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Archive for February, 2016

Yes! It’s done. I am now a fully-fledged British Citizen. Last week Thursday I met up with my daughter at Ashford International and from there we made out way to Maidstone and the Archbishop’s Palace….wow, I had no idea the venue was so amazing! and the history. I was like a tourist going from room to room and photographing everything….almost, but not quite forgetting the reason we were there.IMAG1660 - maidstone

We arrived about 4 hours before the time of the ceremony so had a bit of an explore first and then looked for somewhere to eat….we found the superb D’Lishious – a new Milkshake & Dessert Parlour in the historic Corn Exchange.

By then we were fairly famished so decided to go for something substantial. Well, what can I say…..D’Lishious really lived up to it’s name. My daughter ordered a pancake with nutella and strawberries with ice-cream and cream while I ordered a waffle with banana, nutella, bits of toffee with ice-cream and cream.  The portions were truly substantial and absolutely delicious, freshly made and more than met our expectations.

After satiating our bellies we headed back into the town centre and from there to the palace. Along the way we passed the fabulous Maidstone Carriage Museum…located in the 14th century palace stables. Although it was closed; it’s seasonal, I for one am going back when it’s open. The building itself is amazing and of course we took loads of photos.IMAG1652 - maidstone

The Archbishop’s Palace was just across the road, so that’s where we headed. The palace is a stunning building with a fantastic history dating back to the 7th & 8th century, thankfully saved from demolition in 1887, it is now a Grade I listed building.IMAG1662 - maidstone  Needless to say we had to explore the area, so since we still had about an hour and a half before the ceremony we walked along the riverside of the palace and onto a nearby footbridge for a better view…oh my gosh it’s gorgeous.IMAG1680 - maidstone And what a location!! We stopped briefly at the College of All Saint’s founded in 1395 by Archbishop Courtenay and admired the nearby Church of All Saints; chock a block with history.

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Finally it was time for us to register our presence and so we entered the building. I literally bounced up the steps with excitement and met at the top by one of the staff my name was ticked off the list and a red carnation pinned to my lapel.  The reason for the carnation is to easily identify the soon to be new citizens from their guests.

Then it was into the Solar Room ….wow, the history. The Solar – The 14th century Great Chamber of the Archbishop’s Palace, the main timbers dating from 1325 making this the oldest part of the original palace still standing. Much of the rafters have been repaired or replaced.

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We settled down as much as possible and were greeted by various members of staff and moderators. A lovely lady by the name of Amanda spent a few minutes with us explaining the process and procedures and then suddenly it was time for our rehearsal and off we went.  The room where the ceremony was held was lined with chairs, new citizens one side and guests the other.

We entered the room to applause from the guests and with a buzz of excitement took our seats, and so the ceremony began.IMAG1699 - maidstone In no time at all we had stood to declare our names and swear allegiance to Queen and Country.IMAG1700 - maidstone I felt totally bemused and as my daughter said, I looked a bit shell-shocked….I was in a state of disbelief. After all these years, finally I had applied and before I even had time to think about it, it was all done and dusted!!IMG-20160225-WA0026 I got my certificate, posed for photos with a representative of The Queen as well as a representative of Kent County Council and then we all, in good old British tradition, retired for tea and cake 🙂

So yes, I am now a bona fide British Citizen…..it’s been 4 days and I still wake up in the morning and go “omg I’m a British Citizen”. It feels quite surreal and although I don’t feel differently, my head is still trying to wrap itself around the fact that in the space of no time at all, I went from being a South African citizen to a British Citizen.IMAG1721  Who would have known when I bounced through Johannesburg International Airport on the 8th October 2001 for a 4 month holiday in Ireland, that I would less than 15 years later be the citizen of a different country…..but so it is. And I am thrilled beyond words. I am a British Citizen!!

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a gift from my daughter when we got home that evening 🙂

More about the history of the Archbishop’s Palace.

Located on the River Medway, the site was given to Archbishop Langton in 1207 as a resting place for Archbishops on their way from London to Canterbury.  work on the current building was ordered by Archbishop Ufford in 1348 and by the end of the 14th century it was expanded by Archbishop Courtenay, and again enlarged and improved by Archbishop Morton in 1486. Ultimately it was given to Henry VIII who granted the palace to Sir Thomas Wyatt. Subsequently forfeited to the Crown in 1554 following the rebellion led by his son Thomas Wyatt the younger against Mary I and then given to Sir John Astley by Elizabeth I.

