A Scenic Walk in the Countryside
I have just taken Martha the dog out for her walk. It is very pretty countryside around here – a lot of visitors come to the village especially to enjoy the scenery as several guidebooks recommend the area for walking.
One guidebook describes a suggested route thus:
This walk is one of three in the attractive chalklands south of the M3 the furthest extension west of the South Downs.
The walk :
It starts in the village of Castle Coop, which lies on the west bank of the River and has an unusual and charming character all of its own, recognised by the designation of much of the village as a conservation area. Castle Coop contains many buildings of special interest, which include the thirteenth century church of St Mary with its Norman chancel and north door, the Malt House with its oversailing upper storey supported on curved brackets and the Mill, an old flour mill reputed to have been working until circa 1935.
The walk, in a figure-of-eight, takes you out of the village around the nature reserve, along the canal towpath, back into Castle Coop, then over the Canal Tunnel and across fields to Upper Coop, to a second church. For those walkers with an interest in architecture, over a dozen of the houses and farms in Castle Coop alone feature in Hampshire Treasures; see Additional Info’….
It sounds quite good, doesn’t it? I couldn’t wait to try this particular figure of eight out and this morning Martha & I lost no time in setting out for ‘a scenic walk in the countryside’.
The photographic evidence:
Hoping you’d be interested (especially those of you with an interest in architecture) I was careful to take several photos of all the sights recommended in the above guidebook, so that I could share everything here in The Awesome Hen. Now, even if you live the other side of the world from us, you can see for yourselves Castle Coop’s ‘unusual and charming character’.
Up-to-date views of the recommended sights on the guidebook’s recommended scenic walk in the countryside:
1. Selfie taken of Martha & me walking past the thirteenth century church of St Mary:
2. Photo taken while we were strolling along the canal towpath:
3. In this photo, Martha & I were striding over the Canal Tunnel and across fields to Upper Coop
4. & finally, here you can see Martha & I posing for this last photo while pausing to admire the 12 or so Historic Hampshire Treasures on our return to Castle Coop.
Which Historic Treasure do you think is the most impressive?
Yours, back at home feeling completely sodden and having utterly failed to appreciate any of my scenic walk in the countryside,
Today The Agent & I have been married for 32 years!
Sir Burford Brown came by and seeing our Anniversary cards, kindly wished us a happy celebration. Then he asked if we’d realised that these days, you get less time for murder & roared with laughter.
We were married at 2.30 in the afternoon and The Agent was late as he went to the wrong church first by mistake. Without realising he was at St. Francis’ church instead of St. Michael’s, he walked all the way up the aisle with his Best Man, only to find another Groom in morning dress already seated in the front pew glowering at him.
10 reasons why I’m glad the Agent realised his mistake & didn’t marry the other bride (& apparently she was extremely pretty) instead of me :
- I like remembering him singing ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer’ at our wedding.
- I don’t think my life would be much fun without either him or the Chicks major, minor and minimus in it.
- He always brings me a cup of tea in bed on Saturday & Sunday mornings.
- He doesn’t get cross when I wake him up in the night to tell him something I’ve just thought of.
- He doesn’t mind when I burn the supper. I hope that he doesn’t anyway.
- He makes me laugh.
- He showed me how to use the gears on my bike and then showed me again.
- He gives me flowers.
- He didn’t get cross with me when I pranged his car.
- He shows me where the constellations are in the night sky and tells me what the stars are called.
Yours hoping that he really didn’t mind too much when I dented the car,
The Castle Coop Week in Focus:
It’s Saturday night and while the Agent is in the Ox and Moose, I am busy noting down the highs and lows of this past week for us all.
The Highs: The Agent had a good time on holiday boating on the Norfolk Broads with his brother, staying on the dearest little boat
& spending a lot of time walking along the beach. The weather was good enough to give him a suntan.
The Lows: Unfortunately he was bitten 3 times by a very nasty, angry horsefly . On returning to the marital nest, he was depressed to notice I’d let weeds get into the vegetable patch.
