Spring at last.

What a dreadful few months this has been. Since before Christmas I have been back to fighting those darn demons again, but with spring on the horizon things are starting to look up a bit better once again. Through out these 3 months I just haven’t had it in me to write my blog, despite so much going on in my life.

The news that I was told in October that I would lose my new job, totally gutted, along with several other colleagues, it was a bolt out of the blue, and as the time is drawing ever so close to the finishing date (sometime during the first 2 to 3 weeks of April) it has become more and more difficult to comprehend what is going to happen job wise in the future. Already the job searching has begun, and last Thursday I had a job interview for what I do see as a perfect job and an added bonus it is very close to home. Just one thing, so many people have been interviewed for the position, I won’t know for a few more days yet but I doubt very much if I will get it, but at least I managed to get an interview and tried my best.

However, one thing is certain now in my mind, this current job I am in was not meant to be after all, and may be it’s for the best I am being made redundant. I wonder if anyone remembers the old saying, although we can’t see it at the time, things happen for a reason. I believe in this case it to be completely true. But it has given me several more months of very valid experience and knowledge in another specialized industry.

It was the first Christmas and New Year without my dad, and somehow we got through it, although it was very sad and strange not to see him Christmas morning, and then round the dinner table with my brother, sister-in-law and my nephews. It is also very strange to realize that next month, on my birthday, it will be the first anniversary of dads passing. I can’t believe where this past year has gone, it just does not seem real without him around.

The dark mornings and evenings with the dismal weekends throughout the winter months, travelling too and from work have taken its toll on my physical and mental well-being. In January I ended up with a virus that knocked me off my feet for a few days and then a severe bout of laryngitis in February. On top of all this I found out my diabetes has got worse and I am now on daily medication for this as well as new medication for a couple of other problems associated with the diabetes. Not really the best start to the year.

My daily routine starts when I get up between 5.45 to 6.00 am each morning and get ready for work to start a journey to work that takes about 1.1/2 hrs plus. This includes two bus journeys as well as waiting around time for connecting to the 2nd bus services and then a 15 to 20 mins walk down what has to be one of the dirtiest, and most dangerous roads in Birmingham which is a route to a major freight company in an industrial area. On the good side they say a brisk 20 min walk is good for you every day.  The road and footpaths are littered with rubbish that has been deliberately dumped, including large truck tyres, as well as the rubbish thrown out of the windows of speeding cars. The footpaths are blocked by trailer lorries which one has to walk into the road into oncoming, and sometimes speeding traffic in order to get around these parked vehicles. Normally I would be able to avoid this long walk and take a short cut, but unfortunately there is major bridge repair work going on which means the short cut is cordoned off until further notice. I’m guessing it will re-open the week after I’ve finished this job!

On arriving at work each day for an 8.30 am start I then have to deal with one particular male colleague who has to be the most arrogant, big-headed, loud mouthed and disrespectful person I have ever had the misfortune to meet in my entire working career. This has lowered my mood considerably over the past few months, but now I won’t have to work with him much longer which is a huge sigh of relief.  The rest of the team I work with are a fantastic bunch, and it is down to them that I have managed to survive and get through each day in this job, and the fact I have been able to learn so much about the concrete industry. Then, on finishing work between 5.30 to 6.00 pm I have to repeat the same journey back home, this time through a crowded city centre and finally manage to get home around 7.00 to 7.15 pm. feeling exhausted, but not able to get ready and go to bed because of having to have a light meal in order to have my evening medication and allowing the meal to digest before I can go to bed. If only life was so much more simpler.

This is a very long day with travelling and working in any ones book, and to do it through the winter months and through the dark mornings and nights has taken its toll on my health. Thankfully the past couple of weeks has been a big improvement, lighter in the morning when I leave home and of an evening when I leave work, which has made it more bearable and also a few warm mornings with some bright sunshine and blue skies.

The Saturday mornings I have had to work, which is one in every third Saturday, have usually been the better Saturdays regarding the weather, but because of having to be up at 5.00 am to be in work for 7.00 am by the time I finish around 10.30/11.00 am I am too exhausted to do anything, including going out with my camera. On my free Saturdays the weather has been dismal and so this has kept me indoors.

