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4th December 2023

Christmas is coming!
On the last Saturday in November we held our annual Xmas Fair in the village hall, and this year it was particularly successful – always a good place to pick up a few presents.
And on the first of December, I was presented with my Advent Calendar. It was a box of 24 beers (see pic) which Dil had won in a prize draw. The first one was stronger than I'm used to: 8% – I'm not sure if I'll be keeping up with drinking the rest on a daily basis!

20th November 2023

I developed a lower back problem on Friday, and spent a quiet Saturday and all day Sunday dosing myself and trying to keep comfortable.
On Saturday night, I took advice from Karina and tried an ice pack on my back in bed, but the only thing we could readily find was a bag of frozen raspberries which we wrapped in a cloth. I tucked this under my back – but unfortunately the bag burst in the night and in the morning it looked like something had been slaughtered. The washing is on the line!

13th November 2023

We visited friends near Mansfield for a couple of days last week, and went to see Chatsworth House with its Xmas fair and seasonally decorated rooms, and Southwell Minster – both for the first time. Thoroughly recommended. Pictures below.

First at Chatsworth House …

At Chatsworth House, there was entertainment outside …

and something afoot inside

Can you work out if this is
useful or just ornamental?

Viiw from the gallery
of the Great Hall

Room No.18 – one of 24 which were
'filled with Christmas wonder'

The dining room, with
(I thought) strange chairs

Here's the old Chatswoth lion,
where was Albert and his stick?

… and a fond farewell!

And then at Southwell the next day …

Entertainment in Southwell:
A 'murder mystery panto'
which is a new one on me!

And a choir for
those who can't sing!

The 'Angel Window' (left)
and the famous stone 'Leaves' of Southwell Minster (above)

The first Bishop of Southwell

'Circles of sun' shining on
the North wall

View of the Minster from
the garden

View of the Minster from
the entrance arch

16th October 2023

A party of six of us stayed a few days in Wiltshire, visiting Old Sarum, Salisbury and Mottisfont Abbey.
But we never made it into Salisbury Cathedral, so we'll have to go back some other time!

We were staying here in converted
stables in Netheravon

There's a magnificant
dovecote in the garden

We visited Old Sarum.
Difficult to believe that this

… was once this!

The 'new' cathedral
viewed from Old Sarum

In Salisbury itself – where the Russian agents visited

Next day we went to Mottisfont –
again, remnants of an abbey

And here we are (except for me!) looking for trout in the Test

9th October 2023

This week I did backstage and food transport for Headley Theatre Club's autumn production of "Third Week in August". We'd "performed" the script to ourselves over Zoom during lock-down, and here it was in the flesh on stage – and pleasingly, it was a sell-out. Well done to the cast – there were a lot of repetitive lines to learn! Here's the cast taking their bow at the Dress Rehearsal.
For more pics of the show, see here.

25th September 2023

Back from a week on the Rhone. By coach from Guildford to Lyon, then six nights on the MS Van Gogh cruising to the Med and back, followed by a stop-over to see Paris by coach before returing to where we began, the car park by the Odeon in Guildford! Here are some pics of the experience …

Our coach at Lyon
– it followed the boat

An unusual view of
the Pont d'Avignon

… and here it is from above

The Popes Palace from the river

They were decommissioning
the Big Wheel

Fresh provisions coming aboard
at Avignon …

… through the main entrance

But some ports were easier than others to get aboard – this is Arles.

In Arles there is the Arena

… and also the Van Gogh trail

… on which we found a 'starry, starry night'

On the way back we moored
at Arles next to our 'twin'

Southwards through
locks like these …

… we arrived at the Med and visited Ste Maries de la Mer

… where danger lurks!

… which probably frightens
the dogs!

Sometimes you're glad just to
have a name like Smith!

A cunning use of dummies
made this store look busy!

… and of course we had to see the flamingoes

On the way home – a different river.
Now we're in Seine! On the 'Batobus'

We visited Notre Dame to see how restoration was getting on.

Under the bridges of Paris
'Here's looking at You!'

We had a memorable lunch here on the Ile St Louis

and ended our tour here!

Some of the wild life …

… we found in Paris.