The Highs: Lady Egality has been busy harvesting a good crop of broad beans and many courgettes with which she is pleased.
The Lows: Roger Federer ( of whom Lady is an extremely dedicater supporter) lost the Wimbledon’s Men’s Final.
The Highs: Sir Plym spent an enjoyable day at Lords watching the Test Match with his brother .
The Lows: England played badly, getting hammered by Australia (although they won the earlier Test Match at Cardiff).
The Highs: Brown Owl has been extremely busy organising the Brownie Revels which will take place during the last weekend in July. The badges due to be presented to the Brownies during the Revels Presentation Ceremony, have arrived in good time from the Guiding Headquarters so she doesn’t have to worry about them getting lost in the post.
The Lows: The mobile library which was due to come to Castle Coop yesterday, was cancelled as John the driver, has flu.
The Highs: Lady Nudge is cruising in the Med with Lord Eftie. Right now, they’re just off Monte Carlo.
The Lows: apparently it is terribly hot.
Trev the Rev:
The Highs: Trev the Rev preached a well – received sermon last Sunday about the Gay Marriage vote, saying he was sure the decision would receive majority support both in the USA & the UK & that among the younger generation it will be overwhelmingly popular.
The Lows: there weren’t any really apparently, except the thunderstorm on Thursday night frightened his dog.
The Highs: Lady Egality has loyally bought most of the cards from my shop. I’m loving it being Pimms season again. Mown grass & bunches of sweet peas are making the air smell summery.
The Lows: I missed The Agent while he was away & the dishwasher has packed up.
Yours worrying how quickly a week passes by these days,Read More
Liberty Hen opens a shop!
It’s true! I am now officially a shopkeeper!
The Agent & I have opened a little shop in Castle Coop!
Instead of watching the tennis, we have been very busy clearing out the spiders from the corners & mopping up rain from the floor. Paint-colours have been chosen and the shelves filled up with cards made with pencil shavings by Ruth Jackson to buy. I like them so much – how I wish I’d made them myself!
Please come to our Grand Opening Party
Lord and Lady Nudge have agreed to cut the ribbon! They’re going to arrive in the Bentley which will make our Grand Opening Party incredibly stylish.
I’m thrilled to bits!
Do come and join us amongst the greeting cards by pressing this link.
Sir Plym & Lady Egality are handing around glasses of Pimms and Lady Sebright has made some scrumptious- smelling brownies which she’s hidden from Colonel Pyncheon. As I type this, the Agent is getting the barbecue ready with his wing-man, the Chairman of the Village Hall. We are all having to manoeuvre around Brown Owl who has sat down right in the middle of all the to-ing and fro-ing with an instruction booklet – apparently she is trying to master the till.
Yours, feeling like a fully signed-up member of the ” nation of shopkeepers “,
Royal Ascot Hats!
Hats Off to Lady Eftie Nudge’s Royal Ascot Hats!
Lord and Lady Eftie Nudge have been racing all week. They flew the Castle Coop flag for us all at Royal Ascot.
I am delighted to feature ‘A Stylish Selection of Ascot Hats’ below so we can all enjoy seeing the remarkable headgear Lady Nudge wore throughout the Royal Ascot week.
Picture source: Lady Eftie Nudge
If you look hard enough at the pictures of Ascot race-goers in this link below
perhaps you’ll see Lady Nudge waving from a box near the Queen’s one in the Royal Enclosure.
Yours wondering if I should take up hat-wearing (although my social events mostly take place chatting by the supermarket check-out).Read More
Books and Cornflake Packets…
The outgoing Eton Headmaster, Tony Little has drawn up a list of books which he believes every bright 16-year-old should read.
Unfortunately, just looking at his list makes my brain feel as if it’s overheating.
Hurrah! There are c. 400,000 Wunderkinder in the UK
Those born in 1999 (c. 400,000 in the UK alone), for most of whom this list has been specifically dreamed up, must be wunderkinder !
