Monday 31 December 2012

Best Christmas Present Ever

But this little one is definitely for life, and not just for Christmas.

This is Rafi
In this second pic you can see just how tiny he is.

Monday 10 December 2012

Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum and Country Park

Somehow I managed to lose a few blogging days last week. It’s been a bit tricky trying to meet writing deadlines that are earlier this month than usual because everyone, me included, wants to take time off for Christmas. Anyway, I have a small window of time today, so I thought I’d tell you about our visit to Wheal Martyn as promised.

The final day of our Cornish holiday seems in the dim and distant past now. Actually it was only the end of October, and just looking at our photos takes me right back to it. It was the first day that we woke up to rain, but it was our only chance to see the open air clay museum exhibits, so we went anyway. And once we were there, the rain lessened and finally ceased.

In any case, we started with the indoor displays that told the story of the workers when this was a working clay mine, and of the lives of the local community. And we read about some of the characters connected with the mine over the years, all of which I have to admit has gone out of my mind right now.

Jade was very well behaved in there, but glad to emerge into the open air at the far end. Then we were following a historic trail through the former china clay works, and the first thing we saw was an enormous waterwheel. At 35 feet high it is the largest working water wheel in Cornwall.

 From there we entered a yard with some ancient vehicles and railway carriages that showed how the end product was transported away from the works. 

Here we found more shelter from the rain and more indoor exhibits to wander around, before heading upstairs to where the clay was dried on a tiled floor heated by hot air from furnaces in the blacksmith’s workshop below. When it was dry, the clay was packed into barrels ready for transportation.

After this we followed a roundabout route passing another water wheel, and noting various methods of moving water around to and from the settling tanks and sand drags.

 Jade was not too sure about entering the flat rod tunnel, through which the rods from the massive water wheel below pushed the power used in the pit. 

But she did follow us as we bent down to walk through it on our way to the pithead viewpoint where we could see more modern methods of extracting the clay taking place far below us.

On the way back we passed this quaint seat waiting for tired ramblers. 

We also took in a nature trail that pleased Jade no end. Then she was tired enough to rest in the car while we polished off another Cornish pasty lunch.

Tuesday 4 December 2012


Most people can't afford to live on the one mile peninsula that separate Poole Harbour from the sea. You have to have a few million pounds to be able to buy a home there. But everyone can enjoy its beach and amenities. This is how it can look on a winter's day.

Many of the children prefer to spend time in the playpark behind the beach huts
 and the cafe at this time of  year.

Friday 30 November 2012

Dream Living

Before my retirement I dreamed of a lazy life by the sea. I did manage to move to a seaside location, but the reality is far from lazy. I’ve found I’m in greater demand than when I was out there touting for work. And I still need to earn to support my house, dog and the two somewhat impoverished men who share my house space.

Well, I can still dream. This week my dreams centre around south Florida, surely one of the best locations for year round seaside living. I heard about the new luxury developments on Sunny Isles beach between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Not sure if I would want to live in a high rise, but the Regalia condos are the last word in luxury, with one apartment per storey and sea views all round.

A little further south is Bal Harbour, again with skyscraping apartment living. The views will be to die for. The luxuryoceanfront condos at One Bal Harbour come with all the facilities of a hotel, including wifi. I can just imagine myself sitting under a sun brolly in a skimpy swimsuit, working away at my laptop but taking a refreshing dip in the pool to cool off from time to time.

Perhaps it’s just as well that luxury oceanfront condominiums in Bal Harbour, Florida, will have to remain a dream for me. I doubt very much that I’d be able to take my dog with me, and I can’t imagine life without her now.

Monday 26 November 2012

Day Off in Dorchester

I took the train to Dorchester today to meet some intrepid friends who braved the flooded roads to get there from North Somerset. On route to the lunch hostelry where we were to meet, I managed to buy one more Christmas present - this one for my great nephew. And I walked past this old building in the main street.
pic by Jim from London at Wikimedia Commons

The Judge Jeffries restaurant was the lodging house of The Hanging Judge when, in 1685, he presided over the Bloody Assizes at Dorchester. He got his nickname because of the brutal sentences he handed out to the supporters of the Duke of Monmouth' failed rebellion against the monarch. After the Assizes, there were 74 executions in the Dorchester area and 175 people were transported to Britain's American colonies for penal servitude. Only three years later, King James II left England and Judge Jeffries was himself locked up in the Tower of London, where he later became ill and died.