With all this going on I can understand why so many British love to go to warmer, sunnier climates during our winter months.

The last couple of Saturdays I did finally manage to get out and about with my camera, a trip to my nearest local zoo in Dudley and then last week-end to the Birmingham Nature Centre. Just pushing and willing myself to get out on both those days has helped me to start fighting back those demons. There is something about being around animals that does help to lift ones spirits. It means that with the better weather comes the chance to get out and about more, go on walks which in turn should help the diabetes and my blood pressure. I even have a couple of day trips planned. I also want to find time to relax and do some fishing in the summer months. I always used to find sitting on a river bank watching the fish rising to the surface and splashing, hearing the birds singing and the water rats and voles diving in and out, always made me smile and even gives me inspiration. In all honesty I think they all look forward to the spring as much as we humans do.

I probably say this every year, but I do love spring. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start, a colourful time of year, to see the carpets of  daffodils and crocuses rising from the ground, it warms the heart, and also allows our souls to breathe again. I realise I have a few  busy and uncertain months ahead of me, the stress of job searching, then starting a new job, working with new people, adapting to a different environment all over again, improving my diabetes, but I also intend to give myself some me time whilst out exploring with my camera, this is something I haven’t done properly for a few months.

 

Approaching Spring

Spring soon will be here
Away from the winter’s snow
Drying up every frosty tear
And causing the landscape to glow

But the shine of spring I need right now
I need all the help I can get
To wave goodbye to this past winter
In hopes that I can forget

I’ve lost all my real friends
And almost ever other friendship too
Right now I am just amazed
That I haven’t yet lost you

The approaching spring will hit restart
It’s something that we all need
The approaching spring will fix our hearts
And allow our souls to breathe

by Matt Burgett

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Felt by my heart.

The past month has been really tough. In the space of a little over one week my father had gone from sitting with us at his bungalow merrily chatting away to each other about steam trains, birds & animals, his national service days and family and one of his favourite TV shows. We had even been making plans with my brother and sister-in-law to take him to Weston Super Mare for a day trip in June, and then in September to The Severn Valley to see the Flying Scotsman whilst it was on tour and stationed on display there, something we were all very much looking forward to. We were having our usual conversations that we have on a Sunday morning gathering, or on the phone of an evening, and then suddenly a week later my dad was gone.

Although it has been in my eyes more noticeable about how much frailer my dad had become over the last 6 months I had never thought we would lose him. It just seems that you feel that your parents have always been there for you in the past and I suppose you feel a sense that they will always be there for you for ever.  I can remember when I was a child I always though mom & dad will ALWAYS be here for me, they would never leave. As I got older and began to see the truth and the ‘negative’ side of life and existence I then realised my dream of them being alive and with me  for ever and a day was just so unreal. Life can be so cruel.

Part of my depression which started just a little over 15 years ago was caused by a really bad year prior to my moms death on 29th April 2001. I had been very unwell physically after having to deal with 2 lots of serious surgery, and then depressed for several months before hand, without really realising it, but as they say the straw that broke the camels back was when I had to face my moms death, and then a few weeks later I had to face major life saving and life changing surgery, and for the first time ever my mom was not there for me anymore, at least not in the real physical sense. Fortunately, my dad was there for me and has been there for me ever since.

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Shortly after my mom passed away, I can remember thinking to myself I never want to go through all that again, I hoped and prayed I never would have to. The decision to stop all medication, agree to a DNR and no further intervention was something  my dad, myself, my brother and sister-in-law had to mutually agree to. All moms organs were failing, and to agree to resuscitate her was pointless. We had to agree the same reasoning  for the same nightmare with my dad. I know deep down the horror of all of this will never go away, and having to make that decision again brought back so many bad memories. Despite of all this, over the past couple of weeks it has been good to talk to family, friends and work colleagues about the good times, the good memories and some of the wonderful times we have shared over the years with both my parents.