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The Archbishop’s Palace on the River Medway in Maidstone

It was subsequently bequeathed to various members of the Astley family and finally sold to the Marsham family who finally sold the palace. It has also been used as a Territorial Army medical school.

Here’s a link for the carriage museum in Maidstone if you would like to visit

 

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On the cusp of my Naturalisation as a British Citizen I have stopped to take stock of the places I have been in my life as a Carer since 2007.

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The places have been as varied as the clients. I have travelled far and wide in the UK; the places shown here do not include the many many other countries, cities, towns and places where I have been on holiday, since I arrived in 2001.

One of the benefits of my job as I’ve mentioned before is that I get to travel around the country…not just in England but Scotland and occasionally Wales too. Since 2007 I’ve travelled east, south, north and west of the UK with the current agency.

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Cities I have worked in

In that time I’ve pretty much been to nearly every county in England (21 at last count), and 3 in Scotland and over the border, then out again, but never yet worked in Wales. I’ve yet to work in Northern Ireland although I have been on holiday. I haven’t included in my list the countries/counties/places I’ve been to on holiday that would just be too long…..but those listed below are all the places I have been since 2007. I’ve created a video out of some of the photos I’ve captured in the last 8 years+, albeit not all the places I’ve been to; I’ve worked for almost 300 clients, so that would be a tad too much!!

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London! I always jump at the chance to work in my favourite city

At my current assignment I’m working in East Sussex, not for the first time, but in a new place. I was chatting to my client just yesterday while we were sharing travel stories (she’s also quite well travelled), and just for fun I had a look at the map of Britain and listed all the counties I had either worked in, or travelled to during the course of my job…..i.e. some clients enjoys driving so we get to travel far and wide. Needless to say I do the driving 😉

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seaside towns I have been to and worked in

I’ve worked on farms and been to villages so small that they don’t even have a Post Office never mind a traffic light or stop street, where the evening traffic jam is sheep going home! I’ve worked in numerous towns, and quite a few cities…namely London of course…I always jump at the chance to work in London although I’m not sure why since my breaks are so short I seldom get time to do much exploring…but still it’s a constant thrill to me to wake up in the city that never sleeps. (most areas I’ve worked in London were with the first agency I worked for).

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farms I have worked on…as a Carer 😉

So, heading round the country, these are the counties I have worked in and travelled to:
ENGLAND
Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Hampshire Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent and Greater London
SCOTLAND
Inverness-shire, Fife and Ross-shire and Cromartyshire

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working in Scotland

On studying the map, I have noticed that there are still quite a few counties to go, particularly in the Midlands…I’m guessing I need to ask for more assignments up that way!! Perhaps I’ll see you there 😉

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seaside towns I have worked in or visited while working

One of the most advantageous aspects of this job of mine is that I go to places I would probably never have considered, simply because they’re not on the ‘Visit England’ tourist trail so to speak. However, these places invariably have a fascinating history and if you visit the one thing you will find in every hamlet, village, town or city…..the church!

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deceassed the 12 of May 1570 – Grinstead

Reading the epitaphs and headstones, you gain a fascinating insight to the history of the area. I’ve even been into a church where there are marks on the entrance where knights of yore used to sharpen their swords!!! Mind-blowing. You will learn the often times extraordinary history of the area…sometimes stretching back as far as pre-Norman times.

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castles I have seen on my travels

It is my goal to buy a motor-home within the next few years…by my 65th birthday in fact, and I plan to travel the width and breadth, and length of this country…visiting outlying islands, historic cathedrals, ancient villages, quirky pubs and the furtherest points of the island; north, south, east and west.motor home
Initially I had planned on buying a campervan…those cute little symbols of the 60’s, but since I will be spending a lot of time travelling and living in the motor, I prefer something I can actually stand up in…so the search is on.
caravan Once I find what I am looking for, I shall be off. I plan to travel and work, work and travel. Mostly in the spring, summer and autumn months and in winter I shall head to Europe. What a plan!!!  🙂 Why not come along with me and see all the wonderful things I shall see.
If you have any suggestions of quirky traditions or places you think I should add to my list, then please leave a comment and I’ll add them to my itinerary.

As mentioned earlier I have been to almost 300 different places in the UK. Since that would be way too many to upload, I’ve made a short video of some of the lovely villages and places I have been.

Have a fab day.

