Friday, 29 August 2008

All roads lead to Rome...

We did see some sunshine this year during our Grand Tour of Europe. From North Shields we got the exceedingly nice ferry overnight over to Ijmuiden near Amsterdam in Holland. Relying on good old fashioned maps we only got slightly lost as we came out of the Ijmuiden terminal. Luckily my husband had picked up a map from the Dutch lady on the Information Desk (on the ferry). He was wondering if there was anything his wife and children could do (entertainmentwise) whilst he went to a meeting at Schipol airport and asked her what we could do. "What kind of a husband leaves his family like that?!" was her barbed retort. So he left the very helpful information desk none the wiser! Luckily that map guided us onto the right road for Schipol airport.

(We then drove to North Germany, near Bremerhaven, that same day to see some good friends.) Over the next few days, whilst it got blisteringly hot, we drove through Germany. My self taught German just about passed muster. (I hadn't realised just how polite the Germans are. For the first time in my life someone said to me "bitte wiedersehen"...which I think means..."hope to see you again"...does it mean literally..."pleased to see you again!" maybe someone can put me straight on this one and what does one say in return?)

We stopped and had cake and coffee at the wonderfully medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (see photo above). We stayed in a few places in Germany. We went through a bit of Austria. We were doing well, just replying on maps, unfortunately we got onto the motorway going North instead of heading South and seemed to go round bits of lakes in Switzerland for what seemed like an eternity. We stayed a night in the Italian Swiss city of Locarno and the noise level at night was upped 1000% as there was a rock and jazz festival taking place in the square outside our hotel. I didn't mind...it just seemed a true reflection of national characters. The Dutch, Germans, Austrians had been quiet and here in the Italian bit of Switzerland all hell had broken loose! At least it wasn't just our children being noisy for a change...

We did really well with the roads (viz. maps and map reading) and we didn't have one of those husband/wife map reading arguments until we came off the motorway in Italy. I had just wrestled with the automatic speaking toll machine and was still examining the euro change when hubbie said "Which way? Which way?" It turns out that the Italian road planners like to stick every conceivable village and hamlet known to man on road traffic signs (see below). Upon examination of the signs (all 40 of them) I declared that I hadn't got a @#**@*' clue!
So unless you are 100% sure of your destination then it is 100% pot luck...which direction you take. We spent about two hours driving around the main town of Nizza Monferrato desperately trying each sign (and direction) and we must have gone around the main square about 20 times. I kept trying to phone the place where we were staying but I think they were having their siesta! We went up hills and down valleys in search of our ultimate destination in sweltering heat. Does anyone remember a scene in the 1963 Pink Panther film where an old guy is trying to cross a town square and cars keep zipping past him. (Inspector Closeau is trying to catch the Pink Panther dressed in a gorilla costume and there are several gorilla dressed guys in several sports cars zooming around.) They then reappear from another direction to cross the square again. Eventually the old guy gives up and goes back to his chair to watch the cars zip up down, down up, across, zig zag, back up down, reverse, down, up, across....believe you me...we were repeating this version singlehandedly! On our way home from La Mussia agriturismo (where we'd had a great time incidentally and the family there is fantastic)...we followed a sign for the motorway out of the opposite end of town from whence we came (we were leaving towards France this time). It took us another hour to get out of the town and when we had found the right road (which was the one incidentally where La Mussia was)...some joker had moved the motorway sign so that it pointed in a completely different direction. Luckily we realised this just in time and whilst we were turning the car around we saw several foreign cars follow the sign and head for the hills...who said the Italians do not have a sense of humour! (Maybe we will be investing in a SatNav after all...)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Gone diving...left a wife all forlorn!


This is the dive centre in Hurghada that diver hubbie has gone to see (none of us have seen it yet). It's based at Hilton Plaza in Hurghada, Red Sea, Egypt. I used to swim at the pool regularly when we used to live in Hurghada (but sadly not at the Hilton!)

