Sweetbriar Dreams

Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Sunday 28 May 2017

Time to Say Goodbye

Five years ago, I ventured into the Blogosphere, tentative steps at first and then gaining confidence along with changing directions as I went, from crafts, day to day life, recipes etc.  Then as my photography gathered pace and trips to various places were enjoyed (especially my very much missed home town of London), my blog's journey changed again.

My little corner of blogland began to gain momentum in followers, comments, emails and  was incredibly rewarding and a joy to get to know those who were reading me, asking questions and giving support.  Bless you all for that.

My writing and photography helped me through the stressed years of parenting with  mid teenage angst and exams and Sweetbriar Dreams was my escape from the negativity that surrounded that time.  Now, all that angst is behind us and both Miss Teen and Mr Teen are venturing out into the big bad world themselves and making me proud.

In these five years I have rediscovered my love of photography that  I had many years ago and the confidence to go out with the camera and see the world rather than just look at it along  with my writing, to write the book rather than just read it.

I have made some wonderful friends along the way who share my interest in historical places, the pressures and loves of blogging, photography and the weekly catch up with each other.

And so after months and months of fighting with my thoughts, it is finally time to say goodbye to Sweetbriar Dreams.  It has been a wonderful journey and one that has made me look at things in a different way.

Believe me, it wasn't an easy decision and it will be something in my life that I will miss, but as bloggers know, to write a post, insert links and relevant content and edit photos takes up a huge chunk of time, which with a very busy and demanding job, along with being a parent and running a house, is time that I have less and less of unfortunately.

And so, I would like to say...

T H A N K   Y O U

Thank you all for your support, encouragement, comments and emails over the years!  Thank you for making me laugh and cry!  Thank you for being that virtual shoulder to rest on.  Thank you for being there!

It is now time to say goodbye and please take good care of yourselves!

ps.  Thank you all for your amazing comments and emails.  I will be carrying on microblogging through Instagram for a little while but I thoroughly recommend a truly inspirational blog by Mike at A Bit About Britain.  Another blogger who loves to visit places and tell the story behind the site. You can visit him here!

Saturday 27 May 2017

Call the Midwife

NO, I haven't got some special news but I bet the title got your attention!  No, this post is a continuation from my latest visit to Kent and a wonderful place to see indeed... Chatham Dockyard.  This informative and huge site has been used for many TV series, such as Call the Midwife, Mr Selfridge, SS-GB, The Halcyon, Close to the Enemy, The Crown and many more.

And so, a picture heavy post once again dear Readers, but there was a lot to capture and a lot to experience.  Have you got your cup of tea and fruit cake in hand?  Here we go...

First and foremost, this is a dockyard and is full of all that you would expect.  Ropes in all shapes and sizes...

Metal from tools of the trade...

... chains...

... and more chains (I seem to like capturing metal work!)...

Chatham Dockyard certainly was a feast for my eyes and I loved capturing all manner of different artefacts, patterns and textures.  None more so than in the The Victorian Ropery

The Ropery is ENORMOUS!  Half a mile long to enable enormous ropes to be manufactured.  This is still in operation today and the size will take your breath away.

The workers even ride bikes to get from end to end to carry out their work.

Now ladies, when visiting an historic dockyard, please take heed of your apparel!  Believe me, I love to wear jeans and a top but for some stupid reason (top very creased), I decided to wear a dress.  BAD DECISION... HUGE! As well as negotiating ladder like stairs on boats, there is the problem of climbing through cramped holes while taking a tour of a submarine!  Some couldn't get through and gave up on the tour, however me being me, one leg through and then hoist into the next section.  The result, four enormous bruises on left leg.  The things I do for you lot!  However HMS Ocelot is well worth a visit to experience the cramped conditions inside.  If you would like to look inside the submarine (whose operations are still covered under the Official Secrets Act) without the risk of bruises then take a look at the link from Google Maps here.

Next door is HMS Gannet which is part of the National Historic Fleet  (of course my beloved Cutty Sark is on this list too).