After Dads funeral service, as we all came out of the church into the area where all the flowers were laid, people came up to us, family members as well as friends of the family, dads club friends, old friends and  neighbours  from many years ago when my brother and I were still kids,  My sister in-laws, sister and her husband  came up to me, we hugged as normal and then Mick said it all in one simple sentence which truly summed up my dad, he said  ”your dad was a really good man, a really great bloke, a proper gentleman”. And I knew how true this was. The same thing has been said by my family members as well as dads bungalow club friends and his neighbours.

Dad has never been a drinker, only on social occasions or the occasional can of stout or bitter at home. He gave up smoking in 1981/82. He never gambled, just the usual couple of quid on the Grand National each year. Over the last 12 or so years he enjoyed his games of bingo, which for him was more a case of having a bit of a social life with his friends and was a way of maintaining his level of independence. When mom passed away, despite the rest of the family being there for him it had left a huge emptiness in his life.  Being part of the ‘bungalow club’ helped him in some ways to rebuild his life without mom.  It  gave him the chance to take some holidays to Weston Super Mare and Weymouth, as well as odd days out for coach trips or meals out with friends from the club. It was his social life outside the family, but first and foremost he was a family man and with that he was a true gentleman.

I have so many wonderful memories of the times spent with my dad. His passion for coarse fishing was passed on to me and my brother. I can still remember the first time I went fishing with dad and the first fish I caught. I don’t know who was more excited,,,,dad or me. Another great passion was his gardening which I have continued to learn from him over the years, and still love doing when I get the chance (although I have to admit the last 16 months have been difficult to maintain it as I have been unable to do the work physically due to recovering from 3 lots of surgery in that time) I only have a small garden area in the yard behind my flat, but have learnt how to get the best from it thanks to my dads knowledge and expertise. There is a certain satisfaction in growing your own runner beans, tomatoes, rhubarb as well as growing several Fuschias from my own cuttings and nurturing 3 or 4 roses.

My knowledge and love of birds, animals, butterflies, fishing, gardening and the countryside have all been down to my dad. Back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s dad rented 2 allotments from the local council. Each weekend and in the school holidays my brother and I used to go there with him a lot. The allotments were adjacent to one of our local parks called Jubilee Park, and each time we went down there we always used to have a game of football or cricket in the field before starting to work on the allotment…just the three of us. Then we would cross over the little brook, and see who could get across without getting their feet wet…..being the smallest and youngest I always lost, but as I got a little older, I also got a little wiser and started  taking  my pair of wellies with me 🙂

I can still see dad now in my mind, at the height of each summer season when it was time to reap the benefits of his hard all year round work, pushing his wheelbarrow from home to the park…empty, and then filling it up with sacks of home-grown potatoes, onions, runner beans, carrots, broad beans, garden peas and beetroot.  Bunches of Sweet Williams and Chrysanthemums for mom as well as containers full of homegrown blackberries and raspberries ready for the pies and jam making.  But there was nothing better than eating a few fresh peas, broad beans or berries straight from the garden. At the bottom of the allotment he dug out a small pond and each year we used to watch the frog spawn waiting for them to become tadpoles, then frogs.

As dad got older, then so his health began to give him problems. Late in the 1980’s due to severe arthritis in his ankles and feet he had to give up first one and then the other allotment. But by then my brother and I were both growing up and those days of kicking a ball around down the park with dad had gone. Dad was now content to grow what he wanted to in the garden and greenhouse at home.

In the late 1980’s and early 90’s I became a Special Constable, and despite mom and dad being very proud of me for becoming one, I was always their little girl and I know how difficult it was for them to see me go out on a late night/early morning shift knowing I was on duty at the pubs & clubs emptying times, where even back then there was always an element of danger involved, and always the fear of being assaulted or hurt on duty. Ever the worrying, caring parents.

It’s always important to hold on to all those good memories, and they have helped me get through these past couple of weeks. I have been happy to share my memories with family and friends. I am so going to miss our little chats, and showing dad my photo’s of my latest find in the nature reserve, his stories of the days in national service, his childhood in Knowle, his grandma who bought him up, but I am so glad he has told me so many stories from his past. My father touched my heart like not other person could, and for that I am truly grateful.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt by the heart. Helen Keller

 

Birds of a feather…. on camera together.

