Archive for April, 2016

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on” – Shakespeare

Today is my birthday and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my Mother; Marjorie Joy and my Father; John Derrek Alan for having me, although I’m sure unplanned, on such an auspicious day. If I hadn’t been born on the 23rd I wouldn’t have a story to tell about St George, Shakespeare and Me 😉

Discovering that I was born on St George’s Day and William Shakespeare’s birth & death day has been an endless source of interesting discoveries.  During my London walkabouts and UK travel adventures I have come across reference to them both….inciting many photos to be taken.st georges day (3)

On my many, many London walkabouts I have taken thousands of photos of the city and of course anything I find on Shakespeare and St George.  Here are some images I have discovered along the way and some of me at various events in London; Trooping the Colour in 2010, the Green Man event in 2013, the Tudor Pull in 2014, at the Feast of St George in 2014 at Trafalgar Square, up The Shard with my daughter Cémanthe in 2014, and pretending I’m a Queen at Hampton Court Palace in 2015, just some of the fun things I have done in London.

and our helicopter flight over London on my birthday in 2015.London Helicopter

The traditionally accepted date of Saint George’s death in 303 AD, April 23rd, is it seems an auspicious day….for not only is it recognised as St Georges Day (the patron saint of England) but it is also William Shakespeare’s birth and death day, and my birthday… 😉
Since 23 April 1616 was the date of death and possibly anniversary of birth of the English playwright William Shakespeare (according to the Julian calendar), UNESCO declared this day the International Day of the Book.IMAG4762

Celebrated by many other countries around the world, in fact St George is even mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great. England is not the only country to embrace our lad St George, many other countries celebrate St George’s Day too, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia as well as which a great number of cities including Genoa in Italy, Beirut in Lebanon, Qormi and Victoria in Malta, Moscow in Russia, Ljubljana in Slovenia and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, amongst many others it’s also celebrated in the old Crown of Aragon in Spain — Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca. So we do indeed have much in common with many other parts of the world.

As for William himself, born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the date of his birth, although unknown, is universally accepted as 23rd April, he was baptised on 26 April 1564 during what became known as the Elizabethan era – 1558-1603.

London has paid homage to both men and you can find many statues, busts, stained glass windows and paintings featuring them both.

Today is also the first birthday I’m celebrating as a fully-fledged British Citizen. 🙂


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I went to Windsor to see The Queen! 🙂  Yesterday was Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, and as soon as I discovered she was due to do a walkabout in Windsor I made my way there double quick.  Well not quite….I slept over in London at the YHA the night before 😉

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Chelsea Bridge and the Albert Bridge in the distance

I set off for London on the 18:57 train to Victoria Station, slept over at the Earls Court YHA, up and about by 6am on Thursday….and by 07:38 I arrived in Windsor. Thrilling stuff.

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The Queen: A full-scale replica of the GWR Achilles built in 1894. No examples of these locomotives survive and were withdrawn from service in 1912. This model is located on the platform of the station at Windsor Central

The reason I got there so early was to ensure I found a good space at the front…these events fill up pretty darn quick, but to my surprise there were only about 40 people ahead of me! I wandered about for a bit, checking out this spot and that, and then finally made my decision: it had to be facing the castle and it had to be in shade and I was hoping Her Majesty would walk down my side of the road….

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Not yet much of a crowd, but a few stalwarts were there as well as a group (the ladies in pink with the big pink 90 balloon) from Cardiff, who apparently left their city at 6am

I settled in and quickly made friends with the people around me. We chatted and swopped stories, where we were from and why we were there etc. We also had a very entertaining couple of hours people watching.

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See the lady directly in the middle with the British Flag glasses! She held court and entertained the crowds….an American lady, she was loud, forward and hilarious!!

One of the first people I saw was Carol Kirkwood doing a piece to camera for the BBC News

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our lass Carol Kirkwood doing a piece to camera for BBC News with a Town Crier watching on – this was at 07:46 in the morning 😉

and then Terry Hutt; one of The Queen’s lifelong fans.  When I saw Terry’s outfit I realised I need to up my game…. LOL

As the crowds swelled and the time drew near the level of excitement escalated. Suddenly we saw Joey!!! The horse from the play War Horse. That was an added thrill to the day.

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Joey; War Horse joins the celebrations

Then just before 11am the Coldstream Guards arrived for Changing the Guard in the castle grounds.

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The Coldstream Guards – Changing the Guard at Windsor Castle

They marched them up the hill, then marched them down again…..to just beyond the gates where they made themselves comfortable and played some stunning pieces of music…they really are very good.

