Where Are We?

Are you sure you know where you are? I could say I live in Wessex, but Wessex has not existed for a thousand years. It was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from 519 until England was unified by Æthelstan in the early 10th century. But Wessex must exist because Thomas Hardy set his novels there… No, he used it as the name of the county in which his stories are set; corresponding approximately to Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire and Wiltshire.

But Wessex must exist because there is an Earl of Wessex.  Don’t worry if you get confused with all the titles the Queen has bestowed on her children and grandchildren, most of us do. In 1999, Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest son, Prince Edward, married Sophie Rhys-Jones. By tradition the monarch’s son receives a title upon marriage. Prince Edward became the first British prince in centuries to be created an earl, rather than a duke. His wife Sophie became The Countess of Wessex.

Many organisations, including the army, that cover the area of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire and Wiltshire use the name Wessex .

The ITV television series Broadchurch takes place in the Wessex area, primarily the county of Dorset. It features government agencies such as Wessex Police and Wessex Crown Court, and several characters are seen attending South Wessex Secondary School.

DSCN0283

I live in Bournemouth which is in Dorset… or is it?  Before it was founded in 1810 by Lewis Tregonwell, the area was a deserted heathland occasionally visited by fishermen and smugglers. Historically part of Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974, but it has always seemed to me to have little in common with real rural Dorset. Since 1997 the town has been administered by Bournemouth Borough Council. But wait, more changes are afoot Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council will be the unitary local authority for the district of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole that is to come into being on 1 April 2019. The three towns already form the South East Dorset urban connurbation. What will it mean for the locals? Most of us are expecting to pay more in rates and have more services cut. Bournemouth is a new town set between two historic towns with plenty of pirates. Poole has the second largest natural harbour in the world, Sydney, Australia has the largest. Our sea is Pool Bay. Christchurch lies round the corner separated by Hengistbury Head; in Bronze Age Britain this was an important seaport, there was a settlement here in the Iron Age. I wonder how they viewed their identity?

35886313_2139447919418320_9163025049106513920_n(1)

But let’s zoom in. I live in Southbourne, the creation of Doctor Thomas Armetriding Compton, who set up general practice in Bournemouth in 1866 and could see the area’s potential as a health resort. The clifftop land here had been part of Tuckton Farm, purchased by Compton in 1871 and later developed by the Southbourne-on-Sea Freehold Land Company.

Local businesses consider they are in Southbourne-on-Sea, Southbourne Grove, thriving with interesting shops and eateries, has been nicknamed the Sobo Mile.

You can see plenty of my local area at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views/

p1090504-e1548203715525.jpg

Now let us zoom out. I have never considered I come from anywhere in particular, having lived in lots of places. I was born in Middlesex, but it ceased to exist as a county in 1965. It stretched to Westminster many centuries ago, but London had finally swallowed it.

Our local borough may be getting bigger, but our horizons will narrow as Britain leaves the European Union, dark days for those of us who are Remainers. We shall all still be members of The Commonwealth and the English speaking world and The World, The Solar System and the Universe… as we used to write in our exercise books at school…

Do you know where you are, do you care where you are?

sunshine blogger award

Advertisements

Winter Weekend West – Part Three – Tin Coast

53112131_796700467354489_8253116036807655424_n

After finally finding and checking into Primrose House we were offered birthday cake. Then came that B&B tradition of the first night; setting out for an evening walk and finding somewhere to have dinner. We took the coastal route round the harbour, looking for the Tate Gallery first to see how far it was and check opening times. St. Ives was buzzing, it was half term Saturday and everyone was off to parties or heading for dinner. In the dark we took a circuitous route round the narrow roads and when we found the gallery there was no information board outside. After finding some places full we settled on a fish restaurant hiding above a fish and chip shop, it was pleasant but pretentious. What I had was basically a piece of plaice on top of some mashed potato. When we got back to our B&B the chocolate birthday cake was still out on the table, so we took another piece up to our room. We looked up opening times for the Tate on the internet, closed on Monday, so tomorrow it must be. We wouldn’t have to move the car yet.

51939174_2219976901588495_646509615906816000_n

On Sunday the sun was out and the beach and harbour made a good walk after our cooked breakfast. The low tide harbour looked like a beach and the people walking on it seemed in no hurry to leave as the tide came in and fishermen clambered into their boats ready to sail off.

