London, photography, food and shopping…

Chinatown, London

We caught the train to Charing Cross and walked towards The Photographers’ Gallery, just off Oxford Street. Yes, this was a ‘photography exhibition’ day out. Arrived to find a queue outside and duly joined the end of it. A group of people strolled up and walked straight into the building. Voicing my concern about why we were queuing, my daughter, Chris retorted, ‘Because we are British’ and walked into the gallery. The queue dissipated and we went to the first floor and started enjoying an exhibition about cross dressing. Yes, you read that correctly. Initially, the plan was missing it, but we were enticed by the historical element of the photography. Absolutely fascinating.

Me, looking at the photography at The Photograpers’ Gallery…

Cross-dressing

The exhibition is taken from the archives belonging to the collector Sebastian Lifshitz from the period 1880 – 1980s in Europe and the USA. The apparel and behaviour noted was traditionally observed in members of the opposite sex and often an expression of freedom and transgression. Both men and women wanted to deviate and explore different identities to rebel against mainstream society.

The Anti-Feminist Backlash

My curiosity derived from of the period of the forbidden pictures. Not only that, most of the interest was the cross dressing of women. The emancipation of women compelled them to dress as men in order to propel themselves into a male environment and temporary liberation.

According to the exhibition, Alexandre Dumus first coined the word in 1872 to describe the emerging women’s rights movement.

Feminism

What is particularly remarkable, is the reference to feminism. According to the exhibition, Alexandre Dumus first coined the word in 1872 to describe the emerging women’s rights movement. Women were accused of endangering the social order. Some professions became available to women but most were forbidden until the 20th century.

During the 19th century, women started to wear comfortable clothes at college. This was to embrace the new educational opportunities. They were even photographed in suits and smoking cigars whilst socialising. The photography is mesmerising because it is so unexpected. Europe had yet to see this new liberating cross dressing behaviour and it must have challenged the strict code of conduct of the period. Every generation thinks it breaks new behavioural ground, but of course, most of it has already happened.

Also, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 exhibited ground-breaking photography exploring visibility. Loved the black and white elements of contemporary photography and really worth a look.

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 exhibited ground-breaking photography…

Lunch

After this excitement, we walked towards the Getty Images Gallery (just off Oxford Street) which had a cafe nearby suitable for lunch. I had located it online, Ethos Restaurant, and thought it would be somewhere different and, as it is a vegetarian place, an unusual option.

Ethos, the interior which is amazing…

Cannot tell you how impressed I was with this place. The decor is innovative and the food beautifully arranged and delicious. You help yourself, then go to the counter where they weigh the food and you pay by weight. All very clever and efficient. We were very impressed.

Veggie food – buffet style…

Next stop, was a look around the Getty Images Gallery. This was unexpectedly small but captivating. Again, the focus is on women, but in a more creative, modern way. The exhibition is called ‘The Female Gaze’ and a response to current events. It encapsulates women and is focused on recent sexual harassment scandals, marches and campaigns.

Getty Images Gallery…

The exhibition is called ‘The Female Gaze’ and a response to current events.

After this, we wandered around Oxford Street and enjoyed looking at the new fashions. I bought a couple of vibrant, cotton shirts for myself and during this time we went back to Ethos for cake, drink and a break.

Cake break!

Later wandered around the Oxford Street area, stopped for a glass of vino, as is necessary on these trips and then made our way to the french restaurant which was booked for 5.15pm because nothing else was available. Now I have frequented the restaurant, I can see why.

The restaurant is called Brasserie Zedel and is superb.

The restaurant is called Brasserie Zedel and is superb. What luck we had, that day, with the eateries. This place has a large dining area and when we arrived it was not particularly busy. By the time we left, it was packed which is always a good sign. We had Beef Bourguignon, which was divine and lemon meringue for sweet, also splendid. The food and ambiance is beautiful and I shall certainly return.

We had Beef Bourguignon, which was divine..

During the day we took copious photos because it was such an brilliant day. Our travels took us all over the West End, including Piccadilly, Oxford Street and around the Charing Cross area. Can recommend this day trip to anyone who loves London and photography, as I do.

