Another train journey

Last Saturday I decided at the last minute that I would go to the writing group I joined in 2014.  I had wondered whether it was worth the effort.  We meet in alternate months.  I checked the weather forecast and it was going to be warmer by 1°C and sunnier than here.

Last time I went I made notes in a small notebook on the outward journey and later used them to write a poem.  This time I realised I only had my diary and a posh notebook with me.  I noted down the birds I saw on a spare page in my diary.

The notebooks I mentioned

The notebooks I mentioned

It was high tide.  There was a large group of cormorants, which I was not quick enough to snap.  Later a group of birds on the shore included cormorants, oyster catchers and gulls.  They looked to have sorted themselves out into breeds!

Some of the berries I had noticed in November were still on the bushes.  This time I didn’t see any herons.

I took a few photos from the window of the train, having in mind the Daily Post photo challenge – Optimistic.  I was optimistic travelling and even more optimistic taking photos through the dirty windows of a moving train!

There were many people travelling to a football match.  The platforms looked busy, but the train did not become too crowded, although it was only two coaches.

Some of my photos may be seen on Sue’s words and pictures.  I also took a photo from the Castle View Restaurant in a department store, where I ate a sandwich and drank tea.

Can you see the castle?

Can you see the castle?

As well as travelling on the train I also have to catch a bus to reach the house where we meet.  I was eating a bar of chocolate as I boarded it.  Then I remembered that bus companies do not allow eating or drinking.  I hastily hid it in my bag, without thinking of the consequences.  (The following day I emptied my bag and had to clean away crumbs of chocolate.)

The meeting was enjoyable and interesting.  Our homework had been to write about red sky.  One person had written a children’s book and illustrated it.  We had at least two poems written by members and several pieces of prose.  We heard about South Africa, India and Switzerland as well as Bible lands.   We also talked about books we had read.

On my way to catch the bus home I was treated to a murmuration of starlings, which I saw twice in the sky above the busy road.  It was dark by the time I reached the station, which sounded like a roost for birds.  I did see one pigeon on a platform.

Some of the passengers had been to the match and were discussing it and the wider politics of football.

My walk home from the station was in pouring rain.

Three days later part of the railway line I had travelled on was closed due to a landslide in a storm.  It reopened in a couple of days.  It is easy to take the infrastructure for granted. The mechanical diggers that we have today make work easier than when the railways were constructed.  Even so people have to work in all weathers (and at night) to repair and maintain the railways, roads and power lines.

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Kent and Cumbria

When people talk about the length of Great Britain, they often say, “From Land’s End to John o’ Groats”.  For the length of England they might say, “From Cumbria to Cornwall” or “From Cumbria to Kent”.  The alliteration seems to exclude Northumberland, which reaches farther north and is diagonally opposite Cornwall.

I have written before about some time I spent in Kent in the summers of 2014 and 2015.  The first time I stayed at Burrswood coincided with a flower festival.  I took a photo in less than ideal light just before leaving mid-morning.

Breakthrough cross

Breakthrough cross

The Breakthrough Cross is a piece of sculpture dating from 1966, which was made for Burrswood.  The person who made it was (Joan) Ophelia Gordon Bell.  Until I read her name on a card from Burrswood I had not heard of her.  Out of interest I looked her up on Wikipedia.  She was married to a well-known artist and lived in Cumbria.

In this age of mobile populations it is hardly surprising that some people from Kent move to Cumbria and some from Cumbria live in Kent.  Less surprising that artists and sculptors have work in far-flung locations.

Another place in Kent I have visited a few times in recent years is Bromley, which has a good shopping centre.  Last time I went (in October) I became aware of a heritage trail, which explored the town’s past.  Some famous people have lived there.  I cannot think of an obvious connection between HG Wells (an author, whose books I devoured in my teens) and Cumbria.  Nor between Charles Darwin and Cumbria.  However Wikipedia alerted me to the fact that a clergyman at a church in Bromley became the Bishop of Rochester (in Kent) before becoming Bishop of Carlisle (in Cumbria) in 1972 (until 1989).

The name of the county of Kent is the same as the name of the river, which flows through Kendal – a town in the south of Cumbria.  Cumbria became the name of the county in 1974.  It was a new administrative area formed from Cumberland, Westmorland and part of Lancashire.  It is best known for including some beautiful scenery known as the (English) Lake District.

A quick piece of detective work on Wikipedia (looking at the derivation of place names) leads me to believe that the connection between the name of the county and the name of the river could be that early residents of both areas were Celts.  Kent possibly means bright in an early language.  If I am not mistaken the name Kendal is a contraction of Kent-dale,  the valley of the river Kent.  Now, what have I heard about Wikipedia and newspapers, I will pass on to you – don’t believe everything you read!

If you’d like to see more of my pictures of Kent and Cumbria, please visit Sue’s words and pictures.

5

Knights

Earlier this year a documentary was shown on Yesterday TV about the St Bees Man.

St Bees is a remote location.  Perhaps that is why the story of the well-preserved body in a lead coffin/casket is not better-known.

The body was found during an archaeological dig in 1981.  Its discovery raised a large number of questions.  Some of these now seem to have been answered to some extent.

There is enough information, which has not been used in the first documentary, for a second programme to be considered.

It is strange that it often happens, that a subject (medieval knights in this case) is brought to someone’s attention and soon afterwards other similar, but not directly related articles, books or whatever are noticed treating a similar topic.

In this case, St Bees Man having been publicised on TV, I discovered a blog post about skeletons in Hereford Cathedral.

Shortly after that I found a second hand book entitled The Riddle and the Knight: In search of Sir John Mandeville by Giles Milton.  I mentioned it in an earlier post.  One thing which amazes me is how much travelling some people managed to do in medieval times.  They had to walk, ride horses or travel over water – unless they were carried or could ride in a horse-drawn vehicle, such as a cart.  There were no metalled roads, no motor vehicles, no trains and certainly nothing to fly in.  SatNav or Geolocation is a very recent invention.  Early maps were sometimes incorrect and/or incomplete.  Yet people managed to travel to distant parts of the world and return years later to tell the tale.  (Or had friends, who were prepared to go to considerable pains to bring the body back.)  This book mentioned a man by the name of Prester John.

Not long after I read the book, there was a radio programme “In Search of Prester John”.  Unfortunately I did not remember to listen to it at the time.  In the UK programmes from the BBC are available for catch-up via the i-player for a limited time.  I can’t remember whether I listened or not.

This post has been languishing in my ideas folder since July!  History is not my speciality, but I read fairly widely.  Publishing it this week allows me more time to research another idea I have for a post, which is also inspired by someone I heard of in one context cropping up soon after in another.

Do you find that once you have heard about something, related topics catch your attention soon afterwards?