December. A gloomy poem for the gloomy dark days.


Lonely man clutching a bottle
for a prop, a friend
Rain lashed faces
hiding tears, hiding fears
of loneliness, of pain
of longing for times past
Grey days
The dark days before the Joy
of Christmas Day
of days lengthening
of tears in seeing loved ones near
in flesh
or faces smiling in my mind

Remembering times past
of happy times
tears of joy
When paper bedecked ceilings, walls,
wrapping itself snugly around us all
with love
Party games and party hats
Can anyone balance those plates on sticks?
And what about oranges and coal?
That hefty weight upon the bed
Feet wriggling with delight

Christmas began on Christmas Eve
and carried us through to Twelfth Night
No surfeit of delight
Eager mouths
enjoying treats
Yes, but for a day
Not a month
or more
like now.


Great new adventure story about a rather special planet.  Available NOW from Amazon.  Would make an ideal present.

November Notes

November Notes 2018

Definitely turning into an increasingly Grumpy Old Woman as Christmas advertising seems to be reaching a crescendo…and it’s not even Bonfire Night as I write this paragraph. The local radio station annoyed me even further with their announcement that after a big Firework Display the next major event would be the Christmas Lights Switch On. I messaged them that, actually, Remembrance Sunday was next!
And this year sees the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. It is extra special as well because the 11th November falls on a Sunday. I visited the Cathedral with its splendid display of knitted red poppies and purple poppies with a figure of a horse in memory of all the animals that died too. I remember visiting the Royal Signals Museum near Bovingdon in Dorset and seeing a video of a very proud pigeon (yes, it actually looked proud) receiving an award for bravery. It had delivered a message despite being injured; it somehow knew that the job it had to do was so important. I really enjoyed working for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission many, many years ago with a great bunch of caring people. The gardeners who tended the vast cemeteries in France were second generation who created havens of peace and tranquillity under the guidance of the staff at HQ here in England.
As a bit of light relief, I quite often run a session about star sizes in November for the young observers and use it as an excuse for some birthday biscuits. This year it was particularly appreciated as it was indeed a dark and stormy night and those who came along deserved a treat. Handily, the red star in Antares of the constellation Scorpius, is one of the biggest so makes a nice link between serious learning, fun and my birthday!
My birthday treat was to have an outing to the local theatre to enjoy a really splendid production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, accompanied by Roy and new son-in-law, Tim. We all enjoyed the evening very much. It also provided the opportunity of wearing a nice dress that was awaiting such an occasion. The choice of play was particularly poignant on the anniversary of the ending of the First World War and within all the discussions of Brexit. It just highlighted how intertwined England and France are in particular and how countries should be working together not pulling each other apart. And in these days of globalisation and multinational companies, it is well nigh impossible to separate any one entity be it country or company.
An absolute highlight for this month was the Pint of Science talk given by Astronaut Steve Swanson. He is awesome. He astounded us with the unbelievably wide range of tasks they have to do and the challenges they meet. I turned a shade of green when I saw my daughter go off with her colleagues for a drink at the pub afterwards with him!

Tales from the Basement

Tales from the Basement

Inspired by working in a basement sorting and archiving files.

To Bob
who kindly maintained a remarkable equanimity while working with a somewhat nervy colleague.


Shadows Page 7
Cold Memories Page 10
Ghost Writer Page 12
The Web Page 14
Archived Page 16
Who cares? Page 18


