December along the Danube


In December I ticked another goal off my retirement bucket list to visit the Christmas Markets in Europe. With a friend I ventured forth along the Danube. It was the most delightful and beautiful experience and well worth the years I have waited to achieve this! Vienna was magical and as we cruised back to Budapest the next morning the scene was as Christmassy as you could hope for with the riverbanks shrouded in a heavy fall of snow.


I’m still here – just! Coming back to this has been on my mind for a while – I miss the pleasure of writing and recording my thoughts and feelings.

Things are better – I feel as though I am resurfacing… coming back up from the depths where I’ve been for a good while now.

Lots of reasons – of the new friends I mentioned last time some are still around, some I’ve let go. I don’t need to hang on to people who jar with me or who don’t share my outlook. I am not so desperate that I need to hang on to people regardless. Of those I’ve hung onto our friendship has grown – similar interests and a feeling that we want to get to know each other better.

I have a new granddaughter who is an absolute delight. The joy of spending a few hours with her, watching her learn and grow, bring me more pleasure than I ever imagined as  we awaited her arrival. As a result my days are busier, fuller – in fact I sometimes wish for an hour or so (let alone a while day!) to myself! Throw into that a couple of hours tutoring each week and January has passed without me even noticing the time of year – the time when I usually reach rock bottom!

I’m also trying a multivitamin supplement and have recently started on a Vit D boost but I’ve yet to work out which of all these things is lifting me up out of the depths.

Although I am slightly reluctant to admit it I do feel more settled. Reluctant because I don’t want to give up on my Norfolk-ness, the place I know I belong to; the place that is still more familiar to me than anywhere else; the place I still truly feel at home. The Welsh have  a word that sums it up completely -‘hiraeth’. There is no English translation. It is a feeling more than homesickness, the loss of a place that is deep down in the very being of someone; nostalgia for the place that made you who you are and will forever be  a part of you… and the hole that is left inside when you are no longer a part of that place. This is what I feel, and my soul still sinks every morning when I wake up and face another day away from home.

But – things are looking up! Not making any promises but I may be around a bit more!

Travelogue 1 – Glasgow

Every so often I like to break away from the humdrum of everyday retirement and explore a bit more of the world beyond Norfolk. As much as I love Norfolk it can be rather insular…… but that’s a subject for another blog one day….

As I’m hoping to move house soon I’m not planning any long trips in the near future, but keeping my wanderlust content by exploring more of my own country. This time my destination was Glasgow. I’m a relative newcomer to the delights of Scotland, having married a Welshman our trips tended to gravitate in a westerly direction.

Glasgow has been a long time coming….. as lovers of all things by the designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh best friend and I have had this trip in our sights for about five years now. My impending departure brought some urgency to the plan and spurred us on to book a three day trip at the beginning of the Easter holidays – whilst I have escaped from the restrictions of the school timetable friend is still very much tied. Local schools breaking up a week earlier than other parts of the country seemed an ideal opportunity to avoid the main holiday rush too. So, a month ago we got together one Friday evening to plan our trip. The bottle of wine may not have been such a good idea – having dealt with the intricacies of the train journey we hadn’t even got as far as looking at hotels by the time her husband arrived to carry her home….. I left that for her to investigate the next morning!

The plan finally came together last Wednesday morning. We left Norwich to arrive in London in time for the 12.40pm from Euston to Glasgow Central. The original intention had been to travel up by Caledonian Sleeper but we didn’t fancy the idea of arriving in Glasgow at 7 am with a day of sightseeing ahead of us so we saved that pleasure for the return journey. Instead we boarded a routine Virgin west coast train – crowded, hot, noisy ….. cue another blog on the UK rail network?

So – after waiting so long to visit did Glasgow live up to expectations? It most certainly did – and more. I’m not sure what I expected really….. the stereotypical image of a tough Glaswegian perhaps? We’d both been warned that we were unlikely to understand anything that was said to us…. that certainly wasn’t true. In fact people everywhere were exceptionally friendly…… from the hotel staff to the lady who stopped us in the street to ask if we were lost, and continued to describe something of the locality for us.

Glasgow is a beautiful city – unexpectedly, incredibly beautiful. Being used to towns and cities with quaint medieval centres I found Glasgow robust, strident, from the dour St Mungo’s Cathedral, looking out onto the Necropolis, to the sparkling Clyde Auditorium. But it also struck me as a city that has struggled for its existence. The city bus tour, which we took on the second day, revealed stark contrasts between the affluent west side and the poorer east, with the newly regenerated riverside sandwiched between. It’s a hard-working city, built by great industrial entrepreneurs who were proud to mark their lasting influence with the grand memorials of the Necropolis, but it’s a city that knows how to play hard too…. we made sure we didn’t have to walk far from the restaurant to the station on a Friday night in Glasgow!

The highlight for us has to be Glasgow School of Art, but the influence of its designers is evident everywhere you look, in the stained glass windows lighting the houses of the west end and in the glass roof of Central Station. Afternoon tea at the Willow Tearooms was also top of our list. The tea itself wasn’t exceptional, although the renowned meringues were very good, but the recreated surroundings of Miss Cranston’s original surpassed any tearoom I’ve eaten in anywhere – and I’ve had a few afternoon teas in my time!

We needed at least a week to taste Glasgow fully but, unfortunately we only had two days. Tired, and completely Mackintoshed out, we boarded the Caledonian Sleeper for the overnight journey back to London.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life (4)


A February afternoon at Ludlow market.

Probably my last post  for this week’s challenge although it has occurred to me that I don’t have any ‘street’ scenes of my own home town. So tomorrow, along with my shopping list, I’ll be taking my camera into the city with me just to capture a few local scenes and I might be tempted to sneak in a late offering for this challenge!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside 1

Last summer I realised a long held wish to visit the island of Iona. I’m not sure when exactly, or where, the seed of that wish germinated, only that I felt it was a missing link having visited the Isle of Lindisfarne and Caldy Island. I needed to complete my trio of religious islands.
It was a complicated journey, although I suppose nowhere near as complicated as it was for the original pilgrims, and one I made alone, even though I was surrounded by people on the journey and on the island.
Hidden deep within the abbey, protected by the cloisters, I found this amazing sculpture. Even here I was not alone, with people wandering inside the cloisters and the sound of voices coming through the open windows from inside the abbey buildings.



It was such a beautiful day today that, after a brief work meeting, I decided to go for a walk with my camera. It was a toss-up between a childhood park or the cemetery – the park won. This is one of the two parks that my Mum used to take me to when I was small. This was the ‘Sunday’ park, because she liked to listen to the band playing in the bandstand on a Sunday afternoon.

eaton park3

It’s a huge place and it was good to see that plenty of Mums are still walking there with their buggies and toddlers. There are two ornamental ponds – one used to have fish and water lilies in – it looks as though the lilies are still there but I suspect the fish are long gone, certainly none in evidence today.  The second is a boating lake and when my sons were small their grandparents used to take them there to sail their boats. The eldest had a yacht but, as I remember, it frequently capsized!


The tennis courts are where I learned to play, attending a series of evening coaching sessions one summer. I don’t remember the courts being in such good condition – more like hard grey clay with grass growing around the edges as I recall!!

By the end of this year I hope to have moved west, to be closer to my family – my camera is helping me to record the places I remember before I leave. So far three generations of our family have passed time there – I’m hoping I can take my granddaughter next time she visits.