Then it was back to Blighty

via the chaos of Stop 24!

11th September 2023

I gave a talk this week on the subject of – a road in the village. Specifically Liphook Road which passes Headley Grange, so I was able to bring in the story of the 1830 Workhouse Riot to liven things up. Then, two days later, I found myself back at the Grange with a descendant of one of those rioters, to look at the 'Holdaway Yew' which had been transplanted from an off-cut of the famous Selborne yew. I'm glad to report that it was in good health!

4th September 2023

Oh, what a lovely walk yesterday! We got thoroughly lost in brambles and thickets and were eventually halted by a river (which Mel crossed on a fallen log, but decided the other side was no better). We all got back safely and ended the afternoon having drinks in our back garden. A walk to be remembered.
On the positive side, we managed to get a 'What3Words' fix on the gate to Passfield Common relating to the 'Rioters Walk' – it's at ///party.branded.marmalade!

30th August 2023

Did some walks to check out the route of the 'Rioters Walk' in my book which needed updating.
Had a good weekend with Mel's 50th birthday party on Saturday and a Folk Music gathering of largely the same people next day on the Sunday, both in the Village Hall.
Drove to Bath for Adrian Doran's funeral – a rather grand affair in Bath Abbey which was packed as he was well-known and liked by the business fraternity of the town. He died far too young.

13th August 2023

Had a few days in France with our friends in and around Cherbourg.

Lunch in Cherbourg

Norman weather!

Visit to a WW1 airship hanger

31st July 2023

We've been down to Portsmouth to visit the Mary Rose exhibition for the first time. I remember seeing the lifting gear in place when we were on the ferry to the Isle of Wight some years ago (in 1982), but what they've achieved now in this exhibition space is really impressive.

We also watched the last episode of BBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" in which we discover that actress Lesley Manville is descended from Aaron Harding, one of 'our' rioters of 1830 who was transported to Australia. I had been contacted last year when they were filming in Hampshire, but was away on the day so couldn't contribute. Possibly as a result, although Headley is mentioned in the programme it's not seen.

17th July 2023

Over this weekend: on Saturday we held a Barn Dance in the Village Hall for Theatre Club members and friends; and on Sunday, I was Sir Robert Hunter yet again leading another Dramatic Hindhead Walk.

3rd July 2023

Over to Hastings with Nick & Erika for Stevie Stone's wake. Nick also looked up some addresses where his maternal grandmother had lived around there.

Live music at the Wake.

The famous fishermen's huts
still in use at Rock-a-Nore.

Says it all, really –
that's crazy Hastings!

By 'Goat Ridge' at St Leonard's
were we had a morning coffee..

19th June 2023

I took a trip down memory lane when we went to stay in Amersham for a couple of nights and visited the areas where I grew up.

Coleshill water tower which I saw from my bedroom window

This was how Amersham greeted us – we had to find another way!

That's better! Only the old Market Hall to pass now.

Destination: The King's Arms.
Car park through the gap.

The smallest house in town.

An excellent museum nearby.

Underneath the arches of the Market Hall ...

.. where the writing's on the wall!

The old Baptist chapel, with a sign 'British School 1842'.

St Mary's, Amersham

More strictures on a house wall.

A gate to Chequers
– we didn't try it!

Top of Combe Hill,
highest point in the Chilterns

Grand Union Canal at Bulbourne Junction

Tell it how it is!!

Hughenden Manor – brief visit
on the way home

22nd May 2023

For the first time in several years the people of Corné, our twin town in France, were able to visit us. They arrived on Thursday and left yesterday, and a very good time was had by all. The photo below shows them with their Headley hosts on the village green just before their departure.

15th May 2023

We made it to the Norwegian fjords at last! This was the cruise which had first been proposed in 2019 and then cancelled and amended over the Covid period until now, when we managed a week on the good ship 'Britannia' care of P&O. We sailed from Southampton and visited Stavanger, Olden, Flåm and Haugesund before returning. And of course we missed all the fun & games of a Coronation back home. Here are a few memories:—

The bedroom part of our cabin, complete with Coronation flags!