53742536_2655878967787167_6385412300840370176_n

We have been to St. Ives several times and I am always amazed at the bright turquoise of the sea. From inside the Tate Gallery you can see the beach framed like a picture. The building is bright and white inside and out, airy and pleasant and of course there is a cafe and shop. You can have a look round the gallery here.

https://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives

52596437_2523155674380874_2156080518964183040_o

53544466_2201186213531107_8288279337786933248_n

Our evening meal we had already booked at a hotel back near our B&B, a Sunday roast. If we had just stuck with the main course we would have thought it a good meal. Having wondered if we could manage a pudding, would it be greedy etc. we needn’t have worried. Cyberspouse’s jam rolly-polly was merely a thin slice of Swiss roll with a jug of custard, while my lemon tart a thin sliver of pastry with a smear of lemon curd.

53215287_361949637984393_2798061194936582144_n

Monday was the day of the Tin Coast. Cyberspouse wanted to show me mines visited when he and his friends went on their photography trip. We would have to drive the car back up that narrow steep road. Our host assured us one hardly ever met anyone coming down, but if we did the protocol was those going up had to back down. We were nearly at the top, the main road in sight, when another car started coming down. I closed my eyes – I wasn’t driving . An expert bit of manoeuvring and we were squeezed onto the driveway of  someone’s house.

53003671_1842356349207942_8294340670512955392_n

The Levant mine was still closed for the winter, but apparently has a restored working beam engine and the mine itself went deep under the sea. The rugged scenery alone is worth the visit. Then we drove a little further on to Botallack, even more rugged and I realised the perilous path trodden to get to the good spot Cyberspouse wanted for his tripod. As I don’t like heights I went no further and could hardly bear to look. I have since discovered, when we saw our friends, that his wife also refused to cross nature’s bridge of terror when he took her.

52647424_2524321710930937_3690342802459197440_o

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/levant-mine-and-beam-engine

Cape Cornwall was different again with rolling grass that made you feel like running down, even rolling down the grass like children do. Perhaps if adults acted with the carefree abandon of children and dogs it would be good for their mental health. We wondered who the monument on top of the headland was dedicated to.  The answer was baked beans. Or rather Heinz, Guardians of the Countryside, had purchase the land for the nation in 1987 to mark their centenary year and presented it the National Trust. By now I was ready for a nice cup of coffee, sitting at the bench in the sun outside the little cafe at the end of the toilet block. But when we got back down it turned out they were only getting it ready for the weekend. So it was off to St. Just for a traditional Cornish pastie.

52890282_2274904056090646_796033078341402624_n

53139459_2305670552979296_2877421307119534080_n

You can see more pictures of our trip at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog/

Winter Weekend West – Part One

February may not be thought of as a holiday month in England, except for going abroad for sunshine, but there is plenty to do on a long winter weekend. We headed west through three counties and thick fog to reach Saint Ives on the north coast of Cornwall, nearly at the most westerly tip of England. A three night stay gave us two days of fine weather to enjoy photo opportunities, a blogworthy bed and breakfast establishment and too much inspiration for just one blog.

Cornwall has its own language, flag and nationalist movement. In the past it must have been very remote from the rest of England and in 2014 Cornish people were granted minority status under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. But if you are in a holiday town you are more likely to be continually bumping into Londoners and others seeking the good life. Perhaps the locals are busy going out in their fishing boats rather than sampling fish restaurants.

Incomers are not new, Saint Ives famously has attracted artists since the nineteenth century with the quality of light and beautiful blue seas. Now the town is also well known for its Tate Gallery, squashed between housing association flats on the promenade. Inside, the light and airy building comes into its own, with a beautifully framed view of the beach, which my photograph doesn’t do justice to!

52596437_2523155674380874_2156080518964183040_o

The town has layer upon layer of higgledy piggledy old buildings and narrow lanes clinging to its steep hills; a tourists’ delight. When we see modern tiny houses being built we think them ridiculous, but minute old dwellings most of us find irresistibly cute. Wandering around the maze of lanes we saw  a door only two foot wide at the top of steep steps and one building where a few steps took you below ground to two tiny front doors crammed at right angles; they were holiday lets.

52647424_2524321710930937_3690342802459197440_o

Out on the moors there is plenty of space; the attractions for visitors include the old mine workings and the rocky coast where unbelievably blue seas with snow white surf pound black rocks. Fans of the Poldark books and television series will be familiar with the Cornish scenery and it is as fantastic as it looks on television. Winston Graham the author was not a local by birth, but did live in Cornwall for thirty five years from the age of seventeen.

52594289_565477817270698_3462404507193835520_n

https://www.visitcornwall.com/places/st-ives

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Photography

photo

A hundred years ago this girl and her cousin managed to cheat at photography, even Sir Arthur Connan Doyle was taken in and was convinced these were real fairies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

Photo

With the advent of digital photography everyone can have a go at cheating, not just the enthusiasts lurking in the dark room.

