Boiling Point – FFfAW

Boiling Point

Zak’s temper boiled and finally erupted. He stomped round the room, fists striking at empty space. How could she! After the months of fun they’d had, he’d never imagined she’d betray him. All he’d asked was her support of his work – and her discretion.

Jodie claimed she was good at keeping secrets, and she’d more than benefitted from their affair. The costly gifts he’d showered on her after successful operations always made her smile – and very compliant…

His rage was rising again and he cursed. If he ever set eyes on Jodie again he wouldn’t be responsible for his actions.

‘Sit down,’ one of the burly officers snapped as they entered. ‘Chief Inspector Roberts is on the way. And don’t try any sweet talk. Roberts isn’t known for being nice.’

‘Morning Zak,’ Roberts said as she swept in, a polythene bag full of jewellery in her hand.

‘Jodie…!’ he croaked. ‘You’re a stinkin’ cop… You bitch! ’

Jodie smirked. ‘That’s me. Now, just for the tape, remind me of where this little lot came from…’

Word Count: 175

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This is my story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers The prompt was kindly provided by artycaptures. It’s the first flash fiction I’ve done for a while – in fact, it’s the first thing I’ve posted at all for a few weeks – so I thought it was time to change things.

FFfAW is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It involves writing a story from a given photo prompt in 100-150 words, give or take 25. If you’d like to join in, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday – Tuesday every week.

To read other stories or add a story yourself, click on the little blue frog:

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Ambling Along into August


August is the eighth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendar and the fifth month of the year to have 31 days. In the UK, the hottest days of the year are often in August and it is a busy time for holidays as it falls in the six week summer break for schools. Similarly, in many European countries, August is also the holiday month for workers.

In the southern hemisphere, August is the equivalent of February in the northern hemisphere.
The original Latin name for August was Sextillis as it was the sixth month in the then Roman ten-month calendar, when March was the first month of the year. August became the eighth month around 700 BC when January and February were added to the year by King Numa Pompilius who gave it 29 days. The extra two days were added by Julius Caesar when he created the Julian calendar in 45 BC.

In 8 BC the month was renamed August in honour of the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar (who ruled the Roman Empire from 27 BC until AD 14). Augustus is said to have chosen to name this month after himself because it was the time of several of his great triumphs, including the conquest of Egypt. The Latin term Augustus mensis means Month of Augustus. 

Statue of the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar (27BC-AD14) as a younger Otavian. Sculpted artwork dated around 30BC. Located int the Mus

So what else can I say about this summer month? Here are a few facts:

  1. August’s birthstones are the peridot and the sardonyx:

2. Its birth flowers are the gladiolus and poppy. The gladiolus represents beauty, strength, love, marriage and family. Poppies come in different colours but it is the the red one that is associated with August and it signifies pleasure.

3. The zodiac signs for the month of August are Leo (until August 22) and Virgo (from August 23 onwards):

4. The Anglo Saxon name for August was Weodmonath, meaning Weed Month. The word could refer to herbs or grass, as well as the unwanted plants we think of as weeds today. August was the month when all plants grew the most rapidly. The Venerable Bede (672/3 – 735) tells us: ‘Weodmonad means ‘month of tares (vetches), for they are plentiful then’. (The spelling of the word here is how Bede spelled it and (for a change) isn’t a typo on my behalf!)  Unfortunately I have no photos of weeds, as Nick won’t allow them to grow in our garden 🙂 but I have a not-too-wonderful photo of vetch growing along the lane:

5. Henry VI Part 1 and The Tempest are the only Shakespeare plays that mention August.

6. Warren Harding was the only US president to have died in the month of August.

Warren Harding. Photo taken 1882. Author:unattributed Public Domain

7. Certain meteor showers occur in August, including the Kappa Cygnids and the larger Perseids meteor shower.

156 (meteor) bodies detected in the sky on a single photographic plate during the Leonid meteor shower in 1998. Source: Astronomical and geophysical observatory at Comenius University in Modra, Slovakia. Author: Juraj Troth. Creative Commons

8.  In Ancient Rome, the festival of Supplica Canum was held in August every year. It was an annual sacrifice in which dogs were suspended from a furca, (fork) or a crux (cross) and paraded around the city. In the same procession, geese were honoured by being carried around adorned in purple and gold. The tradition stemmed from a nighttime siege of Rome by the Gauls during which the watch dogs failed to bark. On that occasion, it was the noisy, honking geese that alerted the city to the attack. The failure of the dogs led to them being ritually punished every following year. Gruesome!