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Just a day before I left for my current assignment a letter was being processed by the home office that was to change the course of my life.
I arrived in Bexhill-on-Sea on Thursday last week,

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mural at the station

a place I had not yet been to and discovered to my surprise, that after saying there wasn’t much to write home about, in fact Bexhill-on-Sea has links to the Battle of Waterloo and in fact in 1804 it was chosen as an infantry depot, as well as which it is the ‘Birthplace of British Motor Racing’, and it’s now the place where, to my utter joy and massive relief, I received the news contained in that letter from the home office….my application to be become a British Citizen had been approved. Hoooorayyy!! and I have no doubt…bexhill on sea
I literally screamed when my daughter sent me the news. My only disappointment is that I wasn’t at home when the news arrived, it would have been so much fun to share the moment and excitement with her, but I’m not complaining…the news came 4 months sooner than I had anticipated and that alone is a massive thrill.
So next week I shall be swearing my allegiance to Queen and Country…I can’t wait! Once I have my certificate to say I am a bona-vide British Citizen (I get it on the same day) then I’ll be able to apply for my little red book….my passport – to freedom!!IMG-20160213-WA0014 That aspect is so exciting I cannot even begin to express what it means, except to say that being able to just jump on a ferry and cross to France is beyond amazing. No more stress of having to book appointments and apply for a Schengen visa, to pay for a lawyer to give me a letter to say I am who I am (£85!!) for 25 minutes of his time…I should have an income like that!! And then to make another appointment to collect the visa and meanwhile unable to work or having to cut short an assignment in order to collect it. Being self-employed is great and I love the freedom of it, however it’s very difficult to organise things where you have no control over the schedules/dates made by officialdom.
But all of that will come to an end shortly and I will have to freedom to visit all those places I so very much want to go to. I know there are some countries where as a British Citizen you have to apply for a visa, however, I’m not planning on going there, so it’s a moot point.
Meanwhile, I’m really enjoying my stay in Bexhill. Although there really isn’t much to do, I’ve been able to slip out early in the mornings to watch the occasional sunrise or just enjoy it from the balcony, I’ve taken a few walks along the promenade and spent some time just gazing out to sea.PhotoGrid_1455559692555

My client is lovely, so very sweet and has an interesting history linked to travel so she regales me with stories of places she has been; Middle East and Africa in particular. In some places they were some of the first European’s to go there and that was in the 40’s & 50’s – not that long ago! They were in construction…in case you wondered 😉
I mentioned in my latest video (see below) that she has the beginnings of dementia and this of course is quite a challenge. Her short-term memory is non-existent and she has great difficulty retaining information heard even a minute before. I’ll tell her something and in her very next sentence she’ll say ‘wait a minute….’ And the information I have just given her is asked about in a slightly different way, or she’ll say ‘what about this or that’. There’s no point at all in saying ‘but I just told you’ or ‘don’t you remember’ or anything similar, because no, she doesn’t. Try picture a bucket with holes in the bottom…pour water in and it runs straight through…well that’s how words are for someone with dementia…they just seep straight through. You can of course remind her of things like an appointment or a visit or outing….but be prepared to remind her over and over again…yet she can remember with clarity her days as a nanny for a titled family….even down to the child’s age and the colour of the uniform she wore…nearly 65 years ago!! But 10 minutes ago….nope it’s gone. Dementia is such a disturbing disease, for all concerned. At least she’s enjoyed my meals!!! After the resounding ‘most unsatisfactory’ judgement by the previous lady I cared for, it’s been a welcome reprisal of my cooking skills. LOL.IMAG1117 To be fair I’d say at least 96% of my clients like my cooking…..but now and then we get someone who considers they have a discerning palate and find my meals unsatisfactory. Thank goodness this doesn’t bother me, I know I cook nice meals. 😉
Bexhill-on-Sea is a lovely seaside town, quite large…certainly larger than I thought it would be with lots of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The promenade is one of the longest I’ve ever seen.PhotoGrid_1455472278047 The views out to sea are far and flat. Perfect for a sunrise and sunset. What does surprise me though is that they haven’t built any wind-farms out to sea!! It seems the perfect place really…no shipping to speak of and it doesn’t seem to be on a migratory route for birds.

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amazing sunrises

To the left and up the coast is Dover and to the right and down the coast is Beachy Head…in fact many of my sunset photos features this distinctive outcrop……of course Beachy Head has quite a notorious history; sadly it’s a magnet for people who wish to commit suicide and many have been only too successful.

