Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Sunday, 29 January 2017

An Audience with Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon

It's been quite a while since I last blogged about the wonders of Peterborough Cathedral, and I apologise.  This weekend marks an important date in the Cathedral's diary, the date of  Henry VIII's first wife's burial.  Katherine of Aragon was buried on the 29 January 1536 and the Cathedral celebrates this with various activities and events.  With the new Visitor Centre now open, part of this Festival was to attend an audience with the Royal couple.  So, hold on to you heads, let's be careful how we tread around him, grab your flask of ale and let's go on a historical tour of this beautiful place.

If you visit Peterborough Cathedral, I would suggest that you visit the Visitor and Learning Centre first.  As you go through the Norman Arch from Cathedral Square and the magnificent Cathedral is set in front of you, walk towards it and you will see the Centre to your right.  Entrance is free, however with the amount of history you are about to see, don't forget a donation on your way out!

The reason I suggest to see this new gem on the Cathedral grounds, is because it sets you up to understand the history of the Cathedral, along with the story of Catherine of Aragon, Mary Queen of Scots, and the timeline of this area of Peterborough.  One amazing document behind one of the panels of glass is this, the original letter from King James I requesting that his mother, Mary of Queen of Scots, be exhumed so that he could bury her at Westminster Abbey.  I can only make out certain words, but there it is, a historical document that blows my mind!

As a result of this letter, his mother was exhumed and the grave in the Cathedral now lays empty.

Do you see now why I say to visit the Visitor Centre first?  

We were here for Katherine of Aragon though and one of the rooms in the Centre has a reproduction of a dress that she would have worn, handstitched in the same way that would have been created back in her day.  The room was plain, but excellently presented, the walls adorned with information on her life timeline, all surrounding the dress with its intricate detail.

Catherine of Aragon's grave lays proudly below her standard.  She was after all, Queen of England.  Her grave is usually adorned with one or two pomegranates which are depicted on her coat of arms, however, with the significance of this anniversary, candles were lit, many pomegranates and flowers had adorned her tomb stone.  Unlike Mary, Katherine is still here, below this marble slab which was placed over her grave in 1895 after donations were made to reinstate this (the original destroyed and by Oliver Cromwell's men and used in the Dean's summerhouse!).

Either side of the tomb were placed candles depicting the pomegranate, her heraldic symbol.

However, we had come for the main event, the Audience with King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon which was set in the Knights Chamber, built around 1220 and a place where the Knights Templar used to meet.  Once again the pomegranates were on show.

The audience was informative and the Q&A was incredibly interesting, varying from the shapes of the bonnets, the amount of clothes they wore from one outfit, how they whitened their shirts with urine and the lack of bathtimes they had!  The three of them, Henry VIII, Katharine of Aragon and the Lady in Waiting were asked questions and without a bat of an eyelid they gave the most interesting and detailed answers.  A really fantastic half an hour finishing off with a chance to photograph the pair of them.

Once finished here we headed down the stairs and across to the Cathedral, almost 900 years old!

This building is a kaleidoscope of wonders.  So enough of the commentary, the shots I took hopefully will give you their own story...

I leave you with a shot I took that made me smile!  The choir stalls, Old Scarlett's painting on the wall (the gravedigger who buried three Queens, Catherine of Aragon, Mary Queen of Scots and ... his wife!, and then can you make out the monks?!!

If you are in the Peterborough area please take some time to visit this amazing place, oozing history from every piece of stone and, if you don't mind heights, book a place on a tower tour, you won't be disappointed!

Have a wonderful week ahead.

Saturday, 21 January 2017


As much as I absolutely adore the Autumn and Winter, during the last days of January I begin to long for a change in season.  The days slowly start to lengthen again which means more of an opportunity to finish work and capture sunsets once more, my favourite part of the day.

Old Man Winter still has a little bit of time with us and no doubt he will be pinching our fingers, noses and toes on occasion, but Mother Nature has started to show her colours and orchestrates the slow bird song in the mornings.

With the busy week I have just had at work and the damp cold days, my camera has not been out with me unfortunately, hence the very short post this week.  Instead I have been planning some of my trips for the year as I do.  So where shall we go on our journeys this year?...

No doubt there will be other places to add to my list as the year grows older, but for now, the planning is in full swing and keeping me busy for the last month of official winter.  Spring is knocking on the door and I am embracing that light on the horizon.  I'm hoping me and my camera will be out and about once more next week, weather permitting!

Have a wonderful weekend and week ahead.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

So, What's Your Favourite Museum?

I am one of those people who just loves a good museum.  The anticipation of going into one for the first time and exploring all they have to offer.  My favourite by far will be no surprise to you, the Museum of London and I try to visit each time I am in the area, if only to see a couple of the exhibitions.  So, do you want a glimpse of my favourite museum?  Grab yourself a custard cream (or maybe the packet, it's a long post!) and a delicious cup of rosie lea and let's go and see this little corner of London... 