9. On a more cheerful note, August is National Goat Cheese Month in the  U.S. I believe it involves the promotion of goats cheese as a healthier option than cheese made from cow’s milk. I love all cheese. In fact, I think I’m probably a cheeseaholic.

10. Lammas Day is in August and is a holiday celebrated in some European countries as a thanksgiving for the harvest. The name, Lammas, comes from the Anglo Saxon word hlaf-maesse, meaning loaf mass. The festival of Lammas marks the beginning of the harvest  and people say prayers in church for the first corn to be cut. (Note that in Britain ‘corn’ has traditionally referred to the cereal crops of wheat, barley oats and rye and not maize.)

Medieval illustration of men harvesting wheat with reaping hooks on a calendar page in Queen Mary’s Psalter. Dated around 1310. Author: Anonymous. Public Domain

In the medieval period, farmers made loaves from the new wheat at Lammas, and gave them to the church to use in the Communion. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church in 1534. Today, harvest festival services are at the end of the harvest in September, with Michaelmas Day (Sept 29) traditionally being the last day of the harvest season.

Lammas Day used to be a time of foretelling marriages and trying out partners (trial marriages). This was usually for 11 days, the duration of the fair. At he end of that time, if the pair didn’t get on they simply parted. Lammas was also a time when farmers gave each of their farm workers a gift of a pair of gloves. And to bring good luck, farmers would let a loaf of corn bread go stale, then crumble it up into the corners of their barns

August is a month for several festivals in Britain. These are 3 of them:

  1. The Edinburgh Festival. This was started in 1947 to celebrate the performing arts and includes concerts, plays, ballets and operas.

A street performer in the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh fringe in 2004. No machine- readable author provided. Creative Commons

  1. The Royal National Eisteddfod in Wales. Eisteddfod is an old tradition which was revived in 19th century. It originated in medieval times as a gathering of bards and minstrels, all competing for the prized chair at the noble’s table. It is held in the first week of August and attended by people from all over Wales.

Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales, in 2012. Flag bearers in traditional Celtic dress parade in a festival of traditional folk music and dancing. Shutterstock image

3. The Notting Hill Carnival in London. This festival is held on the last Monday of August i.e. Bank Holiday Monday in the UK. It is a colourful procession with elaborate costumes. It originated in the 1960s to celebrate the cultural traditions of the many Caribbean immigrants who came to Britain at that time.

The Notting Hill Carnival in London, 2014.Author: David Sedlecky. Creative Commons

I found this great quote which fits in so well with the theme of festivals in Britain – and Europe in general. (Harry/Henry Rollins is an American musician, actor, writer, television and radio host, and comedian.):

Every summer, from late July and into August, I find myself in Europe, performing at any festival that will have me.’ – Harry Rollins

There are many anniversaries to be celebrated in August, worldwide, and  these are merely a few of the many British ones:

  • August 1st 1774: Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen at Bowood House in Wiltshire
  • August 4th 1914:  the First World War started.
  • August 14th 1945: the Second World War ended.
  • August 15th 1872: the first regular police detective force was formed.
  • August 25th 1919: daily flights between London & Paris began, thus starting the first international air service.
  • August 31st 1997:  Princess Diana was killed killed in car accident in France.

And to finish with here are some photos from the lanes around our village and in our garden:

All are bright with developing fruits and berries. Many of the early (sown last autumn) barley fields have already been harvested, although there are still a few fields of spring-sown barley around. The wheat has yet to be harvested:

And absolutely lastly, here are a few photos of our garden as we amble along into August. I was delighted to see the lovely butterflies in our front garden this morning (August 1st). They really love the Buddleia davidii bush!

