The 199 Steps

Whitby is a scenic harbour town on the east coast of Yorkshire; the harbour piers face north so it has an east and west cliff, both of which are worth clambering up. You don’t have to climb the cliff face, you can arrive at the west cliff hotels or the east cliff abbey ruins by coach, bus or car, but it is more interesting to tread the many paths and steps that wind upwards. Count Dracula took such a route up the east cliff after his ship was blown off course in the north sea. Disguised as a black dog he ran up the 199 steps to the church of St. Mary and the ruins of St. Hilda’s Abbey, thus creating a tourist attraction for the fitter holiday maker.

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Author Bram Stoker is not the only famous person to have lived here, son of Yorkshire, Captain James Cook attended school in Whitby and was born in a nearby village.

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This was not our first visit to Whitby, but it was our first attempt at airbnb. We chose a cottage in town according to good reviews; as first timers we had to register with some personal info and after being accepted received reams of instructions on where to park the car and how to get in the door. I know from people who use airbnb, when working away from home, that some places are literally a room in someone’s house, someone often glad of the company. We were not to be greeted by a real human. However, we managed the key box without any trouble and were delighted to find ourselves in a cosy three storey home. The bathroom was on the middle floor and the bedroom at the top, the two flights of winding narrow stairs were more like mountain climbing and getting our luggage up was more of a struggle than reaching Everest base camp.

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Exploring on foot is the best way to enjoy Whitby, the swing bridge is a quick way to get from one side of town to the other and if you like fish there is no shortage of fish restaurants to choose for your dinner; many have claims such as best fish and chips in town, best east side fish restaurant, best harbour view fish and chips… Though we were self catering we didn’t actually cook any dinners on our four nights there – a fact that made it easy to keep the pristine kitchen clean.

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On the first evening, after a meal, we popped into a quaint harbourside pub that looked full of character and was full of characters. Anyone popping in later on would have thought they were in a scene from Fisherman’s Friends, happening upon some local folk singing, but none of the people we met were locals. Two Australians were delighted to meet someone who had lived in Perth (me) and the lady from Edinburgh to discover Cyberspouse was Scottish. It turned out the Aussies were originally ten pound Pommies who went out on the very first jumbo jet to Australia in the early seventies. Their friend, who looked like a local fisherman, spent half a year in Perth and the other half in Whitby. The highlight for me was when the two chaps started singing and had great voices.

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The next day we easily walked up the 199 steps, but were soon soaked in the rain, photos of the abbey would have to wait. The abbey was ruined by Henry V111, but St. Mary’s church is fascinating with all the pews in boxes; respectable families had their own boxes, strangers were kept separate and the rabble squashed into the more uncomfortable boxes. There is also a lovely building which now houses a youth hostel with its restaurant open to the public; in the rain this was too busy, but we visited on the next two days.

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Other highlights of our stay were climbing up the 81 steps of the harbour lighthouse and the long walk to Sandsend along the coast before the tide came in. Showers were followed by sunshine as we reached the lovely village with cottages either side of the little river.

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On the last evening, a stroll down the pier found us gathered with a few others round a man who was taking his five Saint Bernard dogs for a stroll, he said he had seventeen rescue collies at home which his wife exercised. Apparently the key to his happy dog household was that he was the leader of the pack. I would have loved to have seen his house!

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The next morning we packed up, tidied up and followed the unlocking procedure in reverse.  Later on we received a thanks e-mail from the owner; but to see his review of us, we had to review his cottage first. We gave it 5 stars and he gave us 5 stars; we’re officially airbnbers – though I’m never sure how to write it. And the host we never met? Well it’s obvious he must have been a vampire.

Read more about last week’s trip and my other travels this year at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-four-travel-diary

You can find out more about Whitby and the Yorkshire coast here.

http://www.whitby.co.uk/

 

 

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Sunny Salisbury

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A day out is even more enjoyable if everyone is having a day out and everybody was out in Salisbury on Sunny Saturday. Our day started at the free Park and Ride; the drive north from Bournemouth is slow but pleasantly rural. The walk from the bus stop to our brunch destination took us through the busy market in the square. Then towards River Walk where we bumped straight into a cheerful ‘Salisbury for Europe’ march by our fellow Remainers. Every town and county seems to have a ‘For Europe’ group, I’m thinking of collecting all the blue badges.

