31 December 2021

Merry New Year

As children, we didn't really mark New Year's Eve, and I do not remember ever being upset about that,  and still don't.  It may be because I do not like late nights. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

However, in 1999, the New Year and the start of the new Millennium had to be celebrated. My brother worked on the farm at Shrubland Hall, (back in September I made a trip to Suffolk and mentioned that my brother use to work on the Estate), and the owner organised a party for the evening in one of the barns on the farm. This is a before photograph:

And after for the evening

I do have other photographs but I am afraid they are far too dark to see anything and put on here, but it was a lovely evening.

This morning a friend send me this link on the current state of Shrubland Hall.  I also found this story of when Shrubland Hall was put on the Historic England's Heritage at Risk register, this happened a month after my visit.  All very sad to see this happen to a building with such a wonderful history and for me, the personal connections.

Wishing you all a Merry New Year and all the best for 2022.

29 December 2021


Yesterday I went to Durham with my niece, she very kindly drove so I was able to look about on the journey.  The main reason for going was for a Geocachers meet up at the Cathedral. I managed to get six caches, so it was another successful day.

After meeting up with the other cachers, we had a cup of tea in the Cathedral cafe then walked around the Cathedral. Many wonderful things to see and lots of notices and information boards to tell visitors about every area. (I did take lots of photographs, but have been busy today getting my bedroom measured to have some wardrobes fitted and will do some more blogs about the Cathedral in a week or two). 

After looking around the Cathedral we did a bit of shopping.  I got a pair of walking boots from the Mountain Warehouse for £20, reduced from £70, and some books by Peter May. 

A lovely day, despite the rain, only an hour's drive, easy parking and I will go again. 

27 December 2021

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden published in 2008, is Kate Morton's second book. I have read some of her other books and enjoyed them, so was looking forward to this one.

My back garden February 2021

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself. (Good Reads)

Some of the fairy tales are included in the book and I did wonder if that was necessary, but all became clear by the end.  The book is really well written, I wouldn't have expected anything less.  To start with, I did find it a bit confusing as to who was who as each chapter was set in a different time period and told from the perspective of a different person. Cassandra's story is set in 2005, Nell's in 1975, and Eliza's between 1900-1913.  

The reader of the audiobook, Caroline Lee, is good, (she also reads Liane Moriarty's audiobooks) but her attempt at a Cornish accent in this one was really truly terrible.

I think it is best to read/listen to this story over a short period, don't put it down for a few days and come back to it, and expect to remember who all the characters are and how they are connected. I borrowed this as an eaudiobook from the library.

24 December 2021

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year

This Nativity scene is always the first item that gets put out in December each year. I remember it from when I was a child, I don't know how old it is, but maybe older than me, there are no markings on it to help either. It use to sit on top of the television when they were big enough to have something on top!!

Nor do I remember how it got that little piece of damage at the front, but it is part of my family so I will always wrap it up carefully ready for next year. 

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year

22 December 2021

Meeting Santa

On Monday I had a very special journey to make.  I collected my little great niece and her parents to take them to Alnwick Gardens to meet Santa. Need I say moreπŸ˜€

20 December 2021

The Wych Elm by Tana French

The Wych Elm (2018) is the first Tana French book I have read, it is partly a  mystery, a thriller and a family saga and one of the characters is a genealogist, perfect.

This was taken in Suffolk, its isn't an Elm, (Dutch Elm disease has seen off most of them),
 but it is a tree.😁

'Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life: he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden - and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed'. (Source: Good Reads)

Toby tells the story, he's not very reliable and I am not sure I really understood who did what and why. 
I cannot say I enjoyed this book, it started off pretty well and parts of it were brilliant, but by the end I didn't like any of the characters, (I don't think we are meant to) and there were so many twists in the last quarter of the book that it made my head reel. Even so I could not put it down, for a book of over 500 pages I read it pretty quickly. 

I read this and got it from the mobile library.

17 December 2021

Cresswell Pele Tower and Walled Garden

When I moved up here I wanted to join various groups and clubs as a way of making friends, one of  the first I joined was theMorpeth Branch of the University of the Third Age, (U3A).  They hold monthly meetings for all members and also have assorted activity and interest groups.  One of the first I joined was the gardening group.  I was only able to attend one meeting before the first local down, but in September meetings started again.

At the meeting of the gardening group a gentleman came and talked about the Cresswell Pele Tower and Walled Garden, (the Walled Garden is the other side of the trees in this photograph).

