Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Beside the seaside - Sussex

Today we drove from Brighton to Eastbourne. Taking the A27, this is the quicker route and also gives you pleasant scenery, especially with regard to the South Downs. Brighton is like nowhere else in Britain and is a seaside resort 365 days a year. Eastbourne, on the other hand, was clearly readying itself for the summer season.

We took the coast road back to Brighton. This is not as dramatic and captivating as the coast roads of Devon and Cornwall, but every now and again there is something worth stopping to see.

Along the south east coastline we have had the pleasure, at some stage or other, of seeing the White Cliffs of Dover, Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters, all worth a visit on a bright sunny day.

White Cliffs of Dover

Beachy Head

Seven Sisters

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Petworth House - West Sussex

The Percy Family occupied the grounds at Petworth from around 1110. They built a fortified manor house in 1300, but their main residence was in Alnwick in the North of England. As Mary Queen of Scots began her plotting against the Queen, Elizabeth I deemed the Percys too close to Mary and confined the whole family to Petworth.

In 1688, Charles Seymour, Duke of Somerset, had Petworth rebuilt. There were other additions a little later and Capability Brown played his part in designing the deer park. The servants quarters are larger than some stately homes we have seen, and Petworth began to take shape.

There are 700 acres of parkland and the largest Fallow Deer herd in Britain. One walk around the grounds takes two hours and covers five miles. The house and park were gifted to the nation in 1947 and are now administered by the National Trust.

The house today is largely a gigantic art display. There is so much on show that it is worth waiting for one of the guides so that you get the full story. The whole of downstairs (some 12 rooms) is open to view and there are a couple of other rooms that only get seen by those being guided, but are seemingly well worth tagging along.

Henry VIII

GU28 9LR

Monday, 22 May 2017

My week - Sunday 14th - Saturday 20th May 2017

Sunday 14th May 2017

This was a lovely day. Daisy and Harper have got over the truly manic stage that they used to enter, especially when opening the toy cupboard. We don’t see them all anywhere near often enough, but I always feel any family occasion is quality time.

Sheri and I helped Pauline prepare the Sunday roast, where we could. This mostly involved a beef joint slow roasted in half a bottle of Malbec, plus copious amounts of roast veg and some greens.

Robert brought Rita round to spend the day with us. The meal was well received. The Woking crowd left us just after 4pm to try to beat the M25 and all get ready for another week.

I took Rita home about 6.30pm, then it was a long soak in the bath and bed by 10pm, fired up to take the new week on head on.
Monday 15th May 2017

I went to bed last night vowing that this week would be different. I’ve been trying to get back to normal but a hard morning means a nap in the afternoon. I was going to get over that, try harder, do more. Go to Lions, especially go to the SNA on Tuesday. Do the garden and the decorating.

Then I woke up this morning. Pauline looked dreadful. She didn’t have a cold. This was a COLD. When the Wiltshire Farm Food came, Pauline took half of it round to Rita. Whilst she was out I vacuumed upstairs and down.

When she got back I sent her to bed immediately. Then I felt it hitting me, just not quite so hard. Pauline slept all afternoon and I did very little. Between us we used a forest of tissues.

We can only hope the Woking Branch doesn’t come down with the same affliction, because it isn’t pleasant.
Tuesday 16th May 2017

A dreadful night for both of us. It’s horrible having a hangover when you haven’t had a drink. Pauline had a very bad night, so I left her to sleep.

Pauline slept all morning. In the afternoon we just sat and watched Anne with an E. In the evening we went to bed early.

We didn’t want to afflict anyone else with this cold. It’s the worst either of us have ever had.

Wednesday 17th May 2017

There was a marginal improvement in both of us, but it served us well that this is the first week of the change with the Talking Newspapers.

I spent the morning downloading news for Scotland and Wales, plus all the magazines, but there were no returns to process.

I took everything to the studio at 7pm and Peter O’Brien was there with Harry Goss, so I happily left them to it.
Thursday 18th May 2017

Lovely early sunshine, but quite a chill to the unprepared. Both of us were marginally improved, Pauline more so than me.

I went down to the Sorting Office and received only 4 sacks of returns, and neither was very full. I was expecting at least six. This meant we had a real problem. Not enough returns to send out a full mailing, So we only did Lichfield.

After lunch we went to the studio and were joined by Pater and Ben. Together we had the whole process completed in less than an hour and a half. This has to be the way we do it in future.

Pauline was on flower arranging duty. We went and checked the church, then bought flowers, I got the Mercury. I was at the studio for 6.30pm and everything went very well.

