Discovering Marlborough doors

The sign says Deans Chaunterie

A while ago I came across a blog link party featuring posts about doors from all over the world. At first I thought it was a rather nerdish subject but then I became intrigued and decided to see if I could write a suitable post. The trouble was the more I looked the more difficult it became to find suitable doors. Even if the rest of the building had award winning architecture the doors seemed to be standard issue.

Last weekend however my husband and I went on a mystery coach tour. At first I was slightly disappointed to find we were heading east towards London but then we crossed into Wiltshire. The landscape of Wiltshire is very ancient. Our morning coffee stop was in Avebury home to a mysterious stone circle and  we also  drove past Silbury hill  a long barrow thought to date back to 3,700 B.C.

Marlborough

We then had a short sightseeing break in the small town of Marlborough and as I walked round I realised I would have the material for a doors post. Marlborough was mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1089. It is a small town of alleyways half timbered houses  and coaching inns with a church on either end of the high street. It  found fame as the site of a civil war battle of 1642 and then returned to being a  stop on the main road between London and Bristol. A place to change your horses and eat a meal.  Nowadays travellers often stop here on the way to Stonehenge which is only twenty miles away.

Many of the houses obviously date back to Tudor times or earlier but have been adapted to suit the needs of the modern inhabitants. I did not feel I was walking through an English heritage theme park. The houses looked lived in rather than picture postcard perfect.

The doors

A wall decoration with glasses and beard.
My husband spotted this man with his glasses and beard.

These cottages still retain a lot of their original charm but   real people who watch television live here.
I thought this narrow yellow house  looked like an illustration from a story book and if  you are wondering what sort of person might live here…  We spotted this plaque on the corner house.

A blue plaque commemorating William GoldingWilliam Golding wrote “Lord of the flies” a book about anarchic school children. He grew up in Marlborough where his father was a local school master.

20190216_111254-1-1
I thought the name Wren cottage suited this house.

I found the sign Dean’s chauntrie (above) further down this terrace. I had to consult a medieval online dictionary but I discovered a chauntrie was a home for chaunter clerks, priests who were hired to chant prayers for rich people who were too lazy or busy to do so themselves.

An old wooden door with a box Flat 113
This door was hidden beside a High Street shop.

This door was at the side  of one of the High Street shops. The thickness of the wood and the style of the iron work betray its age.

I only spent about half an hour in Marlborough but I very much enjoyed looking at the architecture.

We had a surprise when we found our hotel for the night was the police federation headquarters in Leatherhead but that is another anecdote.

This post has been added to a Thursday doors link party.

Bath a brief history

I was happy to find out that Bath would be the venue for our February walk in the past history walk.  I  grew up  between Bristol and Bath and my father went to school in the city so I have watched  Bath change over the years.  Jane Austen would probably recognise the centre  but there is also a side to the city the tourists miss.   It has a large student population.  Bath university is particularly well known for sport and many  athletes train there.

We met for our walk at the back of Bath bus station.  If you plan to visit Bath I suggest arriving by bus or train as parking is very difficult. There are several park and ride schemes nearby and the main bus station and train station are close to the city attractions.

Bath is the only English city to be given UNESCO  world heritage status. For the locals this is a mixed blessing. I remember when I was at University one of my history lecturers asked me if it was like living in a museum. In summer it can be difficult to move through the city because of the number of tourists but they also bring  us much prosperity.

This walk was a brief introduction to the history of Bath which we hope to explore in more detail later.  I have provided a potted version here.

The Romans

There is a Celtic legend that the hot springs at Bath were discovered by a swineherd named Bladud who found that the hot mud cured a skin disease his pigs had been suffering from. He later became a tribal leader and established a shrine in Bath to the goddess Sulla. Although there is no evidence for his existence there are a lot of iron age settlements around Bath. Bath itself is supposed to be built in the crater of an extinct volcano.

