A novel might have taken me to Coventry, but by a strange symmetry it was after visiting Colchester I began reading a novel that mentions, even features, some of the places I saw in the original capital of Roman Britain.
I had unfortunately sprained my ankle just a few days beforehand, so my explorations were not quite as extensive as I should have liked. Still it gives me a good excuse to return.
I have visited many other parts of Essex, and even celebrated a birthday in and around Wivenhoe a few years ago when friends joined me for an easy eight mile walk which started, middled and ended at the pub.
Colchester boasts an impressive castle, a ruined abbey, and an astounding building that is home to the Museum of Modern Art.
arches, St Botolph’s Abbey
St Botolph’s abbey
Romanesque, St Botolph’s abbey
Ruins, St Botolph’s abbey
Although I am a London Blue Badge Guide, I do get to leave the capital and even guide in other cities and towns.
I should love to add Coventry to that list. Everyone knows how Coventry was devastated in the Second World War, how the day after the bombing that destroyed the cathedral the decision was taken to rebuild.
My, hasn’t the summer flown by!
I’ve had a holiday in Ireland, visiting family and catching up with friends.I was staying near the Sperrins, the lanscape dominated by Slieve Gallion which long ago I climbed during the hillwalking festival.
We went to the Titanic Exhibition which was excellent. I shall gladly go back and see it again.
The Hampton Court Flower Show is on this week. Alas, I do not have a ticket, but I shared the train there from waterloo with eager horticulturalists, and the return journey with same, only this time carrying an array of plants. The station was so busy they had laid on live music to entertain us.
There were of course also plants at the station, displayed in the wheelbarrows that over the past few years have become planters of choice for public spaces.
Wheelbarrow planter at the railway station
I don’t get to work at Hampton Court anywhere near as often as I should like. It’s a brilliant day out and there’s so much to do and to see. You can travel there by train, by boat, or a mixture of the two, and the setting, by the river, is to die for.
On the river
You can visit much of the surrounding gardens for free, and they are both formal and wonderful.
Harwich was a delight. Our arrival teas, coffees and cake were taken in the Swan, the second oldest building in the town, complete with C15 wall painting and evidence of an active local crafts scene.
We were in Mayflower territory. Christopher Jones, captain of that ship lived in a house just a few doors down from the Swan.
Christopher Jones’ House
I’m doing a bit of homework for the tours I do fairly regularly to Salisbury, reading The Spire by William Golding. It’s very good, both the story and the way it is written. I’m two thirds of the way through, so not sure how it will end. I hope to finish it before I am back in Salisbury on Tuesday.
I am rather fond of Salisbury, so I was glad to meet someone at the start of last week who came with me a couple of weeks ago. She approached me smiling, and said how much she had enjoyed the day.
That sort of feedback always pleases.
Salisbury Cathedral’s spire is very famous. It pierces the sky above the town. Currently in the cloisters and in the churchyard around the cathedral there are sculptures by Sophie Ryder.
This one is my favourite:
Dog and hare having a conversation sitting on a horse
The explanation says the dog and hare are having a coversation while sitting on the horse and the horse is listening intently. Sophie Ryder uses animal figures, or often human bodies with animal heads, to explore the relationships we have with each other. That is a pretty important theme anywhere, but particularly in a Christian church. Continue reading
Spring is blowing in on the winds of March. Today, like so many days recently, the air is crisp and cold, the skies blue, the sun bright. The days are gradually lengthening. Perfect times for walking and photography. And even grey skies can make for dramatic pictures.
I usually carry a little camera with me when I am working, and sometimes take a few photos between tours. Even when I am not walking for a living, I enjoy getting out and about, and then I’ll often have my *proper* camera and a change of lens.
Here are a few pictures I have taken recently.
The William Booth Memorial College
I have a sudden run of public repertory walks coming up over the next few weekends. So if you are itching to get out and about, exploring corners of London and enjoying the signs of spring, do join me.
There’s no need to book, just turn up at the appointed hour at the appointed place, pay me your £10.00 and off we’ll go. Walks last around two hours, and happen no matter what the weather.
This coming Saturday, 27th February, I am resolutely local with a walk around Kennington. You’ll learn about parallel universes, political movements, a paedriatric hospital that is now a block of flats, and finish within easy reach of a number of pubs, cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy lunch.
Meet me outside Kennington tube station for 10.45.
Today I was at Greenwich, in glorious sunshine. These photos taken from the boat may give you an idea.
Safety on Board
I’ve hung up my Blue Badge for the rest of 2015. It’s been a great year, and I have loved guided you around all the various places. Yesterday we were blessed with warm sunshine and minimal wind at Stonehenge following a visit to the ever wonderful Salisbury cathedral.
Decorations in the Nave
This morning at the Tower of London the skies were grey, but it stayed dry.
Being a London Registered Blue Badge Guide is such a privilege (though I might not have said that during our gruelling two year training). A couple of weeks ago I walked around Vauxhall with my friend and fellow guide Hilary. I was in Estate Agent Mode as she and her husband are looking for a new address in London. I wish I had had the forethought to video her reactions. At one point she grabbed my arm and said “Look at that building!” I think lunch at the Bonnington Café may have been the final brick that put Vauxhall high up on the list of desirable areas. Continue reading