a traditional British treat!

The jewel of Salisbury is the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest spire in the UK, and the building was completed in only 38 years, from 1220-1258.
It also has has the largest cloister and the largest cathedral close in Britain covering 80 acres. It contains the world's oldest working clock dating from AD 1386 and has one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta.

The gentleman in the middle (above) is Bishop Poore, who oversaw the early years of the building's construction, beginning in 1220. He is holding a model of the Cathedral.

And this poor chap (below) isn't having much fun being bitten by a vengeful little monster of some kind... click to see the detail.

The spire and tower weigh 6,397 tons and were added to the building between 1310-1333. Most large spires of this magnitude fell down years ago, but buttresses, bracing arches and iron ties have been added as support over the centuries enabling Salisbury to boast the tallest surviving pre-1400 spire in the world. The large supporting pillars at the corners of the spire bend inwards under the strain.

The only day in the whole year when the Cathedral is closed is when they prepare for the annual flower show.
Yes, that's the day I was there, so I couldn't go inside. Just my luck!

However, Stonehenge is only a short bus ride away, but that's another story.

Please scroll down for previous posts about my vacation in England.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Lifeboats - in addition to the previous post

Lorenzo reminded me about the Penlee Lifeboat disaster off the coast of Cornwall in 1981 in gale force conditions. 16 lives were lost, 8 from the coaster Union Star, and all 8 crew members of the Penlee Lifeboat, Solomon Browne. You can read the details of what happened here.

There's still a Penlee Lifeboat ready to brave the high seas at a moments notice. The crew are a fun-loving bunch, as you can see from this video. This just proves how courageous these chaps really are!
(Sorry I don't know how to bring a video into my blog, I've tried, but I'm doing something wrong.)

Friday, 11 July 2008

England Part IX - Lifeboats

There are three important parts to a Lifeboat....

First, the pointy end in the front... this end hits the water first.

Next, the not so pointy end at the back...

... and this bit is somewhere in the middle.
Lifeboat "LESTER" is a Tamar class lifeboat at Cromer Lifeboat Station in Norfolk. It's the latest design of an all-weather lifeboat with state-of-the-art technology, and is pretty pricey at £2.6 million.
The Tamar class lifeboat is 16m long, 5m wide, weighs 31.5 tonnes and has 2 engines producing 1000 horse power each, and carries 4600 litres of fuel on board. There are 7 crew seats and it has 6 computer screens.
Or to put it another way:
The lifeboat is as long as family cars, as wide as 2½, as heavy as 19, is as powerful as 14 and carries enough fuel to fill up 66 family cars.

This Lifeboat Station has a remarkable history of wartime rescues with 139 rescues between 1939 and 1945, saving 450 lives. And it's available 24 hours aday for anyone in trouble on the high seas.

"LESTER" was launched in 2007...

OK, I didn't take this picture myself, I admit it. But wouldn't it be thrilling to see this rescue vessel launched down the slipway and into the ocean?
The brave Lifeboat crew do a fantastic job.

For previous posts about my vacation in England please scroll down. For the posts yet to come (Yes, there are still a couple more in the planning stages!) keep checking in!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

England Part VIII - Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire

We came to Mottisfont Abbey, not specifically to see this handsome mansion which was built on the 12th-century remains of an Augustinian priory and set in glorious landscaped grounds, although it's a beautiful place to spend a few hours....

...... but we came to walk in the magical walled gardens, home to the collection of historic roses designed by Graham Stuart Thomas.
This is the National Collection of Old Fashioned Roses.

There are two walled gardens enclosing over 300 old and rare varieties of roses. And it was a sunny blue-sky day in June... what better time of the year to enjoy such a wonderful display.
So much colour, I didn't know which way to look first.
Heaven must look a lot like this.
The fragrance is overpowering. And not only roses. Foxgloves, harebells, clematis, delphiniums, lupins, geraniums, allium.... aaahhh! The lavender wasn't quite ready... it needed another few days to reach full bloom.
If you love roses, this collection is a must, as it includes many roses that the Empress Josephine grew in her famous garden at Malmaison in France.
There were roses for sale too...... and if I lived in England I know I would have overloaded the MasterCard and gone home with a few for my garden, but sorry to say, (and happily for my bank account) I couldn't take any on the plane back to Canada.
For previous posts of my vacation in England, please scroll down.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

England Part VII - Rosie

Cricket can be a dangerous sport - who knew?
Keep your head down, Rosie.

For more pictures of my vacation in England, please scroll down.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

England Part VI - Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire

It was the most closely guarded secret of World War II.
Bletchley Park was the United Kingdom's main codebreaking establishment.
Over 10,000 people worked there, all sworn to absolute secrecy, and all remained silent about their work until the mid 1990s.

World War II enemy messages were produced in what seemed to be gibberish in five letter combinations generated by the German Enigma machine. Thousands of Enigma-coded messages were transmitted every day.

It's cipher had 150 million million million possible combinations which the Germans thought was unbreakable. I can't even imagine a number as large as that.
If you have some spare time and feel like building your own Enigma machine, this is how it worked.
But the German military didn't reckon on Alan Turing and the boffins at Bletchley Park.

Huge noisy codebreaking machines called "bombes" were operated by Naval WRENs. By 1943, 3,000 messages per day were being intercepted and decoded.

There's lots more to the Enigma story than this, but the mind gets boggled by so much technology, well... mine does.
We spent a whole day here at Bletchley Park. Not only is the War Museum absolutely fascinating, the setting is in one of England's grand stately homes surrounded by well kept gardens.
Well worth a visit.
For more posts about my time spent in England, please scroll down.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

England Part V - West Runton, Norfolk

A visit to my cousin's holiday flat at the seaside. West Runton is a village of 1,600 souls on the Norfolk coast between Cromer and Sheringham.
Many houses show a Dutch influence in their roof lines... after all, the Netherlands is only a short sail away from East Anglia.

My cousin and I walked along the cliffs towards Sheringham. The wooden groynes and sea walls prevent cliff erosion.

The fossilized skeleton of a male mammoth was discovered in these sandy cliffs in 1990. He stood about 4 metres high, and weighed about 10 tonnes, twice the size and weight of today's elephants.

The view looking towards Sheringham.....

.... and in the other direction towards Cromer.

After such exertion, we needed sustenance, and what could be better than fish'n'chips eaten outside in the sunshine, followed by a visit to the local pub?

For more posts about my vacation in England, please scroll down.