Sunday, April 28, 2013

Whitstable weekend

Last weekend we went to Whitstable which is a lovely fishing port on the Kent coast, staying one night in a lovely bed & breakfast (I was with my two favourite men again - Ken & Bertie).  Thankfully the sun shone all weekend and once you got out of the wind it was really lovely - lots of people out and about soaking up some proper sunshine.

All along the wharf are little shops, cafes, and a fish market - we ate at one of the outside cafes so that Bertie was okay - lots of other dogs out and about as well, including two gorgeous little French Bulldogs who were so cute I had to pat them and have a bit of a chat.

The B & B we stayed in was really lovely, with beautiful old furniture and great food at breakfast - I think Bertie liked it as he didn't disturb us at all during the night - but, can I just ask, how is the pose below comfortable??  He had a lovely blanket to sleep on and this was one of his chosen resting spots.

Gorgeous guest lounge - I could live in this room with the fireplace and the piano - just out of sight is an old juke box.

The thing that Bertie Boo enjoyed the most was that he got to go swimming - he loves getting in the sea.  The first time we ever took him to the beach it took us ages to get him in as he wasn't so sure of the water, but now we can't get him out.

After Bertie had had a good swim and Ken and I had done lots of beach combing, finding lots of sea glass, we had to get Bertie to sit in the sun for a while to try and dry him off and to warm him up as the sea must have been freezing.

So that was our flying visit to Whitstable - nice bit of sunshine, beach combing, good food, and fabulous company - definitely a soul recharging weekend.
Until next time be good, stay safe, and enjoy life.

Pamela & Ken

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cow Fundamentalists!

On Sunday we went to the Hare Krishna temple Bhaktivedanta Manor  just outside Watford for the annual letting out of the cows.  This is the day that the cows are let out of their winter lodgings into the spring sunshine and the fresh grass. The Manor is the biggest centre for the study of Krishna consciousness in the UK.   I can already hear some of you  wondering why we would go to this.  Well, I believe that if we all understood more about each others beliefs, customs, and ways of life then the world would be a much better place.  So, we went to find out more about the cows and share in this ceremony.  As you can see from the two photos below, we got up close and personal with some cows before they were let out.

Before the event started properly, I took these photos of one of the oxen who had be dressed up for the occasion - he's very big but very gentle.  On some days you can go to the temple and go in a cart pulled by the oxen.

The area all around the farm buildings had been decorated with coloured chalks on the ground and then sprinkled with glitter - they're beautiful designs and made the place look really pretty.

There were lots of people there to see the letting out of the cows, and we soon heard the distant sound of music and singing, and then the procession came from the Manor with the Lordships leading the way.  When they made it to the cowsheds they did a ceremony that involved lots of singing, blessings  - we had water thrown over us, smoke wafted past us, and given a hyacinth flower.  When this part was over there was a talk about why the cow is so important to the Hare Krisha's which I found really interesting - the best bit was when he suggested we start a cow revolution and that we were all cow fundamentalists, being there to show our love for the cows. (did I mention that we took two bags of carrots for the cows).

Finally, the cows got their freedom - it was so lovely seeing them jump, skip, and run around the field - the bulls started fighting to assert their dominance over each other.  We then all moved to another field to see the cows let out - the brown one further down just wanted to fight with everyone before she took off around the field.

The calves were the funniest, as they have never been outside, and when the gate was opened they just ran around and around the edge of their little area for ages - it was like they were in an Olympic race - so cute, but very difficult to get a photo of.

Once most of the visitors had wandered off I managed to get a picture of the alter (I'm not sure if that's the right terminology) with the flowers and another beautiful chalk drawing on the ground in front of it.

It was a really nice way to spend a Sunday morning - and you've never seen so many people in one place smiling and laughing because of the antics of some cows.

So until next time, stay safe, be happy, and smile at the next person you see - it just might make their day.

Pamela & Ken

Final photo is of a Buddha in the Manor gardens.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Graveyards, Churches, and a Moomin

Yesterday we decided to risk the very fickle weather we've been having lately and head into London - when we left home the sun was trying to shine through the clouds and there were a few patches of blue sky.  Our destination was Bunhill Fields burial grounds - it's located north of St Pauls and covers 1.6 hectares.  It's believed to date from the 1600's and a couple of notable people buried there are John Bunyan (Pilgrims Progress author) and Susanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles).

John Bunyan's grave
When we got to the graveyard there were people there feeding the squirrels with peanuts, and the squirrels were very friendly, thinking that everyone had food - I know they're technically a pest but I think they're very, very cute.

It's a really atmospheric graveyard, with headstones at all angles - higgledy piggledy throughout the space, interspersed with spring flowers.  It's amazing how many inscriptions have survived considering how old they are.

