Day out


Day out: Art and Spirit exhibition at The College of Psychic Studies, London


The exhibition Art and Spirit: Visions of Wonder at The College of Psychic Studies in London is an opportunity to go and see paintings inspired by contact with spirits.  It’s not just for people who believe in the spirit world but also for people who are interested in art and history in general.

The exhibition itself:

On display are 1000 exhibits – detailed depictions of cathedral interiors, colourful paintings of angels and spiritual figures, portraits of mediums who worked at the college and some of their past presidents including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  In one room there was a video of him talking about his experiences in spiritualism and he didn’t mention Sherlock Holmes!

I particularly liked the paintings by Ethel Le Rossignol which were large and painted in bold vibrant colours. Click here to see them.

The exhibits include Victorian photographs of people with a ghostly figure in the background.  There was no scientific explanation for these such as light getting into the camera and I was interested to learn there had been people working as spirit photographers.

I have visited a variety of churches, mosques and exhibitions at places like the Jewish Museum where I have learned from the experience and there has been no attempt to convert me to their way of thinking.  The College of Psychic Studies is the same and the Art and Spirit exhibition is presented in a balanced and informative way.

The College of Psychic Studies:

The College is housed in a 4 storey building in a grand Victorian terrace.  It was founded in 1884 and originally called the London Spiritual Alliance and now called the College of Psychic Studies. They provide talks, workshops and courses on everything spiritual ranging from meditation to past life regression.

A few practical details:

The Art and Spirit exhibition started Sunday 11 August and ends Monday 20 August. Entry is free although they suggest you make a donation.

The address is 16 Queensberry Place, South Kensington, London, round the corner from the Natural History Museum and a few minutes walk from South Kensington tube station.

And finally...see below for more of my blogs about days out and books to read.


Where to go in Yorkshire


If you want a holiday in Britain then Yorkshire is a great place to visit.  There’s so much variety and lots to see…the Yorkshire Dales, the Yorkshire Moors, the East Riding of Yorkshire with its fantastic coastline, and places connected with the Brontes and James Herriot.  It’s good for walks, meditation, history and culture.

The Yorkshire Coastline:

Many years ago I went to Scarborough and stayed in a hotel overlooking the sea and climbed up to the castle where I had a panoramic view of the town.  I also visited Anne Bronte’s grave while I was there.  Just down the coast is Bridlington which has an old monastery and is a good place to get away from it all.

Inland you will find Doncaster.  I went there once to catch a train home and have been meaning to go back ever since.  It’s where Douglas Bader came from. He was the World War 2 fighter pilot who lost both legs but continued flying planes.  Many years ago I read his autobiography Reach for the Sky and watched the film and was very impressed.  The town also has an aircraft museum on the site of what used to be RAF Doncaster.

The Yorkshire Moors:

My most memorable visit to the Yorkshire Moors was when a friend and I went to Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters.  We stayed at the youth hostel and it snowed as soon as we arrived.  The weather didn’t stop us going out for a long walk following the Bronte Trail up to Top Withens, believed to be the setting for Wuthering Heights.  We got lost in a snowdrift, and were very tired and hungry but found the old stone building in the end.  It was freezing cold but it was very atmospheric and worth the arduous journey.

The Yorkshire Dales:

The Dales are best known for the books by James Herriot, the vet, who lived and worked in Thirsk where his house is now a museum called The World of James Herriot. The house is preserved as it was in the 1940s and has a display of veterinary equipment through the ages.  If you read the books and have watched All Creatures Great and Small then you’ll love the house and enjoy walks in the countryside he knew well – places like Sutton Bank and Swaledale.  I’ve written about it on my blog before so I won’t repeat myself.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park:

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield has 500 acres of beautiful countryside where you can go for long walks in the woods and find huge outdoor sculptures by artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.  Guided walks and talks are provided and there’s also a historic chapel in the grounds.  I went there with a friend and didn’t want to leave.

The historic city of York:

York is a wonderful place for anyone who likes history.  You can visit York Minster, walk the town walls, visit the bars (gates in the wall) and all the museums such as the York Railway Museum.  Here I found Laddie the stuffed dog in the glass case with a collection box.  He used to stand on Platform 8 of Wimbledon Station when I was a child.  Another subject I’ve written about before on my blog.

And finally:

There’s something for everyone in Yorkshire, beautiful countryside, interesting museums and, of course, Yorkshire puddings, and the people are friendly, so if you go there this summer I hope you enjoy yourself and do send me a postcard.

Dealing with Uninvited Guests

The first time I heard footsteps coming up the stairs in the middle of the night I felt quite frightened and got up to investigate but there was no one there.  It happened several more times and sounded like an older man coming home tired from a day’s work.

I decided he had to be someone who had lived here in the past, coming back to see who lived here now so I researched the history of the house.  I consulted the 1911 census which said Charles Mogridge had lived here with his family. He had been a painter at one of the mental hospitals nearby. He died here in 1930 and I went with a friend to visit his grave where he is buried with his wife, son and daughter-in-law.

Showing an interest in him worked because after this he stopped walking up the stairs in the middle of the night.  He hasn’t been back for many years.

However, at Christmas 2017 I was given a rose quartz crystal and put it on the shelf in the sitting room but several weeks later it disappeared.  I bought several more and kept them in the bedroom.  Around the same time my shampoo bottle kept falling into the bath for no reason.

Twice I found a few of my clothes in the waste paper basket.  Then 50p appeared at my feet in the shower and I found my radio tuned from Radio 4 to Radio 2.

