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Archive for May, 2010

 On my ‘wish list’ was the desire to travel; and so I have, to villages and towns around the UK.   Not quite what I had in mind when I sent the message to the ‘Universe’, but there you go. 🙂

The latest on my travels is what at first glance appears to be a rather non-descript little village named ‘Cottenham’.

Cottenham, Cambridgeshire

On arriving in Cottenham you could be forgiven for thinking that it looked rather dull, albeit lined with some pretty little houses and some fine examples of Georgian and Gothic architecture, there was nothing much else to excite the senses. It reminded me a bit of that song by John Denver; Saturday Night in Toledo. Some of the lyrics go: “they roll back the sidewalks at night”.

...they roll back the sidewalks at night

Ah! But wait, we have yet to discover what lies beneath!

Cottenham it seems has in fact existed since prehistoric times, and scattered discoveries of Mesolthic and Neolithic tools have been made. Now we are talking! 

On a bend in the ‘High Street’, kind of halfway between here and there,

small part of the original settlement of Cottenham

on an area named the ‘pond’ of which there is currently no sign, are the markings of a very early ‘Roman’ settlement; now mostly built over with houses and buildings – the historic society has in fact been able to mark out the early boundaries of a formal settlement, long since disappeared into dust. 

What the area looks like now:

what was the original Saxon settlement site, now built over

part of the medieval Crowlands Manor, now built up

 Origin of the name Cottanham, appears to be Saxon, arising from the early English ‘Cotan’ for dwelling and ‘Ham’ for settlement. Most of the older houses along the High Street were at one time farmhouses.

The High Street, so named, is the longest in the country, measuring 1 & ¼ miles from the Green to the Church. The ‘Green’, a triangle of grass at one end of the village, is edged with lovely plane trees, planted in 1885 by Robert Ivatt, and was once the grazing ground for cattle, now an oasis of repose for the villagers, of which there are currently just over 5,000.

the Green at Cottenham, where they used to graze cows

Amongst the present inhabitants, many of whom are descendants of people who have lived here for centuries, are records of the Pepys family in the village since 1273 and the present Earl of Cottenham is a descendent of Samuel Pepys (the diarist) and recorder of the 1666 Fire of London.

Pepys house (Samuel Pepys; diarist used to live here)

Two thirds of Cottenham itself, was destroyed by fire in 1676 (mmm, seems perhaps we should take a closer look at Mr Pepys then!) The lady I was caring for has herself lived in the same house since the day she was born 84 years ago, and inherited the house from her parents.

Across from the Green and on the fork of two roads is the War Memorial – unveiled in 1921 in honour of fifty nine local men killed in the 1st World War.

memorial to fallen villagers WW1

On closer exploration are many fine houses, some of which are centuries old:

Queenholme built 16th century

The Wesleyan Chapel built 1864

The Gothic House built in the 1730s, was a red brick house, bought by the Ivatt family in 1770 and greatly altered around 1860 when the decorative chimneys were built.

Gothic House

front facade of the Gothic House

wisteria draped over the side of the Gothic House

detail above the front door

White Cottage – home to ancestors of Calvin Coolidge – American President 1923-29

White House (aptly named as it turns out)

As I explored the area on Sunday, I was drawn by the sound of bells pealing out their call to prayer! The ‘Parish Church of All Saints’; has evidence of a church on this site from the mid-10th century.

All Saints Church

The existing church was built in the 15th century, with a 100 ft tall church tower – and a sundial built into the side with the inscription – ‘time is short’.

'Time is short' inscription on the sundial

Across the road is the Old Rectory – dating back to the 16th century. In 1644 the Rectory was given to Oliver Cromwell’s sister; Robina. (I guess no-one would have argued with that).

At that point the road leaves the village proper and now becomes Twentypence Road – which derives it’s name from a parcel of thirty acres of land on the Cottenham side of the River Ouse, as described in Richard Atkins survey of the Fens in 1604.

Twentypence Road

At one time there were four pumps in the village, and with all but one subsequently removed, the remaining pump – erected in 1864, was moved to the Green in 1985 along with the horse-trough.

water pump and horse trough

Cottenham was a treasure trove of old houses, ancient history and houses with stories behind their walls.

