Thursday 4 August 2016

My Month in Numbers 2016: July

Hello hello.

Remember back in June where it appeared that I could only buy a new car if it pandered to my fondness for black and white clothing?  Well things developed even further during July ...

... and now I'll only visit historical buildings if they rock the monochrome look too ...
... this is actually Gainsborough Old Hall in Lincolnshire which was built in 1460:
And while yes, it was obligingly black and white and stripey ... we actually visited because, well, while we were on our annual city break in Lincoln I looked up 'things to do in Lincoln' ... and this was one of them.

But 1460!! 550+ years old and still opening its doors to visitors, that's pretty good going isn't it? In fact, the day we visited, they also had a local business breakfast conference running (we wandered into their refreshment area and were tempted to steal their muffins and bacon sandwiches ...) so it's by no means a dusty old wreck inside.

In fact it's all laid out how it would have been used originally -  here's the kitchen:
... where we learned about how smoke was drawn up and out of the roof, and also what a medieval fridge looked like:
 And we knew all this because we embraced the full touristy thing and listened to the guided tour on headphones, here we are wearing them while up on the roof:
BTW: we learned form the audio guide that, when Henry VIII dropped by for a visit in 1541, he was unable to climb the steps to the roof due to his chronic leg ulcers. So there you go.

Never stop learning kids. Never stop learning.

Can you just make out from over my shoulder - no, not the ghost of a disgruntled Henry VIII - but the roofs of regular townhouses?

Because the strangest part about Gainsborough Old Hall is how, unlike most - if not all - the other stately homes I've ever seen, this is not seated in any grounds, no grand gardens surrounding it, no long drive to the front door. This is slap bang in the middle of a small town centre. Opposite a library. Across the road from regular houses. Imagine opening up your curtains to such history every morning.
 Oh and while we're on the subject of historic old buildings ...

We finally got to re-visit the Jew's House in Lincoln which dates back to the 12th Century: 
It's an interesting name isn't it? The Jew's House. And the explanation is as mundane as you might expect ... it belonged to a Jewish owner, as there was a Jewish quarter in medieval Lincoln.

We were pleased to re-visit it because - while it's been continually inhabited for over 800 years - it's now a beautiful restaurant of which we had fond memories from years ago. And while we've visited Lincoln almost each year since, the dates of our summer holidays have always seemed to coincide with theirs so they are usually closed when we're there. But not this time, so we booked up ASAP and as expected, enjoyed a really good meal there surrounded by such atmospheric walls. 

BTW: the name can take some clarification when you're not using it in face-to-face communication; like when you're sending someone the text message: 
  • "We're going to see if we can get into the Jew's House for tea. The Restaurant that is. Not just the house of an individual Jew."
  • To which came the reply: "Enjoy your tea. It's good to know you don't just choose people of random faiths and get them to cook for you!" 
Although ... for the record ... while we really don't make a habit force religious people to cook for us ... someone who James had been working with in July did share with him several boxes from their Eid feast and he and I ate it for tea. So ... mmmm ... we're not entirely off the hook ... 
We stayed in Lincoln for 5 nights, 6 days, and I took a mix and match monochrome wardrobe: 
 And, similarly to how in June someone complimented me on the skirt I'm wearing in the centre there, I wore the skirt on the right to a restaurant where the waitress offered me the delightful greeting of: "I love your skirt. It's the best thing I've seen all day". Who doesn't want to hear that? (BTW: it's an old one from TopShop.)

While in Lincoln ...

We visited several thousand poppies in the grounds of Lincoln Castle: 
This was the Poppies: Wave installation which once formed part of the the vast display of 888,246 poppies that were featured in the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red display at the Tower of London in 2014 - representing each of  the British/Colonial serviceman killed during WW1.

Certain elements of that huge memorial are now touring the country, which is how we came to visit this poignant site on a bright summer's morning ...
It was tricky to get a good photo as there were many visitors flocking towards it as soon as the gates opened.
 Considering the significance of the display I was a little surprised to find so many people making sure they were in the shot too; there was a lot of shuffling for a good spot and even shouts of "Take another one, I had my eyes shut". Most surprisingly was that these were not young people ... far from it ... I wanted to turn all full-on-Grandma on them and tell them to show some respect!

You can read more about the display, including the other locations it's touring to here.