It has its own marina/jetty and this is the dive boat which leaves every morning , with a bit of luck, full of day divers and snorkellers.

I woke up this morning with a lump in my throat and a big, churned up feeling in the pit of my stomach. The Diver (the other half) has had to go to Hurghada, Red Sea, Egypt today for 10 days on business. We part own a share in this diving centre (see above). It doesn't bring in a lot of money to be honest...I think we stay with it more of the love of it.

I met my chap ( my best friend and bestest drinking buddy ever) through Scuba Diving. I was working in the City in banking, at the time, and I was getting pretty fed up with the rat race. (I tell a lie. I think I was fed up from the start but ten years later I was still there. I guess the pay packets were a big incentive! Plus I loved just looking at "the history" of the City of London every day I worked there.) The year 2000, the Millenium year, dawned and my bit of a Scottish bank merged with a New York City bank. I resolved that something different was going to happen in my life. It did. We were moved from Lombard Street to the 49th floor of Canary Wharf. Even in pre-terrorist days I saw that all the planes landing at Heathrow were using it as a "turning round huge phallic stick in the sky" so I decided to jump ship before I had to go through the fire alarm drill (and all 49 sets of stairs)! I just wasn't sure what to do. Go back home to parents with my tail between my legs? Hmmm. Maybe I would go to Spain and teach English after all...

Talk about fate. A friend at the bank was a BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) diving instructor. She pestered and pestered me to try the beginner's course and once I had got all my dratted banking exams out of the way I was ready to go for it. I first met hubbie at the London Dive Show (then based at Olympia Exhibition Halls, Earls Court). He was someone to whom I was introduced. I hardly paid him any attention because I fancied another diver (my club diving instructor) at the time. We all met through the Clidive BSAC dive club based near Old Street. We all went drinking and for a curry after that Saturday at the Dive Show. I had my eye on my instructor desperately hoping that something might happen...instead I found out that hubbie (or rather hubbie to be) was staying that night at my object of desire's house. Talk about having my diving bubble burst!! Hubbie (to be) attempted to talk to me on the way back to catching the tube...I can remember monotonously answering his questions. He did make me smile though with one of his comments when his huge dive bag got caught in the tube turnstile. "Ah well!" I thought to myself, "the tryst with my instructor will have to wait until another time."

That other time did not arrive. Instead a group of diving virgins (including myself) went out with Clidive club (and my sought after diving instructor) to Hurghada, Red Sea. I knew beforehand that a certain bearded chap with a penchant for Guinness and funny stories was out there running the dive centre. I thought no more of it.

Hubbie used to help out with the diving training because he was/is a BSAC diving instructor. I was paired up with him. Mainly because I was a bit of a diving lost cause. I am not a technical, practical person by any stretch of the imagination. When I was attempting to kit up to go on that first dive with him I could see him crossing himself in the corner. "Cheeky bugger!" I thought to myself.....And yes...on that first dive he did show me the delights of the House Reef as he searched and searched the sea grass to show me some of the sea horses (just some of the many residents there). The rest, as they say, is history...

(P.S. Consequently he has left me a whole heap of instructions: like how to turn the oven on, when to water the tomatoes, when to pick the raspberries, the fresh peas, don't blog when you should be preparing (or rather warming up) the children's dinner..........oh crikey!oops!....)

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Just procrastinating...





It's raining yet again. I have a whole list of jobs I don't want to do (including doing some ghastly accounts). The weather is so awful I have chosen some photos taken in the back garden during the Micro Summer of 2008. All sadly gone and washed away by now...