Although the main road through the village was quite busy during the day the villagers seemed to prefer a lighter form of transport

the villagers preferred mode of transport!

On the sidewalk was a sight common in these villages; a sign board with description of goods for sale. In this instance ‘Pink Peony plants’, unattended, left on a stand or in a box or wheelbarrow, and as is common the instructions for payment are: “please put money through the letterbox”.

'Pink peony plants' - leave money in the letterbox

One day I discovered a book that detailed the history of the village and had a fine old time digging a bit deeper.

85 High Street; house of Fred Stone – watch and clockmaker and music teacher

house of Fred Stone - watch and clock maker

next door was the old Jolly Millers public house – burnt down in 1898 (now rebuilt)

Jolly Millers pub

Pond Villa’s built in 1902, and the last houses in the village to be built from Cotteham brick

Pond Villas

Pond Villas

120 High Street – Pond Farm; A group of fifty dissenting families, which called itself ‘The Church Congregation Society of the Protestant Dissenters of the Denomination of Independence’, worshipped in the barn behind this 17th century Farmhouse. Pond Farm was also the site for meetings of the Ranters, or Primitive Methodists.

Pond Farm

The village was a delight in it’s various architechtural styles.

Ivy House

Before leaving I took a stroll over to the old Saxon area to see the moat

Cotttenham moat

Cottenham moat - a scheduled ancient monument

The area has been listed by English Heritage as a scheduled ancient monument. The moat contains a small breeding population of great crested newt, which is strictly protected under European legislation.

And that was my excursion to Cottenham, a quaint English village in Cambridgeshire, not too far from Cambridge and a treasure trove of ancient and new.

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This is a message I received from my Dad via email this morning. 

I would love to share it with you, coz it is inspiring to read about how people can live their dreams, even at the tender age of 80!!!  Yes, that’s right, my Dad turned 80 this last April.  Now nothing remarkable in that considering that we as a race are starting to live longer and longer, but what is remarkable is that my Dad had a triple by-pass operation about 17 years ago and the prognosis at the time was not good.  However, his Doctor told him to start running.  The idea did not appeal so he decided to cycle instead.

A long story short, he survived…. and has gone on to become a cycling nut.    He has cycled in many different in the world and has cycled the world famous Argus Cycle route about 13 times already.    He has followed the Tour-de-France, and cheekily in 2005 nipped in at the front on the final day and caused an uproar as people thought he was one of the competitors (he got hustled off pretty damn quick by the Gendarmes once they realised he wasn’t) 🙂 (30.05.10 and….apparently I have to make a correction here…my brother gave me the correct version…my Dad rode in BEHIND the cyclists and the Gendarmes just waved) Ah well, I though my version was much more exciting!!  🙂 Shame about that, I have dined out on that story for ages, now it will have to go!

He has cycled the Camino del Santiago through France to Spain and is now back, cycling through Europe. Here is where he is today.

 “Hi ! Just a brief note to keep in touch. All well.
Cycling up river along the Danube. This from a town Grien in Lower Austria.

Grien, Austria

So far mostly cloudy and rain. Not fun in a tent with a heavy downpour in the middle of the night !  Seems to be clearing today.

Spent a couple of days with K&T camping in a small town on the Danube.
They have had to head home for ‘work’, I’m cycling up-river to Linz (if you know where that is !! ) which will be a 58 km trip today. Stay over there one or two nights and then head back down river to Budapest.

Donauradweg (cycle route along the Danube)

Beautiful countryside. ‘Donauradweg’ i.e. Danube ride path is fab for cycling.  Along the river and mostly away from road traffic.   Just thru some small villages that the cycle path comes to an end.”

Linz, Austria on the Danube river

My Dad (p.s. that’s not his cycling helmet), I have no idea what he is wearing on his head and take no responsibility for that! 🙂

my Dad

thanks to http://www.letstravelradio.com/thisweek/2008/12-25/ for the photo of Linz 🙂

thanks to http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g190426-d1604170-Reviews-Schloegener_Schlinge-Upper_Austria.html for the photo of the Donauradweg 🙂

thanks to http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grein,_austria.jpg for the photo of Griend

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I recently received this via an email from a friend; it is delightful:

Recently, in a large city in France , a poster featuring a young, thin and
tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said, “This summer, do you
want to be a mermaid or a whale?”

