St. Mary’s House

Before all this Covid craziness began, my sisters and I used to get together, two or three times a year. Thursday, a fortnight ago was just such a day. The difference being that this was the first time since mid 2019.


As we live around ninety miles apart our normal routine is to select some historic pile, at roughly the halfway point between our homes.

St. Mary’s House

Most times we will select a location known to us. Not this time. Thursdays choice, St. Mary’s House at Bramber in Sussex, was unknown to any of us. A true mystery house.


 St. Mary’s is an historic pilgrim inn (c1450) featuring approximately five acres of beautiful gardens including animal topiary, the ‘Secret’ Garden with original Victorian fruit wall and pineapple pits, a rose garden, King’s Garden, circular English Poetry Garden, Landscape Water Garden and Rural Museum.

Achillea Filipendulina – Cloth of Gold
Example from the Rose Garden with English Lavender
Helenium Autumnale – Sneezeweed
Part of the Terracotta Garden

Not sure what this curved ladder could have been used for.

Curved Ladder

The weed on this pond gives the illusion of solidity. I turned down the opportunity to test it out.

Water Garden

This path was not suitable for my wife’s wheelchair.

Leafy Waterway

We Arrived

So, on Saturday, I posted about setting off to Menorca on our hols.

Surprisingly, given the recent negative news regarding delayed / cancelled flights and huge queues, our transit thru the airport process was trouble free.

We had pre booked Special Assistance,  which meant that we were transported on an  electric buggy, “the popemobile” and escorted through the security checks and on to the departure gate. We boarded the plane, like celebrities, through an entrance the opposite side away from the jet way. A special vehicle transported us from the gate and lifted us up to the plane.

Good news/bad news. Bad news, our flight was delayed and we departed around thirty minutes late. Good news, the pilot managed to make up the deficit and we arrived at Mahon on time. Whoohoo!!

And so, at 08:55, here we were, on the island of Menorca. Once again Special Assistance were the stars, helping Gerry off the plane, marshaling us through security, to baggage claim and on to the meeting point where we would be collected to go pick up our hire car.

It’s been a couple years since we were on the island but there don’t appear to have been any dramatic changes. It all looked very familiar.

Having obtained and loaded up our hire car, we were soon on our way to the villa, navigating largely on memory we arrived in Son Bou. We decided to make a short detour and stop for a bite to eat. We couldn’t decide if it was breakfast, brunch or lunch. Not that it really mattered, all we knew was that we had been on the go since 07:00 Friday morning and had last eaten some 14 hours ago. We were ravenous.

The Copa Cabana very quickly satisfied our hunger pangs, serving up a small, full English for Gerry, and a burger with egg and bacon for me. Delicious.

There was no sign of Tony, Rico, Lola or Barry Manilow !!!

And then it was on to the villa literally only a few hundred metres away and this fabulous view from the balcony.

After unloading the car we settled down with a nice cup of tea. Prepared to endure this whilst waiting for the family to arrive.

Off On Our Hols

For the first time since 2020 we are venturing abroad. Furthermore, we are going on a plane.

We are going to spend a week at a villa in Son Bou, Menorca, and will be staying with the rellies from Merseyside.

The rellies are travelling from Manchester while Gerry and I are flying from Gatwick.

There has been lots in the news recently about travel chaos, cancelled flights, long queues and so on. Consequently we are just a little trepidatious. Fingers crossed, it all goes smoothly.

We are currently sitting waiting at the assistance desk. It is 03:20 but the desk doesn’t open until 04:00. This will be our first hurdle.

Pompey Shoreline

I have been trawling through my old photo’s. This one does not exhibit anything special, photographically. But it does contain some interesting buildings/structures, demonstrating how Portsmouth has changed through the years.Pompey_Shore_DSC02193.JPG_Adjusted

Starting at the lower left, the white building, is Quebec House which was built c1754 by public subscription as a bathing house !!! It apparently contains baths which were replenished by harbour water.

I’m not sure I would have wanted to bathe in waters from the harbour, in times past. It would be dubious even in todays era with our modern sewer systems.

Up, and to the right of Quebec House, the tallest building at 560 feet, is The Spinnaker Tower. Conceived as a Millenium project it was given the go ahead in 1995. One of three designs which the local people could vote for, the Spinnaker won 60% of the votes. Various obstacles delayed the start of construction which commenced in November of 2001. The project was completed and finally opened in 2005. Named The Spinnaker, it represents a sail billowing in the wind. The tower is visible from over 23 miles away and its three viewing platforms give fabulous views overlooking the harbour, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Isle of Wight and all the surrounding towns and suburbs.

Back down at sea level and running left to right is the Round Tower and The Hot Walls. Part of the ports old fortifications the Round Tower overlooks the entrance to the Harbour. Although a tower, built of wood, existed in the mid 1400’s, a stone tower was constructed in the 1490’s. A series of ramparts were later added, connecting with the Square Tower (just out of shot). The small section of beach below these ramparts, to the right, is called the “Hot Walls” by locals, as it acts as a sun trap heating up the walls.

Yet another change of architectural style, the tall blue tower, above the Hot Walls. Officially known as East Side Plaza Tower, it is commonly referred to as The Lipstick Tower because of its shape. This residential tower is 331 feet tall and was completed in 2008.

I hope this was of interest to you. I’ll see if I can dig out some more photos.

Marine Lake – West Kirby

Spent a glorious afternoon at Dunham Massey, here in the North of England. By the time we arrived back at our base, Moreton, nobody wanted to prepare a meal. So we took off down to West Kirby, where we picked up some Fish n Chips. Then headed down to the promenade to eat them. What could be better on a warm evening than taking in the views, looking towards North Wales over marine lake and the Dee estuary.

There were many sail boats on the lake, which was about as flat as a mill pond.

And with little wind it made for a very tranquil scene.

Sadly the Welsh coastline was obscured by mist with just a few twinkling lights managing to break through the murk.

As for the Fish n Chips, they were superb. We got them from Marigolds in West Kirby

La Mola

In June of 2010 we were holidaying on the island of Menorca. The island has much to offer and although we have visited the island many times, we had never visited La Mola, a fortress situated just outside of Mahon.

The fortress of Isabel II, La Mola, is one of the major European fortresses built in the 19th Century.

Queens Gate, entrance to La Mola, Mahon, Menorca

Built during the period 1848 to 1875 it was largely out of date before construction was complete.

The fort became a victim of technological advances, the change from muzzle loading artillery to the more powerful breech loading variety, complete with rifled bores. Instead of grouping the guns within the fortress, a series of coastal batteries were introduced.

The Loopholed Gallery – La Mola, Mahon, Menorca

This gallery, 390 meters long, is formed by 48 arches that house 48 casemates, in each of which there are two loopholes for riflemen. This defensive front served to defend the moat.

Saint Philips Castle and the British tower Saint Felipet – Mahon, Menorca
View of Clot de La Mola

In this small inlet, ships would anchor, during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Hornworks

This is the first line of defense against a land attack and where the main artillery pieces were placed.

A tranquil mooring, La Mola
The rugged coastline surrounding La Mola
The rugged coastline surrounding La Mola

Hopefully, these few pictures give you some idea of La Mola. The place is huge and you need to allow a good couple of hours to do it justice,

Langstone Mill

Langstone Mill, Hampshire, England

Langstone Mill dates from the 1700’s when the windmill was built. Subsequently, in the 1800’s, the mill and the mill store were built. The windmills distinctive black colour is due to the tarred outer skin which is resilient to the effects of coastal weather.

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