Piccadilly area…

Finished the day with a bottle of wine and a hilarious, merry natter at a pub called The Chandos, near our station. What a fabulous day it was. Nothing like a day out to cheer yourself up. We chatted and laughed about everything and cannot wait for our next day out.

Walking towards the pub and Charing Cross Railway Station, London…

Visiting the Cotswolds, cake, cold weather and pubs…

Witney

 

We decided to go ahead with our visit to the Cotswolds despite the beast from the east heading our way. The weather was sunny and looked like a glorious spring day but bitterly cold. As it wasn’t grey and pouring with rain and not snowing until the following week that would be OK.

We stopped at a pretty town called Witney on the way to the Cotswolds area and enjoyed a wander around the town. Popped into a coffee shop for some quick refreshment and were duly sent upstairs because they were so busy. Amazing how coffee shops are always busy and you have to fight to find a space to sit. Anyway, we found a table and sat and admired the view of the old radio, church and common. In fact, it was so pretty, I decided to take some photos much to the fascination of the other customers.

Burford

 

Next stop was Burford, which is basically a town on a hill with far reaching views of the countryside. This place is the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’ and a popular medieval wool town. Lots of stone walled buildings which are said to retain the original medieval street plan and some houses bear traces of the Middle Ages. The road runs east-west, originally past the 16th century market hall called the Tolsey which is now a local history museum. We strolled down the hill observing the views and when we came to the bottom of the hill there was a pretty stream and a house with dogs watching us through the window.

Burford

 

We stayed in a wonderful B & B guest house in Cheltenham that night, which was simply stunning. A beautiful, immaculate French colonial style villa built in 1855, called The Battledown. It is conveniently located on the east side of Cheltenham and about a mile from the main town. When we arrived, we were given a warm welcome and offered a cup of tea. So I admired the décor of the immaculate dining room and enjoyed a cuppa with homemade cookies. The owner gave us a map and information about Cheltenham and the Cotswolds and even told us about the local pub, the Sandford Park Ale House. Wonderful service and attention to detail. We were then shown our room (where our bags had already been delivered) and left to unpack.

We then walked into Cheltenham to explore the town. Was expecting something more grand to be honest, but we did enjoy a small libation in the Sandford Park Ale House, which was rather splendid and had a superb selection of ales and craft beers. I enjoyed a small Mad Goose Pale Ale, which was rather delicious.

Sandford Park Ale House

 

After a superb full English breakfast the following morning, with homemade baked beans, marmalade and banana bread we set off to explore the Cotswolds.

First stop, was a quick look at the Pittville Pump Room, which is basically a wedding venue but interesting to view nonetheless. Majestic columns, ornate interior, impressive domed ceiling and set in extensive lawns. Pleasant enough to have a quick nose around and also had a quick look inside, but scurried off when we heard the echoing footsteps.

Pittville Pump Room

 

On the way to our first stop Winchcombe, we paused to admire the countryside of Cleeve Hill. This is an area of outstanding beauty and it shows. Also known as the Cleeve Cloud, it is the highest point of the Cotswolds hill range at 1083 feet. The whole area commands some of the most breathtaking sights. Well worth taking some time to admire the local countryside and probably, like the rest of the Cotswolds, a great place for some exacting walks.

Cleeve Hill area

 

Winchcombe was our first stop and very quiet. I feared everything would be shut, but as we sauntered through the town, many places were open and the town soon came alive. Winchcombe is a pretty ancient Anglo Saxon village with the nearby Sudeley Castle. Apparently, Winchcombe means ‘valley with a bend’ and the town still has the street which does a curve along the ‘combe’. The area was known for tobacco growing which was banned in 1619 due to the interest of industry in America and the colonies.

Winchcombe

 

Next stop was Broadway and Chipping Campden. Broadway is a little different because of the broad road area. However, it is just as picturesque with an interesting heritage and was an ancient ‘ridgeway’ and the main road from Worcester to London. The high street is lined with horse chestnut trees and has a fascinating mix of period houses with the honey coloured stone cottages that are so prevalent and world famous in the Cotswolds. We enjoyed seeing some early spring flowers and blossom too. Don’t be fooled by the sunshine, it was very cold, but little did we know how cold it was going to become!