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After brunch we strolled to the cathedral, time was limited because we were going to a matinee at the theatre, but the cathedral is timeless. We jostled with tourists and locals through the narrow arch to the swards of green that surround Salisbury Cathedral. Cathedral greens and closes are usually delightful, with all the interesting old buildings and houses that have clustered round the great cathedrals over the centuries. On a sunny day, flowers blooming in window boxes and gardens, to live in such places seems perfect, though perhaps not with all the modern tourists.

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We paused at a red telephone box, peering in to see if it was still active or turned into a safe place for a defibrillator; we had hardly had a chance to see if it still took coins when an irate voice said ‘Excuse me’ in an accent that suggested she was not local. We were standing in the way of a lady trying to take an iconic photo of her husband with a red telephone box in the background. That was the only grumpy note we heard all day, for the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral on a sunny day are a happy place to be. People of all ages, language students, tourists and families; running, picnicking, painting, taking photographs, playing badminton. Even if you are on a whistle stop tour you can still treasure a few moments looking up at the spire soaring into the blue sky.

https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/

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The cloisters were also packed, I wonder what monks strolling along quietly contemplating would have made of modern visitors. There was a free grab a canvas event; children and adults busy painting on two sides while opposite, people sat with their refreshments.

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While in the cloisters you can pop into the restaurant and shop with glass roofs to gaze up at the cathedral.  There are also recently improved free toilets. Just wandering around is enjoyable. If you do get a chance to visit there is a voluntary donation to look around inside the cathedral. Surrounding the cathedral are museums, a lovely National Trust House and the home of the late Edward Heath, one of Britain’s Prime Ministers.

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Our first visit to the Salisbury Playhouse was to see Alan Ayckbourn’s first successful play, Relatively Speaking, which we had seen a long time ago. It’s a comedy so the audience were in a good mood and it was hilarious. The theatre is a pleasant light place which we hope to visit again.

https://www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk/whats-on/main-house/relatively-speaking/

What is your favourite day out and does the weather make a difference to your enjoyment?

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Salisbury features in Three Ages of Man, a stand alone novel from my Brief Encounters trilogy.

 

Silly Saturday – The Past Unblogged

It’s a tragedy, so many years wasted, so many years of our lives unblogged and the more decades you have put in on this planet, the greater the loss. Interesting events could have been shared legibly with the world instead of scribbled on an aerogramme to a few family and friends.

For those who haven’t been to a post office museum, an aerogramme bore little resemblance to Instagram, but in its own humble way was very convenient. A foldable gummed piece of blue paper bought from the post office; the idea being to write in large neat script at the top, then realise you had plenty yet to say and pack the words in tighter. By the time you turned over to the fourth and last panel you were reduced to illegible scribble with hardly room to sign your name. Then stick it down and post in a letter box. Perhaps there are attics full of these flimsy blue papers, full of family history across the seas…

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On holiday people could send picture post cards and still can, but they would not be in the picture… how many miles of travel unrecorded on Facebook, Instagram and blogs? Travellers had to wait till they got back to their hotel or tent to try and write to their loved ones, more likely no one would know where they had been until they had returned and who would believe they had been at the top of that mountain or canoed round those tropical islands without proof?

If you could go back in time and blog about your life which times would you reveal? A worse thought; if your parents had been blessed with the internet would they have been writing funny blogs about your nappy disasters at the swimming pool changing room or your tantrum in the supermarket…

liebster-award

Friday Flash Fiction -1000 – Take A Break

‘You’re not going to MRS again today are you Dane?’

‘Yes, it’s a nice day to be out digging, we’re hoping to bring up that gantry from the river bed today.’

‘What on earth is a gantry?’

‘Like a big metal bridge that held the signs for motorists.’

Mona smiled. ‘Motorists, motorist, such a romantic word…’

‘Why don’t you come down and join me for lunch, they’ve got Burger King up and running now.’

‘I’m not hovering over all those fields and through that wood. When they’ve got the flylane established, then I’ll come.’

