A Dorset Weekend With The Silent Eye – Part 1

I know. It’s been a while since I’ve been here. And I’m still officially on a blog break. However, a few weeks ago I spent a weekend in Dorset with The Silent Eye, which I really wanted to write about, so here we are.

It usually takes me a little while after such weekends for me to process everything that happened. There are layers upon layers, some of which only become apparent once I’ve had a chance to reflect. There is magic, and impressions – whether they are valid or simply a product of my over-active imagination, I’ll leave to you to decide. There is always joy. And so the weekend began…

I took a train, as I usually do – I don’t drive much and there is something I love about travelling through the landscape where roads don’t tend to go, seeing the way the colours change, subtle tints of leaf and stone and sky. This trip was a long one – first into the bustle of London, then out, past glimpses of the Houses of Parliament and the Thames before heading south through leafy suburbs into open countryside. We crossed the New Forest, past wild ponies grazing in tree-lined clearings, skirted the coastline at Southampton before turning right and ending up in Dorchester, where Sue and Stuart were waiting for me.

It was such a pleasure to see them again. The sun was shining, and it seemed an auspicious start to a weekend that would be spent exploring a sacred landscape close to the midsummer solstice. Once I’d decanted my luggage into the car, we hit the road, heading for our first stop, Cadbury.

South Cadbury is a small and charming village located just over the county border in Somerset. It’s a quiet place with houses built of mellow golden stone, where roses climb and foxes dance along thatched roofs. It is also, according to long-standing tradition, the location of the legendary Camelot, court of King Arthur (I’m not 100% sure about this, as there are several other solid theories, but that’s another blog post). There is a ‘castle’ here of sorts – Cadbury Castle, an impressive Iron Age earthwork crowning the hill that overlooks the village. Evidence suggests it has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and excavations in the 1960s did, in fact, uncover an Arthurian-era feasting hall on the site, reinforcing the legend. We were going to make the trek up the hill to the castle, but our first stop was the small church that sat almost in the shadow of the hill. And so the companions converged…

…the church was quiet, empty feeling. Pretty enough, with roses and tree avenues, views out over the long fields. But there was no power there…

It was a lovely reunion with familiar faces, as well as new, with two lovely Americans making up our group of seven. Once we’d exchanged greetings and spent some time in the church, we took a short walk along the road to the entrance to the castle. It is accessed via a track with a gate – there is no entry fee and the way is deep and hollow, trees curving along its length. I started up the steep path and…

… it was as though she were being pulled up on a string, forging far ahead of the group, feet sure on the rocky path, a hollow way of green. As she neared the end of the path, her attention was drawn to two high points to the left of her, festooned in leaves and branches. Yet there seemed to be someone up there, a host of presences waving their arms. ‘You are welcome here,’ they cried. ‘We are so pleased to see you all! Come join us’. And she knew that on the field ahead there would be tents as far as she could see, white and blue and cloth-of-gold, all come to this place for the dance. But when she reached the field, it was empty, and sorrow overwhelmed her. ‘Do not worry,’ they said, still smiling, still welcoming. ‘We are still here. Come, join the dance…

It was a very strange feeling. I can’t explain it any other way except to say it felt almost as if I could have flown up that hill, the clear joy of being there thrumming through me. Even though I was already far ahead of the group, I had to temper my pace so as not to lose them entirely. It reminded me of another place that had affected me profoundly, somewhere I’d also had impressions of blue and cloth-of-gold – Carl Wark.

I waited at the top of the track for the rest of the group, all of us taken by the trees and air and landscape that undulated for miles around. Notches and earthworks were visible in the landscape around us and, in the distance, like an island rising from a green patchwork sea, was Glastonbury Tor.

