A day of normality?

Since my mum died in January, we have been doing a 320 mile round trip between Yorkshire and Worcestershire every other week. There was so much work involved in clearing mum’s house in preparation for sale, I found spending more than a week there emotionally draining, so the long drive there was the lesser of the two evils.

Finally,  on the 10th April the house was put in the hands of an estate agent, and we returned home for a longer break.

We had left a few bits of essential furniture there for when we visit, but basically this can be removed as and when, which will be sooner than I expected, as the house was sold, subject to contract on 15th April.

Last Thursday (24th April), T decided we needed some normality back in our lives. Normality being, a bus (free pass) or train (senior discount) ride to somewhere nearby.

I think we’ve been spending too much time in Yorkshire, I’m a tight Tyke by birth, but it’s rubbing off on T now, so the bus won and we whooshed to Worcester on the Woosh Bus.

Once there we headed down towards the river for our normal stroll along the bank.

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The River Severn was at a more normal height, unlike the last time we’d travelled to Worcester on 7th January, when our stroll was curtailed by floods. I wrote and posted a short video about it here.

Believe it or not, the floods got even worse, and in early February eventually took out the rivercam.

Check out 11th February on this website by Farsons Digital Water Cams showing the lock gates underwater and compare to my photos below from 24th April.

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We continued along the footpath.

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T does concern me sometimes.

On towards the new Diglis Bridge, we followed our footsteps of a previous walk I’ve written about………creatures of habit we are 😉

But wait, these metal men weren’t here before:

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Just standing there, by Diglis Bridge, without any rhyme or reason as to why.

I took a few photos and we continued on our way.

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Past the new and I’m guessing rather expensive apartments, now occupying land where the famous Royal Worcester Porcelain Works once stood.

After sharing…….yes, I did say sharing (tight Tyke syndrome)…..a bag of chips, we both decided a pint of real ale at King Charles House would help wash them down……no we didn’t share a pint 😉

I’d found the metal men sculptures totally fascinating, especially when photographed from a low angle, so once home I had to find out a bit more about them.

Chosen by the people of Worcester, they are representative of Worcester’s past.

A Royalist and a Parliamentarian from the Civil War, Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist, Ernest Payne and  Sir Charles Hastings, founder of the British Medical Association.

More images of them in the slide show below.

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Is Britain sinking?

The coasts are being battered by tidal surges, and with the continuous rain, the rivers are bursting their banks.

In the spring of 2012 many counties had already imposed a hosepipe ban on their residents, it was soon lifted when we had one of the wettest summers for 100 years.

Even after last summer (2013), which was the warmest since 2006, to my knowledge there weren’t any hosepipe bans anywhere.

Today we went to Worcester on the train, a journey of about fifteen miles. Looking out of the window across the quagmire of mud and water that was once fields, I started to wonder how much more water our country can take.

The River Severn – which flows through Worcester –  is the UK’s longest river. Starting in the hills of North Wales, it enters the Bristol channel 220 miles later, wreaking havoc in times of flood, with many towns and cities en route.

The scenes in this short video are becoming a far too common sight these days. Not the worst I’ve seen, but they do seem to be happening more frequently.

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The above photo of T (standing near Watergate) pointing to the highest recorded level that I’ve seen, was taken in August 2013.

Todays level, which can be seen on the Watergate clip in the video below, I’m guessing would probably be up to his waist.

 

Two and three quarter cheers for public transport

As much as I love my native Yorkshire, I loath the journey getting there. Of the 155 miles, almost 140 are on the rat race of Britain’s clogged, roadwork strewn motorway system.

We’d driven up to visit my mum, through torrential rain and motorway spray on November 11th, our plan was to spend a few days with her, and hopfully she’d be well enough for us to leave Cindy, her Yorkshire Terrier who has been lodging with us for almost twelve months, back with her permanently.

Our optimism was soon dashed, some new medication she’d been prescribed was leaving her feeling quite weak and light headed and certainly not capable of looking after Cindy.

So after spending three days with her, making sure she was improving and promising we’d be back at Christmas, we returned home.

At least the weather was OK for the return journey, and everything was going well until we hit the outskirts of Birmingham. Well know for snarled up traffic, the final normally twenty minute stretch of our journey took almost an hour 👿

We’d only been home a week, when I received a phone call from Harrogate hospital telling me my mum had fallen and broken her hip, and that they would be operating on the Saturday morning.

I knew I had to go and visit her, but the thought of doing that journey again, so close to the previous one and alone this time, was starting to stress me out.

‘Why don’t you go by train’ T said.