But today, my friends and I had happier things on our mind. I bypassed the Judge Jeffries to meet them at the Kings Arms in the other side of the street, which has its own history as a traditional coaching inn, and was  featured in Thomas Hardy's books, Far from the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge. It still looks much the same as in the ancient drawing on this web page

There we had an excellent, long, leisurely lunch catching up with what's been going on in our lives since out last meeting over a year ago. When they realised their car park ticket was about to run out, we paid up and legged it, and  I managed to get the next train and be home before it was truly dark.

A great day off that I'd earned by working all through my Sunday afternoon and evening.

Friday 23 November 2012

Thanks to all my Readers

Just checked my Helium account. Only 1 cent away from payout, thanks most likely to you lot and my Facebook friends clicking away for me. Thank you all so much. I'm a happy bunny.

Monday 19 November 2012

On the Clay Trail

The area around our Cornish holiday home in St Austell is where much of the county's china clay has been mined. Most of the clay works have closed down, but there is a network of trails that were originally used to transport the clay from the mines. In 2005 the first of them opened for use by walkers, cyclists and horse riders and more have been developed since.

We took one of them that goes from the town of St Austell and runs parallel to the road going north towards Bodmin. It's a very easy route once you find the start. The local map didn't help, and we must have walked an extra mile trying to find it. We asked several locals who sent us round in circles until we finally found someone who knew what he was talking about.

Almost immediately we met a rather belligerent dog, who scared Jade witless. His owner got him under control and apologised, saying he was a rescue and he wasn't sure about his early history. He made us think how lucky we are to have our own rescue dog with a really sweet temperament, who is eager to make friends with everyone we meet.

So we walked on along the clay trail high above the road and found ourselves almost on a level with the great viaduct that carries the trains over it.

Soon we came to some old works buildings partially overgrown; we found it fascinating to imagine them when they were busy in their heyday. In the next photo, Jade was scrutinising them as we approached.

We passed other dog walkers who had stopped to chat with a cyclist coming from the opposite direction We were to meet and chat with him on our return journey, when he was taking his shopping home further up the valley.

Our destination was Wheal Martyn Clay Museum, some two miles from the start of the trail. It is on the far side of the road, and we were directed towards it at a junction. Here the trail divided and our section took us over the road on a footbridge.

If we had continued we would eventually have arrived at the Eden Project, but we were warned that it was quite an arduous trek with steep inclines and too far for us oldies to walk. I'd been to the Eden project before and we didn't go again this time because of having Jade with us

However, it was only another half mile to Wheal Martyn where dogs are allowed and encouraged, and we could recharge our batteries with a genuine Cornish pasty lunch before hiking back. At Ruddlemoor village, close to the museum, the old chins clay railway siding had been turned into the village green with welcome seats for weary walkers.

These larger than life china clay figures welcomed us at the museum entrance a few hundred yards further on.

We ate our lunch at on of the tables in the entrance hall specifically placed just outside the cafe for people with dogs. Then we retraced our steps along the trail to St Austell. We'd decided to return by car so we'd have plenty of energy for the country park that surrounded the outdoor exhibits. It was a few days before we were able to do that and I plan to post about that soon.

I hope you've enjoyed travelling the clay trail with me. If so, please let me know via a comment.

Friday 16 November 2012

Charlestown in Cornwall

I’m taking you back to Cornwall again. So far I’ve only reported on one day of our holiday. Another day we found our way to St Austell’s little port of Charlestown. It is very picturesque and made even more so because it currently houses the three square-rigged tall ships in my photographs.

 It is privately owned and today I discovered that it has just been put up for sale by its owner who is retiring and hopes someone else will take it over as a business, together with his staff. They build and restore ships and run training in seamanship on the tall ships, which are also hired out as film locations. The harbour was used by Tim Burton for his Alice in Wonderland film when the grown up Alice sets sail for China in one of the tall ships. The port was also featured in other films, including one of the Three Musketeers movies and an episode of Dr Who.

Charlestown gets its name from the person who conceived it, local industrialist and landowner, Charles Rashleigh. Built in the late 18th century, it was originally used mainly by fishermen and for transporting locally mined china clay.

Members of the public can walk all the way round the port, crossing the narrow metal bridge that tops the rising gate that allows boats to enter or leave the inner harbour. Jade wasn’t too keen to set foot on that, but once we persuaded her she was happy to cross.

