29 April 2023

A Nice Walk

I've recently joined the U3A and their walking group. My first outing with them last Tuesday was a very nice 4 mile local walk starting in Little Waltham  

Through some lovely countryside

Into the pretty village of Great Waltham

Back to Little Waltham to the pub for a meal. I had fish n chips.

It was a lovely walk, the weather was good and we had some sunshine.

∼ Be safe and well ∼
Polly x

26 April 2023

A Good Read

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s grim spare bedroom because she won’t let him use her sitting room. After being suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies, he is angry and turns to the world wide web for professional advice. There he finds the charismatic, odious, and sinister Bryn, and the dark world of incel—involuntary, celibate—forums. He is on a downward spiral with no chance of working out how to stop it.

I felt a tad sorry for Owen, let down by his family, no support from anyone, awkward and out of step with society.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, mum Cate, a physiotherapist, dad Roan, a child psychologist, and teenagers Josh and Georgia.

Saffyre Maddox has spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. When her therapy ends she feels abandoned, and, as a means to maintain a connection, she starts following him, but learns more than she wanted to about Roan. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre disappears.

Atmospheric writing with dark, tense, twists and turns, this book is unputdownable.

∼ Happy Reading∼ 

Polly x

23 April 2023

St George's Day

Happy St George's Day

St George is known as a heroic knight in shining armour slaying a ferocious, fire-breathing dragon. It's thought he was born in the 3rd century AD in Cappadocia (modern day Turkey), died in Lydda (modern day Israel) and his tomb was in Lod and was a centre of Christian pilgrimage.

It's likely that he was an officer in the Roman army, joining the retinue of Emperor Diocletian. It is thought that during the persecutions of the Emperor, George was executed for refusing to make a sacrifice in honour of the pagan gods, and like many saints he was depicted as a martyr after he died for his Christian faith.

His reputation for virtue and holiness spread across Europe and his feast day – the 23rd April – was celebrated in England from the 9th century onwards. He became popular with English kings. Edward I had banners bearing the emblem of St George (a red cross on a white background) and Edward III had a strong interest in the saint and owned a relic of his blood. 

The St George cross was not used to represent England until the reign of Henry VIII, and the dragon was added later. The story goes that St George rode into Silene (modern day Libya) to free the city from a dragon who had a taste for humans, but it’s a story which post-dates the real George by several centuries! It's a good story though.

Although he wasn't born in England, or never even visited, various kings were fond of him so he became our Patron Saint.

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

17 April 2023

15 Minute City

I read recently that the city of Oxford has become the battleground for a conspiracy theory that equates the introduction of 15-minute cities with locking people in their neighbourhoods. (Don't you just love a good conspiracy theory!) The backlash against the County Council’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and traffic filters has become a controversial hot potato.

The term “15-minute city” has been a hot topic in the world of urban planning for years, with urbanists, architects and local authorities championing the concept as a way of better designing our cities for modern living and the transition to net zero. The concept of the 15-minute city is that urban centres should be designed so that everything a person needs - work, education, shops and leisure - is within a 15-minute walk or cycle from their home.

Last year Oxford's city council approved a 20-year urban development plan to create neighborhoods where essential services are accessible by walking no more than 15 minutes. But the reason for the recent protests is the County Council’s proposal to introduce six new traffic filters on key connecting roads around the city. Automatic number plate recognition cameras will monitor cars passing through, with a fine of £70 issued to drivers who are not exempt. The goals of the scheme being to reduce unnecessary car journeys within the city, a net zero transport network, and zero road fatalaties. As a consequence, the streets will be much safer for pedestrians and cyclists, bus journeys will be much faster, and the overall atmosphere of the town will be more pleasant. Residents of the city will be permitted 100 days per year in which they can travel through the filters with no charge. When the trial period of the scheme begins, it will be accompanied by a public consultation to assess the impact and public support.

Living where I do in a village I can't access any of the above amenities without using my car or the every two hour bus service. But if I lived in a town or city and those amenities were nearby I would welcome a 15 minute walk. I know many of the children attending the village school live well within a 15 minute walk from home but many are transported by their mums in their shiny 4WD's.