Or maybe one or two bright 16 year olds will read his recommendations and feel dizzy too… What do you think? Take a look at Tony Little’s recommended titles…
Mr. Little’s List:
Gulliver’s Travels– Jonathan Swift
David Copperfield– Charles Dickens
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
Literature in Translation:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Tschick – Wolfgang Herrndorf
The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
The Path to the Nest of Spiders – Italo Calvino
The Sin/Crime of Father Amaro – José Maria de Eça de Queirós
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami
Wolf Totem – Jiang Rong
Beirut 39 – Samuel Shimon and Hanan Al-Shaykh
Bad Science – Ben Goldacre
The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny and Globalisation’s Rough Landscape – Matt Ridley
Six Easy Pieces – Richard Feynman
Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder
Rethinking Life and Death – Peter Singer
The Case for Religion – Keith Ward
The Sea of Faith – Don Cupitt
History of Art:
Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling – Ross King
The Story of Art – Ernst Gombrich
Blimey! – From Bohemia to BritPop – Matthew Collings
The Horse’s Mouth – Joyce Cary
The First Crusade: The Call from the East – Peter Frankopan
The Realities Behind Diplomacy – Paul Dennedy
Almost Everyone’s Guide to Economics – J K Galbraith
The Affluent Society – J K Galbraith
In Defence of Politics – Bernard Crick
The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny and Globalisation’s Rough Landscape – Harm de Blij
On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks – Simon Garfield
The Iliad – Homer trans. Martin Hammond
Confronting the Classics – Traditions, Adventures and Innovations – Mary Beard
To Infinity and Beyond: A Cultural History of the Infinite – Eli Maor
Algorithmics: The Spirit of Computing – David Harel and Yishai Feldman
A Very Short Introduction – Nicholas Cook
The Language of Things – Deyan Sudjic
& as a Breakfast time Bonus:
Cereal Packets – ‘Children should be encouraged to read from their cereal boxes at breakfast time, the headmaster of Britain’s most prestigious private school has claimed. ‘ Source: The Daily Mail
My wasted youth
Just think of today’s lucky 16 year olds who get to hide all these riverting reads under their desks during latin lessons.
If only ‘The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny and Globalisation’s Rough Landscape ‘ had been published when I was young, I’m quite sure I should now have an improved mind. Alas, books such as ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘ made up my 16 year old reading diet; I can see now that they simply do not cut the mustard.
I could kick myself – why oh why did I not think to read ‘The Realities Behind Diplomacy’ instead of wasting my time with ‘Anna Karenina‘? To think I never even had the nouce to take up cereal packet reading to build up my reading stamina muscles..!
Mr. Little’s booklist is to be found in a tome he has written called, ‘ An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education ’, which is currently being serialised in The Times. Unfortunately, I can’t even understand the title.
Please could somebody enlighten me – does the ‘intelligent person ‘ in the title refer to the author (Tony Little ) or the reader?
Much as I’d like to think it’s the latter, since this reading list has outed me as a total thicko, I’m assuming it’s the former.
Yours, wondering – since this list has been drawn up with ‘bright’ 16 year olds in mind – which books should the precociously intellectual teenager be asking for at the library?
The Open Gardens Rescue!
Yay for Parish Vicars!
When poor Lady Nudge was forced to cancel her appearance at our Open Gardens Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony because she had to try on her Wimbledon outfits instead, Trev the Rev stepped beautifully into the breach without batting an eye! Handing scissors to all the Brownies he conducted a synchronised snipping and the jaunty red ribbon fastened up outside the Village Hall by Lady Egality, fell into several little pieces. Our Castle Coop Open Gardens Event was declared well and truly open & then the Brownie Sixer deputised for Lord Eftie by pulling out the winning raffle ticket from Lady Lohmann Brown’s decorated top hat.
The hiccup in our Opening Ceremony had been smoothed out most successfully!
The new raffle prize:
Although the prize ride in Lady Nudge’s Golf Cart was no longer available, guess what Trev the Rev dreamed up instead for the winning ticket….Sir Burford Brown, the lucky ticket holder, has won a go in St. Mary’s pulpit!
