It's a long time since I've shared a book with you but today I'm sharing Elizabeth's Rival - The Tumultuous Tale of Lettice Knollys - Countess of Leicester by Nicola Tallis.
It's about time Lettice had her own book amid all those Tudor histories, as she was married to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth I's favourite and was Mother to Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex, also a favourite of the Queen. Her mother was the daughter of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne who was King Henry VIII's second wife.
I first came across her on my first trip to Greys Court near Henley, where she was born. In fact, one of my very first blogposts was about her, here's a link. I think what surprised me most was that fact that she lived until she was 91, no mean feat during those dicey times.
Nicola Tallis' book takes us through her life, carefully making sure not to take account of too much gossip that abounded at the time unless there was contemporary corroboration of the facts. Lettice emerges as a family-loving woman having to deal with many difficulties and tragedies throughout her life and if you are interested in the Tudor period, it is well worth a read.
Luckily, I came across the book in the National Trust shop at Greys Court but you can buy it from Amazon, it's probably too new to be in the library yet, but you never know.
The Savill Garden, part of The Crown Estate in Windsor Great Park, is a delightful 35 acre garden that we've visited before. Last time we called in, for a cup of tea before walking to the Copper Horse overlooking Windsor Castle, there was a marquee with refreshments instead of their beautiful building with the wavy roof, as it was undergoing alterations.
We were rather surprised to find that these were still going on, due to finish in March. Never mind, at least there was no entrance fee during January and February like many other gardens.
Let's have a wander.
Lovely Winter colours in the sun, punctuated by a few flowers in the form of hellebores and snowdrops.
Inside the glass house, it's a lot warmer.
Heading for the famous rose garden, roses all pruned and ready for the off, the grasses too had been clipped, some forming transitory sculptures reminiscent of witches.
Such a pretty water tank.
The star of the show was this huge Daphne, the scent was exquisite. Go on, breathe in that heady perfume. Gorgeous
No sign of work on the main building from the outside. Plenty of new paths under construction though.
Even though there's not a lot of plant action at this time of year, this was a brilliant afternoon walk with the plants ready to burst into life given a bit more warmth.
Aerobility is a charity established in 1993 that aims to use aviation as a tool to support disability to remove barriers and change perception and offer anyone with a disability, without exception, the chance to fly a plane. The challenge and exhilaration offered can bring a new outlook on their disabilities and help to engender confidence and zest for life.
It is based at Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, although 20 other airports around the UK are also involved. They have 5 adapted aircraft as well as ground based simulators. Hoists are used to lift people from their wheelchairs into the planes, there's wheelchair access to hot air balloons and even an adapted aerobatic plane for the adventurous.
The youngest flyer has been a 7 year old and the eldest 96 and all disabilities from cerebral palsy to locked in syndrome, alzheimer's to wounded military personnel and even blindness can be catered for.
Once you've decided to have a go, the first thing to start with is the flight simulator and model building. Then you can try a trial flight which consists of a briefing and a 30 minute flight. The aspiring pilot programme consist of 4-5 visits over 2 months plus a flight.
It's all financially subsidised, costing £63 for a days experience. There are various scholarships and bursaries with support from Boeing, Help for Heroes, Douglas Bader, British Airways and others.
Inside the planes, there are hand controls, voice control, eye gaze controls, adaptable seating with head support, cushions and for the blind a black box has been developed that beeps to indicate direction.
On the flying day, special schools, disability groups, corporate donors and partner charities get involved.
This year they are celebrating their 25th Anniversary with various festivities at the activity centre at Blackbushe including a night Moon Walk round the area and are organising a Wing Walk on old planes.
They are building an aeroplane at Blackbushe built by disabled people with assistance and are thinking of doing an activity at Farnborough Air Show this year.
As all charities, they are hoping for donations of time and money and would love to hear from anyone with relevant experience.
Have a look at their website with all the information you need just in case you know someone who would benefit from this experience or want to support the charity.
These are my notes from a talk and all details should be checked with Aerobility.
There are two art galleries in the middle of Hyde Park - the Serpentine and Serpentine Sackler - either side of the bridge over the Serpentine. I always pop in to see what's on when I'm passing, last time Grayson Perry was exhibiting. This time, Rose Wylie was there, actually there, with her exhibition of work entitled Quack Quack.
Rose Wylie was born in 1934 in Kent, graduated from the Royal College of Art, has had many, many exhibitions, won prizes and was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 2015. She was only known to a small circle until her 70s but now she is the talk of the town.
Her work is quite naive and simplistic and not really my cup of tea. If you'd like to read more about the paintings and the Artist's inspiration, here's a link.
Crossing the road in Picadilly, London isn't always easy and having made it to the middle of the road, I paused and as I paused, behind me a beautiful tinkly tune came from the Fortnum & Mason clock. It was one o'clock.
The clock was added to the store's frontage in 1964, its bells were made at the same foundry as Big Ben. A variety of tunes play every 15 minutes and on the hour, the doors open and out come Messrs Fortnum and Mason.
Watching from the opposite side of the road, I liked the fact that the figures nodded to each other and stayed a little longer than most tourists thought before turning and heading back indoors.