Then at 12noon and without further ado Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II arrived in her smashing Bentley and stopped just before the welcome party. After being greeted by the Mayor(ess) and assembled guests, to my absolute delight I saw that Her Majesty was walking down our side of the road!!! OMG!!! Hoorah.

Then I started praying that she wouldn’t do her zag before she got to where we were standing, which would have given me the zig!!!

But she didn’t and I did get to see her – from just two feet away. If I wasn’t filming I swear I would have swooned with sheer excitement…..but you can’t interrupt a good opportunity to film The Queen by passing out in the street. LOL

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Looking fresh and sprightly in spring green – I loved her hat!!!

However, I did almost lose my footing….as she got near the crowd behind swooped forward and I was nearly knocked off my feet, almost dropping my camera in the process…the barrier suddenly felt very flimsy as it swayed with the weight of the crowd. It was a little bit scary, and I wasn’t impressed with that at all. However, we managed and my word the roar of excitement when she arrived…fantastic.

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the crowd surges forward….

She looked absolutely stunning in her spring green outfit with a perfect hat perched on top of those lovely grey curls, a gorgeous smile on her face for the whole time. Amazing woman.

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Her Majesty; Queen Elizabeth II born this day in 1926 at 21 Bruton Street in Mayfair

As soon as she made her zag to the opposite side of the road,

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The Queen makes her zag and away she goes to the opposite side of the road

my companion (someone I got chatting to whilst waiting), and I ran down the side alleys to the Guildhall hoping to spot the birthday girl before she left on her ride around the city.  While at the Guildhall she met other people who were 90…how cool is that!  Mind you, in comparison to some of my clients, many of whom are a lot younger than HM, she is blooming marvellous and certainly very sprightly.We were in luck, the crowds hadn’t yet swelled to bursting point and I had a great view of the steps where she was due to walk down to her open-topped car.

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Standing in their open-top car they set off for the car route through the city

We were all amazed to see The Queen and Prince Philip actually standing in the car as they set off.  They waved and smiled as the car pulled out and then we ran helter-skelter to the back entrance of the castle, again ahead of the crowds and had a fab view of them returning. They had by that stage sat down in the car, but I still managed one final photograph…..

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arriving back at Windsor Castle by a rear entrance

What a splendid day. I have seen the Queen a number of times, but always from afar. Usually at Trooping the Colour or other such events, and once we saw her up close and personal in Cape Town the last time she visit South Africa in the 1990’s. At that time she also went walkabout, but did her zag just three people before she reached where we were standing and I remember how devastated I was then that I hadn’t got to shake her hand…she still used to shake the hands of people in the crowd in those days….but sadly I didn’t and although I didn’t get to shake her this time either, she was so close I could have kissed her!!

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Wishing Her Majesty a wonderful 9oth year, and Long May She Reign!!

20160421_132536 - HB QEII 21.04.2016God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.


Other people I got to see on the day

After the event I went walkabout myself and had the luck of seeing the band returning to base

Then it was a quick trip back to Broadstairs (3.5 hours!!) to watch one of 1,000 beacons lit in the U.K. and around the world in honour of her birthday.

The Queen lit hers at Windsor Castle at 7p.m.

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The first beacon to be lit by The Queen at Windsor Castle

In all a fantastic day……I guess I am a confirmed Monarchist…and a Royalist. Fact: I love The Queen. She has been the one constant in an ever changing world. She is a great example of a good Monarch. I just read this terrific article you may enjoy.20160421_133700 - HB QEII 21.04.2016

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I’m, very fortunate that in my line of work I get to travel all over the UK…it’s a great benefit and as I realised recently, one of the main reasons I continue to do what I do. There are other reasons of course, but getting to see different parts of the country is definitely a plus. I get to work in hamlets, villages or towns that I would likely never have visited otherwise…..one of which that springs to mind is Midhurst! One of the most extraordinary discoveries ever.


Midhurst Castle

I am currently working on a farm in Kent. It’s a ‘tenant’ farm and part of a massive estate that belongs to the Archbishop of Canterbury. How awesome is that. To my delight I learned a few days ago that the farm borders The Pilgrim’s Way between Winchester and Canterbury.

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The Pilgrim’s Way – Winchester to Canterbury

This is not the first farm I’ve worked on since 2008 when I joined my current agency, and on thinking about it I realised this is in fact the 7th farm I’ve worked on. Now before you get the wrong idea…I don’t hoe the ground, plant potatoes, or feed the pigs, although I do occasionally feed chickens…and collect their eggs, which is such an amazing experience. I’m not sure why, but collecting fresh, still warm eggs from the nest in the early morning has such a timeless feel to it.