Next Sunday, he’s going to give a recitation after the service.
I bet he will do ‘Horatio at the Bridge’ – it’s his favourite poem.
A summer barbecue:
A barbecue in the Ox and Moose garden kicked off the Open Gardens Afternoon…
Despite all our worries only a few hours beforehand, the whole event seemed to go off pretty well. Thanks to Trev the Rev’s quick thinking, a bit of money was raised for St. Mary’s and all the Open Gardens were admired.
Yours wondering what Lady Nudge’s Wimbledon wardrobe will look like,
A Last- Minute Hitch!
Under Brown Owl’s direction, we all worked extremely hard on Thursday evening sprucing up the Village Hall.
Trev the Rev came to admire it yesterday morning after the #Friday Fitness class and said to us all that he really thought Lord and Lady Eftie would be hard pressed to find a cleaner, more freshly painted, mown, pruned, polished, swept and generally tidied up Village Hall even if they sent their Land Agent all round North Hampshire to search for it.
A decorated Raffle Hat:
Trev. the Rev also thought to bring round a top hat for Lord Eftie to pull out the winning raffle ticket from and gave it to Lady Lohmann-Brown to decorate as she’s very good at that kind of thing:
and Lady Egality found a long red ribbon for Lady Nudge to cut which we tied up ready.
To do Brown Owl justice, it was a lovely feeling to wake up this morning knowing that everything was absolutely beautifully for Lady Eftie Nudge and today’s Ribbon cutting ceremony.
A last-minute hitch…
Unfortunately despite all the careful planning & polishing, our morning has been de-railed by an unexpected last-minute hitch.
Poor Lady Nudge has been forced to cancel her appearance at the official opening of the Castle Coop’s “Open Gardens’!
She’s just telephoned Trev the Rev, to say that she is frightfully put out but alas, her dressmaker needs her for a fitting for her Wimbledon wardrobe this very morning. Unfortunately she will obviously be unable to give the winning Raffle-ticket holder a ride down The Street in her Golf-cart and Lord Eftie isn’t going to be able to pull the winning ticket out from the flower-festooned top hat. Can you believe it!
We are all incredibly disappointed – & what are we going to do? We’ve only 1/2 hour to dream up an alternative plan
Yours feeling the whole ‘Open Gardens’ day is going to be a total wash-out now,Read More
#Fridayfitness: Cycling Exercise for the Abdominals:
Today’s exercise for toning Castle Coop abdominals:
Lie on your back, with your hands and forearms supporting your lower back.
Raise one knee towards your chest while the other hovers just above the ground.
Cycle the legs to switch sides. Repeat fluidly.
Beginner: 2 x 10 reps or 30 seconds
Intermediate: 3 x 10 reps or 45 seconds
Advanced: 3 x 15 reps or 1 minute
Feeling hopeful that I’d be able to do this cycling exercise after my Pedal2Paris ride, I lay down on the floor ready to start. The minute I was horizontal…
I am mortified…
Yours having slept through the entire class,
A Curve Ball from Brown Owl:
I knew it… I knew it… I knew it.. Brown Owl has sent us all a curve ball.
She has muscled in on the Open Gardens and said we’ve all got to get cracking and virtually kill ourselves sprucing up the Village Hall. To think I was worried she was just going to give me a lecture!
I must say , she doesn’t believe in any wasting time. Today, we’ve all received a call to arms from her. Apparently, as Lady Nudge is going to be presiding at a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Village Hall on Saturday & will officially declare the Castle Coop Open Gardens, ‘open’, we must all set about mowing, pruning, weeding, painting, varnishing, sweeping, dusting, polishing and every other cleaning verb in the dictionary that can be thought of.
Brown Owl’s Call to Arms:
What would you think if this missive arrived through your letter box?