I know I have said this before, but I do love Spring. It’s such a lovely time of the year, a time of renewal especially when it comes to nature. The trees have suddenly burst into blossom of the most gorgeous white and pink flowers, and the air has become perfumed. I’m hearing the song and chatter of more birds and seeing more blue sky and of course these past few days the warm sunshine has made an appearance. In addition to all this if you go to the local parks or nature reserves where there is plenty of wild bird life, there is a chance to see some recently born broods of ducklings, geese and swans.

This past weekend was a great time for me to go out and about with my new Nikon camera, and capture some of  these splendid visions. On Saturday I had a little bus ride to an old favorite park of mine called Swanshurst, which is situated in the area of  Birmingham called Billesley. This park used to be a ‘old haunt’ of mine, especially in my teenage years when I first starting going out fishing on my own.

The unfortunate story about this park is that there was an incident  back  in 2007  where the pool was drained of its entire  water content by the local council in order for repair works to be carried out at the bottom of the lake, it was  just as though the plug was pulled out. Unfortunately, it left thousands of fish in jeopardy, including Carp up to 35 lb in weight,  but no one at the council had first thought it out properly  by removing all  the fish and transport them to other local parks or sections of canals prior to the work commencing.  As a result of this insight, several days in to the drainage process a huge emergency rescue operation had to be mounted by anglers and local residents to try to save the fish and move them as quickly as possible in cars, vans and lorries to other lakes and canals in the near vicinity, the majority were saved. Trouble was it was never restocked after the work was completed, and to this day it is vacant of any decent stocks of fish, as a result no one goes fishing there any more.

However despite this incident, the park has always remained a local beauty spot for many people, and is still a popular place to have a walk around and see the birds. At any one time there used to be up to 200 geese there, and a few ducks. These days there are only a handful of geese, loads of ducks and moorhens and one pair of swans…..although the female was nowhere to be seen this weekend. My guess she is she was nesting on the island at the far end of the lake and perhaps even taking care of some new offspring.

At the far end of the lake there used to be an old boathouse close to the island which had been out of use for many years, although it was in a state of disrepair it did add a little character to the place. It was a favorite spot for many Carp anglers. Due to vandals being inconsiderate some years back it was burnt down, and duly had to be removed.

But walking around there on Saturday I was able to photograph some of the birds and flora. It really is a picturesque little park, and it is a delightful little walk. I saw seagulls ducking in and out of the lake, cheekily grabbing the food thrown out by people for the ducks and geese, and I was unfortunately witness to one sad and distressing incident involving  about 8 male ducks all attacking 1 female duck. This is something I have heard of before, and by all accounts is a natural occurrence in nature, but I had never witnessed it until now. As a result I had to mount my own rescue operation with another chap who witnessed the incident and  to try to get her away from the males, and drag her into the side of the bank and into some nearby bushes,  and hopefully give her time to recover in the bushes where I had to try to hide her. The poor little thing was in a state of shock, and was bleeding from her head. This apparently is called ‘duck rape’ and I understand it’s because the female is fertile and all the males want to mate with her. I sincerely hope I never have to see this happen ever again. I love Mallards, especially the stunning green and blue plumage that they show off  to attract the females, and despite being a natural r , it’s not at all pleasant to see these little fellows taking advantage of one female.

Anyway, with the sun out in a blue sky and the warmth on my back,  loads of  wildlife I couldn’t resist taking loads of pictures, and these birds do get up to some funny antics,  and I love to challenge myself to taking some ‘action shots’.  These are a few of the ones I took on Saturday. Hope you enjoy themSWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (1) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (6) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (16) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (23) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (63) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (65) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (106) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (123) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (130) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (149) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (150) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (154) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (166) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (169) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (172) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (173) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (174) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (179) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (183) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (190) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (192) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (193) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (223) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (231) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (236) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (251) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (275) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (278) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (281) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (285) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (290) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (291) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (302) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (303) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (305) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (343) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (365) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (366) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (382) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (409) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (417) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (424) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (434) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (514)

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

A Personal Pilgrimage….

