Richard III

I’ll get this off my chest right from the start.

Richard III was killed near Leicester, unceremoniously humiliated after death, then thrown naked across a horse and publicly brought into Leicester, where the Franciscans, bless their hearts, gave him a proper funeral, but not a royal one.

He was known as ‘Richard of York’ and his most faithful followers lived there.  In his will, he states specifically that he wishes to be buried in York.

He tried hard to make peace in the country after the War of the Roses but he did not feel that being buried in York would inflame passions.

So he has been buried in Leicester.  Of course.  Think what that will do for the economy of the city and the prestige of the Cathedral.

I will admit that were it not for Leicester University funding the dig requested by Philippa Langley his body may well have never been found.  But that is as far as I will go.

And a State Funeral?  No way.  Of course it was fine for Mrs.Thatcher who was only a Prime Minister, but not for our last Plantagenet King.

So he was given a lying in state, of sorts not in Westminster Cathedral or Westminster Hall, nor in York Minster, in all its glory, which would have been the most fitting, but in a provincial church elevated to the status of Cathedral in 1927.    However, he had a procession to Leicester Cathedral, witnessed by a crowd of 35,000, escorted by two knights in full armour on horse back.


(photo from – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/archaeology/11495617/Reburial-of-Richard-III-live.html)


(Photo from http://kingrichardinleicester.com)

But, to me and other people around me, it fell far short of what was proper in the circumstances.

Nevertheless, I decided I wanted to go and walk past his coffin to pay my respects to the remains of a King of ours who reigned, briefly, over 500 years ago and who has been the recipient of some of the vilest political spin the Medieval period could manufacture.

Catching an early train, we arrived in Leicester at 10.30 a.m. to find a queue of people stretching around five blocks of roads.???????????????????????????????

A Volunteer came up and said we would be unlikely to get in that day, especially as the Cathedral was closing for an hour and a half at lunchtime: a fact I knew but had factored for.

All authorities, National, Local and Ecclesiastical, had completely misunderstood the feelings of their people: there were folks who had travelled the length and breadth of the country, as well as from Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and USA.  Elderly people, middle-aged people, children taken out of school because their schools would/could not arrange a trip, but not so many young people who had to work during the day – those who could came with babies in pushchairs, brought so that their parents could tell them that when they were small they saw the coffin of our last Plantagenet King.

After an hour of waiting, the Cathedral decided not to close at lunchtime fearing a riot: they were correct.  The Council were hurriedly printing off leaflets to hand out, wet from the press, having previously thought that they had enough for the whole three days and they had only lasted for three hours. Now I gather that the Cathedral has extended its opening hours into the evening as well to cater for people in work during the day.

Near us in the queue everyone was very good humoured but steadily determined:??????????????????????????????? the people of Britain had come and were not going to be denied.  If ever evidence was needed that the gulf between populace and rulers, of all kinds, is now enormous, this was a day which exemplified it.  And people were not pleased that this felt like a kind of ‘hole in the corner’ burial.  What kind of communication exists between our Executive and the people?

White Roses, the emblem of York, (Lancashire was the Red Rose), were being sold to take into the Cathedral and be put into displays around the coffin, so we bought two, very reasonably priced. Richard III and france 2015 009

Then after two hours queuing it was time: we walked into the hushed gloom, gave our Roses to the Rose Receiver,???????????????????????????????

and filed past the coffin.???????????????????????????????

This was made by Richard’s 17th great-grandnephew Michael Ibsen, of English oak, and contains a rosary (since the country was Roman Catholic at the time) and soil from three locations: Fotheringhay where the king was born, Middleham Castle in Yorkshire where he grew up, and the Bosworth field where he died.

There was no time to stop, we had to keep on walking so that everyone had a chance to enter.

The  Pall was beautiful, made of black velvet, and embroidered with images of his life and unearthing in the Leicester Council Car Park,


(Photo from  www.ibtimes.co.uk

and is adorned with a gold-plated crown, designed by John Ashdown Hill, set with enamelled white roses, garnets, sapphires and pearls.


(Photo from  http://www.johnashdownhill.com/johns-blog/2014/4/19/the-crown-of-king-richard-iii: he designed the crown.)

The atmosphere was reverent and dignified and all present felt that they were contained in a moment of national history.

