A Sad Situation

Beauty In A White Coat, Brunette


Madelyn had always been a healthy and active individual.  She had played field hockey at school, and even was given a scholarship to play the sport at university.  On finishing her degree, she was thrilled to be recruited for a major financial firm near Canary Wharf in London.   All of her Californian friends were envious of the opportunities and experiences she would have.

Her arrival in the UK was in an exceptionally hot summer by British standards, but didn’t seen all that uncomfortable for the San Diego native.  Her flat was modern, yet un-air conditioned, so she spent much of her out of the office time exploring the landmarks or just chilling in Hyde Park.

As October, and then November crept around, Madelyn found the damp chill a little too much to deal with.  She began to spend more and more of her leisure time in the warmth of her amply heated flat.  Despite this she felt increasingly ill.  There were days when she felt so listless that she could barely pull herself from under the bed covers and go to work.

Eventually, with Christmas around the corner, and the fatigue rowing more intense, she scheduled an appointment with her doctor.  Some blood tests were made, and she was told that they would have the results in seven to ten days.  It proved an incredibly long week for Madelyn.  Not only was she constantly exhausted, but she had a nagging worry about the upcoming diagnosis.  Was it cancer? she would muse.  It was almost too much to bear.

Finally the day of the follow-up GP’s visit came.   She entered the doctor’s surgery with apprehension.

“Miss Warren, please take a set,” the doctor said.

“It’s bad isn’t it?” Madelyn blurted out.

“No.  It’s SAD actually,” the GP replied.

“Sad?” Madelyn queried.

“Yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder – that and some low vitamin levels.  It affects a lot of people in Britain.  The low levels of sun light in the Autumn and Winter have a physical impact on the body.  I am going to prescribe some Vitamin D capsules for you, and I recommend that you try a light box.  Many people find they help.

Later that evening, after a trip to Boots Chemists, Madelyn settled onto her bed and plugged in her new Lumie SAD Lamp.  “Well then,” Madelyn said, ” I guess You are my sunshine.”




Saturday Mix – Mad About Metaphor: You are my sunshine


Leaving London


Vehicles On The Road

Photo by Lina Kivaka from Pexels

Leaving London – crossing Thames

The capital departed – to find hidden gems.

Goodbye Westminster, Soho, and more

There’s far more places than “The City” to explore.

Visitors and tourists this error don’t make

To just stay by the Thames-side,

An entire island to forsake.

Fens and Broads; Moors and Downs,

Quaint little villages, and Market towns:

All await you – if London you just quit

And without London weighting,

You might save a bit.


















Let the Balefires Burn

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Of fireworks, bonfires, and Guys

While no one much cares what it all means

Its an excuse to light up the skies


For some its sparklers ’round barbecue grills

For others huge piles of pallets to light

The result is the same – full of pyromania thrill

As neighbourhood dogs* cower in fright


Remember, remember the fifth of November

Or some weekend there round about

A party’s a party, an opportunity to enjoy

A drink, a firework, a shout



Thursday photo prompt: Balefire #writephoto

Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night (an explanation for non-Brits).

*Many people in England begin to set off fireworks a week or so before the actual night, and may continue to do so for a week or so afterwards.  Many dogs hate the noise, and it is a time of distress for them and their owners.



Photo courtesy of P. Allman

Security was tight.  The first bilateral meeting between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Fairie in nearly nine hundred years was about to take place on a remote island somewhere in the Northwest of England.  It was going to be a diplomatic coup for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and it would prove he could arrange trade deals in a post-Brexit world.

As the two boats were moored the shaggy haired blonde Johnson strode over to Queen Wilhelmina LVI and bowed before extending his hand for her to shake.

“Your Majesty, I am chuffed that you have agreed to this meeting,” The Prime Minister said a little too loudly.

“As am I, ” the regal Fairy responded.  “We have much to discuss.  Oh, by the way, I love your pink boat.”


Sunday Photo Fiction – Sep 29 2019

Eating Up to the Nines


image: Nine’s own site

My step-daughter and I went to Nines International Buffet in Cambridge for lunch.  We have been eating irregular meals since my wife’s passing, and a good filling hot meal seemed a sensible thing to do.  So off we went to Nines.

The restaurant is on the upper level of the Cambridge Leisure Complex and easily accessible by escalator, and I believe there is a lift, though I did not spot it.

On arrival, payment is made at a desk at reception. There are also some soft chairs in a small waiting area for those expecting more members of their party. Once the buffet is paid for, you find a table in the main dining area. Shortly after sitting, a member of staff will come and offer drinks which are paid for separately from the buffet itself. There is an option for unlimited refill on Pepsi products.

