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Archive for May, 2012

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

Big Ben and with minutes to go till 7pm the boats head out

Admiral of the Port Challenge Race 2012.  Just over a week ago I received and invitation from a friend of mine whom I met via Twitter to attend this historical race.  To say that I was thrilled would be an understatement…I love this history of the city and anything to do with events in the City gets me all excited…..needless to say I accepted.

Admiral of the Port Challenge Race 2012

Monday 14th May at 7.00pm

The course will be from

The Palace of Westminster

to

the Westminster Boating Base,

a distance of 1.33 statute miles

The event is open to all Watermen’s four oared cutters in full livery regalia with canopies

carrying the coxswain and two passengers.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

Trinity Tide heading out

“Our boat, which is the Trinity House Cutter “Trinity Tide”, will be the beautiful white cutter with the green canopy”.

(Trinity Tide is one of the few Thames Waterman Cutters that will end up taking part in the Round Canvey Island race later in the year.)
And so, Monday afternoon saw me set off, all dressed up for the Champagne reception that would follow the race, with butterflies in my tummy and delighted to be heading into London central.

When I arrived at just after 5.30pm I noticed a number of small water-craft tied up alongside Westminster Pier and headed on down to have a look around. It was really interesting to see the boats up close and there was an excited buzz of chatter and laughter as the rowers and passengers milled about either putting the bits and pieces together or just catching up.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

attaching/installing the flag….no doubt there is a technical term for this 🙂

It was really interesting watching the oarsman setting up the canopy and the seating area, the different flags, the oars and all the bits and bobs (which I am sure all have professional names 😉 ) and in no time at all it was ‘all aboard’ and off they went into the middle of the river to catch the fast flowing tide and a race to the finish line.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

the boats gathering and heading to the start: Westminster Bridge

I had met up with Joe and his wife Jan, and as a guest of theirs had been invited to the champagne reception after the race.  The plan was for us to see the competitors set off and then race up the stairs of Westminster Bridge, dash across the road and hail the first taxi that came along, then make a mad dash (or as fast as London traffic will allow) to the venue for the finish and the reception.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

one quick photo as I dash up the stairs

So as soon at the boats got to the bridge, we ran along the pier, along the Embankment, up the stairs, hesitated briefly at the traffic lights, ignored the red signal, checked for traffic…none…and ran across the road….dashed along the sidewalk and lo and behold there was a cab…almost as if it had been waiting. We hailed madly, checked that he could go our way, jumped in breathlessly laughing and urged yer man the cabbie to race to the finish line.  It all felt very 007’ish and my heart was racing with excitement (or exertion)!! 😉

We got to the pier (finish line) in good time to watch the boats arrive; very exciting to watch that!!!

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

there in the distance you can catch a glimpse of the boats. at this point I switched over to video, so no stills of the boats coming in…. (p.s. the boats in the foreground were not in the race)

Then for the champagne…hmmm yum.

admiral of the port boat challenge london, london traditions, boats races in london

champagne 🙂

I was very impressed with the food provided and a great evening was had by all.  But…..my curiosity was piqued! I wanted to know more about this race, so yesterday I sat down and did a bit of research and this is what I found:

