Guts, tenacity, and never giving up…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.

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Go left…

Being a Whovian and hearing tid-bits of philosophical musings in the character dialogue is a delight.

“Go left” references carving the adventurous path versus the safe, mundane, and predictable. I’ve taken a left as of late and seeing whom is along and whom is not along brings the yin and yang of my choice. Great adventures lie in front of me and I’ve not a fearful bone. Curious bone, absolutely.

When the world screams to go right into the safe, mundane, and predictable nature of things you can’t complain. You chose it – knuckles down, mates.

Go left. Seek the adventure, find the unknown, and for love of humanity get out there and discover life. I’d prefer being on my death bed with zero regrets than ask “what if?”

Go left.

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Riding the rails…

UK rail Afforded me the ability to see a vast amount of English countryside. The image presented was a dilapidated building next to the station popped up with HDR.

I was on another sojourn from Hull to York to the North at this point. Seeing homes, landscapes, towns, and cities I’d not otherwise see was a bonus. Flooding in the Yorkshire Dales, massive (for the UK) mountains, sweeping vistas, and clean/gritty cities added to the charm of my travel.

The individuals I met were equally as interesting and lovely. The woman who had a Torchwood connection, OAP’s (Old Age Pensioner) who were visiting family or out shopping, young parents with delightfully well-behaved children, and the lovely blokes who carried my rucksack without my asking.

Each of them and the brilliant train staffs (minus the Bristol nightmare) who taught me the ropes of traveling the rails are cemented in memory. I can still hear our conversations, see the scenery, and taste the beer and snacks.

Ta for your kindness, conversation, laughter, and shared journey.

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A moment of chill…

Being fortunate enough to drive by a nature preserve on my commute affords me the luxury of unwinding with scenes such as these.

All that is audible is the chirping of hundreds of birds in the rushes, ducks quacking, and the breeze rustling the grass.

I walk barefoot to reconnect with the warmth of the wood planks, dirt, and concrete path. The refreshing nature of shedding the confines of heels to soak in a warm spring day and get dirt on my toes is addicting and calming.

Temptation to dip into the calm water is negated by the tangly reeds below the surface. That, and a soggy walk back to the car AND drive home chases out those whimsical notions.

Ten minutes of quiet on a bench and all is readjusted in my world.

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No blinking in the Big Smoke…

The Doctor proved elusive this last visit. However, I learned quickly enough not to blink in the Big Smoke. The weeping angels are everywhere. Great-Grandad John Lovell (1536-1599, London, England) surely met the Doctor at some point whilst in London. I’m guessing Pops had to be careful around the Big Smoke. As a Whovian and Lovell, I was careful to observe this ancient race of aliens on my visit.

Sometimes they are innocent looking…

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station

Paddington Bear

According to the Doctor, the Weeping Angels “are as old as the universe (or very nearly), but no one really knows where they come from.” This one landed in Paddington, right by the escalators which made it very difficult to not blink AND board the escalator at the same time. Luckily, I did not venture by him too often.

He describes them as the loneliest beings in the universe, since their quantum-lock reaction makes it difficult for them to socialise. Though they themselves cannot speak, they can communicate through the voice of a person they kill by removing their brains and reanimating their minds. They are also very physically strong (see below), capable of snapping necks, though physically killing a victim is rare for them unless the need arises (such as stealing someone’s voice). This lad didn’t have a difficult time, I reckon.

Camden Market

Camden Market

His counterpart was down the way and was a bit intimidating. Largest Weeping Angel I’d run across yet. Fortunately, enough people are watching him as he stays frozen at Camden Market. Could be that that the stalls of gorgeous frocks and scents of a thousand nations cuisine are mesmerizing him to remain still. I wasn’t having anything of it though – I knew better. Their paramount ability is their speed, as they are able to close distances of metres literally in the blink of an eye, allowing them to reach a victim or move to an unseen or darkened area before their quantum-lock freezes them again.

