A Ludlow Walkabout

I lived in Ludlow from 2011 to 2016 and spent many an hour walking around the town. On this walk we’ll begin in the Castle Square and head eastwards out of the market place calling in at Quality Square, a delightful cobbled courtyard dating back to the 16th century, for a good breakfast at  ‘The Wine Bar’¹. We’ll sit outside to enjoy the morning sunshine if possible, and listen to the chimes of the parish church bells. I’ll have the eggs Benedict with a black coffee please, but I can also recommend the full English breakfast.

Moving along Church Street one of three ‘cross’ streets that run in parallel (Church St, High St and Market St) we pass two carved heads that were moved to this site in 1743 from the site of a conduit brought into town in the 16th century though nothing remains of the conduit now. Two pubs along here, ‘The Rose & Crown’ and ‘The Church Inn’ offer decent pub food and real ales with the later doing a huge range of pies.

Slipping down College Street we find St Laurence’s Church, rebuilt in 1199 and extended between the 15th and 17th Centuries. This is an example of the perpendicular style of English church building. The tower is from the 15th century and is 135 ft (41m) high and can be seen from a great distance across the Marches and is often referred to as the Cathedral of the Marches. It has many fine features such as the wonderful stained glass windows and famous 15th century misericords, still looking like new and it is well worth a visit.

You can also climb the tower for superb views over the surrounding countryside, though I confess I never did. The church bells are famous too and the carillon plays a tune at 8am, noon, 4pm and 8pm with a different tune each day. A memorial plaque to A E Housman, famous for his poems ‘A Shropshire Lad’ can be found on the North wall near where his ashes are buried and a cherry tree has been planted in his memory. Housman in fact is not a Shropshire lad, but came from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. Continue reading A Ludlow Walkabout

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No Problem

Another late night shift at the restaurant where I worked had come to an end. The books were balanced and I was ready to go home when Mike, a waiter I was friendly with, asked me if I’d like to go to Joseph’s place with a couple of other colleagues for a few drinks. Joseph was a barman and a really kind person, often giving me a lift back to my bedsit after my shift as he hated the idea of me walking home on my own in the early hours. Being a newcomer I was more than happy to accept the invitation just so long as I could get a lift home afterwards. No problem.

An hour later we were in Joseph’s tiny, but cosy, kitchen in the southern suburbs sharing a few cans and a pretty decent Malay curry and laughing and chatting and exchanging stories and jokes. The atmosphere changed abruptly when there was a knock at the door. It was 2 am. Mike looked up at Joseph and raised his eyebrows questioningly. Joseph shrugged his shoulders and made his way to the front door. Whilst he was gone Mike told me to keep quiet and let him do any talking. I asked him what was the problem.

The date, 1974, was the problem. The country we were living in was the problem.The fact that Mike and I were ‘white’ was the problem. The fact that Joseph was a ‘Cape Coloured’ was the problem. The fact that we were in a designated ‘coloured’ part of Cape Town was the problem and visiting a house that by law Mike and I were not allowed to be in was the problem.

What would have happened to me had that knock at the door belonged to the security police I will never know. Thankfully it was a neighbour who had seen the lights on and who wanted to join the party.

No problem.

~wander.essence~ Prose

Vancouver Revisited: Stanley Park

I have been fortunate to have visited the lovely city of Vancouver on Canada’s west coast twice and written several posts about both trips. This one which is about the beautiful Stanley Park (click link for a map of the park) at the tip of the downtown city has never seen much in the way of traffic so I thought I would reblog it as it truly is a magnificent area for discovering nature.  There are 27 km (17 miles) of trails winding through this lush rainforest of towering red cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir.

The park covers 1,000 acres and is a wonderful green space to have so close to a city. Trails and the seawall path take you around and through the park with so much to see. Stanley Park teems with an amazing variety of wildlife. Douglas squirrels, raccoons, river otters, beavers, salamanders, purple sea stars and Pacific Great Blue Herons—at least 500 species are known to live in the park. You could probably spend a week exploring this park, but if you only have time for a quick look then please join me on this short walk.

(just watch out for the cyclists and the inline skaters along the path! They are supposed to travel counter-clockwise so if you walk clockwise at least you will see them coming towards you!)

Please leave any comments on the original post.

The Kindness of Strangers

It was mid-December 1973. I was finally in Cape Town, South Africa after travelling with a South African/New Zealand friend for three months overland from the UK to India and then by ship to Durban . Unfortunately on arrival in South Africa the rules for entering the country had changed – when I set off all you needed was a sufficient amount of money, £100 – now though I was made to pay for a ticket out of the country and as I had arrived by ship the ticket had to be by ship. The cheapest option was from Durban back to Mombasa – it took practically all my money and I truly hoped that I never had to use it! I had no idea what I would do if I was to find myself alone in Kenya!

Table Mountain

Arriving in the Mother City I was invited to stay with my friend’s family in the southern suburbs. Due to my financial crisis I had to get work quickly and I managed to get a temporary job in the city at the lovely pink coloured historic hotel, the Mount Nelson, doing flower arrangements of all things. No-one can say I was not adaptable. As it was almost Christmas we were very busy with table arrangements and huge floral displays for the suites and public areas. It was hard work with an early start and a long day, but quite enjoyable and the best part was walking to and from the railway station along Adderley Street and through the Company Gardens where cheeky squirrels ran around chasing you for peanuts.

Christmas Eve arrived and I was looking forward to spending my first Christmas away from home and in the southern hemisphere. The sight of robins and snow were rather incongruous in the summer heat. My friend’s family came from Norwegian origins so this was the night for their main dinner and celebrations. It would be very different from my own experiences. I had even spent some of my wages on a dress for the event as all I had with me were jeans and tee-shirts.

It was very different alright, but not quite in the way I had imagined. On arriving back at the house in the suburbs after work in the early evening I was met by my friend’s mother with my rucksack in hand. She told me I was not welcome in her house any more as she had friends and family coming to dinner that evening and I was too ‘common’ and didn’t have the ‘right’ clothes to wear.

I was stunned! I knew that she wasn’t very keen on me and was a bit of a class snob, but the rest of the family were lovely and I had spent a couple of free days on the beach and in the mountains with her other children. It wasn’t even as though I was in a relationship with her precious boy, we were good friends, but had no plans in taking it any further. But I could see from the look on her face that it was no good arguing with her. Christmas Eve and homeless was not what I had in mind! My travelling friend, took me to a youth hostel in Muizenberg on the False Bay coastline where fortunately they had a vacancy. He dropped me off then left, looking somewhat shamefaced, as he had to return to his family dinner. Thinking of the hospitality my own family had shown him in England, I felt quite sad and rather home-sick. I turned in early as I still had to go to work the next day.

Beach Huts
Beach Huts, Muizenberg, False Bay

I returned to the hostel on Christmas Day at around 6 p.m. to find the other hostelers sitting around having Christmas dinner together. They were all talking and laughing, wearing silly paper hats, being happy and having a good time. I tried to sneak past them to the dorm without being noticed as I was still feeling a bit raw, but the manager caught sight of me and insisted that I joined them, even though I hadn’t contributed financially to the meal. Quickly room was made for another seat and food hurriedly dished out onto a plate. Silly hat was found and a glass of red wine poured. For the next couple of hours I was welcomed into the fold and a normal Christmas resumed.

I thank those strangers for their kindness.

~wander.essence~ | Prose