It was only a month ago that I left my job through  redundancy, but this gave me the chance to make the decision to have a couple of months off to rest and recuperate after what has been a very traumatic 3 yrs at work and health wise.

What has surprised me is how very quickly this first month has gone. I have been finding so much to do to fill in my time, such as  catching up on some art and craft, and even attending a weekly art group with my friend. I even have had the chance to go to the cinema  to see  a couple of great films, and have spent some time at home  watching some old DVDs listening to music, read poetry, and making occasional visits to places of interest…..basically all the stuff I haven’t been able to do properly and enjoy to the full extent because of my depression and stress holding me back, and even in between times I’m  still looking for that new job/career.

Despite all the worry and uncertainty of having to find a new job very soon, I have tried not to let it hold me back from enjoying taking this time out and doing what I actually want to do.

One of the journeys I have been wanting to make for well over 2 yrs now has been to visit the old market town of Worcester. On the couple of occasions I planned and attempted this journey something cropped up or my nerves buckled and I just never got around to it. Last summer I even got as far as getting to the train station, before my being closed in around big crowds affected me enough to warrant rushing back home and hiding away, the heat that particular day didn’t help much either. However this is something I have now learnt to deal with effectively…….the big crowds that is, not the heat, and am happy to say I now have  fewer problems around the big crowds of people.

Worcester is one of those places where I have a lot of wonderful childhood memories. The endless hours sat on the river bank with my dad, brother and my late Uncle Len. Fishing rod in hand, bottles of pop, flasks of tea and coffee, loads of different sandwiches, crisps  and some of my aunts homemade blackberry and apple pie and cake at the side of us. A real old-fashioned picnic. Sitting there on the warm summer days just watching the world go by…..the swans and ducks fighting over the scraps from our sandwiches that we  used to throw out to them, and of course catching loads of fish between us. Those really lazy hazy days of summer.

On occasions that I went to Worcester and didn’t go fishing with the men folk, I used to instead go with my Mom, Aunt and Cousin into the town itself and visit the old street market, wandering up and down the numerous aisles of stalls full of all the locally grown farm fruit and veg, fresh eggs,  meat, homemade breads and cakes, puddings and wines. It was a truly wonderful sight…..something one rarely see these days, because of the supermarkets taking over the majority of the business, but back then it all had a special feel to it. After all this we would go to one of the local ice cream parlors  and enjoy a delicious homemade ice cream. The perfect end to the perfect day, before making our way back to the bus station to catch one of the old Midland Red  buses back to Birmingham.

A lot has changed since all them years ago……some 30 yrs ago in fact. The main part of Worcester is a usual busy shopping complex crammed with estate agents, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs. designer clothes outlets  and supermarkets. Certainly not how I remembered this lovely old town in its hey day.

When I got up Wednesday morning and after attending to my normal chores at home I felt the urge to get out with my camera, the sun was shining and in addition to this I also wanted to put my knee to the test and see how well it would stand up to some walking since having to have another steroid  injection in it last week, and so the idea of finally getting to visit Worcester appealed to me.

One of the places I wanted to visit there, which I never had the chance to see as a child was the Cathedral. The plan was to walk along the river bank from the bridge and then go up to Worcester Cathedral and back down to the river before finally making my way back to the railway station and home.

I have to say I wasn’t prepared for the sight that met me at the bridge over the river. The devastation caused by the recent snow and thawing then the floods over the last weekend had taken its toll on the town. It was all too apparent how much this town had suffered with the recent bad spell of weather. I walked up to the Worcestershire County Cricket Ground to find it was under several feet of water, so much so that you could just make out the spectator stand over the far side of the pavilion. The river was so badly swollen, the water had come up on  to the footpaths and for as far as the eye could see in either direction the tops of trees and benches were visible above the waterline, and on the opposite side of the river it was also apparent how far the river had come up into the walls and doorways of several of the shops, restaurants and businesses.

The swollen River Severn in Worcester following the recent snow and flooding.

The swollen River Severn in Worcester following the recent snow and flooding.

A walk along the side of the river was impossible.