Obeying instructions, I opened Brown Owl’s flyer and was greeted by yet more instructions:
URGENT: CASTLE COOP/ OPEN GARDENS/ OFFICIAL OPENING CEREMONY/ VILLAGE HALL WORKING PARTY
#CastleCoop #LordandLadyNudge #LadyEftieNudge #ettiquette #villagehall #prideinoursurroundings
I’m sure we all agree that the Village Hall needs smartening up before Saturday’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. As Lady Nudge has graciously agreed to do the honours, we must all jump to and make sure that everything is spic and span for her and also for Lord Eftie.
To save everyone’s time, I have drawn up a schedule. Please be punctual. WE ALL HAVE TO PULL TOGETHER!!!!!
1. Everyone: arrive at Village Hall 04/06/15 at 18.00 hours, dressed in appropriate clothing.
2. Chairman and Sir Plym: sand down fence posts.
3. Lady Lohmann-Brown: ensure that the yellow rose to side of V.H. window is securely tied.
4. Colonel Pyncheon and the Agent: mow all grass and remove clippings.
5. Lady Egality: check flag for creases – iron if necessary
6. Lady Sebright: wash pillar box with sugar soap
7. Sir Burford Brown: scrub down wooden bench and ensure there are no splintery bits – Lady Nudge might wish to sit down.
8. Lady Liberty: sweep VH steps, driveway and path and remove dustpiles carefully.
9. Lady Burford Brown: polish the VH notice board.
10. The Graf: paint fence posts black paint once sanded down.
11. Brown Owl: rehearse Brownies re presentation of flower bouquet to Lady Nudge
11. N.B. Reverend Rosecombe: has transport been arranged for the aisle carpet to be brought from St. Mary’s to the V.H.? Have we a photographer organised for local press coverage of ribbon-cutting ceremony? Have arrangements been made should Lady Nudge wish for a comfort stop? Tea/coffee/fresh milk/biscuits arrangements for Saturday -are these in place?
Lady Egality has just phoned and says that she and Sir Plym are absolutely spitting about being arbitrarily organised without any warning – they were planning on mowing their own lawn tonight. However, having thought about it all, I am quite relieved.
If we’re all to be working our heads off at the Village Hall this evening, I’m going to draw a line under our garden and just say (truthfully) that I won’t have time to make it tidy enough to enter in the Open Gardens. We can look after the Brownies if they want to swim while everyone’s going round all the gardens that are tidy…
Yours idly wondering how Brown Owl would cope if a bossy Girl Guide Troop Leader should ever move into Castle Coop,
Open Gardens in Castle Coop
Just look at this email from Trev the Rev that’s just pinged into my inbox this morning…
There is a lot of enthusiasm for our ‘Open Gardens Event’ in Castle Coop this Saturday. It is some years since this was last done but it was very popular at the time. I am delighted to announce that Lady Nudge has graciously agreed to support us by officially opening our event in a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the Village Hall. Tea and cake will be served at Lady Lohmann-Brown’s house in the late afternoon.
Tickets for touring the Castle Coop gardens will be £3 a head and funds will go to St. Mary’s. All tickets will be entered into a prize draw (to be drawn by Lord Eftie Nudge) and the winning ticket holder will be given a ride down The Street in Lady Nudge’s Golfing Cart.
Saturday, 6th June: Itinerary:
11.00am – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony outside the Village Hall by the Flag pole (The Chairman of the Village Hall and Brown Owl to assist Lady Nudge).
11.15 – 11.30 am -Raffle to be drawn by Lord Eftie Nudge. Winning Ticket Holder to ride down The Street in Lady Nudge’s Golfing Cart
3.00 – 5.30pm – ticket holders to tour Castle Coop Open Gardens
4.00 – 5.30pm- Lady Lohmann-Brown will be serving Tea and Cake in her garden.
Looking forward to seeing you all at the Flag pole on Saturday morning,
#Friday Fitness: the Swiss Ball
The Swiss Ball is a fantastic tool for working the abdominal and core muscles, even for beginners.
This exercise will mainly work the muscles of the lower abs and also hip flexor muscles, whilst upper-body strength will be required to hold the position. Beginners or persons with insufficient upper-body strength / rehab, may want to perform the exercise whilst resting on their forearms, using a large ball.