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Beachy Head in the distance

I managed to persuade my lady to go out for a walk today…this has been quite a challenge as she doesn’t like the cold. But it was such a lovely afternoon that I insisted we make the most of it…and no surprise, she enjoyed it. We walked along the promenade to the café and stopped there for a cup of coffee. The sun’s rays were delicious. We’ve had some brilliant conversations and she thinks I’m a lovely companion….this is quite important really as I do try to make sure that my client’s experience are good and one of my daily challenges is to make them laugh….silly jokes, quirky comments, compliments, daft observations…anything to raise a laugh. But like the cooking, some people just do not take to it….however that’s more about them than me.
Later this afternoon I went down to the seafront to take photos of the sunset – just spectacular.

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a beautiful sunset

The day started out very grey and misty, but oh my word, what a splendid end. The beaches are mostly covered with pebbles, not my favourite type of beach, but it is ever so colourful and interesting and I always enjoy uncovering some of the more unusual of these and discovering those fossils hidden within. The tides are fascinating to watch, and as with the river in London; The Thames, I find watching the incoming and outgoing tides quite amazing to see.PhotoGrid_1455539834205 I saw a motor-home similar to the model I want to buy for myself in 4 years’ time… I quizzed the owner about how comfortable it is to live in for an extended period, how spacious it may be within, how easy to drive, packing space, sleeping space, if light on fuel? It seems to be good from his account. I’m thinking something a wee bit bigger would be good for me. I shall keep looking. Most importantly I have to be able to stand up in it and have space for my computer and a stereo!! Oh and my helicopter camera.
Well that’s it for this catch up….within the next 7 days I shall finally after 14.5 years be a bona-vide British Citizen….Long Live The Queen. Hip hip hooray!!

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the Archbishop’s Palace where I shall swear allegiance to Queen & Country 🙂

Keep your eye on this blog….I am going places; why not come along with me 😉IMG-20160213-WA0019

and in case you missed today’s video

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I love London, of that there is no doubt….I can seriously just spend each day, the whole day, just wandering around looking at everything, taking photos and sharing them on social media and just enjoying the buzz of the city.

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one of my favourite views

The reason I went to London was for a Press Preview at Kensington Palace to preview the Fashion Rules exhibition…..’Fashion Rules Restyled’ for 3daysinlondon.info. I’ve seen the exhibition in it’s previous life and loved the dresses and the story behind each one. When I first heard of Fashion Rules, I thought it meant…yeah baby, fashion rules yeah…it rocks!!! But no, it was about the rules governing the design and the making of dresses worn by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family; Princess Margaret in her day and Princess Diana.20160209_112401 - london20160209_112348 - london20160209_112333 - london The focus of the exhibition has been these 3 ladies and some of their significant dresses; dresses that were seen at major functions, for state occasions, glittering balls, overseas visits and so on. Every dress had to be carefully considered, made to measure and to suit the event, as well as keeping up with ‘fashion’ trends.

I really enjoyed the new format, in the previous exhibition each cabinet focussed on one of the 3 women and the dresses they wore and the rules that governed the making of it. In the new format, the dresses have been grouped into particular compositions and focus rather on the reason behind the making of the dress rather than the women who wore them.

The dresses are gorgeous. Diana’s dresses in particular were stunning especially once she gained more confidence and maturity…she really had a most amazing eye for style.

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Diana, effortlessly cool and stylish…forever beautiful

The Queen’s dresses are outstanding, although she went through a very mumsy style at one stage, when she was a younger woman…omg, she was beautiful, and could easily have graced the covers of Vogue just for her looks….never mind her status.

After the preview I had a hot drink (chocolate) and a slice of carrot cake, very kindly provided by HRP. I was well impressed that the HRP are using wooden forks and not plastic….not a comfortable feel in the mouth, it’s quite rough, but a worthy sacrifice to avoid adding more plastic to the environment. I popped past the Round Pond at the front of the palace and then headed over to More London Riverside to watch the Flipping Marvellous Pancake Races. Oh my gosh, what fun – crazy people. There was a huge group of school kids roped in to watch and cheer loudly and did they cheer loudly LOL. You could hear them well before reaching the races.

By then; 13:00 the day was beautiful, the grey overcast skies from the morning had been dispelled and we were treated to that colour blue only found in the northern hemisphere…perfect for photos 😉

Once I had my fill of the pancake races I walked along the embankment to London Bridge, popped past the Glaziers Hall and then onto the Guildhall Library to see the latest exhibition; The Worshipful Company of Glaziers. I love these little exhibitions, they are so interesting and give a glimpse into a world we don’t normally have access to. The history of the ancient livery companies is fascinating and some of them have roots that go back centuries, never mind decades.

I was in luck…there was a talk about the history of London’s cemeteries of London at the library – I managed to get a seat. So very interesting. It’s astounding how long it took for the powers that be to realise they really couldn’t have dead and rotting corpses stacked in piles beneath the church floors. Urgh, the smell must have been awful.