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Music and Fun at Woodhall Spa’s 40s Festival 2017

Last Sunday, July 16th, we headed into rural Lincolnshire to the village of Woodhall Spa, considered to be one of Lincolnshire’s most attractive villages. It has an Edwardian character and is set in lovely pine woods. From our Nottinghamshire village on the Notts-Lincs border, we had a drive of 27 miles. I won’t go into the history of Woodhall Spa on this occasion, but yes, it was a spa town in the past. Its history during WW2 is also interesting. Like so many places in ‘flat’ Lincolnshire on the eastern side of the country, it was once an RAF base. (The pine woods were of utmost importance for concealing aircraft and ammunition supplies and such like).

Map of Lincolnshire to show location of Woodhall Spa. Base map from Wikimedia Commons, Author Nilfanion. Creative Commons

Woodhall Spa’s 40’s Festival is a free event – meaning there are no entry fees –  run entirely by volunteers and held over both days of the weekend: July 15 and 16 this year. It aims to spotlight ‘Life on the British Home Front’ i.e. Britain during WW2 – and it delivers on every count. This was the festival’s 6th year and its popularity has grown so much it has become one of Lincolnshire’s most popular attractions. 2016 saw 40,000 visitors over the weekend and this year it rose to 45, 000.

A wide variety of events take place at various areas of the village. A number of living history groups /re-enactors are involved and there are outdoor concerts and live music. Vera Lynn songs blasted out from one area, Glenn Miller music, and Scottish pipers from others. People danced and got into the spirit of the occasion whilst others watched and clapped:

Food and drink stalls were everywhere, including a few ice-cream vans. Of course, I just had to have a nice big cone! (What else are days out for, when all’s said and done?)

There were several little cafés, as well as pubs and hotels offering meals to suit all tastes. And before I plough on, I have to say that dressing in 40’s costume is encouraged. Next year, we may well do what the organisers suggest and take ourselves off to a charity shop, or suchlike, and grab some 40s gear! This smiling young lady looked lovely in her ‘get up’:


One of the first things to watch was the parade, primarily (re-enactors) of 1940s servicemen, as well as military vehicles from a variety of living history groups.

Along the village streets were so many vintage cars, motorbikes and military vehicles, I had a hard job moving (husband) Nick along to look at other attractions!  He was totally besotted with the old motorbikes in particular. These are a photos of just a few of  the  many vehicles:

Visitors in 1940s dress really made the day. They brought the whole 40s theme to life. Here are some photos of a few of the many people we passed on our walk about. Re-enactors mingled with the crowds, so  it wasn’t easy to differentiate between the two!

And this was a regular sight up and down the main street. One way of getting around to the various  parts of the village:


And to add to the authenticity of the event was the fly-past of Spitfires and Hurricanes from RAF Coningsby, less than 5 miles from Woodhall Spa, and home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Nick assures me the Hurricanes are the ones with more rounded-tipped wings, so I’ll take his word on that. It was overcast and grey as they flew over, as the photos show:

I later learned that a Lancaster bomber also flew over. We left about 3 pm, having been there since 10 am, and the Lancaster obviously graced the skies later than that. I was disappointed to know we missed it, but, when all’s said and done, I’ve seen Lancasters flying over this area before, so I shouldn’t moan. We’d had a lovely day out and, other than a few spits of rain in the morning, the day was fine. Still, some sunshine would have been nice…

Oh. look. Doctor Who just arrived in his/her Tardis! (i.e. 1940s police phone box):

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Book Promotion: A Dash of Flash is Free on Amazon!

Just to let you know that the eBook version of my flash fiction / very short stories book, A Dash of Flash, will be free on Amazon until Sunday, July 16.

Many of the 85 stories have been published on my blog but several were written just for the book. Almost two-thirds of the stories are accompanied by colourful images, although they are not the prompts provided by the challenges.

Honest reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads would be SO MUCH appreciated. I’d also love to hear what you think! These are snippets from the reviews I’ve had so far:

a unique collection of short stories…something for everyone

so many delightful characters and plot situations all in the small space called flash fiction. This book is a joy to read, the stories brief, interesting, and cleverly composed

 I loved the variety of stories. This, together with the ultra-short length of the stories, really keep your attention.

Links to my book on Amazon are in the side bar to the right ————–> then up a bit –^

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Some Well-Dressed Wells in Derbyshire

Well dressing involves the dressing, or decorating, of wells and springs with flower petals, and, as such, it is sometimes known as well flowering. The custom is an ancient one and seems to be unique to England. It is particularly associated with the limestone villages of the Peak District of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire (which I’ll say more about in the next few posts) although one or two other areas also practise the tradition.

