Thursday 28 February 2013

Beech Hedge

Looking at the new golden quills on our beech hedge about to burst forth in all their green and plum coloured glory, I was struck by how beautiful last years remaining leaves are. All winter they have graced the branches their autumnal copper colour catching the sun and fluttering in the breeze.  Very soon they will be replaced by a new bright gown, a patchwork of chartreuse green and persian plum.
Resembling long forgotten parchments, leathery,crispy around the edges. Brown age spots showing up their veins like sun kissed old men.

All of that colour tightly packed away like a furled silk umbrella just waiting to fling itself wide open.

Tuesday 26 February 2013


last weekend we visited our granddaughter. It is hard to believe that she is already half way through her degree
On looking up I spotted one of Anthony Gormley's cast iron men. There are some on Crosby beach north of Liverpool, Cuxhaven Germany, De Panne Belgium, and in an olive grove in Catanzaro Italy, I have also seen several scattered around Stavanger Norway - they appear to be springing up in the most unlikely places.
We walked past the ancient university walls until we came upon the entrance to her college
The colleges distinctive neo-gothic red, white and black brick buildings designed by William Butterfield 
Senior Common Room
Dining Hall
Library - top 4 images wikipedia
We clambered up the well worn stone stairway to her room
There was a happy group of us - her parents, brother, sister, and boyfriend. We love the fact that she is so obviously enjoying herself as well as working hard.
We all went off to have lunch together at an Italian Restaurant, returning later to her room for tea and cake, before going our separate ways, and leaving her to her studies.
Wandering off we decided that the day was far too cold to hang around 
The warm sunny days at the beginning of the week had given way to a wind that felt distinctly Siberian
As we turned a corner who should we bump into but Imran Khan, surrounded by several smart male associates on his way to address the Oxford Union. A handsome and dashing looking 61 year old, who, according to the weekend papers seems destined to be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Architectural Quiz - the answer

A few more examples of the little buildings. They are all basically the same. Solid stone walls with a solid stone roof and a finial or weathercock sitting aloft.
Did you notice that they do not have windows apart from a very small grilled aperture in some of them. Most have a solid wooden door too. What does that make you think of?
Maybe they are pointing in the direction of security!!!
images via wikipedia
courtesy chemodan flickr
These little buildings date from the 18th and 19th century. They are village lock-ups which were built as a temporary overnight place for the detention of local rogues, miscreants, and drunkards until they could be removed to the nearest town and then brought before the magistrates court.
Three people got the answer correct:-
The Road to Parnassus (I had to look up hoosegows Jim, it is a new word to me)
and Marian
"R" got it right via Carolyn 
Well done - Marian also got my last quiz correct too.
Thank you to all who gave it a try - hope you enjoyed it.
650 years of the Magistracy 
Having just shown you the "Village lock-ups", it has reminded me of another, but this time contemporary, aspect of our justice system.
In my past I was a magistrate - Justice of the Peace (JP). I didn't know anyone else who was one, but after sitting in the back of the local Magistrates Court a few times I decided it was something that I would be interested in doing. Magistrates are non stipendiary, and in the days before I was appointed, the posts were often handed to Lady "whatnot" and her friend. Now the appointments are made, as they should be, on the basis of representing the whole community. After applying I was called for interview and questioned by five unknown, nameless people, in order to assess my suitability i.e think logically, weigh up arguments and reach a sound decision. An awareness of local issues and understanding of people and a sense of fairness - prejudices have no place in the law courts. Understand documents, follow evidence and communicate effectively. Various 'cases' were discussed to ascertain my responses, views, and thinking. Today, I believe it is also necessary to sit a written test.
A Magistrates Court - Bedford
Once appointed by the Lord Chancellor and having sworn the Judicial Oath in the Crown Court, there was a substantial amount of training to get through, along with visits to prisons - open and high security - and Youth Detention Units. It is also necessary to sit with the Judge at the Crown Court from time to time.
Crown Court - Worcester
Each time that you attend court it is an unknown quantity. You never know what you may be faced with. 97% of all cases initially come before the magistrates which could range from murder, drunk and disorderly, driving offences to theft. The Bench consists of three magistrates, one of which is trained to act as a chairperson. The magistrates are advised on matters of law by legally qualified clerks, called Justice's Clerks.  To have a conviction there has to be  a unanimous decision. In every case that I ever sat all three magistrates were in agreement except for one occasion. I did not agree with my colleagues but the defendant was convicted because I was in the minority. The defendant appealed against the sentence which was then taken to the Crown Court. I was called by the Justice's Clerk to his office along with the other two magistrates to write out a case stated for the presiding Judge in the Appeal. As it happens, the Clerk had realised from comments I had made in the Magistrates Retiring Room when seeking legal advice, that I had been in disagreement with my colleagues. He therefore told me that I would not have to submit a case stated and I could leave without having to support the decision that the Bench had made. I returned home feeling very relieved. I should perhaps clarify that a case stated is a procedure by which the notes taken at the original trial are produced for the judge to show the structured decision making used by the magistrates in reaching their verdict. The judge will then determine whether or not the law was correctly applied.
The very first time I gave a custodial sentence was a salutary experience. It is slightly unsettling to think that the person is going straight off in a police van to prison; there is no popping back home quickly to collect your toothbrush and a change of clothes!!! Magistrates can give custodial sentences up to 6 months or up to 12 months for more than one crime.
Apart from the seriousness of the business there are also many lighthearted and amusing moments. One colleague told me that she and her fellow magistrates were visiting a Young Offenders Institution. The magistrates were ushered into a waiting room which began to fill up with visiting parents of the young offenders. Those in charge seemed to have forgotten about the magistrates and the room became more and more crowded. One of the magistrates started to become impatient with the delay because he had another appointment to attend. He was a big man, an Opera Singer, and suddenly exclaimed in a loud voice to his colleagues that he really could not continue to hang around waiting as he had the Crucifixion to do that evening. There was a stunned silence in the waiting room as the parents looked around anxiously at one another.
Another apocryphal story is the one concerning the defendant who kept calling the chairperson of the bench "your honour". In the end the exasperated magistrate said "you do not honour me, you worship me".
For those that do not know - Judges are referred to as your honour, and magistrates your worship.
To be a JP it is necessary to close the court door firmly behind you each time you leave and not take any of the proceedings or business home with you.
Once you have been appointed as a Justice of the Peace you retain the title for life, unless you commit a misdemeanour, when it is removed by the Lord Chancellor.
all images courtesy wikipedia

