Friday 18 December 2020

Scary Stories


This story is in response to the regular call for shared storytelling  on the blog 100 words for advent from Loren Eaton.

The blog is described “as a place for people who like stories in general and genre fiction in particular. It's a place for folks who prefer to read and write fantasy and horror, science fiction and crime fiction”.

So here is my 100 word story:

The Poison Garden

Visiting the Poison Garden was her idea.   

Hundreds of species of poisonous plants from rhubarb to hemlock were attractively arranged, interspersed with culinary and medicinal herbs.

Hurrying my wife past warnings on the information board, I actively encouraged rubbing leaves to release the aroma of various plants lining our route.  Surely she would encounter a poisonous one.

“Help! Quick. Look at this rash!”

Pretending not to hear and willing myself not to look back, I waited until she fell silent before shouting for assistance. 

The Coroner reported her death wasn’t from the irritant, Ruta graveolens, but from a heart attack.

 - 0 -

To read more scary stories, check out I Saw Lightning Fall


Saturday 12 December 2020

Six on Saturday mid-December

So here we are in mid-December and almost at the point in the year when the days become longer.  Can’t wait!  I check for signs of new growth every day.

Here are my six:

Some roses are still hanging on

The evergreen fern, Polystichum polyblepharum, looks good

Garlic planted late November developing nicely

The cheerful colour of the Winter Jasmine is a welcome sight at the front door

I like to plant up a pot of Bellis which will flower through until late Spring

This basket, which currently contains Cyclamen, will be substituted for pots of other plants according to the season

The Propagator generously hosts Six on Saturday.  Click on the link to his blog to see what he and his followers are growing and doing in their gardens this week.  Perhaps you feel you could add your own six too.

Stay well everyone.


Thursday 26 November 2020

Libraries and their evolution


Since being a small child when I would regularly walk the two mile return journey to my local library, I have always valued and enjoyed visiting these institutions even though I and they have changed over the decades.  I still miss those catalogues of index cards housed in wooden drawers and the cardboard tickets with the pocket.  Am I the only one who envied the librarian as she stamped the date on the books?  School libraries, both as a pupil and a teacher, have represented a peaceful haven from the tumult of the surroundings.

During the pandemic, reading and procuring reading material has been top of my list so, while my usual sources such as friends and charity shops have not been readily available, I have had to find others.  A bit like an addict, I always need a stash of reading matter.

Little libraries

Fortunately, we have two Little Libraries literally on my doorstep.  Local residents stock the libraries and borrow from as and when.  So far, I have only scanned the titles and deposited books there as opposed to borrowing, but I feel secure in the knowledge that reading matter is accessible 24/7 should I need it.  The only people who may miss out on this opportunity are the writers but perhaps it allows them allow to reach a wider audience.

I have spotted Little Libraries all over including this one in a tiny, Yorkshire village:

Virtual Libraries

 In my opinion, not as good as holding a book in your hand, virtual libraries have their place.  My Kindle app allows me to carry about with me hundreds of books which are readily accessible while travelling or queuing.  The downside is making sure the devices are charged and the difficulty of recalling the title of my current read when the front cover and writer’s name isn’t always on show.

While the municipal libraries have been closed, the facility to borrow ebooks and audiobooks have been added to their services using the app Borrowbox enabling borrowing and at the click of a button.  This has enabled me to virtually borrow quite a few books from my to-read list and to try out audiobooks using my new earbuds.  I have to admit that I am not a fan audiobooks, particularly when it involves multiple characters, the reader’s voice is not appropriate or you want to re-read bits.

Other Library Services

While the libraries have been closed for pandemic of 2020, they will be sorely missed by those who use the wide range of services they provide; reading rooms, Wifi hotspots and, especially in the case those village libraries taken over by volunteers, venues for talks, table tennis and toddler groups.

I have previously blogged about various other libraries at Third Age: Libraries ( so I won’t repeat myself.

Please do comment on your preferred reading sources or books to recommend. 

Saturday 3 October 2020

Six on Saturday

Luckily, I picked these from the garden yesterday as there is no way I’m venturing out in this cold, wet weather.


Cotinus, Artemisia, Persicaria, Abelia, Sedum Autumn Joy

Last of the bulbs.  How do you remember where existing bulbs are planted before digging to insert new ones?

The Propagator generously hosts Six on Saturday.  Click on the link to his blog to see what he and his followers are growing and doing in their gardens this week.  Perhaps you feel you could add your own six too.

Stay well everyone.


Saturday 26 September 2020

An Autumn break in Northumberland

Northumberland is beautiful in any season, but our preferred time to visit is in Autumn.  

Membership of the Historic Houses Association entitled us to visit many castles for free.

We visited Alnwick Gardens a few years ago, so this time we explored Alnwick Castle.  This impressive castle has been home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys for more than 700 years and is now notorious for being the  location  of the filming of Harry Potter.

View from the castle

Then on to Alnmouth Village Golf Club where we had a drink at the clubhouse.  The club was established in 1869 and is the oldest 9-hole links in England with good views of the bay and Coquet Island. 

