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Yesterday, I took a trip to Portsmouth, to see Neil Gaiman officially unveiling the street named after his latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.


I got there early , as I wasn't sure how long it would take me to find, or how easy it would be to find, but felt that a bit of extra time by the sea would not be a bad thing!

In fact, I didn't have too much trouble finding Canoe Lake (no canoes, but giant swan pedalos) and the lane is very close (map here ) and people quickly started to arrive. (including some gentlemen from the council who carefully covered the road sign up so it could be unveiled, and a little later  closed the road and set some chairs up for the visitors, and there was time to catch up with old friends and acquaintances and make new ones.

Neil lived near here when he was a child, and still has family in the area, many of whom had attended. There were also people who had known the family back then - there were clearly lots of people who hadn't seen one another for a while happily catching up, and I overheard one lovely, elderly gentleman saying to his wife's friend "look at all these people, I'd no idea David's boy was famous - did you know?"  I love that he (and others) had come out because it was "David's boy" or a former neighbour who was being honoured, and not just because he is a famous writer!

Then Neil arrived, together with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Lynne Stagg (who, to my disappointment was not wearing her full ceremonial robes) and Sam Cox, Portsmouth's Poet Laureate.

Happy Neil about to unveil his road

The Lord Mayor introduced Neil, linking him with other literary figures who lived in Portsmouth (Dickens,  Conan-Doyle, Kipling) and then Neil gave a short speech, and unveiled the road.(there is an audio recording of Neil's speech here ) and we heard 2 poems from Sam Cox.


After the unveiling, Neil stayed around and chatted and had pictures taken. Someone gave Neil a Cornetto, which he managed to eat while making polite conversation and giving an interview to the local Jewish newspaper, someone else, (or possibly the same someone,) got him to sign a giant model cactus, and everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves.

(with thanks to the lovely chap who took this for me, whose name I didn't catch)

And as you can see, the weather was lovely - they'd forecast rain showers, but it stayed bright and sunny (albeit rather breezy) for the whole of the event.

A really enjoyable afternoon. And the evening still to come..
marjorie73: (Default)

I decided to go down to Devon for Easter weekend, to visit my parents and relax and unwind a little.

It was, inevitably, still cold, but also sunny, which made a nice change. And as it was a sunny day, we decided to go to the seaside, to the (Baggy Point end) of Woolacombe.


There were some brave souls surfing (although not, I think, with much success. The waves were big, but irregular and unpredictable) We stuck to the walking along wearing thick coats option, which was more comfortable. We also decided against having an ice cream. Even though it *was* the seaside.

Saturday evening was, of course, the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who - and my lovely parents arranged dinner to fit round it (and even brought me a pre-dinner drink as I watched!)


On Sunday the clocks went forward, and as it was Easter Sunday, there was a church service to ring for, which of course felt as though it was an hour early.


The church did look lovely, though - the church yard is full of daffodils and crocuses and primroses, and the sun was out.


After ringing, we went for a walk locally, through the beech woods, where the old railway used to run.


It was cold, but there are some lovely views. And lots of primroses and snowdrops in the hedge-bottoms. (We even found one violet, but it was the proverbial shrinking violet!)

I really enjoyed being able to relax and unwind. The house is so quiet - I love lying in bed listening to the birdsong, and the calling of the tiny lambs in the field outside, and I enjoy watching all the different birds which come to the feeders outside the living room windows.

The most frequent visitors are a gang of goldfinches, but there are also lots of sparrows, blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, a greenfinch, and blackbirds and thrushes (mostly on the ground under the feeders) I'm told there is a coaltit sometimes, although I didn't see it this time, and there is a very territorial robin, too!

Oh, and I got a lovely chocolate Easter Egg despite being officially grown up!

Easter

Apr. 12th, 2012 07:21 pm
marjorie73: (Default)
After all our shopping, we headed down to Devon, to my parents home, for the Easter weekend. Both my sisters were there, plus K's fiance. On Saturday evening, we decided to support local enterprise by visiting the local pub (One of the many good things about my parents' home is that the pub is within easy walking distance. And it has good beer)

Sunday morning involved ringing for some of us: my parents have been teaching a group of people to ring, as there was no local band in the village when they moved there. The church has been having some building works done, as a result of which the bells have not been available since just after Christmas, and Easter Day was the first service (other than a wedding the previous afternoon) for which the bells were rung.
I had got up early-ish, so decided to join my mum and dad and have a quick ring, then I left them to it, bought a Sunday paper or two and wandered back to the house. The field opposite their house is currently full of sheep and lambs, and I enjoyed hearing the bells and the bleating of the lambs.