Just a hop, skip and jump from St Paul's Cathedral and you come across this little gem...

Full of history and beautifully presented, so let's start with the wall... London Wall...

This is a very small part of the remains of the original Roman London wall built between the 2nd and 3rd century, a defense built to protect Londonium.  It blows my mind how old this wall is, and the hands that built this never knowing that their craft would still be standing today.  The Museum can be found down the road called 'London Wall' and this shot was taken from the glazed viewpoint within the Museum.

With the London Museum you need a day to visit, unless you want to just concentrate on one era of this magnificent city's history.  There is so much to see and read, including entering a room containing the Lord Mayor's Coach.  The opulence of this exquisite coach and the six horses (fake when on exhibition) that pull the coach through the crowds each year is certainly a feast for the eyes (even though a little bit over the top!).  The Museum have special doors that allow them to remove the coach when needed or if the Museum caught fire, without going through the building itself.

Now, if you follow the Museum all the way around, you will start with the very earliest history of Londinium right through to the present day.  Your visit to me today will just have some snippets so I have included just a finger nail of  incredible history that this time capsule of a building contains.

100 - 50BC... yes, that's right!  The Sunbury Hoard.  The largest find of high tin bronze coins ever found and made, they think, in north Kent.  This kind of exhibit has me looking for far too long.  The hands that have touched these, the things they have bought.  Mind blowing, and to be found while building a new housing estate in 1950, so incredibly lucky.

Do you want earlier history?  How about 3640 - 3100BC?  This is the Shepperton Woman...

... and with a little reconstruction...

The exhibit on the Romans is vast and incredibly interesting to see rooms set out as they were.  It's as though you are walking in their shoes, and surrounded by so many items.

Thank goodness for the progression on grooming through the centuries.  Modern day soft make up brushes, hair curling tongs and straighteners!  A whole different affair back in Roman times!

Now, what is your vision of St Paul's Cathedral?  I'm guessing you are thinking of the dome.  Well, this is the previous version...

Not a dome in sight.  Four Cathedrals have stood at Ludgate Hill for 1,400 years and this particular building was completed in the 1320's with a spire of 400 feet high.  This beautiful piece of gothic architecture was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666, and then it was the turn of the current Cathedral to be constructed with the vision of Sir Christopher Wren (and the help of the stonemasons having a drink in the Old Bell Tavern in Fleet Street!)

From large models to the smaller exhibits.  This badge was one of many that would have been brought back from a pilgrimage to see Sir Thomas Beckett's tomb at Canterbury Cathedral.  It shows his tomb, the sword that killed him and also the ship that brought him to England in 1170.

And now onto Oliver Cromwell.  A man who even now can divide a room on whether he was a good or bad man, either way I wouldn't want to cross, or maybe not even be in the presence of for fear of saying the wrong thing, but to lay my eyes on Oliver Cromwell's death mask was something that I was fascinated by.  Actually looking at something that was placed on his lifeless face after his death.  A true likeness, the beard, the closed eyes, the nooks and crannies created by his life.  Things like this are macabre but this is history at its finest.  Oliver Cromwell, his face, right there, which is lucky in a way as after his death he was posthumously executed and his head severed and displayed at Tyburn.  This type of  exhibit cries out to me with its immense importance.  And there I am, just a couple of feet away from a true image of him.  A friend of mine who's love of history is incredibly infectious, sent me the following link which for those who are equally passionate about this time, might like to read.  The link is here.

Moving on and you come to other fascinating exhibits.  The Wellclose Square Prison Cell c1750.  Walking into this 'box' surrounded by the scratchings of those who were held in this Cell was incredibly powerful.  The prison was to the east of the Tower of London and was used for insolvent debtors.

The writing of the debtors so beautiful, and I have to say, Edward Burk featured quite a few times in this cell.

Sometimes as I go around this museum, something new catches my eye.  I can't remember which section this was in, but the sentiments on this plate really sung out to me.  Simple but romantic words.   1661 and a gentle saying from one to another.  I wonder if it was from her to him and as he ate his dinner, the words appeared?  However, after researching this, I found that its discovery was not as romantic!  It was excavated from a London sewer!

One of the exhibitions that I love to walk around is the Victorian Street, my favourite era.  Various shops within this corner of the Museum which I need to revisit and write a blog post in its own right (for another day!).

... and then onto Selfridges, or rather just the lift.  The splendour of that shop is beautiful, especially as you enter the front revolving doors, but can you imagine how beautiful it would have been at the beginning and requesting one of the tempting floors in one of these lifts?

