Saturday, December 27, 2014

What Went Wrong - Back to Work

Well, it was a brief retirement! Of course, I'm still a pensioner, although my pension has been reduced to a very small sum, but back to the wall, in order to be able to pay the rent, both David and I have been forced to find employment. BUT, you know what? I've really enjoyed working at Debenhams in Bromley.

Today is 'feet up' day. I worked Christmas Eve, and Boxing Day, (yesterday) with Christmas Day off, and I'm back on Monday. So it's a relaxing weekend for me. My contract comes to an end on 4th January, so only one week left (or not), because, life in the lap of the Gods, there is a chance that I may get an extension and be able to stay on.

And David has been working at Marks and Spencer's. His contract ends today, so we should celebrate when he gets in at about 11 a.m. He has worked nights in the run up to Christmas, and though very tired, he has survived the experience, and proved there is work in the old dog yet.

So, I'm not going to expand on what has brought on our dire situation, but suffice to say that if we could sell our little Cretan house, life would be much easier. And until that time we shall have to keep taking the tablets, and make sure we are healthy enough to earn some dosh.

Naturally, this change in our lifestyle has played havoc with our mission to loop the London loop. But we managed to get half way around, and we shall continue our quest at some point, I have no doubt. And, Valentino, my cello, is feeling very neglected at the moment. The Beckenham Ladies Choir, which I sang with, has now disbanded, so that leaves my poetry circle activities, which I am trying to keep up by proxy.

I shall try to get into a regular rhythm with this blog in the New Year. So until then, I hope you, dear reader, have had a happy Christmas, and I wish you the very best for 2015.

It's the first time I have felt as old as my great grandmother Selina Royston, in this picture. Better get the wrinkle cream on!
Love Jane x

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The London Loop

Help, I'm turning into a LOOPY!

Give me a mission, and I can't put it down. Tomorrow David and I will embark on stage 6 (and maybe even stage 7) of the London Loop. In posh terms that is the London Outer Orbital Path. Sounds good doesn't it?

Well, it's great fun. We head out, once or even twice a week, with our packed lunch, and our pack-a-macs, usually on the bus, but sometimes on the train, or even the tram from Beckenham. David is armed with the official map, taken from the Loop web site, and the directions (which are not always correct). And I have my sturdy stick (to ward off man or beast should that ever be necessary). Here are a few pics to give you an idea of how lovely the green belt surrounding London really is.

 We set off from Erith and followed the Thames estuary ending our first 9/10 miles at Bexley, and a welcome pint.
 From Bexley (stage 2) we headed for Petts Wood, and quickly located Wetherspoons, where we downed a well earned beer. About 7 miles.
 Stage 3 began at Jubilee Park, Petts Wood, and followed the river Cray, a beautiful spot, to West Wickham. 9 miles (a good 9 miles because we walked on to Hays).

Stage 3, in search of a pub at Coney Hall, and great disappointment, we even continued walking to Hays for our 'pat on the back' pint. But no luck there either, and we ended up so tired that all we really wanted was to get home, boots off, shower and sleep.
 Stage 4 was West Wickham to Hamsey Green, with fabulous views of London in the distance.
Another 9 miles.
And guess what? The pub we expected to find at Hamsey Green has been pulled down. Not good! Not good at all! We ended up in the Bricklayers on Beckenham High Street.

From Hampsey Green we completed stage 5, which took us to Coulsden across the downs. This was, for me, the most beautiful walk so far because it crossed open countryside, lovely flower filled meadows, and a very pleasant woodland area.

So, that brings us to tomorrow and stage 6. Coulsden to Bamstead Downs, a mere 4.5 miles. Bring it on!

And in between all that walking about the English countryside I have done hours of cello practice, and even spent a very rainy afternoon at a family barbecue.

Oh, and I wrote and entered a poem in the Proms Poetry Competion, and wrote a poem for another competition. If there was any bad news during the last few weeks, it was the first rejection of my novel from the publisher I sent it to. It's not the end of the world, I'll just have to try again with another publisher.

And now to get an early night so that I'm bright and breezy in the morning.

Watch this space to see how we get on with the LOOP. If you fancy doing it yourself take a look at the web site for all the details. CLICK HERE if you want to become a little LOOPY!

Monday, August 11, 2014


Hello dear reader,

I have finally come out of the blog blues, and feel ready to resume normal life again, (whatever that is).

See these lovely flowers? They were given to me by a very good friend, on the occasion of my 46th wedding anniversary.