After the talk I walked past St Paul’s Cathedral and took the #15 bus to Trafalgar Square from whence I walked to St James’s Park on my way to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace to see their latest exhibition; ‘Masters of the Everyday – Dutch artists in the age of Vermeer’. My gosh those chaps could paint. Sometimes you think you’re looking at a photograph the detail is so fine. Exhibition ends 14 February 2016.

St James’s Park is looking splendid in the spring sunshine with hosts of golden daffodils. My favourite place for daffodils each spring is without doubt Kew Gardens, but since I haven’t been able to get there this year, what a treat it was to see swathes of daffodils as far as the eye could see. It was such a lovely afternoon and the sun was sinking towards the horizon and the rays of sun lit up the pretty little flowers making them shine like a blanket of gold.20160209_155608 - london
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After viewing the exhibition I walked to Victoria Station and past one of my favourite churches; Westminster Cathedral. This is such a gorgeous building and the mosaics decorating the interior are breath-taking.

On my way to the station I picked up an Evening Standard; the headlines took my breath away: Fireball horror at the palace. Seems some chap had set fire to himself at 3am in the morning near to the Orangery at the palace. How terribly sad, what an awful way to die. I always feel so sad when I hear about things like that, to think how mentally tormented they must have been at that time, to end their life especially in such a horrific way. May he now RIP, poor man.

So there it is, my day trip to London. What a terrific city. If you ever hear of a job that requires someone to walk about all day taking photos and sharing them on social media etc, please let me know 😉

Cheers folks, hope you enjoy the video

and the sneak peek at the Fashion Rules exhibition and the daffodils. The Pancake race was noisy, crazy and fun. Here’s to 2017 when I’m planning on watching the races at Borough Market. Within the next 4 years I will have attended all the pancake race venues in London.

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one of my favourite views

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Today’s blog was intended to be a light-hearted look at the Chinese New Year and a little bit about one of my photos appearing in a book by Alison Weir ‘The Lost Tudor Princess’, but then I got to watching The Wright Stuff….urgh….

How ludicrous that sounds; Benefits Britain. If there is one subject that is bound to increase my ire by levels unbounded it’s the question of ‘Benefits’.  As a South African I had never experienced the idea of ‘benefits’ from the government of the country. We grew up being taught the value of working hard in school, getting good marks, looking for a good job when you graduated, then working hard at our chosen career, paying taxes and paying monthly into an unemployment insurance fund…a fund that gave you 6 months of income should you fall ill, have a baby or become incapacitated by an accident. Only 6 months!! Not for the rest of your life!  You had to have proof of why you needed the money (even though you had paid it in yourself for however many years) – like a letter from your Doctor to say you had, had a baby, or were too ill to work. For the first 2 months you got a payout commensurate with your last income, over the next few months the level of payment went down to 50%, 40%, 30% and then the final stipend ended with however much you had left in the pot……the point here is that each individual who worked HAD to pay into this, it wasn’t optional, it was mandatory, and you only got out WHAT YOU HAD PAID IN!!!! You didn’t get a lifetime of handouts from the government. You had to have medical insurance that you paid for and savings for those rainy days.

And yes, lets call these so called ‘benefits’ by what they really are…handouts!

Now I know for sure that the chests of many British people will heave with indignation when I say this, but hello??? Why are people who have never done a day’s work in their lives getting ‘benefits’ anyway? What right do they have to receive a monthly payout from the government when they have done nothing to earn it?

And before you go getting all puffed up, lets stop for a second….I understand perfectly the reasoning behind the government supporting people who are disabled from birth, or someone who is incapacitated by an unavoidable disease or illness or the elderly, or someone injured protecting the country, but I do not and cannot, even after living here for 15 years, quite get my head around how it is that people who have never held a job in their lives and have no plans to, who have multiple babies get a monthly handout for each kid, and not only that, but they also get to demand a council house…and when there are too many kids to fit into that house they then demand a bigger one. Stop breeding for goodness sake. Contraception is readily available on your FREE National Health Service, it’s the 21st century, we all know where babies come from!!

And as for getting money for being out or work??? Seriously?? In all my 30 years of working in South Africa whenever I was retrenched or lost my job for whatever reason, I had to fall back on my savings to support myself and pay the rent…I didn’t get money from the government. I had to get out and look for another job or the rent/mortgage didn’t get paid. The number of ‘benefits’ levels is astounding. I won’t even go into those because the number of reasons you can claim benefits is unbelievable.