So, that's a little taster of this amazing piece of London.  My favourite Museum? It's this one.  My favourite exhibit?  The one where my Grandad speaks about the Blitz and St Pauls.  A truly magnificent and free Museum.  (if you would like to see more, please click on the link in my side bar).

I'll leave you with the coat of arms of the City of London - Domine Dirige Nos which translates to Lord Guide Us.  The cross is St George with  the sword of St Paul in the top left corner.

The only guidance I needed was to get on the train again, unfortunately!  We'll be back again soon for another visit

I hope you are keeping warm in this colder weather wherever you are.  Have a lovely weekend and week ahead.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Back into the Swing and Beware of Scammers

And so the year has started in full swing and the daily routine starts again.  The alarm sounds and gradually I hear lights being switched on in bedrooms and the stirring of teenagers along with the usual 'life is so unfair'.  Those precious moments of getting myself ready before everyone else is up and wanting things from me (they'll find their own brains one day!).  Each day a bridge to conquer and to live it with a smile on my face.

Now, last week was a bit of a wash out if I'm brutally honest.  My dreaded lurgy came back to haunt me and my third chest infection decided it liked the previous two stays and to revisit again.  I tried everything but now think I have the formula!  Buttercup syrup, BIG spoonful of honey and a vitamin C and zinc dis-solvable tablet with some water.   I really do think that did the trick... or was it that I was coming to the end of this hell?... personally I like to think I found the cure.  This meant that I was fortunate to almost be myself at a meeting as planned, and able to show what I truly feel passionate about.

Chest infection remedy - Sweetbriar Dreams

Anyway, enough of this woe is me, the January blues, the can't wait for pay day, the impatience for the year to really get started.  Let me bore you with the story of my camera dilemas last month...

It started with the sudden and snap decision to buy a Canon.  A Canon 700D.  My ever faithful Fujifilm Finepix HS50 EXR was sent away and the new Canon arrived.  Now, I know there are MILLIONS of Canon lovers out there, and yes it is a sensational camera, but you know when you pick something up and you think 'No, this isn't me', that was exactly how I felt.  I lifted it to my eye and was so disappointed.  With the hole in my retina, the view finding lens is an essential part of the camera, and with a floater in the way when I am that close to something, very annoying.  I need brightness with this piece of kit and found it dark, I couldn't focus, and when I did (and that was in auto too), it was blurry.  So, I cut my losses and sold it within two days.

After losing on Ebay on the two Fujifilm Finepix HS50's that were in the country, I then found a Fujifilm Finepix SL1000, again, high expectations.  But once again, No!  This did not have the field of vision, the sound of the auto zoom was incredibly annoying.  No, back on Ebay.

I soon received an email saying that someone wanted to buy it overseas for the full price and £36 postage.  Well, I said yes of course.  I put the invoice through on Paypal and waited for the payment along with packaging the camera up for overseas travel.  In the morning I checked my Paypal account, no payment but there was an email from Paypal saying that the payment was ready to go into my account all I had to do was type in the reference number on the proof of posting and the money would be sent to me.

Now, as I have never had this happen to me before, and a seasoned Ebayer, I continued reading.  I don't know why, but I was looking for a spelling mistake, was this a scam?  Then, right at the very bottom, an email address... paypa.lcom@outlook.com.  Alarm bells rang, Paypal had an outlook account??? Straight away I sent a copy to Paypal asking if they had sent this and received back an automated email saying the usual 'thank you for your email, we will investigate and get back to you in 5 - 7 days', well, it took them five minutes.  This was indeed a phishing scam where I would have put the details in the scammers system and they would be able to get into the account.  Everything was cancelled within an instant and I was then subjected to a number of emails from the scammers saying that the money was in my account and why hadn't I sent it - ignored of course apart from the first email when I told them that Paypal was on to them.

And so, the camera went back on Ebay and in the meantime, my Fujifilm Finepix HS50 was coming back to me, happy days!  The SL1000 was bought in the end by someone in the next town and everything is now back to normal.  I just need the decent weather and trips to London et al to get it working at its full potential again.   So be warned, check those emails and the spelling mistakes.

So, with my right hand 'man' attached to me again (as you can see from my new profile picture), here's to an exceptional new week, keep positive and keep those New Years Resolutions forefront in your mind.  To those of you giving up smoking, chocolate, drink, losing weight etc etc, keep going! You're amazing individuals and I know you can do it!!  Be proud of yourselves!  (I personally think the lack of chocolate is the reason why I have had my third chest infection though!  Really, I truly do, but I'm soldiering on!!).  The box of Thorntons is still intact (and yes, that's both layers!).

Back into the Swing - Sweetbriar Dreams

Take care.

Chel xx

Other Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...