“Admiral of the Port’s Challenge
This race was inaugurated by the Lord Mayor to mark his dual role of Admiral of the Port of London. It is contested by traditional Thames Waterman’s Cutters.
The Thames Waterman’s Cutter is 34 feet long with a beam of 4 feet, 6 inches. In keeping with the concept of traditional rowing, it has fixed seats for up to six rowers and room for a cox and passengers. It is also simply adapted to the role of Ceremonial Livery barge with extra seating for passengers under a stern canopy. In this form the Cutter closely resembles the decorated craft often seen in historical scenes of the Thames in earlier centuries.
This event is raced from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Boating Base, a distance of 1.33 statute miles. The rules require that the Cutters are rowed by four oars, must be rigged with their ceremonial canopies and flags, and must carry two passengers.
Such is the growth in popularity of Cutter racing (there are now more than 25 on the River) the race is often subject to a “staggered start”.   The Cutters are set off in waves so their crews are not only racing against those in their starting rank, but also against the clock, as the winners are the crew that record the fastest time over the course.” for more on that click here.
I also did some research on Trinity House and the reason for that is coz Joe and his team row the ‘Trinity Tide’ which belongs to Trinity House.
“Henry VIII and Pilotage
It is often stated that the origins of Trinity House date back to a charitable guild of sea Samaritans established by Archbishop Stephen Langton in the 12th Century. The first official record is the grant of a Royal Charter by Henry VIII in 1514 to a fraternity of mariners called the Guild of the Holy Trinity, .. “so that they might regulate the pilotage of ships in the King’s streams”. At the time of inception, this charitable Guild owned a great hall and almshouses, close to the Naval Dockyard at Deptford on the River Thames. In 1604 James I conferred on Trinity House rights concerning compulsory pilotage of shipping and the exclusive right to license pilots in the River Thames. Until our responsibility for District Pilotage was transferred to Port and Harbour Authorities under the 1987 Pilotage Act, we were Pilotage Authority for London and over 40 other Districts, including the major ports of Southampton and Harwich.
Today the Corporation is comprised of a fraternity of approximately 300 Brethren drawn from the Royal and Merchant Navies and leading figures in the shipping industry. Its Master since 1969 was the Duke of Edinburgh, the longest serving Master in Trinity House history. He was succeeded in 2011 by HRH The Princess Royal.” and for more about Trinity House, click here.
So there you have it, another exciting day in the life of a Londoner, and once again I am reminded of just how much there is to see and do in this marvellous city.

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Okay, so here’s the thing.  I like my hair long….I love the feel of it on my back when it gets midway down, I love to pin it up in a swirl or tie it up in a pony-tail.  But it gets heavy, and unwieldy, it gets in my eyes and messes up my photos on a windy day (you know what I mean?).   I seldom, if ever visit a hair salon, preferring instead when it gets too long to hang my head over the bath, bunch the hair together, grab a sharp scissors and hack off the inches….chip chop!  No cost, no hasstle, no worries…someone always tidies up the ends and makes it neat at the back.  I can’t see the back anyhow so no worries…

But today, the hairdresser came to do my lady’s hair…and while we were chatting, the three of us, she happened to mention that other carers have had their hair cut by this bloke and asked if I wanted mine cut too….and out of nowhere, without a 2nd thought…I said yes.

So we have gone from long

long

to short

short

and now that it’s done it feels fab.  I haven’t had my hair this short for well over 9 years…possibly more.  I do recall tho visiting a salon in Crouch End some years ago and the girl made such a mess of it, I said not again…especially as they charge a ruddy fortune to cut your hair in this city.

So now apparently I look 10 years younger and if thats the case then I am well happy….despite the grey…well I prefer to say ‘silver’ LOL.

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Just read a very interesting article about ‘Internet Marketing’ and this quote jumped out at me like a bombshell – “What we like to do here is OPM: Other People’s Money.”    I recall how the many ‘Guru’s’ whose courses I have attended used the same terminology as well as which I could list about 8 ‘guru’s’ who have managed to separate me from the balance on my credit cards, who all say much the same thing….eg they ‘suggest’ to you that you should make the most of OPM…eg your credit cards coz you will make the money back once you do their course, sign up for their programme….. blah blah blah. And so after reading this article I am once again reminded of how they use their fancy terminology to separate you and your money, in this case me and my money.

hmmm….very interesting. So I am posting this for all the folks out there who have not yet been scammed into joining up/signing up for/or in any other way getting hooked into what appears to be a great way to earn money…..and it certainly is….for the person who has just scammed you into paying for their programme.  I know there are many folks out there who have lost a fortune to these tricksters…..and one of them is me!!! and I didn’t even want to ‘get rich quick’, I just wanted a way to earn a decent living from home.