The beaches on either side of the harbour are private and although public access is allowed, dogs are not, so we didn’t descend to them. The small village that surrounds the harbour also houses a feted museum, The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, but again we didn’t want to leave Jade outside so we missed that. Of course the South West Coast Path passes through Charlestown and we did walk some of that and got more intermittent but gorgeous views of the Cornish coastline.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Some More Helium Articles

I’m just 43 cents away from payout threshold at Helium now. If you can spare a few minutes, you can help me get there by reading one of my articles. Here is a selection in the hope that one will interest you:

·         Small business success tips
Or you can click on the Helium ad in my side bar and make your own selection.

Many thanks in anticipation of your clicks to help me reach my goal, so I won’t have to bother you with this again.

Monday 12 November 2012

Visiting Tyneham

Today is a dull, rainy day but yesterday was gorgeous and sunny. When hubby asked me where I’d like to go for a trip out, I didn’t hesitate. I wanted to go to Tyneham Village, Then I had to make sure that it was open this weekend, and that dogs are welcomed there. Yes was the answer to both questions so off we went.
Pics by Jim Champion
Why did I want to see Tyneham? No-one lives there now, but until 1943 it was home to a number of Dorset families. In that year during World War II, at very short notice, they were all ordered to leave and the village and surrounding area was commandeered for troops preparing for Operation Overlord, the D Day landings in Normandy, France. They left believing they would be able to return after the war, but unlike those from the Slapton area in Devon which was similarly evacuated, they were never allowed to do so. (I know about Slapton as it is near where I was brought up. I believe there were other villages also evacuated in wartime, but Tyneham is the only one where families never had the option to return to their homes.)

The village now lies in the Lulworth tank firing ranges which are still owned by the UK’s Ministry of Defence. All the former dwellings were left to the ravages of nature but some passionate campaigners managed to maintain public access to the Tyneham’s nearby beach at Worbarrow Bay. At first this was only on public holidays and while you could drive to the village and park your car, the derelict buildings were off limits. 

But the campaigning continued and in 1979 a service was held in Tyneham’s Church of St Mary – the first for 36 years.

Now many of the buildings have been reclaimed from the undergrowth and there is a large car park between the village itself and Tyneham Farm. Although most of the cottages are just ruins, you can enter them and read signs about their former inhabitants. The old schoolhouse is laid out with poignant exhibits and a sign in the church includes the final entry in the school diary; “Closed the school today”.

There are also permitted walks on the range when it’s safe and the area is open, and from Tyneham there is a cart track to the beach and a woodland walk so Jade was happy and accommodated. The range walks are marked by the yellow postsyou can see in the photo, and you have to keep between them.

The area is very beautiful. On the way home we stopped at a high viewpoint with rolling green hills to the sea on one side and a distant vista of Poole harbour on the other. I can’t believe we’ve been living here for over 3 years and not found that before. We'll be back.

Friday 9 November 2012

Lost Gardens of Heligan: Part III

Before we left the gardens, I was determined to see what was in the North Gardens area. Hubby had had enough but I had recharged my batteries in the café, so he agreed to take Jade back to the car and wait for me provided I wasn’t too long. I just had time for a quick gallop around, to see and take some photos of:

the ravine

the Italian garden

the flower garden, unfortunately looking somewhat bare in October

the crystal grotto, with its circular stone seat which only my camera
could see with its flash. It was pitch dark when I peeped in.

the northern summerhouse,

and its views out to sea.

In case you missed them, here are the links to my posts on the Lost Gardens of Heligan; Part I and Part II.

Monday 5 November 2012

Lost Gardens of Heligan: Part II

The jungle at Heligan has a board walk encircling and crisscrossing the water at its centre. The long hollow in which it sits is so sheltered from the British climate that it is possible for its tropical plants to survive and thrive, as you can see from my pictures.

 After feasting our eyes on them, we left the jungle before attempting to follow the very steep walk down to the bottom pond. (Fortunately for us old fogies all the steep bits were marked on the map we got with our entry tickets so we were able to avoid most of them.) We crossed a field that was labelled the East Lawn to reach the Sunken Lane which we followed down to the Lost Valley with trails beside a river. It also had interesting features such as charcoal kilns and a charcoal sculpture, plus a shepherds hut on wheels that was doubling as a bird hide. I took the picture of the odd shaped tree in my Wordless Wednesday post along the trail here.

By this time we had been on the move for nearly two hours and were beginning to feel it, so again we avoided the steeper paths and skirted the estate via the Georgian Ride till we arrived back at the Grey Lady and retraced our steps through the woodland walk to the exit. We were wearing stickers that had been issued to allow us to enter the gardens as often as we liked on the day we bought our tickets. We needed sustenance but there was a lot more to see.

