Sunday, 15 October 2017

Plane-spotting at Blackbushe Airport

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Blackbushe Airport Camberley Surrey Yateley Common Hampshire
Duck, you three!!!
You could easily spend a day at Blackbushe Airport, was what we remembered when we went there yesterday afternoon. We used to go there a lot and realised the last time we visited was before H was born. I really can't believe it's been that long, considering the airport is only a six-minute drive from our house. Now that H takes interest in aeroplanes (and any other thing with an engine in it), we thought we might as well take him there.

First, a note on the location. On one
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Blackbushe Airport Camberley Surrey Yateley Common Hampshire
Woodland (Yateley Common) on our way to the runway.
side of the airport is Yateley Common so I always thought the airport is part of Hampshire. In their website, though, the postal address is Surrey but I'd say the actual location is Hampshire. Now this is not really surprising as Hampshire and Surrey (and Berkshire) share a lot of land. For example, we live in Berkshire and we are in the secondary school catchment of our local area but our nearest secondary school based on physical location is actually in Hampshire. The second time I visited England, my then future father-in-law drove me to the road where the three counties meet. Not a big deal but I find little things like that so magical.

Blackbushe Airport was built in 1941 and it was originally called RAF Hartfordbridge. The first civilian flight was in September 1945. In 1960, Blackbushe Airport was closed, and all of the infrastructure, fixtures, and fittings were auctioned off. Parts of the runways were dug up. The airport remained closed until 6 October 1962 when it was formally reopened as a general aviation field. Blackbushe has an important historical place in British Drag Racing history and was the scene of the legendary Dragfests. Blackbushe also hosted the 'picnic' in 1978, with over 200,000 people attending the concert with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Band, Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker and The Rumour, Lake, and Merger all performing. Source: https://www.blackbusheairport.co.uk
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Blackbushe Airport Camberley Surrey Yateley Common Hampshire
Waiting for lunch (after we had our cakes). The other one
said she was freezing.


As a family, we love to watch the aeroplanes whilst we have breakfast at the Blackbushe cafe. We would then proceed to the runway, passing through the woods (Yateley Common). Note to self: bring M's scooter or bicycle next time. The disused runway is just perfect for learning how to bike-ride. I remember that a few of her classmates learned how to cycle there (is there still hope for me?!). That said, the runway is huge but twice, two little girls on their bikes almost ran us over. "Watch where you're going!" One of the mums shouted to her daughter. Mike said later, "all little girls are just like Peppa Pig, aren't they? Talk and talk and talk." It was true that the girls couldn't concentrate riding their bicycles because they were just chatting away! Blackbushe used to have the UK's largest outdoor Sunday Market as well, held from 1984, but sadly closed in 2015.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Blackbushe Airport Camberley Surrey Yateley Common Hampshire
One of the disused runways.
I envy my husband who didn't really go very far from where he grew up. He has good memories of Blackbushe -- drinking a few beers with his best friend whilst watching the aeroplanes from a bench that is not there anymore. "Oh, this is a great spot, we used to play radio-controlled cars here (we got told off)," he would say. He also had flying lessons in Blackbushe when he was younger.

I was a bit worried when I learned that there are plans to re-develop Blackbushe, thinking they might make use of the disused runways, etc. and limit public access. Fortunately, the plan is only to "re-develop the airfield itself, to provide better facilities and to generate future employment for the area, without having a detrimental impact on the local community and its recreational activities." Even so, Mike commented how huge a project it was.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Blackbushe Airport Camberley Surrey Yateley Common Hampshire


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Friday, 29 September 2017

A "Sporty" School Year Kick-starts with a Visit to the Olympic Stadium


gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Tom Daley diver Olympics British
The Olympian and champion diver Tom Daley 
training. Photo by my six-year-old, who brought 
her pink camera with her.
How lucky is this girl and her schoolmates?