Hmm, I don’t know what was a worst thought, driving up, or my memories of the last train journey I made home from Harrogate several years ago, when we were all packed like sardines with folk standing in the aisles.

In the end the train won though, a packed train was more appealing.

With my senior rail pass which I will add is worth every penny 2800 pennies, I can get a third off the cost of the standard fare. So handing over my £39.60 for an almost door to door open return I set off on the Monday morning.

A change of train at Birmingham and another at York, I arrived stress free at my mums house just over four hours after leaving home.

Over the next three days I made numerous visits to the hospital with my free bus pass via Harrogate’s excellent bus service.

I had written down the train times for my return journey.

From Starbeck, my mum’s local station I had a choice of two trains, both at 11.08hrs.

The train to York, which linked up with the Cross Country Newcastle-Southampton train, or one to Leeds which would link up with the Cross Country Newcastle-Penzance, both these called at Birmingham, where I needed to be for the train to Redditch.

IMG_1665So as I walked on Starbeck platform, I did an eeny meeny miny moe, deciding to use the York route, mainly because calling at Doncaster-Sheffield-Derby-Birmingham, there were less stops.

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Typically the train to Leeds arrived first 😀

Hopping onto the train to York, which arrived seconds later from the opposite direction.

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 We pulled into York station at 11.44hrs.

I waked over to the departure board to see which platform the 12.34hrs Southampton via Birmingham was arriving on……..

…….. 12.34hrs to Southampton – CANCELLED

My eeny meeny miny moe had gone a bit pear shaped.

I scanned the departure board to see if anything else was heading via Birmingham, earlier than the next one that I knew of which was at 13.34hrs, but nothing was listed.

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Before heading out of the station to kill some time, I decided to enquired at the information desk.

‘Oh yes’, she announced, ‘the Newcastle-Penzance is due at 12.45hrs, platform 9, just over the bridge’

I checked the departure board again, by which time the 12.45hrs was listed:

York-Leeds-Wakefield-Shefield-Chesterfield-Derby-Tamworth-Birmingham

😕 Ha, I had to laugh, if my eeny meey etc had chosen to travel the Leeds route, I would have caught the Newcastle-Penzance train in Leeds at 12.11hrs, which had left York at 11.45hrs 🙄

By this time I only had half an hour to kill, so I decided to stay in the station and have a wander round.

I think York station is one of the nicest stations in the country, very clean and spacious, with an aura of its past history oozing out of the brickwork.

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Remove these carriages, the digital clock and modern seating, put some old steam engines on the tracks, and an image of the hustle and bustle from the Victorian era immediately springs to mind.

I had visions of the train being packed with all the passengers from the cancelled train, but it was pleasantly uncrowded.

Not having the faintest idea what time I would arrive in Birmingham, nor being able to remember the times of the Birmingham-Redditch service, I tried connecting my phone to the internet for some information…….typical 🙄 …..no signal!

Never mind, I knew the train to Redditch ran every thirty minutes so I wouldn’t have to wait in Birmingham too long, and isn’t that half the fun on travelling.

We arrived at Birmingham’s New Street station at 15.07hrs. (according to the station clock).

Walking slowly through the confusion of the building site that is currently New Street station while it goes through a total re-vamp, I just happened to glance at an information board……. Yikes!!!! departure to Redditch 15.13hrs.

I took off like a scalded cat, looking for platform 11b. Following the arrows pointing to platforms 11a/11b, I ran down the concrete stairs and jumped onto the waiting train just as the doors were closing.

I suddenly had a panic as the train moved slowly out of the station. Was this train departing from platform 11a or 11b 😮

The driver soon verified I was on the correct train as he announced over the speaker system ‘This is the 15.13hrs to Redditch, calling at ………

I had intended to get a photo from each station, but with my quick exit out of Birmingham it wasn’t possible to get one.

But here at 15.50hrs is the last of my journey, and literally the end of the line, if Mr Beeching had got his way, even this wouldn’t exist.

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The modern building in the distance is the bus station with the Kingfisher Shopping Centre and a cinema above.

I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure to Yorkshire and back, and the next visit I make, if I am travelling alone, will certainly be by public transport.

Perhaps the two and three quarter cheers, should be two and seven eighths…… 😀

In the King’s footsteps

Living quite close to Worcester, we often pop into the city for a walk along the river.

Worcester is a city steeped in history, where many battles have been fought.

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Looking towards Diglis Lock from Diglis Bridge last week.

The River Severn was very calm, and flowing at a more normal depth, unlike the video I posted last November in a previous blog post.

About a mile from this very modern bridge is Powick Bridge, a site of one of the major battles of the English Civil War during the 17th century.