The Pele Tower and the garden were owned by the nearby caravan park and as the Pele Tower was listed they asked if the village wanted to look after it and a volunteer Village Community Group was set up. The Pele Tower  was on the Heritage at Risk register, but after all the work of the community group is was removed earlier this year. 

Cresswell Hall was sold in 1924 and demolished in the 1930's and from that time the walled garden was left to become overgrown.  The speaker told us about the walled garden and the work that has been done to get it back for use of the village and there future plans for the Tower and garden. 

As luck would have it they were opening the Pele Tower and garden for the next Heritage Open Weekend a few weeks later.  I went along and took some of photographs of how it looks, I plan to go back each year to see how it has changed.  The speaker had photographes of how it looked when they first went in, but there are not many on the internet.  They do have a Facebook page so if you can access that you will see some and also more of there ongoing work.

To end a lovely afternoon I walked down to the beach and on the way back to the car stopped off at  Cresswell Ices for a delicious ice cream, another reason to return!!

15 December 2021

Corbridge an oven, a cross and a pub.

This is the third blog about my recent visit to Corbridge,  It really is a fascinating village and I hope to make many more visits in the future. The first blog was about the church and the Christmas tree festival and the second about the bridge and some of its older buildings.

Today I have some photographs of three interesting places, there are many sites on the internet about Corbridge but this one is pretty good.

Just beside the church is the King's Oven, the plaque explains its use.

The Old Market Cross stands next to the Churchyard wall beside the Vicar's Pele.

And finally the Vicar's Pele I'm not sure you will be able to read the plaque below but it says that the Tower, the finest of its kind  was built in 1300AD for a Vicar of Corbridge and was lived in as a fortified Vicarage until the early 17th Century.

Today the Vicar's Pele is used as a pub and microbrewery  The entrace is around the back in this photograph next to the Old Market Cross, hope that explains the bar stool and barrel in the photograph above!!  I did see someone opening the door when I passed by and looking at the photographs on the site about the pub I wish I had gone in.  There is always next time. 

13 December 2021

A Christmas to Remember by Anton du Beke

I am an avid viewer of  Strictly Come Dancing and this years series has been one of the best, next week is the final programme of this year.  Anton du Beke had been on every series as one of the professional dances, until this year when he has been a judge. 

As well as being a wonderful dancer Anton is an author. He has written four books in a series centered in the fictional Buckingham Hotel in London. The first book, One Enchanted Evening is set in 1936 and we are introduced to Nancy, a new chambermaid at the hotel, Raymond de Guise, a ball room dancer in the hotel, Helene his dancing partner, Maynard, the Hotel manager and Miss Edgerton, a young American heiress.  They all have their secrets and problems and their stories are set within the backdrop of the spectacular Grand Ballroom of the Buckingham Hotel.

It's basically a love story, as are the next two in the series, but there are lots of scandals and cliff hangers in them to keep the reader interested.  The writing is ok, it does improve with each book, and Anton makes the lead characters so likeable that I want to know their stories and learn how it turns out for them all.  

I have just listened to the third in the series, set in 1938, there is a darker story line in this one, only to be expected as the period it is set in, but the glamour and glitz of the Grand Ballroom is still at the fore. More characters, are developed in each book, but it is Nancy and Raymonds story that is central to the series. A light read, full of likeable characters, a bit of historical drama, with good story lines, some of which are concluded but also hints at new stories for the next in the series.  

I did see one review that said, 'Downton, with dance, perfect!'  Need I say more πŸ˜„

I read the first book and listened to the second, Moonlight over Mayfair and third, A Christmas to Remember.  The fourth in the series is We'll Meet Again and is set just as the Second World War begins and I am looking forward to reading/listening to it. 

P.S. Just found that Craig Revel Horwood has written a book too, Dances and Dreams on Diamond Street. I'll maybe look it up😁

10 December 2021


On Monday I mentioned that I had been to Corbridge over the weekend. Corbridge is a village today, but was a Roman Town.  Corbridge has an amazing history and there is quite a bit on the internet about it, but I'll just add some photos of some of the places and things I saw while geocaching on Saturday.

I parked in a free carpark across the river from the village. This sign was on the bridge:

And the bridge from the car park side.

It is about a 10 minute walk into Corbridge and before I got to the Market Square I looked for some caches and passed by some interesting places:

The Angel Inn, it's been in use since 1569.

Low Hall and the Pele Tower, the oldest building in Corbridge.

Monksholme, across the road from Low Hall, it use to be an inn.

A Spout Well trough

07 December 2021

Here is the Proof!!

