Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cirencester - Corinium - Amphitheatre

We visited Cirencester on our way back from holiday last year and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. I had never realised that it was the second biggest city after London in Roman times. We had a trip over to the amphitheatre (as you can see above). Some more photos of Cirencester and that structure are to be found here. They are well worth a look. A 360 degree view of the amphitheatre is here.

We loved the city - in fact everywhere! Beautiful place and the history of Cirencester is fascinating. We only had time to look round the Roman bit of Corinium Museum - we were glued to it. We must go again!

I'm dashing and not doing justice to the place. There is masses to see there and the mosaics are out of this world. Will write about it again.....

@carolemadge , my Twitter friend, who has stayed with us at the B&B, has been very wonderful and allowed me to link to her Corinium photos here and here . I'm indebted to her as I am having great difficulty uploading photos at the moment...and hers are much better. What a wonderful lass!

In the meantime: enjoy!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Hoarfrost Hike

Walking down our road in Longbyre
The Ditch to the right of Thirwall Castle is the Back Ditch of Hadrian's Wall and to the Right - is the outline of the Ditch known as the Vallum. The Wall itself would have been somewhere in between
Walking on Broken Ice
Thirlwall Castle
Scooting along

There was a deep hoarfrost this morning. The children cheered up after feeling a bit 'peaky' so we got them out on their scooters and got us and the dog walked at the same time. We are very lucky to live in a really beautiful area. We walked along Cycle Route 72 which is just over the railway and runs past the Reiver (Raider) Castle called Thirlwall Castle. The Castle is built with stones from Hadrian's Wall. Thirlwall means 'throw/hurl' down. Did later generations hurl down Hadrian's Wall or did it happen in Roman times?

I love this whole area. I'd love to examine it bit by bit.  There are so many lumps and bumps, marshy, boggy regions. I'd get out the Ordnance Survey Map and the bible to Hadrian's Wall 'the Collingwood Bruce' to piece the jigsaw together. Where does the back ditch go? Where does the Vallum go? Where did the Wall go? Where were the milecastles? Can I/we see anything else? Who else has left his/her mark? What happened with the railways? The mining? I want to know more and more and more.....

More photos to come. Tomorrow I hope.

P.S.: I'm going to be busier today than I thought. Teaching Minimus Latin tomorrow. Fingers crossed I can post some more photos on Tuesday. Many thanks for your comments so far... Many thanks. Hadriana xx

Friday, 27 January 2012

The City of London - some idle thoughts

Following on from my last post - I was talking about this whole banking crisis thing again with a friend today. I began to wonder out loud..what if 'The City' decamped to say Paris, Frankfurt or maybe Switzerland? A lot of bankers threaten to move (if their salaries and bonuses are reduced) don't they? I might be wrong but the City of London wins out due to:

1. Possibly the UK's business tax regime.
2. Time zone (that's why it is situated where it is after all) - due to Greenwich Mean Time
3. Our linguistic skills (again predominance in English).
4. Our tolerance to cultures coming here to live.
5. London - world class for culture, sport etc.
6. Flight connections worldwide.
7. Interconnectedness across the financial sector i.e.: insurance/re-insurance/banking/dealing/broking/securities/custody/marine/fund managers/ hedge funds and so forth.
8. Sheer number of foreign banks which have a base here.
9. It's worth bearing in mind that it is the whole package which draws international companies and banks to London.
10. Experience of staff of banks and financial companies based in London and across the UK and world.
11. It just takes one bank to make the first step on bonuses and pay then they'll all do it. I cannot understand it. After all - they would be able to slash their wage bill massively. Surely that would help their profits and re-capitalise the banks and their balance sheets. It is a "no brainer". (To use a term that used to bounce around in meetings.) It'll gain massive backing from 'the people' en masse all around the whole world.
12. Banks becoming ethical and lending again to small/medium/big business will help kick start economies....and will allow them to regain credibility....
13. Availability of office space.
14. There are lots and lots of silly, little things which are keeping the banks here. Maybe it would be difficult for them to move....always worth a thought....