"Loafing with Latin" plus (or minus) a bit of a rant


(The Colosseum in Rome, picture taken from slide show, Senhouse Museum, Maryport)

In "The idle parent: Tom Hodgkinson and son discover how to intersperse loafing with Latin
(taken from The Daily Telegraph) 09/08/2008 " (I've quoted from both articles. Click on them for the full extent of each article. Hadriana.) "One of the many sad developments in education lately has been the death of Latin in state schools (This point is a bit debated at the moment, there has been a surge in interest due to books like Harry Potter. There is currently a big shortage of trained Latin and Classics teachers. Please see The Guardian article below. Hadriana.)
I decided I would learn Latin and teach it to Arthur at the same time. In the kitchen. I had many reasons for this. First, if I am to continue to have my kids educated by the state - about which I have reservations, as I think the state is quite moronic - then they are never going to have Latin lessons, as they would at a private school. Under my expert tutelage, though, my children will become brilliant Latin scholars and therefore will have the pick of the universities. That means I save on school fees. Meaning less work. Meaning more time for loafing.
I ordered Book One. It cost about a tenner. I sat down at the kitchen table with it. Here was a totally different world to the dry rote learning of Kennedy's Latin Primer that I remember from school. The thing is absolute genius. I was speaking Latin after two pages. The language lessons are interspersed with fascinating stories about everyday life in Pompeii, chronicling the doings of beautiful slave girls, naughty dogs, avaricious merchants, skilful painters and drunken cooks.
Luckily Arthur, aged eight, agreed and thought it was great fun too. So now I read a few pages and then go through them with Arthur. I have also followed William Cobbett's advice on teaching children. He writes that he simply left good books on the kitchen table for his son to find and read for himself, reasoning that one tends to learn much more quickly when the learning is undertaken voluntarily rather than being forced by authority.
Miraculously, this seemed to work and I actually had to drag Arthur away from the book because it was time for bed. "I just couldn't leave it alone," he said. The course also offers a host of back-up material online, which is another seduction for computer-friendly children. So may I convey to the creators of this marvellous work my deepest gratitude. Plato said that learning should be play and the Cambridge Latin Course really is fun. And if Latin is this much fun, imagine the larks we'll have when we start learning Greek…" Tom Hodgkinson is editor of The Idler.
Another Guardian article highlights the growing need for more Latin and Classics teachers...
A classic case of undersupply
Latin and Greek are making a comeback - but can universities provide enough teachers? Chris Arnot reports:
Chris Arnot The Guardian, Tuesday February 5 2008, Article history
" "It's not an easy option," says Parr, "Latin is marked particularly rigorously and children have to put in long hours. It demands commitment as well as academic ability."
At least one of her pupils, Molly Makinson, 13, is also studying ancient Greek. ("My grandad used to teach it," she says.) Another, David Mestel, 15, acquired an A* GCSE in Latin in year 9. Along with Luke Freeman-Mills, currently studying A-level Latin at sixth-form college, he's producing a booklet containing translations of Virgil, Horace, Ovid and others. So does he fancy studying the subject as part of a classics degree?
"No," he says. "I will probably do something scientific." For young Mestel, it would seem, translating Latin poetry is simply a bit of fun. "

Hadriana's Mini (Maxi) Rant
I'm all for "demystifying" Latin. It's a subject like any other and yes, sometimes, it can be a bit tricky like Physics or Chemistry or Maths or tying your shoelaces after a good night out. But isn't it good to test the brain and see of what it's capable (or not)? And where is there evidence of the state's "joined up thinking"? If they are thinking of promoting Latin (at Primary School level and further) why do they not train up more teachers? Why push the teaching of modern languages at Primary School level and then allow children to drop the languages at 14? (Brussels has a dearth of decent translators into English.) Why devalue classical languages? Why devalue modern languages for that matter? (Very shortly GSCE's (former O'levels taken at age 16)...will not include "oral" exams). What next? Have Maths exams where the student does not need to add up, subtract, multiply or divide because it violates their human rights...

Monday, 18 August 2008

Why do I blog?

