Weekly photo challenge Winter…… and a Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone, I wish you health and happiness for 2012

At the moment here in Wales, we have a mixture of sleet and hail, it’s bouncing off the hearth as I type, but thankfully no snow as yet. I intended to go out and take photos for the ‘Winter’ photo challenge, but everywhere looks so  drab and miserable I just couldn’t bring myself to take any.  So I decided to post these from 2011 as they say “Winter” but they are not dull and drab.



The view through Anne Boleyn’s orchard

After our Murder Mystery weekend, it seemed quite appropriate on our way home, to stop off and visit Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. I was surprised to learn that most of what the visitor sees today is the result of the work carried out by the wealthy American businessman, William Waldorf Astor.  He bought the castle in 1903 and spent a lot of his fortune restoring Hever, even building a village in the Tudor style, connected to the rear of the castle by a covered bridge, so that his friends and family could stay there in comfort, whilst filling the castle with antique portraits and furniture.

The castle sits in such a peaceful setting and looking at it, through what the guidebook told me was Anne Boleyn’s orchard, I wondered just how much of what is there today would be familiar to her and decided, sadly, that the answer is probably not much.  Anne became Henry VIII’s second wife and although Queen for just 1000 days, it was his love for her and her refusal to become his mistress that led to some of the most tumultuous events in British history.  It is also what continues to bring visitors to Hever Castle in their thousands every year.

Hever Castle


Drawbridge and moat

The courtyard

A view of the Tudor village

A view of the castle through Anne Boleyn’s orchard

Weekly photo challenge – Windows

This first shot is of the Gridiron building in New York, it seems so fragile especially taken from this angle.

This is a detail from one of the beautiful stained glass windows in the cathedral in Prague which I particularly liked. The detail and the colours are so fresh, just breathtaking.

On a visit to Spain, we drove up to Ronda and this is a view across the gorge.

Murder and Mystery on a Steam Train

I was looking for some inspiration for a gift for my husband’s birthday and whilst searching the web, I came across a company called Charming Events.  I read the list of different events they arrange and the Murder Mystery Evening on a Steam Train practically jumped off the screen! My husband is probably Agatha Christie’s biggest fan and also bemoans the fact that there aren’t any steam trains any more.  So with two of his boxes ticked, I sent off for more details.

We travelled down to Sussex with a couple of friends and arrived at the very impressive Ashdown Park Hotel, where we were to spend the night, at about 3.15pm on Friday afternoon. To add to the atmosphere of a bygone era, already suggested by the brochure, we found the hotel was serving afternoon tea as we arrived! It was divine.

Our itinerary said we should be in reception by 6.15pm in order to check in and meet our fellow sleuths.  We met up and boarded the bus that was to take us to a railway station owned and operated by the volunteers of The Bluebell Railway. The work they have done and continue to do, to keep the railway running is nothing short of miraculous.

Everyone was intrigued as to how they would carry out a murder on a train, (we were thinking Murder on the Orient Express here) but it soon became clear that we were first to watch a play, enacted in the improvised theatre above the waiting room of the station, by the brilliant actors of “The Company Upfront”.  The play ended with a character being murdered and our job was to solve the “crime” with the help of our detective packs, whilst we were served dinner in a Pullman carriage of the Golden Arrow, travelling sedately through the Sussex countryside.

We had a great time. The dinner was delicious; characters from the play travelled with us and went from carriage to carriage, to be interviewed by “the detectives” in the hope that they could help us to solve the crime.  There were some great actors taking part, lots of laughter and also serious concern as each of us rattled our little grey cells in an attempt to solve the clues and find the answers needed to complete our crime sheet.

Unlike the master detective Hercule Poirot, we changed our minds two or three times, before we handed in our crime sheet.  Back at the station the winners were revealed – we weren’t among them. We did have the right murderer but didn’t get all the right clues, so no bottle of wine for us.  We didn’t care. We had a great evening, thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and went back to the hotel for a steaming mug of hot chocolate, just like Miss Marple would have done!

A pool with a view

This was the view from our holiday house in Majorca. It was breathtaking, the blue of the pool stretching out towards the blue of the bay below.
The weather was gorgeous, such a lovely change from what we had left behind at home and we all looked forward to enjoying both the pool and the sunshine for the next seven days of our family holiday.

Unfortunately, my baby granddaughter was taken ill with a virus on the first day we were there. The local doctor was marvellous, but it wasn’t until three worrying days later that she started to eat and drink again properly.  When she was on the mend, I started to feel ill and although I didn’t need the attention of the doctor, I did feel sorry for myself and longed for my own bed.  There’s nothing like your own bed when you feel under the weather is there?

We did manage to visit a few places towards the end of our stay.  We drove to Port Soller and caught the little train from there to Soller.  It was a lovely experience travelling through orange groves behind the houses on the sides of the tracks.

In Soller, we stopped to have lunch and enjoyed this wonderful view of the church.

We also went to Palma, where we all marvelled again at the wonderful cathedral standing guard over the entrance to the city and towering over the ships in the port.

The evenings were lovely and much cooler, ideal for a walk down to the bay. We found a nice little place where we could sit and have a drink and watch the sunset.

We are home and all feeling much better.  The baby had a sore throat for a few days and I had a few days in bed shaking and shivering, but recovering, thanks to the antibiotics prescribed by my doctor for my swollen throat.  We all loved Majorca and the area around Camp de Mar it is so peaceful and unspoilt – I hope it stays that way.  In the words of someone famous “We will be back”…………..