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Mona sighed as she watched her husband glide off on his hoverscooter. This was not how she had imagined their retirement; the dirigible cruise had still not been booked and at the age of 75 Dylan had entered a second childhood playing with cars.

Dylan skipped across the lush summer fields, anticipating a busy day with two more cars arriving for restoration. Soon they would have enough vehicles for the traffic jam display and he pictured the gantry proudly straddling the 200 metre section of motorway with signs such as  SEVERE CONJESTION AHEAD, TWO LANES CLOSED, 20MPH…

There was great excitement as he emerged from the wood.

‘Hey Dylan, come and have a look, we think we’ve found a lorry; dig down a bit more and we should know for sure.’

It was too good to be true, a genuine HGV? Most lorries and trucks had been commandeered, legally and illegally, for housing after the fossil fuel ban. He imagined his grandchildren clambering up into the driver’s cab, but that day was a long way off, even if the lorry was in one piece it would take years of restoration. His friend read his thoughts.

‘Don’t get too excited, it is probably entwined in tree roots, we might never get it out. Anyway, you’re needed down at the river, they’re having trouble with the gantry, good job we have that school party in doing field work.’

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But before Dane reached the river bank he was summoned by another of the volunteers.

‘Great news, the bridge is finished, we need you to do a trial run.’

After a lifetime in the methane industry Dane wanted to work with cars not cows now, but he was the only expert they had, the only one who could persuade a herd of cows to walk across the recreated bridge that spanned their short section of excavated motorway. He only had himself to blame, he had found the faded old photograph and research showed that farms had been sliced in half by motorways and cows had to cross a footbridge to get to another field or their milking parlour.

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A couple of hours later the volunteers and school history students were gathered in Burger King for their lunch break. Dane was exhausted, walking over bridges was not what the local cows were used to. As the youngsters tucked into their burgers they looked disappointed, one of them spoke up.

‘Tastes just like our bean burgers, I thought we were going to get something exciting. What was so special about Burger King anyway?’

‘Beef Burgers’ replied Dane.

‘So what were they made of?’

‘Beef… from cows, dead cows.’

Their faces went green. ‘WHAT… you mean they killed the cows and ate them, that is disgusting. How did they get enough methane for the power stations if they kept eating the cows?’

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After lunch everyone headed over to see the wreck of the gantry. Lying on the ground covered in mud it did not look at all impressive and they were glad to leave it and go to the site of the lorry. The solar powered digger was hard at work but suddenly one of the team shouted STOP. He clambered down into the hole beside the strange hulk, carefully poking around amid tree roots and the dark soil, with the others wondering why he was so agitated.

‘It is, it really is, a petrol can, with the lid on. Of course it might have evaporated… and we’ll have to declare it.’

‘Nooo…’ said Dane ‘just to take the lid off and smell real petrol… if only we had a working engine to put it in.’

‘So who’s to know,’ said a cocky lad ‘we’re not going to tell, or maybe we can get special permission. For my finals exam project I could restore or even build a real internal combustion engine, I’ve been studying how they worked.’

Dane was taken up with the boy’s enthusiasm. ‘My grandfather actually remembered seeing an engine working, pistons going up and down… what a dream.’

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12 MONTHS LATER

 

MOTO SERVICES FIRST OPEN DAY

THE MORE PEOPLE THE  BETTER THE EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYONE.

RE-LIVE WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO STOP AT A BUSY MOTORWAY SERVICES

 at the beginning of the twenty first century.

SEE A TRAFFIC JAM, A REAL HEAVY GOODS VEHICLE AND COWS CROSSING THE MOTORWAY.

ALSO – SPECIAL SURPRISE EVENT.

Everything was out of Dane’s hands now, he was no engineer, but some of the old chaps and the students had worked hard and claimed it would work.

Crowds gathered in the fields above the short stretch of motorway. Gleaming with its new coat of red paint the car stood with its doors open. The president of the Motorway Restoration Society got into the front passenger seat, two other volunteers got into the back and a very proud student took the driver’s seat. A strange noise filled the air and the car moved slowly. Dane sniffed the air, some ancestral memory made the wonderful scent of petrol fumes so familiar. They had done it. The car chugged along to the traffic jam display, then edged slowly backwards, then forwards a little faster, everyone cheered it on. No one knew how long the precious canful of petrol would last.