…as she looked out to the distant Tor (distant, yet somehow close at the same time), it seemed as though there was a thread between it and where she stood, the low landscape between bursting with light and energy like fireworks, building to midsummer…

We stood for a little while, looking at the view and the impressive earthworks, listening to a short history of the place. It had been overthrown by Romans, who had stationed their legions there, but soon came back under local control. While this did happen occasionally, the scale and success of such an attack would, according to historians, have to have been led by a powerful local leader or king, adding fuel to the Arthurian legend. It was a fascinating site and I was still buzzing, whether from the energy of the place, the simple joy of being there with like-minded people, or a combination of the two, I wasn’t sure. We split up to explore the ramparts, with a plan to meet at the summit point. However, something had other plans for me…

…’Come up and over,’ they said, pulling her across the field. ‘Come dance with us!’ She hesitated, feeling a brief shadow, a time when this place had been rent with sorrow and violence. ‘Do not worry,’ they said. ‘It is but part of this place, and a small part at that. There is nothing but joy here now.’ And so she followed them up and over the green hill, butterflies dancing around her feet as she reached the summit. And there she could see the land stretching away, though this time rumpled and folded, rolling hills and deep valleys, a patchwork of summer green. She twirled, caught up in the joy of the place, of the dance….

I did twirl. Ah well. There was no one to see me except the cows, the undulating nature of the hilltop hiding the others from view. I carried on up and over, the landscape unfurling around me as I took a narrow path through the grass and wildflowers to the summit…

…’ Was King Arthur here, once?’ she asked. Laughter. ‘There have been many kings here’…

Hmmm. I rejoined the group at the very topmost point of the fort, where a stone pillar indicated the direction of so many sacred and important sites: Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Avebury, Maiden Castle… This was a very important landscape, connecting with other sites as far afield as Wales (the hillfort of Dinas Powys). If you are familiar with the concept of ley lines, energy lines within the landscape, it was interesting to note that Cadbury stands on the St Michael line, one of the most well-known. After a moment’s reflection, we made our way along the high earthworks towards the track. I could have stayed up there longer, (as I think could most of the group) but there were hotels to check into, plus a dinner reservation we needed to get to. However, we paused briefly, amused by a romantic message left below, and noted a strange phenomenon in one of the fields. There was no fence keeping those cattle in that line, and there was an earthwork visible on the hillside directly above them. Hmmm again. This was a very interesting place, and a suitably wonderful start to the weekend.

All too soon, it was time to leave, to head down the hollow path and back to the real world. Although, I think we would have been welcome to stay longer…

…’Where are you going?’ The stone hit the pathway with a sharp crack!, just missing her. ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’ She stopped, turning to see where the stone had come from. The bramble-tangled banks rose high either side of her, seemingly deserted. Still, it felt as though someone was waiting for a response. ‘I’m sorry I have to leave. But I’ll be back. And I thank you for your welcome.’ It seemed there was a sigh, and acceptance of her apology, and she proceeded down the path once more, unimpeded…

I guess this means I’ll have to go back there again.


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Bloggers Bash Tickets – LAST CHANCE!

I can’t believe there’s only a few days left until the 2018 Bash! This weekend is your last chance to get your tickets at the standard price, as from Monday, the cost will shoot up to the last-minute purchase price. So if you’re wavering, push that buy now button before it’s too late. 

The venue does have a capacity limit, which means tickets are limited. It’s first come first serve. So, once the tickets are gone, you ain’t getting in. We have bouncers. ** 

This year there are three pricing bands for tickets. 

Early Bird tickets: £20 (Sales end 11th Jan) 

Standard Tickets: £25 (Sales ends 13th May) 

Last Minute Larry Tickets: £30 (Sales 14th – 18th May) 

Prices are in sterling and can be bought using PayPal. Buy your ticket HERE, and it will be sent to you NEXT WEEK. 

The Bloggers Bash, for anyone that doesn’t know, is an annual event for bloggers. It’s a physical meet up in London, England and it’s open to any blogger from any platform, in any country. 