7

The experts and enthusiasts are still around; they like playing with big lenses and buy expensive software to digitally manipulate their images – sometimes beyond all recognition.

http://www.photogog.com/inmymindseye

Visit Cyberspouse’s website to see some creative work.

 

39982808_671374146565963_2316413924456529920_nBut those of us who only point and shoot with compact cameras and smart phones can still produce strange pictures.

I don’t actually phone anybody with my smart phone, I just use it to put pictures on Instagram and send photos to family and friends on messenger. One day I discovered you can write on the pictures. On Instagram you can turn your picture black and white or brighten it up, share on Facebook, then download to your computer and use it for your WordPress blog. On WordPress you can crop pictures, reverse them or turn them upside down.

23

We bought an ipad to Facetime two continents, but I discovered you can take photogaphs with different effects.

35749717_2133314443365001_3886824946227216384_n

A saucer of floating flowers.

 

36940738_2172002706162841_6989539359858884608_n

The hot summer of 2018.

 

29249591_2016001618429618_8742673610549755904_n

But you don’t have to rely on magical equipment – this is the Odeon cinema taken through the bus window on a rainy night.

 

20

…and this is not my nice tidy garden shed, but a picture of the side of the garden centre’s truck.

DSCN4881

A puddle.

Visit my picture gallery to see more pictures or spot some cheats.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-three-picture-gallery/

 

 

 

 

Game of Stones

I am not the only person in the world who has not seen Game of Thrones, there is at least one other person; I know that because I saw their post on Facebook. With the worldwide plethora of channels and other means of watching programmes there are not enough hours in the day to watch everything and we don’t all have legal access to much of the output. Neither lack of hours nor technical and legal barriers affect some viewers, who seem to have seen everything – three times over.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed it, though I prefer drama set in this world, but I fear it is too late to catch up; boxed sets, whether real or ethereal do not appeal. I enjoy watching serials one episode at a time. What I have finally caught up with is ‘Outlander’, a series involving time travel, so it is touching that we are only able to watch it with that prehistoric tool, a fire stick. This particular magic tool is an Amazon Firestick, acquired when Cyberspouse accidentally joined Amazon Prime via my account and obtained lots of toys. Now we are watching in real time and have to wait till Monday for episode 12 of series four, so I decided to find out more, especially as I have not read any of the books.

Diana Gabaldon is the author; she started writing the story in the eighties and there are nine in the series; with only five filmed so far that means plenty to look forward to and reassuringly genuine, not ‘based on characters created by’.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/books/outlander-series/

When I read these words     There is one more addition to the OUTLANDER series— THE EXILE, a graphic novel,  I thought she had written an edition with even more sex,  but it’s okay – For those unfamiliar with the term, a graphic novel is—in essence—a comic book for grown-ups.

Diana and I have a few things in common, born in the same decade and we both write about time travel…    ‘Outlander’ starts with our heroine Claire on holiday in the highlands of Scotland, reunited with her husband after being separated during the second world war. Wandering, she finds ‘The Stones’, touches them and falls into 1743. Adventure, love and lots of history follows.

41489466_2277742345588876_4579338519482204160_o

I imagine it is easier to write about time travel than actually survive if you found yourself back in the past. Perhaps you think you would use your future knowledge, it may give you a useful guide as to what happens next, unless you were not very good at history, but could you recreate modern inventions or modern medicine? Claire has the advantage of medical knowledge, but not the right implements and drugs. Few of us would be able to build a car from scratch,  install electricity in our peasant hut or offer to install hot running water in the laird’s castle. Few of us understand how the structures and infastructures that surround us are made, but if we ended up in the past we wouldn’t know how to make a wattle and daub hut either.

DSCN3714

On the other hand we might be delighted to get away from the world as it is and discover the past was better.

If you want to get ahead and read my trilogy before Amazon, Netflix or Sky snap it up to turn into a blockbuster, you can read the first book for only 99 pence or us$1.26

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Puzzling Pictures

Can you remember what any of these pictures from previous blogs are? No, nor can I…

14

P1050543

35749717_2133314443365001_3886824946227216384_n

DSCN0535

P1100495

DSCN0537

5

33421551_2100265946669851_1418245127951876096_n

DSCN2296

DSCN6910

Did you get ten out of ten? The answers might be, in no particular order…

London South Bank – street entertainers.