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Worried on Wednesday

Human beings have always worried; what if we don’t catch a mammoth for dinner? Now it’s called anxiety. Of course I don’t suffer from anxiety… I just imagine all the things that could possibly  go wrong so I am prepared.

There are some things people should worry about such as global warming and war; is my stretch of the jungle going to be burnt down, is my island going to be flattened by Hurricane Dorian, will there be anything left of my city after the bombing.

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What most of us worry about;

What shall we have for dinner when son brings his new girlfriend round / when boyfriend’s parents come to see our new flat…

Will the car run out of petrol, will the bus be late…

Should I water the garden before we go away, have I packed my hair straighteners.

Should I make an appointment at the doctors / dentists.

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Most of us are not completely self centered; we do worry about our loved ones…

Will their holiday flight crash, will they be involved in a motorway pile up on their way to visit us…

Is there something wrong with the budgerigar, he’s off his food.

If you have the misfortune to be in charge of other people, or worse still, other people’s children, you may be justified in worrying. It would be best if you didn’t take precious little ones near any water, roads or firework displays. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security; think they are safe in the park? No, a stinging nettle might leap out and grab their leg or worse still, a pack of pit bull terriers… and you forgot to put on their suntan lotion…

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But this blog is about not worrying.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bobbymcferrin/dontworrybehappy.html

It may feel like the human race has more to worry about than ever. Big things to worry about like Brexit, Trump, Syria, Hong Kong, The Amazon, bees, the Whole World, failure of antibiotics, nuclear weapons, Armageddon – put in worrying order with number 1. being utter dread and number 10.  ‘Don’t Worry, be Happy.’

But our ancestors had just as many worries.

What they did need to worry about.

‘What if mammoths become extinct, what will we eat and wear?’

‘I hope we don’t get another ice age.’

‘Let’s hope it won’t take too long to get back to the promised land.’

‘What if those white men don’t get back on their big canoe and sail away?’

‘What if that volcano erupts?’

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What they needn’t have worried about.

‘Thanks a lot Eve, that’s the end of beautiful gardens for humans.’

‘If we don’t sacrifice our daughter the gods will wreak vengeance on all of us.’

‘Don’t sail too far or you will fall off the edge of the earth.’

‘This great plague is going to wipe the human race out.’

‘If man ever reaches the Moon goodness knows what that will lead to.’

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What needn’t you have worried about?

Have you ever said ‘I told you this would happen!’

sunshine-blogger

 

Friday Flash Fiction 1000 – Per Ardua ad Astra – The Summer of 2018

Edward was not unique in his obsession with aeroplanes, but he was fortunate that his wife understood, or at least didn’t mind spending the summer touring round all the air shows in their camper van. The boys didn’t always go with them these days, but they had enjoyed a childhood of camping and exploring the British Isles.

A slight autumnal melancholy would descend on the couple as the air show season drew to a close, but the winter months were still busy for Edward, visiting air museums and doing research. Josie did not mind him spending long evenings on the computer, she was free to watch her favourite television dramas.

Winter also gave Edward time to spend in his man den at weekends; this was no ordinary garden shed, but the sanctuary where he tinkered with his inventions. If his wife and sons had paid more attention to what he was creating they would have been very excited… or very worried.

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Josie and the boys did not share Edward’s obsession with World War Two and the RAF. His special love, the other woman in his life, as Josie teased him, was the Spitfire, the most perfect aircraft ever built, a beautiful bird that pilots did not just fly, but became a part of. Or so Edward had read and heard from those who had flown them. His six foot four gangly frame, poor eyesight and asthma had precluded any hope of joining the RAF, let alone becoming one of the special few who flew with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. He was a frequent visitor to the BBMF visitor centre at RAF Coningsby and all the tour guides knew him well, too well; they didn’t always appreciate him volunteering extra information to their polished talks.

