Picture of the Day – The Rotunda at Ixworth

This is a picture of Ixworth House in Suffolk, England.

It is a very interesting house, not only because it had this fantastic rotunda and had two large wings either side of it. One is still lived in today by the same family that has lived on the estate for many years. Most of it is now owned by the National Trust and as such is open to visitors.

One of the things that marked it out was the servants quarters. I have been to many stately homes, I like to wallow in the ‘upstairs downstairs’ or ‘Downton Abbey’ experience. They all had an army of servants to run these big houses in their heyday.

What marks this one is that the servants were so well-respected that after the first world war when the few men that did return refused to go back into service, Ixworth retained its staff right up until the 1930’s.

I remember the servants hall with its upright Piano, so evocative of evenings singing along to the latest music hall tunes (still on the piano waiting to be played.)

This was a really lovely place to visit.

 

 

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The Four Furies – Fictional tale.

There were four of them. 

Mrs Agnes Pruitt, vicars wife. Mrs Dorothy Blatchett, the wife of the local undertaker. Mrs Elsie Dinsmore, the head cook at the local college and Miss Thelma Barrow, spinster of the parish.

An unholy quartet of venom and spite. 

They sat there with an air of menace. There wasn’t a cauldron for them to foment their poisoned brew. Only the magazines on the coffee table of the hair salon.

They sat with their hair under the driers and talked mercilessly about their friends.

With a surgeons precision they dissected their victims reputations and gorged on the juices. 

Fake news is no new phenomenon because as long as there have been human beings, there has also been these putrifacted undead who live off gossip and the ashes of other people’s living fires. 

‘No smoke without fire’ They sagely spout knowing full well that any truth their gossip manages to unearth is merely coincidental to the juiciness of the tale itself. A more truthful epitaph would be ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.’

“I saw her who works at the off license going into number 11 yesterday, just before lunchtime. She emerged an hour later and her hair was in a completely different style, and her hubby away working on the oil rigs too. A shame. He’ll come home to a shock.” Said Dorothy Blatchett, with glee.

Elsie Dinsmore responded, like taking a serve in tennis. “Well I saw the new teacher at the school, you know the young heart-throb who all the young ladies are keen on? Well I saw him in his living room with another man. This fashion for doing away with net curtains is a boon for those of us with a more observing nature. I could see the whole thing! A bitter disappointment for all the lasses when this gets out. A shame really, such a waste.”

Agnes Pruitt replied “It seems very common nowadays that sort of thing. My husband took our car to the garage to be serviced and he saw one of the mechanics slap another one on the backside when he bent over to check the engine!” 

Slightly indignantly Dorothy Blatchett quickly uttered “Maybe it was a bit of horseplay. My grandson works at that garage and he’s been walking out with the Sunday school teacher.”

“Well maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t but there’s certainly more of it about.” Lamented Agnes.

“Shhhh, here comes Debbie to check on us, I’ve got something to tell you about her, when she’s gone.” Thelma Barrow quickly interjected.

“How are you ladies getting on? Almost dry? I can see you’re almost ready Mrs Blatchett, I’ll be back in ten minutes to finish you off.” 

When she’d gone they started up again.

“Well Thelma what have you got on Debbie then? Always seems a nice girl, never heard nothing about her.”

“Well I was walking past the pub the other night and out stumbled Keith Stanmore with his arm around Debbie’s waist. I don’t think they saw me. Keith’s wife has just had twins too. You never would have thought it, would you?”

“Was that last Thursday Thelma?” Replied Elsie, “I think you’ve gone awry there dear. Keith is Debbie’s Cousin and there was a bit of a do last Thursday in the pub to celebrate Keith and Sally having twins. My Gerald was in there, apparently they all put in to buy Keith several rounds.” 

The others sighed in disappointment, something would have to go and spoil it. 

Then Debbie returned to see to Mrs Blatchett and their gossip came to an end, at least until the next time.

“Bye dears see you in Church on Sunday.” Said Thelma to her friends as she left.

 

Then she went home to her little bungalow. 

She sat on her sofa and caught her reflection in the tarnished mirror on the mantelpiece. Her made-up lined face stared back at her. The bags under her eyes. When did she get so Old? Her hair was nicely blued, curled and set. She thought about her life. In the blink of an eye she had gone from a young thing getting ready for a night out, dancing with her fella. Then he was dead and gone. With so many others who had gone to war. The years passed like lightning and here she was alone and miserable. The misery was so deep within her bones. It was just habit that kept her going, and will keep her going until she died alone in bed.

Nowadays it was other people’s lives that were the only thing left to interest her. She envied them. These youngsters. 

Wiping away a little tear, she reached for the remote control and turned the television on. It was one of those reality programmes where they go in undercover to see how people really lived. She smiled and took a bit of pleasure from seeing someone get embarrassed by the cameras. 

While she watched and lived vicariously through others, the victims of her spite were out enjoying themselves in the local pub. They were happy.  It is so much better to be living life and be the subject of other’s gossip, than to be the gossiper, alone and at home.

Nothing can be more pathetic and pitiable than a life unlived. 

The End

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 28/March/2018

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/quartet/

 

via Daily Prompt: Quartet

Picture of the Day – Warwick Castle

My choice for picture of the day is this photograph of Warwick Castle, taken a few years ago on a very memorable trip to visit this landmark.

I think Warwick Castle is now owned by the same company that owns Madame Tussauds in London. They charge admission to the castle and grounds, but it is worth it.

I remember they had a scary dungeon tour with actors that screamed at you as you walk round. Stimulating.

The day we went they were hosting a tournament and had a number of fun things going on.