Map of the Peak District National Park, UK. Source: Office of National Statistics Geography. Ordnance Survey OpenData. Author: Nilfanion, created using O.S. data

The origins of the custom are still uncertain. Some maintain it could have developed from a pagan custom of sacrificing to the gods of wells and springs in order to ensure the continuing supply of fresh water. As many other traditions, it was later adopted by the Christian Church as a means of giving thanks to God for supplies of drinking water. A tradition of well dressing in the Malverns (a range of hills in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucester) dates from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Some sources hold that the practice began following the Black Death (plague) of 1348-9. A third of the population of England was wiped out at that time, although a few of the villages were untouched.

The Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) by Michael Wolgemut in 1493. Public Domain

The people of those fortunate villages attributed their luck to the clean fresh water supply from their wells and started dressing them as a way of giving thanks. Still other people believe the custom arose during a prolonged drought of 1615 when people celebrated their own wells’ reliability. Then there are those who attribute the custom to the time of another plague – the Great Plague of 1665 – during which time many Derbyshire villages, including Eyam, were decimated. Yet some villages had remained untouched, like nearby Tissington, and the people gave thanks at their wells for their deliverance.

Whatever its origins, well dressing seems to have disappeared for some time in most Derbyshire villages, with only a few still celebrating it in the 19th century. The main one of those villages was Tissington, as mentioned by Ebenezer Rhodes in his book ‘Peak Scenery’ in 1835. The custom was introduced in the town of Buxton in 1840 and was  recorded as being followed in Wirksworth in 1860. With the arrival of piped water supplies, the tradition was extended to include the dressing of not only wells, but taps, too.

The custom of well dressing rose and fell in popularity over the following years. Then, in the 1930s, the Shinwell family of Tideswell made considerable efforts to revive it. Well dressing has since been restored in many villages and small towns and, throughout the summer months, it is one of the attractions that draws people from all over the world to Derbyshire.

Today, the first well dressings are in May, with Tissington village being the first. Naturally, the flower petals don’t last for long, so the villages follow a regular calendar each year. While we  were in Derbyshire last week, we managed to visit four of the five places with newly dressed wells for that week.

Our first view of well dressings was in Buxton, a spa town which has the reputation of having  ‘the highest elevation …. of any market town in England’. These are a few ph0tos of the three ‘dressed’ wells in the town:

The next well dressing we visited was in the busy village of Hathersage. (Little John of the Robin Hood stories is said to have been born in Hathersage and buried in the churchyard there.) These are photos of the well we found. The theme of this one, as can be seen on the board itself, is ‘Give Peace a Chance’.

Peak Forest was the third of the well dressing villages we got to. It’s a small village and its one ‘well dressing’ was beside a tap. The theme was a very rural one:

On the last day of our stay in Derbyshire we headed out to the small town of Chapel-en-le-Frith (which translates from the Norman French as Chapel in the Forest). We found seven well dressings here, all with the theme of ‘Famous Britons’. Some had been created by children’s groups.

The construction of a well dressing is a long and skilful process which can take up to ten days. It often involves the whole population of the village. First, wooden frames are constructed and wet clay is spread to a depth of a couple of inches across the wooden backing board. The required design is sketched out on paper and ‘pricked out’ onto the wet clay.  The picture is then filled out with natural materials such as flower petal and leaves, entire flower heads, moss, sheep’s wool, wheat or barley straw, berries and nuts e.g. beech nuts, as on the Buxton Children’s well, and even immature fruits like the tiny apples on the Isaac Newton well dressing in Chapel-en-le-Frith. Coloured (or painted) stones, pebbles and gravel are sometimes used, too.

Throughout the well dressing season, some of the villages hold festivals or galas and decorate the streets with colourful and fun models. These are a few we came across in Hathersage:

It was very enjoyable visiting all these wells and looking at how they’re constructed. I think next year we’ll try to get out to Tissington in May. It’s a very quaint village, only a couple of miles from where we were staying, and we met some lovely ‘locals’ there. We’re looking forward to going back.

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Jogging Along to July!