M has been to field trips to nearby areas and to London during pre-school and since she started primary school in 2015. For two years in a row, the school treated them to "secret trips" at the start of the school year (Read about last year's trip here). It is entirely hush-hush that we don't have a clue till the day where they are headed to. On this occasion, we parents kind of had a clue that the trip would involve swimming as the school letters required the children to bring swimwear, but the children were kept in the dark till they reached the destination. Oh, all right. I might have heard the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London being mentioned but there was no confirmation. I didn't know what M would feel about swimming (she did have some practice during our summer holiday at the villa in Italy), but I thought she'd be all right as they'd do other sporting activities.

We're only on our third year at M's school and I could see how the curriculum works. Each year, they focus on a subject and work around that area, teaching the children and giving them projects related to the theme. The children get to experience new and exciting opportunities and develop skills in a range of curriculum areas. This year the focus is on how sport and P.E. can inspire students to rise to challenges and raise aspirations.

M's class at the Olympic Stadium in London 
(photo from the school website)
As I'm not a sporty person, I have a tendency (more like defence mechanism) to frown upon any portrayal of sports that tend to mislead many youths and make them believe that to be a [football player] is the easiest path to success. But to show sports for what it really is: the hard work and determination that go with learning and training for a particular field is a different matter altogether and leaves me in awe. It requires hours of practice (and in most cases, a lot of money) to train a child to excel in a particular sport, even if he/she already has talent for it.

Ten days before their secret trip to London, international athlete Luke Delahunty visited M's school, encouraging the children in their sponsored circuits activities in the morning, followed by sharing his story during assembly. As a 24-year-old serving in the RAF, Luke was paralysed from the chest down after his motorbike crashed with a tractor on his way to work. We now know Luke as a hand-cyclist and rower and he also represented the country in the 2016 Invictus Games, an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event founded by Prince Harry. When I write of Luke's achievements here it might sound very easy, but changing your course through life even for people who don't sustain life-changing injuries is a hurdle and that's what's truly inspiring about his story, that one's potential is endless. He had such a busy schedule that on the same day, he rushed to the One Show for an Invictus Games special on BBC 1 after visiting M's school, and this week he is at the Invictus Games in Toronto to represent the country once again.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Tom Daley diver Olympics British
Tom Daley and his coach, Jane, were presented 
the Pride medals from M's school; on the right 
are Tom's Olympic training partners (photo 
from the school website).
Admittedly, I was more excited than I should have been when I heard M's school would go to the Olympic Park. This past week I kept reminding M to look after herself, she didn't want to catch any bug or she might miss the trip, a very rare opportunity, indeed. I guess this was not bad compared to other little things I worry about when I think of her out in the world without me. Should I let her bring the school water bottle or just a normal water bottle that she could dispose of after using? "Do you know how to open a [normal] water bottle?" I asked her. Of course I took it upon myself to unseal the bottle before packing it in her bag. I would have loved to come -- helpers, whether in the classroom or trips, are always needed at M's school. But it was such a long day. The parent-helpers and children had to be in school at 8.10am for an 8.30 departure, and they were back only by 7pm and even if Mike worked at home that day, he couldn't look after our younger child till sundown at the same time. The children explored the areas in the park - swimming in the wake of legends at the Olympic Pool in the Aquatic Centre and taking part in sports and games in the Copper Box Arena. Then they watched Olympian and champion diver Tom Daley train after which he talked to them about his sporting life, answered questions and paused for photographs.