It makes for very interesting reading, and of course I most certainly do recognise some of the names……just a pity I can’t draw up my own ‘name & shame’ list.  He should also include ‘multi-level marketing in here, not coz they have the same philosophy (although some of them do employ underhand tricks), but because you are led to believe certain things with clever words and then when you get going you realise that it is just a numbers game and you are just a number, then you become a statistic and they really don’t give a toss about you afterwards.  When you are making them money…they know you, if you are not….you never hear a word.

http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/10/2984893/scamworld-get-rich-quick-schemes-mutate-into-an-online-monster

Don’t get taken in…….

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weobley herefordshire

the Weobley poop machine

And that of course would be the dog!!! I have nicknamed him the Hereford poop machine and for good reason. I am not really partial to dogs, I can take them or leave them…preferrable the latter, but as it turns out this little dog has won a spot in my heart…albeit only a tiny spot! 🙂
When the agency initially phoned me about the job, I was keen until I heard about the dog….and then I had pause for thought. As it turned out of course I accepted and here I am. This is my 2nd stint at this particular position and so far I am enjoying it as much as I did the first time. When I arrived I received a raptuous welcome from the dog that really made me smile and feel kinda special….ahhh how sweet, he remembered me and was thrilled to see me. Ha! A few days later my illusions were shattered when a friend came to visit….she got as raptuous a welcome…..so it wasnt my scintillating personality then!!!
However, be that as it may, the dawg has taken quite a shine to me…probably coz I take him for frequent walks. He sits under my chair when I am working and at my feet when watching TV. Sweet!   He has cottoned on to the routine for when we are about to go for a walk….of course I daren’t use the word ‘walk’ in his presence and usually say something like ‘ I’ll take himself out for a stroll’…hahahaha. So now when he sees me walk upstairs and come back down with my black jacket over my arm, he starts getting hyper and the tail goes mad….wagging so violently that his bottom end moves from side to side. I then sit down on the chair to change my shoes and put my trainers on and at that stage is when I start talking to him! Ok, so don’t raise your eyebrows like that….I have to build the anticipation of the walk ahead you know. I say things like ‘yes, you know we’re going for a walk don’t you?!’ or someother nonensical stuff like that and the little dog sits and watches me intently, cocking his head from side to side as I talk, his bright button eyes never leaving my face, just waiting for me to get up and then he is off like a rocket to the scullery bouncing around like a puppy despite his considerable 11years+.    Then when I pick up the lead…omgosh!  He goes ballistic and it’s all I can do to stop him jumping up into my arms. Hysterical.  And thats where the poop machine comes into it, and that is the bit of my job I do not appreciate….being the pooper-scooper!!! blergh!! I have to take at least 3 bags along each time and wonder why he can’t just squat once and get it over with.
As we walk I have to wonder why it is that we walk 10 feet and he lifts his leg, walk another 10 feet and he lifts his leg, this goes on right through the whole walk.  Lady dogs are far more polite and sensible and squat once and thats it! However, I do enjoy the walks, although it’s unclear who is taking whom for the walk…..I get a lot of brisk exercise as he rushes about, sniffing here, sniffing there and bolting along like we have a train to catch, and when we head for home it’s all I can do to keep on my feet!!

a grassy fieldOne of the walks we make is out the village past the village hall along what is known as a ‘country road’; 7ft high hedges, fields of crops or orchards on either side, birds flitting about overgrown grassy fields and twittering for all kingdom to hear, wild flowers scattered like bright jewels alongside the hedgerows and overall this, amazing peace and quiet.  Have you ever stood and listened to the quiet? It’s palpable here. The contrast between here and home is very apparent in that here I see the occassional car, peak-hour traffic

weobley, herefordshire, black and white villages of the uk, historical villages of the uk

peak-hour traffic

whereas at home the traffic flies past, a never-ending roar of about a thousand cars an hour. Here there isn’t even a stop street or yield sign, never mind a traffic light.  Another route takes us along a narrow little lane with a small stream on one side and a field of crops on the other, the blue sky stretches to the horizon filled with fluffy white clouds that tower up like puffs of cotton wool, a field of sheep and the blissful peace.

weobley, herefordshire, black and white villages of the uk, historical villages of the uk

fluffy white clouds in blue skies

I am totally in love with this little village. The first time I came I took hundreds of photos so it’s not like I missed anything, but I can tell you that I have been hard put to not take just as many photos again.