A middle-aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of
the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the
gym.

To Whom It May Concern,
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious
humans.) They have an active sex life, get pregnant and have adorable baby
whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with
shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like
Patagonia , the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia . Whales are
wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures
and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected
and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don’t exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the
offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human?

They don’t have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not
to mention how could they have sex? Just look at them … where is IT?
Therefore, they don’t have kids either. Not to mention, who wants to get
close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me: I want to be a whale.

P..S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only
skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my
kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate
with my friends. With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much
information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it
distributes out to the rest of our bodies.So we aren’t heavy, we are
enormously cultured, educated and happy.
Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, ¨Good
grief, look how smart I am!¨

thanks to shutterstock.com for the picture 🙂

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 The last few weeks in the run up the elections and subsequent to the conclusion, has been a most interesting time, even though twitter would not allow me to say so!!

I have so enjoyed watching the political machine in operation and this time around it was quite different to the last, with much more emphasis on ‘honesty’, ‘change’ and blah blah blah…real American style political spin, and hugely entertaining.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Party Leaders’ televised debates and found the body language of the participants to be quite revealing; esp the photo on the inside page of a daily paper showing Mr Brown and Mr Clegg mirroring each others lecturn pose, whilst at the other lecturn Mr Cameron stood aloof, looking upwards and away from his opponents. I thought for sure this indicated a possible pairing if indeed we had a ‘hung’ parliament, which as it turns out we don’t, but do!

I was unable to vote this time around and fortunately too, as I would most likley have voted Liberal-Democrat since Mr Clegg came across as a safe-harbour in a storm of accusation and counter-accusation between the two major parties……as it turns out, I am glad now that I was not able to vote!

As you well know, we now have a coalition government, with the Cons and the Libs cosying up side-by-side, new bedfellows, with the Labs left out in the cold.

Mr Brown proved to be a reluctant loser, dug in his heels and tried to woo the losers into bed with himself and his party! Looking at it from the outside, I could have told him to forget it….the fresh young lads appealed far more to our ‘celebrity’ society that prefers prettiness to age. And so it was inevitable that we would say ‘Goodbye Mr Brown’.

Watching Mr Brown’s diginified, albeit by some accounts calculated resignation, I was for the first – mmm, no make that the 2nd time quite taken with himself; having not been a fan before.  The other time being the interview  Jeremy Paxman just before the voting.  His obvious emotion at giving up what had been the cherry on the top of a long political career after such a short time must have been a devastatingly personal blow. Much like studying for years to be a Doctor and failing your exams, or a marathon runner after years of practise and hard-effort losing the gold for bronze. Especially harsh in the knowledge too that millions of people in the country were eager to throw him out!

What particularly struck me while watching his address outside Number 10 Downing Street was the sorrow and stress evident on the face of his lovely wife; Sarah. I have long admired this particular lady, followed her on twitter and watched as she took what in my mind was centre stage, eclipsing her husband in style and grace, much as Michelle Obama did her husband.

My thoughts were…”why did we not vote for her to become Prime Minister?” Absurd perhaps, I am sure some readers would say, but how strong and fortitious must she be to have stood by her man through such an evidently difficult time and yet always managed to look graceful, charming and delightful with that wonderful smile that hides sorrowful memories and the knowledge that so many of her fellow countrymen despised her husband.

I for one am sad at the loss not of our ‘most powerful’ leader, but rather that no longer will we be charmed by the lovely Sarah on a regular basis. I do hope though that she continues to tweet, perhaps no longer as @sarahbrown10 but rather as @sarahbrown

So whilst the world looked on as Mr Brown tendered his resignation and stepped down to attend to his 1st most important job of Husband and Father, let us cheer for the lovely Mother and Wife as we say ‘Goodbye to Mrs Brown’, and let us be reminded that behind every successful man, stands an incredible woman.