The Archive Team had been given a new project; namely to sort out the many decades of documents that had been ‘put in a safe place’ by various departments of the organisation. None of them were looking forward to the venue as it was in the old damp basement of the building. One could imagine it being used for all sorts of unsavoury activities in former times when the building was a country residence of a rich gentleman. One could imagine it being used in more recent times as a shelter from the threat of nuclear war. One could imagine…but there was no time for daydreaming as the team had plenty to do before the deadline.
The group gathered around the entrance to the basement before going off separately to their own tasks. Some of the rooms were so stuffed with files only one person could be in there at a time. There was a general background mustiness and layers of dust rose as they moved around.
“Let’s all have a coffee in an hour’s time and review progress”, suggested Bob.
It was a daunting task but the team were keen to be out of the basement so set to work immediately and with enthusiasm. The quicker they worked, the sooner they would finish.
A glimpse of brown caught Kate’s eye as she busied herself with the filing. Or rather the removal of files into a big sack ready to be confidentially wasted. She had heard rumours of someone being buried alive but she was sure that wasn’t true. The place hadn’t been used for years until the company took it over. Sometimes she jumped at the distant sound of a door banging somewhere. Sometimes she thought one of her colleagues was nearby but when she looked out of the room, there was no sight of anyone.
Tom tapped her gently on her shoulder; Kate shrieked and jumped up from her chair.
“Sorry, Kate, I could see you were busy but…well…I just wondered whether you would like to come out tomorrow evening to see that latest horror movie that’s on?”
“Why on Earth did you creep up on me like that?”
“Well, as I said, you were busy…and I was a bit nervous of asking you…I couldn’t do it when the others were around could I?”
“’spose not.”
“So…what about that film?”
“Horror you say? No thanks! It is scary enough down here without spending the evening being scared. We could go out for a drink though.”
“That’ll be great – we can arrange the time later, I’d better get back to my room. I’m in that room where all the files are in plastic packets all jammed tightly onto the shelves. There’s thousands of them!”
Kate shivered. The chill was seeping through her veins. She had better hurry up. Who was that brown-clad figure she kept catching glimpses of? She had thought her group was the only one down there at the moment.
Everyone was busy with their own particular aspect of the project. Tom was wondering if he would ever come to the end of this archiving he was tasked with. There were thousands of thin plastic packets awaiting his attention. The shelves were high and wide and packed tightly with the files. Each one needed to be taken out, recorded and put back until it was time to sort them.
An hour passed and they all duly assembled in the staff room each cradling a steaming mug of coffee as if to reassure themselves. Bob spoke first.
“It’s going to take longer than we first thought if the room I’m in is anything to go by.”
“There’s thousands of files…”, added Tom, slightly gleefully as there was nothing more he liked better than a meaty project.
Kate asked whether any others were down there. She would like to know who that shadowy figure was and why they were so unfriendly.
“No, just our team,” answered Bob. He couldn’t understand why Kate was edgy. He noticed her carefully sipping her coffee as if in a bid to assuage a great shock. Never mind, once the files started to be boxed up they would soon be gone from down there.
“Better get on,” he said, “there’s a lot to do.”
Reluctantly the group returned to their respective rooms and tasks. Bob was right, work quickly and get the tasks over with.
Kate busied herself with checking the files before putting them in the special sacks. She was making the most of this task as her next one involved sitting at a desk in a gloomy area of the basement cataloguing files from another room. That would be a chilly and tiresome task. She was relieved not to catch a glimpse of the brown-clothed person for the rest of the morning
However, she was shocked when Bob, not a fanciful person, said he hadn’t realised there were others down there. He remarked he had also seen a figure dressed in brown and would find out who else was down there. They didn’t want to be doing the same thing twice.
After lunch though, he reported that they were indeed the only group assigned to the basement tasks. They all paled slightly and Kate shivered. Tom frowned. What had he heard about this place?