After a satisfying lunch of local produce in the café, hubby opted to take Jade back to the car and wait for me. I just couldn’t leave before a quick gallop around the more formal areas of the northern gardens. I took more photos of course. So look out for Part III to come.

PS I found a much better photo online of the Mud Maiden. Click the link to see it.

Friday 2 November 2012

Lost Gardens of Heligan: Part I

I was really excited when I learnt that from October 1st you can take your dog with you to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. It was only a few miles from our week long Cornish retreat and was on my list of desired places to visit, but I wouldn’t have made it on this occasion if we couldn’t take Jade.

Lost no longer, over the last 20 years, these gardens have been extensively restored and returned to their former glory around the 400 year old seat of the Tremayne family not far from the coastal village of Megavissey. And we are lost in admiration of the dedication and passion it must have taken.

As we had Jade with us, we decided to take the woodland walk as soon as we entered. This meandering path cuts through the woods which skirt the edge of the estate and form the shelterbelt for the house and gardens. The wood is home to some small Heligan pigs that help to keep the ground clear.  They are contained behind a low electric fence which we were warned to keep Jade away from.

 The other side of the path has been decorated with some fascinating garden sculptures, all well in keeping with their surroundings. Here is the first, the rather scary Giant’s Head.

The next one is the reclining Mud Maiden. She just wouldn’t fit into my camera lense, but I got most of her to show you. The head is a bit unclear but you can see a hip, thigh and waist as well as a shoulder and arm.

The final one is the grey lady. She’s a bit of a giant too. Made of wire, you can look right through her to the trees behind, so she’s quite hard to see in the photo. Everything was in silhouette so I’ve added a lot of light to try and make it easier to make her out.

She stands close to the end of the woodland walk and was inspired by a ghostly grey wraith said to haunt this area of the estate. The sculptors of all these were Sue and Pete Hill. The grey lady is a recent addition and has been planted with wild roses.

After this bit of the walk we headed down a steep hill into the hollow that houses the jungle. That calls for another post so our memorable visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan will be a series on here.

Monday 29 October 2012

Dogs Enjoy Holidays Too

I'm back. Had a great time and took loads of photos but haven't yet had time to upload them. I shall shortly be boring you silly with Cornish pics.

Our self catering cottage was at the back of the owners' bungalow, and they thoughtfully provided an enclosed yard which was safe for Jade. There were a number of attractions that welcomed dogs and she enjoyed all the different walks we took as well.

This is one of my favourite pics of her, although she has grown a bit since then, and certainly looks more scruffy at the moment. But I won't be sending her to the groomers till after the winter now.

Thursday 18 October 2012

It's Holiday Time

Phew! All my October work is finished and submitted, together with my invoice. Last load of washing, last big food shop all done. Meals organised for son who will be here. Only have to finalise lists and pack the cases now.

I'm off tomorrow and will be in Cornwall for a week from Saturday, with hubby and Jade. We'll be taking her for walks on the South West Coast Path. Yippee! See you when we are back.

This picture of the path on a Cornish cliff top is by Trevor Rickard.  

Sunday 14 October 2012

Beach Walk and Grooming Day

It's been a gorgeous day here today, much like it is in this photo. We started our walk from the far end of this  promenade this afternoon. We didn't get this far, or anywhere near. The beach and the prom is several miles long.

I took Jade on the beach and down to the sea while hubby stayed on the paved walkway. Jade was busily dashing back and forth between us to make sure we were both still there. It was such a lovely day the area was packed with people and dogs since from October 1st, dogs are allowed to roam the beach as long as they are supervised by their owners. Jade kept stopping to make friends and progress was slow. Eventually we left the beach to walk up a small chine and along to the top of Canford Cliffs where we could look down on all the action below before descending another path and going back to our car.

At home I decided to trim the fur on her paws before giving Jade her monthly shower. She's not keen but she tolerates it once I have carried her into the shower cubicle. Afterwards she does look sorry for herself and I get really reproachful looks from her. I have to get partially undressed myself to avoid getting all my clothes wet in there, so after I've used the first towels on her, I drape another over her and let  her walk out to hubby who gives her another rub down while I am getting dry and dressed and tidying up. Then I get going with the hair drier while she sits patiently - she knows that such a good dog will soon get treats.

Then it was time to start cooking my roastie, so needless to say, I didn't get very much of my writing work done today.

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