Or am I being naive? I'd like to believe not!!! :-) Be pleased to hear your thoughts! Many thanks and hope you are keeping well. Hadriana :-)

P.S.: Been having a further think and know that the Swedes resolved their banking crisis. Sounds as if we can apply their solution to us and the rest of the world. Take a look!:

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

New Year Rebooted & The Short Story Competition Regained

I start this off without any photo as I usually do. Computer running slowly so it proves to be a problem. Internet connection is wonky. IT people are called with wonderful help from @MrsShelk on Twitter.
Aha! It has worked. Not sure whom to credit here...so apologies to the person who took this photo....it might be Sandra Myers again.

Anyway I need to reboot my New Year's Resolution of blogging and tweeting every day. I am also well behind on my Minimus Mouse tweets @Minimus_Latin so a huge guilt complex sets in. I'm not going to whinge...hopefully everything will be fixed shortly. Might be a bit kinder to myself once it is all running perfectly again and try to resolve to blog/tweet every few days or just when it is humanly and technically possible.

What I really wanted to talk about was..........The Daily Telegraph Short Story Competition. You can join the club and learn some writing tips or you can write your short story (max. 2000 words) and send it in to the Telegraph by the end of each month to storycomp@telegraph.co.uk

I am hugely pleased to say that I have discovered another fantastic author through reading about this...James Joyce and a story from 'The Dubliners'. Here's an example of one of his stories here . It looks as if the Telegraph can't reproduce online his story which totally and utterly entranced me. I had bought one of his books before many years ago called 'Finnegan's Wake' but it defeated me...may have another go at it...

As usual I've not got much time to write but two of my favourite short story writers are F Scott Fitzgerald and Saki. Each sublime in their way.

I'm sure you've got a short story inside of you. Go on! Give it a whirl? What have you got to lose? Good luck!!!!

Let me know how you get on if you do go in for it - alternatively just let me know who your favourite short story writers are...I always like to learn more.....

Toodlepip. Hadriana.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Stargazing Event on Hadrian's Wall

Sadly the event is cancelled due to cloud cover:Wednesday 18th of January 2012: Cawfields, time: 7pm - 9pm. Rescheduled to 11th March same time. Witness some of the darkest skies in the country by joining us (this is all organised by Northumberland National Park) at the Cawfields site, near Haltwhistle for an evening of Stargazing in the Northumberland National Park. For directions go to the following Northumberland National Park PDF. Cawfields is marked A on the map.

Links:  http://www.newcastleastronomical.org.uk/

P.S.: It is weather variable...so check first before venturing out. Check the links for info & phone numbers. The Milecastle Inn opposite Cawfields has organised some food for £2 a go on the night itself.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Beachy Bude

We spent our Summer Holidays over in the West Country last year. Here's some of us on the beach at Bude...you can see that the weather was baking! Nevertheless we had a great time and caught up with some very good friends who live just up the road. More West Country Visits to follow...

Friday, 13 January 2012

96 and counting

There's my grandfather (above) - 96 years old today! Happy Birthday! He's sat beside Hilda who worked for him and about whom I've blogged here. Hilda was a lovely person and so is my granda.

I'm lucky enough to speak to him every day/week as he lives with my parents. He's still doing his crosswords, watching Countdown and enjoying his sport on TV.

I must recount some of his memories some time. His recall is fantastic. Just today he was telling me how he got demobbed in York when he was 30 (he'd fought out in Burma in World War II). Didn't fancy the standard issue demob suits so got a smart blazer and trousers instead! He served with the Border Regiment and kept being called back to Barrow-in Furness Army Base but managed not to sit around in the army ranks (once the war was finished) as he had his fish and chip shop to run. This was during the time when lots of soldiers were waiting to be demobbed i.e.: allowed to leave the army officially. Apparently you got 'demobbed' according to when you were drafted into the army. FIFO = First In First Out. He was in unit 26 or 27 or so he said. Must check which.

I've always got on with him. He's a meticulous man and very practical as well as being very intelligent. Started work at 14 as a butcher's boy. Self employment runs in the maternal side of my family so he got his own fish and chip shop (following in the family tradition) as soon as he could. Made plenty of money that way. There must have been hundreds in South Shields alone. It was the only type of fast food available in those times. I remember going to his fish and chip shop on Saturday lunchtimes with my other grandma. I remember Hilda working there too.