Friday 22 February 2013

Architectural Quiz

These little buildings are familiar up and down Britain and come in many styles. They always have a solid roof. Often they have a fancy finial on the top or a weathervane as can be seen in these images.
If you are in the UK you will know what they are, but fellow bloggers overseas may not be familiar with them.

They are not pixie, fairy or gnome houses!!!
Answer on Sunday morning GMT. If you get it correct your comment will be shown then.
all images courtesy wikipedia

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Over our garden wall

Today was predicted to be cold, cloudy, and dull, but the weathermen got it wrong. As the three of us clambered over the stile it was just like a summers day - blue skies, sparkling sun and warm enough to be without a coat.
What's going on here? Its H and someone is filming him.
Off they go, I can't keep up with them.
A documentary maker was finalising his film by taking some outdoor shots of H in our Cotswold landscape. The film, is a private production, and to do with some work H is involved with.

Monday 18 February 2013

Snowdrop Sunday at Newark Park

Newark Park, a Grade 1 listed country house with Tudor origins, sits at the southern end of the Cotswold escarpment enjoying views down the Severn Valley.
A Tudor hunting lodge built between 1544 and 1556 for Sir Nicholas Poyntz, a Groom of the Privy Chamber to Henry VIII. 
Remodelled in 1790 into a house by James Wyatt, a rival architect of Robert Adam. Amongst many of his commissions Wyatt was also responsible for carrying out alterations to Windsor Castle.
The Estate was given to the National Trust in 1949. The Trust let it out to tenants who ran it as a nursing home. By 1970 the house was in a state of disrepair and the gardens overgrown. An American, from Texas, architect Robert Parsons took on the tenancy of the house and began a painstaking programme of renovation, and conservation to both the house and the grounds. He died in 2000 but the house still retains his eclectic collection of furniture and artefacts.
Robert seems to have had a passion for pottery swans, they are all over the house.
This swan from his collection is similar to one we have. Ours came from H's grandmother's parents farm so must date to around 1850. I know nothing at all about these pottery swans, I don't like ours, so have hidden it away.
17th century Old leather jug, tankard, and water container
Robert's bedroom - the bed resembles the work of William Burgess.
Another corner of his bedroom where he has had fun painting the wood panelling.
Guest room
A painting of Robert