Friday, 27 April 2012

Ticket To Write - All Aboard!

On the 10 of April we had the first assignment from Kathy Page's Online Writing Course 

and I'm really happy to welcome our writers:- 
Hrafnhildur Gladwin
Donna Vizma, 
Kate Maxim,  
Joyce Lambert, 
Pamela Harrison, 
Ann Leonard, 
Sarah Stringer, 
Shusha Walmsley 
and Daniel Reid 
who have claimed their tickets and 
begun their first pieces of writing.

Everyone has found their way round the Writing Studio, uploaded a photo, chosen an Avatar and made contact with the other participants.

It already feels like we are sitting in a warm room sharing ideas and exchanging opinions, I can't wait to see where this exciting journey into the creation of a short story lead. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

April Photography walk - Maidwell

We had the most beautiful day for our walk, warm, bright, with a crisp breeze in places. We came off the Brampton Valley Way and headed across the fields at a leisurely pace. We marvelled at a huge mound of grass cuttings, branches, dog wood, hay, twigs, all sorts of evidence of agricultural industry. We wondered at the work this must have entailed, the hours, the organisation and the skill required to keep the land managed and fertile.

A stream that cut it's slow, trickling way under the wooden bridge

and no one but Carole noticed the tree root that beckoned "This Way"


The land rose to give us views of the gently rolling countryside. Trees were breaking into leaf and fields of rape were coming into flower. The acid yellow and the pungent smell remains quite hard to love, even though it can be pressed into an excellent oil. It is a nightmare for hay fever sufferers, the consumption of local honey can ease the effects but it has a strange perfumed flavour which takes some getting used to.

The elegantly faded stone archway set between gently weathered red brick walls, was now part of someone's garden, no great house in sight, no clue to it's original purpose, a mystery.

From Maidwell churchyard we could see the formal gardens, assorted building and curious towers of Maidwell Hall Boarding School. 

through a gap in the a hedge we saw a house which reminded us of cocktail parties and croquet, even though there was not a soul to be seen.

We enjoyed the spring flowers in neatly painted window boxes and the ornamental quince blossom in well loved, carefully tended gardens.

After the sleepy Sunday village it was refreshing to strike out across another field, this time inhabited by a herd of totally relaxed sheep and lambs. We were able to walk very close to them, even with a dog on a lead and they seemed happy to watch us stroll by. 

Photograph by Kate Dyer
Photograph by Kate Dyer

Photograph by Kate Dyer

Thursday, 19 April 2012

April Book Walk

Our small gathering of readers rejoiced in a beautiful morning on the Brampton Valley Way and couldn't wait to share our pleasure in the two chosen books. We all felt that Through England on a Side-Saddle by Celia Fiennes had a wonderfully conversational style, even though she was writing in the lanuage of the time, which may sound strange to the modern reader. She writes as though she is sitting in a drawing room, recounting the things she has seen, to an intimate gathering of family and friends. 

Kate (seen above) discussing Through England on a Side-Saddle by Celia Fiennes and Country Churches by Simon Jenkins with fresh coffee and apple turnovers. 

It was amazing to think that she set out across the country on horseback, aged 24 and that her two journeys, which took in many of the spa towns, was taken ostensibly to improve her health! The other remarkable thing about her account is the interest and delight she took in all the innovations and industrial processes she saw along the way. She comments on the inhabitants and their various plights, in a concerned manner showing a keen interest in Anthropology. She notices the local diet and highlights the fact that most meals consist of some form of bread. The Old Foodie has a lovely blog about Celia Fiennes and Clap Bread.

Celia Fiennes also stayed in many fine Manor Houses during her travels and was obviously very well connected. By following this link you can see illustrations of some of the views she would have seen and there is also a lovely image of the Celia Fiennes Way Marker. There were stopping points that were both familiar and strange to us, Andrew had a very recent knowledge of Staffordshire and particularly Newcastle-under-Lyme (spelt Newcastle-under-Line in Celia's journal) and Kate had very clear recollections of Devon. We were left curious about this intrepid traveller and wondered what the rest of her life had been like.

With Country Churches by Simon Jenkins we became aware of just what a huge part photography plays in our everyday understanding and interpretation of structure and place. He gives a succinct description of notable country churches just in words, there are no illustrations. Reading this book was reminder of what a fulfilling experience it can be to visit a country church even if one lacks any kind of religious conviction. We discussed the churches we had visited that were mentioned in the book and were struck by the fact that they were not merely symbols of faith, but they also contained clues about the industrial, political and agricultural history of a village community.

As we were all visual people and Kate is a professional photographer, she had gone that extra mile for us. One of the churches described by Simon Jenkins was in Wellingborough, very close to Kettering and Corby, so Kate went on her own exploratory journey to visit St Mary the Virgin, Knox Road "Comper's masterpiece interior".  She was given a tour of the church after knocking on a door and asking for the key, very much as an earlier traveller might have done. You can see below a selection of marvellous images taken by Kate. We saw them on her laptop, whilst sitting at a picnic table at a stopping point on the Brampton Valley way. Celia Feinnes would have approved!

Please be aware that the copyright of all these images belong to Kate Dyer and should not be reproduced without her permission. Kate can be contacted via Corby Community Arts

We take the architecture and existence of our country churches for granted but their future cannot be taken for granted. For more on this topic you might like to read A Little History Of The English Country Church by Sir Roy Strong and you can read more about the work of the Churches Conservation Trust here .

Sunday, 15 April 2012

To the Brampton Book Group

Recently I was contacted by Richard Davies and thought I would share his email with you

"Dear Carole Miles
Please forgive a message from a complete stranger, but I have noted your  connection with the Brampton Book Group through Back to Books and see from the website that there has been a recent visit to Adlestrop.
I have just self-published a short novel entitled 'After Adlestrop'  and I would like to draw the attention of the Group to its existence. 
I have published 'After Adlestrop' as an e-book which is available through Amazon. It will shortly be available as a paperback from and  through booksellers. 

The following synopsis I think gives the flavour of the story:

Edward Thomas composed a memorable poem about the express train that he was travelling on in June 1914 which made an unscheduled stop at a remote Oxfordshire station called Adlestrop. He wrote that 'no one came and no-one went' but, unbeknownst to him, a girl called Diana Pink, who was on her way to stay with a relative whom she hated, took the opportunity to get off and go in search of another life. Seventy years later, knowing that she is dying, she writes an account of the extraordinary life she was able to lead having taken that fateful step - a life that encompassed a friendship with an aristocratic family, service with the FANY in France during World War 1, marriage to a Frenchman, whose children she bore, widowhood, a love affair with a battle of Britain pilot and work with SOE. In the process she killed two men - one who was attacking her closest friend, the other the man who betrayed her daughter to the Gestapo. She was a remarkable woman - brave, passionate and blessed with extraordinary good luck. Her story is exciting, moving and uplifting.
I do hope you can put me in touch with the Brampton Book Group.
If you want to know more about me please go to
Best wishes

Richard Davies"

PS: I love the pictures on your website - colourful and intriguing"