This morning on The Wright Stuff, the main topic of discussion was people who earned £30k per month, and who had subsidised rent in council houses….subsidised by my taxes!!! I truly object. I work extremely hard doing a job that many British people would consider beneath them (and I know this to be true because my job description has been met with expressions of horror in the past with an ‘I would never do that!!’ and to be fair, for balance, I have also been met with ‘that’s an amazing thing to do’), I earn below the minimum wage and put up with a lot of shit in many instances from people who think that because I’m from one of the old ‘colonies’ I’m uneducated and unable to find a proper job, who are disparaging, condescending, and rude and treat me (and other Carers) with disdain. And I pay my taxes….I pay more than bloody Google, Amazon or Starbucks amongst many others who pay 4% taxes on profit, or the super wealthy who move their money to offshore accounts to avoid paying tax. I pay 20% tax on my ‘profits’…..why? because I’m self-employed my whole salary except for the threshold are considered to be profits, and I work for my living AND more importantly I pay my own rent…I don’t get a handout from the government

My accommodation consists of a mattress on the floor of my daughter’s spare room. A room filled with boxes because I have nowhere to put the stuff in them…ergo, I can’t afford my own home! I can’t afford the rental on a place of my own. How else can I say that? and yet, there are people in the UK who are earning a good £10k+ more than me who get their rent subsidised by MY taxes! How is that fair? It’s bloody ludicrous.

Frankly I think the whole idea of the benefits system needs a major overhaul, and yes I agree that the large corporations like those mentioned above should pay wayyyyy more tax than they do in the UK. But that is another issue altogether that seriously needs to be addressed. Tax avoidance.

However, back to the subsidised rents of council house tenants who earn £30k+, why is this happening? Why are they not, like thousands of others, paying market price rentals? I would much rather my taxes are spent on increasing the salaries of Junior Doctors, increasing the wages of Nurses (who I might add do a dreadfully stressful job), or paying our Police a better wage and employing more instead of retrenching more and more, or spent on training more teachers, mental health service practitioners, or spend it on the infrastructure of the country, like better flood defences, or the RNLI – services that each year are stretched to the limit. It’s bad enough that ‘benefits’ are paid out to families who through decades of getting handouts on the dole believe it’s now their right to get money from the government without any prior contribution, but to subsidise council house rents for people who are earning not only more than I do and I warrant many others, but get their rent paid off the back of my hard work.

I object!! It’s not only day-light robbery, it’s downright disgraceful.

As for tax-avoidance….don’t even get me started on that subject!!!

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One of the advantages of living in Broadstairs is the accessibility to the sea. We also live within walking distance to Ramsgate.

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the Broadstairs clock tower on the way to Ramsgate

My daughter and I often walk along the beach at low tide to Ramsgate Harbour, sometimes it takes a lot longer than others, depending on the day and the weather. If it’s a good day it takes at least an hour…it’s such a photogenic walk that we can’t help but stop to take photos.

Yesterday we woke to a day of blue skies and sunshine, albeit very windy so decided to make the most of us both being home on the same day and no rain, and walk to Ramsgate, where we planned to have toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches at one of her favourite cafes.

The tide was high so unfortunately we could only walk part of the way along the beach walk…which is a shame really as that’s part of the fun. There have been many storms  alongside a raging sea, waves crashing against the side of the esplanade which was just thrilling.IMAG2153 - walk to ramsgate  Finally at Dumpton Gap we climbed to the cliff-top and made the rest of our walk with a somewhat different view of the seas; a churned up brown expanse of raging waves.IMAG4912 - walk to ramsgate

Further along and just past the King George VI Memorial Park we walked back down the steps to the Marina Esplanade and so the harbour. It’s such a beautiful little harbour with plenty of quirky and lovely boats and lots of quirky little shops and restaurants along the esplanade.2015.11.08 (37) - walk to ramsgate

Just before you reach the funfair and harbour you pass the entrance to the WW2 tunnels. I’ve yet to explore them fully but I have been into the museum which is just within the entrance.  Besides the charming harbour, the WW2 tunnelsIMAG4936 - walk to ramsgate and the quirky architecture, Ramsgate has many links to the royal family and Charles Dickens. Princess Victoria convalesced at Albion House in Ramsgate for 6 months while recovering from a serious bout of typhoid.2015.11.08 (22) - walk to ramsgate2015.11.08 (23) - walk to ramsgate Besides that Ramsgate Harbour has the unique distinction of being the only harbour in the United Kingdom awarded the right to call itself a Royal Harbour; bestowed by King George IV as a thank you for the hospitality shown by the people of Ramsgate when he used the harbour to depart and return with the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1821.IMAG4837 - walk to ramsgate

Ramsgate was a chief embarkation point both during the Napoleonic Wars and for the Dunkirk evacuation ‘Operation Dynamo’ in 1940, due to its proximity to mainland Europe. I was lucky enough to attend the Operation Dynamo 75th anniversary event of Little Ships that sailed across the English Channel to Dunkirk for the weekend.