Broadway

 

Broadway

 

Onwards to Chipping Campden, where we enjoyed a memorable chocolate cake. I say cake, it was like a thick biscuit with chunks of chocolate and it was amazingly delicious. The sedate ambience was lovely and the residents are said to be fiercely protective of the woollen boom. The place is delightful and well preserved with a magnificent 15 century church and market hall built in 1627 as a centrepiece for the town.

Chipping Campden

 

Later during the afternoon, we had a brief stop at Moreton in Marsh. My husband used to visit there as a child because his parents travelled to the town to visit friends. It is a pleasant town and historically known for its coaching station before the Oxford to Worcester railway in 1853. There is an array of pubs, inns, hotels, tea shops and an elegant eighteenth-century feel to the place.

Moreton in Marsh

 

Finally, we went on to Bourton on the Water where we had booked a B & B for the night. We stayed in a great B & B guest house, the Broadlands Guest House, and welcomed by a friendly owner. The breakfast was again, splendid with very generous portions. Great value for money too.

Bourton on the Water

 

The tranquil river is fed by springs and meanders through the village which epitomises a rural England. Quaint shops, the Old Mill and the arched stone bridges are so relaxing and attractive. The earliest bridge is said to have been built 1654 (known as Broad Bridge) and that is what is so charming about the Cotswolds; it is old and has preserved its beauty.

Bourton on the Water

 

If you go to the Cotswolds, do not miss this place as it is, in my opinion, the jewel in the crown. One thing though, make sure you frequent the pub just outside of the village centre called The Mousetrap Inn. It is the pub to relax and eat in. You will enjoy a well stocked bar offering ales, lagers and ciders and has been included in the CAMRA ‘Good Beer Guide’ over several years. We enjoyed a scrumptious roast lamb and chocolate brownie. The place was busy even on a fiercely cold Monday evening so is probably heaving with people, in the summer.

Mousetrap pub

 

So for a last full day we visited Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter. The cold weather was really taking the Micky out of the glorious sunshine now, as temperatures plummeted to –2c. Most of my photography shows warm, sunny spring days, but in reality, it was so cold on this day, we could barely stay out of the car for too long!

Lower Slaughter

 

Lower Slaughter is tiny and very picturesque, although there is not a lot there the countryside and mill views are joyful and I felt this is where my photography really captured the Cotswolds. The Old Mill which was last used commercially in 1958, and the shop full of curious and unusual gifts. This place was voted Most Romantic Street in Britain (2011) and this title is probably well deserved. I wonder how many men have proposed marriage here? The name comes from the Old English name of a wetland ‘slough’ or ‘slothre’ which is Old English for muddy place.

Lower Slaugher

The ‘Most Romantic Road’ at Lower Slaughter

 

Upper Slaughter is another super place for photography and wandering aimlessly. The village is known as a Double Thankful Village because all of their members of the armed forces survived both World War I and World War II.

Upper Slaughter

 

Onwards, to Yanworth where I enjoyed some landscape photography while hubby waited patiently in the car. Can’t tell you how cold the weather was. Oh, I already have haha! Not been so cold for years and years and even wore tights under trousers! Haven’t done that since I was a young girl.

Yanworth

 

On the way home, we stopped at Cirencester which was so cold (minus 2c) and with the wind factor felt like minus 10c. We had a quick look around and enjoyed a teacake and cuppa and set off home knowing we were facing several inches of snow in Kent. We got home OK, although they shut the A21 due to a serious accident so we did a risky cross country tour and arrived home to a freezing house because the heating had inadvertently turned off.

Cirencester

 

To sum up, I can highly recommend the Cotswolds area and thoroughly recommend you take the above route through the beautiful stone villages and enjoy visiting…

Witney

Burford

Cheltenham

Cleeve Hill

Winchcombe

Broadway

Chipping Campden

Moreton in Marsh

Bourton on the Water

Lower Slaughter

Upper Slaughter

Yanworth

Cirencester

 

Hopefully, it will be sunny but not quite as cold. Thank you for reading this rather long epistle on the Cotswolds. A truly wonderful, outstanding area of natural beauty.