The layout is a series of steam-tray stations along one wall and a long counter running to form a L shape which has “fresher” options, such a skewers and pizza. As we were there for lunch the sushi, skewers, and seafood were not operating, but the pizza, Chinese, and general buffet were.

The firm advertises Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Seafood as main stations, and even on the general buffet there were some of each. I had crab claws which were a little more potato blend than I find at most places and they tasted more of general fishcake than of crab but they were still enjoyable. My daughter started with duck/pork pancake rolls which were self-serve. The starter area had many standard UK bits such as chips, onion rings, samosas, and the aforementioned crab claws. Sweet potato fries and cocktail sausages also were in this area. There were four pizzas laid out: pepperoni, chicken, Veggie, and a plain tomato cheese combo. The quality of the cheese was surprisingly good. Several of the Chinese and Thai dishes were very spiced, and a fish stew option left my lips tingling for quite some time. Desserts were a small assortment of rather basic quality cake, tinned fruit, and a soft serve ice cream machine.

There was an abundance of clean plates, and dirty plates were quickly bused from tables to give a pleasant eating atmosphere.

The food as a whole was tasty, and abundant. Quality was average to good, quantity outstanding, thus making the price a good value for money. As an eatery this is a four star (out of TripAdvisor five – not to be confused with Michelin [cue cheeky grin]) affair, but in like for like buffet places nearly a five.

There is a second Nines in Swansea, Wales as well.



Nines International Buffet site

That Old Chestnut

Chestnut, Autumn, Chestnut Tree, Ripe, Brown, Prickly

Image by Karsten Paulick from Pixabay

How long had she been there – that old chestnut?  There was the scar from the November storm of 1822, even then she had been mature.  How many children had gathered conkers by her side?  For hers were winners sure, well formed and shiny. Her side had been pierced by heavy staples in 1902, cattle wire affixed to her side.  Even now, broken strands of rusting wire bite deep under her bark.  But this wire is not alone.  There is also the twisted shard of aluminium high in her flank, the only remnant of that Messerschmitt that’s journey ended back in ’41.  But now too, her time had come.  Diseased and frail, she is at the mercy of Council workers who care nothing of her noble past.  The tree was pulled down, and only the birds lamented over its dead body.


Saturday Mix – Unique Personality, 21 September 2019: The tree was pulled down, and the birds lamented over its dead body.


A Meme for Our Times and a Word of Hope

Brexit meme

As Britain approaches uncertain constitutional challenges, and the elected Parliament faces being prorogued, it is time to reflect on how we got here and how we should react.  In the 2016 referendum, British voters were asked whether we should leave the European Union.  There was misinformation in the lead up to the vote, and the country spoke accordingly.

With a leave vote secured the nation began the process of negotiations.  The process ended the political careers of two Prime Ministers, and the third now seeks to dictate terms for Brexit without Parliament, or perhaps a suitable deal with the remaining countries of the European Union.

There seems to be little thought to consequences as long as the political agenda is fulfilled.

I find these frightening times, and therefore, must hold to the faith that God is in command no matter what the political elite or even popular opinion have in mind.  We may be heading for upheaval, but I must “fear no evil, for the Lord is with me.” May His rod and staff comfort me.  And He prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.

As Paul wrote in Romans,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (vs 35-39).”



The Facility


image: buffymegaxover.fandom.com

The representative of the Kirk looked on with admiration as Matthew Hopkins, Witch-finder General continued the the tour of his facility near Manningtree, Essex.  If only we Covenanters could be so efficient, the dour Presbyterian thought to himself.

“And here you see the “awake room,” Hopkins said proudly.  “We find that the Satanic Whores” need their dreams to commune with the Dark One.  Once we deprive them of sleep their evil powers fade, and once in the presence of the true light they become repentant and confess.”

“And what is this wee pool,” the Scotsman asked.

“We find that dunking stools are of only limited value, so we have this deep troth.  We throw them in and since they have rejected Christian baptism, the water rejects them and they come sputtering to the surface.  It is a very accurate test of a witch,” the Witch-finder stated, as the Scot nodded.

“And here you see the inspection hut.  Notice that there are plenty of windows, so the light will reveal even the faintest witch-marks, ” Hopkins continued.  “We don’t want any mistakes.  Just think, what if an evil hag escaped because we missed a wart, or an innocent was executed because of a little dirt?  We are thorough here!”

“I don’t see any burning posts,” the Kirk-man observed.

“No, we English do things a little differently from up north, and on the Continent,” Hopkins said. “Unlike in your facilities, the witch doesn’t burn in this one.  We hang them, they will burn soon enough when they arrive in hell.”


