Hartlebury Castle (The Bishop’s Palace)

The land that Hartlebury Castle sits on was granted to the Bishop of Worcester by King Burghred in the late 9th century, although the foundations of the building that now stands here are believed to date back to the 13th century. 

Since the 12th century, it has been a centre of ecclesiastical and administrative power in Worcestershire with its resident bishops involved in some of the significant events of British history from political and military guardians of a frontier with Wales to active participants in political decision making in modern times.

The building is grade 1 listed and it contains the famous Hurd Library was built by Bishop Hurd in 1782. It still contains his extensive and unique collection of books including works from the libraries of Alexander Pope and William Warburton. The copy of the Iliad from which Pope’s translation was made is among them.

The grounds include a period cider mill, A Transport Gallery which has amazing Romney Gypsy wagons and The Worcestershire County Museum which houses the servants’ quarters of Hartlebury Castle. The house also has the period rooms which displays including a schoolroom, nursery and scullery, and Victorian, Georgian and Civil War rooms. The exhibits focus on local history and include toys, archaeology, costumes, crafts by the Bromsgrove Guild, local industry, and area geology and natural history. You are now able to walk along the old moat and enjoy local produce at the shop. 

We had a fantastic time, and hope you will take a trip to Hartlebury Castle too.


The Conversation Challenge


Task: write a conversation where there are ….

A.      All gender-neutral pronouns.  No, He or She

B.      No gender obvious names.

C.      Setting must be a café

D.      And the characters are exchanging gifts.

My Attempt

                The streets were swollen with people. Manic delivery drivers parked in the road and ignored the angry horns as they raced against the stream of shoppers and dived in and out of business doorways. I watched relived that my partner Avery, did all our Christmas shopping and I only had to cook the meal for us and our children on the big day. I kept checking my watch, it was unlike Jo to be late. The newspaper before me was becoming less and less interesting.  Finally, there was a bustle of activity. I looked up to see Jo was there fighting the narrow door with a pram. I rushed to help.

                “Hi, how are you?” asked Jo abandoning the pram to kiss me on the cheek.

                “Fine, fine. What happened to you?” I enquired looking at the dishevelled mess of my friend. The person who had nearly always been perfectly presented when we worked together.

                “This monster wanted to feed before we could leave the house.” Jo now balanced baby Sammy on a tilted frame with a baby bag swinging in the arched stance.

                “Here give me Sam, and go and get yourself a cuppa.” I offered.

                “Thank you, Lesley.” Jo put a hand on my arm, smiled and then walk straight past coffee counter, making a beeline for the loos. I laughed and bounced the babbling, bright-eyed Sammy on my knee. Sammy smiled back. clearly unaware of the energy it must have took to make organic carrot purée and get fine oatmeal to the right temperature and still make it into the city centre for 11:20 coffee with an old friend.

                I reached for the all-too-familiar soft brown bear out of the baby bag. There I caught a glimpse at what must have been my Christmas present. Wrapped perfectly and jo’s hand written tag saying;

                 “happy holiday and best wishes Jo and Sam, x.”

                “Shit!” I exclaimed having realised my gift for Jo was back in the office. What was I thinking? Jo had managed to get here and wrestle Sam into the loathed car seat. Which, to be fair, we all didn’t understand how to operate. Jo had driven through city traffic to sit and have coffee with me, here so it was close to my office, and had remembered the gift. What excuse did I have? I Had even been sat here waiting, wondering why Joe was late. The irony that I could have run back to the office and been back within 10 minutes wasn’t helping. If only I had realised. Well, I felt right idiot. Sam added by barfing onto my suit jacket from my continued bouncing. Because of the forgotten gift, I didn’t complain. I figured I deserved it.

                Joe came back with another coffee for me and a tea. Anticipating the vomit episode from Sam Joe had stolen loo roll.

                “I kind of saw it from over there at the counter.” Jo stifled a laugh.

                “Saw what?” I asked wonder if my sneaky peek at the present had been spotted.

                “Half digestive carrot all down your back, perfectly timed as you bent over for the blasted bear… Well done Sam.” Said Joe turning from me to the little bundle of smiling joy and trying to clean me up all of the same time.

                “Made your strike while I was distracted hey? Fair play. But maybe keep the sneakiness to hockey tournaments”

                “Hope you can tech Sammy better than you captain, Captain.” Muttered Jo jokingly.  “Will you be able to change at the office?”

                “Yeah,” I replied hardly caring.

                “Sorry Lesley, I’m still getting used to this parenting thing. No matter how hard I try. I’ve never got everything I need. Maybe I should go back to the warehouse logistics.”

                “I don’t know about that. Just don’t leave me holding the baby” I laughed trying to wrestle Sam into a clean bib. We were now both laughing as it took us the two of us to get Sam into the highchair.