A walk along the side of the river was impossible.

Worcestershire County Cricket Ground resembled a swimming pool more than a cricket field.

As I wasn’t able to walk along the path at side of the river bank ……namely because there was no path to walk on, I decided to go directly back across the bridge to the other side where I could see a bevy of fine-looking swans, and the road to the Cathedral. Of course I couldn’t leave Worcester without some photos of the local wildlife, and the swans were very willing to allow me some shots of them, as were the pigeons.

My late Uncle Len taught me many years ago that when around Swans, especially with their young, the parents could be extremely aggressive birds in their behaviour  because of protecting their young. This makes a lot of people frightened of these wonderful birds, and it prevents a lot of people from walking among them. They are after all big powerful birds, they hiss a lot, and will make a stand if they feel their young are under threat. He did however teach me something which I have always adhered to when around swans and especially when I want to  take some close up photos…….the secret is apparently to bow your head to them when trying to walk among them, talk softly to them, this is showing them respect, and thus keeps them calm.  Whether that is  true or not I don’t really know, but it works for me every single time. I remember telling someone this a couple of years ago when visiting a pair of swans and their cygnets when on a trip to Foxton Locks, she must of  either thought I was being very brave or completely mad!!

A rather large bevy of Swans.......

A rather large bevy of Swans…all along what should have been the river embankment.

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This made me smile…….one of those rare but really worthwhile captures.

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The youngsters were very relaxed and didn’t seem disturbed by the fact I walked among them.

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The adults were enjoying the late winter sunshine……..and catching upon 40 winks!

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Swans are such beautiful and elegant creatures.

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So lovely to sit and watch them preening themselves.

Even the pigeons were contented among the swans in the late winter sunshine.

Even the pigeons were contented among the swans in the late winter sunshine.

After spending a very relaxing hour or so in the sunshine photographing the birds and scenery, I decided to make my way up  to Worcester Cathedral, which was situated a little further up the river. Fortunately the Cathedral is situated on much higher ground and overlooks the  mighty River Severn and with plenty of high walls in front of the grounds it was well protected from the  recent floods.

The rear of Worcester Cathedral, which beyond the gardens overlooks the River Severn.

The rear of  the magnificent Worcester Cathedral, which beyond the gardens overlooks the River Severn.

This magnificent  Cathedral is reputed to be the ” most interesting of all Cathedrals in England”, it has a very impressive line of history since it was founded in the  year 680 AD, and among those buried there is King John of England in 1216 and Prince Arthur of Wales 1502.  The architecture is of Norman and Gothic design, and it is a breathtaking outside as it is inside. And I must say having seen all this on Wednesday I have to agree that it is by far the most interesting I have ever visited.

I was able to walk through the entire length and breadth of the Cathedral as well as see inside the various crypts and private prayer chapels. One of the chapels was dedicated entirely to those who fought and died in service to their country throughout the two world wars. It pays tribute to the many who lost their lives in the service of The Worcestershire Yeomanry (est 1908) and The Worcestershire Regiment (believed to have been est in 1694)

In addition to this I saw among many, the marble coffins of King John of England and Prince Arthur of Wales. The beautiful carvings in the marble and rock throughout the entire Cathedral were something that had to be seen to be believed, as were all the stain glass windows, the massive organ pipes and all the various wood carvings. The  Cathedral has a related  history that includes  Henry VIII and his  wives, and  various  links with the Tudors, Sir Edward Elgar, who himself was born very near to central Worcester, and there is a memorial dedicated to him inside the Cathedral, although when he died in 1934 he was buried next to his wife in Little Malvern.

The Cathedral is considered as having one of the most impressive and finest toned cast rings ever  in its 12 bells ( and 3 semitone bells) and it is said the ring is the 5th heaviest ring of 12 bells in the world. It therefor has an impressive peel of 15 bells which were cast in 1928 by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough from the metal of the original  cast of 1869.

There is so much history attached to this incredibly beautiful Cathedral, and I lost myself in there for the best part of  2 to 3 hrs. I was fortunate to be able to take so many different photos and take time out to learn about just a tiny portion of its history.