Now, last year, things were quite 'lumpy' in the flow of married bliss. I don't mind to admit it. But then, it wasn't surprising, considering the alignment of the planets, or was it something to do with moon?

Anyway, year 46, I am assured, (by a healthy reading of the Tarot) is going to be more than fabulously wonderful. And, it has got off to a great start.

As a special treat, we hived off after church, to the Globe Theatre on the South Bank. The 'we' being my lifelong partner, David, my bunch of pink roses, and me. And, for £5 each, no expense spared, we took up a position where we could lean against the wooden barrier, between those who had a seat (with a cushion) and those who had to stand, in the area near the stage, from where we watched the new play, Holy Warriors, by David Eldridge. It was a wonderful experience, our first time at the Globe, and a very thought provoking play about Saladin and Richard the Lionheart v. present day players in Middle Eastern politics. It seems we have a replay of history.

Anyway, off to our new start, we have also decided to take our health in hand. And that means... yes you have it...exercise. Now I have a little problem with exercise, in that I have to be careful about lifting, and stretching. It's only a little hernia, but my goodness it has caused me some trouble. But walking is great. In fact, I am better on my feet than sitting down. And for someone who spends hours playing piano and cello, not to mention writing, walking is a necessity. Who was it said we have two good doctors, our right leg, and our left leg? Well actually, I have three good doctors, I must not forget my lovely doctor at the Cator Medical Centre in Beckenham.

So, it is out with the boots, and, 'Legs. Get walking'. David and I have embarked on a quest which should keep us putting one foot in front of the other for the foreseeable future. We are walking the London Loop, which is a signed footpath circling the outskirts of London. In total it covers 152 miles, which is in 24 stages. Tomorrow we will set off by train to Petts Wood, where we shall start walk number 3, a tidy 9 miler. NINE MILES! Some of you will think that's a long way, others may be used to walking further in a day. This being walk number 3, I already know that it will take about 5 hours, with a short break for lunch, as walk number 1 from Erith to Bexley, was about the same distance. We did that a couple of weeks ago, completing walk 2, Bexley to Petts Wood, last week, a mere 7 miler. And it is such good fun. We are discovering the area we live in, and walking by rivers, and through park land and woods. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It may rain, but hey, what respectable walker doesn't have a pack-a-mac? For pensioners it's a cheap day out. We have our freedom pass, and we take a packed lunch. Our little treat at the end of the walk is a pint of Doom Bar, or other such ale, at the first pub we come to.

I'm glad I'm back on track with my life, and my blog. The golden adventures of Crete are history, and new adventures await in England. I'm looking forward to sharing them.

I think there is a music festival in Beckenham this coming weekend - bring it on!

Love Jane x

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day from Beckenham


I don't know what you are up to today, but I hope you are making a special effort to think about that special person in your life. I know I am.

Over the years there have been flowers, chocolates, the odd bottle of wine. But today David and I have decided to abandon all of that. Is it a sign of age, or are we just plain miserable?

Well, I hope it is neither. Yesterday we walked to Penge and back, so I think we are pretty fit, and as for miserable, we don't allow that in the house.

What we have decided to do is work through the day, we have things to do, and then have a special meal tonight with a drop of bubbly. And over that meal we shall discuss an adventurous day out on Sunday, when, hopefully the weather will be a little brighter.

So, to work. I am in the (hopefully) latter stages of my second novel, so that will take up a couple of hours. Then I have a couple of poems to write for the Shortlands Poetry Circle meeting, which will take place on Tuesday. This is very exciting as it will be my first attendance at the 'writers' meeting. I had to apply to join, then be accepted by the committee (no pretend poets wanted) and finally try out a meeting to see whether I want to be a regular member. It is very exciting! As it usually takes me a few days to perfect a poem, if not longer, I had better make a start today.

Also on Tuesday I will attend my first meeting of Stanza, another poets' gathering, this time in Bromley. Both meets are chaired by Anne Stewart.

I should add that I have been a member of the Shortlands Poetry Circle - Readers group for almost about a year, and I enjoy that very much. It also widens my knowledge of poetry generally.

So, that is my writing schedule for today. And when that is all done, I shall relax with my lovely man, who is, as we speak, ordering me a copy of Steven Fry's The Ode Less Traveled, his little present to me for Valentine's Day. And my present to him? Oh, I think I shall find something to put a smile on his face.