Edward had no idea where his Spitfire dreams came from, nobody else in his family had been interested in flying. Josie said he should consult a medium, perhaps he had been a pilot in a previous life, helping to win the Battle of Britain. In his dreams at night he was always soaring up into the blue sky, not diving down to a violent death.

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But Edward’s thoughts and day dreams went far deeper than his family could imagine, in his den were creations nobody knew about. Talk of time machines was outdated, Edward’s calculations and research pointed to folds in time and certain frequencies. His plan was to tune into the frequency of the iconic Merlin engines and his dream was to save lives; the Spitfire was built to fly not die, not kill. If he could bring the Spitfires forward to the present, before their pilots perished in the Battle of Britain, their young lives would not be wasted.

His theory became reality when he realised that even if he could not see the past he could tune his adapted radio to hear it. Edward had plotted meticulously the dates and air bases of that summer of 1940, but all the planes would converge to one date, the final day of the Sandy Cliffs Air Festival. The spitfires would fly in formation above the fields of Kent they knew so well.

There were only two drawbacks to Edward’s grand plan; the weather might be bad and he could change the course of history. If it changed so he had never existed then he would never have been around to change it… On the other hand if he was alive and well to witness the proof of time travel, he would also be able to observe if history had been changed. If the pilots were taken away the Battle of Britain would be lost, but that didn’t mean WW2 would be lost. Edward had given this great thought; historic events weren’t a matter of one way or another, there were infinite possibilities at the start of every day. Whatever happened, it should be a jolly good show for the RAF’s centenary.

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The weather was beautiful, Edward could hardly contain his excitement. Josie had a headache and decided to stay in the shade of the camper van, the boys had come along reluctantly and were mooching around glued to their smart phones. They should all be snapped out of their languor at three pm.

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The commentator also had a headache, the extra hot summer and too many air shows were taking their toll on his health. Wearily he turned on the microphone.

…and don’t forget the finale of the show with the Red Arrows and a few surprises, but now here come the Spitfire and Hurricane; on a sunny day like this in 1940 the sky would have been full of these beautiful planes… but

He took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes…

On the cliffs the crowd gasped in awe as tiny dots became little planes and more and more filled the skies above them…

Edward thought his heart would burst with pride, the formation grew in the orderly fashion he had planned. The commentator was silent, but suddenly crackled back into life.

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Once again we celebrate the strange events of 1940 when German pilots reported the enemy planes disappearing into thin air in front of their eyes, day after day until they all refused to fly for fear they too would evaporate. And so began the slow process of conciliation and the creation of our great empire Gaul.

Edward looked around at the crowds waving strange purple and green flags and wearing clothes that looked unfamiliar. He rushed back to the camper van to tell Josie what he had done; he needed her to confirm what he was seeing.

A strange woman flung open the door, two little girls ran up to him.

‘Daddy, Daddy did you see all the planes?’

‘They certainly put on a good show this year Ed’ said the strange woman.

Edward realised a factor he hadn’t taken into account, he still existed, but the great mixing of the gene pool that occurred after the war and brought Josie’s grandparents to Britain had not occurred, or had occurred in a different variation…

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What does the RAF motto “Per Ardua Ad Astra” mean?

The College of Arms has stated that “no authoritative translation is possible” but the usual translation is “Through adversity to the stars”.

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I wrote this story last year, no time slips occured… but the Bournemouth Air Festival is on right now and you never know what might happen up in the sky. We won’t see The Red Arrows this year as they are touring the USA.

https://bournemouthair.co.uk/

sunshine-blogger

 

 

Visication

A visication is when you go to visit friends or relations and have a free holiday, often somewhere you have not visited before and perhaps with unique accommodation. They might be showing you around with wining and dining, or you may be baby, dog and house sitting. It is always interesting if they have just moved home; a new location for writing ideas.

Team AK are living at a house on an organic farm. The cottage came with sitting tenants when the family bought the farm in the 1940s and apparently didn’t leave ( die?) until the end of the century; by which time there was still no gas, electricity or running water. Perhaps life with their wood stove and well water suited them. In 2000 the house was renovated and modernised, but still has loads of charm and real wooden doors. You can walk round the house; literally round and round. Every time we went through a door we were not sure which room we would find ourselves in. The stairs were shallow, deep and steep, luckily with banisters either side.

