Archive for May, 2018

Samuel Pepys By Godfrey Kneller – National Maritime Museum, Public Domain,

Samuel Pepys’s diary entry for the 31st of May 1669 records that after doing his accounts he made his way to Whitehall. En route he stopped off to see his mistress before completing his journey and meeting with the Duke of York. Later he went for a walk in the park with his wife and some friends, before adjourning to the World’s End pub and finally arriving home late.

The opening page of Pepys diaries. Image is from H.B. Wheatley, ed, The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Pepysiana (London, 1899). via Wikimedia Commons

There was nothing terribly significant in the events of the day, but his failing eyesight meant that this was the last record he made in his famous diaries. He wrote ‘I being not able to do it any longer, having done now so long as to undo my eyes almost every time I take a pen in my hand’. His diaries had detailed his everyday life for nearly 10 years and are renowned for his descriptions both of life in 17th century England, as well as the daily details of his own life and the people he met. He had witnessed the aftermath of the Civil War, the restoration of the monarchy, the great plague and the Great Fire of London. They were personal diaries often written using a personal code. John Smith, the Rector of Baldock, worked for 3 years (1819 -1822) transcribing the diaries into plain English and trying to decipher the Pepys code. In 1822, a complete key to the code was found in another volume of Pepys works. Two volumes were subsequently published in 1825 and another set of volumes were published in 1875, but it was not until 1983 that the complete diaries were reproduced in print.

The original diaries of Samuel Pepys: Wheatley, ed, The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Pepysiana (London, 1899)., Public Domain,

We are fortunate every couple of years to host the Tall Ships on the Thames riverfront at Greenwich, which is just a few miles from where I live. They are a truly wonderful sight.

This year however their run takes them from Liverpool to Dublin and then onto Bordeaux in France.

It’s Bank Holiday Monday and this afternoon I joined hundreds of other people down on Crosby Beach to watch the Tall Ships leave Liverpool en route to Dublin. It was a beautiful warm day and a bit hazy for photography but I had to record the occasion. Here are some of my images. The Iron […]

via The Tall Ships leave Liverpool. — Crosbyman66


King George the fourth succeeded his father, George III, in January 1820 although he had filled the role of monarch since 1811 due to his father’s illness.

George was known for an extravagant lifestyle and was known as a patron of the arts. He was responsible for the building of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, remodelling Buckingham Palace and he rebuilt Windsor Castle. Although said to be a charming and cultured man, his lifestyle made him unpopular with his subjects. He had one child, Princess Charlotte, but she died in 1817, aged 21. On his death in 1830, he was succeeded by his younger brother William.

This statue stands on a plinth in Trafalgar Square. It is by Sir Francis Chantrey and was originally intended to stand on the top of the Marble Arch. It was erected in 1844.

Bald Eagle

Posted: May 28, 2018 in Birds, Natural History, USA

Brings back memories of the only one I have ever seen in the wild during a trip to Minneapolis and the wonderful national park situated in the river valley on the city edge. What a magnificent bird!

40 An America Bald Eagle that I found along the banks of the Susquehanna River back in August of 2016. I have not gotten close enough to one this year to get any usable shots.

via Bald Eagle #40 — talainsphotographyblog

When the Courtaulds came to Eltham they brought their pet Ring-tailed Lemur with them. Called Mah-Jong, he was most often just referred to as ‘Jongy’. It was a time of unusual pets. Unity Mitford had a snake called Enid and was reputed to have brought her pet rat to a debutant ball.

Jongy had accompanied them on a trip on the couple’s boat from Cape Town to Cairo. It was reported that Jongy had his own special deckchair. It is also reported that he bit a dinner guest so bad that it took three months for the man to recover.


At Eltham Palace, Jongy had his own quarters built on the first floor. It was centrally heated and decorated with scenes from the rainforest. However, he often had the run of the house and there are reports of guests at dinner being nipped on their ankles during the meal.


Mah-jong died in 1938 at Eltham. Images of him can be found within the decoration within the house.

Weybourne Church

Posted: May 24, 2018 in History, Norfolk, UK, Uncategorized

Weybourne is a small village on the North Norfolk Coast. The church as we see it today is all that remains of the 13th-century Augustinian priory, which was built on the site of an earlier parish church of Saxon or Norman origin. They greatly expanded the church and built a range of buildings to the north of the existing church and it must have been a fairly grand building judging by the remains that can be seen today. It was short-lived, however, and by the middle of the 15th century the occupancy had dwindled to 4 cannons and by 1514 this had become 2, the prior and one other canon. It was dissolved in 1536.