I have included a small  handful of my favourite  photos in  this post, but obviously with the amount of photos I did take there are just too many to include. However, as always please feel free to visit my Facebook page (Sue Westwood) where my photographic work is available for all to see if they so wish.

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One small part of the outside of this incredibly beautiful Cathedral, of Norman and Gothic architecture.

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One of the many carved marble tombs inside the Cathedral.

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Organ pipes.

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One of several hundred stone carvings.

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Beautifully detailed stain glass windows which adorn almost every window in the Cathedral.

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Part of the view of this magnificent Cathedral outside.

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On leaving the Cathedral in the early evening, the lights gave this lovely glow to the exterior.

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One of the many stained glass windows. Each telling its own unique story.

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One of the many beautiful stained glass windows.

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One of the many stone carvings on the exterior of the building, this one was situated just outside, above the main entrance into the Cathedral.

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Such very fine Norman architecture.

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Just one of the external views of this incredible Cathedral.

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One of the many memorial plaques dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives during WWII.

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The Queens Own Worcester Hussars memorial plaque.

One of the many plaque dedicated to the fallen in various Worcester Regiments.

One of the many plaque dedicated to the fallen in various Worcester Regiments.

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Some of the many original flags hanging proudly in the little chapel which is dedicated to the service men and woman who gave their lives in various wars and campaigns.

Carved marble on the tombs.

Carved marble on the tombs.

The Tudors! (Lancashire Rose) One of the many stone wall carvings.

The Tudors! (Lancashire Rose) One of the many stone wall carvings.

Some of the most beautiful and intricate wood carvings.

Some of the most beautiful and intricate wood carvings.

A plaque dedicated to the memory of Sir Edward Elgar, who was himself born near Worcester and was laid to rest inLittle Malvern.

A plaque dedicated to the memory of Sir Edward Elgar, who was himself born near Worcester and was laid to rest inLittle Malvern.

One of a set of carvings in the wall outside the Cathedral, above the main entrance.

One of a set of carvings in the wall outside the Cathedral, above the main entrance.

A truly memorable visit to a wonderful and intriguing piece of British history…….my own personal pilgrimage.

Many thanks for stopping by.

River boat and swan song!

I was able to take  another trip to Stratford Upon Avon the other weekend, this time the weather was much calmer and kinder than my last visit a few weeks ago, when the river was so swollen, and it rained consistently throughout the day.

This time around it meant  my friend CJ and I could spend more time out in the fresh air……with our camera’s of course clicking merrily away.

It was good to get out in the fresh air and warm sunshine for a day with the company of a lovely friend, and for us both to enjoy the scenery and relax.

Two days after I had returned to work after my weeks holiday in Devon, I felt as though I hadn’t  been away at all. The same pressures of work were there when I returned, I suppose realistically I never expected anything to change……I just hoped things would be a little bit better. And I had also hoped I would return with a new energy and vitality to see out the last few months of my job. Ummmm….some hope!

As a result of this, I have made the decision to try to get out somewhere each weekend if I am not working, being kind to yourself is actually easier than I though it would be. I set myself  the challenge to overcome large crowded areas, which so far has had success. Going out and doing something I enjoy immensely has helped me to achieve this. At the same time however I have days that I do like to go somewhere quieter and less crowded…this all helps to keep my interest in photography alive.

As I have mentioned before in my previous blog pages, I have come to appreciate more and more the chance to get out and about with my camera. Even if it’s just half  an hour  or so by my favourite stretch of canal. With the changes in the weather, and some days the increase in flora along the towpath, no two days are exactly the same, and so no two pictures are exactly the same.

Like wise with Stratford, this time around more flowers were in bloom, the river boats were out and about taking passengers back and forth up the river. The sun on the water is far more pleasant than the rain, but the brightness helps show up the reflections on the water. As an ideal place to shoot the birds ( not literally) and flora and other scenes, it makes it an ideal day out. I love to watch the Swans glide across the water, they have to be one of the most elegant creatures put on this earth.

