Thursday, 25 June 2009

Old books and Romsey Abbey

Romsey Abbey, Hampshire

Anyone reading this blog on a regular basis will know of my deep love of books - a passion really, since I would forgo almost anything in order to buy another book I have seen and desire. Some of them cost just pennies at the Car Boot Sale. Some are brand new and full price. Once they are on my bookshelves, I find it very hard to winnow out the ones I can live without. A recent Car Boot Sale acquisition was H V Morton's In Search of England, which cost me all of a pound. I have just turned to the pages where he moves on to Romsey from Winchester (in Hampshire). Romsey is where my mum's parents moved after WW1, and where I still have aunties and many cousins living. This was originally first published in 1927, and he could have been writing about my mum and her sisters when he wrote the following:

"Three small girls in white pinafores were nursing dolls in the graveyard; a butcher's boy in a blue pinafore cycled past with mutton, and down the elm walk there came an elderly man holding a posy of wallflowers in his right hand . . ."


"Romsey, in the magic county of Hampshire, is the ideal small market town. Lord Palmerston, with bronze hair turned green by years of rain, stands importantly on a plinth in the market-place; a policeman in an easier attitude stands near him; there is a full cake-shop opposite; everything is slowed down to a reasonable pace; men in leggings stand on the kerbstone with the expressions of deep thinkers; now and then a man and cow cross the square."

My parents were married in Romsey Abbey. I have visited it many times over the years and here is Mr Morton writing about something I remember very clearly:

"There is in Romsey Abbey, in a locked box, a tress of auburn hair. It was found during excavations in the year 1839 in a leaden coffin of Saxon date under the floor of the south aisle near the abbess's door. The coffin was otherwise empty and the hair had been placed in a box of oak that rested upon a wooden stand. What, I wonder, is the story? How often a mystery like that hangs in the mind when the greatest monuments in a church have faded from remembrance."

As indeed, it has stayed in my mind all these years. I wonder who she was? A Saxon princess? A revered mother or sister or daugther? We will never know . . .

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

June is the month of roses . . .

Just to show that I can hold my own with rose displays, this is my Paul's Himalayan Musk in full fig . . . A shame we had grey skies and not blue ones. Anyway, double click for more detail.

My husband and I (always feel like the Queen when I write that!) have got back from taking our eldest daughter back to Sheffield and helping her and her boyfriend to move house. On the journey home we did a detour and visited Haddon Hall near Bakewell. It is apparently rated the best historical house in the country and we would second that. It is SO unspoilt and absolutely WONDERFUL. There will be several seperate posts about it, for as long as the broadband holds - we have it back after several days without. If I disappear again, you'll know we no longer have Four Blue Lights on the home hub . . .

The gardens there were just AMAZING and I had to be dragged away, protesting. If we didn't have a 6 hour journey ahead of us, we would have gone around the house and gardens again! The roses there were an absolute joy and the scent of Philadelphus (mock orange) was just wonderful. Even my husband (NOT a gardener) enjoyed it. They had a lot of David Austin roses, in fact, a LOT of roses, full stop. I was taking photos and thinking, oh I must have THAT in my next garden. I think I have a shopping list as long as your arm!

Now that our daughter is t'other side of Sheffield I have persuaded my husband that perhaps a different route to and from the city is in order, so we are exploring the possibilities at present, though in future we shall avoid going through the centre of Stafford just when the schools chuck out! As it was we ended up having fish and chips in Hay-on-Wye and having a lovely stroll around the evening streets in search of a bottle of wine to provide a night cap . . . We found some good A-road routes yesterday, and just need to tweek the route a bit. . .

If you can identify any of these, please let me know. I am about to sit here with my David Austin rose catalogue and see what I can find . . . then make a shopping list for When We Downsize!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

I'm back - I think . . . I HOPE!

I loved this wooden statue in the car park. Apparently it is a Knight called "Mercia Man" and was carved from the remains of a beech tree by Philip Bews and erected in Gaol Street in 2000. It was commissioned by Herefordshire Council. Apparently Mr Bews roughed the Knight out with a chainsaw and then did the details using a chisel. The buildings on the Knight's head represent various buildings in Hereford and the old bridge, and he is carrying an apple in one hand (a cider apple of course!) and a Hereford Bull in the other . . . I don't know who is responsible for the cone, but they were good at climbing!

Well, we are now on our third day of four blue lights on the BT home hub. I can't quite trust in fate that it will stay that way, but I shall hope for the best. I have SO much to share with you and can hopefully reward your patience with some interesting titbits and photos again. I did begin by taking notes (esp. for my Nature Notes) but as the weeks went by I lost hope a bit, especially after being told it could be a month MORE before we had the broadband back.

Anyway, we have our eldest daughter home at present which is LOVELY and yesterday we went to Hereford for the day, as she wanted to see the Mappa Mundi in Hereford Cathedral. It so happens that Hay-on-Wye is on the way too . . . I expect that you know which way THIS post is going!

This beautiful "Magpie house" is from the Tudor period and stands in the middle of the city and now houses an excellent Museum with period furniture and original painted plasterwork. I took lots of photos but sadly cannot share them with you as I had to sign an indemnity form - which particularly said I was not to share them "electronically" . . . A pox on 'em . . .

Looking down the main thoroughfare. I was marched PAST all the plant stalls . . .

Another view of the wonderful museum, which was really light inside from all the windows.

A narrow street (this would be a "wynd" in certain towns) showing that it may once have had a runnel down the middle, as does Cheap Street in Frome, still . . .

There were some nice little shops but I didn't dare go into the Artisan wools one, having had quite a shock in a similar shop in Hay-on-Wye where the cheapest wools were over £5 a time, and several were £8.95 and even £10.95 a ball . . .

Below, a view across the Cathedral Close to some of the older buildings in Hereford.

Anyway, it was a really fabulous day out - but then I'm easily pleased! We wandered round the city and the cathedral, and asked where the Green Men were in the cathedral and the Verger showed us. They had school children and Very Loud Music when we arrived and the Cathedral was filled with a terrific atmosphere - last time we went, there were school children again but it was very subdued in there.

I'll come back and add some more details later, but No. 1 just-left-school son is waiting to come on.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


We have 4 blue lights - yippee . . . (though green would be tasteful too Granny . . .) Don't know how long for. Just to update you that we are probably going to have to wait another MONTH before we get broadband sorted properly as they have to shut the lane, lop trees, put up new poles and a new length of cable . . . I am missing you all SO MUCH, but please bear with me, I will be back - hopefully a bit sooner, but we're dealing with the Council here over the road, so . . .

Friday, 12 June 2009

Four blue lights!!!

That means I have a Broadband connection - we have had DREADFUL problems with the phone line - no internet for 3 weeks now, bar one little blip last time I posted, and no phone for several days too, or a line so crackly it was unusable. Apparently trees are being trimmed and a new line put up today. I blardy hope so. If all goes quiet again, you'll know it didn't work. Back when I can . . .

Friday, 5 June 2009

I'm back!

Walking home after voting yesterday - I was SO disappointed there is no longer a Monster Raving Loony Party, as believe me, they would have got my vote . . .

Ye Gods! WHAT a performance, changing Broadband and phone providers. Phone no problem, but I am SICK of talking to folk in Indian call centres and trying to get the Broadband sorted. I have SUCH a lot to catch up on and it would return on the day I am destined to garden for my friend. Ah well. Perhaps we may even have an EVENING connection now - that really WOULD be a novelty. Back later and glad everyone loved the Aquilegias. Contact me with an SAE if you would like seed . . .