Thursday, 5 March 2015

That happy Sunday feeling & Grimsdyke

I wish every Sunday could be like last Sunday. Although the key to a good Sunday I've discovered recently, is a good long walk in the sunshine with the dog and a bit of productivity at home, followed by comfort food. Not difficult things to do really.

Just lately, the sunshine has been popping his little head out of the clouds in London, and it's feeling more like spring like as the first flowers emerge with their pretty little heads putting a pop of colour into the landscape. It makes me so happy.

As some of my friends may know, my friend Mark and I have agreed to go walking 6-10 miles every Sunday if possible and we try to go to different places each week. We meet for brunch and head off on an adventure with Max.  This week, we followed a familiar path up through Bentley priory Nature Reserve, went past the Deer and right round across to Grimsdyke woods. (This is in the woods near Suzanne's which I blogged about a few weeks ago)

On the way up we passed a pillbox. These definitely aren't uncommon round here, there's one I always pass a little further back on the path, but for some reason this was fresh to my eyes. I don't remember seeing it before.

It's a hexagon shape unlike the square one further back, and when we walked round the back of it, the door had been removed already, so we stuck our heads in. 

It was dark and scary and an old mattress was on the floor, but it was down to the bare wires. I don't think anyone had slept on it in some time, but you never know. You'll see our next discovery a bit further down this post which really took me by surprise.

We used the flash on these, as you'll see below, the darkness wasn't good for seeing anything, although it didn't feel THAT dark when we were in there.

After feeling like we had spiders and cobwebs all over us and like someone was going to come back and find us in their bedroom,  (that's why we rushed the photos too!) we hastily exited and carried on with our walk.
^^ For some reason, I decided these big brown fungi were worth a photograph. I like the way they were almost translucent in the light. ^^
At this point in Grimsdyke woods, there are some houses and cottages which have the most incredible views and are all cute and cosy. You wouldn't think you were on the outskirts of London. I want a house in the woods please. Thanks!
Eventually you come out of the woods and onto the driveway of The Grimsdyke Hotel another beautiful old building which I've been to many times over the years.

It's time for one of my history lessons!

This hotel is mostly well known because a famous person lived here. It was built in 1870 by a man called Richard Norman Shaw but was lived in by a man called William Gilbert for the last 2 decades of his life who made it famous. 

Anyone know who that is?

Yes you got it, he was the Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. You know, those guys from years ago who wrote comic operas which massively influenced the Musical Theatre world? Yes them!

Although the house is stunning and I like to go there for special evenings that they put on, or just an afternoon tea (which we skipped this time until the weather is a bit warmer and we can sit outside with Max) it's a bit creepy in a way as well. For some reason we have always thought it was haunted since we were younger, and it is a place of sadness in a way, as Gilbert died there when he was trying to rescue a lady from the lake who was drowning.

This is a good story for anyone who has ever been to Soho Square in London and seen the statue of Charles II.

"By the early 19th century, the statue was described as being 'in a most wretched mutilated state; and the inscriptions on the base of the pedestal quite illegible'.[1] In 1875, it was removed during alterations in the square by T. Blackwell, of Crosse and Blackwell, the condiment firm, who gave it for safekeeping to his friend, artist Frederick Goodall, with the intention that it might be restored.[1] Goodall placed the statue on an island in his lake at Grim's Dyke, where it remained when dramatist W. S. Gilbert purchased the property in 1890, and there it stayed after Gilbert's death in 1911. In her will, Lady Gilbert directed that the statue be returned, and it was restored to Soho Square in 1938."

I took this extract from Wikipedia here.
And here's a link to the Wikipedia for the main house and the hotel website is here.

The statue must have witnessed the whole ordeal. My goodness if he could speak. He could probably tell a lot of stories. 

"Please take me off the lead so I can jump in, please." So we did, and he did paddle just a little. He just can't help himself, even in the winter when the water is freezing, he just jumps out quicker than in the summer!

This is a Geocache my friends. We weren't out looking for one, but when we got to this part of the walk, I remembered one which we had found there a few years ago. It was still there! A little damp from the winter, but the log book had been written in as recently as January. So we took everything out and dried it with some tissues we had, and then I gave it a double layer to keep things dry inside by wrapping some of the contents in clean poo bags! haha! 

For those who don't know, Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt done with GPS coordinates. There are thousands round the world. You find a box and the rule is that if you take something, you have to leave something in exchange. Most of the time there is a log book and people write notes. It's really fun and interesting, and great to do with kids. That's why we decided to tidy this one up a bit, we had nothing to leave, but we didn't want to take anything either. Our gift was cleaning it up!

This is where things got a bit odd. We walked away back towards the house and lake and earlier had seen that a farmer who owns some land just off the side of the orchard has let some people stay in caravans and a tent or two. (In the winter, eeek cold!) Not quite a gypsy camp, but starting to look a bit of a mess. As we walked along the little stream that comes out of Gilbert's lake which I believe is all public right of way and not private land, I noticed a bright blue tarpaulin popping out amongst the trees and bushes.

We jumped over a narrow part of the stream to get a closer look, and this is what we found. Was someone living there? Do they just stay there? It's bloomin' cold at this time of the year and I can't imagine this shelter offers too much protection. It did look like someone had been there fairly recently though. A wok sat by the front door, the chair looked fairly put together.

I have always been fascinated by this kind of thing, expecially after reading Hollow Tree House by Enid Blyton when I was little, which I'd love to get a copy of. I also read a story online in GQ about a month ago called The Strange and Curious Tale of The Last True Hermit which makes for a really interesting read. 

I guess I'll never find out. Unless I go back one day and find the person responsible and have a good old chat!

We finished up in the woods and crossed over to Harrow Viewpoint to take a slightly longer route home. Cutting down through the fields and across a big tricky ditch, back up the hill to Junior school. My legs started to get a good burn by this stage.

Back past the Suzanne's yard which was looking tidier and like some work was being done, good news! Maybe they read my blog post a few weeks ago about it looking like a junk yard!

My last photo of the day was this old power station. Would make a lovely house conversion. George Clarke is my idol! haha!
That's it for this week folks. I'm proud of keeping up with the blog even though I'm back at work full time. I have finally edited the Video blog from New Zealand, but my macbook pro crashed on Export and it's been a bit of a hassle to be honest. It will be up before I go away on holiday though.

Did I mention I'm heading to Jamaica at the end of the month?! Yusss! 

On that note, I think I'll finish this week's blog!