I for one wish her well and hope that she stays in touch (so to speak).

photos courtesy of zimbio.com & topnews.in

p.s. I just noticed on the news section of yahoo whilst looking for photos, that Sarah will indeed continue to tweet, now as @Sarah BrownUK……..hooray! 🙂

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OK, so you’ve opened the curtains and the sight does not appeal….it’s raining!!! Again?  No, not really. We have actually been blessed with some of the most amazing days of late, sunny and warm and just gorgeous.

a sunny day in London

However, today it is raining and so what to do?

a rainy day in London

Besides visiting the British Museum you could jusy stay in bed!

Buy the Sunday Papers and a few croissants from the corner deli – be sure to send someone else 🙂

sunday papers - tnx to http://www.brittanymolsen.com

Then snuggle down under the duvet, with a large pot of tea,

pot of tea - tnx to http://www.realbeauty.com

the papers and hot buttered croissant with strawberry jam! 

croissant - tnx to http://www.tentazioni.co.uk

Do this till you get sick of tea, read all the interesting articles and need the loo.

Then you could order in a large pizza and select your favourite movie on TV and again snuggle down for the rest of the day, or again till you need to pee 🙂 

Then pour yourself a glass of sherry (make sure the arm is past the correct hour :)), 

glass of sherry - tnx to http://www.johnjenkinsdirect.co.uk

grab some snacks and back to bed with a good book, do this till it’s legitimately time for bed and then you can just snuggle back down under the duvet and quite happily sleep till morning.

sleep till morning - tnx to http://www.rd.com

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Explore the British Museum:  Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
 

The British Museum was founded in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. From the beginning it granted free admission to all ‘studious and curious persons’. Visitor numbers have grown from around 5,000 a year in the eighteenth century to nearly 6 million today.

The Museum is free to all visitors and is open daily 10.00–17.30

the British Museum forecourt (on a sunny day) 🙂

The origins of the British Museum lie in the will of the physician, naturalist and collector, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753).

Over his lifetime, Sloane collected more than 71,000 objects which he wanted to be preserved intact after his death. So he bequeathed the whole collection to King George II for the nation in return for a payment of £20,000 to his heirs.

What’s on:

Kingdom if Ife – Sculptures from West Africa – till 6th June 2010

Fra Angelico to Leonarda – Italian Renaissance drawings – till July 25th 2010

Impressions of Africa – money, medals and stamps – till 6th February 2011 – free

Treasures from Medieval York – England’s other capital – till 27 June 2010 – free

The British Museum’s collection of seven million objects representing the rich history of human cultures mirrors the city of London’s global variety. In no other museum can the visitor see so clearly the history of what it is to be human.

Amongst the exhibitions you can see:

The Rosetta Stone –  A valuable key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs, the inscription on the Rosetta Stone is a decree passed by a council of priests. It is one of a series that affirm the royal cult of the 13-year-old Ptolemy V on the first anniversary of his coronation.  Soldiers in Napoleon’s army discovered the Rosetta Stone in 1799 while digging the foundations of an addition to a fort near the town of el-Rashid (Rosetta). On Napoleon’s defeat, the stone became the property of the British under the terms of the Treaty of Alexandria (1801) along with other antiquities that the French had found.  The Rosetta Stone has been exhibited in the British Museum since 1802.

as well as cultural displays of:

The Akkadian Dynasty; Assyrians & Aztecs; Babylonian & Bronze Age; Celts, Vikings & Tudor England; Edo period Japan, Meiji era Japan; old and new Kingdoms of Egypt; Zhou Dynasty China; Medieval Europe, Victorian Britain and Greek, Roma and Nasca cultures, amongst dozens more.

Explore world cultures: Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Oceana, The Americas.

Be sure to visit the History of the World  in 100 objects exhibition

You could quite literally spend the whole day there and not be bored.  It is just fabulous and a must see for very visitor to London!

Getting there: nearest tubes stations with a short walk: Tottenham Court Road (Central & Northern Lines), Holborn (Piccadilly & Central Line) & Russell Square (Piccadilly Line) is the closest and takes you through a lovely garden square.

If you fancy a bite to eat after enjoying the displays, there is an onsite restaurant and on the way to Russell Square station is Hotel Russell where you can enjoy an traditional English Tea in very spendid and posh surroundings, reminiscent of old Colonial England.

Hotel Russell - London near Russel Square

Thanks to The British Museum for links, info and photos and Hotel Russel Square for photo.

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