On the way home, we visited Chipping Norton and saw this amazing building which fascinated us so much we stopped the car and went for a walk towards it so I could take some photos. I’ve since discovered it is called Bliss Tweed Mill, which manufactured tweed and became a listed building around 1980 (Grade II). The Mill was built in 1872 for cloth manufacturer William Bliss and designed by George Woodhouse of Bolton. The chimney stack is styled as a tall Tuscan column and supported by cast iron columns. The mill prospered in the First World War after a large order for khaki cloth for the British Army, was received. The mill closed in 1980 and was converted to residential apartments during the end of the ‘80s.

Bliss Tweed Mill

 

 

Links and sources:

http://www.thebattledown.co.uk/home/4583623248

http://www.broadlandsguesthouse.com/

http://www.spalehouse.co.uk/

http://www.cotswolds.info/places/winchcombe.shtml

https://www.broadway-cotswolds.co.uk/

http://www.themousetrapinn.co.uk/

http://www.cotswolds.info/places/upper-slaughter.shtml

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

Films, Gravesend, Community Pub and Snow!

So after the flu nonsense, things are slowly getting back to normal. Because of this, I thought I’d do a chatty blog post about my recent favourites.

  • Films

I went to see the Darkest Hour with my friend which, as I’m sure you know, is a British war film directed by Joe Wright, written by Anthony McCarten and stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Yes, I liked it and found the drama, atmosphere and historical ambience, extremely authentic. Obviously, some of the plot is fictional but lets face it, we all got the drift! Excellent film and well worth seeing. Films/dramas are good for reminding people, particularly the very young, of what went on in the past.

The other film I saw was The Post, an American political thriller, directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. This film stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Both Streep and Hanks performed well and you couldn’t help thinking about the film’s allusions to Nixon and Trump. The plot relates to leaked papers about the Vietnam war, being surreptitiously leaked to The New York Times and after a court injunction ending up being published by The Washington Post during the early 70s. The Post is owned by heiress Katharine Graham, who is often overruled by overbearing male colleagues. That is until she decides to publish the papers and sticks to her brave decision despite frenetic opposition. This is another good film which, enamored from a feminist viewpoint and reminded me how times have changed in the workplace. Most bosses, in this film, were portrayed as male and well over 40. The youngsters were used as message carriers, etc. However, dare I say, I sat thinking older people have enormous value in the workplace because of wisdom, knowledge and experience. Not always sure if giving an inexperienced youngster a senior position (as nowadays) unless a brilliant incumbent, is a good idea. The film shows how feminism has changed times over the last 40 years, but I must confess, found the age issue as above, more prevalent and captivating.

  • Gravesend, Photography and a Community Owned Pub!

A few weeks ago, we decided to drive towards north Kent. Having suffered flu, I was desperate to go out for the day. We drove to Dartford, and found it a bit run down and uninteresting so drove to Gravesend which was quite curious, in a strange sort of way.

We wandered about the ancient town and found a vintage market and some independent shops. We stopped for a cup of tea in a vintage cafe and then strolled towards the Gravesend Town Pier. This is the world’s oldest surviving cast iron pier, built in 1834 and refurbished in 2004 as a restaurant.

The view, which included the Gravesend – Tilbury Ferry, was splendidly gritty with the grey, glowing sky and wind turbines. Out came the Nikon camera.

The views were dull and spectacular at the same time. Grey clouds, distant industry, moving turbines and a red vessel. Many minutes were spent fiddling with the white balance and appropriate camera settings to get the gritty photo. It was exciting because I knew I could capture something different from the usual landscape photography.

The LV21 lightship is moored here and a spectacular sight. It was built in 1963 and a unique 40m steel-hulled lightship which saw most service, off the Kent coast. She has now undergone a transformation into a floating cultural facility designed to host artists of various disciplines.

  • The Community Pub!