In Britain, when we think of July we think of  summer, as it’s generally the warmest month of the year, in common with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, July is the equivalent our our January: in other words, it’s a winter month. In Britain the six week summer holiday for schools starts sometime around July 17th – 22nd (dependent on the area and/or individual schools) and we all start thinking about enjoying some sunshine. Unfortunately, we’re often disappointed in that. Our maritime climate can be very mean to us at times. Some of us will head off to the seaside towns; others choose a quiet – or sometimes a ‘sporting’ – break in the countryside. Some of us fly off to some sunny destination overseas.

Summer is a time for summer dress, barbecues and outdoor living in general. There’s always something special about summer music, too: it has such a lighthearted appeal. In 1970, this song by Mungo Jerry could be heard blasting out all over the place. It sounds so dated now, but back then it really got people singing along with it. The hairstyles are a scream and some of the lyrics are questionable today. The video was uploaded by Carlos Fracoso on October 4 2010.

So what else is interesting about July? Here are a few facts:

  • July is the seventh month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and is one of the seven months with thirty one days. It was named by the Roman senate in 44 BC in honour of the Roman general, Julius Caesar.

  • Prior to that time July was called Quintillis as it was the fifth month of the Roman year, which then started in March. (Quin means five in Latin – as in quintet and quintuplet.)
  • Until the 18th century the word July in English had the stress on the first syllable and rhymed with duly or truly.
  • The Anglo Saxon names for July included Haymonath, referring to haymaking activities at that time, and Maedmonath, referring to the flowering of meadows.
  •  July starts on the same day of the week as April every common year and January in leap years.
  • July’s birthstone is the ruby. The flower is the water lily:

And these are a some facts from folklore. All three are about the weather:

  • ‘If ant hills are high in July,
    Winter will be snowy.
  • ‘If the first of July it be rainy weather
    Twill rain more or less for four weeks together.’
  • St Swithin’s Day is July 15.  If it rains on that day, it will rain for the next 40 days.

St Swithin of Winchester from the Bendictional of St Aethelwold illuminated manuscript in the British library. 10th century. Author: Monk. Public Domain

Many anniversaries are celebrated in July worldwide and I was hard pushed to pick out just a few as examples. These first few are British:

  • July 25 1586 First potatoes arrived from Columbia
  • July 28 1901 First fingerprints used for identification
  • July 2 1928 Equal voting rights granted to women in Britain
  • July 1 1937 999 emergency service introduced
  • July 3 1938 The Mallard broke the speed record for steam engines by reaching 126 mph.

The Mallard at York Railway Museum. Author: PTG Dudva Creative Commons

And these are a few non-British anniversaries:

  • July 1  Canada Day (obviously in Canada) and International Joke Day
  • July 2 World UFO Day
  • July 4 Independence Day, USA
  • July 6 International Kissing Day
  • July 14 Bastille Day in France
  • July 21 1968 Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon.
  • July 29 International Tiger Day

The lanes around our village have taken on a different look since the spring blossom died off. Now autumn fruits are developing, cereal crops are ripening and summer flowers are blooming.

In our garden the fruits are swelling nicely and are the most noticeable feature at present. The first flush of roses have almost all gone, most totally bashed by the heavy rains of last week. We should see a second flush around late August. But other flowers are adding colour to the garden, in the flower beds as well as the hanging baskets. These are a few photos taken earlier today (July 1st):

To finish with, here are some short poems about July:

The glowing Ruby should adorn
Those who in warm July are born,
Then will they be exempt and free
From love’s doubt and anxiety.
― Anonymous

The Summer looks out from her brazen tower,
Through the flashing bars of July.
― Francis Thompson

‘A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay.
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly.’

‘Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers.’
– Sara Coleridge, Pretty Lessons in Verse

(Gillyflower definition: any of a number of fragrant flowers, such as the wallflower or white stock.)

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Paint Me Green!


Paint Me Green!

Sidney waited for the groundsman to put him down and stared at the figure ahead of him. ‘Glud…’ he croaked, confused and a little scared. ‘Where are we? ’

Glud turned and Sidney hooted. ‘Oh boy, you should see the size of your eyes! They never looked like that before they painted you.’

The green man bristled. ‘Well you should see the size of your teeth! And weren’t you listening to those blokes who painted us? They were making us look interesting so someone would buy us for their garden.’