I read 3 books this month:
That's a pretty low number for me this year, but,  books and me are in an open relationship right now: at the same time as reading 3 books beginning-to-end I've been dipping into several others at the same time.  (Goodness knows I've been chipping away at Thoreau's Walden for months - because it's a classic I'd like to say I've read - even though it's slow going.) The ones I did complete though were:

  • Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent (can't recommend this highly enough. It was a great read.)
  • Jessie Burton's The Muse 
  • and Jennie Erdal's The Missing Shade of Blue. 
As always, there's links to everything I've read on my 'Books Read in 2016' Pinterest board

3 months after that writing day ... I went back and gave it another go. 
You might remember how I wrote about spending the day at a writing retreat .. and how I didn't feel like reading my work aloud at the end ... and how I went home, had a crisis of confidence and cried! Well, the time rolled around and another day was organised ... and I hummed and haaahed about whether or not to give it a second chance; I could tell if I it was going to feel useful for personal growth ... or else like I was tormenting myself! Which is why I left my decision until the last minute and signed up only 2 days beforehand.

However ... I did go. And I was fine. And I not only wrote something during the day I read it to the group too. And I didn't die, or choke, or cry, or trip over my words. And, best of all ... the group seemed to enjoy it and some even asked for more.  Yay me!!

In another visit to an historical building ...

I visited Cragside, in Northumberland,the 1st home in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity: 
There was lots to enjoy here, the amazing interiors, the huge gardens ... the drive through the hilly grounds covered in ferns and bracken which felt exactly like being in Jurassic Park (there may or may not be any truth to the rumour that, in order to enhance this sensation, I found the theme tune online and broadcast it on my phone as we drove round ... )
And there were many wonderful photo opportunities too ...
But no dinosaurs.

And finally ...

When you like interesting old 'stuff' AND you've spent the last 6 years documenting your days with numbers ... how could you possibly miss out on this?

It's a vintage snooker score board (according to the tag) which I spotted it  one of the Hemswell antiques centres while on holiday (one of my favourite places to visit!!).

We didn't know where we'd put it, we hardly had room for it in the car, and it wasn't cheap ... and yet we liked it. So it came home with us and now we're clearing a spot for it on the dining room wall ... as soon as I redecorate (hopefully this will spur me along).

What would you use that blackboard section for? I was thinking less 'shopping list' and more quotes, noteable lines from books I'm currently reading, overheards ... I odn't know ... just fun stuff. Let me know your ideas! 


So ... that was my July, or part of it at least. I didn't tell you about the cold I had at the start of the month which I thought might linger through my holiday (it didn't), or the brilliant exhibition I saw which made me - yet again - want to start my own collection of portraits (fabulous concept by mystery writer Frances Fyfield - Hannah, if you're reading, you'd have loved it too!). 

And now look!! Heere we are, ankle deep in August already ... let's hope the water doesn't get too chilly too soon. 

If you have a Month in Numbers post of your own - drop me a link when you leave me a 'hello' below and I'll swing by for a catch-up. 

I'll see you soon. 



  1. I'm smiling at an extremely good way!...because after making the happy discovery that green and brown clothes look nice in pictures of the Highlands, I have started to pull out black and white for Berlin. For some reason I'm feeling Berlin might require monochrome, what do you think? I don't have a lovely skirt like that, though

    1. Sounds like a plan to me - very city-chic! It certainly made packing easier for me - I knew everything would layer up OK if the British summer failed me! The most colourful thing I took was navy.

  2. As always a fascinating month. Hope you enjoy your snooker scoreboard. Quotes definitely, I'd vote for!

    1. I'll have to make sure to photograph it once it's in place ... which of course means re-decorating first so it could be a while!

  3. You really do rock the whole monochrome look! Another fabulous round-up of numbers ... I think I need to visit Lincoln ...

    1. You'd love it Ruth - if you do decide to make a trip feel free to pick my brains.

  4. Now, because of you, I am thinking I need to gather together a navy and cream wardrobe for our fall trip. It looks as if you had a wonderful month of new places and things. Glad for the catch-up!

    1. Yes - it certainly helped knowing everything would match and that I had options if the weather changed!

  5. Fabulous post, have loved reading this,SO interesting, thank you. Yes I think I would go for quotes on your scoreboard, oh how green-eyed am I on that!!!! have fun with it xx

    1. Thanks Irene - I'm going to have to brush up my chalk-board writing skills!

  6. I thought about you the other day. My eldest, who lives in Canterbury now while she's in uni (though she says she's staying forever) was doing the tourist guide thing for us and as we walked past the Primark there, the shiny silver brogues in the window caught my eye and I said that I knew somebody who would LOVE them. Apparently she does too but her and her money are not easily parted so she's still dithering :)

    1. It seems my feet go before me! Silver shoes are surprisingly neutral ... if that helps ...

  7. As always, I love your posts ... the incredible pictures and the stories to go along with them. Thank you so much for sharing of yourself, you always make me smile when I come here!


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