Eventually we left Gravesend and drove towards Stockbury to visit a community owned pub, the Harrow. During 2016, a public meeting attracted 150 folks to dig deep into their pockets and raise £300,000 to save the pub. Well, what an amazing place. A beautiful bar area, friendly staff serving a wonderful selection of ales, craft beer, gin, whisky and wine. Oh, and the food looked good as well. The landlady was trying to eat a roast dinner whilst serving the thirsty community. Up and down like a yo-yo, poor women. She kept smiling and seemed to enjoy her role. Wonderful place, just wish I had a jolly, well kept local like this one, near me.

  • We’ve finally had some snow!

A few days ago we had a couple of inches of snow so I grabbed my Nikon, and went off traipsing over fields to shoot the snow filled landscape, which is something I hadn’t done before because the UK snow doesn’t reach Kent very often. It was quite awkward trying to take photos and keep the camera dry. Somehow managed to take some shots whilst the snow was falling and even managed to crawl on the freezing grass for one photo. Great fun though, and I liked one or two of the results. It is true what the experts say, you have to take about 50 photos to find one you like.

  • Musings about Blogging

Recently, because of the time of year, found it tricky to find enough to write about, but as I’ve sat down this sunny, spring like afternoon, I’ve managed to find a few snippets to blog about. So the moral of the story is, if you’ve run out of content ideas, just sit down and write!

Thank you for reading my blog and don’t forget to follow.

Will this be the year of walking and photography?

Unfortunately, I’ve been poorly for much of January and only just getting back to normal. To be honest, it has made me feel low and lethargic. Hence, the lack of posts lately! However, one thing I have enjoyed is copious amounts of walking, as I’m recuperating.

This year seems to be the year for walking, as a form of exercise. The weather can be cold and grey, but it has also been sunny, cold with some beautiful sunsets. Walking is a great way to explore places and become fitter.

If you mix it up a bit, it becomes fun too. For example, you can go to local parks, countryside walks, town or city walks or go around a National Trust place.

Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge

 

London walks are enormous fun. You can discover squares, alleys, lanes, parks, heaths, gardens, palaces, rivers and so on. The variety of terrain is fantastic for the urban investigator and as well as historic areas you can view the visually spectacular as well. Certainly a different way of exercising and seeing the capital!

Another way of making walking even more interesting is to do them in conjunction with another hobby. I’ve recently participated in a photography course which although basic, provided a wonderful insight into the world of photography. So sometimes the camera 🎥 comes with me and I stop and take photos.

Yesterday, I went to Haysden Park and snapped away. The blue sky and sunshine was very uplifting and I was impressed with the improvements made to the paths and area. When we arrived, I was furious to see you had to pay to park which is ludicrous. Yes, I know it may go towards the upkeep, but can’t help feeling it’s a bit ‘brave new world’ when one day, we will only have a few green places left to go to, and will have to pay to enter and enjoy them. Sorry, 😐 got a little creative there, but paying to enter green spaces is the beginning of the end, isn’t it?

The park was busy, probably because of the glorious weather. The lake is beautiful and we loved seeing all the birds, particularly the graceful swans. Two swans had a noisy fight, literally a few feet away, which was captured with the Nikon (just).

The benefits of walking are tantamount to other exercise, especially if you do 10,000 steps per day. Rather a tall order to achieve daily, but a worthwhile challenge. If you are not used to exercise, it is the safest form of exercise, a way to lose weight and radically improve your health. 150 minutes per week of exercise, is the recommended amount we should all be doing and walking is something fairly easy to slot into life.

For me, I’ve been enjoying local parks, group countryside walks and solitary dog walks through local woodland and orchards. What I do fancy is some more city walks because it is great to explore new areas. Sometimes I just snap away on my phone rather than take a camera, but I’ve enjoyed wandering around the countryside and recommend to all. Take a good map so you don’t get lost and walk at a brisk pace. The speed you should be walking is 3 mph and be able to talk but not sing.

A great source of ideas is the internet because you can find some simple circular routes near where you live. To pass the time, I sometimes listen to a podcast or music, but this is rare, as I like to enjoy the surroundings in peace. All very tranquil and relaxing, particularly if you are having a stressful time.

My latest passion is putting a few of my photos on Instagram and a great way to learn from other professionals and decide what makes a good photo. Plus, it is somewhere to file your photos and receive opinions/comments from others.