I admire M's primary school (no wonder it was voted School of the Year in the whole area this year and in the June 2015 Ofsted inspection, its Reception class was the only one in the borough that got an Outstanding [highest] rating). As the oldest school in town, it is a proper Victorian school. I would say where we are is countryside enough for me; the school is not in the middle of nowhere but I'm amazed how this tiny primary school voluntary aided by the local church does mighty things.  It also does know how to make use of its close proximity to London. I continue to be amazed with the opportunities M gets at such a young age, to have educators who are not afraid [and are free] to think out of the box, and bring about these well-thought out themes. I could only comment from what I know but having gone to, and taught briefly in, a traditional school, we didn't have this. When she was in Reception, I remember that the theme they had for the final term was Mary Poppins. At first, one might go, why? But with most children's short attention span, this was one way to pique their interest. This teaching approach is non-conformal and creative, that learning was so fun-filled for the children they didn't even think of school as work. I know Mary Poppins but it was only that time that I realised how much you could do with her as central to children's learning. I admire the Reggio Emilia schools of Italy and I would say M's school has some of the Reggio schools' qualities. She's a really lucky girl to have this great start. As much as I'm worried this early that she might not get a place in the secondary school we'd like for her to go to as we're not in catchment,  I'm just glad she gets all this exposure very early in life.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com headteacher's award
Her first Headteacher's Award for this school 
year. It's funny how these pieces of paper become 
the parents' pride.
What a busy three-week-back-to-school it has been, at least for my six-year-old! I came to pick her up at judo last Tuesday and they were doing this exercise of quick-thinking where children got eliminated and she won (for the life of me, I never thought she would for she daydreams a lot, but I saw her win). She also got her first Headteacher's Award for the school year (and a unicorn stationery of her choice) and she responsibly moved her violin lessons to Wednesdays, acknowledging she is tired on Friday evenings as she also has Homework Club that day. I know she's only six but I'm proud of her and I'm also kind of nervous for her little brother who's got so much to live up to. I'd pulled her out from dance (ballet and tap) after nearly two years of lessons for various reasons - maybe I should blog about that, or maybe I shouldn't. She's doing Chess and Board Games again this term (run by the Headteacher, my only way for her to be a good sport as all board games at home end up in tears). Her class is also benefitting from rugby coaching this term, another example of what I'd hoped our PE was like when I was in school. Her social life calendar is fully packed compared to my Zero one but let's just enjoy every moment, shall we. I am confident she's not overworked, the girl is just so full of energy, any excess would just be spent teasing and making her brother cry (even after warnings of, wait till you're 13 and he's 8 and a half). It's also one of those old things -- you'd like for your child to have the opportunities you never had. Right now I'd like for her to try all things and it's up to her to decide what she'd like to focus on later on. I already signed her up for Brownies (girlguiding, or Scouts as we know it back in the Philippines), the next step from Rainbows which she currently attends. She will move to Brownies in January should they already have a place for her, the term after her seventh birthday. I would love for her to continue doing Guides and hopefully someday be a guide/leader herself as it helps her be more responsible and independent. I don't expect her to learn how to make fire from sticks and rocks, but that would also be cool.

From http://www.reggiochildren.it/
"The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy based on the image of the child, and of human beings, as possessing strong potentials for development and as a subject of rights who learns and grows in the relationships with others.
This global educational project, which is carried forth in the Municipal Infant-toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and has inspired other schools all over the world, is based on a number of distinctive characteristics: the participation of families, the collegial work of all the personnel, the importance of the educational environment, the presence of the atelier and the figure of the atelierista, the in-school kitchen, and the pedagogical coordinating team.
Focusing on the centrality of the hundred languages belonging to every human being, in the atelier spaces young children are offered daily opportunities to encounter many types of materials, many expressive languages, many points of view, working actively with hands, minds, and emotions, in a context that values the expressiveness and creativity of each child in the group."



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Monday, 25 September 2017

An Early Autumn at Painshill Park

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Painshill Park Cobham SurreySomebody gave us a 10-month buyagift voucher that was to expire today (!) and as is our way, at the last minute we searched for somewhere near to use it. Mike recommended Painshill Park in Cobham Surrey, coincidentally, I've always wanted to go there after M's class went there for a field trip last year. (I blogged about that visit here, where M's school went to secret trips with their year level, took photographs, selected a photo to paint and had them framed for a school exhibit).

The lady at the till said she hasn't seen one of our vouchers before and after consulting with another staff member, accepted our voucher under "membership" without any trouble at all. Painshill Park is an 18th century landscape garden originally created by the Honourable Charles Hamilton between 1738 and 1773, and restored in 1981. Having two very young children, we visit a place just to go for a walk and have a picnic and we did just that.