Have a lovely day readers, make it special.
Love Jane x

Friday, January 24, 2014

2 Day Break in York at the Parsonage Hotel and Spa

January News - 2 Day Break in York

Well, I don't think I have ever left such a gap before writing my blog. The truth is, I relaxed so much over Christmas and the New Year holiday, that I sank into very lazy ways. I ate too much, drank too much, and did a lot of a little, too much.

It had to stop. The purge had to come. 

After almost a month of no booze, very little meat, and absolutely no cakes, I have lost the weight that I gained, and feel much better. Especially after a wonderful two day break at a luxury hotel near York, with my friend, Pauline. It was a true adventure, worthy of documentation.

 We met up at the railway station in the middle of York, Pauline having travelled from Middlesbrough, and and me from London. Both our trains were on time, and we both had a trouble free journey. In fact, my journey was extra delightful because sitting opposite me was a most charming young man, Roger, a genetic engineer, from Berwick.
Anyway, we caught a bus from York to the Parsonage Hotel and Spa at Escrick, approximately 15 minutes out of town. As soon as we arrived, we hit the spa, where we swam in a lovely heated pool, spent time in the jacuzzi, steam room, aromatherapy room and salt room. And, after working up an appetite, we snuggled into bath robes (courtesy of the spa) and enjoyed afternoon tea in the lounge.
Dinner that night was excellent, and we were so full that we went straight to our room afterwards, and slept extremely well.
 Next day, refreshed, (but always up for a little more refreshment) we went to the spa again, where we both indulged in a lovely pedicure. There, Garry, Fay and Natalie looked after us very well,

 We were tempted to stay at the hotel all day, it was such a relaxing place to be.

 But we finally made it back into York, and headed for the Shambles and a spot of shopping.
I just love York with its narrow streets and quaint little shops.

 We were definitely girls about town.
W. Hamond, The original Whitby Jet Shop, is one of my favourite shop. It was established in 1860, and in 1861 Queen Victoria wore Whitby Jet as mourning jewellery.
Well, if it's good enough for Queen Victoria, then it is good enough for us. We went inside and priced a lovely jet necklace. Unfortunately, the price of £1800 was a little over my budget, but just to handle the jet which is an ancient, organic gemstone, formed over millions of years from the compressed wood of the Araucaria (prehistoric Monkey Puzzle tree) was such a treat.
 Thank you Jenny, for giving us an incite into what goes in to making jet jewellery.
 Of course, York has a Greggs cake shop, (where doesn't).
 And then it was off to the Minster, where we had tickets to attend Evensong at 5.30 p.m.
 The time on this clock is obviously wrong as we were in good time, so that we could look around the Minster first.
 You have no idea how difficult this shot was to get. I am not very tall, and getting this much of the building in meant I had to find just the right spot to stand, and on tip toe at that.

 Once inside we just had time for a couple of photo's before the service began. Behind this wall of carved statues are the choir stalls and side pews. How fortunate we were to be there on the night that the choir was singing an anthem that was being recorded.
 York Minster is a very special place, and we even managed to go down underneath the building to see actual foundations of a pre-existing Roman fort that was on the site before the church.
 This is the horn of Ulf, a Viking land owner. It is quite magnificent don't you think.
 This ancient stone carving took my eye. Are they primitive wings? Is this an early depiction of an angel.
 And this book, which was on display, is 2000 years old.
 Before we left Escrick, I snapped these pictures of the village church. We didn't have time to investigate its interior. The bus stops outside the church. There is no bus stop, but about every 20 minutes a 145 comes along, and a wave of the hand is all that's needed.
We left the Parsonage Hotel after eating a hearty breakfast, and just as a fill in before our trains left we got off the bus at a shopping mall about half way between Escrick and York. It wasn't too exciting, but we managed to buy a pair of shoes each in the sales.

So, our little break was almost over and we arrived at the station in good time to sit and have a hot spicy apple drink before saying goodbye.

It was a very agreeable little sojourn. I have returned refreshed, and with very happy feet.

I do hope you have kicked off 2014 with jolly vibes. You know what they say, 'It's not the destination, but the journey, that counts.' My next journey is coming hot on the heals of the last one. Tomorrow I am off to the theatre in London to a matinée performance. But I'll tell you all about that adventure later.

Have a good weekend dear reader,
Love Jane x

P.S. And if you would like to read about another of my adventures, then you might like to take a look at my book, Tears from the Sun - A Cretan Journey. It is available from Amazon, in paperback or Kindle version.

Tears From The Sun - The Story