We so enjoyed our sandwiches(although they’re not as good as mine 😉 ) at Rileys, a café my daughter frequents rather frequently…they do serve the most delicious hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. Afterwards we went for a bit of shopping and then caught the bus back to Broadstairs. I do so enjoy these excursions with my daughter. I spend so much time away from home, and of course I’ll be moving on soon as will she, her further south, me west (at least I think Rochester is west), so these times are really precious.

2015.11.08 (42) - walk to ramsgate

Royal Ramsgate Harbour – magical at night

I recorded a bit of our walk to give you a glimpse of Ramsgate. Excuse the wind….it’s been seriously windy the last few days as you’re probably aware and currently we are experiencing the fury of storm Imogen.

Here is the video.

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After living in the UK for nigh on 15 years and Broadstairs for 18 months, I have finally visited Dover Castle. I acquired a membership card for English Heritage last year and making the most of the many venues I can visit.IMAG0753 - dover castle

I made a recording of the trip, however, due to it being an extremely windy day and especially right on the top of the hill, it was too windy to do much exterior recording, but I managed a little bit and also some of the interior…although for some reason I found myself whispering LOL. I’m really not sure why, but the interior just leant itself to talking quietly. Scroll down to see the video….20160206_143454 - dover castle

Dover Castle – the Great Tower at Dover Castle was
built to entertain Europe’s most powerful pilgrims on
their was to Thomas Becket’s shrine at Canterbury
Cathedral.20160206_140417 - dover castle

The keep was built between 1181-1188 by Henry II.
The building of the great medieval stone castle atop
the White Cliffs started in the 1160’s. At the castle’s
heart stands the Great Tower, a place designed for
royal ceremony and a symbol of kingly power guarding
the gateway to the realm.

Dover Castle was garrisoned uninterruptedly until 1958.

English Heritage have done a fantastic job of restoring and recreating the Great Tower as it may have been in Henry’s day. The Great Hall and the bedroom are astounding. It must have been super cool to live there in medieval times, albeit very dark and cold.

Besides the great tower I also visited the ramparts, the medieval tunnels…amazing, the Princess of Wales Museum and the Saxon Church and Roman lighthouse.

Dover Castle is wayyyyyy bigger than I thought and it’s a brilliant place to explore. I am definitely going to visit again….hopefully on a less windy day.  The views are astounding and the moat is awesome.20160206_150632 - dover castle There is no way anyone would have been able to attack very easily.20160206_151043 - dover castle

I superb day out. I can highly recommend a visit and do set aside at least 5-6 hours to explore the various tunnels and within the great tower.20160206_150031 - dover castle

Dover Castle, the key to England for over mine centuries, this mighty fortress of Dover Castle displays at it’s core a dazzling evocation of a medieval royal palace.  There are also secret wartime tunnels to explore.

I made a bit of a video of my visit…please excuse the whispering at some points LOL I’m really not sure why I felt the need to whisper, but the environment leant itself to speaking softly. There’s also quite a bit of wind noise…sorry 😉

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So yesterday I spoke briefly about home, and of course that would currently be Broadstairs, a stunning seaside town in Kent and certainly one of the prettiest places I have ever lived.wpid-photogrid_1422971491956_1.jpg We moved here in October 2014 and although I wasn’t at first really that keen to move so far from London, as soon as I visited for the first time I just fell in love with this little town.IMAG2644 Going back to the 1500’s there is loads of history linked to Broadstairs – namely Charles Dickens who lived in Broadstairs a number of times and stayed at the Royal Albion Hotel, where my daughter and I frequently have tea and pastries when I come home after my last job,IMAG2027 as well as which, what is now known as Bleak House,IMAG5691 and the Duke of Wellington who apparently had barracks in the town for his soldiers during the war against Napoleon in Belgium. A few months ago in June of 2015 Broadstairs played a leading role in the Waterloo 200 commemorations. After the battle at Waterloo, once Napoleon’s standard had been captured, some of his troops sailed across the channel with the standard intent on reaching London. They were tossed about by tide and winds and landed on the beach in Viking Bay in Broadstairs.  There was a reenactment in Broadstairs with the New Waterloo Despatch delivered by boat, reported to the Constable on duty and thence to London by coach…..very exciting it was.