I've taken my cue from Potty Mummy. She wrote a post the other day on "Why do I blog?" I've thought about it and to be honest I'm really not sure. I didn't know whether anyone would read this blog. I'm gratified that anyone does. I'm not just saying that to be humble I'm saying that to be truthful!
I wasn't sure whether anybody would be interested in me ruminating on dry and dusty Roman thingies. (Personally I think they are full of history and life, however, I appreciate that it is not everyone's cup of tea.) I've certainly had my ups and downs with Latin. I love language, be it English, Geordie, Spanish, Italian or whatever....(I have to admit that I have got a modern language degree in Spanish and Italian).
I'm still in touch with my Latin teacher. She's wonderful and a friend of the family. She truly did inspire in me a love of the language. (I still remember her first lesson when I was in second year Seniors...aqua (water) used in aquafresh (toothpaste) and so on.) We still joke how I used to fall asleep in her lessons (at A-level). I ended up being the only student for that final year. She used to fortify me with cups of coffee and KitKats (and toothpicks to keep my eyes open...only joking!). What used to kill me off was that we were studying Tacitus' Agricola which was all about the Roman invasion of Britain. And yes! it did seem as dry as dust. Tacitus, I mean, not my Latin teacher. I adored all other types of Latin literature...especially Catullus with his beautiful and (sometimes) naughty Latin poems. They'd cheer anyone's day up for sure....And I'm currently working through Lindsey Davis's books about Falco the Roman detective. She has a fantastic knack of making the Romans seem lively.
Anyway I'm rambling. Back to "Why do I blog?" I enjoy writing and it seems to be my lifeline to the outside world. I certainly get satisfaction from any feedback from you bloggers out there. So thanks very much for that!
I'll try not to bore you to death about the Roman stuff. If I have one regret in life it's that I should have come to see the Roman Wall (Hadrian's) sooner...I can only look on these Roman rocks and wonder...

Sunday, 17 August 2008

"Northern Cities beyond revival"

"Northern Cities beyond revival" states a recent BBC report on another report concocted by a Conservative think tank (!) One of the cities mentioned includes Sunderland. Following discussion of this in the press plus a recent post by Arthur Clewley I saw a letter sent to "The Times" on Friday August 15th in defence of that great City which I would like to reproduce here:

From The Times
August 15, 2008
No need to move south when it’s far from grim up north
Sunderland has much to offer
Sir, I am certain that many residents of Sunderland may enjoy a trip to Oxford or Cambridge. However, they would be happy to return home to the seaside, their homes and a city that is being rejuvenated. Sunderland was a world-renowned centre of learning almost 600 years before Oxford or Cambridge. St Peter’s, Monkwearmouth, was founded in AD674 by the city’s patron saint, Benedict Biscop. It contained the largest library north of the Alps and produced the Codex Amiatinus, the world’s most famous Latin Bible.

More recently, Sunderland has won several awards for Britain in Bloom and in 2002 the prestigious gold award for Europe in Bloom. With the advent of the Metro, there has been improved employment and, with this, house prices have leapt. New housing developments such as the Marina and Echo 24, as well as the rejuvenation of the Georgian core, have added to pride in the city. Of course, one cannot mention Sunderland without football. The Stadium of Light is a marvellous building, putting almost all other new stadiums in the shade.

Maybe Policy Exchange (“David Cameron faces a grim trip up North after call to abandon poor cities”, Aug 13) decided to criticise Sunderland as it realises that the Tories have no chance of regaining a seat in the city after Margaret Thatcher’s destruction of one of the most modern shipyards in Europe, with a full order book at the time.

Sue Collins Sunderland

I rest my case, m'lord!

Sumus mortales, immortales non sumus...we are mere mortals, we are not Gods...


An inscription from Senhouse Museum, Maryport, (please see the posts below). What we saw there (these slide screens pictured) seems to tie in with what they are saying about the finds at Forth Street, Newcastle, down beside the river Tyne. They have found two Roman sarcophagi (stone coffins) there, alongside many other things...including what they think was Deere Street the old Roman road "A1" running to the South.