Part of this original church can be found incorporated into the priory building.


The interior has a 15th-century hammerbeam roof although much of the internal decor dates from Victorian times


The church of All Saints, Weybourne is now a village parish church again.

Views of Cromer

Posted: May 23, 2018 in History, Norfolk, UK

Cromer is a lovely seaside town on the north coast of Norfolk. One of the delightful things about the town is the way in which they have resisted the temptation to knock down and rebuild buildings once they have served their primary function. Examples of this are the Old Town Hall, now retail premises and the old hospital now a social club.

The Old Town Hall (left) and the Old Hospital (bottom right) together with the original , but amended, hospital sign on the front balcony (top right)

Cromer has some lovely churches as well


This site on the sea-front overlooking the pier is believed to have been the location of an unnamed hotel in early town records but in 1820 this was demolished and a summer retreat house was built for Lord Suffield. Suffield was MP for Great Yarmouth 1806-12 and for Shaftesbury in 1820 before taking his seat in the House of Lords following his brother’s death a year later. He was a strong advocate of the abolition of the slave trade.

However, his Cromer residence was only to last 10 years and in 1830 the house was put up for sale. The site was purchased by Pierre le Francoise. His parents, French aristocrats, had come to England to escape the French revolution. The hotel is listed in 1836 as ‘a boarding house’ but by 1845 had acquired the name ‘ Hotel de Paris’. Le Francois died in 1841, but the hotel continued to be run by his widow until she sold it to a local businessman, Henry Jarvis in 1845. He extended the original building by adding more accommodation.

In 1877 the railway came to Cromer and Henry’s son Alex decided to build a new hotel which would incorporate the original building but would also encompass neighbouring buildings including another hotel. The hotel remained in the Jarvis family until 1961.


And of course, Cromer has a lighthouse


A rough sea

Posted: May 22, 2018 in Landscape, Natural History, Norfolk, UK


During the recent trip to Norfolk, Keitha and I experienced a day with 60 mph winds and driving rain. We avoided the coast that day, but the following morning we went down to the front and although the winds had dropped the sea was still rough.



It makes you wonder what it was like there on the day of the gale?

Charles VI at the signing of the Treaty of Troyes 1420 ( [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

The 21st May marks a day that could have seen the history of Europe turn out in a very different way. In 1420, the war between England and France had waged for 7 years and King Henry V of England was very much in the ascendancy. Harfleur had fallen to the English in 1415, Normandy in 1417 and Rouen surrendered 2 years later. The French position seemed hopeless and Charles VI seemingly had no choice but to seek peace with the English. The treaty of Troyes was signed on this day 498 years ago. It’s terms saw Henry married to Charles’ eldest daughter, Catherine of Valois; the Dauphin, Charles’ son and heir, disherited and declared illegitimate and Henry named as the heir to the French throne. It seemed as though it was destined for France and England to become one nation. In 1421, the birth of Henry’s son and heir seemed to strengthen the position.

The marriage of Henry V and Catherine of Valois. Troyes 1420 (By William Hamilton – This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons by as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

In August 1422, Henry suddenly died leaving a 1-year-old as heir to the thrones of France and England and then a couple of months later Charles VI also died. Into this vacuum stepped the deposed Dauphin, later Charles VII, who laid claim to his father’s crown. It would not be easy but eventually, in 1429 Charles was crowned King of France and any thoughts of union between the countries were abandoned.

Intriguing to think how the history of Europe could have been different if the terms of the treaty had come to pass and England and France had been united under one crown.


It is always great to find out about new places where you haven’t been before. We have spent a number of holidays in SW Wales though not for some years now, but I have never been to Caldy Island. Finding such places is a lovely surprise as we had on the way back from Weymouth earlier this year when quite by chance we found Blashford Lakes in Hampshire which turned out to be an absolutely fantastic wildlife spot.

If you like wildlife in and around Europe then I recommend that you follow!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d11778.508855175078!2d-4.705899478970437!3d51.63920895778777!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x486ecb00c56d525d%3A0xf9233eb99eb1f2d6!2sCaldey%20Island!5e0!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1526591082152

Caldey Island isn’t the first place you’d think about when looking for nature-watching sites in Pembrokeshire, but it does have some advantages over the other islands. First, it is easy to get to, with boats every half hour or so from Tenby Harbour, starting around 10am, every day except Sunday. Second, if you are not […]

via Caldey Island — Nature-Watching in Europe