The morning had been one of brilliant sunshine and I was warm as I cleaned the garden pool. The afternoon was driving rains and large hailstones. It continued raining all evening and night.
Friday 19th May 2017

There was no rush. It was raining, so no chance of mowing the lawns before we left. I took just two sacks to the Sorting Office. I managed to see the manager and told him I thought there might be a problem at Wolverhampton. We were just ready to go at 10.45am when a Post Van arrived in a hurry with three more sacks.

Pauline took the first part of the journey, down to Wycombe. I did stress that she always draws rhe short straw. She had the rain and I had the sunshine.

We stayed with Helen and Dave for half an hour and then drove over to Woking. Robert was working from home, so we spent another half hour with him and Sheri, dropping off our old TV.

We got to Hove at 4pm. Everyone was home, so we settled in quickly and then enjoyed a pleasant meal and a lazy night.
Saturday 20th May 2017

There was some rain to start but then the skies cleared, it warmed up and we went into Brighton. This is the period of the Brighton Festival so we spent more than an hour just roaming down the famous North Laines.

There was such an eclectic mix of humanity. The only life form we didn’t see was an Eskimo. There was every race, colour and creed. One guy with so many studs in his face that if he snapped his mouth shout hard he’d never open it again. One couple so colourful, particularly the many hued hair styles, that the effect was only spoilt by them being the oldest hippies in town.

We had lunch at Pizza Express and the service and food was excellent. A little bit costly by Midlands standards, but no complaints her.

Another gentle night and an early retirement.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Laines - Brighton

We ha d never visited the Laines in Brighton at Festival time. Neither had we properly seen the North Laines. We now know what we have missed.

The North Laines are a little wider than those closer to the sea front, which is useful because of the number of people trying to funnel their way through. Think of the exodus from a major sporting event and you get an idea of the size of the throngs.

The atmosphere was electric and the crowd was eclectic. There was every race, colour and creed (except an Eskimo - though I didn't see every nook and cranny. The weather was kind, the streets rang with the bells of Morris Dancers, street entertainers collared every spare space, an

There are no chain stores in the Laines. the time passed far too quickly. There is every other kind of shop that you can imagine, including Pysychic, if you want your palm read (the sign announced that it isn't rocket séance). Between every shop there is a street café and finding a seat would have been a challenge, otherwise we might just have sat and watched the world go by.

All those people and only the sense was that everyone was there to make the best of what was a very pleasant day. A lovely experience.

The Laines


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Arlington Court - Devon

A Georgian style house was built on the site in 1790. This was eventually bought by Colonel John Palmer Chichester, who had it demolished and commissioned the building of a neoclassical replacement. Work on this commenced in 1820. Colonel Chichester died in 1823, just as the building was completed.

Over the next 100 years there were further additions to the building and it expanded considerably. Eventually ownership passed to Rosalie Chichester, who remained unmarried. Having no one to leave her home to, Rosalie gifted the house to the National Trust in 1947, two years before she died.

Today the house displays antique furniture, and the National Trust also runs the National Carriage Museum on the site, with more than 50 horse drawn carriages on display.

EX31 4LP

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Acton Court - Gloucestershire

The Poyntz family owned what is now known as Acton Court from 1364 to 1680. They lived in a moated manor house until 1535. King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn had been invited and it was decided to build a new East Wing in honour of their guests. Ironically, this Tudor style addition is all that remains today, and it very nearly didn't.

Once the family moved out the house began to fall into disrepair. The original building was razed and the bricks used elsewhere. The Eastern Wing was just left to deteriorate, until it reached a very dilapidated condition.

Then along came English Heritage with a determination to see the house saved. Add in extra help from the Historic Houses Association and the building was revived. The are hints inside of how grand it all must once have been, and the gardens are worth a visit and are interesting. They include wild flower meadows, a kitchen garden and displays of wild roses.

Acton Court will open to the public from 5 July to 13 August 2017, closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Guided tours can be arranged, plus there are several historically-based events throughout the year.

The challenge

BS37 9TL

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Castletown - Isle of Man

Some years ago Honda took a group of motoring journalists to the Isle of Man to test drive a new model. One of the delights of that trip was that Honda had arranged for us to drive a considerable part of the famous Isle of Man TT course.

We were only on the island for two days, but did get a chance to see some of the sights and learn something of the local history.

We didn't stay at Castletown but it is close to the airport and so it was not a problem to divert in and take in the picture. The town is dominated by Castle Rushen which overlooks the harbour on one side and the market place on another.

The earliest record of Castletown comes from the Domesday Book in 1090. In around 1265 a Norse king decided to build a castle and somehow it has survived. Castle Rushen is one of those castles that were easier to attack than to defend. Robert the Bruce made a habit of taking the castle every time he visited the island, which was three times.

Mostly the village thrived on the fishing industry and fishing boats can be seen leaving the harbour to this day.

the harbour

market place