They don’t have to go far to post a letter as there is a royal mail letter box built into the wall of the house. A few yards from their front door is a farm shop like no other perhaps. No humans, just a coin operated organic whole milk dispensing machine and a help yourself cabinet with butter and free range eggs.

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There are quaint traditions associated with Visications. We are always invited on a bank holiday weekend and always get stuck in traffic. I pass the time by putting pictures of the scenery on Instagram and updating those at our destination with pictures of Eddie Stobart lorries or slow moving farm tractors.     I always forget something; this time my prescription sun glasses on the brightest sunniest August bank holiday weekend ever.

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Our first morning was enlivened when, after several months of waiting, the landlord sent the chap to replace the back door before any of us were up. Half of us stayed at home in limbo thinking he would be finished at any moment and we could go out, he wasn’t, but at least we had a secure door ready for…

Sunday’s departure of Team AK to go camping in Wales, leaving the house and all the equipment to do with their business in our safe hands? They weren’t going glamping, but they did have a blow up tent and a cool box… and a fridge…

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We enjoyed two outings to the nearby River Severn.  On Sunday afternoon we went to Bridgnorth with the aim of finding the Severn Valley Steam Railway. As we found ourselves in the lower town we crossed the bridge over the river and had a ride in the country’s steepest cliff lift. We discovered a lovely church on the hill designed by Thomas Telford. Another unexpected ‘attraction’ was the music festival; several locations, all playing what appeared to be the same music VERY LOUDLY. Pity the poor people who lived nearby. Looking it up on line it seems we missed the poetry and arts, perhaps they were on Wed-Friday and Monday.

http://www.visitbridgnorth.co.uk/

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Bank Holiday Monday found us visiting Ironbridge two years after our last visit; since then the bridge has had a major rescue and restoration and is now painted in the original red brown. If you get the chance this is a great place to visit, you can walk along the river and visit all sorts of industrial museums. The river banks crowded with trees are a far cry from the fiery furnaces of the industrial revolution.

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Talking to a photographer we discovered we had missed the coracle racing. Having a cup of tea at the Youth Hostel by the Coalbrook China museum we chatted to a New Zealand chap hostelling round Europe and visiting his son in Denmark for the son’s fiftieth birthday. You’re never too old to do youth hostelling. We talked to the lady booking people in, hostels provide all sorts of different accommodation and the supper club sounded fun, everyone sits down together at 7pm so you have company. Maybe we’ll try that when the relatives are tired of us visiting them.

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https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/iron-bridge/history/

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What are your favourite visications?

sunshine-blogger

 

Silly Saturday – Summer Solstice Sunday

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Don’t worry if you think you missed the Summer Solstice, it has been moved to Sunday. Every year there is confusion as to the date it will occur, 20th, 21st or 22nd of June; so from now on the Summer Solstice will take place on the Sunday nearest those dates, which this year is the 23rd. This will also make it easier for people who wish to greet the dawn at special places and don’t want to bother having to go to work afterwards.

The solstice also marks the first day of astronomical summer, so if the meteorological summer has been a  disappointment so far there is a new summer to look forward to.

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And there is still time to order your ‘Make your own Stonehenge kit.’ Parents of young children are advised it may contain small parts that are a choking hazard.

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Jurassic Holiday

How to take your family to Jurassic Park without the children being eaten by dinosaurs? Enjoy a holiday on the Jurassic Coast.

‘The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. It stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, a distance of about 96 miles, and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in mid-December 2001.’

Obviously you won’t see it all on a week’s holiday or a day out, but whether you enjoy beautiful scenery, geology, fossil hunting or relaxing at the seaside, any part of this coast is worth visiting.

https://jurassiccoast.org/

Adults don’t like talking to young children about death if they can avoid it, or scaring them with tales of monsters, but most young children love dinosaurs; they know they are long dead and yet they are full of life to the child. They love their plastic dinosaurs as much as their cuddly teddy and adore the fact that they were huge and scary.

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For our half term holiday with Team H we stayed in two cottages in a village where the borders of Dorset, Devon and Somerset meet. On any English holiday it will rain, but it will also stop raining at some point so it is always worth setting out. Fossil hunting was the main aim and the beach to head for was Charmouth.