Cold Memories

Jack removed the last of the shelving units in Room 5. To his surprise there was a door. He had thought all the rooms in this corridor just had one entrance. Where did this door lead to, he wondered? In the 1950s the whole place had been kitted out with survival areas complete with radio contact and ventilation shafts. Nuclear war was a real possibility back then. He wasn’t sure how long anyone would have survived but at least they would have tried.
There was a rusty handle on the door which seemed to be in the ‘open’ position. He tried to open it but there was something preventing him from pushing the door open. Holding the handle down, he pushed with his whole body until the door opened. Looking into the dark recess he could not make anything out. Feeling the wall he found the light switch and turned it on. There were boxes piled up ready for moving but evidently had been forgotten. They were all labelled for a storage unit. Some things never change, he chuckled.
He looked behind the door to see what had prevented him from opening it; there was a pile of clothes there. He carefully lifted them, revealing the bones of a long-forgotten soul who must have been trying to get out. Somehow the door must have jammed and no one remembered the boxes… Some of the boxes had fallen off the pile, or been knocked over by the poor man in his desperation.
Shouting to the others, he carefully moved the clothes and bones away from the door. There was what had once been a smart brown jacket together with brown corduroy trousers. A pair of brown leather lace up shoes lay nearby, having dropped off the feet as Jack pushed the door. It was horrid to think of that poor man clawing at the door in a last futile bid to escape the claustrophobic and airtight room. The ventilation shaft was of course there but never activated. At least such a fate would not befall any of his colleagues; they were all too careful…
Kate shuddered, looking down in silence at the pile of brown clothes; was this the man she had caught glimpses of? Had he been trying to draw attention to his pile of bones?
“Let’s get this lot moved upstairs,” said Jack, “and call the police. Someone must know who he is and give him a burial.”
“I need a drink!” stated Bob.
The others murmured in agreement. Together they carefully gathered the sorry pile of bones and clothes and placed them in a box to carry them safely out of the basement. Once outside they breathed a collective sigh of relief. They would all be glad when this particular aspect of the job was complete and they could leave the basement permanently.
“I’ll pop the kettle on,” said Bob, “while Jack sorts out the police.”

Ghost Writer

Her fingers flew over the keyboard as she concentrated on entering the details from the seemingly endless amount of files in the store room.
“How are you doing?” called out Sarah from the next room.
Kate smiled, “Getting there slowly, what about you?”
“Oh, nearly finished. I’ve just had to bin a load of mouldy files though. No one can have been down here for yonks.”
The basement was not the most salubrious of work environments but some stored files needed to be catalogued before archiving. It was a long overdue task and someone had to do it! Kate didn’t mind; it was cool and quiet and, once she started on a batch of files, she soon became absorbed in the task and the time passed swiftly. It required enough concentration to stop day to day worries from taking hold while allowing her imagination to surface. In-between batches of files, she allowed herself the luxury of dreaming up all sorts of stories to be written up in her notebook. Indeed, the place leant itself to ghost stories as the building was old with eerie sounds emanating from deep within other subterranean corridors where, unseen by her, other people were busy clearing out long forgotten rooms and nooks and crannies.
Her thoughts drifted towards holidays; she would be able to afford a few days’ break soon. Maybe a trip to the Lake District which she had long promised herself.
Picking out another batch of files she sighed, best to concentrate and get the work done, not spend the money before she had earned it! It was all extremely quiet; the others must have finished their clearing out and were back in the main office drinking coffee no doubt. She’d better hurry up.
Fingers flying once more, Kate again became absorbed in the work. It was slightly mesmerising; the files seemed to be never ending.


“Where did Kate go after the office was demolished?”
Bill and Yvonne were strolling by the imposing new hotel which had replaced the rambling old building they had worked in all those years ago.
“I don’t know,” pondered Bill, “no-one saw her again. Although I do wonder, did anyone ever check the basement? The local paper sometimes reports odd sounds heard by people staying in one of the ground floor bedrooms. I put it down to Halloween Madness, but I wonder…?”
“Perhaps we should do something?”
“Well, won’t it look bad if we’ve only just missed a member of staff?”
In the event, Kate was not to be discovered for another few years. The owners knew there was a disused basement which they thought could be converted into an elegant showpiece wine cellar. However, the builder was to have quite a shock when he removed a pile of rubble from a fallen wall and found himself face to face with an ancient cobweb-covered laptop and a skeleton whose fingers rested lightly on the keys.
“Good heavens!” he exclaimed, “the demolition work must have upset the foundations.”
He shuddered.
“Poor soul”.