I love listening to his stories. He always tells me of the size of the cod that was landed at South Shields' quayside just after the war - enormous - because the fish had been left to grow and grow for years and years.

At one point his family had a general store...stories of being a boy and licking the home made ice cream from the wooden vats on the counter...

What it was like to fight in the war...in the jungle...there's a not very nice story which I won't repeat here. A war time accident. Weapons being acidentally used/fired on our soldiers on our side. 'Friendly fire' as it's called now. He's matter of fact about it all: "When it's your time to go. It's your time to go."

I'm/we're hoping it's not his time to go for a good few years yet. Not sure the Queen sends a telegram now but, with luck, he should receive Her Majesty's equivalent.

Good on you Bob! Here's to you, let's hear more of your stories over the coming years! gratulationes! - Congratulations on making it to 96 years' young!

Much love and hugs from your granddaughter and the whole family xx xx xx xx

P.S.: Before I forget - he also told us yesterday that if my mother hadn't been born in January too..he would have been called up to fight at Dunkirk...and maybe all our lives would have changed!
He also also told us that he had paid a deposit for a house elsewhere in South Shields and was not told that the army paid a soldier's mortgage when he was away fighting. He lost the deposit (£100) on the house and the family moved in somewhere else. That DID change their lives and therein lies a whole other story...to be continued....

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Ghostly January at Featherstone Castle

This photo is of Featherstone Castle which is not far from here again taken by the very talented Sandra Myers.

Some more wonderful photos of the castle can be seen here. Lots of the castles created and built around here came about in the Reiver period. It's a shame that touristically we do not shout a bit more about the Reivers. There is lots and lots to say about that period...

People argue that the period of the Reivers started when the Romans "left" i.e. from AD410 onwards and continued until the 1700s when the Union of the Crowns brought back the rule of law in these parts. So that's a heck of a long time. It was our "Wild West time" when anarchy, mayhem, thieving and murder ruled.

We get "bereaved" and "blackmail" from that time and many more words.

Castles and/or Bastles (from 'bastille' - French - fortified place/prison) were built (often) from stone taken from Hadrian's Wall. Lots of the castles (built by/to defend various local Reiving families and clans) are all over the countryside and due to the troubled background give rise to various ghost stories.

I've taken this information from http://www.medieval-castle.com/haunted_castles_england/featherstone_castle.htm :

"One well-known ghost story which is attributed to this fine old Castle concerns Abigail Featherstonehaugh who lived in the late 17th century. The story goes that she was in love with a boy from the local Ridley family but that she was due to marry the son of a neighbouring Baron in a sort of arranged marriage which was probably at the behest of her father Baron Featherstonehaugh. Apparently as was the tradition, the wedding party, all with the exception of Baron Featherstonehaugh who would oversee the banqueting arrangements, left for a hunt following the wedding. Legend has it that as the bridal party was riding through the estate there was an ambush possibly set by the spurned lover from the Ridley family. Although the new bridegroom fought gallantly, all the wedding party were killed in the affray.

As midnight passed, the Baron, sitting alone, heard the sound of horses hooves arriving outside the castle and it is said that the door opened following which the ghosts of Abigail and the rest of the wedding party entered making no sound and passing straight through solid objects.

It is said that the ghostly wedding party is seen again each year on the 17th of January on the anniversary of the tragedy."

It's well worth reading the whole page from that website. The castle is still in use to this day and is set in some splendid grounds.

'Featherstonehaugh' is pronounced as 'Fanshaw' (!!)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Halloween at Alnwick Castle Gardens

OK. OK. I know these are not very seasonal - but Nigel got some good photos (as above).
BTW - I've also added "Warm Wellies" to my sidebar. The 'ads' I put on my blog are not sponsored...these are local products tried and tested by my family. All are very enjoyable. We love them to bits. Be nice if 'Warm Wellies' created by some lovely people over at a farm North of Brampton (not far from Hadrian's Wall) did them for grown ups too! I think I will start nagging (in the nicest possible way)!
New Year's Resolution - to post something, anything to my blog each day...even if it is just a photo with a caption. It won't necessarily be restricted to Roman stuff. There is plenty in these parts beside the Roamin' Romans....watch this space! :-)