Poppy field in London

So many thousands have managed to visit the Tower of London with its array of poppies I decided I had to be one of them.We were somewhat panicked to realise the installation was due to be dismantled after Remembrance Day next week.
On impulse we booked an away day on the train to London despite warnings that the crowds would be difficult.
From Paddington we took the Hammersmith line to Aldwich then walked to the Tower.
The flow on the pavements began to build till we crossed the main road near Tower bridge and reached our first view piont.Not sure if the mass of people or poppies took my breath away.

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For the poppies they flowed from a window of this ancient building and flowed into the moat

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Each flower individually formed in fragile ceramics to represent one soul lost in Battle.

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Some stood on their sturdy metal stems embedded in mud.

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As happens when scattering seeds ,in places cramped together , in others widely spaced .

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At the edges flowing like a liquid

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The crowds were not silent but quiet, conversations muted.The atmosphere
was sombre ,yet friendly.The best of the British character on show, tolerance ,patience , respect of others.Photographs taken for strangers and stories shared .

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Memories were obviously stirred and emotional moments made public.

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We did little else except get there ,marvel at the sight and travel home, but it was a day well spent.
A fellow visitor told me I should go back at 5pm ,the last post is sounded as the red tinted floodlights turn on to illuminate the thousands of poppies .
“It is very moving”, she assured me,but I didn’t go back , too emotionally drained to be moved anymore.

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Spookey Stamford and Burghley House

Spookey Stamford in Burghley House

We travel around the UK and usually hurtle on Motorways to save time.We are reaching the age when things seem less urgent and we are tempted to make the occasional detour. Recently it was off the A1 to Stamford .We stayed at an old Coaching Inn, The Bull and Swan.
Leaving the car parked there, it was a tight squeeze to get though the coach entrance, we decided to walk across the park to Burghley House.
The deal was Bed, Breakfast ,Evening meal and half price entry to the house.

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We hadn’t realised it would be a deer park or that it would take us a good half hour to reach the house.
My husband had planned an extra treat for Halloween, a candlelit spookey tour after the house closed to the public.

I wasn’t keen , I hide behind the sofa for Doctor Who! Then we realised how dark it would be by the time we walked back.R offered his phone torch, I told him to order a Taxi.

We enjoyed the house which seemed to be in a constant state of readiness for some Monarch to visit, from Queen Elizabeth 1 to Queen Victoria.we couldn’t imagine how many staff must have been needed to run it.

The walls not smothered in art work were painted in murals, the climax at the Hells Staircase which was creepy even in daylight.

The spooky tour was TOO well done , it seemed the whole population of Stamford was lurking in stables , cellars, and kitchens looking ghoulish. When listening to a ghost story in the great hall a hand shot out from a figure hiding under a table and grabbed my neighbours ankle ,her screams were deafening.The Hell Staircase by lantern light showed the Grim Reaper descend to chose one of our party to leave with him!!!!!
I was very happy to get in my taxi back to the hotel. Our room was quirky ,sloping floor,walls at strange angles but a huge comfy bed.The evening meal by an open fire was tasty and despite the frights had a good nights sleep.
The next day we had time to wander into Stamford to see a traditional department store.

We found an antique store and bought an old wooden well bucket, strange? 

Not really we actually have an old well to put it on!

Seaham Soldier


On the North East coast at the village of Seaham a tall figure sits on the cliff top.It is an amazing statue by a local artist RAY LONSDALE.It stands 9’5″ tall, and weighs 1.2 tonnes made from corteen steel
The First World War soldier sits slumped from exhaustion, it is one minute after the Armistice, the title “Eleven O’One.”

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 Originally a temporary location the local folk took him to their hearts and decided to fund raise the £85,000 to keep him.He is now known affectionately as Tommy. The attention to detail on his satchel, water bottle, rifle is impressive and visitors spend some time taking it all in.



If you get the chance to visit don’t miss the moving poem inscribed on the base.
If you need refreshment head to the fifties style ice cream parlour LICKETY SPLIT which you will find opposite.
Complete with working Juke Box .

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Not sure if all the ice creams on offer are in good taste… One is called Trench Foot!

End of the European Tour


Final days of the European Tour

Last day in Luxembourg was forecast to be at least 40degrees and even early morning it felt muggy.
We had been told in the high town there was a really good museum and modern art gallery, BUT it was just TOOO HOT!!!!
We took a leisurely stroll through the nearby shady park into the city for coffee.

We picked up baguettes and cakes from one of the few bakers open on this bank holiday Monday and wandered back.The city is emptied of its citizens and left to the tourists.