With plenty of shops nearby, and so many different places to have a bite to eat, there is something there  to suit everyone’s tastes and pockets.  There are many historical buildings to visit, including a regular open top bus ride, where you can hop on and off at several places along the route. The place I look forward to spending time at on my next trip, is Mary Arden’s  house and gardens.

Having enjoyed a delicious light lunch at the Pen and Parchment, situated close to the river, we were able to get on a boat for a ride up and then back down the River Avon, taking in the lovely views, watching people boating on the river, or fishing, and picking out which house along the river I would love to own if I ever won the lottery…… (one has to have a dream or two!)

Considering the fact we didn’t venture off very far and stayed in more or less the same area, we had a great time and saw a great deal. Thank you to CJ for spending the day with me, and making it such fun and so enjoyable.

Below are a selection from some of the numerous photo’s I enjoyed taking. I hope you like them.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Writing from the heart…

I was recently asked by a friend as to why I choose to write my own blog. Which is a fair enough question, and I suppose really there are several reasons.

Over a number of years, there have been instances when I have totally felt like giving up on everything, including myself. Just over two years ago I had no real focus on anything, I had again hit rock bottom mentally, but at the advice of my GP I kept a personal diary of my ups and downs, mood swings and personal thoughts, triggers etc. This in a way helped me to not actually cope, but to start to learn how to deal with my depression and thus helped in some small way on my long and bumpy road to recovery.

Last year I looked back over my diary and began to realise what had been happening to me these last two and a half years, what had made me feel worse and what had made me feel better at any given points in time. Writing all this down, in a way encouraged me not just to write down any bad or good thoughts in my head, but also to write from the heart.

By that I mean, when the negative thoughts crept in, I was able to challenge those thoughts by thinking about good thoughts and memories. This in turn, led to I suppose to understand that there is good in every life. It also encouraged me to release those trapped thoughts without actually speaking to any one and putting my problems on anyone else. In a sense it lightened the load for me, not hugely, but enough to make a little bit of difference with my  battle for my recovery…..and the progress I have actually made.

My inspiration was alighted again last year in some of the things I used to love to do in my younger years, but found hard to continue with for several years because of all the stress and depression preventing me from taking an interest. Then when my passion did re-awaken for my art/craft, fishing and photography last year, I began to understand that if others suffering from depression can inspire me, then just perhaps, I too can do my part in hopefully inspiring others whom I have met and know are suffering from this illness and its causes to have a similar outlook, and even in the tiniest way help their battle. One of the first steps is being honest with others, and having the courage to come forward and admit you do actually want to be helped. And I have to admit, that sounds a lot easier to do than it really is.

One of my biggest challenges has been setting up my  blog last November. Not really being a ‘computer person’ it was actually very scary learning how to create and maintain the blog on my laptop. I still have a great deal to learn about various importing, exporting from the web, media links, tools and all that technical stuff, but that is another challenge for me for another day. At the moment I enjoy being able to write my blog, share my ups as well as my downs, share my art work and photography skills which are steadily starting to develop again, this in turn as well as an improvement in a physical health condition is encouraging me to get out a little more often, (that and the fact that earlier this year following a near breakdown, I was told by my  GP and my Counsellor that I needed to start doing what was best for my health and what was best for me) as a result of this I started to take more of an interest in certain things, and I hope others who read my blog or even come across it by accident can understand that what I do write about in my blog comes from the heart. And also that it is difficult to find any way to comprehend it at the time, that no matter how difficult it is, there is a way back from the black hole.

It has been a difficult few months for me again and I know there is a great deal more  difficulty ahead for me, but by being able to write my own blog, it enables me to share my experiences and thoughts on how I sometimes think and feel. It’s about reaching out to others, whether or not you suffer or have suffered from depression. For me it is more about writing from the heart, and hopefully it will encourage other sufferers of depression and similar mental health problems to see they are not alone in what they think or feel, whether they have their own blog or not.

I hope that I can continue for a long time to come, to be able to be open, and to share my experiences and thoughts, whether good or bad. But more importantly, I hope I never lose that ability within me to speak from the heart…..because after all isn’t that what makes us human?

 

Many thanks for stopping by.