Mount the Swiss ball from a standing position, taking your arms over the ball onto the floor, whilst rolling over your abs, until your forefoot and shinbone are in contact with the ball, with your legs straight.
Advanced athletes may want to adopt a different leg position, this could be having one foot on the ball, whilst the other foot is raised in the air, or slightly harder, out to the side.
Although nothing has been mentioned about cushions being a useful aid, I think this must be an oversight.
IMO a pile of cushions is a jolly good idea- they make this exercise a lot more do-able,
Yours trusting my abs have had an excellent work-out,Read More
Stop Press – Community Notice!
Oh my goodness: after focussed lobbying by the Castle Coop regulars, guess what’s happened…
…the District Council has officially declared the Ox & Moose to be ‘an asset of community value’ !
According to the most recent Parish Council newsletter, under the recent Localism Act (the what Act?) communities can ask their district council to designate land or property that provides an important local amenity as ‘an asset of community value’.
The Castle Coop Parish Council initiated the application to the District Council and successfully obtained the listing for The Ox & Moose – one of the first in the District.
Yours about to lobby the powers that be to declare me to be a valuable asset,Read More
How to control the British Weather in 4 easy steps using image editing:
Using an online photo application which offers some basic editing tools for free such as PicMonkey (Picasa, Canva and Paint are other popular editing programs.) to choose your desired weather conditions is much more fun than relying on the Met. Office.
Online editing programs make adding all sorts of changes to photographs and pictures to an image very straightforward. Set out below is a list of the steps I took (using Picmonkey) to give Lady Nudge some authentic UK rain to drive through.
With PicMonkey’s home page on the screen, click on the Edit command to upload an image to edit.
When your image has uploaded, click on the ‘Texture’ icon on the left-hand side of the picture:
Once you’re inside Textures, click on the ‘Water’ box
and then choose and apply whichever effect you like the look of. By playing around with the ‘Saturation ‘ and ‘Fade’ levels as well as the ‘Blend Mode ‘, you can try out different all sorts of different rainy weather looks in no time at all.
Having made the intrepid Lady Nudge drive the Bentley through a torrential downpour, I thought I’d throw some summer snow at her and Lord Eftie by clicking first on the apple icon and then on the ‘Winterland’ box .
Even without snowchains on, the Bentley seems to be coping pretty well…
Yours, hoping there won’t be a cloud in the sky tomorrow,
The Castle on the banks of our Canal
Castle Coop is getting ready to celebrate the signing of the Magna Carta by Bad King John, 800 years ago in 1215. A great deal of partying is to take place over the bank holiday weekend at the castle to which our village owes its name.
Odiham which is our nearest village with shops is holding a festive weekend to mark the foundation stone of the modern democratic state. An awful lot of effort has gone into its organisation – it has even got its own web-site:
The Agent & I have unearthed our flags from the garage ready to hang up tomorrow
& after de-cobwebbing them so they’ll look smart enough to celebrate “Magna Carta, Justice and Liberty“, I decided to ride my bike down the canal to pay a quick visit to King John’s castle before all the crowds arrive tomorrow.
The castle’s not exactly a des res any longer :
but they certainly believed in building good thick walls back in medieval times.
All action in 1215…
Apparently King John stayed in Odiham Castle on his way to sign the Magna Carta ‘under duress’ at Runneymede. He looks pretty benign in this official picture below but I bet he was in a filthy temper.
800 years ago, the canal must have been heaving with King John’s entourage and tomorrow this spot will be swarming with merry-makers… just now however, there’s no-one about and it’s simply beautiful.
Cycling back home down the canal path,
I passed a swan family with 5 cygnets and loads of ducks and moorhens
& then I saw a brown splodge among the grasses on the far bank
which when I looked carefully, I saw was a deer with big eyes and tiny antlers. We both stayed still looking at each other for a long time.
yours thinking that although I’m sure the festive weekend will be amazing, I like our canal best just as it is right now this evening,