Bath guidebooks usually date the history  back to the Romans who were drawn to the hot spa water and built a magnificent Bath Complex. to enjoy it. Much of this survives or has been restored though unfortunately you can not swim there any longer. You can taste the water but be warned it tastes vile.

Another reason why we met behind the bus station is that it is close to the route of the Roman Fosseway a road between Exeter and Lincoln. Here the Romans built a bridge to cross the river Avon. As well as enjoying hot baths the Romans were attracted to the area to mine lead from the nearby Mendip hills.

The Medieval Period

After the Romans left Bath seems to have declined in importance.  However the magnificent Bath abbey was built during the medieval period. The   medieval legacy is preserved in the names of the roads, Eastgate, Southgate, Westgate and Northgate though the walls and gates have disappeared.

The Georgians

Bath markets itself as a Georgian city.  In the 18th century, Bath stone was quarried from the nearby hills to build the famous crescents.  The aristocracy would descend on Bath to take the waters or play cards.  This was vividly described by Jane Austen, perhaps Bath’s most famous resident who does not seem to have enjoyed her stay much. If you visit the assembly rooms and nearby fashion museum you can take afternoon tea and children can dress up.  You can  imagine yourself in a scene from one of her books or visit the Jane Austen centre.

A couple wearing 18th century clothing.
A couple dressed in costume for the Jane Austen festival.

During this period William Herschel who had been an organist in Bath discovered the planet Uranus. You can visit his house and see the telescopes he made.

The Royal crescent Bath is built of yellow Bath stone.
The famous Royal crescent.

Visit Bath

Pulteney Bridge was built by Sir William Pulteney close to the site of the old Roman bridge to enable development on the other side of the river.

The Modern city

Bath was linked to Reading by the Kennett and Avon canal and later Isambard Kingdom Brunel built his famous Great Western Railway between Bristol and London with a station in Bath.

Bath was badly bombed during the second world war.  It was not considered a target but the Germans carried out what became known as the Baedeker raids. They targeted cities given a high rating in the Baedeker guide books in retaliation for British bombing raids on Germany. However it has been largely rebuilt using Bath stone.

Bath has built a new spa complex where visitors can swim in the hot mineral waters just as the Romans did.

Visitors swimming in the rooftop Bath.
The new rooftop Bath at the Thermae complex. Bath abbey is in the background.

Photos for this blog post were used with permission from VisitBath

This post is linked to grammy’s grid and grandma’s briefs, both sites for blogging grandmothers who are happy to welcome new members.

If you enjoyed this post you might like two national trust houses to visit near Bath.

Monitoring the Royal Mail

When I retired I looked for some interesting part time work I could do from home. I thought a job would help me fill my time and finance my hobbies.  I found rather to my surprise several companies were happy to employ the more mature candidates.  Here is one of the ways I earn a few treats.

I have been part of the Royal Mail monitoring panel for almost two years. This is operated by Kantar TNS Research International and has been running for twenty-five years.  In exchange for posting and receiving letters and parcels I receive postage stamps and love to shop vouchers. I also get some packaging material which can be recycled. Other treats include  a diary for Christmas and a packet of chocolate  eggs for Easter. I have been lucky enough to win a £10.00  love to shop voucher in the daily draw twice.  Kantar also hide a golden smart in a parcel each month which is worth £100.00 but I have never been lucky enough to find it.

What do I have to do?

A collection of stamps showing Hermione, Harry and Ron with the Ford Anglia and the Night bus.
I received a set of Harry Potter stamps when I went live in January

All over Britain participants   send each other letters and packages.  Each one contains an electronic chip called a smart which records the progress of the item through the Royal Mail postal system.  When I am live I receive a package each week with my posting instructions. This includes various sizes of envelopes and a schedule of when to prepare and  where to send the letters. Details of letters sent and received have to be entered every day on a fairly user friendly website. About once a week I also have to go to the local post office to post a parcel.