Warrior

Warrior

With a touch, a Weeping Angel can send a person into the past, to before his/her own birth. The Angels feed off the “potential energy” of the years their victims would have lived in the present. The Doctor describes them as “the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely” because their victims are otherwise uninjured and may live out their lifespans in the past. Could this be why I felt so at home in England? I’m here before my time and is the angel below responsible for my fascination?

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Emperor

He is a tad intimidating (all Roman Emperor looking) so I made fun of him at the Tower of London. Whistling in a graveyard, I reckon. Honestly, he looked like a tour guide of days gone by now pointing out the Gherkin in Central London. Funny chap, that one. Wonder if his arm gets tired and if he uses the wall behind him for workouts (rock-climbing and such).

The biggest surprise was Monty. A Weeping Angel right on Whitehall. Come to think of it, proper spot for him considering his history. They can drain other forms of energy, such as that from electric lights or other electronics. Could also be a grand joke on 10 Downing if Monty isn’t too fond of a residing PM. I’m guessing it’s Clegg’s residence that gets the brunt of Monty’s jovial humour.  Is quite nice folks leave red poppy wreaths at his feet. We will always remember them.

Monty

Monty

Without power, the Angels start to decay, turn to stone without being watched, and corrode as a statue does; their speed is also extremely hindered if Angels reach starvation, lessened from meters to a partial step in a blink. Seems this fair angel is in that predicament in the Italian Gardens at Kensington. She is lovely but I wouldn’t trust her even if she seemed dainty. Must be bloody freezing though – she’s without her top.

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Italian Gardens at the Long Water

The Big Smoke is filled with Weeping Angels of all sorts. Keep your eyes open and don’t blink.

California spring

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Nothing beats a California spring. The cold nights and delightfully warm afternoons are intoxicating. It’s reached the “leave the window open at night for the Delta breeze” stage. Same goes for the day…house is aired out and the fresh breeze removes the last traces of stuffy winter.

The lemon tree pictured accurately tells the “POW!” factor of a California spring. I sit in a sleeveless cotton shirt, barefoot, trousers, and siping tea whilst plotting out an afternoon of gardening and mucking about OUTSIDE.

As for now, I’ve got rugby to watch…

The great unwind in Wawne

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East Yorkshire is comfortable. I’ve only one town over and I’m tracing my ancestor’s steps. It is also the first place I watched snow fall in the UK.

I took the opportunity to unwind and just rest here in Wawne – a village outside of Kingston Upon Hull. I needed it. Missing my animals and my family, it did my heart good to rest. My mate has two cats and they did a grand job of keeping me happy on the cat front. My mate also opened his home to my disposal whilst he worked. My appreciation knows no limits on his kindness, generosity, shared love of The Big Bang Theory.

It was the same mate who graciously allowed me to stay in May. He is treasured, an army vet, and gentle soul with a heart of gold.

Learning a great deal of ancestors are Northerners hit home with me and it will forever be a homecoming of sorts when I go to Yorkshire. Nearly 1000 years of my bloodline lived and live here. Leaving is painful and I wanted to embrace the smell, sounds, frigid air, and embracing warmth of it’s people.

Wawne holds a dear spot in my memories. I captured so much of the village, embraced the joy of visiting the little shop for my chocolate and diet coke fix, and being gobsmacked by the kindness shown to me.

Each of you that saw me out shooting on the river, walking the treacherous icy paths, and willing to lend me a lift should I ask are such dear people to me.

Thank you. You are missed and not a day goes by without thinking of you. The shop keeper, bus driver (Cheers Drive!), Shaun, and each face that is etched in my mind. You are a good lot and missed.

The siren of York and Yorkshire…

York. The siren of the north for me. Home to several ancestors from both sides of my clan and a place that is rooted deep inside me.  By name, my Yorkshire ancestors are:

Agnes DeHoltom 1319-1394
Constance DeMauley 1371-1450
Lord Piers DeMauley 1300-1354
Alice DeRose 1308-1344
Hopestill Leland 1580-1655
Agnes Pagnel 1076-1170
Margery Sutton 1350-1392
Sir Thomas Sutton 1316-1379

Adequately giving words to my heart’s love is pointless so I will give voice through my images of York. A bit of history is in order to accompany the images. Quiet on the York Minster secret – I gave the Minster a hug and kiss when I returned in December. Don’t say anything. Shhh.