They had some jousting knights, a falconry display and they fired the great trebuchet (a siege engine, like a massive catapult).

They had things for kids of all ages, grown up ones included.

I remember they had a game set up in the inner courtyard with large rings on poles (if you are familiar with the Harry Potter films, they were just like the quidditch goal rings) and kids could pay to try and throw toy rats through the rings to win a prize.

I recall one small lad who was very disappointed to learn that the rats weren’t real!

Anyway, I hope you like the photo.

 

Thumbelina – Micro fairy tale

I have always enjoyed fairy tales. I grew up watching them, hearing them and then reading them.

I remember seeing a film, I think it was Hans Christian Andersen with the Actor Danny Kaye.

He sang a song about Thumbelina.

Thumbelina, Thumbelina tiny little thing
Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing
Thumbelina what’s the difference if you’re very small?
When your heart is full of love you’re nine feet tall.

After a little research and an enjoyable trip down memory lane I found out that Danny Kaye actually wrote as well as performed the song.

Micro though she may have been, she was much loved.

Let your personality be the biggest thing about you. Let it shine to bring warmth and encouragement to everyone around you.

No matter how big you become, remember those starting out, with less experience, or with smaller talents.

May your talent grow, but may your ego’s remain micro.

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 27/March/2018

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/micro/

via Daily Prompt: Micro

Picture of the day – Crimson Rosellas

This is a picture taken a few years ago in the Bunya Mountains area of inland Queensland, Australia.

I remember is was August/September time, So End of Winter into early Spring in Australia. In Brisbane it was very pleasant (for an Englishman) reaching 20 degrees celsius by 10 o’clock in the morning and only getting notably chilly at night.

Up in the Bunya’s though it was a little colder, even for me. The chalets we were staying in had wood burning stoves, which was cosy. We actually needed them once the sun went down. There was even a frost on the ground.

Outside the chalet was a bird feeding area and we ended up playing host to some of these gorgeous Crimson Rosella’s and also a couple of King parrots. We also had to routinely chase away a Scrub turkey, which was rather a nuisance. It would disturb the other birds. I used to chase it away with a broom.

It was a lovely little spot.

I hope you liked this picture.

 

Like mowing the lawn with nail clippers

 

I thought long and hard about this word prompt.

I think I must be a little whimsical today and not so prone to deep thinking as I hope I normally am, because All I could think of was Stan the Handyman.

Handyman Stan is a quirky fellow, with denim dungarees and a flat cap.

He has a small light brown moustache, rather like the bristles of a broom.

He is the very height of inefficiency, I’m afraid, but somehow we don’t mind because he is such a nice chap. A whistler. He whistles quite nicely while he works.

He uses an artist’s brush to paint our fence and mows the lawn with a pair of nail clippers.

Although he is an inefficient handyman, I rather like him.

He is a figment of my imagination, But I am fond of him all the same.

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 26/March/2018

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/inefficient/

via Daily Prompt: Inefficient

Remembering Beethoven

Today is the anniversary of the death of Ludwig Van Beethoven. One of the most inspirational and brilliant composers who has ever graced this earth. Who’s legacy still remains to enrich our lives and lift our hearts.

Ludwig Van Beethoven died on the 26th of March 1827 at the age of just 56. 

Although this was 191 years ago and therefore not a nice rounded number since his demise, his importance is such that this does not diminish the fact that remembering him today is worth while.

He was born on the 17th of December 1770 in Bonn, the city that at the time was the capital of the electorate of Cologne and of course this city became the capital of West Germany during the time of Germany’s unfortunate, but thankfully temporary, split.

In around 1790/91 he moved to the City of Vienna, such a bastion of musical enlightenment which includes Mozart and Haydn (among others) in its repertoire of musical notables that called Vienna home. 

Beethoven’s musical genius gave us the fantastic and inspiring 5th Symphony where the repeated notes (Duh, duh, duh, Dum) recall the knocking of opportunity, that sound that supposedly knocks for all of us at one stage of our lives and we ignore it at our peril.

He gave us the Moonlight Sonata and the piece known as Fur Elise, which are both staple diets for the practising pianists even to this day. 

He also gave us one of my absolute favourite pieces of music. His 6th Symphony, affectionately named The Pastoral Symphony.

He also left us many interesting quotes, although probably not as many as are attributed to him on social media that latch on to any name of the past to aggrandize a notable witticism. 

He said “Music is a higher revelation than philosophy”.

I think it can certainly be claimed that music and philosophy go hand in hand in inspiring our soul and lifting our spirits.

He said “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” 

What could be more true and appropriate?

He said “To play a wrong note is insignificant but to play without passion is inexcusable.”

This should apply just as much to life itself. We should grab the opportunity knocking and don’t stop to fear a wrong note, or mistake along the path, we should just enjoy life with a passion. No Life lead with a passion could ever be called a failure. 

Finally, on his deathbed, he apparently said “Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est.”

“Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over.”

Well, my friend, we have never stopped Applauding.

Bravo, Beethoven, Bravo!

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 26/March/2018

 

Picture of the Day – Blossoms of Spring

This picture was taken a couple of years ago in Stockholm.

Spring that year didn’t come until late April.

We have a Magnolia tree in the garden and this usually flowers Mid-March or early April.

That year it hadn’t flowered before we went on a Baltic cruise in Late April and into May.

We arrived in Stockholm just as the cherry trees bloomed. It was spectacular.

And when we got home, the Magnolia tree was still in bloom, we hadn’t missed it.

This year is looking to be the same, a late spring. The Magnolia tree is just about ready to flower though.

Enjoy your Monday.