Would you like to guess the gender of Jo, Lesley and Sam?….

I’ll let you know if your right or if I was able to hide them.

Week 8 Creative Writing with WEA

Q; Chose a picture of a character. In your mind, try to think like the person (or animal). Then working in pairs, ask questions about them in a type of dating game. With the information write a short story introducing the character you have interviewed.

Me and my shadow

My father and mother took the job in Berkshire because it came with a house.  I was born the year after and they called me Randall. It soon got changed to Randy and my brother just called me Rad. Thomas was older than me by six years, he loved trouble.

The best thing about your dad being the caretaker at your school is that late in the evening, when everyone has gone you can play in the hall and art room. Thomas even skateboarded down the corridor, well until Mom caught him. She made him clean all the floors in the school.

“Be thankful your Father didn’t catch you and that Curridge Primary is small” she lectured him. It was that night I first saw George Randall Levette.

Thomas was angry with me for not spotting Mom on the approach and for blabbing about his new girlfriend having a nose piercing. I decided it was best to stay out of everyone’s way and hide in the cafeteria.  Mom and Dad didn’t bother with cleaning there unless Mrs James the cook asked them.

I had fallen asleep while reading my comic in the ever fading light, the cold floor where I sat had travelled up my spine and down into my knees so both were stiff.

“Get up boy; you cannot sit there in the dirt. Think of your mother having to wash you and your clothing” the voice was not my father but a man’s, the tall squared jaw man stood in the kitchen looking down at me. My eyes tried to focus wearily but still he seemed blurry, not altogether real. Only then did I hear my Mom’s voice calling me, the concern almost panic in her tone much clearer than even her words. I called back knowing it was more than my life’s worth not to answer her at this moment. Mom burst into the cafeteria as I left the kitchen and the man behind. Her voice enveloped me as it bounced around the curved end wall then her arms followed.

“Good lord where have you been I feared allsorts when we couldn’t find you” I still don’t know how long they had looked for me, but it was the middle of the night and I was exhausted. My limbs, every one of them, were painful and I had a cut on my head that I didn’t recall doing.

At breakfast the next day I had to give my Dad the explanation he had been waiting for. He was always a calm man but very firm with his rules and enjoyed the satisfaction of a well done methodical job his eye for detail evident in all things. I knew my account of the night before would be less than satisfactory but lying would only make things worse as I said my Dad had an eye for detail.

“Tell me again son, what man?” he asked in disbelief

“Tall, dark hair tightly curled with a parting right down the middle, kind of old, but that was his of his jacket too. It was old looking, like in history books and one of those floppy bow ties. Not like James Bond, the other ones.” I rambled in desperation. The fact my Dad had no idea of whom I was talking about scared me more than having woke up to find a stranger in the room.

“Rad mate there ain’t no Charlie Chaplains’ around here, you’ve gone mad from that knock to your noggin” Thomas taunted as dad shuck his head still in disbelief. Of course at the time I didn’t know it was George, not even the second time did I know.

Only a week later I was running down the hall to lunch, the sunlight flickered as I sped past each window chasing my friends. I didn’t see George at first, I heard him

“Slow down Arthur!” he called to me; I knew he was talking to me even though it was not my name. I glanced over my shoulder and saw him half absorbed by the beam of light from the near window.

“Brace yourself Arthur. Put your hands out boy I’ll help you down, stay calm and breathe” it was that moment my mind burst into all colours and sounds. The stiffness hit my limbs in seconds then out like a fuse had blown. When I woke two paramedics were over me and I was exhausted. Every part seemed to ache, my mouth was full of blood and my ears rang with a piercing pitch.

Epilepsy the doctor explained as I lay in the hospital bed. I couldn’t care less at the time what it was called I just wished it would go away. I didn’t even mention seeing George.

In the four months that followed I had to endure a further seventeen fits while the right medication in the right amount was found for me. Each and every time George Randall Levette was with me, I yelled at him to go away thinking he was the one to blame. George didn’t leave; the strong well dressed handsome man stayed and comforted me.  I began to trust his calm even tone like my Dad’s voice, I could tell that he too had worked hard to care for the ones he loved. He called me Arthur and spoke of Marie, Ethel and Olive, sisters I should know. One thing that always stuck with me was how once or twice I wasn’t sure but he asked had I found Lillian? Did I meet Amelia? Over time I thought this all some crazy dream from my Epilepsy a sort of coping or my brain trying to make sense.

Some years later while helping my Dad clean at the school I saw a picture displayed as a project by year five pupils. Well could you believe it? There in lovely sepia was George; turns out he was my great- great grandfather. In 1881 he had been the schoolmaster living in the same house my Mom and Dad now inhabited. I’m still waiting to see him again.

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