Last week I blogged about two ships, called Minora and Manora as a result of my efforts to find the origins of my grandmothers name.  

The next stage was to see if I could find any passenger lists with my great grandfathers name on them.  I have a subscription to Ancestry and over the years they have added more and more to the passenger lists online. The clues I have to enable the search included his full name and age, of course, also his profession, dates he may have sailed, where he lived and a vague idea of where he would be going.  I have found entries that I am confident are for him. 

The most relevant and important one for me, was a sailing in December 1896, just a few weeks after my grandmother's birth.  This is a screenshoot, from Ancestry, of the details of the Ship Manora sailing to Columbo, Madras and Calcutta. He landed at Madras, (Chennai).

So I think this gives me the evidence of where the name Manora comes from, but does not explain why on the Registration of Births her name is Minora and the same on the registration of marriges. However, various other sources, the Census, school admission registers etc her name is spelt either/both ways. 

How do I find out if it should be Manora or Minora.  I do not expect I will ever know for sure, but one way maybe is to obtain a copy of her birth certificate and see who registered her birth.  If it was her mother then she may have misheard the ships name from her husband before he went away. 

The only thing I  know for sure is that my middle name is Manora. 

06 December 2021

Corbridge Christmas Tree Festival

On Saturday I went to Corbridge for a Geocaching event and also to visit the Church of St Andrew to see the Christmas Tree Festival they are holding this week.

The trees were wonderful, with so much hard work put in by lots of people and organisations. 

The Church is a wonderful building and I shall have to go back to see it without the trees. 

03 December 2021

Manora or Minora

Last week on my grandmother's birthday I mentioned that she has an unusual name and how I have been tracing the origins of this name. Her name on her birth registration is Minora, but on her death certificate it is Manora. She was named by her parents after a ship her father had sailed on.  Manora is my middle name so I am hoping to find more about that name.

On Wednesday I wrote about my findings about a brig called the Minora. Today it's the turn of researching Manora.

Again using The Crew List Project (CLIP) I found there were four ships named the Manora:



Years in Service

Official Number


Manora (1)


1883 sold to Larrinaga & Co., renamed Isla De Cebu



Manora (2)


1907 scrapped at Genoa



Manora (3)


1932, Scrapped in Italy



Manora (4)


1973 transferred to P &O, 1975 renamed Strathmay, 1982 sold to Thailand renamed Jumpa.



The most likely one, as my grandmother was born in 1896, is the second one.  Again from the CLIP website I was able to find that the Manora was a steam ship, first registered at the Port of Glasgow on 12 April 1884.  On that site, I also found two entries for her in The Mercantile Navy List for 1890 and 1900. These showed that she was built in Dumbarton and most interestingly she was owned by The British India Steam Navigation Company.

This lead me to find a website about the History of Ship Building in Scotland and details of the Manora. She was a steel screw steamer that carried cargo and passengers and was built by William Denny & Bros. at the Leven Yard in Dumbarton.  It was sold to the British India Company the same year it was built and was broken up in Genoa in February 1907.  

I have found a drawing of this ship (1884), on the Royal Museums Greenwich website, by Harold Percival. I am reluctant to put a copy on here for copyright reasons, but if you click on the link for the museum you will see it.  It looks a fine ship and drawing too.

The next step is to see if I can find any passenger lists showing my great grandfather, Richard James Hammill having been a passenger on a ship called Minora or Manora in the mid-late 1890's. 

01 December 2021

Minora or Manora

Last week on my grandmother's birthday I mentioned that she has an unusual name and how I have been tracing the origins of this name. Her name on her birth registration is Minora, but on her death certificate it is Manora. She was named by her parents after a ship her father had sailed on.  Manora is my middle name so I am hoping to find more about that name.

First of all, my findings about Minora.

A brig wooden sailing vessel named the Minora was built in 1867 in Sunderland by T Young of Hylton.  It was launched in April 1867 and its official number was 56055. Her first owner was Robert Coxon of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Some time before 1880 it was sold to William Dickson of Port Adelaide and later in the 1880's to David Williams of Newcastle New South Wales, (NSW).

The Minora sunk 12 miles off Broken Bay, NSW in heavy seas on 3rd January 1898 while on a voyage from Newcastle to Sydney and was in the ownership of Philip Manuel. Seven crew drowned. 

I found this information on various sites, including: 

CLIP -The Crew List Index Project

NAA - The National Archives of Australia

TNA - The National Archives

Sunderland Ships

Passengers in History, An Initiative of the South Australian Maritime Museum

TROVE - Australian Newspaper Archives: The Sydney Morning Herald 7 Jan 1898. There are lots of other reports about the foundering of the Minora on the site. Its free to search and download digital copies of the papers too. 

