Thursday, 7 November 2013

King Lear

This week I took my camera to Watermead Park which is just to the north of Leicester.

The park consists of numerous lakes and ponds surrounded by meadows, woodland and reed beds which were reclaimed from disused sand and gravel pits in the early 1980s. Both the River Soar and the Grand Union Canal run through the park and the place is haven for bird watchers and fishermen.

One of the lakes is named after King Lear, the legendary 8th century BC king of the Britons on whom Shakespeare based his tragedy. Lear (or Leir) was said to have given his name to Leicester and after his death was reputedly buried in a chamber beneath the River Soar somewhere close to where the park is now.

There's a concrete sculpture showing the final scene from Shakespeare's play mounted on a raft on the lake. Normally the raft is visible but with the recent rains, water levels were high and the figures appeared to be floating on the water.

A kneeling King Lear mourns his daughter Cordelia while the
Earl of Kent and the Duke of Albany look on.

Below are a few more pictures of the park.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Open at last

The Silver Arcade in the centre of Leicester has at last reopened after a major renovation and it looks fabulous.

It’s a Grade II listed Victorian shopping arcade dating from 1899, the only surviving four storey arcade in the country. For a long time it was home to many small independent shops but has stood empty for the last 13 years. Although it still retains most of the original features it now has a new glass roof and a new glass lift as well as various other sympathetic improvements.

The Silver Arcade was designed by Amos Hall who was in practice at the Leicester based architecture firm of Isaac Barradale (see:

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Something completely different…

Autumn is truly here. The leaves on the trees are turning red and gold and the days are getting colder. On a walk in the country this week I spotted these amazing fungi and thought I'd share them. I've no idea what they are but they are rather lovely.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Seen this week…

After my encounter with the DeLorean (see my last blog) I came across another unusual vehicle whilst wandering about the town this week. It’s a 1911 tower wagon that once belonged to Leicester Corporation Tramways. It’s normally to be found in the Abbey Pumping Station Museum where it’s lovingly cared for by a team of volunteers, however it was in the town centre to help see off Leicester’s bid to become City of Culture 2017.

Apparently Leicester rock legends Kasabian later made a surprise appearance at the festivities but I didn’t wait around long enough to see them.

I thought I might include some pictures of the Abbey Pumping Station I took one overcast day earlier in the year.

The pumping station was opened in 1891 to pump Leicester’s sewage to treatment works at nearby Beaumont Leys. It closed in 1964.

The pumping was done by four beautifully decorated beam engines which were built in Leicester by Gimson and Co.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Back to the future…

Oh dear, the blog seems to have lapsed a bit of late. I've no excuse and even my recent holiday only accounts for a couple of weeks though more on that some other time. Just to get me back into the swing of things I thought I'd share this with you. Spotted this morning in Leicester outside the Phoenix Cinema, a real live De Lorean complete with hover board and flux capacitor.

The car belongs to a gentleman called Mark Sutton who was raising money for Parkingson's disease and was kind enough to let me take these photos.

The car is available for events.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Earlier in the year when they first announced that there was to be a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream amongst the ruins of the old house in Bradgate Park we optimistically bought tickets. I say optimistically because as everyone knows you can’t rely on the sun to shine through an English summer and we’d probably end up watching from under brollies.

But how wrong we were. Sunday 14th July, (not quite midsummer night) proved to be an idyllic summer evening. Perfect for a picnic and a play. It’s a beautiful place and made a fantastic backdrop. Even the resident peacock entered into the spirit of the evening and joined in as though on cue.

The performers were from the Chapterhouse Theatre Company and were excellent despite some competition from a light aircraft which decided to circle overhead for a while.
Theatre goers armed with hampers and cool boxes picnic in the sun.

A keen Shakespeare fan eagerly awaits the first act.
The house is famous as the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey and the performance was dedicated to her, as 460 years ago she would have been half way through her ill-feted nine day reign.

A grassy knoll and minimal scenery turn Bradgate Park into a stage set.
Below are some scenes from the play.

For other postings on my blog about Bradgate Park see: or

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A quiet corner

I thought it was about time I got my camera out again so I took it to the area around Leicester Castle. Despite being adjacent to the busy De Montfort University Campus, it forms a quiet little corner away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The normans built a motte and bailey castle in about 1068. Later the defences were rebuilt in stone and a Great Hall was added. Little remains of the original castle which fell into decline by the end of the fifteenth century. The gateway and walls shown below can still be seen and it is possible to climb up to the top of the castle mound. The Great Hall remained and was later used as a court house, though the present frontage was added in the seventeenth century. The nearby church of St Mary de Castro, was founded in the twelfth century as a collegiate chapel attached to the castle.

On a more personal note, the writing has been going well and I have now asked the members of my writing group if they will give my novel a read through and a few have agreed which is great as everyone is so busy. They always give a fair and honest critique so I await their comments with nervous trepidation.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Old John

Old John, Bradgate Park

I seem to have got out of the blogging habit since finishing the A-Z Challenge. I must confess that the photography has also fallen by the wayside a bit as well.

Yesterday however I took my camera to Bradgate Park determined to take a few shots despite the weather being overcast. It’s a regular haunt as it’s within walking distance of where I live. Yesterday though, I joined a guided tour and had an opportunity to see inside Old John for the first time.