The Web

The sticky substance irritated Bob as he tried to brush it away from his face. However, the more he tried to remove it the more it seemed to wrap itself around him like a veil. He swore under his breath and turned sharply round trying to shake it off. Stepping back out of the small room, he was free of the substance. He looked back in trying to make out what was the cause. He could see nothing.
Shrugging he went back upstairs out of the basement to his office where the sunlight was streaming in through the open window. Sitting down and sipping his coffee, he pushed the incident to the back of his mind and got on with his work. This archive project was huge and it was important he gave the correct guidance to Tom, the graduate who was assisting with it. He finished the document and pressed print. Tom was a bright lad and just needed a bit of guidance with the complexity of the various sorts of files. Now he would have this sheet of notes to help him when he was on his own in that room.
Bob drank up the rest of his coffee before hurrying down to see Tom. He liked to encourage his staff and lend a hand now and again, while trying to get on with his own part of the process. He entered the basement and could hear one or two of the others as they called out to each other. It was a good team. He went into the corridor where Tom was a in a side room. Together they went through the process sheet and agreed it was quite a big chunk of the workload that Tom was responsible for. However, Bob was confident that Tom was the right person for the job and could be left alone to do the work correctly. He was happy to leave him to it while he returned to his own part of the work.
As he left the room, something long wrapped itself around Bob’s neck but Bob was strong and he snapped it off briskly. He rushed off, calling out to Tom as he did so, “Don’t be too long, Tom”. He continued down the corridor to the room he was based in. To his annoyance he was again enveloped in a sticky substance. His clothes would be ruined down here, he thought.
He brushed what appeared to be a thin leg off the pile of files. A thin leg?!? What the…? He muttered under his breath and looked again at the odd object. Must be that large spider Kate said lurked in the basement! Her and her imagination must be getting to him. Ridiculous he thought and went back to processing the files for archiving. It was satisfying to retrieve some which were still in use and put them where they could be found more easily. He moved around the room and a loud crack made him jump. He looked down and saw that he had stepped on a long dark twig. Or was it the remains of a very large spider?
Gathering up the final pile of files for storage, he took one last look around. The light was flickering and it was difficult to make out what the shapes were lurking in the corners. He needed to get a grip! He flicked the switch and let the door slam shut. A coffee to celebrate completion of the work he thought.


He lay inert on the floor, suffocating under the weight of the multitude of plastic sealed documents. Tom had thought this part time job was a gift. Having recently completed his history master’s degree, he was on the lookout for an interesting archivist post, maybe in a large city museum. In the meantime, this job would give him the much needed experience of managing an archive project for a major company. It was interesting reading the old documents but there were so many of them it was taking him much longer than anticipated by anyone.
Armed with copious amounts of tea, Tom worked steadily through the documents, cataloguing them as he went along. The shelves lined the walls of a small room at the end of a corridor in the basement. He didn’t mind lone working as the work was absorbing with the time passing quickly and pleasantly. He did miss the social side of coming to work although he hadn’t been here long enough to get to know anyone yet. And besides, he was just so busy. There were a lot of documents to catalogue and safely store in the archive boxes before the company moved out. The files were slippery in their plastic wallets which made them difficult to handle; it was like filing eels.
He tried to call out but felt it would be in vain as no one would miss him for hours, if not days. His family were away on holiday and he lived alone now until the new term began with fresh housemates. His friends too knew he was busy at work.
This was not how he envisaged this project would end. His arm hurt; he must have broken it when the shelving fell away from the wall, knocking him to the ground.

The new owners of the building wanted to modernise it and make it safe for its new use as a residential care home. There was no need for the basement with its rabbit warren of old storage rooms and corridors and centuries of dust and unwanted items. It would just need to be closed off. There was a mass of files in one of the rooms but as the previous owners had left it, it couldn’t be of much value.
“No one here now” shouted the foreman, “let’s get this old access bricked up.”
Tom lay inert on the floor, suffocated by the weight of the multitude of plastic sealed documents. He was well and truly archived.


Who Cares?