‘Why would they do that?’

‘We’re garden ornaments, Sidney. Don’t you Earthlings know anything?  I’m green with big eyes ’cos I’m an alien, and they’re always popular. I think you’re a squirrel.’

‘Oh no! That means I’ll have to eat nuts. Yuk!’

‘We’ll soon find out. Smile nicely and these folks approaching might buy us.’

‘Don’t leave me!’ Sidney squeaked as Glud was carried away by a nice-looking family. ‘Paint me green and I’d look like an alien, too. Aliens can have big teeth…’

 

Word Count: 175


This is my story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. I thought I’d have a bit of fun with this great prompt, which was kindly provided by anymark66

FFfAW is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It involves writing a story from a given photo prompt in 100-150 words, give or take 25. If you’d like to join in, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday – Tuesday every week.

To read other stories or add a story yourself, click on the little blue frog:

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A Visit to Beamish Museum: Part 2

There is so much to see at Beamish Museum in County Durham that I’ve had to split my post about it into two parts. Part 1 was an introduction to the museum in general and a look at the first of the four main areas on the site: the 1900s Town.

In this post I’ll show the three other main areas of the site: the 1900s Pit Village, the 1940’s Home Farm and finally the 1820s Pockerley Hall. Between them, the four sites give visitors a good overview of the life and work of people in the North East of England over the centuries.

The Pit Village naturally sits alongside the Colliery. It is opposite the town and is the closest of the sites to the entrance on the above map. As most villages, it catered for the immediate needs of the people who would, perhaps, take trips into the Town for goods that couldn’t be bought in the village, or go to the bank, or to visit professionals such as the dentist or solicitor. For a special treat they may well head to the Town Park on a Sunday to listen to the brass band play.

These are a few photos of the Pit Village, the biggest attractions there being the old school, the Wesleyan Chapel (in which Sunday School was held) and the Village Hall. One group of visiting primary school children were dressed up in period costume for their lesson with a rather strict schoolmistress.

And these are a few views of the colliery:

We didn’t go into the drift mine on this occasion, or into the winding engine house and adjoining heapstead building where the coal was weighed and the large lumps separated from the  fragments and dust. Time was ticking on and we’d been in these places a couple of times on previous visits.

Next we moved on to Home Farm, which represents farm life in the area during the 1940s. and, of course, WW2. In the photos below, the bedroom shown had two single beds to accommodate two land girls. In one of the outside barns was a cafe for visitors to buy tea, coffee and small snacks, decorated as cafes had looked during wartime.

We then hopped on another tram and headed to Pockerley Hall, which represents the house of a well-to-do tenant farmer in the 1820s. The lands around the hall that he would have farmed can be seen on the plan above. A house has stood on this slight hilltop since 1183, and its defensive location suggests there could have been an Iron Age hill fort there long before that. I won’t go into the history of the families who have lived in this hall, except to say that it was linked to the de Pockerleys in the 13th century, as well as several other families over the years. A tenant farmer lived in the hall until 1990 when it became part of Beamish Museun. After restoration work, the hall opened to visitors in 1995.

The following picture shows how Pockerley New Hall (red-brown roof) was built to adjoin Pockerley Old House (right hand side of photo).


These are a few more photos of  the 1820s hall and gardens:

The adjoining Old House is a medieval strong house, dating back to the 1440s. It would have been a place of refuge during conflict and raids (border reivers) and boasts very thick walls and small windows. It was very dark in most of the rooms inside so I’m afraid some photos aren’t very clear.

And finally we headed over to the 1820s Pockerley Waggonway. It represents the year 1825, when the Stockton and Datlington Railway opened.

The first waggonways opened in Britain around 1600 and by the 1800 they were common in industrial areas. The North East was Britain’s biggest coal producing area and coal was taken to rivers like the Tyne and the Wear by waggonway. After 1800, iron rails and steam engines started to replace horse or gravity powered ones: the modern railway had arrived.

We saw replicas of three different early engines there, including the famous Puffing Billy. The engine in use for pulling the little train on the day we visited was the Steam Elephant.

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The Fiery Breath of Dragons – FFfAW

The Fiery Breath of Dragons

They came before the land had wakened, as Groshan had known they would. Three mighty dragons, their fiery breaths patterning the pre-dawn sky with a brilliance as great as the Sun-god’s rise.