As they were predicting rain, for later, we decided to head out to the seaside for a walk after breakfast, and we went to Baggy Point.
It was a greyish day, but didn't actually rain on us while we were walking. There were lots of people there, but also lots of wild flowers - I spotted primroses, violets, thrift, bladder campion, and a few others whose names I didn't know. There were skylarks, singing their best, and black-blacked gulls, looking sinister. In the sea were many surfers, inspired more by hope than reality, as the sea was flat as a pancake.

We then divided the party, with the more energetic half going on for a longer walk (and later, I heard, ending up in a pub) and the more decrepit half of the party walking back, via a small National Trust cafe with some of the slowest service I have met with for some considerable time! (The cake was nice, but it wasn't nice enough to justify the wait!)

And later, it being Easter, we ate roast lamb, with all the trimmings.

Easter Monday, being a bank holiday, was naturally soaking wet. I don't think it stopped raining at all, so we were forced to stay indoors, reading and eating chocolate and other good things. It was most restful.

And while my sisters both then departed, to drive home in the rain, I had booked Tuesday as a day off, so was able to stay on, and drove home in sunshine (and occasional hail) on Tuesday afternoon. It was a nice weekend.
marjorie73: (Default)
This weekend, I'd arranged to go down to Devon to visit my parents. I saw them last weekend, while they were staying with me while they went to a dinner locally. This weekend however was a visit just to spend some time together. And the weather was nice, too.

One of the nice things about visiting my parents is that as long as I don't get up too early, I usually get a cup of tea in bed ;-) I love that little touch of luxury.
We decided that a nice walk by the sea would be an appropriate thing to do with a bright November morning, so we went to Westward Ho!, which is an uninspiring town, but where you can start a walk along the top of the cliff, and then down to a pebbly beach.
There was an offshore breeze, and very big waves, so there were a lot of surfers out, and despite being the middle of November, it has been so mild that there were still quite a few butterflies and dragonflies around.

And a really big mushroom, right on the cliff edge!
We didn't have a long walk, as my mum and dad wanted to get back in time to go to a local history talk in Bideford, but it was very pleasant.


While the talk was going on, I wandered around Bideford, and admired the bridge, and looking into a few shops, and a little later, we all went back home for a delicious meal of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and then lemon meringue pie. All very good.

Sunday, we had a lazy morning, them they went out to Exeter for some ringing, and I came home, to be greeted by a very snuggly cat. Over all, a very relaxing weekend!
marjorie73: (Default)
This weekend was a bank holiday, and I had pondered whether I  might be able to meet, and perhaps go sailing with, my sister and soon-to-be-brother-in-law, but it turned out thet they weren't going to be home, so instead I arranged to go to Devon and spend the weekend with my parents.
And it then turned out that both of my sisters were planning to do the same, so it ended up with all 3 of us (plus K's fiance, C) being there for the weekend, which was lovely.
It traditionally pours with rain over the august bank holiday, and this one was no exception - I drove down after I finished work on Friday evening, and the drive was NOT fun - lots of very heavy rain, standing water, and, of course, the kind of drivers who don't realise that rain makes a difference to driving....

However, once I arrived, there was food, and wine, and company, and lots of catching up to do.
On Saturday there was more rain, and then during the afternoon all of us other than my dad went in to Barnstaple to look at possible dresses for E&I to wear in out role as bridesmaids, and for my mum to wear in her capacity of mother of the bride. We didn't buy anything, but we did quite a lot of trying on. (actually, most of it was getting my mum to try stuff on.)
On Sunday, K&C went to church (On the basis that it seems only polite to go occasionally, to the church where you wish to get married) while the rest of us had a nice long lie-in, then we headed out in order to meet up with my uncle and aunt, who live just down the road from my parents.
We all met up at the  Hunters Inn,where we had a pub lunch (and some rather nice beer) followed by a short walk down the valley to Heddons Mouth.
The walk takes one along near the little river, down to a tiny, pebbled beach, framed by steep cliffs.
It's beautiful - and after a wet morning, the sun came out, and the sea and sky were both blue and white and windswept and beautiful.