We continued over the bridge and headed towards Worcester Cathedral. The cathedral’s tower was chosen by King Charles II to watch over the Battle of Worcester.

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Worcester Cathedral’s Watergate wall has dates recorded on it of the varying flood levels when the Severn has burst its banks. The highest recorded level was in 1770 (the large plaque) followed closely by March 1947.

To the right just above T’s head, is a marker (with greenery growing under it) for July 2007, the highest level in my lifetime.

The river’s normal level is at least 10-15 feet below the footpath he’s standing on.

We walked into the town, and along Friar Street, a very picturesque street full of beautiful timber framed buildings. I wonder what tales those walls could tell.

IMG_4689Having a while to wait before our train home, we called into King Charles House. This ancient building, which is now a pub, is one of Worcester’s most historic buildings.

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I’ve never been too interested in the history of the British Monarchs, but as T, who has a great interest in the English Civil war, launched into a history lesson with the poor barman, I started to find it very interesting.

King Charles House is the building from where King Charles II escaped his enemies after the Battle of Worcester in September 1651. This battle marked the end of the English Civil War, when the Royalists were defeated by Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians.

The King who eventually escaped to France, first headed north towards Shropshire, then, almost doubling back on himself, headed for the south coast.

Below is a map of his route.

For anyone interested, as I’m not going to launch into a history lesson, there is some good information here.

I have often walked Sal and Jasp on the part of The Monarchs Way that passes nearby our home, without knowing the full reason for its name, but the cogs of my brain where slowly putting two and two together.

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So today, we decided we’d would walk in a few more of Charles II’s footsteps.

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Is this really the route he took?

If it is, according to the above map, On September 10th 1651, he would have been heading towards where I am standing on his way south.

After doing a spot of research for this post, it appears we’ve trodden in his footsteps quite recently too.

When he reached the south coast, Charmouth was another place he passed on his escape route.

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I doubt he’d have had time to look for fossils though 😉

** I have added quite a few links to this post. Because of all the history involved, I felt it would make for heavy reading and may be off putting, but for anyone with an interest, they are quite informative.**

I dare you!

Don’t ever say that to my younger daughter Debs.

Prompted by a post I read over on Pix & Kardz I thought I’d give these pics an airing 😉

I haven’t taken many photographs recently, in fact the last time I went out with the sole purpose of taking some photos, was at the request of  Debs.

Not one to shy away from a bet she had been given, she had phoned me in January to ask for my assistance to take some photos in the snow.

I thought it was going to be in the same vein as the one I posted for the Weekly Photo Challenge – Beyond so armed with my Panasonic FZ28 and fully charged batteries, I set off for her house for the pre arranged time.

Little did I know what I’d let myself in for 😮

“Are you ready then mum”?, she asked, as she headed for the front door.

Huh!, where are we going, I thought you wanted to do a snow angel pic in your back garden? I replied.

“Oh no, I’ve had a change of plan’ came her reply as she closed the front door behind her. “we’re going into the fields just over there”

OMG! Those fields are frequented by dog walkers, we’ll get locked up if anyone sees us!

“Don’t worry mum, lunchtime dog walkers will have been and gone, and we’re too early for the teatime ones, besides, I know the routes they take, so we can avoid that area” 

P1030842No-one would be any the wiser seeing a mother and daughter out for a walk with a camera, as we headed over to the far left corner of the field, where there was a stile to climb over.

“Are you ready then mum, you’re going to have to hold my coat”

I furtively looked around, wondering if anyone was watching, ‘err, yes, OK’ P1030867

A quick photo, and back on with her coat.

Wow, that was quite exhilarating” Deb announced, “shall we do some more?”

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I started to feel like I was on some photo shoot for a catalogue or something.P1030893

We continued over the stream, until we found a suitable place for the snow angel.P1030906

I felt cold just watching her,  and the grimace on her face said it all.P1030904

She was extremely quick to grab her coat from me and put it back on her shivering body.

We made our way back across the fields towards her house.

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Had we been seen? yes!, but only buy some bemused sheep.

It’s that dreaded time of the year

Here in the UK, once a year, all vehicles over three years old are put through quite a strict Ministry Of Transport test to check their roadworthiness, and each year it appears to get stricter and stricter. Granted some of the items checked are major, but others I will admit to finding quite petty.

A full list of failure items are listed here for anyone who wants some bedtime reading.

If you have taken the time to read the list, you will understand why, most folk sit in the test station biting their fingers for forty minutes, remerging into the daylight either jumping up and down and waving a piece of paper in their hand or……head bowed, sinking into a deep depression with ££££ signs flashing in their eyes.

