12 June 2021

Trooping The Colour

Today should be the celebration of Trooping The Colour when troops from the Household Division honour the Queen's official birthday. It's an impressive display of pageantry and military that has taken place in London for two centuries, since the accession of King George IV in 1820, except during the world wars and a national strike in 1955, and cancelled this year because of covid restrictions. A smaller alternative Parade is taking place in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle.

Although the Queen's official birthday is celebrated in June, her actual birthday is on 21 April. Monarchs are traditionally given a second birthday if they were not born in the summer, in case the British weather is unsuitable for an outdoor celebration!

What is Trooping The Colour and what are the origins? 
Regimental flags of the British Army were historically described as ‘Colours’ because they displayed the uniform colours and insignia worn by the soldiers of different units. The principal role of a regiment’s colours was to provide a rallying point on the battlefield. This was important because without modern communications it was all too easy for troops to become disoriented and separated from their unit during conflict. In order for the troops to know what their regiment's colours were it was necessary to display them regularly. This was done by officers marching in between the ranks of troops formed up in lines with the Colours held high. Hence the origin of the word ‘trooping’. So, what started as a vital and practical parade designed to aid unit recognition before a battle, is today a time honoured tradition.

The Guards are amongst the oldest regiments of the British Army and have served as the personal bodyguards of The Sovereign since the monarchy was restored after the English Civil War in 1660. The ceremony of Trooping the Colour is believed to have been performed first during the reign of King Charles II (1660 – 1685). In 1748 it was decided that this parade would be used to mark the official birthday of the Sovereign and it became an annual event after George III became King in 1760.

Her Majesty used to attend on horseback, but in recent years has travelled by carriage. She is escorted from Buckingham Palace, along the Mall to Horse Guards Parade, where she is greeted by a Royal salute, and carries out an inspection of the troops, who are fully trained and operational soldiers wearing the ceremonial uniform of red tunics and bearskin hats. The massed bands perform a musical troop and the escorted Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks. The Foot Guards, the Household Cavalry, The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery march past Her Majesty.

Riding in a carriage the Queen then leads her guards  back to Buckingham Palace, alongside members of the royal family who are on horseback or in carriages.
Once at the palace the Queen takes the salute again from a dias before being joined by the other members of the royal family on the famous balcony to watch a 41 gun salute and a fly-past by the RAF. 


Over 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians come together in a great display of military precision, horsemanship and fanfare.

With the streets lined with flag waving crowds the whole event is a magnificent spectacle.

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

8 June 2021

A Good Read

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He is handsome and wealthy, she is charming and elegant. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’d like to get to know Grace better but it’s difficult, because Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows. Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

A very well written story with some tense moments.

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

2 June 2021

A Milestone Day

This afternoon we had our first WI meeting in over a year! Historically our June meeting has been in a members garden planting summer pots. Mary is a great hostess providing us with tea and cake, today we had a choice of coffee or victoria cake, I had coffee cake. We didn't do any planting, just had a lovely time talking, catching up and arranging our activities for the rest of the year. It felt good putting those dates in the diary.
Onwards and upwards.
∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

31 May 2021

Upnor Castle

Sorting through more photos I found these from November 2019, fancy forgetting a day out!
I had put them in a seperate folder instead of the blog folder.

Situated in tranquil grounds on the banks of the River Medway, Upnor Castle is set in a quaint, picturesque village area backed by rolling wooded hills. 


Strictly speaking Upnor is more of a gun fort than a castle. In 1559 Queen Elizabeth I commissioned the building of the fort to defend her warships at anchor in the reaches of the Medway and Chatham  dockyard. As Elizabeth's reign progressed relations with Spain deteriorated and fears grew that the River Medway would suffer an attack from the large Spanish forces operating from their bases in the Netherlands, so substantial enhancements were made. The Water Bastion was modified to take heavier weaponry and a timber palisade was installed in front of it to provide protection from enemy landing parties and to stop ships coming alongside the bastion at high tide. A gatehouse and curtain walls were also added with two new structures, the North and South Towers, overlooking the waterfront and enabling flanking fire along a ditch that fronted the wall. Two earthwork forts, Bay Sconce and Warham Sconce, were also added.
BUT all those enhancements weren't well maintained, and when the Dutch sailed up the Medway in June 1667 to attack the dockyard the enemy fleet met very little resistance and when it left two days later, it had destroyed or captured a large number of the Royal Navy ships anchored at Chatham.
The humiliation at Medway prompted substantial upgrades to coastal defences around key military ports.  All these new facilities made Upnor Castle redundant and by the late seventeenth century it had been relegated to a stores complex and magazine. The castle was modified accordingly with the gun platforms on the roof of the main building removed. It continued to be used as a magazine until 1827 and thereafter served in various roles until formally recognised as a museum in 1945.