Apologies for the historical inaccuracy.  Hopkins (Witch-finder General) was a real Puritan man who terrorised East Anglia in the period of the English Civil War.  The methods described are fairly accurate, as is the fact that English “witches” were not burned.  But he (Hopkins) never had a purpose built facility, nor is their any evidence that the Scots ever visited him in his persecution of outcast women.

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The witch doesn’t burn in this one

FOWC with Fandango — Dirt


Afternoon Tea for a Travel Tuesday

imageedit_2_2847015880 (1)

I have to admit that I still occasionally cringe when I hear American (and some other) visitors describe England as “quaint.”  It seems that the image of Bertie Wooster, Bowler hats, and Downton Abbey still prevail.  But one area where this nostalgic England still does have a foothold is High Tea.

Okay, let’s get this straight the country does not stop at 3 pm and the entire populous settle down to crumpets and gooseberry jam.  In fact, in the modern UK it is more likely that a ready-made supermarket sandwich will be wolfed down on the run, washed down with a Starbuck’s coffee.  But sometimes, especially on special occasions it is nice to slow down and enjoy some luxury.

Afternoon tea, is a real treat, and in recent years we have marked my wife’s birthday with the indulgence.

The top photo is of a High Tea we enjoyed at the Cliff Hotel in Gorleston, Norfolk last year, to celebrate my wife’s birthday.   We booked the tea (and High Teas often need pre-bookings) there as we have stayed at this hotel before, and it is a favourite venue for us.   We ate on the terrace overlooking the sea, and it made a pleasant back drop with a clear sunny sky, and the beach and sea below us.

The tea was well brewed, and came in a generous sized pot.  It was accompanied by finger sandwiches (salmon and cream cheese, ham and cheese, prawn with mayonnaise,  and cheese and pickle).  A portion of sharp cress was provided that could be used to enhance the sandwiches as well.  Two warm scones, with clotted cream and jam were next.  This was followed by an assortment of macaroons, mini cream cakes, and a chocolate and an apple tart. The portions were sufficient to leave us both satisfied.

The price is reasonable for the experience at £15 per person with tea or coffee (2019 updated price) and a £10 booking fee is required.  The service was very friendly and attentive, and it made for a lovely afternoon together.

Link:  Cliff Hotel High Tea

Another nice venue is Harriets Cafe Tea Rooms in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.  This venue offers a step back into time, with marble-topped tables, chandeliers, and big band music all to enjoy.  The service was on our professional and friendly (and the retro uniforms helped the ambiance as well). There was no sense of rush, and it was a time to just savour the drinks and take in the experience.

When we arrived we were offered chilled water with lemon wedges (another blast from the past, as most places don’t offer this these days). We had ample time to review the menu and to take in the atmosphere.  We ordered cream teas to our own tastes, a lovely chai blend for me, and Rooibos for my wife.  The tea was loose leaf, and individual strainers, and additional hot water were provided to make the most of the brews.  The scones were fairly large, and had a good balance of moistness without feeling underdone.  I far prefer this to those that crumple at the first attempt to cut them.  All in all is was a lovely spread with nice presentation.  At about £21 per it is a bit more dear, but the nostalgia and atmosphere are worth the price for the experience.

Link: Harriet’s

This year we made our High Tea visit to The Swan in Lavenham, Suffolk.  This Medieval Inn with its timber frame construction is wonderful to behold.  Inside there are still the beams, but also modern luxury.



The Gallery dining room is overlooked by a grand piano, and the gardens are just beyond period windows. We sat near a huge inglenook fireplace, and the atmosphere was a perfect as the meal.

We had our choices of teas, which were served – “on fine Royal Worcester Crockery specifically created for The Swan by Walpole of Stoke-on-Trent, whose prestigious special commissions are found in many of Britain’s Royal palaces – the perfect crockery then upon which to savour our delicious treats (Swans’ quote).”  I had the English breakfast tea and my wife, Redbush.   Both were loose leaf, and served with strainers, and it was fitting with surrounding luxury.


Royal Worcester

Unlike some venues where the entire meal is served on a stacked “High Tea Tray”, the Swan served in courses, rather than all at once. The tray does make its appearance during the dessert course however.



Finger Sandwiches

The sandwiches, were a nice mix with salmon, egg, ham, and cucumber. The scones were light and flavourful. The cakes were luxurious and the chocolate one was absolutely rich.


Cakes and Scones

The service was attentive, and the server even offered to take pictures for us.

At £22.50 per person, it is the most dear, but the price is exceeded by the measure of luxury and service.
Happy travels, and I hope you find your perfect breaks.