Jenny tutted. The old man in the corner was muttering away again about a missing file. If he mentioned it once, he mentioned it a hundred times. In one hour. He was driving her crazy and if she wasn’t careful she would end up in the home herself. Thinking about missing things, led her mind to wonder (when was it not wondering?) about her daughter. Kate had left home at 15 years of age in a rage over an argument about an unsuitable boyfriend. Jenny assumed she would return one day but that day had not come and it was now 20 years since her daughter had left. Missing files! They were nothing compared to the loss she felt over her missing daughter.
In his mind, Jack was back in that room. The last one to be cleared of files. The file had to be in there. He would keep looking until it turned up. Some weird things had happened while they were working. He re-ran the events in his mind, the day he found a body behind one of the doors. It was horrid. He wondered who the man was. And then there was the story Bob laughed about down the pub in later years. Bob reckoned there had been a giant spider down there. The place had seeped into their minds as well as the cold seeping into their bones. Oh well…that file will turn up he thought as he returned to the basement once more in his mind to rummage through the sacks and scour the near-empty shelves. He would just have to keep searching.
Jenny tidied up the newspapers. It was a thankless task. No one knew what year it was yet alone what was happening today. Or yesterday. The Manager insisted on there being a daily selection of newspapers in her optimistic hope that perhaps one day one person would recall the present. She liked Jack but, my word, he drove her crazy with his constant mutterings about files and spiders and bodies. She had been told he was a retired civil servant. How sad to see him now!
Jack watched her. It was good to have some help in searching for that file. He smiled at her, wishing to convey his appreciation, but she was too busy to see the slight upturn of his mouth. A mouth that wasn’t capable of moving much these days. He wished he could remember what was important about the file; did it contain information about the dead man? He couldn’t recall. He couldn’t remember why it was important, it just was.
Jack continued to ramble on, muttering to himself that he never did find that file. And Jenny was never to see or hear from her daughter again or find out what had happened to her. Both events were so long ago now.


The tales in this little book were all inspired by the slightly spooky environment of the Basement in an old building which was gradually being emptied of all stored documents.
All around were chilling reminders of the Cold War with evidence of communication stations, ventilation shafts and operational areas.
Odd noises emanating from goodness-knows-where added to the heightened atmosphere of a very quiet location.
Karen hopes the memory of these little tales will not linger for too long in your minds…