"Describing how the burials would have originally been situated, Richard Annis, said: “These sarcophagi would have been a prominent feature of the landscape as they were carefully placed to be viewed, being close to the road and, at the time, raised above ground."
In terms of status, the people buried in the stone coffins would have belonged to a wealthy family, probably having connections with the walled fort of Pons Aelius, part of Hadrian’s Wall. They were buried, and now unburied, a few metres from the site of the fort’s western gate."



"Other burials discovered nearby are of a distinctly military nature: “We found a cremation in a pot on one side and two complete vessels very close together, within a short radius. They have all the hallmarks of Roman military burial. Cremation was a popular rite in military circles.” "

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Views of Scotland from Senhouse Museum, Maryport, Cumbria




Maryport part II


(Set against Senhouse Museum in the background)


Poignant lines of an inscription dedicated to the twelve year old girl, Julia Martina.

A recreated watch tower at Senhouse Museum...from where you get some good views of...

...houses and cows...very bucolic......There are also some fantastic views of Scotland on the other side of the water from here.
(Rather surprisingly I discovered that Fletcher Christian of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame - Maryport was his old stomping ground. He was born in a village called Dearham close by to Maryport. There is a "Christian Street" in the town. His paternal grandparents were John Christian and Bridget Senhouse (one of the oldest and wealthiest families in the town). In the aquarium at Maryport in the Fletcher Christian shipwreck section there is a flying Pitcairn fish carved out of the prow of the Bounty by one of his descendants (if this is to be believed)!

The Senhouse Museum at Maryport


Maryport (known to the Romans as Alauna), a pretty interesting place. I'd been meaning to visit it for a long while. It seems lost in time but also has a spanking new marina. It is home to a very interesting aquarium and lots of Roman history. It is not actually on "the Wall" but the fort at Maryport was one of the largest on the frontier at 2.3 hectares. It was probably built in Hadrian's rule for the First Cohort of Spaniards. The Senhouse Museum at Maryport contains one of the oldest private collections in Britain which was started in 1599. It is has the largest number of Roman military altar stones and inscriptions in one place.

Map showing the extent of Hadrian's Wall at Senhouse Museum.

The view of the Museum from the air and you can clearly see the outlines of the fort beside it.

Altars dedicated to the First Cohort of Spaniards.

Statue of Hadrian.

"Books, Blogging and the Internet" at the Edinburgh Book Festival

This workshop was due to be given by Mother at Large, Helen, an ex-Sunday Times journalist. Unfortunately she could not attend due to her baby girl coming into this world fashionably late (like her mother's blog title)...dare I say this, but I was actually heartened by this news. I was beginning to think that she was the Super Mum to beat all Super Mums...thankfully she seems as human as the rest of us (super mums)! It'll be good to read her blog when she's back in circulation again.
Her blogging friend, Vanessa, independent publisher, at Fidra Books, held the talk in Helen's place and I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely. (I also have to mention at this juncture that I only stumbled on this event due to expatmum's timely advice...so my many thanks go to her.)

There were 20 bloggers at the workshop and we all shared tips, stories and technical glitch tipettes about life in blogland. We talked about the format of blogs (one option was to go for the uncluttered visual look, Mutterings from the Mill, is a good example of this I think), snappy descriptions of the purpose of the blog, using tags, labels, links and so forth. Owning a domain is a possibility and wordpress.com and .org were cited as good places to host your blog/domain (if you are more technically minded perhaps). (To be honest I could not follow all of it re: the techie stuff but I was lucky to get in touch with someone who knows much more about this than I do.) If you want to know who is looking at your website it might be an idea to look at your statistics called in Blogger: Google analytics and you can look for "key" words on which people may be searching when they read your blog. Apparently there is something called the "Wayback machine" which can search old web stuff in case you have lost some of your blog. Obviously the wise thing is to back up your work. Luckily hubbie has been doing this without me realising it! We also discussed what might be best to reveal or not (Gulp!)...