The Bash itself will be held on Saturday the 19th May 2017 in The George IV 

WANT TO CONNECT WITH ATTENDEES BEFORE THE EVENT? 

Before the day, we’ll post a blog with the links to all the attendees. If you would like to be mentioned in that blog post, then please drop us a line with your blog address and your name: annualbloggersbash@yahoo.co.uk If you don’t send us your information, you won’t be in the post. 

The SMALL Print 

  • Tickets are non-refundable  
  • Tickets are non-transferable 
  • Tickets are limited on a first come first served basis 
  • Cost of a ticket is for entry to the event only (not for food or anything else) 
  • Those buying a ticket agree to comply with any health & safety rules set by the venue and to behave in a way that will not impact upon the enjoyment of other people 
  • The Committee reserves the right to change the venue and/or agenda of the event 
  • Payment for tickets via PayPal only. 

** Please note, we do not actually have bouncers on the door. However, Hugh may well stop people on entry to hug them, and that can cause severe entry delays. 

To sign up for news about the bash straight to your inbox subscribe here.

The Annual Bloggers Bash – The Details

via THE ANNUAL BLOGGERS BASH – STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW

Are you wondering about the upcoming Blogger’s Bash? Still considering getting a ticket and coming along? Or perhaps you already have a ticket and are wondering about the all-important details about the venue and getting there?

Well, wonder no longer. Geoff has put together a comprehensive post detailing everything you need to know about the day (but if we missed anything, please don’t hesitate to ask!)

Read on for more…

Wednesday Wander – Cleopatra’s Needle, London

I had an impromptu trip into London yesterday. I’m currently trying to sort out a new passport for a trip I’m taking in a few weeks time, which has necessitated two trips to the Canadian embassy in Trafalgar Square. Yesterday’s visit was to replace my passport photos with another, equally dire set of images, as the ones I’d originally provided were ‘too glare-y.’

However, I didn’t have to wait too long to be seen by the very helpful staff, so  was soon back out in the sunshine with some time to spare before lunch. I thought I’d take a walk along the Embankment, which is where I encountered my Wander for this week.

This is Cleopatra’s Needle in Westminster, London. One of three similar obelisks in London, New York and Paris, it is actually a pair with the one in New York, and doesn’t really have anything to do with the legendary Egyptian queen (other than being from Egypt).

The Needle is an ancient Egyptian obelisk, and originally stood in the city of Heliopolis, where it was erected around 1450 BC by the Pharoah Thutmose III. Originally it had a single column of heiroglyphics on each face, but two more were added around 200 years later, to commemorate the military victories of Ramses II. Around 12BC, the obelisks were moved by the Romans to a temple in Alexandria, where they remained, buried under sand, until 1819, when the ruler of Egypt and Sudan presented one of them to the UK in commemoration of Lord Nelson’s victories in the Battle of the Nile.

The British government were pleased with their gift (one would imagine), but not pleased enough to pay to have the obelisk shipped to the UK. That didn’t happen until 1877, when Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, a noted anatomist, paid the enormous (at the time) sum of £10,000 out of his own pocket to have the obelisk brought to England. The trip almost ended in disaster when the ship was caught in a storm, but eventually the obelisk arrived, towed up the Thames to its eventual resting place .

When the obelisk was installed in its current position, in 1878, a time capsule was placed in the pedestal base. It contained a set of 12 photographs of the best-looking English women of the day (!), a box of hairpins, a box of cigars, several tobacco pipes, a set of imperial weights, a baby’s bottle, some children’s toys, a shilling razor, a hydraulic jack and some samples of the cable used in the erection, a 3′ bronze model of the monument, a complete set of contemporary British coins, a rupee, a portrait of Queen Victoria, a written history of the transport of the monument, plans on vellum, a translation of the inscriptions, copies of the Bible in several languages, a copy of John 3:16 in 215 languages,[6] a copy of Whitaker’s Almanack, a Bradshaw Railway Guide, a map of London and copies of 10 daily newspapers. Phew!