Well yesterday was Happy camper’s (still not been given a proper name) day of reckoning.

It had been hibernating under its dark green cover since November, circumstances had prevented us trundling off to the few campsites that weren’t under water.

Our plan was to take it for a drive to make sure all moving parts were….err moving, and that nothing had seized up anywhere.

T unveiled it, pulling the cover off as a motor manufacturer would unveil a new model, the cover proved to be worth every penny, as there in the dull grey light stood our shiny pride and joy 🙂

Last year before we collected Happy Camper, we had re-aranged the front garden by putting a couple of tons of chippings down so we could keep it at home. This had proved a bit of a disaster, what with the weight of the Motorhome and the downward slope to the house, we had found it impossible to drive off the chippings, even with paving slabs under the wheels, so Dougal had been brought into action every time. A bit of a pain, yes, but as T has pointed out……..it is an excellent anti theft device

Yesterday was no different.

Dougal to the rescue

T hooking up the tow rope.

Ready steady....pullDougal at the ready.

Good old Dougal

A couple of seconds later and T is rolloing up the tow rope…..

On the road

…..and we are on the road and ready to set off.

Tyres

………first stop was the local Tesco to check the tyres, which amazingly had only lost one pound each.

It was wonderful to be travelling in it again, and it wasn’t long before we started reminiscing about last years wonderful holidays, and where our plans would take us this year.

We did a round trip, Evesham, Tewkesbury, Upton on Severn, Worcester and home.

Lost in conversation, though still with camera in hand, I’m afraid I only managed a pic of Evesham

EveshamThe main street through the old market town of Evesham, the Town hall is the old building in the centre of the photo. Turn left in front of the Town Hall the pedestrianised Bridge Street, takes you down to the River Avon, which has flooded many times.

Happy Camper ran perfectly, so once home, T took it for the dreaded MOT.

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To be honest, we hadn’t expected any problems, but we were both elated to be presented with our piece of paper, stating it’s roadworthiness for another year.

The need to escape.

I haven’t been able to get out on the hills recently, anyone who read my Little Guest post will probably realise why.

Though I am now pleased to say that my mum is improving slowly and all being well we will be returning her to Yorkshire next Sunday.

I’ve missed my escapism on the hills, so yesterday, after making sure my mum was happy about being left, I decided on a good brisk walk was the order of the day to blow away the cobwebs. I contacted Deb my youngest daughter to see if she fancied joining me.

A dogless walk is never as good as a walk with one, but as Jasper would definitely have struggled and I couldn’t take one without the other, so Little Sal remained at home too. The chariot was also out of the question because of the gated fields.

Deb suggested she brought Bonzo along. Bonzo is a Springer Spaniel who Deb often walks for his owner. You can read more about him here.

‘He’s at the dog parlour’ his owner announced when Deb phoned him, ‘but collect him from there if you want to’

Which explains why Deb turned up with a pristine looking and wonderfully smelling Bonzo.

Half an hour later we pulled into the car park at Broadway Tower. I opened the rear door of my motor, and this beautiful snowy white pup, leapt out of the back……splat into the mud….ooops!!

‘Never mind, he’ll brush clean’ said Deb.

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The view looking westward from the car park towards Bredon Hill and the Malverns in the distance.

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We made our way over to the Tower. I think everyone else must have had the same idea, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so busy, though it was a beautiful day.

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Deb and Bonzo running across the open fields. A bit of ‘The Hills are alive’ from The Sound of Music there 🙂

IMG_3802Halfway down, looking back up the hill to the Tower in the distance.

We continued to descend through two more gated fields towards the village of Broadway, before turning round and making our way back up again. All this time Bonzo had been hurtling around like a hurricane enjoying his freedom.

When suddenly Deb screamed out AAARGH BONZO NO!!!!!!!!

I turned back to see him rolling in something rather more to his liking than the lovely perfumed smell from his recent shampoo, and sporting a lovely dark stain from it on his shoulder 😮

He returned to his hurricane hurtling, charging past us every now and again……… Hhhmm, were we getting a rather strong whiff of fox s***?

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Arriving back at the Tower, the sun was on the way down, though still plenty of folk around.

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Deb and Bonzo silhouetted against the sun.

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Making our way back to the car park, we called into the cafe for a coffee. Sitting outside in February isn’t too bad at all 🙂

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The sun now almost gone, we made our way home with a rather more ‘natural’ aroma in the motor.

Luckily Bonzo’s owner wasn’t too concerned about the state of his dog…….Ah, no worries, I’ll chuck him in the bath!