Copyright Karen Hedges 2018 (

August Notes

A hog roast accompanied by tasty, colourful salads kick started August. The whole hog arrived in a metal ‘coffin’ like contraption emitting mouthwatering smells. The event was a lovely anniversary party in Offwell which meant I would be likely to bump into some old familiar faces from my Honiton days. I did and it was good to catch up. Roy and I hit the dance floor for a slow, smooch number before resting once more. The anniversary cake was really pretty, topped by a tractor! The theme was daisies and Deeres…
As the evening was so warm and clear, we wrestled with the binoculars and tripod and managed to view, dimly, Jupiter and, more successfully, Albireo. It inspired us to think about how to make the patio more accessible for star gazing.
Sidmouth is chock a block with people and cars visiting the annual Folk Week Festival. As I drive past the campsite around 8am there are people already heading towards the town centre, presumably on the hunt for a proper breakfast and groups boarding a big double decker bus which is used to ferry the folk to and from the festival and the sea front. My colleague was keen for me to experience the sights along the sea front and persuaded me to accompany him on a walk one lunch time. Walk! It was like having a personal trainer as we whizzed along the sea front at 100 miles an hour and back through the Byes and through the town. However, we did see all the sights and achieved a good round trip walk in just under an hour. And in the evening, once my feet had recovered, I had enough energy to make a cake…
My poor feet sighed yet again, as I found myself standing for most of the day at the annual AstroFair. I managed to be on holiday last year. As much as I love being with the Lockyer telescope, it is physically demanding with insufficient volunteers around. The conversations with people from far and wide as ever made the experience worthwhile. I learn as much from them as they do from me and what keeps me returning to open events time and time again. The Lockyer telescope is special and I am always keen to share my enthusiasm for it. It is historic yet not in a museum. I am trained in the use of it and it is a joy to use. The view through it is stunning and sometimes better than through more modern equipment.
Work continues to be productive in all sorts of ways. I love being upstairs taking ‘screen breaks’ to gaze out to sea…and with all the physical exercise of file sorting, lifting and walking up and down all the stairs, the weight is falling off and I was delighted to be back in a pair of trousers that hadn’t been able to be done up for quite a while. And I feel more energetic.
So much more energetic that I was able to walk from Waitrose area down to the seafront to meet Mum for a wonderful display by the Red Arrows. It was cold, it was wet, but the warmth and excitement of the crowds dispelled the chill. We clapped at the amazing formations which represented various aircraft in the RAF today and in the past. Collective intakes of breath could be heard every time the tricoloured smoke trails intermingled as the jets passed within a hair’s breadth of each other.
More about that stroll…I had been intending to catch the bus but the traffic was heavy and my anxiety as to whether the bus would actually get me there on time got the better of me and I relied on the Map App on my phone to take through the back way to the seafront. It was delightful! I had long wished to take a stroll up the delightfully named Ice House Lane and I was not disappointed. First off was a really pretty cottage with equally pretty garden with the lane winding upwards for a while. I was bit disconcerted when the route took a deep turn to the right – the opposite direction to where I needed to be – but I kept faith with the phone and, sure enough, it soon took a deep turn to the left. No sign of an ice house though. A disused railway line went over the lane, with occasional evidence of life pre-Beeching along the way.
Coming out of a large bend the route dipped into a gloomy looking area, enticingly named ‘Dark Lane’. It was indeed dark. And slightly eerie. Trees loomed in on either side of the deep lane. It speeded up my progress!
Emerging into the daylight once more, the route began to go steadily downhill and merged on the main road. Recognising the road, I breathed more easily and knew I would be likely to beat the bus! This gave a tremendous feeling achievement and very soon I did see the bus arrive just 5 minutes ahead of me. I felt I had earned my fish and supper which was really nice in the sea front café.
The hordes leaving the seafront after the display were impatient in their desire to leave the rain-drenched beach.
And the August Bank Holiday rounded off the pleasures of this late summer month with a trip out to Exmoor. We packed a healthy Devon picnic of pasties and pork pies which, thus fortified, was followed by a healthy walk up Dunkery Beacon. It was so clear we could see Wales. It was glorious. Basking in the sunshine on the top of the hill was a superb reward for our uphill walk.


The sleepless nights
The bugs that bite
Routine in disarray
Tempers fray

Icy sea
No cream teas
Lost on the moor
Waves pound the shore

Swimming pool warm
Insects swarm
Bathers are bold
For the air is cold, cold

July Notes

July Notes
Reminiscent of 1976, the heat is scorching…and I am so glad to be working in the Subterranean Area of the local council offices…which continue to be fun and a great conversation opener with other members of staff! Although I am only a temp member (albeit a long term one) I feel valued and very much part of the team. I work with a great bunch of people and the environment has proved to be of inspiration for some eerie stories. It is an absolutely fascinating place as there are remnants of the Cold War civil defence set up very much in evidence. Each room is connected to a ventilation shaft and there are still the shelves where radios were set up; one still has the connecting electrics.
As it is only a short walk to the seafront, Roy and I have indulged in a beach picnic as well as fish and chips after work rounded off with a stroll through the lovely grounds. Free parking, a sea view from the main office…living the dream at last! And loads of bunnies in the cool of the morning sunshine.
Steam featured heavily in a very pleasant couple of days spent with my son. We started off with the railway from Corfe to Swanage riding in both steam and diesel trains. It was hot. It was sunny. It was glorious and much better than sweltering on the beach like so many other people.
The following day we continued our SteamFest with an outing to the Lakeside Steam Railway in Southampton. During the second trip we took a break at the Lake Halt to have a walk around part of the lake and enjoy some shade. The track could be used either as 7” or 10”.
And, to round off the excitement of July, Roy and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary with a Cream Tea and a day out in Dartmoor. We explored the route from the A38 towards Widecombe, taking in a few tors along the way. We even walked up one of them.