The obelisk pedestal has several Egyptian embellishments, and is flanked by two cast-bronze Sphinxes. Placed incorrectly, they are looking at the obelisk, rather than outwards, guarding it. Benches in the area were also designed to reflect the Egyptian theme, with more Sphinxes holding up the seats.

Nowadays the obelisk looks out at the London Eye and The Shard, the waters running past it the cold grey-brown of the Thames, rather than the glistening Nile. It is an oddity, out of place and time, almost lost among the trees and buildings, traffic roaring past. I wonder whether it dreams of palms and blue sky, of desert heat, and a time when it stood, whole and proud, with its twin.

I guess we’ll never know.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me. See you next time!


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

And don’t forget to get your Bloggers Bash tickets – follow this link to join the fun 🙂

 

 

Wednesday Wander – Royal Albert Hall, London

This week I’m taking a wander to somewhere I visited fairly recently. In fact, it was only yesterday.

It’s half term, so my daughter and I have been spending time together, and yesterday we went to London. We planned to do some shopping in Covent Garden, then head to Embankment to meet hubby. After that, dinner in Kensington beckoned, and a visit to somewhere we’d never been before: The Royal Albert Hall.

Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, the Hall was built as a memorial to her beloved husband, Albert, who died in 1861. Prior to his death, he had envisioned a series of public buildings in London, and the Hall, with its large monument opposite, was seen as a fitting tribute to his vision. Constructed of red brick and terracotta, the circular Hall is crowned with a huge steel dome, which was constructed off-site and brought in pieces to be placed in situ.

However, the massive dome, while seen as a miracle of engineering, also created acoustic issues – not ideal in a venue designed for performances. Various methods were tried to reduce the echo, but it wasn’t until 1969 that the issue was finally resolved, with the installation of fibreglass acoustic disks. The effect is quite beautiful, like an abstract artwork.

The Hall has seen many famous names grace its stage, from Wagner to Adele, as well as hosting events such as the Eurovision Song Contest and the yearly Proms. Last night it was Cirque Du Soleil, with their latest offering, Ovo. It was a beautiful, mesmerising performance – we were spellbound for the entire two hours.

When it ended, we went out into the cold night, walking past the dark mass of Hyde Park as we looked for a taxi. We sped towards the station and caught the next train home, our minds full of gilt and smoke and tumbling lithe figures.

Thanks for coming on a Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

And don’t forget to get your Bloggers Bash tickets – follow this link to join the fun 🙂

Last Chance for Bloggers Bash Early Bird Tickets!

Thinking of coming to this year’s Blogger’s Bash? If so, time is running out to get your early bird tickets! 

 The Bash will be held on May 19th in the leafy London suburb of Chiswick, and tickets are already selling fast. The day is a great chance to socialise with other bloggers as well as learn more about blogging, with talks, Q&A session and a panel discussion all included in the price. 

 Our early bird offer means you can get your ticket for the discounted cost of only £20 – but only until January 11th. After that, prices rise to the standard ticket price of £25, with late entry tickets available between the 4th and 18th of May for £30. 

 So be like the bird and get your worm, figuratively speaking! Follow this link to join the party – we hope to see you there! 

 Please take note of the small print:  

  • Tickets are non-refundable 
  • Tickets are non-transferable 
  • Tickets are limited on a first come first served basis 
  • Cost of a ticket is for entry to the event only (not for food or anything else) 
  • Those buying a ticket agree to comply with any health & safety rules set by the venue and to behave in a way that will not impact upon the enjoyment of other people 
  • The Committee reserves the right to change the venue and/or agenda of the event 
  • Payment for tickets via PayPal only. 

WHAT IS THE BASH? 

If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and aided by her intrepid committee of eight bloggers, the Bash is open to any blogger, regardless of age or niche. Previous events have included speakers, competitions, a panel, and attendees from all over the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada. 