Angel of The North

Wonder sheep at the New Forest Show

Odeon cinema Bournemouth

World’s oldest clock

Font, Salisbury Cathedral

Antony Gormley – Another Time, Margate

Lego model of Durham Cathedral

Valentine Night Storm damage

Floating Flowers

The Ghosts of Christmas Past – Episode One

What was your worst Christmas, your strangest? Some Christmas memories blend in, others are never forgotten. For those of us who had a happy childhood Christmas remains in our memories as a time of heady excitement; dark winter days brightened with nativity plays, school parties and candlelit churches. There was one traumatic experience that dulled the excitement when I was seven. At school we were told to write a letter to Father Christmas, the girl sitting in front of me turned round and said ‘What’s the point of writing to Father Christmas when he doesn’t really exist?’ I tried to appear nonchalant, I was not going to admit my ignorance, but I was devastated. As soon as I got home from school I asked my mother if it was true; my last hopes were dashed and she swore me to secrecy, not to spoil it for my younger siblings. I soon recovered, the Christmas atmosphere remained and there was still the thrill of presents to unwrap.

30769005_10212869667870120_1043963808_o

When I was eleven we emigrated to Western Australia; our arrival was in October, we moved to our new house in December and my childhood Christmases disappeared forever. This was not the fault of Australia or my parents; I was growing up, the dark mystery of winter days was replaced by bright sunshine, we knew nobody, there were no gift bearing relatives visiting and my parents’ budget was tight. But by the following year Christmases were settling into a new pattern and we acquired family friends to celebrate with.

32446751_10213022320966352_3869735468924928000_n

My first Christmas away from home, when I was nineteen, came about when my best friend and I planned a six week summer holiday trip across Australia, inveigling a mutual friend to share the driving and his car across the Nullabor Plain. She assured me her relatives in South Australia would be delighted to have the three of us for Christmas and indeed they were very welcoming. A collection of aunts and uncles had orchards and shops. On the first morning of our stay my two friends were commandeered to take one of the aunts to hospital with a miscarriage, I was left behind to look after her young children who I had never met before. More relatives arrived and unbeknown to us they had spotted a freezer that didn’t work properly in uncle’s shop, they warned each other not to eat the chicken. A very pleasant Christmas Day was followed by food poisoning on Boxing Day.

Next week – what was I doing at Heathrow Airport 6am one Christmas morning?

Quarter Acre Block follows the Palmer family as they emigrate to Western Australia in October 1964. At  Christmas they realise how much they have left behind.

 

Youtube Nativity

Last century, in a previous incarnation, I went to mother and toddler groups; no doubt they have to be called something else now, Kids and Karers? We did have one granny, a few child minders and a couple of fathers. It was one of these fathers who brought his video camera along, no one else possessed such equipment. We thought he was showing off and hovering over his poor child. The ethos of the club was to ignore the little ones while indulging in a good gossip. These days he would probably have to have a background check before even being allowed into the church hall, let alone with a video camera. I wonder where that little boy is now, perhaps hot housed into a world leader, his whole life recorded for posterity.

3

How would we all have fared, how different would our lives have been if we had grown up in the digital world, our pathetic appearance in the school nativity recorded and watched by grandchildren. I never got to be Mary or even an angel; in top infants I was merely the innkeeper’s wife with the line ‘Come this way.’ Would anyone want to see themselves coming last on sports day or dancing round the maypole in junior school? We did not get the ribbons tangled during our school’s centenary celebrations, but whether we looked elegant is another matter.

Our lives did not go completely unrecorded, Dad got a reel to reel tape recorder and secretly recorded Mum and the aunties, nobody could believe how awful their own voice sounded. When we had our school holiday in top juniors, several mothers went along as helpers, not mine thank goodness. One of these ladies had a cine camera, we were all going to be film stars. When it came time for the showing of the film, I did not appear at all.

There are families who have wonderful silent records of every Christmas, cine cameras were around for a long time before being superseded by videos, but most people took only photographs. Now every moment of a life can be recorded instantly, film or photo and broadcast to the world. Granddad on the other side of the world can see the new grandson having his umbilical cord cut. Great grandparents can see pretty in pink little miss precocious doing her first ballet exam at the age of two.

43339936_2314736698556107_1098449997759774720_o

But I feel more than a twinge of regret when I think of all the missed Instagrams I could have taken, pictures shared on Facebook and blogs written of my pre digital life. We have many photo albums, but camera film could not be wasted taking pictures of weird things; night scenes through rain splattered bus windows or the ubiquitous snaps of meals out or in.

Perhaps the more obsessed bloggers would have started much earlier if they had had the opportunity.