And one day I will learn how to include images…

One week later…here is a picture of the miniature railway:

and the view from my office:

June Notes

June began with the wedding of Alison and Tim and what a glorious day this was. It had everything a dream wedding should have: a smiling bride, a smiling groom, pretty colours, blue skies and sunshine, organist playing the organ for all it was worth, singers bringing tears of emotion to our eyes as their voices rang out across the quiet cathedral, bells ringing out for joy, feelings of sadness at those who were not there, feelings of gladness at those who were there, strolling in the spring-flower bedecked gardens, mouth-watering food, clotted cream and bunnies. A kaleidoscope of faces and names. Cups of tea and conversation. Garden games and much laughter. Cake admired…then cut and eaten. The day was rounded off by Jupiter rising to the East and everyone waving a sparkler as the bride and groom departed for a welcome few days’ relaxation in the countryside.

Thankfully I had a week for the house and me to settle down again before starting a new job. Another new job. This time I checked whether the job was as it was purported to be and I was assured it was. It was disappointing the previous one did not work out but, I have to admit, the hours were a tad longer than I was used to.
Indeed, the new job is fun. It is in a superb location in this heatwave (nearly as hot as the famed summer of 1976!). I am based in an office overlooking the lovely tree-filled grounds of the local council with views towards and of the sparkling sea. The work involves much time spent in subterranean passages as I and a colleague catalogue files ready for archiving. I have written a ghost story inspired by the location and submitted it to a magazine…
On Roy’s weekend off, we had a change of scene in Wales. We booked a cheap Airbnb place which was delightful. It was extremely good value as we were given a delicious cooked breakfast and a pack of Welsh cakes in addition to the tea and coffee in the comfortable room. The people were teachers so we enjoyed much discussion about the education system. Judy the Dog barked when we arrived and, seeming to approve of us, ceased barking and let us stroke her.
It had been rather a journey to reach our destination as the M4 was at a standstill with cars headed towards Cardiff for multiple Ed Sheeran concerts. My feet were struggling with constant clutch changes so I turned off towards Monmouth. However, this is Roy and Me navigating. We found ourselves in the pretty location of Usk somewhat to our surprise! Thinking we would stop awhile and have a stroll around, I drove towards the village centre. Oh dear. It was full. There was some sort of garden event taking place and all the car parks were full…I drove on through and came across a village hall serving teas at the end of the village where there was one car park space remaining. It proved to be a fortuitous move as the cakes being served looked sublime. The iced one we chose was as tasty as it looked; it was positively oozing lemon and orange juice.
After a stroll around to the river, with just glimpses of the castle walls, we continued on our way.
The next day we had coffee with Kath and John before going on to collect Roy’s Mum for lunch at Llanwonno. Llanwonno is famous for being the site of a runner beating the kettle to run up and down the hill. Or some such story. It was also an old monastery. The views from the top are stupendous – 7 counties and the Severn Estuary can be seen.
The pub food is worth toiling up the hill for. Yes, we drove and the car did indeed toil up the hill. Tender local roast lamb with plenty of veg. I did not have a pudding as I had indulged in one on a previous visit and found the drive home rather difficult, feeling sleepy and full.
Sunshine has been on the news every day as it has been ‘wall-to-wall’ sunshine day after day. The temperatures have been consistently high and I have not ventured out at lunchtimes. The heat of the sun is fierce. While the evenings have been warm and sunny, we took the opportunity for an evening stroll followed by fish and chips. At 7pm, it was as hot as midday by the seaside of Sidmouth. And just as busy.
Observing on Fridays is not practical now although we were fortunate enough to look through members’ telescopes at the sun (through special filters of course!) and see some sun spots and flares. The Moon was rising and we had a look at some of the craters. It was too light and bright to really make proper observations though.

Karen Hedges
1 July 2018

Season of Hope

Easter joy and hope for the future
Oh the sweet sadness of
Springs swiftly sliding by
Thankful hearts beating to the rhythm of wings
Resting in hope in the peace of the evening
Endings and beginnings; new paths just emerging

Eostre, Easter, Season of Hope