 

Source: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

Musings about December…

After my rant about the festivities, I had a wonderful holiday and feel quite refreshed. However, now realise some motivation is required to move forward any projects, etc., planned for this year. Funny how you tell yourself ‘after December, I’ll do this, that and the other’ and now it’s here, finally, one needs to make some decisions about life! Trying not to panic haha.

After the family gathering on the 25th Dec, which was a hoot, we went to Sheffield Park Gardens on Boxing Day and had a saunter around the lakes, decorated Christmas gardens and woodland. We took a picnic lunch, because, and I must plan this better, we had so much food left over. Next year, I must remember to prepare less food. I really didn’t need to bake those lemon cakes, and quite so many mince pies. Do you do this?

When in the car for a coffee break, the heavens opened and it poured with rain, so as it was 1 o’clock, we had our lunch. It was delicious and I’ve decided to start taking picnics more often because it’s so much less hassle than queuing up with the crowds and over paying for something quite ordinary.

We ventured back around the gardens and I concentrated on taking some photos with my new camera, the Nikon D3300 which was great fun. The place is beautiful even in the winter. The trees expose their structural form and reflect over the lakes. Having recently done a photography course, I was rather chuffed with the results and hopefully will improve during 2018.

We explored the 250 acres of parkland which dates back to the 18th century and you find yourself pausing and admiring the view of copses of trees around the hills. It is a wonderful place to explore, reflect and admire the parkland, streams, meadows and woodland. If you haven’t been, I can highly recommend a visit. A relaxing and serene environment where you feel you can get away from it all.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

The next day, I took the borrowed dog, Oscar, for a long walk. It was quite windy and the sky was incredible with an amazing sunset. Really enjoy our walks and I’ve got to know many woodland and field walks in the area.

On Thursday, 28 December, we visited family and enjoyed a trip  to the pub for a couple of beers. I drank a very hoppy Dark Star, Hop Head. The Land of Liberty in Hertfordshire, is a CAMRA pub and always has an exceedingly splendid selection of beers.

On Friday, 29 December we went with my son and girlfriend to see the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. I cooked a beef casserole which was delicious and made a change from turkey. The film was brilliant and wonderfully produced. To be honest, I found it a little long, but I did enjoy it.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda

Mistakes are inevitable. They hurt. They’re hard. But we learn from them. Lift someone up after a misstep with this quote from Yoda.

On Saturday, we met my husband’s brothers for a few beers and a meal in London, Bakers Street. We met up in The Volunteer a pub near Regent’s Park. It seemed funny, because I used to drink there when I worked in the area many years ago. Someone then told me that people don’t drink during the lunchtime anymore. This I find hard to believe. Although, judging by the amount of suits in the pubs during the evening, I assume evening drinking is the new trend? Anyway, the food was good and I tried to have something healthy so opted for a Verdure and then Seabass for my main course. Very pleasant.

On Sunday, we were rather relieved to have ‘a day off’ which is a little ironic as it was New Year’s Eve. We stayed in and enjoyed some beer and watched the BBC drama ‘The Miniaturist’. It is about a new, young wife who is given a doll’s house for a wedding present. The exquisitely made contents, which she mysteriously receives, appear to reflect the Brandt family’s hidden secrets. The drama is majestic and creepy, but quite enticing. The photography of the Amsterdam canal house is extraordinarily clever. In fact, you feel like you are watching a Dutch masterpiece.

We were so pleased not to have to go out, we couldn’t even be bothered to go to our local. Rock and Roll. Strange how we go out all year round, but stay in the one night most people go out!

After all that, although I am against dry January, because it does harm to the pub industry, I do feel I need a break from alcohol and rich food so will focus on feeling better with some exercise and fresh air, etc. More on that in the next blog posts!

So another year over and onwards and upwards. Happy New Year everyone!