We then went to visit his statue??????????????????????????????? and to see the place where his body was found: this latter is in the care of the Visitor Centre, where, due to unexpected numbers of visitors (!), one could only enter on a timed ticket.

The place where he had been buried originally had been too small for him so he could not be laid out straight but with his head skewed: his feet had gone, removed by earlier building works, and his head had been only 9 mm away from an excavating shovel a few years ago.  So, serendipity seems to have accompanied this find all the way through.

Then onto a train for home, and to wash, iron and pack for Paris: leaving very early the next day.  Ironing and packing at midnight.

  Another short night.  But so worth it.

February is often a hard month for us all, but I have felt particularly arid this year.

A year ago I was supporting my second friend through terminal cancer: any feelings I had/have are as nothing to theirs, but it comes back to haunt you, watching the suffering of someone close to you.

I am finding the world situation, as mediated by the news available to me, more than difficult to cope with.  From the locally mundane as evidenced by the copious amounts of litter now decorating all our roadsides, verges and hanging in the trees, to the hugely difficult and complicated political arenas.  Suddenly the world seems so much more venal, amoral and greedy: but surely it was always thus.  I am not sure quite why it seems so very overwhelming at the moment.

Perhaps because I have been protesting since my youth in the 60s and it seems never ending and I am running out of energy.  Or perhaps the news bias towards the bad side of news is simply out of balance and the ‘never hearing of anything improving’ is just too much for the human psyche.  Or perhaps because I see much less of the grand children nowadays.

So I have been throwing myself into gardening: really heavy, exhausting digging, usually about two hours a day.  The kind that leaves you breathless and aching and far too tired to think about anything.

Mats of nettle roots have been extracted from the raspberry bed: the strawberry bed is now free of creeping buttercup: the fruit garden is free from both of these plus grass and masses of forget-me-nots, most of which have been transplanted.  A huge old clematis has been cut back and hoiked out of a conifer which it was threatening to pull over just by means of heavy old ropes of stem.  New parts of the veggie garden have been constructed with compost and now barrows and barrows of dung: the runner bean trench has been dug over, weeded and is being covered with dung this weekend.  An old compost heap has been dismantled, and a new one built out of old pallets (and is already full!).  All the pots round the garden have been turned out and refilled with new compost and several shrubs have been planted, a winter flowering honeysuckle amongst them.  All the debris has been stored in a wild part of the garden so that any overwintering critters could continue their hibernation undisturbed.  No burning of winter quarters going on here.

Although I am not someone to whom control is an obvious issue, clearly feeling in control of the garden has been necessary in order to get through the chaotic situation I feel I am living through.  It has helped enormously: lots of aches and pains, but fabulous nights’ sleep and a garden which feels full of vigour and vim and raring to go.  On days when it was really cold I made sure that I always reburied any unfortunate insects or worms that I dug up: no reason for my therapy to impact on their little lives.

Washing lettuce a few weeks ago I found an apparently drowned caterpillar at the bottom of the bowl of water in which the lettuce had been soaking for an hour.  I placed it tenderly on loo paper in an effort to drain the water out of its system but it looked a gonner.  However, an hour later it had moved itself into a crease in the paper!  So it has been living in a box on the kitchen windowsill, with regular cleaning out of the debris and fresh lettuce introduced every couple of days.  It grew hugely and has now turned into a chrysalis and we are waiting to see what will emerge.  It is as good as sowing seeds.  Feeling and seeing the life force is so magical.

And now, I am off to spend Easter in Paris!!  How lucky is that?  A friend from California is coming over and has taken a flat for two and a half weeks and has asked me if I would like to go and stay with her.  No hesitation, of course.  So next Tuesday I take the Eurostar – to see Spring in the Tuileries and the Luxembourg Gardens, 41 Luxembourg gardensgo to Radio Paris concerts, take a trip down the Seine to visit some of Monet’s places of inspiration with a stop for lunch on the way, visit various Bistros and Restaurants my friend has been reading about, and generally have a fabulous time.  One weekend a relative from Holland is coming to visit too, and then it will be the three of us about town.