There are so many things to see at Painshill Park, at first I wasn't really sure what to feel about the unrealness of everything in sight, e.g., how to make sure that you've got a raised flag all the time? Have a metal flag, like that one we saw atop a Turkish tent, permanently flying.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Painshill Park Cobham Surrey
The man-made grotto dates back to
1760.

When I went to their website after M's trip last year, I was sorry for M's class as they didn't get to see the cave in the premises. It's only open on weekends, and the opening times also depend on whether there will be stewards available. Before visiting, I had the impression the cave was natural. We learned that the cave is man-made, and that it took 10 years to build. This extraordinary folly dates back to 1760 and hundreds of thousands of crystals including calcite, gypsum, quartz, and fluorite (AND GLUE!) have been used to create it. The stones with the holes were apparently sourced from the Cotswolds. Basically, Hamilton was inspired by Renaissance and contemporary art and visits to Italy on the Grand Tour, and he decided to create a tranquil landscape setting enriched by follies, water, trees, shrubberies and a vineyard. I took this picture of the grotto (right photo) towards the exit where you could see the landscape outside. For something man-made, this grotto is huge. "I want one!" I joked to Mike, probably not that far from Hamilton's reaction when he saw these things in Italy. I asked the steward how much it was to make a cave like this. Apparently, the recent restorations alone cost about half a million pounds.


gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Painshill Park Cobham Surrey
On the way to the Gothic Tower. Looking for
Rapunzel. Forever a school girl.
At least the waterwheel in the park has some use, is was restored in 1987 and it is one of the largest working wheels in the UK. It was originally created to feed the Cascade and Lake, and to provide water for the plantings. Unfortunately, it wasn't running during our visit. There's also a mini-vineyard reminiscent of the Chianti Region. Painshill produces its own wine from that restored vineyard.

"Hermitage - Hamilton advertised for a hermit to live as a recluse for seven years in the Hermitage. Legend has it that the hermit was found drinking in a local inn within three weeks."

We were very lucky that even though we had visited during the weekend, it was not that busy and we could see the trees already trying their best to change colours, and the hint of autumn was so beautiful. We managed to visit the sites that were only open during weekends like the aforementioned grotto and also the Gothic Tower. Well, I stayed with H whilst Mike and M climbed the 99 steps and caught sight of the amazing views beyond the Painshill landscape to four counties. It said in the leaflet that Canary Wharf and Windsor Castle can be seen on a clear day. Mike wasn't convinced and said you would see them only if you know where they are, and if you do, they are really tiny.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Painshill Park Cobham SurreyOverall, it was a lovely day out and the kiddies enjoyed it very much, especially H who was so enamoured with the swans.

A personal note about Surrey: it used to be my place of work, at the same university where Mike got his bachelor's degree a decade before I worked there, a University of London unit located in the countryside. Mike's paternal ancestors lived in Surrey for centuries. My son H was also born in a Surrey hospital. In literature, Surrey is where Privet Drive is located, where the Dursleys (Harry Potter's unkind relations) lived.

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Saturday, 16 September 2017

No, Blogarama, you CANNOT do that

***If you see this entire post on blogarama.com, then they have uploaded it without my permission. In fact, you should not see even just the name of my blog there anymore as I have asked to be removed from their directory weeks ago.***

Last year, I submitted my blog to blogarama not realising that they are not just a directory anymore. Recently, I noticed that they've been indexing my posts with the full content making it appear as though the posts originated from blogaramaEven the url to my blog, when clicked, just redirects to what seemed like a muddled page on their own website. In fact, all supposed links to my blog, when clicked, just redirected to another blogarama page. 

So obviously, I wasn't very happy. The most upsetting thing is I do not just blog. I have to really think carefully about my posts, taking a long while before I can find time to blog about a recent event. And because of this blogaramkerfuffle, the time that was meant for writing posts was spent filing a complaint against a website for copyright infringement! 


