Thursday, 17 January 2013

Happy Julian New Year! (14th January 2013)


14th January 2013
Happy Julian New Year!


I am not late in sending you New Year’s greetings...  It just depends on which calendar you are using.  Today is the first day of the old Julian calendar which was replaced by the present Gregorian calendar.  Those of you who have followed my blogs will know that I consider a much more sensible start for the year to be later on; well clear of midwinter and when the natural world begins to wake up.  Until then I hibernate, eat well, sleep lots, catch up on reading and films (nothing too strenuous though) and stay wrapped up warm.  I make no New Year’s resolutions until around the time of the Iranian New Year which falls so sensibly on the first day of spring – the 21st March - which is also my lovely daughter’s birthday. I have not started starving myself to drop a stone or two, taken out a year’s subscription at the gym or resolved to work my way through the one hundred free classics on my e-reader.  I feel wonderfully guilt free with no unrealistic resolutions to break and no need to beat myself up.

In my experience such extremes in behaviour during the darkest, most miserable time of the year just lead to tears, frustration and disappointment.  After a lovely Christmas and New Year break with my sister and son over from Australia I have packed away all the decorations, chopped up the Christmas tree and taken it over to the recycling point in the park, hoovered the house from top to bottom and washed all the floors.  We have almost finished all the Christmas treats.  It is hard to select my favourite highlights of my wonderful family time over the last three weeks.

However here are a few:

Walking from Hither Green to Greenwich via Blackheath we followed a literary trail – very apt as my sister had received a book on London literary walks – perfect for an editor and author!  Although it was freezing, we were well rugged up and regular fuel stops helped keep us cosy and energetic.





We ended up wandering through the university (always so beautiful at night) to the Trafalgar pub nearby – a favourite haunt of Dickens and Thackeray.



We travelled to West Sussex to spend a week over New Year in a rented cottage in a tiny hamlet called Byworth, near Petworth.  Although the nearest shop was a mile away, the Black Horse pub with a roaring log fire, congenial company and great food was only 30 yards from our front door.  We spent New Year’s Day (the Gregorian one!) on a two and a half hour walk through the 700 acre Petworth Park.  The sun shone and the views were fantastic.  Trees hundreds of years old bare of leaves silhouetted against the soft winter sky.  What can be more beautiful?


Nearby is the picturesque village of Lodsworth. They have the best little shop which is built as a temporary structure in the car park of the local pub.  It is staffed by local volunteers and is a great place to catch up on all the gossip.


It was also the place to ask about EH Shepherd, who illustrated The Wind in the Willows.  One of the locals remembered him, describing him as a lovely gentle man and a great artist.  We located his house marked with a blue plaque and then his tombstone in the local cemetery.  If you look carefully you will see a scene featuring Mole from the book.


We spent a day in Brighton but after all our slowing down in the countryside it came as a bit of a shock with all its busyness.

I loved walking along the pier.  I am not one for noisy slot machines but when I noticed the stained glass windows in the main building I just had to wander through the slot machine hall to see them all back lit by the daylight.  My sis and I were the only ones wandering through looking up at the windows while everyone else was head down feeding the money consuming monsters.



We visited the free Museum of Brighton and I was quite undecided about which chandelier I would like for my lounge room.



We were planning to visit the Pavilion but were rather broke and also rather visually over stimulated by all the wonderful stuff in the museum so we settled for walking around it at sunset.



On our return to London we had more sightseeing to do.  I love it when I have visitors because I get to see all my fave places again and also discover new places.

The Harrod’s food halls are always wonderful to wander through.  I go for a look and then pop out to eat my much cheaper packed lunch!



On my sister’s last day we caught a train into Charing Cross, walked across the Hungerford footbridge back to the Southbank.


Crossing the Millennium bridge we headed towards St Paul’s Cathedral.  On the way we were quite horrified to spot the greengrocer’s apostrophe in full view of the cathedral.  There was nothing for it- my sister just had to get out her editor’s red pen.


We were not prepared to pay £15 to look inside St Paul’s so we contented ourselves with walking around it.  After all we have the beautiful domes in the university to admire free of charge.  They are designed by the same architect – Christopher Wren.

 

..and then onto the Museum of London which is free entry.


This was my first visit and I will be back.  It is fascinating to trace the history of this glorious city although I must admit my favourite bits are the plague and the great fire!

Speaking of such things we spent a morning totally enthralled by the exhibition entitled Death: A Self-portrait (http://www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/death-a-self-portrait.aspx) showing in the welcome collection.  I would thoroughly recommend it.  It is also free.

The next day we met my other sister Gabrielle who had arranged flights for us on the cable car known as the Emirates Air-Line.  She had worked on te town planning for it and was able to give us a very comprehensive tour.  She was quite insistent that we flew it three times – during daylight, at sunset and at night.  The weather was perfect and the views stunning.





It was pretty grim saying goodbye to my son and my sister who headed back to the warmth of Melbourne and Perth. While we are shivering over here Australia is suffering heat waves and horrendous bush fires so I am hoping they settle soon before there is any more loss of property and loss of life.


Photos: Alice and Jackey

















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