Christmas in Black and White and Colour

2014 tree

Compliments of the Season to Everyone.

Two weeks ago I slipped on black ice and fractured my right wrist. This is severely limiting my typing ability and posts will be very intermittent for a while.

However, I’d like to share pictures of the lovely gifts I received this Christmas. As often happens they fall into themes. Each gift has been especially and thoughtfully chosen with ME in mind. I could not have chosen better myself.

black and white

Black and White Gifts

tea tray

Tea Related Gifts (although someone thinks I’d rather be drinking wine!)

london books

London Books, DVDs and Walk Map

I enjoy London walks and exploring the Hampstead and Belsize Park areas when I’m walking my son’s dog. I have the original Quiet London book and it has now spawned three more. I’m happy to spend the next weeks planning future explorations in London.

I’ve read W G Sebald‘s ‘The Rings of Saturn’ and seen this film. I’m looking forward to watching ‘Patience (after Sebald)’ again. Much of it is filmed in East Anglia where ‘Max’ Sebald lived and was professor at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Sadly, when his very original writing was taking he off, he was killed in a motor accident near his home in 2001.


Moi and MA

A story about a Pug called Moi set at Versailles

Alfie at Gif

Alfie at Gif-Sur-Yvette

We took my son’s pug with us when we stayed at the Windsor’s place near Versailles in 2012. In addition I had other smellies; plus a box of cards for me to write my thank you notes – if I can manage that this year!



My thanks to everyone for these special gifts!


Barry : an exhibition for a Swiss icon

On arrival at Bern Railway Station on Monday evening (18th) the first poster to catch my eye (well, it’s quite a big one) was this :

Barry Poster

Barry, the most famous rescue dog in the world, died 200 years ago but remains a legend to this day. Barry can be admired at the Natural History Museum Bern, where a new exhibition explores the heroic deeds attributed to this extraordinary St Bernard from the Great St Bernard Pass. The question is, which of the stories surrounding him are fact and which are myths? The exhibition tells the whole truth.”

I knew Barry was a popular dog’s name in Switzerland. I have a children’s picture book which tells his story. So on the Wednesday morning I took the short stroll from Barbara’s house to the Natural History Museum of Bern to find out more. The excellent display is on the second floor of the museum.

Barry diorama

Trusty Barry Diorama

Trusty Barry, cask at the ready. Left to his own devices for days on end, Barry patrols paths and ravines looking for travellers who are lost or buried in the snow. Wherever he goes he carries a cask of wine round his neck. The victims he finds are first offered a good strong drink. The faithful dog then runs back to the hospice to fetch help.

The Barrel


The real Barry

The Real Barry reworked by Georg Ruprecht in 1923.

Barry had been stuffed in 1814 using the primitive techniques of the time. Ruprecht used modern techniques at the time to create a plaster model of Barry’s body and clad it in the dog’s skin.

Barry was born in 1800 at the hospice on the summit of the Great St Bernard Pass. At almost 2500m altitude cold, fog and snow posed a danger to travellers and, accompanied by dogs, clerics and lay brothers from the hospice would go out each day looking for lost and weary travellers. Barry was to become their most tireless assistant he is said to have saved over 40 people from an icy death.

In 1812 a servant from the hospice brought the old and weary dog to Bern and he died there in 1814. After his death his body was handed over to a taxidermist so “that after his death this loyal dog will not be forgotten” [F. Meisner, 1815]

Great St Bernard Pass

The Great St Bernard Pass in Winter

The Hospice of the Canons Regular of St Augustine at the summit of the Great St Bernard Pass has been a place of safety and shelter for travellers for almost 1,000 years. In the 11th century, in order to help wayfarers, Bernard of Menthon founded a simple monastery at the highest point of the pass, and so the hospice was founded.

Modern Day Monks

Nice to see the modern-day monks (clerics) enjoying a tasty meal with wine

By providing shelter, food and a bed for the night the hospice vanquished the perils of the frightening, seemingly infernal, mountain world outside. Exhausted travellers and victims of bandits knew that they would be safe as soon as they reached its doors. For this Bernard was widely revered, and in 1123 eventually made a saint.

In addition to the story of Barry and the hospice high up on the pass the exhibition moved on to tell about the real dangers of avalanches today and to dispute the exaggerated stories of Barry. Even the best trained and strongest St Bernard dog could not have carried a child on his back as the story is told. But dogs still do important work in the field even today.

Barry Book

The Story of Barry

Finally, we could listen to the shocking stories told by the fortunate survivors of avalanches; as a clock ticked away the number of minutes that are needed in order to achieve a successful rescue. The chance of survival declines dramatically after just 15 minutes.

Around 70% of avalanche victims survive if the remaining members of their party manage to dig them out straightaway. This is only possible if everyone is carrying a detector device and knows how to use it. If an external rescue party is required the survival rate drops to 30%.”