Walking abck up the valley, the younger half of the party crossed the river using stepping-stones, and the older half stayed on the same side of the river they started on, and walked back that way - until we met up at a small, Billy-Goats-Gruff style bridge, and walked the last stretch back in company.
It was a very nice afternoon.
In fact, it was a very nice weekend, despite the rain.

marjorie73: (Default)

Friday saw me driving down to West Sussex to spend some time with my sister, her fiancee and sister number 2, who has been visiting them all week.
The others had got home on Thursday  - K&C have been sailing for the past 3 weeks, and E had joined them for the past week.

We went out for a meal on Friday night - to a fish resturant, where we had a lovely meal - the restaurant has lots of frsh, local fish, and we had a vey nice time!

We had hoped that the weather would be suitable for sailing on Saturday, but unfortunately it was grey, wet, windy an forecast to get worse, rather than better, so we had to give up on that idea. We also decided against walking down to the beach to watch the shoreham airshow, although we had seen the Battle of Britain flight practicing the previous afternoon.

 
Instead, we enjoyed a late and luxurious breakfast and then most of us went to Bignor, near Arundel, where there was once a large Roman Villa, which has a number of mosaics.

 
The 1st mosiac was unearthed by  a farmer in 1811, and the land is still owned by the same family, so the mosiacs etc are privately owned rather than owned by English Heritage, or any other official body (although I believe the most recent excavations were carried out with official, expert involvment)

 
 

 
There are very well preserved mosiacs from what was a dining room, a bath house, and a bigger room which is thought to have been for dining and entertaining. here is also a long stretch of corridor.

 
The villa is tucked away down some very narrow lanes, and there were only a few other people there, which was a good thing from our perspective. We were even able to fit in a cream tea!

 
Later in the day,after coming home, we walked down to Shoreham beach - it was still grey and drizzly - which seems to be good weather for Kite-Surfing, as the kite surfers were out in force...

The day finished with  home cooked roast lamb followed by local raspberries and ice cream, before I drove home, in order to have Sunday at home to make my peace with Tybalt, (Who has been well looked after by Cheryl, but who diapproves on principal of my going away) and to have a day to do chores before going back to work on Monday morning..

 

marjorie73: (Default)
More rain, today, definitely no chance of anything outdoorsy, so we opted for the long, lazy lie-in (We finished breakfast at around 11, I believe, then went to Bideford, where they were holding a Quilt exhibition at the town museum.

Patchwork & Quilting being  something which my mother is interested in, it seemed like an interesting thing to see.



Some of the quilts were what I think of as being more traditional quilts which might even be used on bed, others were definitely art quilts suitable for hanging on the wall.

We also looked at the rest of the museum, which has Bideford's Royal Charter granted by Elizabeth I, and pottery made by the potteries which used to be in Barnstaple and Bideford, one of which my Granmother worked for before her marriage.

We finished with a quick trip to Westward Ho!, to wander by the sea, but as it is a very pebbly beach, and it started to rain shortly after we arived, we had only a VERY brief walk, before heading home for a relaxed evening.
marjorie73: (Default)
Bank Holiday Monday turned out to be a grey morning, but promised to improve, so after some strenuous sitting around eating breakfast, we went to the seaside.

 
The plan was to go for a walk, so we went to Croyde, to walk along the top of the cliffs to Baggy Point. As promised, the sun came out.
 
The tide was out when we arrived, so it was just as well we were planning to go for a walk, and not for a paddle, as Croyde beach is very flat, and the tide goes out an awfully long way... although there were lots of people surfing (or trying to) in the distance.
 
 
As you get to the end of the bay, however, the golden sand is replaced with cliffs, and instead of surfers the water is full of comerants and gulls. It's a long time since I have been here (or anywhere similar) at this time of year - normally we seem to go for seaside walks at Christmas, when they tend to be almost deserted in a beautiful, bleak way.
 
 
This time, however, the clifftops are covered with thrift, and gorse, and eggs-and-bacon; the heather was just starting to come out, and there were also skylarks. What more could anyone ask?
 
 
We were worried that we might faint from hunger during the 16 mile drive home, so we treated ourselves to a cream tea before going home. Scones, strawberry jam, Clotted cream and a sea view. A little taste of heaven.

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