No, I work as a Carer for the elderly and that is where my attention lies. However, I do get time off…usually two hours in the afternoon, and that is when I explore the surrounding area at every possible opportunity. I discover some of the most amazing places. The history of this country sometimes overwhelms me with it’s incredible twists and turns.

On one such excursion this week I had to travel to a little village called Brastead,

passing through an even smaller village called Sundridge to get there.

Enroute I saw a most extraordinary house; The Old Hall. I stopped to take photos and find out a little more. On investigation, the house; medieval in origin, was built during the 15th century at a time when Richard III was on the throne!!! How mind-blowing is that! There’s not a whole lot of information on the internet about the house but certainly sufficient to induce a sense of wonder that a wooden house that was built round about 1485…folks, that’s over 500 years ago, is still standing.

Apparently it was bought and restored in 1929 and during excavations/restoration they discovered a brick hearth in the middle of the main hall. Excerpt: “On taking up the brick flooring of the hall the original earth floor was reached, and there were discovered the remains of the ancient central hearth, roughly in the form of a circle, paved with irregularly-shaped stones. Close by was found a heap of ashes, which had been brushed aside and trodden into a compact mass.”  It’s a Grade II listed building, bought in 1923 by a Thomas Munn of Hampstead and restored in 1929. Parish records show that between 1650 to 1700 there were 13 births, 2 christenings and 2 marriages in Sundridge.

I’ll write a little more about the two villages shortly, both of which are charming. In fact Brastead has a history that dates back to AD773. Sundridge overlooks the River Darent on the North Downs.

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River Darent

Back in 2011 I started walking the route Chaucer’s pilgrimage to Canterbury took him, and although I have yet to do the full route, to my delight, from time to time I come across stretches of the Pilgrim’s Way, this time between Winchester and Canterbury. I managed a short walk along the route that crosses Chevening Estate (which belongs to the Archbishop as mentioned earlier).

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a short stretch of the Pilgrim’s Way

It has been a delightful assignment, the little lady I’m caring for is very sweet, the peace and tranquillity on the farm has been sublime….so much so that it makes me want to stay forever…or at least be here on holiday. 🙂

It’s been marvellous to fling back the sash windows early morning to listen to the birds waken and watch the sun rise. It reminds me of another time and place when I was caring for an elderly gentleman in Newton-Ferrers – also a wonderful person and someone I still remember with great fondness. At that time I wrote a poem that seems to fit this place too albeit not with a river or boats nearby.IMAG2598 - Kent April2016

Most mornings and some evenings depending on the weather, I have ventured outdoors to photograph either the sunrise or the sunset. Some days when I waken at 6:30am, as I open the curtains I am left gasping at the sheer beauty of the sunrise, and thus dashing outdoors in my gown and slippers…hair asunder, to capture the splendour of a new day.IMAG2587 - Kent April2016 And at night the sun sets over the North Downs casting long shadows and highlighting the verdant green fields. Stunning.IMAG2952 - Kent April2016

A few days ago I discovered a gap in the hedge, so now I can slip quietly through the garden, through the hedge and into the fields without having to traipse along the lane in my pyjamas and slippers. So far I haven’t met anyone else…probably a good thing or I may well be writing this from behind HM four walls. LOL

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the gap in the hedge….just high enough to crouch through

It’s very quiet here and we are quite literally in the middle of wide open fields and country lanes. Occasionally if the wind is blowing from the south (apparently, according to the locals) I can hear the roar of the traffic on the M25. For the rest of the day, beyond the normal household sounds and the constant mumble and grumble of my client in the background (she gabbles to herself and reads out loud all day), the only sounds I hear are the pheasants, the birds on the feeder and the mumble of the Aga cooker.

Although it’s really quiet and sometimes too quiet, especially at night, I enjoy the peace and seldom get lonely. IMAG2970 - Kent April2016

As I write, if I look to my right, I have a view of the farmyard and the wonderful red-brick barns and buildings.IMAG2582 - Kent April2016 There’s as oast-house cluster a stones-throw away that makes a most charming scene at night with the lights shining from the windows. That’s another perk of the countryside, you can leave your curtains open at night and enjoy the darkness, the sky a canopy of twinkling stars on a clear night.IMAG2586 - Kent April2016

Talking of which, a few nights ago I got to watch the ISS craft fly overhead….amazing stuff! It’s very bright and moves at an incredible speed. Very exciting. I waved of course to our Tim, but I doubt he saw me LOL.

I have just two days left now before heading home. I’m booked to return in July and shall look forward to that.

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“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine




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