Archive for September, 2016

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. In that time I’ve pretty much been to nearly every county in England, a few in Scotland and over the border into Wales, then out again. In the years between 2002 and 2007 I mostly worked in London, and that of course has become my passion. However, it is brilliant to be able to travel to new places and see the country.

uk-mapA while ago I was working in East Sussex, not the first time in this county, but in a new town. I was chatting to my client, 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 😉

I have 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. I’ve also visited a few counties in Scotland and Wales, but those in the capacity of a tourist, rather than for work. For the purposes of this article, I’ll stick to those I’ve been to for work….

So heading round the country, these are the counties I have worked in and travelled to; 27 so far:


Suffolk, Middlesex, Norfolk, Essex

work and travel as a carer

and my favourite county of all Suffolk….amazing!!!

Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire

work and travel as a carer

Beautiful Cambridge and surrounding areas

Shropshire, Herefordshire,

work and travel as a carer herefordshire

quirky and fabulous Weobley

Gloucestershire, Wiltshire

work and travel as a carer

the views from St Briavels are hard to match

Somerset, Devon,

work and travel as a carer somerset

another of my favourite counties, Somerset is splendid

work and travel as a carer

one of my favourite counties – Devon is on the Jurrasic coast…

Warwickshire, Hampshire

work and travel as a carer

as with Kent, there are many farms in Hampshire as well as fabulous villages


work and travel as a carer

the bells ring out in Oxford….stunning city


work and travel as a carer

pretty as a picture, and snow…

West Sussex

work and travel as a carer

West Sussex has a most amazing array of historical towns…and quite a few castles

East Sussex

work and travel as a carer

Stunning houses and pebble beaches


work and travel as a carer kent

the garden of England – Kent is mostly farmlands and fields

Greater London

work and travel as a carer

wonderful, wonderful London I’ve worked in so many areas, I’ve lost track..

Worcestershire – which is the latest and where I am now 🙂

work and travel as a carer

Worcestershire…..what a delightful surprise, and those hills

view of the Malvern Piory and countryside of Great Malvern, Worcestershire

view of the Malvern Piory and countryside of Great Malvern, Worcestershire

I’ve visited Cornwall, Dorset and Warwickshire whilst working, but not yet actually worked in those counties. I’ve travelled through (by train), but not actually stepped on the soil of 4 others: Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland…I will have to address that pretty soon!! I have however noticed that there are still quite a few counties to go, particularly in the Midlands…see you there 😉


Inverness-shire and Ross and Cromarty – I’ve worked in both these counties and truly Scotland is amazing.

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, you will learn the oftentimes extraordinary history of the area…sometimes stretching back as far as pre-Norman times.  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.

My most amazing experience was in Midhurst. As town names go it’s fairly simple, but did you know they have a castle!!!

travel and work

Midhurst….one of my most delightful discoveries


I’m desperately keen to travel the width and breadth of the UK and 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 thing, I’d prefer something I can actually stand up in…so the search is on. It is now my goal to buy a motor-home within the next few years…by my 65th birthday in fact, & then travel the width, 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 & west.

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, travel 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.

Have a fab day.

and talking of quirky, here is a blog you should definitely follow. The Quirky Traveller 

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After reading this article on recycling clothes and the ‘fast-food’ fashion industry I’m reminded of all the other ‘trash’ we dispose of so readily without much or in fact ANY thought to the effects we are having on this planet and our environment. It’s like we’re all walking around in this little bubble of “oh that doesn’t affect me” or “what can my little bit do?” or “it’s someone else’s problem, not mine”.

And yet, this is the only planet we have. We’re decimating forests at a rate of acres per minute, discarding tons of unwanted goods every year, dispose of tons of uneaten food, unworn/wanted clothes – Excerpt: “They’ve been bleached, dyed, printed on, scoured in chemical baths.” Those chemicals can leach from the textiles and — in improperly sealed landfills — into groundwater. Burning the items in incinerators can release those toxins into the air.” We reject our phones and computers annually in favour of the latest Apple/ iPhone model (And weirdly, we admire these large corporations for their innovative products!). We inject millions of tons of plastic into the rivers, lakes, seas and oceans on a daily basis, and slowly but surely we are causing the extinction of one species after another.

This ‘trash’ is building up. It’s producing potent greenhouse gas methane as it degrades. It’s polluting the oceans. The fish are becoming polluted with plastic particles. Over five trillion pieces of plastic are floating in our oceans. We eat those fish….what’s left of them. Our air is so polluted we can’t see the stars at nights, in some countries they can’t see the sun during the day! We eat the food that comes out the ground, ground polluted by chemicals from our trash and of course the chemicals deliberately introduced by spraying.

The volume of plastic pieces, largely deriving from products such as food and drink packaging and clothing, was calculated from data taken from 24 expeditions over a six-year period to 2013. The research, published in the journal PLOS One, is the first study to look at plastics of all sizes in the world’s oceans.