We heard about some of the blogs (from people either present or non present) e.g. digital biographer (a very smart looking "all things digital" blog), Eve's Alexandria (a book review blog), Rachel North (Victim and activist re: the 07/07 bombing - her blog experiences), Snow blog (a publishing blog written by two people), author blogs: Neil Gaiman, Susan Hill are just a few examples of what is out there. Blogs to book deals were mentioned, in particular: dulwichmum, Strife in the North (we're hoping...fingers crossed...) and the ubiquitous Wife in the North. On the whole blogs-to-book deals were seen as being on their way out. Aah! before I forget...your writing is protected even if it is on the internet, however, digital biographer advised all bloggers to check terms and conditions attached to each blog hoster/web domain etc. If you do want to write for a living (or otherwise) it was recommended to join the Society of Authors in the UK. There were many other points which came out during the discussion but I'd have trouble listing them all here. Hope the above gives a taster of what was discussed.

Moreover, Vanessa stated that all writers, authors, would be writers and random scribblers (I think I fall in this latter category) should have a blog to raise their profile. (She didn't actually say random scribblers but I would be honoured to be considered thus.) Consequently I came away with a big, cheesy grin on my face.

Little Hadriana and a more mature Hadriana also attended the event "Posy with Catherine Rayner", author and illustrator of "Augustus and his smile", "Harris finds his feet" and the "Posy" books written by Linda Newberry. She was extremely nice, informative and friendly. She didn't seem to mind me asking lots of questions about her chosen craft despite the fact that it was primarily a children's event. All in all a very eventful day. How I would love to go to the entire book festival...maybe we can camp outside next year (just like Wimbledon)...bank manager allowing...of course!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Sorry for the interruption...normal transmission will be resumed shortly...


Feeling bad about the blogging hiatus. Have plenty to tell you all about but one child has had to have a minor (planned) operation. Nothing too bad and all went well. I'm not a great fan of hospitals so paralysis of the typing fingers took hold. Normal transmission will be resumed shortly....In the meantime I would like to award (as I was kindly honoured by Sandi McBride) "Sharing the Love" to Tartetartan and Ladythinker and Rosiero who have had a bit of a hard time of it lately. They all write very well despite their respective ups and downs...they definitely fit the criterion of being a " Hadriana Treasure".

Sunday, 3 August 2008

It's Show Time Darling!


I don't know what it is about agricultural shows but we always fall out every single time we go to one. Today we decided to go to the "Gilsland Agricultural Show". My husband loves these shows but I am ambivalent about them. I usually like them once we are there but I have to work at it. (City girl that I am.) Muddy boots galore, ruddy cheeked farmers in their tan brogues, animals in abundance left, right and centre. Bouncy castles. Fairgrounds. Ice creams. Food tents. Arts and Crafts tents. Face painting. Ancient tractors, cars, steam engines: all shiny and on show.

We went to the Northumberland County Show at Corbridge (which is massive) last year. It rained and I can't remember why but we argued. We went to the Cumbria County Show at Carlisle this year and I sobbed outside the food tent. Today before we even went to the Gilsland Show my daughter had an all out tantrum. We all made up, we put on our coats, our wellies, our broadest smiles and went out.

We live five minutes from Gilsland. We go to Gilsland. No signs seen for the show so hubbie roared off in the direction of Low Row. We went up hill and down dale. We eventually met up with the Military Road going to Banks (see previous posts). We drove back in the direction of Gilsland. We turned off to the left half way along Military Road (hubbie had seen a sign for the farm mentioned in the paper as to where the show was being held)....we drove down hill and up dale. We turned down a lane so tiny that we made an eighty year old granny reverse back down for, oh say, at least three and a half minutes. We drove past her. We thanked her. It was a very pretty hamlet. We reached a beck. We reached a closed gate. We turned around. We drove back to where we had come from. We got back on the Military Road. Husband roared off again. We had left late. The Show was about to finish. Daughter groaned in the back seat. She felt sick. We slowed down. We admired the tourists, who had come from afar, climbing onto the Wall at Birdoswald. Ah ha! A sign was espied for the Show at Gilsland. Turn left at the bottom of the road it said. Left past Slack House Farm. We saw more signs, the letters daubed in red paint, for the Show at Gilsland. At last we had found it! Eureka! When we asked the man at the gate why there had not been more signs, at the centre of Gilsland (which anyone can drive through in sixty seconds), for the Show, he said they had run out of them. We parked the car. We looked at each other and started to giggle hysterically. Makes a nice change.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Desert Island Drive #6