I found a page of my blog on blogarama containing nine posts. It seemed I couldn't find my posts in one place but when I googled specific sentences and added blogarama, I found 24 in all. There could be more.
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Blogarama copyright infringement
The screenshot above is the list of my posts. even now,
when I search their site for my blog, this appears. 
No, I put the X myself.

I have written to their host provider for them to contact blogarama about my complaint. They immediately removed my posts but the list of some of the titles are still there. The screenshot on the right is the list of my posts. even now, when I search their site for my blog, this appears. I didn't bring this up anymore, anyway, when you click on any link, they're gone. As it is very difficult to contact anyone on their website, I just have to continue monitoring if they are still copying my articles illegally. 

I guess the biggest lesson here is to research a directory properly first if you'd like to submit your website to them. 

Have you experienced the same about your blog? Feel free to comment or message me if you'd like to know further about my experience filing a complaint on blogarama.com.



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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Harry Potter Turns 20 (article in Fine Books Autumn 2017 print edition)

Harry Potter 20th anniversary Levi Pinfold Fine Books and Collections
We had been away for three and a half weeks gallivanting across Europe so now I'm a bit behind in some writing projects but here's an output. Just received my contributor's copy of the autumn edition of Fine Books and Collections. I've got an article about the Harry Potter 20th anniversary celebrations. I also interviewed Harry Potter 20th anniversary illustrator Levi Pinfold and here's more from that interview published recently on Fine Books and Collections online.

CBW: How are these Harry Potter illustrations different/similar to the work that you usually do?

LP: Normally I don’t work in line, so it was a pleasure to use some ink for a change.

CBW: Related to question 1, did you look at existing illustrations or did you try not to?


LP: I tried to stay away from existing material during the time I worked on the pictures. I found myself looking more to Albrecht Dürer etchings and other work from Renaissance artists for inspiration. I’ve since allowed myself to leaf through Jim Kay’s amazing work on the major illustrated editions, though.


Continue reading here.

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Monday, 31 July 2017

The Mysterious Miss Austen


The Mysterious Miss Austen exhibition at the Discovery Centre in Winchester, Hampshire, ran from May 13-July 24 and brought together visitors from all over who loved Jane Austen’s prose but have always been curious about her physical appearance. As the curators of the exhibit said, this is the first time that five known (if still debated) portraits of Jane Austen were ever in one place, and it’s probably the only time that this will ever happen as they have been loaned from private collections here and abroad. I joined the others who, after seeing the portraits, felt that the mystery only deepened. Who is Jane Austen? Why do we like her so much? Would we like her less had we read the bulk of her letters that were destroyed by her sister Cassandra and contained her sometimes forthright comments on neighbours or family members? Continue reading here.


(right photo) A Pelisse on display at the Malady and Medicine exhibit, altered for use as a dressing gown. Unlike Jane's silk one, this is an everyday version that Jane might have worn when she was ill.


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Friday, 21 July 2017

Another school year ends

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Victorian schoolhouse Berkshire England
The picture above is of M's primary school (not my photo). The building on the left is the original structure  built in 1862. I'm very proud of this school. And as a lifelong admirer of anything Victoriana, for my daughter to go to a school founded in the Victorian era (and for us to live in a Victorian house) were all the stuff that my dreams were made of ❤

I thought I would cry only for the end of Reception year (kindergarten to some of us) because that was it, the end of the first year of school. But it seems I will do this every year now. I look at M's work and see pictures of her teacher dressed as Florence Nightingale asking them for ideas of a perfect hospital and that will probably always bring a tear or two. It's only been yesterday when they started Year 1 (1st grade or Grade 1 to some of us) and now it's come and gone.