∼ Be safe and well ∼
Polly x

10 April 2023

A Good Read

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
627 miles in 87 days is how far Harold Fry walked after receiving a letter one morning in mid-April. The letter is from Queenie Hennessey. Twenty years have passed since they worked together at the brewery, and now Queenie was writing to say goodbye as she was dying from cancer. Harold writes a short reply and sets off to post it. However at the post box he has a kind of epiphany, he decides to deliver the letter in person. Wearing only a waterproof jacket over his shirt and trousers, and moccasins on his feet, none of the usual gear that one would need for a journey of this magnitude, he sets off for Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Along the way he experiences memories of his childhood, meeting his wife, becoming a parent, meeting Queenie. Lots of memories and regrets. He also meets lots of lovely people.

There were times when I felt frustrated at Harold’s refusal of help, and why embark on such a journey without adequate clothing and footwear. I know it was a spur of the moment thing but surely he could have popped back home first. But then that's me, I have to do things the right way!

As well as a pilgrimage I think it was also a kind of penance, as if Harold was punishing himself for his shortcomings. Overall I did enjoy it, and would recommend it.

∼ Happy Reading∼ 

Polly x

7 April 2023


I like hot cross buns as much as I like mince pies but I don't eat as many, and I don't usually do comparisons, but Aldi's luxury range are very good, they're not squelchy like some are.

The history of hot cross buns is a bit fuzzy, but they likely date back to the Middle Ages when it was a cultural institution to share sweet sacrifices with the gods. Many believe that monks first developed hot cross buns in the 1300s, then distributed them to feed the poor. In the late 1500s, when many English citizens believed the buns had magical or healing powers, Queen Elizabeth I began restricting their sale to only Good Friday, Christmas, and funerals so the magic wouldn't be abused. That's when many home bakers began whipping up their own hot cross buns.

Easter is synonymous with hot cross buns. Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, they mark the end of the Christian season of Lent, and different parts of the hot cross bun have a certain meaning - the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, the spices signify the spices used to embalm him and the orange peel reflects the bitterness of his time on the Cross.

As well as Christian origins there are links to pagan beliefs as well. The Saxons baked buns marked with a cross at the beginning of spring in honour of the goddess Eostre, which could very likely be the origin of the name Easter. Eostre was a fertility goddess of humans and crops. The traditional colors of the festival are green, yellow and purple. The symbols of rabbits and eggs represent fertility, and the cross represented the rebirth of the world after winter, and the four quarters of the moon.

Some historians believe that the contemporary hot cross bun originates from St Albans in England, where, in 1361 Brother Thomas Rodcliffe, a 14th-century monk at St Albans Abbey, developed a similar recipe called an 'Alban Bun' and distributed the buns to the poor on Good Friday.

The first definite record of hot cross buns comes from a London street cry: "Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns", which appeared in Poor Robin's Almanac for 1733. This then became the popular 

Hot-cross buns!
Hot-cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons;
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross buns!

∼ Be safe and well ∼
Polly x

3 April 2023

A Good Read

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
The setting is Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, the street is crowded with people lining up to get into a venue. A man steps out into the road without looking, a Peugeot breaks suddenly to avoid hitting him and a Honda behind crashes into the Peugeot. The angry Honda driver gets out of his car and attacks the driver of the Peugeot. A bystander in the crowd throws his briefcase at the Honda guy, clipping him on the shoulder, and stopping the beating long enough for the police to arrive.
This accidental incident sets  off a chain reaction of events, and Jackson Brodie who is an innocent bystander gets drawn into what happens next. 
This is the second Jackson Brodie novel, and another good read. I like the characters that Kate Atkinson creates, I like reading about their lives, how events unfold and how they all become connected.
Each chapter is told from a different point of view, with a different character as its focus. The first chapter is told from the point of view of Peugeot Guy, the second by the gentle man who threw the briefcase. There is the wife of a shady real estate developer, a retired policeman whose girlfriend is acting in a Fringe production, a fading comedian whose career is bottoming out at the Fringe, and probably some others I have forgotten.

∼ Happy Reading∼ 

Polly x

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