On Thursday evenings the Musee D’orsay is open and the restaurant has a discovery menu. We hope to be back in that room again to see it at night with all the chandeleirs ablaze and have a special meal there. 104 Paris 2008  (and Ireland).jpg restaurnat musee d'orsay

Also to revisit old haunts at the Train Bleu restaurant where we once had the most wonderful chestnut soup in the world.

(Photo from Gare du Lyons official website)

Over Easter all the bells of Notre Dame peal across the Seine and the Church of St. Medard with its pipe organ blowing the roof off is stunningly beautiful. One review on Trip Advisor said, “Well, Paris is the Pipe organ paradise of the world, and St. Medard is no exception. From beginning to end, all I can say is… that church rocked for an hour. If you liked the Moody Blues, Led Zep, The Band, George Wright and Michael Iceberg, go. The service was very loving and everyone was happy walking out the door to a really blessed Easter morning.”  I gather there is also dancing in the street outside at Easter!

Another possibility we are looking at is, “Chantilly Castle & Equestrian Show: if you want to see a spectacular chateau with no lines and no shoving crowds then you really should visit the Château de Chantilly, just 25 minutes north of Paris by train. The magnificent château houses the Condé Museum of paintings, while the thatched roof Hamlet (great for lunch or strawberries and Chantilly cream for afternoon tea) is hidden beyond the canal within Le Nôtre’s vast formal gardens. If you go in April you can see the newly renovated Living Horse Museum in the Grand Stables, as well as the new equestrian show, Kavallisté, which combines polyphonic singing with choreographed horse performances beneath the grand dome.”  Doesn’t the very thought blow your mind:)

A month after my return, I have a week booked in Ireland, staying with another friend, who has just been texting me wonderful photos of daffodils, blue sky, green grass, and camelias in bloom. Paris 2008  (and Ireland) 030 Another real treat to look forward to.

The day before I go to France, Monday in fact, there is something else I want to make time for.  Richard III will be Lying in State in Leicester Cathedral for three days.  I will only be able to go on the first of these days and on Monday I hope to dash down to walk past his coffin and pay my respects to the last Plantagenet King of England, and the only one who never had a Royal burial.  That will be a very special moment if only the crowds are not too large and I can get in.  I am furious that he is not being buried in York, as he specifically requested in his Will, but there we are, politics and economics rule.  Don’t we all know that.

Which is nearly where I began this post.  But now my spirits are lifting, old friends, old beloved places to visit, history in the making, new memories.  A garden on the cusp of burgeoning into riotous life.  The other side of things..  The one that is never protrayed in the media.  I give thanks for my life and great friends and for Spring!!!!

Stranger in the night

A few nights ago I was woken by the upset bellowing of our little goose flock: as it was two in the morning I waited a few minutes before getting up, expecting them to settle down, but they went on and on.  Something was afoot.

So I went to explore: five very angry but mainly upset geese greeted me and all stared fixedly in one direction, at their door.  They were talking to me but not looking at me which is unusual.  When a goose wants to communicate it looks at you and uses its neck, wings, mouth and voice.  cabeza oca by system25 - This is a goose drawing.Although vocal, they stared as one creature at the closure in the door.  It was uncanny and spooky.  It took me half an hour to calm them down.  I got the message: something or someone had been outside the door and they did not like it.

Now when the parrots are scared at night I whistle Victorian hymn tunes to them, like, “O God our help in ages past” or ” For those in trouble on the sea”: you get the idea.  And it soothes them down.  When they begin to join in I know they are over the upset and now calm: but singing hymns to the geese did not work.  I just had to talk them down, reassuring them by my presence and voice.  When they were quiet I went back to bed, leaving them still staring, as one, at the door, but at least silent.oca gris by system25 - This is a goose drawing.

We have about ten inches of snow here at the moment and this morning my husband reported seeing a large animal’s footprints leading up to the gooses’ door, then stopping.  Not going past.  Clearly someone is keen on having our geese, and stops at night to sniff and perhaps try the door.  Either the geese are reassured after the first incident that their door is predator proof or they are getting more used to the intrusion, but they have been quiet ever since that first night.

Much as I feel for the wild animal that is cold and hungry, I also feel for my geese: it must be very unnerving having some predator huffing and puffing at their door in the middle of the night. Still, their house is built neither of straw or sticks but good old stone, so they should be OK.


