23 February 2024

Lunchtime Concert

Today's Cathedral Concert was Juanjo Blázquez, a brilliant Spanish pianist

unfortunately the programme was not to my taste,
I stayed for most of it though.

The weather was lovely with glorious sunshine which changed to rain and hailstones in the afternoon!

Despite lots of rain signs of Spring are all around
∼ Be warm and well∼ 
Polly x 

18 February 2024

A Good Read

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
For her 25th birthday Libby Jones inherits an eight bedroom mansion in London’s SW3 - the heart of Chelsea. Most people would be over the moon to own a house in that area of multi million pound homes, but the house is dilapidated, and has a very sinister past.
Told from the points of view of Libby, Lucy, and Henry, in both the past and present, this disturbing family drama begins with the previous owners of the house. The Lamb’s were a wealthy couple with two children, Henry and Lucy. Martina (the mother) liked helping people and invited a homeless charismatic stranger named David and his family to move into their home. But David wasn’t as charming as he appeared to be. He was malevolent and manipulating and before long he had turned the house into a commune and had the family obeying his every whim, all except Henry - he wasn’t falling for David’s charms, not one little bit!

The story builds slowly and steadily, developing the characters and revealing their roles in the plot. It's a fast compelling read.

∼ Happy Reading∼ 

Polly x

9 February 2024

Rain Stops Play

Today I should have joined my u3a bus pass group for a trip to Harlow. My village is surrounded by countryside and fields and when we get a lot of rain the roads get flooded, not bad floods, (lots of people have to deal with much worse than some water on the roads). Roads into and out of my village were flooded, and more in the next village. It was possible to drive through the water but single file and slowly, so my journey took longer which meant despite leaving a bit earlier I was late arriving at the meeting point and missed the bus.
Many people who know Harlow think of it as not a nice place for a day trip but there are some nice parts of the town, and our group leader had arranged a tour of the Gibbert Gallery, I'm disappointed to miss that, but I'm sure my friend M and I can go another time.  
However, missing the bus meant I was able to attend the formal opening of my village church's new servery and toilet, attended by the Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch, the new Archdeacon of Chelmsford, a few reverends and lots  of villagers.

It was a nice do with hot drinks and cakes, which always go down well 😋


We have had a mixed bag of weather here in the UK - rain, wind, mild, cold, freezing cold and sunshine.

This part of our walk is lovely when the sun is shining because that hedgerow is a barrier against the wind.

∼ Be warm and well∼ 
Polly x 

2 February 2024

A Very Good Read

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya Clark was barefoot and wild, for years she had been known as the Marsh Girl. As a very young girl Kya watched her Mother walk  away without looking back. Soon, all her siblings followed suit, leaving Kya alone with her drunk, abusive and often absent father, who also eventually left. She had to care for their home, learn to shop, to provide food, cook and clean, all while dealing with loneliness, abandonment, loss and prejudice, and always wondering when and if her Mother would ever return. She spent one day at school but was so badly ridiculed she never returned.

But Kya was smart and clever with a curious mind. She knew the marsh and found ways to make money and provide for her basic needs. She learnt lessons in life, through nature and the wilderness surrounding her, and with help from books and her brother's friend Tate she learnt to read and write. The lovely couple 'Jumpin' and Mable showed her kindness and love, and the store cashier helped by often giving her too much change.

But while she had the skills to live in solitude forever, the time came when she yearned for company. Drawn to two young men from town, who were each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opened herself to a new and startling world. But when popular but unpleasant Chase Andrews was found dead, locals immediately suspected Kya.

I was engaged with Kya’s story from the beginning. It is beautifully written with poetic prose and wonderful descriptions of the marshes. It has a little bit of everything, a likeable main character who tugs at the heartstrings, romance, murder mystery, courtroom drama and lovely characters who are kind - Tate, the cashier who gives back too much change and 'Jumpin' and Mable. I loved it and so did my book group.

∼ Happy Reading∼ 

Polly x

28 January 2024

Jigsaw Mania

I completed this jigsaw before Christmas, it was a nice one to do

and this one just after Christmas, which was fun to do

and currently doing this one which is more challenging with the darkness at the top, and the lace at the bottom.