You can see by the buildings in the background that it's in the middle of a very busy city, a little piece of calm amongst the rat race.  The headstone below is one of the really intricately carved ones that I loved - you can see why.

Now you may have noticed from the pictures that there doesn't seem to be any blue sky left - by now it looked like it was going to rain which wasn't great as neither of us were wearing wet weather appropriate clothes and I didn't have an umbrella with us.

Never mind, onwards we went and our next stop was at the Church St Bartholomew the Great in West Smithfield - it was founded in 1123 as an Augustinian priory.  It is one of the oldest churches in London having escaped the Great Fire.  It's also been used in lots of films, including Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Elizabeth the Golden Age, and Four Weddings and a Funeral.  The architecture inside is amazing and there is a great smell - a combination of incense, candles, and age.

The first three photos show the exterior of the church:

Now some pictures from inside:

The next picture I took because this gravestone features in Four Weddings and a Funeral - at the end when Hugh Grants character is marrying duck face, this is where he ends up when she punches him - check next time you watch the film.

We ventured outside and what a surprise, it was raining!!  Now just to point out, at the weekend the Underground does not have every line working due to engineering, and where St Bartholomew's is, is no where near an underground station that was working.  Looking at our map we decided to head for Covent Garden, have something to eat, and then head home - this took quite a while and by the time we got there we were very wet!!  We did enjoy seeing bits of London we hadn't seen before (though it would have been good to have windscreen wipers on our glasses) and I quite liked this funky looking building.

We decided to go to Fire and Stone for a late lunch and to dry out - it's a pizza/pasta restaurant and I had a Melbourne Pizza!  Love it, butternut squash, red onion, brie, rocket, and balsamic vinegar - fabulous.

My beloved looking a little damp around the edges but still gorgeous

Now I'm going to tell you about the absolute highlight of the day - I know, what could be better than a lovely graveyard and a day in the rain with my beloved.  Well, as we were walking back through Covent Garden Market we came across a Moomin!!!  You probably don't realise this but I love the Moomins so of course I had to take the opportunity to get my photo taken with the Moomin - the thing dreams are made of.

Please ignore the state of my hair - remember we had been walking in the rain, just look at the lovely Moomin

So after that fun packed day we headed home - tired but rejuvenated.

Until next time stay safe, look after each other, and dream about how wonderful it was to hug a Moomin.

Pamela & Ken

Lovely door photo to finish:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Part 2 of weekend away

So the morning after the pudding club Ken was a good boy and had fruit and cereal for breakfast whilst I had a fry up including black pudding - it had to be done.  After we checked out we went for a wander around Mickleton with Bertie (did I mention we had Bertie Boo with us?).  It's a lovely little Cotswold village, with pretty cottages and a lovely churchyard which of course I had to wander round and take photos of.  To follow are pictures from around Mickleton.

After our explore we then went onto Chipping Campden, another lovely village and one we had not been to before - it had lots of lovely little shops including quite a few antique shops - I took the picture below in one of these as I thought it was quite cute, though the price tag wasn't.

The horse below is made up of various different plants including succulents - I really liked it, a great thing to have in your front garden.

Now in case you didn't realise, I have a bit of a thing for doors - they have so much character and this area had some beautiful ones so I had to take photos.

I really liked this sign - really pretty picture of a peacock and the matching iron work above.

Our next stop was Stowe-on-the-Wold, which is one of  our favourite Cotswold villages, namely because they have a teashop which Ken loves - very nice cakes!  What, did you seriously think we could go very long without stopping for coffee and a cake?  No photos of Stowe, we were too busy relaxing.

After Stowe we went to Bourton-on-the-Water, which has a big claim to fame - it is the home of Brum!  Brum, for those of you that don't know, is a car from a children's show.

My two very handsome boys

Bourton is a very popular village and we have never been there and it not be busy - lots of tourists from all over the world, crammed into a tiny village which had a lovely little creek running through it with stone bridges over it.

Ken decided to get an ice cream which Bertie wasn't impressed with - he wanted some, and Ken being the soft touch that he is ended up giving Bertie the bottom half of his ice cream cone.  There was a couple along from us who had two huge dogs, and they bought ice creams for themselves and for both the dogs.

Isn't Bertie such a handsome boy

On the way home we stopped into a farm that you can visit only to discover that it was Adam Henson's farm - he's the farmer off Country File.  Unfortunately it was only half an hour before closing time so we just went into the cafe for coffee and cake, and now that we know where it is we will go back another day - so look forward to that blog.

Okay, must finish as I've just taken banana and chocolate chip cupcakes out of the oven and need to sort them out.

Be good, stay safe, and look after each other.

Pamela & Ken (& Bertie)

P.S:  I'm sure when he got home Bertie bragged to the cats about his weekend away with us and that he got to sleep in the same room as us.