I must go through my hymnal or folk song book to try to find something soothing for my geese: but perhaps they are just not musical.  Any suggestions?

There is a really interesting post about foxes and geese through history and folklore and with lovely illustrations at the following:



P.S. Clip art in this post is from a site which WordPress assures me is copyright free, at : https://openclipart.org





Charlie Ebdo


I’ve recently been reading two long posts from Recollections of a Vagabonde at:   http://avagabonde.blogspot.co.uk    in the aftermath of the Charlie Ebdo tragedy.  I felt I really must point you over in her direction because her thoughtful and learned posts are really worthy of wide distribution, in my opinion: I suspect some of you read her blog anyway, but for those of you who do not, please go over and read:)  They are most enlightening.


P.S. Clip art in this post is from a site which WordPress assures me is copyright free, at : https://openclipart.org



Last summer I went to a live screening of Monty Python’s Live (Mostly) tour.

As always there were some things I did not like but on  the whole I had a wonderful time and laughed till tears streamed down my face.

Now at this time of year things can be a little grim for many of us, so I thought I would remind myself, and you, of one of my favourite Python songs:  this is followed by Brian Cox debunking the science, and then Stephen Hawking’s contribution.  Wonderful.

I do hope you enjoy these:)


Parisian bombing.

I could weep for the journalists killed yesterday: and also for the good people who are trying to stand together and fight for our views on free speech whilst also confounding a back-lash on innocent and moderate Moslems.

I know that many species, including humans, are suspicious of ‘the other’ and also that we sometimes feel that we suffer from well-meaning authorities who force integration on people faster than is natural.

But do not let us forget the lessons of the past and Niemoller’s warning after the atrocities of Hitler and the Nazis:


One version of Martin Niemoller’s famous quotation:

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Catholic.

Then they came for me

and there was no-one left

to speak out for me.

Please do not let another line be added after yesterday’s bombing in Paris:-

Then they came for the Moslems

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Moslem.

That is just what the extremists want.



First they came …” is a famous statement and provocative poem attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. There is some disagreement over the exact wording of the quotation and when it was uttered as Niemoller changed the wording slightly depending on when he was speaking, and to whom.

Just before Christmas I, husband and one grand-daughter went down to Warner Bros. at Watford to visit the studios where the Harry Potter films were made.

In fact, the visit was to redeem tickets which were last year’s Christmas presents.

We had a wonderful time, and I hope to post about it shortly, but we also bought a few souvenirs in the shop at the end.  Amongst which a chocolate wand, which mysteriously ended up in my stocking, a chocolate frog, which equally strangely ended up in husband’s stocking and a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, which I decided to take along  as a fun ending to Christmas Dinner.

The day began well with everyone in festive spirit:

10347771_10152932884992412_1385759663114105767_n.jpg after christmas lunch 3

although rather sleep deprived

10415657_10152932884707412_4309226746931141687_n.jpg after christmas lunch 5

with six of us sitting down to a traditionally groaning board


10888417_10152932884747412_2667201025648158757_n.jpg after christmas lunch 4.jpg christmas lunch 6

followed by Christmas Pudding, Brandy Butter, Chocolate Log and cream, musical crackers, and then, the BBEFBs.

10882324_10152932885237412_8536669487588735445_n.jpg after christmas lunch 2

These were available, in the first film, on the express train to Hogwart’s, for sale from the refreshment trolly which came round.

Ron Weasley says to Harry,”You want to be careful with those.  When they say ‘Every Flavour’ they mean every flavour!”

The choices apparently on offer were: Banana, Black Pepper, Blueberry, Bogey, Candyfloss, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dirt, Earthworm,  Earwax, Grass, Green (Sour) Apple, Lemon,  Marshmallow,  Rotten Egg, Sausage, Soap, Tutti Frutti, Watermelon, and lastly, Vomit.

20130213_175823.jpg flavour guide

 Now, being a dyed-in-the-wool cynic, I expected the manufacturers and salespeople to have ‘sanitised’ these flavours to make them acceptable to a wide audience.

I was wrong.

10425053_10152932885282412_3427172819248039622_n.jpg after christmas lunch


 We appeared to have got very few of the nice ones and nearly all the horrible flavours, and they were, really, really, horrid.

But, oh, such FUN!!!


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