From the entrance to his cave-world, deep in the mountain, the overlord seethed as the dragons swooped over his city below, their terrible flames reducing it to smouldering ash. If not for his vision, the townsfolk would have shared that fate.

Having no other choice, Groshan had led his people to a place in the mountain’s veiled depths, with its black and bottomless pool: the source of his wisdom and power. His age-old enemy would not win this time, despite his dragons.

‘Come back to the caves, Husband. This will soon end and Styras will think he’s destroyed us. We’ll leave by night and build a new city far away.’

Groshan turned to Ailis. ‘Our son will guide you all to the lands across the sea. I will follow, once Styras lies dead at my feet and my powers are no longer needed.’

 

Word Count: 175

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This is my story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, a little late this week and hastily written.

This week’s prompt was kindly provided by Footy and Foodie.

FFfAW is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It involves writing a story from a given photo prompt in 100-150 words, give or  take 25. If you’d like to join in, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday – Tuesday every week.

To read other stories or add a story yourself, click on the little blue frog:

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A Visit to Beamish Museum: Part 1

‘Tiny Tim’ the steam hammer at the entrance to Beamish Museum. A very autumnal photo from Wikipedia. Public Domain

Last week we were up in Yorkshire again for a short break. Needless to say, we visited some great sites to add to my ever growing list of posts to be written up. The site I’ve decided to write about first is one we’ve already visited three times in past years, and it wasn’t exactly one ‘just around the corner’ from our hotel. Nor was it in Yorkshire. But it’s a great place, with so much of interest to people of all ages., and well worth the 77 mile drive from our hotel near York.

So where am I talking about…? Why, BEAMISH of course!

Set in 300 acres of beautiful countryside in the county of Durham in North-East England…

….Beamish is described as a living, working museum. It includes a number of distinct areas, each very interesting in its own right. The four main areas are: the 1900s Town, the 1900s Pit Village, a 1940s Farm, and Pockerley Old Hall, dating from 1820. This photo of a map on one of the information boards at the site shows the location of these. Unfortunately, it isn’t too clear:

The buildings used to create the various areas of the Museum have been collected from across the north-eastern region, the primary aim being to present visitors with a realistic experience of the region’s past.

The various areas are spaced out around the site, so a number of trams and omnibuses are available for transporting visitors from one place to another. Most people choose to ride in the old vehicles, some for the experience of it; for others who would find the walking too difficult or just too much, the vehicles are a necessity.

Children find them great fun. In fact, on the day we were there, there were several groups of primary children enjoying a day out as the SATs exams had just finished. There were also a couple of groups of older students – all armed with questionnaires – probably studying the Industrial Revolution,or some topic related to one or more of the four sites.

At each of the sites, costumed staff and volunteers work hard to bring their roles to life. We can simply watch them carrying out their everyday tasks, or become involved in conversation and learn about the work they do and the goods or produce they are handling. They are impressively knowledgeable as well as helpful.

So, onto the 1900s town which was our first port of call after hopping onto a tram close to the Entrance:Beamish Town is somewhere we could have spent so much longer looking round. There are lots of interesting buildings and areas of the town that deserve more than a fleeting glance. This very long gallery shows some of them:

On walking along the town’s main street, you can’t fail to notice the Town Park with it’s welcomed greenery. In the 1900s, parks were important places in which townspeople could unwind and enjoy some exercise and fresh air after work in summer and at weekends all year. Sundays would see the many of the community coming together to hear a brass band entertaining them from the band stand.

Before we made our way along the road to the railway station on the edge of town we had a quick look at the livery stables across the road from the park:

We continued walking along the road heading towards Rowley Railway Station on the edge of town. The station was moved to Beamish from the village of Rowley, near Consett, County Durham. The guide book tells us that the North East led the way in the development of the railways. and by 1880, the North East Railway had a network of lines across Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire. Rowley Station was built in 1867 and it represents the Edwardian period at Beamish.

And to finish Part 1 of my Beamish post, here are a few photos of the Funfair on a field across the road from the station. To be honest, it was by no means the busiest area of the museum. Most people were far more interested in soaking up the history of the place.

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