weobley herefordshire, black and white villages of the uk, historical villages of the uk, king charles I

The Throne, where King Charles I slept on 5th September 1645

The history of the village is just amazing, and the one house that used to be the Unicorn Inn, now known as ‘The Throne’, is where King Charles I slept 5th September 1645 on his way to London , where he eventually lost his head. The thought that King Charles I actually walked (okay probably rode his horse is more like it) in the same place where I was walking is just thrilling beyond words. I am dying to knock on the door of this rambling, ramshackle, ancient building, now called ‘The Throne’, and ask if I can have a look around. I can just imagine the rickety staircases, and low doors, and wooden beamed rooms filled with history. Imagine living in a house like that!!! I have had a chance to have a closer look at the construction of the houses too and it’s incredible to see the ancient wooden pegs knocked into the struts holding them to the main frame of the house.

weobley, black and white villages uk, historical villages of the uk, herefordshire

ancient architecture

The Manor House is the oldest remaining house in the village and predates Tudor! Imagine!  So instead of taking loads of photos of the houses I have concentrated on photos of the fields and flowers and just a few repeats of the architecture…… 🙂

weobley, herefordshire, black and white villages of the uk, historical villages of the uk

The Manor – probably built pre-Tudor

I also explored the remains of the castle (built in the early 1200’s by Walter de Lacy), walked along the top of the mound and walked through the remains of the moat.

weobley, herefordshire, black and white villages of the uk, historical villages of the uk

the remains of the moat of the castle

So this 2nd stint in Weobley has been good, just the long days kill me. I don’t mind staying up till 11.30pm, in fact I seldom get to bed before 1am in London, but then I get to sleep till 9am the next day….here I only get to bed by 11.30pm and have to be up at 7am the next morning, in fact the sun comes up so early that by 6am I am usually awake.  Also sitting around and being confined to the house most of the day is quite tiring. The routine is the same every day and the same thing happens at the same time with very little variation. The pace is very slow and for someone who is used to heading through the day at fullspeed…it’s amazing how tiring it is. But I do enjoy the peacefulness of the area and the lady is lovely. I am not sure though that I will be back since it takes such a long time to get here…6 hours travelling in all.  We shall have to see.
One of the other things that I love is how friendly the villagers are, never in London would you walk past someone on the way to the store and have them say ‘good-morning’ as you walk by. It’s great. it’s been raining a lot in England lately and we had a deluge the first few days I was here and the flowers and leaves were hung with drops of water that look like diamonds.

weobley, herefordshire, black and white villages of the uk, historical villages of the uk

diamond drops

Everything is so lush and beautiful. We have also had lots and lots of bluebells growing in the gardens which are all open plan so it’s been a treat to see them in clumps everywhere.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta (formerly Endymion non-scriptus or Scilla non-scripta) is a bulbous perennial plant, found in Atlantic areas from north-western Spain to the British Isles

bluebells; Hyacinthoides non-scripta (formerly Endymion non-scriptus or Scilla non-scripta) is a bulbous perennial plant, found in Atlantic areas from north-western Spain to the British Isles (ref wikipedia)

I was quite concerned I may miss them as I never did get to go to Kew last month, but I plan a trip for when I get back and before I whizz off again for the next job…thankfully that will be in zone 3 of London and only an hour or so from home. What that means is that I will have internet reception and hopefully get to do some work online, one of the things I have missed a lot in Weobley….zero internet reception and very little phone connection. I usually have to hang out the upstairs window to get reception.
So with just four days left till I head on home, I will continue to enjoy the quiet and the walks and the company. The lady, who is 94, used to play snooker when she was younger, is a great fan of the game and so we have been watching the snooker finals with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter amongst others…and I have become quite the addict myself!! hahaha. That said it’s a real bother that after the snooker is finished the TV goes off and except for Eggheads which we watch religiously every day, and I know know a lot of useless information….  So I have missed most of the programmes I usually enjoy and that is one of the things I shall make the most of when I get back home…. and as I write, that is only 4.5 days away. Hooray!!!! (that was then and of course as I write now….I am already home).