(Click on photos to enlarge.)
A view of Hadrian's Wall with my back to Birdoswald.

This is the Military Road B6318 looking eastwards towards Birdoswald.

And the same road looking westwards towards Banks village.

This is looking towards Birdoswald farmhouse/Roman Fort.

Hadriana was the one taking the photos on a sublime, superb, marvellous, sunny day.

Desert Island Drive #5

(Click on photos to enlarge)
This is Leahill Turret 51A- part of Hadrian's Wall.

A detail from the sign at Leahill Turret.

This is Piper Syke Turret 49A further along from Leahill Turret.

Again these are timeless places, literally just off the Military Road. If you are driving fast enough you will whizz past and miss it completely. This is what I normally do. For once I stopped, got out and took some photos. They are fantastic spots in the sun but as always I try and think what it must have been like for those poor Roman soldiers in the wind, rain and snow. Can't have been much fun building the Wall either. Soldiers, rather than slaves, built it. Their names and letters home are coming to light via the tablets unearthed at nearby Vindolanda.

Piper Syke sign and detail at the Turret.

This photo shows the extent of the "military" attitude to guarding the Wall: Ditch (Scotland side), the Wall, the Military Way, North Mound, Vallum or Ditch, South Mound. The Romans certainly did not mess about! It is debated a lot why the Wall came to be here in the first place. Emperor Hadrian decided to build it to show the Northern limit of the Roman Empire (he built walls, in a variety of materials but not usually of stone, around the whole extent of the Roman Empire). There has been controversy as what the Wall actually "did". Personally I think it represented a lot of things: To show how Mighty the Romans were, to show the limit of the Empire (at least in Britain), to check the flow of goods North/South, to tax people as they went through it and to keep the warring tribes (further to the North) at bay.

Desert Island Drive #4

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Further up the road, once I have travelled through the splendid village of Banks, I find myself at Banks East Turret 52A - part of Hadrian's Wall. It has a little car parking area where people often stop just to take in the views (perhaps whilst eating a sandwich)...




This is view of Hadrian's Wall looking West towards Banks. (I think it gives the viewer a sense of how wide the Wall was.) As I drive through Banks I notice the house which intrigues me (I will not say which). It always reminds me of "The Secret Garden". There is also another house with a barn with an archway built into it. It is incredibly charming. Further up the hill, on the left hand side going eastwards towards Birdoswald, there is a farmhouse with a deep blue front door. Beside it are some stables. All the stable doors (there are plenty of them) are painted red. Seeing the contrast always makes me smile.

Desert Island Drive #3

(Click on photos to enlarge)
This is the entrance to Lanercost Priory.

Again another view of the front of the Priory.

This is taken from the churchyard. The tombstone, in the foreground of the shot, is made from red sandstone which is a distinctive feature of houses in this part of Cumbria. Whilst at the Priory I was informed that it is unfortunate that many of the tombstones were made from the sandstone as it wears away (in the rain!) more quickly than most...

The tranquility of the Priory is unbelievable. It still bestows a great sense of peace.

This is a wooden bench located just outside the village, past the cricket ground and the school, beside the road. It is festooned with carvings of dragonflies, flowers, birds, ladybirds, fish, butterflies, rabbits, snails and snakes. It is a gorgeous, practical object.