Although it can have its downside generally I find it good to have an incentive to go for a walk or visit the local shopping centre.  Normally I spend about six months live and am then rested for six months.  During this time I can participate in other postal surveys. I did feel a bit guilty when our postman struggled through the snow with a couple of letters that I knew only contained a piece of paper and a smart recently.

If you are in the U.K. and live near a post box and can get to a post office and would like to join click here to find out more 

Kantar provide full training and I had a few weeks sending pieces of cardboard to and from their office while I  showed I was happy with what I had to do.

Have you found any unusual part time jobs? Please share in the comments below.

Cruising the Dutch Waterways and a visit to the Keukenhof bulb gardens.

Two chocolate Easter bunnies were on top of the cheeses

 

My garden is beginning to show signs of Spring.  I have purple crocuses, white snowdrops and yellow winter jasmine adding  touches of colour.  But  I am reminded of the old song “when it is Spring again, I’ll bring again tulips from Amsterdam”.  Before I met my husband I went on a barge holiday along the Dutch canals and I think Bill must be bored of my tales of visiting an Edam cheese farm, a Delft tile factory and several quirky museums. I also remembered the strange smells from the many small workshops along the canals.

The canal going through the town
Canals are very much a part of Dutch cities

Three years ago at about this time of year I was indulging in one of my favourite winter activities. I was looking through travel brochures and I spotted an advertisement for a cruise on the Dutch waterways including the canals, part of the river Rhine and even across the Zuidersee.  When I read that the boat would be my namesake “the Lady Anne” and that the trip included coach travel from Bristol, I was sold. Luckily my husband was easily persuaded to join me.

The Trip

We caught the coach to Arnham sailing on the cross channel ferry between Dover and Calais. My heart always lifts when I say goodbye to the white cliffs of Dover. We boarded the Lady Anne, an old canal barge  in Arnham and found our very small cabin.  There was time to view the very sobering Arnham world war museum and hear the story of the disastrous “market garden” expedition where so many young lives were lost.

We were all  disappointed to learn that we would not be able to cross the Zuiderzee as promised due to high winds. The Zuiderzee is a large lake which was left when the Dutch drained  part of the Iselmeer to make more farm land.  The captain decided instead  to sail to Enkuheizen  and moor by the Zuiderzee museum 

The open air museum contains a large number of old Dutch houses which have been rebuilt and furnished to show a vanished way of life and is very popular with children.  We were also taken on a coach trip to see one of the new towns that was built on the reclaimed land. There is a saying “God made the world but the Dutch made Holland”. It was very difficult to imagine that the land we were walking on was under the sea fifty years ago. Enkuheizen itself had been a fishing village and there were a lot of remains of the sea fishing industry.

We also had coach trips to Delft and the Het Loo royal palace. The Het Loo royal palace was the home of the Dutch Royal family until it was given to the state on the death of Queen Wilhelmena

A peacock is showing off his feathers #Het Loo palace
A peacock displaying in the stables of the Het Loo palace

 

Luckily the Lady Anne was able to travel through the canals and down the Rhine to Amsterdam.  It was very pleasant to sit on deck and watch the Dutch people go about their business. We noticed how neat and clean everywhere looked. There were also a lot of ducks and other water birds. We had a chance to explore some of the Amsterdam canals before we returned by coach to Bristol

Amsterdam deserves its own blog post but we had come to see the Spring flowers.

The Keukenhof Gardens

Smelling the tulips
Smelling the tulips

The highlight of our trip was undoubtedly a visit to the Keukenhof Gardens.

The Keukenhof gardens which are opened between March and May claim to be the best Spring garden in Europe. They were established seventy years ago as a showcase for Dutch bulb growers. For 2019 it is estimated that  seven million bulbs have been planted in over 79 acres. The Netherlands are the world’s largest exporter of Spring bulbs and over one hundred growers plan their displays in Autumn. The grounds are immaculately landscaped in a variety of styles and there is even a windmill you can climb to get a panoramic view of the whole park. Growers   also display their latest wares in a series of large pavilions and you can of course buy bulbs to take home.  We were able to spend a long time ambling through the park admiring the bulbs and also enjoyed a good lunch in one of the restaurants.