The train journey through the English countryside is a real treat, so beautiful and the yellow fields of rape seed plants stretch to the horizon,

weobley, herefordshire, black and white villages of the uk, historical villages of the uk

rape seed fields

a wonderful contrast to the green fields dotted with sheep or horses. The rivers are full to the brim, thick brown water racing along, ignoring the corners and just swamping the banks as they go.

River Usk  Newport Wales

River Usk coming round the corner into Newport, Wales

Many of the fields are still under water but what can be seen is lush and green, in so many variations you could not imagine that one colour could have so many different shades. The rain has lifted now and the sky is a fabulous blue with puffs of white cloud piled high, marvellous.

weobley, herefordshire, black and white villages of the uk, historical villages of the uk

fields swamped with water

and here I am back in London, and besides the level of noise, one of the first things I have noticed is that my headache is back! Well now?   There’s a thing.  I didnt have one headache whilst I was away and within 12 hours of being back in London I have a headache. Hmmm. Is it the pollution perhaps or the noise levels? Although I take Vogel’s ‘oat drops’ at night to help me sleep (they knock me out), I am sure the constant noise of traffic outside my window doesn’t help (we have a major thoroughfare about 10 yards from my window). I was also very aware of the pollution as we came back into the city perimeter, the sky looks brown and grey. Urgh! And again it was brought home quite forcefully the mad rush and calamitious nature of the city. People are so rude, pushing and shoving; the sheer level of aggression which you get so used to when here all the time that you eventually don’t notice it, and within 10 minutes of getting off the train I was feeling so aggro! Grrr.

And then to top it all, I waited 25 minutes for the bus (after a 4.5 hour journey, this is not what I wish to do with my time), and then a bus-ride that normally takes about 10 minutes took over 20 to get from the station to my stop. My god! I am going to write to Boris Johnson and suggest he gets the buses sorted. I can’t even begin to imagine how bloody awful it’s going to be with the Olympics.  And now of course the drivers et al are threatening to strike unless they get and extra £500 for the period. Come on people, you have a job, just do it. I haven’t had an increase in salary for over three years now and they are bitching about having to drive extra people.

Anyhow, that’s enough of that….I will put #grumpygranny back in her box for now and save that particular rant for another blog. 🙂 🙂
Some great and fun news is that I went on my 5th and final Dragon and Flagon Pub Tour last night and whoooo hoooo I got my badge! I have now been inducted into the Order of the Dragon and am officially a Dragon! Harhar!

dragon and flagon pub tour, pub tours of london, history of london

me and Vic – our erstwhile pub-tour guide. I got my badge in front of The Monument

And what a fun night it was too. Vic is such a terrific tour guide. I got to see the first church that was re-built by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666, a narrow cobbled road that slopes downhill with a gutter that runs down the middle – designed to allow the effluent of the ancient city to run off into the river!! ewwwww!!!

dragon and flagon pub tour, pub tours of london, history of london

Lovat Lane – where the old surface is barely the width of a plague cart’s wheelbase and the gutter still runs down the middle carrying effluent to the river

imagine how vile the air must have been, visited the site of the entrance to (oops cant remember now) from the “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askeban” movie, had a Bailey’s on ice in a pub closely associated with Lewis Carroll (he of Alice in Wonderland fame), visited my favourite pub of all time, saw the last of the ancient city bollards – made from the tube of a captured French cannon,

bollards of london, hidden london, street bollards, history of london

on the banks of the Thames this old bollard is made from an old cannon from a 18th century warship

we re-visited the site where Samuel Pepys stood as he watched London burning in 1666 and did a whole lot of ‘shard spotting’ (the building is looking brilliant now and it’s almost unbelievable how high it is).

the shard london, The Shard, designed by the international architect, Renzo Piano

The Shard, designed by the international architect, Renzo Piano

super cool. The evening ended off at a pub I had wanted to visit, have walked past a number of times and never gone in; awesome…..and then home (1.5hours journey time????), never let it be said that London is a small city….. and then a catch up with my delightful daughter whom I have not seen for 2 weeks and finally to bed at 1am.
I am home!

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