We spent the next day on a mini road trip road visiting some old haunts and finding new ones.

First stop was the small working harbour of Amble.  Over the years it has reinvented itself from a fishing village, sandstone quarry and transporter of coal to a marina with trendy boutiques, bistros and a state-of-the-art fish market.

The uninhabited Coquet Island owned by the Duke of Northumberland and managed as a bird reserve by the  RSPB
On to Seahouses via Boulmer and Embleton, where we stopped for lunch at the Bamburgh Castle Hotel which gives a clear view of the Farne Islands.   
Next, Bamburgh Castle. 

Bamburgh Castle is an imposing building which looks over a beautiful beach.  The artefacts are fascinating and well curated.

On our last day the weather took a turn for the worse so we took advantage of  a browse round Barter Books at Alnwick an amazing second hand bookshop covering every subject imaginable.  It has cosy reading rooms with open fires and a toy railway runs on a circuit above the shelves.

 Going inland, our last stop was Chillingham Castle which is advertised as being the most haunted Castle in the UK and is complete with torture dungeons.  The present owner and resident of this medieval castle, Sir Edward Humphry, inherited the property as a shell.  An antique dealer by trade, he has since filled the building with a variety of interesting artefacts from tennis racquets to typewriters.  

For more details of the places mentioned, the keyword Northumberland will bring up past posts.


Friday 28 August 2020

A Stone for Srebrenica -25 years on

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, our local group of Nisa Nashim (Muslim and Jewish women) joined Big Ideas in painting stones.  The stones will be a permanent reminder of the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust and all other victims of Nazi persecution and to those murdered in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The stones from across the United Kingdom will be placed within the foundations of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London. Each painted stone is a commitment to remember the past and to build a future free from all forms of prejudice, discrimination and hatred.

My stone includes a heart, the Hebrew word Chai and flowers to represent Love, Life and Regeneration:

Pictures of other stones and more information can be found at

Sadly, we haven't learnt from the horrors of the past and persecution still continues today. 

In the words of Eli Wiesel, holocaust survivor: We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Friday 31 July 2020

Ten Years a Blogger

Happy tenth anniversary to Thirdageblogger!
Birthday, Polaroid, Chalkboard Font

I began this blog as personal journal after I retired and was considering my options.  I cited the following as possible avenues:
 Not mine!  Italian Gardens, Scarborough


Voluntary work


Do something new every week

Followers of my blog will know that I did indeed embrace these options and have met new people and encountered bloggers of similar interests from whom I have learnt a great deal.

Who would have thought that a pandemic could change our lives to such a degree - and it's not over yet?  

I recognise that my blog is rather eclectic but it fits the criteria of a personal journal to look back on in my dotage.  For this reason I will continue to record my triumphs, however small.

Thank you for reading and hope that you will continue to drop by.

Monday 27 July 2020

Visit to Kiplin Hall and Gardens

Taking advantage of what the forecast promised to be a fair weather day, we visited Kiplin Hall and Gardens, situated off the beaten track in the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside near Richmond.  The Jacobean Hall was built by George Calvert, Secretary of State to James 1 and founder of Maryland USA.  Four families, all blood relatives, have owned and lived here and left the paintings and furniture they collected as well as the art work, literature and furniture that they produced.  The last member of the family, Bridget Talbot, had no offspring neither did her siblings so when she died in 1971, she bequeathed it to charity.  I'll leave the rest of the history for you to discover.
This lake was the result of gravel quarrying in the 1990’s. The income from the sale of the gravel was used to pay for the restoration of the hall. 

The Folly

  Geese and swans can be seen on the 1 mile walk around the lake.  The island is a safe haven for them.  There is a wide variety of wild flowers and trees with benches dotted about to appreciate the scenery.  

The gardens are a delight.  We had our picnic in the walled garden with its swathes of flowers, edged with fruit trees, an allotment and ornamental pond.

There are other walks around the grounds, none very strenuous, so allow a good few hours for your visit.

Sunday 19 July 2020

Visit to Scampston Hall and Walled Garden

It was such a treat to visit Scampston, in North Yorkshire, which was impressive even under grey skies and drizzle.
The Walled Garden was designed by Piet Oudolf in 1999 and his signature swathes of grasses and flowers are very much in evidence.

A viewing mount gives an overall impression of the whole garden
The garden is such a great opportunity to find plenty of planting ideas for your own garden.

In contrast, the parkland was the work of Capability Brown with a huge lake, bridge and waterfall.  The Hall was closed for this year.


Throughout the grounds there are trails allowing you to discover wildflower meadows, specimen trees, wildlife and the various outbuildings and features of a stately home.

I don't like to give too much away, as you can experience the wow factor for yourself.  A cafe and plant sales completes the experience. 

“The sea is their grave but this Memorial sculpture is, in many ways, a headstone for the lost trawlermen”

I have always been impressed by the architecture in the centre of the maritime city of Hull, especially the old buildings with their carving...