Corporations like Nestlé come under constant attack by the protest organisations that highlight how they (Nestlé) are buying up fresh water lakes and rivers and bottling the ‘fresh’ water and selling it to us in ‘single use’ bottles…plastic bottles.  – Nestle: Bottling water in drought-hit California – And we sign the petitions and vent our anger on the relevant pages, but do we stop buying the bottled water?

And yet, corporations continue to manufacture short-lived items; clothing, food, computers, phones, plastic (anything that can be made from plastic), and we….continue to buy, buy, buy and buy some more…..and the corporations and their share-holders are getting wealthier by the minute/day and we, the sheep, the ‘I want’ generations, the ‘I deserve it sectors’ are buying, buying, buying…and contracting all manner of different cancers, and birth-defects and ailments on an unprecedented scale.

We’re unable to ‘resist’ the latest fashion….no matter what it is, and slowly but surely we are killing this planet, and killing ourselves.

We are the architects of our own destruction.

Clothes – http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/no-one-wants-your-old-clothes/ar-AAim8tF#image=5

Oceans – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/10/full-scale-plastic-worlds-oceans-revealed-first-time-pollution

Water – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36161580

Species – http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/orangutans-extinction-population-borneo-reasons-palm-oil-hunting-deforestation-rainforest-a7199366.html

Deforestation – Zika Virus – http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/where-did-zika-virus-come-and-why-it-problem-brazil/ deforestation followed by agriculture and regrowth of low-lying vegetation provided a much more suitable environment for the malaria mosquito carrier than pristine forest.

Perhaps it’s time for US the population of this planet to take more responsibility….if we don’t buy, they can’t sell.



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….could there have been a more terrifying way to waken, on what was perhaps a chilly autumn morning, that day, September 2nd, 1666 than to the words of Fire! Fire!! London’s Burning



– except perhaps to the news that the French were invading…..or was it the Roman Catholics….


The French


or perhaps Roman Catholics

“The ignorant and deluded mob, who upon the occasion were hurried away with a kind of frenzy, vented forth their rage against the Roman Catholics and Frenchmen, imagining these incendiaries (as they thought) has thrown red hot balls into the houses.” William Taswell.

…..they weren’t; it was just a rumour!

In the early hours of September 2nd, on Pudding Lane, at the premises of the Baker to the King; Thomas Farriner, an untended coal flared up…perhaps teased by a whisper of a breeze, just enough to kindle the embers of the bakers oven.


Pudding Lane

Within a few hours the fire had built and all too soon, while Londoner’s and foreigner’s slumbered still, the flames jumped and ran….

From the Diary of Samuel Pepys – Sunday 2nd September 1666

About seven rose again to dress myself, and there looked out at the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was and further off. By and by our Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 300 houses have been burned down to-night by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all fish-street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places, and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge. So down, with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the King’s baker’s house in Pudding-lane, and that it hath burned St Magnus’s Church and most part of Fish-street already. So I down to the water-side, and there got a boat and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable fire. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river or bringing them into lighters that layoff; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the water-side to another.

A trivial beginning that soon turned into a raging inferno, the city was soon ablaze and word went out that London was burning. The Mayor of London, one (fairly dimwitted) Thomas Bloodworth was unperturbed and reckoned ‘a woman could piss it out’….his words came back to bite (burn) him in the bum and by the time the hapless creature realised the extent of the inferno, it was too late to save the city!

Samuel Pepys climbed the steeple of Barking Church (All Hallows by the Tower) to view the fire.

“There was the saddest sight of desolation that I ever saw. Everywhere great fires. Oyle-cellars and brimstone and other things burning. I became afeared to stay there long, and therefore down again as fast I could.” Samuel Pepys.

Alerted by Samuel Pepys as to the extent of the disaster unfolding, by 3pm on that fateful day, King Charles II, accompanied by his brother, James, Duke of York, sailed down the Thames to observe the fire, and immediately gave orders to “pull down buildings to create a fire break.”imag9178

From that luckless Sunday till the following Thursday the flames leapt and bound from dark narrow lanes to streets and courts,

“The streets full of nothing but people and horses and carts loaden with goods, ready to run over one another, and removing goods from one burned house to another.” Samuel Pepys, describing the city on the Sunday evening.20160904_151911

fanned by an east wind….torching wooden houses and stone buildings.


John Evelyn; 3 September 1666

And as it burned the flames destroyed 13,200 houses, 44 Livery Halls, numerous warehouses along the banks of the Thames crammed with combustible materials; coal, tar, pitch, hemp, rosen and flax (ropes), Baynard’s Castle, the Great Conduit

and four bridges within the city as well as razing 87 medieval parish churches to the ground. Weirdly, the house of Samuel Pepys in Seething Lane remained standing….