Andy xxx

 

Rochester Dickensian Festival, celebrations, musings and updates…

Remembering what Christmas is about…

Christmas, which annoyingly starts earlier and earlier in the UK, is not always about being happy, joyful and full of glitz for many people. It can be a time of childhood memories, sadness and grief. Everyone, has someone they have lost and miss and unfortunately, for me, it seems a time when I remember missing family. Probably, most people feel like this, don’t they? If someone is not embracing Christmas the reasons could be some of the above and not because they are horrible. Unfortunately, the irritating commercialism, which starts after summer, doesn’t help. It is a reflective time and I think we must all remember this and be aware that not everyone is happy and joyful at Christmas all of the time. Personally, I enjoy it when it finally arrives but hate all the stuff before December. Does any of the above resonate with you?

Dickensian Christmas Festival…

Once I spotted the ad for the ‘Dickensian Christmas Festival’ it went in the diary. I’ve been feeling fed up and eager to have a day out. It is a wonderful occasion when folks dress up as Dickensian characters and partake in various activities which starts off with the morning parade.

After the parade the characters wander about amongst the crowds and mingle. Some perform mini plays, magic, readings, dances, singing and photo opportunities. Also, there are various activities aimed at children, such a Punch and Judy. It is a wonderful and great way to immerse oneself in all of these English traditions.

The parade was an exciting affair, led by the Mayor of Medway  and starting in the High Street onwards into the Esplanade and continuing up Castle Hill before finishing on the Boley Hill Stage. A fantastic site which is a brilliant festive occasion for everyone from the surrounding communities.

We enjoyed some delicious mulled wine and a mince pie, then later on, for lunch, we succumbed to a juicy burger. It was great fun to spot all the Dickensian characters and the day flew by.

CAMRA Christmas Meal…

Last Sunday, we had our CAMRA Christmas meal which was a great success. This was partly because the wives turned up and I was able to have a good natter. My only complaint, was that I didn’t like any of the beers because they were all dark, so I had wine. The establishment didn’t have any craft beers either and this surprised me, because even my local has and I think they are missing a trick. Anyway, the food was excellent and delicious and this was followed by a jolly singsong of Christmas carols and a visit by Father Christmas. The Father Christmas was very authentic I must say! After this excitement, the village tree was lit with much fanfare. Another excellent day!

Updates

The presents have now been wrapped, cards delivered so now it is time to concentrate on food. I shall try and locate the Christmas pud which is in a cupboard somewhere and at least two years old! This is the last one of the batch of puddings, so I will have to do some more next year. For the actual day, I will make some mince pies, a chocolate squidgy roll and a cake or two. Busy times!

Yes, you’ve probably guessed it, the fitness thing is not going to plan at the moment. Having said that, it could be worse. I’ve stopped eating rubbish and not drinking too much. Also, I’ve really enjoyed some invigorating walks around the surrounding countryside with the borrowed dog, Oscar.

The gym has been used four or five times a week so I don’t feel too fat but can see the weight is not dropping off either. From January the 2nd it will be all systems go though. I promise.

Promoting the blog – Instagram

My latest social media effort has been with Instagram which is fun particularly as I’m interested in photography. Photos are being posted most days and I am beginning to receive some interest now. It seems better than Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest but I will keep you informed. So do follow me if you are on Instagram.

Enjoy the festivities everyone and thank you for reading my blog, liking and commenting which is much appreciated.

Andyxxx

Tobermory

A beautiful area. Lots to do so we wandered around the main street. Took some photos and then decided to do the whisky distillery tour. This tour that lasted about an hour with a glass of whisky at the end. Never realised you should add a few drops of water to whisky which helps the flavours to disperse onto your tongue. Not a whisky drinker but it was a lot nicer than the usual whisky. Guess I’ve been  drinking it wrong all these years.

After this we went on a lovely, if a little arduous cliff top walk which was, I was unreliably informed 5k, by the tourist office woman. Flipping heck! More like 10km. Challenging terrain in places but well worth doing. We did walk around a small loch too. The landscape is stunning, so well worth the effort. Never been so grateful for a pint and cheese and pickle sandwich at the end of the walk. Also, it was great to practice photography with my new camera. The camera (Nikon) worried me a bit at first because it is new and a little posher than my usual choice of camera. I’m getting used to taking the lens cap off now though, and fiddling with the lens before I deem it good enough to snap, I mean photograph.

Walking…

A fab day out and beginning to understand why people love to travel and explore the Scottish highlands.  Tomorrow we will be arriving in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.