To access the barracks we parked on the edge of the village and strolled down through the picturesque High Street of Upnor’s lovely village, passing by lovingly maintained pretty clapboard homes along the cobbled road.




The first floor of the main building was used for stores.


The Battle of Medway exhibition

Sleeping quarters

This was the mechanism that operated a clock on the roof but I forgot to take a photograph of it!

Cantilevered staircase

I think this is a folly, just outside the fort.


It's also a venue for weddings, there was one taking place at the time of our visit.

As well as visiting the castle it's also a nice place to take a picnic, to sit and watch the river,
and then visit one of the two really good pubs.

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

24 May 2021

Help

Update: After lots of research and going to the blogger help page I think the tech guys have altered the header widget to accomodate mobile phone users.

Hello, I hope one of you lovely readers can help. I wanted to change my header image, went into header; uploaded image from computer; saved it but -  instead of covering  the top part of the page it's tiny. I clicked shrink to fit, that just made the text bigger and over to the left of the page. I have tried everything, spent hours trying to figure it out, and eventually gave up. The smaller image isn't too bad if it was centred but I can't even do that! Any ideas?

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

19 May 2021

A Good Read

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen
I love Carl Hiaasen's satiric, hugely witty, laugh out loud novels which generally highlight some atrocity humans are inflicting on the state of Florida.
The first one I read was Strip Tease, a long time ago. I know I enjoyed it but it was before I started keeping a diary of my reading, and I can't remember much detail about it.
In Skinny Dip Hiassen concentrates on Everglades pollution.
Chaz Perrone - who likes to be called 'Dr. Perrone' - has a Ph.D. in marine biology and a cushy job for the state of Florida monitoring pollution in the Everglades. In reality Chaz should be called 'Dr. Scumbag' because he's being paid off by Red Hammernut, a south Florida farmer whose fertilizer is contaminating the region. Chaz creates fake results for the Everglades water samples and collects his payoff.
Chaz thinks his wife Joey, has cottoned on to his scam so he treats her to a luxury cruise for their second wedding anniversary, and promptly throws her overboard in the middle of the night. Chaz failed to think it through though. An expert swimmer, Joey makes her way to a floating bale of Jamaican pot, and then, with help from the Gulf Stream, to an island inhabited by an ex-cop named Mick Stranahan.  Joey wants revenge and Mick is happy to help her. But instead of calling the police Joey has a better idea, she wants to drive lowlife Chaz crazy.
Convinced he got away with murder Chaz rids the house of Joey's belongings; romances his long-time girlfriend  Ricca Spillman; and dreams of a fruitful, long-lasting partnership with Red.
But despite Chaz's staged outpourings of grief detective Karl Rolvaag is immediately suspicious and never lets up with his questioning - think Columbo. Meanwhile with help from her brother and Mike Joey invents a series of pranks designed to mess with Chaz’s head, the results of which are hilarious and extremely satisfying.

∼ Happy Reading ∼
Polly x

14 May 2021

Rufus' Diary

Polly has got some new walking boots. They were more than her £70 limit but they are super comfy,
and she (morbidly) thought they could well be the last pair she buys so she splashed out an extra £30 and bought them.

A few weeks ago we met Maisie and her owner. When we first met she was very nervous, her hackles were up, she was baring her teeth and growling at me. We've been meeting once a week since then to help socialise her. Now she's friendly, we run around and play, we get on very well.