But let's just have a look around the Dockyard and see the buildings that have been used as backdrop to the programmes, especially Call the Midwife...

If I had enough time I would have walked around with the tour but you do need a full day to see everything here.  If you are in the area I would recommend that you visit this place and definitely go on this tour to get the exact locations for the different scenes used.  The tickets for the dockyard can be used for a year which is always an added bonus in my book.

Have a wonderful weekend (especially those enjoying a Bank Holiday... always lovely to have that extra time to relax).

Sunday 14 May 2017

The Gardens of Hever Castle - Part 2

And now are you ready for part 2 of my posts on Hever Castle in Kent?  A grey day to begin with, but the sun was kind to us all by the end giving us a chance to see Hever Castle with blue sky behind it and warm sunshine on our faces.  Once again, a cup of English Breakfast Tea and let's see what's in the cupboard... a couple of Rich Tea Biscuits!  Let me take you by the hand around the stunning gardens of Hever Castle...

The gardens expand 125 acres and have William Waldorf Astor to thank for his amazing legacy on their creation and collections held within.  The views from the windows of the Castle an ever changing painting as the gardens flourish through the seasons.

The walk under the gate house and the oldest working portcullis in England inviting you to explore these beautiful well kept gardens.

Then over the bridge, filling the eyes with amazing late spring/early summer rich, lush greens.

The stone walls acting as bones for the living skin of the newly bloomed wisteria.  The colours so easy on the eye.

Of course, I have to capture old parts of architecture, so obviously hopper heads and down pipes need to be etched on my camera card!

I know blogs everywhere are full of the gorgeous wisteria blooms, but here's one more and I only wish you could smell the incredible scent that this is paired with.

The Astor Wing which I touched on in part 1, sits in the grounds, no doubt full of very lucky Bed and Breakfast guests. What a beautiful place to stay in.

The decoration, the chimney pots, the windows!  An incredibly romantic place and perfect for a Charles Dickens novel!

The Italian Garden with its perfect lawns and beautiful sculptures was somewhere that you could get lost in.  In fact, I did lose myself at one point!

The Pergola Walk with its grottos was my favourite part of the gardens, a little grey but little alcoves on the right with running water over ferns was so calming and peaceful.  A place to really stand quietly with your thoughts.

In the grottos, many carvings with worn out faces, but the ones where the features are very much plain to see are more up to date.  These are faces of gardeners who have worked for years here.  Casts are made to give a good likeness and once the gargoyles are placed in the grottos, the ferns will gradually cover their faces and the water will corrode.  What a beautiful way to leave your mark!

The day was especially grey until later and a little chilly, so when we got to the lake it was blowing a gale.  38 acres of water adding more of a chill factor to the wind!  Again, part of the reconstructive works ordered by William Waldorf Astor and created by 800 men who were told to work on this every day and night when ordered, apart from a Sunday.  It took them two years and finished in 1906.

The Nymph's Fountain was constructed in 1908 and was inspired by the Trevi Fountain in Rome.  I really felt for this stone carving as the wind blew in from across the lake!

The Blue Garden, for obvious reasons was another area of the garden which was just divine!  So perfectly manicured and a delight to walk slowly up through the levels.

Throughout the gardens there were pockets that took our imagination, one of the grey barked trees made me smile with the pink blossom surrounding it (I think the blossom is from a Judas Tree, correct me if I'm wrong).

But of course, the carvings produced even bigger smiles.  I could sit and look at these for hours!

The last throes of Spring apparent around the gardens, what a shame spring has to be so short lived.

The famous Hever Castle Maze of course had to be visited.  When I came here (last century!), my Nan thought it would be too scary for me.  Well, I've been in worse, so off we set and did really well and only reached three dead ends!

It could have been a whole lot quicker and just gone into the 'Exit' to walk straight to the centre, but where's the fun in that!!

And so, the beautiful and stunning visit to Hever Castle was at an end and more travelling beckoned our group.  Smiles and laughter proving that the trip was perfect for all.

And... the sun eventually came out.  Perfection!

Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead!

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