Stamford Georgian Festival 

People in period costume, fine ladies, gents in top hats, the Coldstream regiment practising drills, firing muskets and cannon, camp followers, pedlars, cut-purses and highwaymen, alongside 21st century families, punch and judy and merry-go-rounds – and beautiful weather to boot!


Little Stretton

The warmest day so far. A tiny church dating from Norman times. A churchyard full of celandines. The occupier of the house next to the church brought us cups of tea and showed us inside the building too. Then he told us the tale of the green bicycle murder which took place in 1919.

Cosy Club café

img_2191A meeting of Leicester Sketch Club – on a cold damp Sunday morning, there were more than twenty people, and the ages ranged from twenty-somethings to over seventies.

The cafe is in an old knitwear factory, with some fittings still in place, and huge windows down one side. It’s a huge space but feels welcoming and informal.  Lovely atmosphere, of people chatting and drawing, some quietly pleasant jazzy music, good coffee and cakes available.


Why do I keep going to churches?

For someone who is about as unreligious as they come, and not one for the spiritual or mystical, I spend a lot of time in churches.  And I’m not just using the porch as a convenient seat and shelter from the rain or sun.

I love the buildings for their quietness, their beauty and their settings.  They are often the only place in a village that you can go in and walk around, and be frankly nosy.   You can find out who were the big nobs in the place, and sometimes still are.  History is everywhere.   A list of the priests/vicars often goes back to the 11th or 12th century. The early ones were nearly all members of noble families, the latest are often women.

Words on the gravestones lead to all manner of reflections – about life and its transience, and about the individual stories so tersely summed up.

The war memorial may be close by, and you feel the pity of war in the list of the men who were killed – some of them hardly more than boys, and too often several who share a surname.

On my alithoughts blog, I’m going to do an occasional series about churches I’ve visited, usually just looking at one aspect that has caught my imagination and beginning with All Saints churchat Minstead in the New Forest.  Arthur Conan Doyle’s grave is in the churchyard, and the church itself is one of the strangest, yet most accessible, I’ve seen.