A Dam Busters Walk and A Damn Good Lunch

Our younger son lives in Sheffield so we arranged to go Christmas Shopping (with a difference) together today. We met up at The Ladybower Inn then headed to a small car park beside the upper part of Ladybower Reservoir in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park.


Lovely Ladybower

There are good paths along the edge of the ‘lake’ and there’s a visitor centre and cafe and other facilities at the northern end of the reservoir.

Dambuster books

A Selection of Dam Busters Books in the Visitors Centre

From there it’s a bit of a climb up to the Upper Derwent Reservoir where the ‘Dam Busters’ trained and practiced their low level flying during the Second World War.

Upper Derwent Reservoir

The Upper Derwent Reservoir

Derwent Dam and Sign

Note the Derwent Dam (very loud!) in the background

Derwent reservoir was used by the RAF’s Dambusters to practise their low level flying techniques during 1943, in preparation for delivering Barnes Wallis’ famous ‘bouncing bombs’ to German dams. Located in the West Tower of the Derwent Valley Dam is the Derwent Dam (617 Squadron) Museum which houses a collection of memorabilia dedicated to the famous Dams Raid carried out by 617 “Dambusters” Squadron.

Dam Museum

Dam Busters Memorial

Dam Buster’s Memorial

It includes photographs and other material covering all aspects of the Dams Raid, including details of the training flights carried out by 617 Squadron over the Derwent Dam and material relating to the film “The Dambusters” starring Richard Todd as Guy Gibson, made in 1954. There is also an example of the famous “Bouncing Bomb”, which forms the centrepiece of the museum’s display. Opening times are 10.00am to 4.00pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays only.” 

[from website]

West Tower

The Museum is housed in the West Tower

The museum was closed as our visit was on a Saturday but definitely worth a return visit. We climbed up to the see the West Tower and were intrigued to see a memorial to a loyal dog nearby.

TIP Memorial

The Memorial to faithful Tip

Our walk continued on the eastern side of the reservoir past a National Trust owned farm but only too soon it was time to turn back to the cars. N often runs right round Ladybower: a total of 11km including the additional 2 km to and from the car park at the Ladybower Inn. But the days are short at this time of year and we hadn’t even started our shopping.

Old House Farm

Old House Farm

So, back at the cars we headed for Hathersage and the lovely Country Shop at David Mellor’s Round Building. I also recommend the Cafe where we had fresh warm soup and chunky bread for our late lunch. There’s also a Design Museum showcasing David Mellor’s work within the building.

Design Museum

The David Mellor Design Museum (yes, those are his traffic lights!) and Café

By 4 o’clock it was dark and time to head back up the M1 to Leeds. Yesterday the weather was icy and  freezing cold (-3C)  but with typical British contrariness today the temperature hit 8C. I’m glad I was able to make the journey without any hitches. It was well worth the trip. I hope the recipients enjoy their gifts. We certainly enjoyed shopping for them!!

Spotting Man’s Best Friends – in Norfolk and in Bedfordshire

Finally, for these posts about my trip down to eastern England last week just a few pictures and doggie-connections!

Billy in snow

Billy in the snow

Billy, lives with his master and mistress at the B&B in Norwich where I stay. He is very quiet and very much behind the scenes but it’s always a joy to see him when he pops into the breakfast room or has a little toddle round the garden in the summer. I think Billy is quite old now and he’s a bit shaky on his pins so on each visit I’m pleased to see him again and renew acquaintance.

Of course, the whole idea behind the very existence of Keeper’s Cottage is that it was home not only to the gamekeeper but also, and very importantly, to his dogs. They lived in separate accommodation a few yards down from the house.

A short distance down the slope was a four-stalled kennel block, where the head keeper kept his dogs for retrieving the game. One of the stalls had a hearth and copper boiler for the keeper to boil up scraps and bones for the dogs’ mash.”

Keeper's Kennels

The pictures on the walls of Landmarks usually have some connection with the property. In the case of Keeper’s there are a number of dog pictures and most notably to me the one in the bathroom :

Dog picture

For some reason he reminded me of Billy.

Alfie in snow

Alfie dislikes the snow and won’t keep still to be photographed!

We did, of course, have our own pug dog with us at Old Warden. Alfie is fast becoming a seasoned Landmarker. He already accompanied us to La Maison des Amis, the Windsor’s place near Paris, earlier in the year. And now he’s been to Keeper’s. Where next for Alfie?- you just have to wait and see ….

Alf at Keeper's

Eventually all dogs pass away and go to the great kennels in the sky. The Shuttleworths were no different from the Windsors, from Edith Wharton or from Agatha Christie. They also  had a great love and respect for their four-legged friends and in the Swiss Garden are 14 gravestones each marking the burial spot of a much-loved pet.

Dog graves in Swiss Garden

The Doggie Graves in the Swiss Garden despite their age each name can be clearly read

Leo's stone