The 3-storey Atrium in the 'Britannia'

First stop Stavanger, and another manhole to add to our collection

There were various murals in the town

The ship in Stavanger habour; we were Deck 14, one from the top, on the starboard side, near the back

Is this the 'Norwegian Blue'
from the Python 'Dead parrot' sketch?

This is the old quarter of town with white-painted wooden buildings

where they have to put up with cruise liners towering over them from time to time.

Next we headed for the fjords
with views to right and left

and watched the manual mooring procedure when we docked at Flåm!

Here is a 'mast-eye' view of Flåm showing the railway terminus

Side view of our mooring in Flåm

A hawser securing us in Flåm;
trip hazard??

By the railway museum in Flåm

the train arrives from the hills.

More fjord views on the way out.

24th April 2023

Well, we did it! Despite feeling like we were herding cats at some points in the run-up, we put on two successful evenings of Bard's Night over the weekend. See photos – but as a taster, here am I dressed as a strutting cock in electric blue tights! Apparently it was the talk of the ladies at the church next week!!

Now we can relax for a while and prepare ourselves for a holiday.

17th April 2023

There's not a great deal to report these last few weeks. We're busy organising our "Bard's Night" for the end of next week – England's answer to Scotland's "Burn's Night" which seems to have rooted itself in places south of the border for some reason. We've fought back and done them in previous years – a mixture of light-hearted digs at Shakespeare, Chaucer and other ancient works – but most of all it's billed as a mediaeval banquet. Let's hope that we get good audiences – some people are still wary of mixing in crowds post-Covid.

27th March 2023

So, at the third time of asking Dil finally had her eye operation, and all seems well – even though we misjudjed the hour and had to race up the A3 at great speed to get there on time!

13th March 2023

The continuing saga of Dil's eye appointment – this time it was snow on the roads that stopped it! So it's moved forward by another fortnight.

6th March 2023

Did you know about the secret tunnels of Welbeck Abbey? Neither did I, though I'd visited that area (the 'Dukeries' of Nottinghamshire) several times in the past. Dil has bought me a book called 'The Underground Man' – a semi-fictionalised account of the 5th Duke of Portland – and I'm fascinated to know more.

27th February 2023

Dil was all primed to go for a cataract operation last Wedneday, when she received a message to say it was off due to a piece of broken machinery. So now she's all primed for next Wednesday!

13th February 2023

We had a Smart Meter installed today (in fact two meters, one for electricity and one for gas) — not because we felt the desperate need to keep minute tabs on our usage, but so that we don't have to keep moving the contents of the utility room about every time we want to take a meter reading. Now we don't need to, and our bills will be accurate where before they were estimated by the supplier and usuallty overcharged. It all went well, except for the breakage of one bottle which got in the way of the installer's feet. Fortunately, it was a bottle of IKEA non-alcoholic wine, which we'd had no intention of drinking ourselves anyway!

6th February 2023

So, it's been three years since Brexit was 'done' – and can you tell me one thing that's come out of it? I can't. But I can think of plenty of niggling problems that have cropped up. Trouble is, it was all pushed forward by a man without a plan – and now it shows.

30th January 2023

The panto has been a great success with audiences, which is encouraging as up to the dress rehearsal we were all a bit worried about how it would go down. See pictures from the show here.
So now life has to return to 'normal'. As far as I'm concerned, that means getting back to what I call the Great Website Reorganisation (GWR), working towards merging mine and Alistair Young's sites into one. It will take a few months yet, but this week we're giving a presentation on the project. Wish us luck!

16th January 2023

So, we're off! The first weekend of the panto went reasonably successfully (well, there were a few 'Les Dawson' moments towards the end of one performance, but we'll gloss over that!) – and I did my Elvis impersonation singing 'I'm the King of the Swingers' – don't ask!!
Thank you to Pete, who snapped me in action (see right) – and click on the pic to see a video clip taken by my daughter Emma.
The show goes on for another three performances over the coming weekend. Catch it if you can.

2nd January 2023

Nearly everyone we know has been down with some bug or other, including me! Nothing serious, and probably not Covid-19, which is still around – but enough to put us in bed from time to time and give us a hacking cough.
Preparations for the panto continue (see right). Last year we had to postpone it until March due to illness – let's hope for better this year.

Continued …

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