The countryside around also looks very colourful with a patch work of tulip fields where flowers are grown for market.

 

 

A bed of yellow daffodils beside the lake.
Daffodil beds along the lake
I found this you tube video of
The Keukenhof gardens by Drone

 

Bob Woodward, founder of Clicsargent

The charity logo is young lives against cancer

A photo of the staff of the Clic shop with Mr. Woodward.
I was able to take a photo a few weeks ago when Bob visited our clicsargent shop to buy his Christmas cards. Bob Woodward is second from the right.

I suppose most people in England have heard of clicsargent  a charity that supports children and young people with cancer. But I wonder how many people know the story of the remarkable man behind its foundation.

Robert Woodward was born in 1934 close to where I live in Bristol  and was a former pupil of the  junior school, Dr Bells  which my older children attended.  He left school at 14 and became a builder.  He  must have shown an early flair for business as he was able to set up a very successful property  development company with his brother.

However his life changed  when his son also called Robert was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 1974 at the age of eight.  At that time the outlook was bleak.  Most children who got cancer died. Robert was treated at Frenchay hospital near Bristol and Bob and  his wife Judy spent a lot of time talking with other parents at the hospital.  They lived close by but they realised that  other parents were sleeping on the hospital floor to be near their children. They also learnt at first hand the practical, financial and emotional problems parents faced coping with a child with cancer. Sadly Robert died at the age of 11.

The origins of Clicsargent

Despite their own difficulties they decided to help. Bob used his own money to buy and furnish a house the parents of the sick children could use.  Clic cottage was built as a home from home in the grounds of the hospital.  He also founded a charity to raise funds to help with the costs of caring for children with cancer:  Clic which is short for cancer and leukaemia in childhood.

From its small beginnings in  Frenchay it has grown to be one of the largest children’s cancer charities in the country. As well as ten clic cottages where parents can stay while their children are being treated for cancer, it also funds specialist nurses and gives financial grants to families in difficulties. It now also supports teenagers and young people with cancer.

In case you are wondering the Sargent part of the name comes from a merger with a similar charity founded by the conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent.

The charity still continues its mission to be there for the 12 children in the UK who are diagnosed with cancer each day.  Thankfully nowadays the outlook is much brighter eight out of ten children and young people diagnosed with cancer survive. Find out more here Clicsargent

The Woodward family suffered further tragedy when a younger son who had Downs syndrome died at the age of 4. This led Bob to become CEO of a second charity the starfish trust, which funds care and support for children suffering from  other life limiting illnesses and disabilities.  The starfish trust has been pivotal in providing six specialist hydrotherapy pools, a meningitis research laboratory  and a technology centre for disabled students.

Bob received an OBE from the Queen in 2014 and even had a Great Western railway engine named after him. In 2012 he was chosen to carry the Olympic torch through Frenchay.

Sadly Bob lost his own fight against cancer last week but I was able to take his photo when he visited our shop just before Christmas to buy his Christmas cards.

This shows three volunteers in the store room. I am in the middle
Volunteering in the Fishponds shop

The clic Fishponds shop

I have been volunteering a couple of mornings a week for about 10 years in our local CLIC shop. Bob decided to set up shops to raise funds and our shop in Fishponds was number one. We are naturally proud of this.  The charity has raised over one hundred million to support children and young people with cancer  and our shop has raised over a million pounds in the thirty years it has been open.

It is always good to hear from people who have been helped by the charity. One of our former volunteers is  a young woman who has survived childhood leukaemia. She was given a computer by the charity. This enabled her to continue her school work at home and eventually obtain a place at university.  A couple of years ago our shop was badly damaged in an arson attack and Melissa was chosen to cut the tape to reopen the shop.

Melissa who had cancer as a child cutting the ribbon to reopen the Fishponds clic shop
Melissa reopening the Clic shop in Fishponds in 2017