Sweetbriar Dreams

Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

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

Monday, 2 January 2017

My Word for 2017

2017 is going to be a year that I want to remember.  A year that I rediscover and push myself to the limit.  It's a tall order, but as the countdown begins to that day when I turn 50, I want to enjoy every moment.  I am looking forward to this phase of my life and have a lot more confidence to hit that day hard with a beaming smile on my face saying 'I made it'!!  Time to embrace life and be comfortable and confident enough to enjoy everything around me.  There will be challenges, things that take me out of my comfort zone, times when I will not be my usual self while I rediscover who I am, how I used to be before becoming a mother, connecting with friends again who are so far away, and those who I am so so grateful who are a lot closer.  So what would be my word?  It's been so hard this year to think of something appropriate.  New Year's Eve had me all of a tizz, words were spinning around in my head, enough to keep me awake well into the small hours, and then going onto the fen mid morning to listen to the rain pounding my car windows while I jotted down word after word after word.  

T I M E, M E,  S E L F I S H,  R E D I S C O V E R
C H A N G E,  H A P P I N E S S

As I wrote words in my book, they had a common theme - ME.  With my two teens fully independant it's MY turn to think about what is important to ME.  Am I being selfish?  Well, yes I suppose I am, and that's something that takes me out of my comfort zone, but as a couple of close friends said to me on New Years Day, it's about ****** time!  You see, I look for the good in people and get let down (a lot), this is what I want to get away from.  I want to be the person I once was and not be afraid to do that.  Believe me, the last 24 hours have been quite an eyeopener and nerve wracking as my mind tackles 'the word'.  So, what word have I settled on?...


This word encompasses all the others, rediscovering who I am, changing parts of my life that I no longer want to live, learn to be ME again , learn to be selfish in a self preserving way and enjoying any happiness that comes across my path, which I am hoping will be in abundance this year.

Have you discovered your word yet?

Take care.


Friday, 30 December 2016

A Visit from Jack Frost

And so I come to the last blog post of 2016.  With camera fully charged, Tia sitting in the back of the car, and me with fingerless gloves ready to keep warm but able to press the shutter, it was time to escape the house that had been my 'prison' for the Christmas period (I love the lead up, but the actual day itself?  Not so keen!).  While preparing my  butternut squash and parsnips for home made soup later on and the bread maker in full kneading stage, I looked out of the window and saw that Jack Frost had been for a visit.  The ice glistening on every remaining leaf, the roof tiles rippled like an icy lake. I was not going to waste this morning. 

Tia hadn't been on the Fen for such a long time, instead I have been taking her on dark walks on her lead around the quiet village we live in.  This depresses her, so as she sat in the back of the car, she wasn't sure what we were doing or where she was going.  We stopped at a junction and then the familiar view of the Fen met her eyes and her excitement was a joy to hear.

I couldn't wait to start walking on the firm, icy ground and, as I turned around after locking up the car, Tia was gone, choosing the path to the river.  Walking fast but still within reachable range, running back to me for a hug and rushing off again, so incredibly happy, just like me as I blew away the cobwebs!

Freezing fog lay in the distance, the tree with the broken limb that I focus on each time I come here was now bare but beautifully silhouetted against the grey backdrop.

The metal gate posts frozen with pin point precision as the frost coated every inch.  The metal almost looking like fur.

My familiar camera worked its magic as I continued along the walk, up close and personal to the ice crystals...

... and picking up the laden grasses in the distance by the river.  My equilibrium restored!

The horses that have been walked here for winter, capturing the strong sun that had decided to peek through.

Enjoying the fresh hay from their owners and then trotting around the field, following the sun's warm rays while they could.

I couldn't get enough of my macro shots.  The ice crystals too tactile not to capture.  The seed heads taking on a whole new beauty from their delicious brown autumn shells.

The landscape so fresh and enjoying its slumber before the intensive months ahead.

With fingers, toes and paws numb, it was time to head back and give a sigh of satisfaction.  A week ago I enjoyed my walk in London, and this week I was back on the Fen with Tia and the camera.  It's selfish to say, but I am enjoying my little spaces of personal time, alone with my thoughts and embracing any time I have to just be me again.

And so, the 2016 candle is nearly out.  Some will say they will be glad this year is over, but I have enjoyed some parts of it especially rediscovering who I am now that the Teens are independent.  I have scared myself at times with feelings, changing jobs, having to be accepting to those who have failed me, but I have come out of this year a stronger person and more myself than I have been for years.

It's time now to start thinking of a word for 2017.  I have so many floating around my head, and they are all a little bit selfish, but still have a couple of days to make the final decision.

Wishing all my dear Readers...


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Seasons Greetings from London

I must apologise for being a little absent over the festive period.  I made the terrible mistake of changing my camera which drained my inspiration, my patience, my love of seeing things differently.  For such a small piece of technology, it surprised me how much the sap was washed away from my limbs.  So, to cut a very long story very short, my tried and tested Big Bertha is now back with me and my sense of rhythm has been restored!


So, how were your holidays?  Did all your weeks (or months) of planning work out for you?  Have you come out the other side unscathed?  I have decided to change my outlook on this festive season now that the teens are older, and make things a little easier.  How?  I don't know yet, but I have plenty of time to rethink over the next few months!

Now, enough of the talking, let's get to some shots I took with my mobile phone on the 23 December in London!  Am I mad?  Yes, said my friends, and No we won't be joining you!  Well, let me tell you, the best time to visit Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus in December is the last office working day!  I kept thinking that it was a bad idea to book theatre tickets for Miss Teen and Miss B so close to Christmas, but it really was the best thing in the end.  Once they were safely inside, I then took off on my own, stopping off at places, sitting down on the steps of Trafalgar Square, drinking coffee, shopping, watching street entertainers... it was absolute bliss!  So, here we go, a visual festive treat for you... (just hover over the photo for the description)










Once the girls were out of the theatre, we decided to leave early for the Tube as we thought it would be an absolute nightmare down there. I was more than pleasantly surprised...the carriages were half empty!  Empty carriages at 6pm?!  Kings Cross, busy but still plenty of seats on the train home and in plenty of time!


The moral to my madness?... We're doing it again next year!!  To have those three hours of 'me' time was incredibly satisfying and a little Christmas treat to myself.

Sorry again for taking so long to post, hopefully life will calm down a little now that I have been reinstated with my camera, and I can now soak up the inspiration from those special and cherished people who surround me.

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