The lunchtime concerts at the Cathedral are almost back to full attendance. I would guess there were upwards of 200 people there on Friday. The concert was a brilliant violinist and her piano accompaniment who was also excellent.


Yesterday was Burns Night in the village hall. It was a great night, haggis, mashed potato, mashed swede, cabbage and gravy, and clootie pudding and custard followed by lots of Cèilidh dancing. Everyone left exhausted and happy.

∼ Be warm and well∼ 
Polly x 

23 January 2024

National Portrait Gallery

After reviving ourselves with coffee and cake we continued around the gallery

Sir Winston Churchill

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery

King George VI, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret

During the Second World War Princess Elizabeth, aged 19, joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) training as a driver and mechanic. In this photograph the future queen is crouching by the vehicle's tyre. The slight blurring of her hand and tool suggests that she is moving and working, rather than posing for the photographer. 

This display presents a small selection of everyday portraits.
Top row
Cotton kanga commemorating the death of Julius Nyerere, former president of Tanzania, and example of the sort of fabrics used in many African countries.
Mask derived from the novel V for Vendetta, and inspired by Guy Fawkes.
Vinyl record 'Live' recorded by Bob Marley and The Wailers.
Centre row
Popular 19th century ceramic figures.
Music fan jacket and t-shirt with pin badges and patches.
Handbag containing ID, money, credit cards, stamps and a copy of Wuthering Heights with the Gallery's portrait of Emily Bronte on the cover.
Lower row
Satirical pet toys depicting Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.
Collectible stickers from the man's and women's European football championships.
Royal memorabilia, ranging from tea towels to mugs, and a tin sent by Princess Mary to troops in the First World War. 

I think this is an excellent portrait of Germaine Greer

I love this

but not these. I know art is subjective, I get the one of the mother and daughter portraying life from child to woman, but the one on the left - it's just ugly.

The timeless beauty of Audrey Hepburn

and Diana, Princess of Wales

This is beautiful. Malala Yousafzai, activist and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The artist Shirin Neshat hand inscribed in calligraphy a poem by the Pashto poet Rahmat Shah Sayel.

I like this one too

A very nice portrait of King Charles III

William, Prince of Wales and Catherine Princess of Wales

There is so much more to see, I couldn't possibly have photographed all the marvellous exhibits. It's a wonderful place and makes for a very good day out.

∼ Be warm and well∼ 
Polly x 

21 January 2024

National Portrait Gallery

My friend M and I had nice day out at the National Portrait Gallery. 

The National Portrait Gallery is an art gallery in London that houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. When it opened in 1856, it was arguably the first national public gallery in the world that was dedicated to portraits. In 1896 the gallery moved to its current site at St Martin's Place. 

We started with the Tudors

Queen Elizabeth I                  Mary Queen of Scots

We wondered how the women went to the toilet once they were fitted into these dresses. Apparantly they didn't wear knickers, and because those garments were so open a chamber pot was easily used. Or maybe they just peed where they stood! If you're interested in Tudor lavatorial stuff click here

Queen Elizabeth I

King Edward VI                           I think this is Sir Walter Raleigh

       Henry VIII                        This memorial portrait of Sir Henry Unton depicts his
                                         life, death and funeral shown in various scenes

I can't remember who this is but I love the dress

The House of Commons 1833. This panorama depicts the first session of the newly elected House of Commons after the Reform Act was passed in 1832. At the front are key figures from the House of Lords. The artist, George Hayter was unable to sell the huge painting, eventually he persuaded the government to buy it for the newly founded Gallery.

King George V, Princess Mary, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor and Queen Mary. The portrait was painted just a few months before the outbreak of the First World War. The Queen and Mary appear reserved while the King is dressed in full military uniform signifying duty and service to the nation. Two decades later the young Prince Edward jeopardised the throne when, as King Edward VIII, he abdicated.

The Relief of Lucknow, 1857
This large painting celebrates Britain's suppression of a mass uprising that took place in India between 1857 and 1858. It imagines the end of a bloody battle in the northern city of Lucknow, with 29 British officers shown triumphantly at the centre and the Indian rebels in the shadows. 

Florence Nigtingale attending to the wounded.

By now we were ready for a sit down and a coffee and cake to re-charge our batteries to continue with the rest of the collections.

To be continued

∼ Be warm and well∼ 
Polly x 

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