There will be an opportunity to network, eat cake, and meet some amazing online friends in person! The event takes place in a single day, and you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic time and a sore face from all of the smiling you’ll do! 

Timings and the exact breakdown of the day will be available closer to the event, but it will start mid-morning and end in the evening. We announce the winners of the Bloggers Bash Awards, which you, the blogging public, vote for. You can see last year’s winners here. 

WANT TO KNOW MORE? 

Join Sacha and the committee on our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/991165987611263/ 

You can also join us for our weekly Twitter Hour, every Sunday 7pm-8pm using the hashtag #BlogBashChat, or join in the conversation on Twitter by using the #BloggersBash hashtag. 

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO NOW? 

  1. BUY your ticket! https://wp.me/p885Ux-1Qc
  2. Send us your blog name and link to annualbloggersbash@yahoo.co.uk so you can be added to our attendee’s post. (NB: if you don’t send this information you won’t be added).
  3. Pop the date in the diary and tell the world you’re attending a fabulous blogger soiree.
  4. Sort out your travel and accommodation.
  5. Pack your bag, remember to bring business cards, throw in a notebook, and join us for a fantastic day of blogging fun.

NEW Bloggers Bash Website COMING SOON! 

Bloggers Bash Tickets – Now On Sale!!

THE BLOGGERS BASH IS BACK!

Now in its fourth year, the Annual Bloggers Bash returns bigger and better than ever. The venue is booked, and the committee is busy working behind the scenes to ensure the day is full of fun, learning opportunities, networking, and, of course, the blogtastic award ceremony.

Over the next few months, we will be sharing various posts about the award nominations, the attendees, our writing competition, and the other opportunities that will be available for those bloggers who attend.

To enjoy this day out in London surrounded by fellow bloggers, we suggest you sign up for the early bird tickets TODAY, so you don’t miss out.

TICKETS:

Early Bird Bash Ticket (available until 11th January) £20 pp

Standard Tickets (available until 3rd May) £25 pp

Late Entry Tickets (available between 4th – 18th May) £30 pp

Please take note of the small print: 

  • Tickets are non-refundable
  • Tickets are non-transferable
  • Tickets are limited on a first come first served basis
  • Cost of a ticket is for entry to the event only (not for food or anything else)
  • Those buying a ticket agree to comply with any health & safety rules set by the venue and to behave in a way that will not impact upon the enjoyment of other people
  • The Committee reserves the right to change the venue and/or agenda of the event
  • Payment for tickets via PayPal only.

WHAT IS THE BASH?

If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and aided by her intrepid committee of eight bloggers, the Bash is open to any blogger, regardless of age or niche. Previous events have included speakers, competitions, a panel, and attendees from all over the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada.

There will be an opportunity to network, eat cake, and meet some amazing online friends in person! The event takes place in a single day, and you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic time and a sore face from all of the smiling you’ll do!

Timings and the exact breakdown of the day will be available closer to the event, but it will start mid-morning and end in the evening. We announce the winners of the Bloggers Bash Awards, which you, the blogging public, vote for. You can see last year’s winners here.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Join Sacha and the committee on our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/991165987611263/

You can also join us for our weekly Twitter Hour, every Sunday 7pm-8pm using the hashtag #BlogBashChat, or join in the conversation on Twitter by using the #BloggersBash hashtag.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO NOW?

1. BUY your ticket! https://wp.me/p885Ux-1Qc

2. Send us your blog name and link to annualbloggersbash@yahoo.co.uk so you can be added to our attendee’s post. (NB: if you don’t send this information you won’t be added).

3. Pop the date in the diary and tell the world you’re attending a fabulous blogger soiree.

4. Sort out your travel and accommodation.

5. Pack your bag, remember to bring business cards, throw in a notebook, and join us for a fantastic day of blogging fun.

NEW Bloggers Bash Website COMING SOON!