Baby Blogger…

Day One; with a bit of help from Mummy and Daddy I am starting this blog to record my whole life. Today was a bit of a milestone as I said my first words… blog, post and WordPress. Of course I know lots more words than that, but my lips and tongue aren’t working properly yet, just one of the challenges of being a baby.

Day Two; I have my first two followers, Mummy and Daddy… Sam the cat isn’t on WordPress so he can’t Like me, but here is a picture of him.

Day Three; We went to Wriggle and Rhyme Story Time at the library, I gave it four out of five stars…

 

My novel Quarter Acre Block is inspired by my early years.

 

Silly Saturday – Brother Bernard’s Blog

Brother Bernard’s Blog

Translated from the original Latin.

Greetings from the north. How hast thy week been? I send news to brother bloggers of unholy happenings. Until last week the name of Johannes Gutenberg had never been uttered inside these walls and I hope it never will be again.

I had just returned from my daily constitutional, gazing upon the wondrous waters of the North Sea, contemplating completing Leviticus today, when Brother Franz hove into sight, calling out in a most undignified manner as he dismounted. We had not seen him for many months so were we not eager to hear what news from the continent?

‘Gutenberg is coming’ were his words.

After being enclosed with the Abbot for a fair while he broke bread with us in the refectory and spoke strange words… of printing presses and moveable metal type. I now understand this to mean there are those who would replace men of God writing The Word of God with a contraption to produce many Holy Bibles.

How can a machine write elegant text and illuminate with cinnabar, saffron, verdigris, lapis lazuli, silver and gold? No my friends, it cannot, so therefore I tell you we have nothing to fear, the name of Johannes Gutenberg will soon be forgotten , Gutenberg has not arrived, nor ever will. We shall carry on with our Holy written work as before.

DSCN0403

 

Occasional Cathedrals – no. 3 Chichester

45188729_260490784667675_3292565076355055616_n

We stopped in Chichester for lunch on the way back from our little break in Kent; as the clocks had just gone back this meant the afternoon was short. The roof is being restored and much of the cathedral was covered so just one outside shot. You do not need to pay entry, but it will help pay for the roof if you make a donation; if you don’t carry cash you can pay a fiver by contactless card.

45324879_589501428154956_4140111502818410496_n

Chichester was the first cathedral I visited when I was eight. We were staying for a fortnight’s seaside holiday, not far away in a converted railway carriage at Wittering. We went to the beach when it was low tide and had sand. When it was high tide and only shingle with a greater risk of drowning ( Mum and Dad never went in the sea themselves) we visited historical sights.

https://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/

It was a very long time before I visited again and nothing evoked any memories except the general cathedralness, but I do know my lifelong collecting of picture post cards started that year and I acquired black and white cards of the cathedral which featured quite a few stone tombs. I recall I was most fascinated with the stone effigies, what a strange child I must have been!

45099843_2175504622717717_4380948856183980032_n.jpg

As well as preserving ancient beauty such as stained glass windows and the stonework that holds them in place, cathedrals also acquire new art and music. The first thing you may spot if you are following the leaflet will be a gleaming font made of Cornish polyphant stone (easy to carve and burnish ) with a copper bowl, designed by John Skelton in 1983.

45267299_257326128311826_9052458563544285184_n

At the high altar is the wonderfully bright Piper Tapestry designed by John Piper and woven in France in 1966. It depicts the Holy Trinity. In contrast is the simple altar in the Mary Magdalene chapel with the 1961 Graham Sutherland painting depicting Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene on the first Easter morning.

45140228_189509531930271_8913343408890707968_n

45192041_489295591578618_2112899098158825472_n.jpg

Another colourful creation is the1978 Marc Chagall window based on Psalm 150 ...let everything that hath breath praise the Lord..

45146937_180630256179271_6119277315223453696_n

 

I completely missed a statue …mounted high over the entrance to the Lady chapel, there is a model at floor level… I only saw the model, no wonder I wasn’t that impressed. One should always look up in cathedrals.

45246005_553721595041045_7319411475464847360_n.jpg

The cathedral is also celebrating the centenary of the birth of composer Leonard Bernstein. He isn’t one of my favourite composers, but there is one work of his I love which is the Chichester Psalms. While reading the exhibition I saw you could buy in the cathedral shop a CD recorded by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with their previous conductor the American Marin Alsop. But when we got to the shop it had already closed at four o’clock, so I came away with no souvenirs.

45148776_341706389967849_9141048530381570048_n.jpg

https://bernsteinchichester.uk/