Even the tourist train had few takers.We took a last photo of the city before lunch in the air con in our apartment.

This was our last chance to participate in the Fringe events so in the afternoon enjoyed a local Italiatin acoustic rock band called “Lucky Common”
Then a very polished performance by the ESOC Theatre Group”Trail of Stones” a collection of poems written by Gwen Strauss
An adult take on Fairy Stories with wonderful live music accompaniment.
Our appetites well whetted we waited for the final three plays.
It was so hot by now one of the participants joined the children in the fountain outside.

There was a lovely atmosphere building as tonight the winners of the whole festival would be announced.
Between plays we enjoyed drinks outside in balmy air.
A really good mix.
LA FRANCO … an inquisition court drama from 16th century Venice, based on true documents
DEATH …. insanity from Woody Allen
AMATEURS … an expose of American political scandal….. This just blew us away won best play , best actress and almost best actor…. All from a multinational group based in Hamburg.
A fabulous ending to the festival
So unusually I will include a photo of the group of friends who lasted through to the last night.

An early start and the long drive back down to Provence.it took us from 7-00am to 16-30

Traffic was light and we switched two hours on and off driving.The fun was we came at the house from the west having driven east to Italy all those weeks ago.We really have completed a circuit , visited seven countries and had a great time.
Good job we get on well together , just as well since we have already passed 45years together!!!!!

Quiet day

The tour continues

Just a short post to keep dates clear in my head.
After last nights party we slept late and were invited out for lunch to celebrate a friends 60th birthday.
The weather here is unbelievably hot so I have to confess after a very good lunch with wine and some very good travellers tales round a table of about sixteen we drove back to the apartment for a shower and rest before the evening performances.
I am not doing crits on the plays but we are doing our own scoring and wait to see if the adjudicator agrees.
Once the three plays are over and feed back given we are lucky to get to bed by midnight.
The FEATS organisation has been going for thirty years, many people know each other well. 
Our new friend from Aix has been involved in every one , so a great guide, next year it will be hosted in Hamburg.
It cannot come to France without providing sub titles or translation to French for the locals… …
Sorry speechless!

Day in Luxembourg with a heat wave

Day in LuxembourgWhen I packed for this trip I added jeans and jumper for this last stage up North.We have hit a heat wave and hiding from the midday sun, it makes the evenings at the theatre balmy , lots of strolling by the fountains with a drink between sets.

Back to the start of the day and a stroll into the centre of the city.We have been very happy with our choices of hotel, once we have booked in and parked ,getting into each city has been an easy walk and nearly always the car has stayed parked at base.
Luxembourg was so quiet till we hit the centre and fellow tourists ,all the locals gone out of the city for the weekend.

The main square was full of restaurants and cafés.
We found a pretty flower market.
Reminded me of how much work we face when we get back , not even started planting our pots yet.
We walked the fortifications.

Most people seemed to be walking the city walls.

We found a good spot to take photos but were already flagging with the heat.

By mutual agreement we decided on lunch in the square.


So left the tourists and ignored signs to churches and museums.

We had lunch next to an antique market and walked back to the apartment through one of the many parks.

Even the park seemed quiet.
It was time for an afternoon nap, tonight after the performances we were joining the casts and drama groups for a party that started late.
The three plays were again very different , a monologue by an Irish actor on the “troubles” got a standing ovation and the theatre was sold out.
The party went on till 2-00am and was great fun…. Lots of dancing and post performance hysteria.

Last stop Luxembourg

Last stop Luxembourg

Starting off after breakfast and goodbyes to Herman and his entire family.

We continued to follow the pretty river valley.
Already hikers and bikers were out for the start of the holiday weekend (Whitsun )
It was interesting to see the covered bridges like the ones that had challenged us in the camper van in the States.
Once on the main road we paused only for coffee in Lindau but then pressed on with James for guidance.
We should have known what to expect especially once we hit the one way system which had been re arranged.
We could see the accommodation but couldn’t reach it.
Again the poor car was abandoned and we walked with the luggage.
Inside a traditional building was a modern entrance.
The apartment is spacious but a bit like sleeping in some ones office.
Forgot to take photo before we messed up the room.
Luckily we met both sets of friends as we arrived and organised our meeting before the start of the festival.
After an early dinner at the local Chinese restaurant ten of us headed for the theatre.
The format is there are three short dramas with a break between each to change the set .

At the end there is the option to listen to the adjudicators feedback ,which we found very interesting.
It was also fun seeing the range in age and nationalities of the participants and their audience.
Not a full house tonight but tomorrow should be packed.