Charles Dickens played a very big part in the history of Broadstairs and each year there is a Dickens week when the locals get togged out in Victorian gear and meander about town, if you didn’t know better, you’d think you had fallen down the rabbit hole. There’s a fair and walks and talks galore – good fun and last year I participated, albeit briefly by dressing up in a Victorian swimsuit (I didn’t go into the sea), and somehow I acquired a baby much to the amusement of my daughter. I had to give both the outfit and the baby back after play!! 😉 I would have been happy to keep both 🙂

So continuing on my mission to ‘vlog’ today’s video is a combination video of places in Broadstairs linked to Dickens or named for one of his books. There are loads of places, roads and lanes all named for either places or characters from his books, but in order to keep the video short I have only touched on a few. Below is The Old Curiosity Shop where we often go for tea and cake…the carrot cake is delicious. There’s an old well in the shop that contains two skeletons at the bottom……visitors who didn’t pay their bill perhaps?2015.05.26 (16)

I had to make a combined video from yesterday and today’s since I ran out of space on my tablet as I reached Bleak House.

So here it is; video blog #2 Home; Broadstairs

…rule #1 when recording….make sure you have enough space in the memory! Hah!

05.02.2016 – #3 finishing what I started

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Hi all, long time no write 😉  I had planned on blogging regularly last year when I turned 60,

me and CJ on helicopter

Me and Cémanthe on the helicopter ride for my 60th

but as you probably noticed…I haven’t. For the last 5 years I have been focussed on my business 3 Days in London and devoted all my spare time to that, so much else has fallen by the wayside.river thames

Life has been a bit topsy turvy of late and I feel like I’m at a bit of a cross-roads but not sure what direction to head in. Is it old-age? When I was younger I found it quite easy to just make a snap decision, even till more recently. But since reaching the grand ‘old-age’ of 60, I find my decision making is more studied and less impulsive….although I still do make snap decisions, these are usually based on things I had been thinking about anyway.

I’ve been all at sea about my life recently, and if you read my last post you’ll see that my dad passed away nearly 2 months ago at the age of 85….and whilst that seems really old, the fact is that I am just on 24 years away from that and suddenly 85 doesn’t seem that old. It feels awfully close, and that has set the fox amongst my chickens…there are still things I want to do, like owning a camper van/motor home, travelling around the UK, seeing my still to be born grandchildren, building my business, where to live, finding a job that really interests me – something connected to London and the River Thames would be ideal and building my investments etc etc.IMG_20150104_120439

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been working as a Carer for the last 15 years with just two gaps when I worked in an office (two different businesses). But after 15 years of caring for elderly people, much as it has mostly been very rewarding, I find that by spending the majority of my life with people who are mostly infirm and quite frankly very close to death, it has changed my perception of life and is making me feel old before my time.

I’m not sure how to define that exactly but I can definitely tell that my life has ‘slowed’ a lot and I find this very uncomfortable.

I got home on Tuesday after 3 weeks away caring for two elderly ladies, one 84 and the other 94…I find that I am a lot more tired these days when I get home and it takes me a day or two to get my mojo back and drum up any energy. In the past, the first thing I would have done is to head into London to attend events, visit exhibitions and generally do as much as possible…however, these days I just can’t summon enough energy to do that.

notjustagranny_full

my best nine on instagram for 2015; a mix of London and other

As a result of feeling so tired, on Wednesday morning I was sitting in a corner of the couch feeling a bit sorry for myself. Lacking the energy to even go for a walk, I started watching a programme “The Rise of the Super Vloggers” that I had seen advertised on tv. I, like many others of the older generation, poo pooed the idea of ‘inane’ videos that appear to serve no purpose, so initially gave the programme a miss. But on Wednesday, something made me click on and watch….and I was intrigued.

I mentioned it to my daughter when she got home later that day, so she watched it with me….and so the idea was born to start vlogging.  This is not by any means a new idea, she has been nagging me for 3 or 4 years now to start vlogging, but since I don’t like to see myself in either photos or videos and don’t like the sound of my recorded voice, I resisted!

Till now…..so yes, at the ripe old age of 60+9.5 months, I have started vlogging. The first is of course total rubbish LOL but we all have to start somewhere!

This is it……

Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think…be nice okay!!! 🙂

 

 

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