Blessings on Wiki…seriously ace. Links for the curious at heart.

York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North YorkshireEngland. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence. The city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural and sporting activities.

York Minster

York Minster

The city was founded by the Romans in 71 AD, under the name of Eboracum. The Emperors Hadrian, Septimius Severus and Constantius I all held court in York during their various campaigns. During his stay, the Emperor Severus proclaimed York capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, and it is likely that it was he who granted York the privileges of a colonia or city. Constantius I died in 306 AD during his stay in York, and his son Constantine the Great was proclaimed Emperor by the troops based in the fortress.It became in turn the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik.

Roman Column from 71 a.d.

Roman Column from 71 a.d.

In 1068, two years after the Norman Conquest of England, the people of York rebelled. Initially the rebellion was successful, however, upon the arrival of William the Conqueror the rebellion was put down. William at once built two wooden fortresses on mottes, which are still visible, on either side of the river Ouse. York was ravaged by him as part of the harrying of the North.

River

River

The first stone Minster church was badly damaged by fire in the uprising and the Normans later decided to build a new Minster on a new site. Around the year 1080 Archbishop Thomas started building a cathedral that in time became the current Minster.

York Minster

In the 19th century, York became a hub of the railway network and a confectionery manufacturing centre. In recent decades, the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services.

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York Train Station

Street scene of a rainy York

Street scene of a rainy York

Simple routines, spectacular beauty…

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One has to say the commute scenery can get quite beautiful on a stormy day. Normally this is “are we there yet” part of the commute having been spoilt by lush Valley Oak forests, vineyards, and the preserve.

The lone stretch of Thorton Road isn’t a tourist spot but an average shot of what makes up the commute.

Folks leave trash here – last big item was a shredded jet ski. The tree is a bit burned and the ground rough enough to fear a flat tyre.

Worthwhile risk for the shot. Thoughts?

Inderawuda and white rabbits…

Thanks to a minor in Art History, cathedrals and churches are like bees to honey for me. The churches of Beverley, East Yorkshire were no different. St. Mary’s Church was founded in 1120 and has been developed over the years. It is most famous for a carving of a rabbit, which is said to have been the inspiration for the March Hare in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

St Mary's

St Mary’s

My own journey down the rabbit hole found me listening to a delightful lecture by Dorothy at the Beverly Minster. “The origins of Beverley can be traced back to the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria in the 7th century.” Right about the word “Northumbria” my always busy brain went into overdrive….didn’t I run across Northumbria in my research of Mum’s family? I must have, it’s too familiar. So lacking a thought to mouth filter I blurt out “I’ve got family here.” In gracious British style, Dorothy responded with “Welcome Home.”

This Minster felt comfortable. Like “I’m home” comfortable. Perhaps it was being there the day after my Aunt Helen’s death, jetlag still in effect, or being out of my element. I felt kinship with the place. Deep seated and rooted belonging. Little colonist me in the homeland. Yorkshire was home.

Beverly Minster

Beverly Minster

When i returned home, down the rabbit hole I went…and found Agnes Daniel, 1278-1341, Beverley, Yorkshire, England. Wife of John De Hotham — married 1325 in Flixton, Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. My 28th Great-Grandmother. She isn’t the only ancestor out of Yorkshire…she’s one of many and I picked her since she was the one from Beverly. A place that became dear to my heart and my soul.

She was born soon after the work on Beverly Minister began and one would like to think that her family helped build it since it took 200 years to get the Minister finished. A dispute arose between local farmers and the archbishop during the 13th century, about land rights; after the locals demanded a royal inquiry, the archbishop granted the townspeople pasture and pannage in the Westwood and other places. I’m guessing we fought on the side of the farmers/locals.

Good…kerfuffling is a family trait. Hopefully “Fracis” (Francis) is related somehow to our clan. Props to him for carving his name into a church column. I like his style.