Bluebell wood has changed slightly. We used to be able to walk through and out at the other end. 
After rounding this bend above


                             the path leads to a very small dip then 
round to the left of that tree stump,
down another very small dip, up onto the field and onwards.
A couple of months ago the farmer enlarged the ditch 
and now .....


the bank is higher and the ditch is much deeper. It looks as f people have been crossing it,
I can run down it and up the other side but Polly wouldn't attempt it.


From the other side.


We still enjoy walking in the wood though, we just turn round and go back the way we came. 


The bonfire is still burning!


Bees are busy


Sweet little ladybirds sunbathing.


Some weeds are quite pretty. We've seen a lot of cowslips.


These are pretty but Polly doesn't know what they are, weeds or flowers.
She's hoping one of you lovely readers will know.


Polly received these beautiful flowers from her Aussie daughter for Aussie Mother's Day.

How cool is this car


not quite so cool!! There aren't any bends in this part of the road, the road is wide enough for two way traffic, the surface hasn't been slippery. Polly thinks it might have been stolen for joy riding.


The badgers have been busy again. Last year they had created 3 large openings to their sett.
The original and largest opening is the mound at the top of the picture, the second one at the top of Polly's shadow and the third one over to the left. 


After all that rain last winter and the beginning of the year their sett started to subside,
seen here in the middle of the picture above.

and then in March this happened, everything flattened and ploughed over 


The tunnels would still be there underneath the grassy area, so, undeterred they just started again.

and now they have two openings. I think it might be a work in progress.

🐾 Be safe and well 🐾
Rufus x

5 May 2021

Taking Stock

I'm pleased to say I am now fully vaccinated, I had my second covid jab a couple of weeks ago and am even more pleased to say I didn't feel as bad afterwards as I did with my first one. I took a paracetamol before bedtime, slept well but had a thumping headache when I woke, and felt a little tired up until about midday. Small potatoes.

oOo

When the garden wakes up from winter sleep I walk around looking at what needs to be done,
what's showing signs of life, what can be resuscitated and what looks dead. 

The geraniums were covered over winter so I was hoping to see some semblance of survival.
This was a beautiful deep pink/crimson colour.
The other 11 look just the same!
Winter 2019 I didn't cover any and most of them survived!!


Fickle thy name is clematis.
I have tried (with only a modicum of success), to grow them for years.
Last year this clematis above was thriving, it took off, it had lots of buds on it,
it was looking good ...........
then one day it started to wilt, and the rest is history.


This one, newly planted last year didn't do much at all, well actually it didn't do anything, 
it looked dead, but now it's looking promising.
I have a theory - when they're in pots I think I overwater them
so I'm going to neglect them and see how that works out! 


This lovely winter clematis (can't remember its name) is the star of my garden.
It's on a north facing wall and has bloomed for the past 4 years covering two fence panels.
I didn't do anything, not quite neglected it, just let it get on with it,
which is why I'm going to apply the same method to the summer ones.


A first for me last year was this passion flower.
It was lovely with healthy flowers, I was very pleased with it.
It was growing round a climbing rose, through some trellis attached to a fence panel that had to be replaced. I did my best to remove it but had to cut some of the stems. There's no sign of life after a few weeks, it's not looking good.

  
 A neighbour left this pot outside her house for anyone who wanted it so I snapped it up 
and painted it. It was ok through the summer but didn't fare well over winter.
I'm going to give it a good sand down and re-paint it. 

The biggest job I have been busy with is painting the fence panels. Three were damaged and had been battered around for months in all the bad winter weather, so when we finally replaced them I started painting. I enjoy it, I find it slightly theraputic, but I've reached the side pathway now and I'm getting bored! Also one panel is completely covered in ivy and another still has clumps of dead ivy that I removed years ago, clinging to it. It might take a while for those to get painted.


What a state the small patio was in. I didn't really notice how bad the fence panels were last year with the tree in full greenery and my bike and flowers covering some of it.
It already looks better with the fence panels painted and when I have cleaned the slabs and planted the tubs with pretty flowers it will be transformed back into my little corner of sunshine and relaxation.


The cherry tree is starting to bloom, seen here with a lovely little visitor.
No doubt the birds will get more cherries than me!


This one at the bottom of the street is glorious.


 What a shame that the beautiful blooms only last a few short weeks


∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

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