I don't remember crying or being emotional when primary school ended. It was the same for my parents who probably met my teachers four times or less, whenever the report cards were given out. Here I see the teachers or talk to them almost everyday, it's just an entirely different culture, I guess, and you feel this attachment and it's really painful when it ends. It is hard as I am a very sensitive person and I could imagine myself always thinking of the past, and losing sleep over this.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Hadrian's Wall
(left photo) There we were, standing on Hadrian's Wall, just a few days before her third birthday. We were lucky to kind of plan what age gap we'd like for our children to have. To be closer or far apart in age each has its own advantages. It might be selfish but I liked it that I got to spend a lot of time with M first; and to have those milestones at a different time with H is just amazing. A friend who's got older kids said she liked them the most when they were 0-3. I have to agree, I love them to bits at any age, but these were (or are, in case of my younger one), the best yearsThey said that once they start school, the years will go by in a flash. When I think about it, the reason for my sadness about school ending is more about time passing quickly than anything else. Their sudden independence is almost heartbreaking.

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Sitting with Jane: Celebrating Jane Austen’s Life in Hampshire

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Waiting for Mr. Darcy Sitting with Jane
We saw our first “Sitting with Jane” BookBench during a recent visit to Chawton, Hampshire. It was positioned outside the Jane Austen House Museum, where Jane spent the last years of her life. I’d never seen this bench during our previous visits and thought it might be a permanent fixture. Further research indicated that it is one of twenty-four BookBenches that comprise the Sitting With Jane Public Art Trail to celebrate Austen’s connections with her birthplace, Steventon, and forms part of a global commemoration of her life in 2017, the 200th anniversary of her death (July 18). Continue reading here

"Waiting for Mr. Darcy" by artist Traci Moss, the BookBench found at Oakley Hall.

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Friday, 30 June 2017

The Jemima Project

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Jemima Puddle-duck Beatrix Potter Steiff scarfI love Jemima Puddle-duck, she must be my favourite Beatrix Potter character. She is both polite and foolish. I don't think she is completely gullible and she is not completely nice at all - yes she is unsuspecting when someone is nice to her, but she stands up for herself to those who are not.

I'm not sure who my daughter's favourite Beatrix Potter character is. When I showed her our picture at Beatrix's house from that 2014 trip, she vaguely remembered it (she was three years and 10 months). But she did remember something vividly, she said, "but I'd like to go back there, I'd like to go back to the shop, that's where I got Jemima Puddle-duck!"

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Jemima Puddle-duck Beatrix Potter Steiff scarf
I completed this upcycled scarf project years ago but as I've been sharing Beatrix Potter-themed photos on instagram, I just thought of writing about it here. I saw a Jemima Puddle-duck Steiff (pictured above, right) during my post-soft toy obsession. So that time, I was more interested in having the scarf than the duck.

The fringe reminded me of the cushion cover project we did back in primary school. In fact, I used exactly the same colour yarn for my cushion case. Like any project I'd done in the past that could get very tedious, I did this whilst binge-watching a TV series with my husband. I didn't know what I was thinking. Surely, I wouldn't use this scarf? I did it more for M, really. But in the end and knowing how long it took me to do that fringe, I wouldn't let her use the scarf without supervision!

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Jemima Puddle-duck Beatrix Potter Steiff scarf


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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Rise and Fall of Waverley Abbey

Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
Abbey ruins
I've been visiting Waverley Abbey in Surrey the past 10 years. I just love this hidden gem. Parking is free, entrance is free; bring a picnic or if you want to have some me-time, it's a great place to just read a book or meditate. Last year, we weren't allowed in; we visited not knowing they were making The Mummy film with Tom Cruise. The drive to the abbey was to the left and to our right, we saw a sign saying it was the Waverley House Open House that very day. The house is a Grade II listed Georgian mansion. We ended up going to the Open House and it was fun so every year we'll probably visit the abbey when it's also the Open House and spend the day there.


Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
View of the bridge from the house
Waverley is the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott's Waverley novel. I wanted to photograph a Walter Scott book in the abbey so I went looking for one in my shelf because I knew I had one but couldn't find any. Then I realised, I did read the Waverley novels but I was in my late teens, and I'd just borrowed them from the university library. It's a scary thought, to be sure that something happened only a few years ago when it truth it happened nearly two decades ago. I'm really getting old. My only excuse is I (used to) read a lot, and it's confusing to keep track of everything, when you have to take into account real life as well.




Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
View of the house from the bridge
I found more information over at ParadoxPlace, such as, the medieval bridge used to be the main entrance to the abbey. According to the website, "Waverley was the second daughter of the Abbey of  L'Aumone in Normandy.  Like many Cistercian abbeys it was founded 'far from the concourse of man' on a boggy but beautiful site on the River Wey at the initiative of William Gifford, the Bishop of Winchester. Both William and his successor Henry de Blois (brother of King Stephen) facilitated the transfer of large tracts of land to the new abbey and granted it many privileges."
Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
Top photo: Mike with Little M at six months
Bottom photo: Mike with Little H at two years

I know reading about a place hundreds of years old is more interesting if you can actually see the site. Such is the case about Waverley Abbey; in every visit I feel that there is something about it that makes me explore the place and reread about what it once had been.

The Rise and Fall of Waverley Abbey (text transcribed from the sign near the entrance)

"These ruins are all that remains of Britain's first Cistercian monastery.

Waverley Abbey Waverley House Sir Walter Scott gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
Me and M at what was once used to be a
Monks' Dormitory



Waverley Abbey was founded in 1128 by William Gifford, bishop of Winchester (1107-29). It was home to a Cistercian community for more than 400 years.

In its heyday, up to 70 monks and 120 lay brothers lived and worshipped here. The ruins you see today are part of a central group of buildings which stop within a much larger precinct of about 60 acres, enclosed by a stone wall.

The abbey was suppressed by King Henry VIII in 1536. The monks were dispersed and the site granted to Sir William FitzWilliam, later earl of Southampton (d. 1542). He built a house here, incorporating some of the monastic structures.


Several families held the property through to the early 18th century, when a new house was built to the north. The abbey ruins were then incorporated into picturesque parkland. The 18th-century house, which still stands behind you, was later extended and rebuilt."


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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

At Cliveden, rolling down a hill

I refrained from calling this entry "How to roll down a hill" as I'm not an expert on the subject. Anyway, it's been ages since I've done this. What I remember is if I raised my arm, I wouldn't go very fast. Please excuse bossy Hermione Granger, err, my daughter, talking in the background.

Except for M who's been to Cliveden with her class last December in a field trip that culminated in a school art exhibit, it was all our first time to visit the estate. Mike and M went into the maze and whilst waiting, I overheard this guy just coming out with his family thanking another guy for "saving their lives." He said it was so hot and they got so bored he was ready to give someone else a fiver to help them get out. Then in the middle of the maze, there was some sort of memorial and he feared they were for all the people who didn't make it out of the maze alive. He was just joking, of course.

We had a very relaxing afternoon just walking around and lying on the grass. The gardens overlook the River Thames - this is why I remember the area, because of its proximity to the river, and how we'd gone there whilst house-hunting in 2011. Cliveden is in Maidenhead, some 37 minutes drive from where we live. For more than 300 years it was home to dukes, earls, viscounts and for a while, a prince. A glittering hub of society, Cliveden hosted exclusive parties and political gatherings, later becoming infamously associated with the Profumo Affair.


Cliveden National Trust gaslighthouse.blogspot.co.uk
(Left photo) Cliveden is NOT Jane Austen’s inspiration for Pemberley, I just thought it'd make a good book photograph. "Death Comes to Pemberley” by PD James is the murder-mystery sequel to Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” set six years into the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth. Shown on the book cover are Matthew Rhys and Anna Maxwell Martin who portrayed them in the 2013 BBC adaptation. 

Cliveden National Trust gaslighthouse.blogspot.co.uk
 I live here only half the time now whilst they’re doing repairs, can’t you tell I just got out of bed???! 
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