Much terrified in the nights nowadays, with dreams of fire and falling down of houses. Samuel Pepys.
copyright John Yabbacome

Samuel Pepys’s house perchance? copyright belongs to John Y

Even that most holy of churches was not left unscathed, and St Paul’s, which had stood at the heart of London life for over 500 hundred years, the 4th cathedral to stand on this spot since 604AD,


Old St Paul’s Cathedral – the medieval church destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666

was consumed in the inferno, it’s roof melting in the heat,imag7697 causing molten lead, “glowing with fiery redness” to run in streams down Ludgate Hill. On Tuesday, September 4th, a combination of factors caused the building to burn with great ferocity; which catastrophic blaze consumed the cathedral….

copyright John Yabbacome

Old St Paul’s Cathedral – copyright belongs to John Y.

“Thus lay in ashes that most venerab[l]e Church, one of the [antientest] Pieces of early Piety in the Christian world, beside neere 100 more.” from the Diary of John Evelyn; September 7th 1666

….little did he know it then, but up and coming architect, Christopher Wren was just about to be given the biggest opportunity of his life….the rebuilding of the City of London churches, and St Paul’s Cathedral, his masterpiece that took 35 years to build!


The fire burned for just under five days, devastating the City, from Tower Hill in the East to Chancery Lane in the north, it swept westwards as far as Inner Temple Hall on the 4th day, which burned to the ground, and by some miracle it burned out before consuming Temple Church.


From the diary of John Evelyn – Tuesday September 4th, 1666

The burning still rages, and it was now gotten as far as the Inner Temple; all Fleet-street, the Old Bailey, Ludgate Hill, Warwick lane, Newgate, Paul’s chain, Watling street, now flaming, and most of it reduced to ashes; the stones of St Paul’s flew like (grenades), the melting lead running down the streets in a stream, and the very pavements glowing with redness, so as no horse nor man was able to tread on them, and the demolition had stopped all the passages, so that no help could be applied. The eastern wind still more impetuously driving the flames forward. Nothing but the almighty power of God was able to stop them, for vain was the help of man.
copyright John Yaddacome

London’s Burning

Lost to the inferno were countless treasures; art, books and documents, many of which were held in the Livery Companies Halls – 44 of which were completely destroyed; amongst which were the Cutlers Hall, Mercers Hall, Merchant Taylors Hall, Saddlers Hall, Brewers Hall, Coopers Hall, Drapers Hall, Dyers Hall, Fishmongers Hall, Innholders Hall, Pewterers Hall, Stationers and Newspaper Makers Hall, Tallow Chandlers Hall

and to add a touch of irony; the Bakers Hall!! city-of-london-livery-companies-bakers-hall-2
“We walked and walked and found nothing but heaps of stones and cellars still full of planks and smouldering beams.” Francisco de Rapicani.

Only 8 Livery Company Halls survived the fire; Armourers, Bricklayers, Carpenters, Cooks, Glovers, Ironmongers, Leather-sellers, and the Upholsterers…..others were partially damaged or destroyed by the fire and some were rebuilt, only to be destroyed during WW1 and WW2.


After the 6 centuries over which the Medieval city of London had slowly built up, and just five days after a small fire which began in that bakery on Pudding Lane,


Pudding Lane

the City of London stood in ruins, almost completely destroyed, and as he explored the ruined streets of London, John Evelyn described how the ground was still almost too hot to walk upon, how water in fountains still boiled, and how the iron bars and gates of prisons had melted.


The Medieval City of London – Agas map

6 months later, on March 16th, 1667 – Pepys recorded “I did see smoke remaining, coming out of some cellars from the late great fire now about six months since “.


Great Fire of London 1666

By 1680 London’s first Fire Brigade came into existence, funded by the insurance companies, and the first publicly funded fire service was created in 1861, following the Tooley Street fire.imag7849

The Great Fire of 1666 was not by any means the first fire to rage through the streets of London, it was however the most devastating, and has perhaps the most detailed recordings by way of the diaries of Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn and others.


Great Fire of London 1666

copyright John Yabbacome

1666 – 2016 The Great Fire of London 350th anniversay

Below is a map showing the extent of the Great Fire of London 1666the-photo-at-the-top-of-this-article-is-by-ben-sutherland-used-under-creative-commons-2-0-license-attribution-it-is-a-map-prepared-by-the-museum-of-london

Footnote: The majority of the photos in this blog are mine. A young man, John Y, whom I met at the burning of the effigy on Sunday kindly sent me some copies of his photos…I have noted them as such. Furthermore, for the purposes of this blog I have ‘borrowed’ a couple of graphics and a map from google images.

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On Saturday 17th September 2016, Naomi Riches (London 2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist) will start her latest challenge – to set a new Guinness World Record as the fastest woman to row down the River Thames in a single scull… 165 miles from Lechlade to Gravesend Royal Pier.

Follow her challenge on Twitter


For more about this challenge http://www.thegreatthamesrow.org/

15 River Thames

River Thames 01.01.2011 a misty overcast day


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