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Charmouth, Dorset is one place where everyone is looking down, but not at their phones, they are all looking for fossils. There is a pleasant village with the river Char running gently out to sea; you can step over it at low tide or walk across the little bridge. The row of beach huts is deceptive, walk a little further and this is not a normal seaside beach. Gaze up at black layered cliffs. Don’t go too close, there are regular mud slides and crumbling of the cliff edge. This is why fossil hunting is so popular, new fossils end up on the beach and people are welcome to collect them as they would otherwise be washed out to sea. You can also book a guided walk. At the free Charmouth Heritage Centre you can learn about prehistoric times and volunteers will identify your fossils. The grassy hill is in contrast to the beach and a pleasant walk, but don’t go near the edge. The beach has a lovely heritage centre and a cafe, but the rest is unspoilt coast. When we set off to walk along the beach the first thing we saw was a father and son climbing up the cliff chipping away with their hammers; there is always someone who has not read the boards about dangerous cliff falls!

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https://charmouth.org/

The second full day of our holiday brought the torrential rain the weatherman had forecast. We went into Seaton, a seaside town with an electric tramway that runs along the estuary of the River Axe to Colyford and the village of Colyton. Fortunately lots had changed since the last time we were there and next to the tram station was the new Seaton Jurassic, an excellent centre to escape the rain. Visitors are escorted in and the children given passports for the time machine. It’s all very interactive and older children can stamp their passports and answer clues. It is also quite dark and mysterious with lots of turns and tunnels, so make sure you don’t lose little ones. The final part takes you outside to gardens. Most importantly there is a good restaurant. We had lunch and by that time it had stopped raining and we went on the tramway. The little ones loved being on the open topped tram, the day remained grey, but it was still a pleasant gentle ride with a lovely little station and playground in Colyton.

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https://www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk/things-to-do/seaton-tramway-p141323

The next day was fine and Team H decided to get up very early and catch low tide at Charmouth for more fossil hunting, followed by cooked breakfast at the cafe. We followed them, but not quite so early.

Yes you can find fossils, not necessarily big ones, but if you are sharp eyed you should find some ammonites and children can take anything they find into the heritage centre to show the volunteers, who will tell them how old it is and you can also put your fossils under a microscope.

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The Blog of Many Colours

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Times and Tides of a Beachwriter is brought to you today by the colour red, chosen by Rowena who was very happy to pick up a red Alpha Romeo at auction. You can visit her blog here.

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/ma-ma-friday-fictioneers

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Red is bold, certainly not modest, it adorns the flags of many countries. We obey it at traffic lights and the only time it hides is when it is safely inside our bodies; blood red is ready to gush out of us at any opportunity.

Red is iconic; double decker buses, the Red Arrows of the Royal Air Force and the Forth Bridge. It tells you where to post your letters, where to find a fire extinguisher and still occasionally where to make a phone call. Red tells us when it is Christmas.

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Photographers love a splash of red; a boat in the harbour, a red coat walking in the snow. A red front door looks distinguished.

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Red is one of the three primary colours and one of the four colours humans like to use for organising people. At school I was in the red team, Saint George. Saint Patrick was green, Saint Andrew blue and Saint David yellow.

We are not urged to eat our reds, as we are with greens, but tomatoes and red peppers are healthy and brighten the plate up.

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Long before Christmas existed mid winter was hailed by red berries. In spring it feels a little subdued, except for tulips, but summer brings Mediterranean scarlet with geraniums ( pelargoniums ) and romance with deep red roses. In autumn red reaches for the skies as the leaves turn.

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Much of the earth is red. When I was a child my mother told me Devon had red soil, I could not imagine such a thing, but white chalk cliffs turn to red as you go west along the Jurassic Coast. Northern parts of Australia are red, such as the Pilbara, known for its ancient red landscapes and vast mineral deposits; red also means rich in iron ore. Other continents all have their unique red landscapes.

https://www.australiasnorthwest.com/

Alas red, through no fault of its own, is a political colour. Who decided communism should be red? Nature used red first.

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