I cannot find an image of the Minora so here is another of my grandmother.

Next time, my research on ships named Manora.

29 November 2021

Storm Arwen

Well what a few days that was. Just before it got dark on Friday it started to snow, not much and it didn't really lay, but then the wind and rain started to get up. The lights keep flickering through the evening and the electricity finally went off at 9.30pm.  I went to bed.  At 3am the electricity came back on and I had to get up to turn the TV and lights off. I was pretty lucky as some of the village where still without electricity yesterday.

I heard on the news that winds speeds of 98mph had been recorded, overnight, at Brizlee Wood in Northumberland.  I had never heard of it, so checked it out.  Well I had seen it as it can be seen from around Alnwick, and wondered what it was, so thanks to Storm Arwen I now know. 

On Saturday morning the internet/broadband went off and didn't come back on until lunchtime yesterday.  I did manage to work out, with the help of my niece, to get my iphone to work on 4G and then pair my ipad to that, so I was able to read my emails and blogs and do my puzzles. She told me I could pair it with my laptop too, but didn't want to do that in case I used up my data and then would  have been charged for more. 

I was very lucky as the storm damage in the back garden, consisted of the poor shrub starting to lean, I'll have to check that out to see if I can push it back in and the greenhouse window. 

However at the front some cement from under the tiles fell off, so I will have spent this morning trying to get someone to come and have a look. (PS I got someone, but not sure when they will be coming).

There was more snow flurries on Satuday and the wind speed was still quite high, yesterday it had quietened down, but it was cold (there was a hard frost overnight, the bird water dishes were frozen and it take me a while to break the ice). Yesterday afternoon it started to snow again and there was a fine layering by the time I went to bed and it was still there this morning, but all in all, even though it sounded scarry during the night, not much to worry about thank goodness. 

26 November 2021

Home Sweet Home

I have not blogged about the hedgehog visting the garden lately.  It has been visiting but not very often.

In the spring when I was doing some tidying up and cutting back shrubs I found this behind the shrubs and next to the fence:

I wondered if it was a hedgehog home? Made by a hedgehog.  I left it alone and stopped clearing up near it.  I took the photo in October.

So over the last few weeks I got these two films on the camera and the hog appears to be carrying leaves in its mouth. You will have to be quick as it is in a hurry.

I took this photo yesterday:

The green leaf in the centre is where the entrance is, it was already there, I didn't put it there. 
Do you think as I do, that the hedgehog has been doing some house maintenance?

This is what it looks like before I move some branches away, so it cannot be seen from the garden.

As an afterthought I thought it may be a good idea to put another October and November photo side by side, so they would be a bit easier to compare. The November one, on the right looks bigger to me. 

25 November 2021

Many happy returns and Happy Thanksgiving

Today is my maternal grandmothers birthday. She was born in 1896, in Hayle, Cornwall.  I never knew her as unfortunatley, she died before I was born. 


Her name is Manora, and that is also my middle name.  It is also my aunts middle name and one of my cousins has used it for his daughters middle name too.  A very unusual name, so where did it come from?

My mother told me that my grandmother's father Richard, was a mining engineer and he worked for Messrs Harvey & Co. Ltd., Hayle, Cornwall, and he named two of his children after ships he had sailed on. 

For years I have been researching this family story.  Mum knew he travelled to South America, South Africa and India, so I wanted to find a ship called Manora that sailed from the UK to any of those places in the late 19th century. When I started this there was not much available online, in fact there might not have even been the internet then.πŸ˜ƒ

The first problem I encountered was my grandmothers name, she was known as Nora.  On her registration of birth, marriage certificate, and a school admisson register her name is given as Minora, in the burial register and on the headstone her name is shown as Manora. 

So I had to find out if there was a ship called Manora or Minora. There are ships with both names and  I had to find if either or both sailed to those places from the UK. I have done lots of research and have even found some passenger records for my great grandfather.  I will blog my findings over the next few weeks.

The archives and local studies collections for Cornwall are held in the Kresen Kernow (Cornwall Centre in Cornish) at Redruth and they have some of the records of Harvey & Co. One day I would like to go to visit and see the archives of the business to see if I can find anything about my great grandfather and the work he did. 

24 November 2021

Red Sky at Night

I took this photo in my garden on Monday (22nd Nov 2021) night at 4pm. The whole sky was that beautiful red, it only lasted for a few minutes, so I was glad I braved the cold to take the photo.