Old John is a folly in the shape of a beer tankard that sits on top of the highest point in the park. Visible for miles, it’s a well known local landmark. It was built in 1784 by the 5th Earl of Stamford. With the later addition of some windows and fireplaces Lord Stamford and his guests used the building to watch horses galloping around a course he’d had laid out around the park.

There’s a legend that the tower was built in honour of an old family retainer, known as Old John who was killed in an accident. It’s said too that Old John was partial to a tankard of ale, hence the shape. Our guide however, was keen to assure us that there was no truth whatever in the story, which I think is a bit of a shame.

The view from one of the upper windows. There’s not much inside but the views are fantastic.

For some more pictures of the park that I took last year go to:

One of the reasons I haven’t been blogging is that I’ve been busy in the garden. Though I say it myself, I don’t think it’s looking too bad this year despite the unpromising start. So here are a couple of pictures.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Below Your Feet

The cast is off my hand at last. It’s still too tender for prolonged typing but all being well I’ll soon be running out of excuses not to get down to some serious writing. Although yesterday my Bluetooth keyboard stopped talking to my computer which caused all sorts of problems. I was beginning to think that someone somewhere had put a hex on me but I found an old USB keyboard as a temporary replacement. It’s very clunky though and I hate it.

When I was doing the A-Z Challenge back in April I did underfoot for my ‘U’ post and took some pavement level photographs. This struck a chord with my poet friend who gave me a copy of the I-Spy book Below Your Feet (she’d already given me the companion volume Above Your Head).

It helpfully reminds you to take extra care and never stray into the road to take a closer look…

Interestingly (to me at least) on my recent trip to Paris I noticed they’re very keen on spray painting slogans onto the pavements so, with my I-Spy book in mind, I took some photos. Regrettably however there are no points for pavement graffiti so I won’t be sending off for my badge any time soon.

Friday, 17 May 2013


I’ve just returned from a short trip to Paris by train. Conveniently trains from Leicester pull up at St Pancras next to the Eurostar so there was no dashing across London. Very civilised. As we didn’t have much in the way of luggage we walked from the Gare du Nord to our hotel in nearby Montmartre. Less hassle than flying.

The threatened rain didn’t materialise so we had a great day out at Versailles. The place is very photogenic and it’s hard to take a bad photo. The biggest problem is large tour groups getting in the way especially inside and I ended up taking pictures of the ceilings. Here’s a small sample.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A post A-Z post

Some tulips from my garden.

So the A-Z Challenge is over and everyone who’s taken part deserves a big pat on the back. There have been some amazing blogs out there, I’m only sorry I didn’t manage to visit more. I can’t say I’m sorry the pressure is off but I think I must be suffering from withdrawal symptoms as I felt compelled to post again today. No buildings this time, although you haven’t seen the last of them. They are now officially an obsession of mine and they will be back.

As a relative newcomer to this blogging lark the A-Z has been a useful exercise. If nothing else it’s taught me to be concise. As a writer (or a would be writer) this is an important lesson. So I’ve vowed to keep things short and sweet. Less is more as they say.

While I’ve been out on my peregrinations taking pictures for the challenge, spring has arrived with a vengeance in my garden. Much as I’d like to get out and get to grips with the digging and pruning, I very stupidly managed to fall over and fracture a bone in my right hand.

It’s a real pain, both in the sense that it hurts and in that my left hand is quite pathetic at doing stuff. It’s been over a week now and I’m glad to say it’s getting better. I must say typing left handed certainly encourages one to be brief but I don’t recommend it as an editing tool.

Good luck to fellow Phoenix Writers members Maria and Wayne who are doing a 15K in May Challenge. You can follow their progress at and or Twitter (#15kinmay)

Tuesday, 30 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 26.

I could have started the A-Z Challenge with this one, since it’s an astronomical clock but then what would I have have done for Z? It’s to be found on the outside of the Rattray Lecture Theatre at Leicester University. Designed and constructed by Allan Mills and Ralph Jefferson, it was installed in 1989.

The clock shows the relative positions of the sun, moon and stars on a medieval geocentric system with the earth at the centre.

And with that it is time to sign off from the A-Z Challenge. Well done to everyone who has seen the month through from beginning to end.

Monday, 29 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 25.

No, not the song – just another building I’m afraid. Although I’m humming the tune to myself as I tap away on the computer keys.

The YMCA Building on the corner of East Street and Granby Street was designed by A.E. Sawday in collaboration with Draper and Tudor Walters and was officially opened by the Marquess of Northampton in 1901.

What caught my eye on on this building was a series of crouching winged figures (I hesitate to call them angels) that decorate the upper recesses of the first floor windows along Granby Street. They’re a weird bunch with no obvious theme, so make of them what you will. 

Saturday, 27 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 24.

I don’t think I really need any words for this post. Here are some Xs I found whilst out and about.

Friday, 26 April 2013


A to Z Challenge – travels round Leicester with my camera No 23.

I started my A-Z with some angels and though I found some in the  city centre, the best place for angels is probably a cemetery, particularly a Victorian one. However I was saving that visit for today.

The Welford Road Cemetery was opened in 1849 as the churchyards and burial grounds of Leicester became full to overflowing. It covers about 31 acres and is listed as a Grade II site in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens. It is also designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.

I was lucky enough to find myself there on a fine spring morning and very beautiful it was too.