The strangest experience was when I got up one morning, went to the bathroom and when I came back to the bedroom there was a rose quartz crystal on the end of the bed.  I wasn’t sure if it was the same one I had lost.

When I tell people about all this they ask me if it frightens me, but I find it confusing rather than frightening and wonder whether I have moved these things and then forgotten about it.

A friend told me she had had a similar problem and had solved it by reading The Unquiet Dead by Dr Edith Fiore so I read it too. Dr Fiore is a psychologist who used hypnosis to treat clients’ problems.  She then became interested in reincarnation and how problems in a past life affect people in this life.  Most of the case studies in the book are interesting but not relevant to my problem.

However at the end of the book is a section on things being moved around at home.  They are usually just lost spirits who want some attention and don’t mean any harm.

Dr Fiore recommends showing an interest in them, talking to them and if you don’t want them there then tell them to leave.  After reading the book I have followed her advice and since then the shampoo bottle hasn’t fallen into the bath again.

Showing a positive interest in the problem has been the best way to deal with these uninvited visitors.  So if the problem starts again I will know what to do about it.

And finally, the best way to make contact with spirits on the other side is to visit a spiritual church.  Subject for a later blog!

See below for more of my blogs about books to read and where to go for a day out.

Book Review: The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson


The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson was published in 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death.  I bought it in a charity shop mainly because Boris Johnson was on the threshold of number 10 and I hadn’t read anything by him before.

Everyone knows that Churchill smoked cigars, served as prime minister during World War 2 and led us to victory, and painted landscapes at Chartwell in his spare time.  I learned a lot more about Churchill by reading The Churchill Factor.

Winston Churchill’s Life:

Winston Churchill was born in 1874 and his father was Chancellor of the Exchequor.  Churchill senior didn’t treat his son very well, described him as stupid and died when Winston was about 20. The young man felt like he was a disappointment and set out to prove his worth.

He fought in World War I, and like his father he was a journalist before becoming a politician.   He married and had 5 children, one of whom died in infancy. His parents and wife are described in detail but there is very little about his brother and not much about his children except occasional quotes from them as adults.

Churchill’s personality is portrayed well. He was intelligent, passionate and driven with endless energy and worked non stop from early morning, through the day, into the evening and late into the night.  However, he also suffered from depression at times and drank a lot.

As you would expect from a politician writing about another politician, the book is full politics.  At times I thought there was too much detail some of which is repeated several times which is unnecessary.  However, Boris Johnson has presented a balanced view of Churchill himself, his strengths and weaknesses, his achievements and mistakes.  He was prime minister twice, firstly during World War 2 and then again in the 1950s.  No one else has done this since. He certainly proved his worth.

A few Churchill sites today:

For more about Winston Churchill…you can see his statue in Parliament Square, Westminster, and visit places like Blenheim Palace where he was born, the Cabinet War Rooms in London and his home Chartwell where you can see his paintings. I went there once and was very impressed by his landscapes on display.

A bit about Boris Johnson:

The Churchill Factor is the first book I have read by Boris Johnson and I enjoyed it and finished it the day they announced he would taking over from Theresa May.  I learned a lot from this book, not just about Churchill but also about Boris Johnson.  The book shows how fascinated he is by Churchill and he has researched him in detail, and written the book with great enthusiasm.

He has written other books, including a biography of Shakespeare called The Riddle of Genius which I would also like to read. He is now prime minister but I hope he will still have time for writing.

And finally… see below for more blogs about days out and books to read.

Day out: The Hampton Court Garden Festival


I have been to Hampton Court Palace in East Molesey several times but this was my first visit to the Hampton Court Garden Festival, which takes place every year in the summer.  It’s huge and a great day out even if you’re not a keen gardener as there’s something for everyone and it’s easy to get to.

Getting there:

I got the train to Hampton Court railway station, a beautiful building at the end of a branch line which fortunately Dr Beeching didn’t cut out.  I walked across the bridge over the Thames and along the riverside path to the Thames Gate entrance.

There are various buses to Hampton Court and ferries are also available from the Thames Gate entrance of the festival to Hampton Court station, Kingston and Westminster.  Two car parks and a park and ride service are provided too.

Tickets to the festival are expensive but there are various discounts for groups and members of the Royal Horticultural Society, and entry is cheaper after 3 pm every day except Sunday.  I decided not to spend another £5 on a guide book and it wasn’t necessary as there are maps all over the site.

What I found there:

The rest of the world was there the same day and it was a humid day and the size of the place was overwhelming.  However, I found lots of interesting stalls selling everything such as revolving greenhouses, Alice in Wonderland sculptures, bean bags to sit on in the garden and Spanish style flower pot holders.

What I didn’t find there:

I’ve heard there was a meditation garden where you can practice your breathing technique and a wellbeing tent where you can do herbal workshops.  Various talks were on offer on all aspects of gardening, including one by Chris Packham the TV presenter and naturalist.  The Soul Brothers were also playing music there.

And finally:

Last year I went to the Chichester flower festival at the cathedral and saw lots of huge displays of colourful flowers.  I had expected to see the same at the Hampton Court Garden Festival and I did see some flowers but the overall impression I went away with was the huge size and variety of what I found there.  It’s like the British Museum – you can’t see it all in one visit and I can go again next year.

Other things to do in the area include visiting Hampton Court Palace itself or attending the Molesey Regatta which happens later in July.  I’ve seen paintings of the regatta in Tate Britain and it looks very colourful.

See below for more of my blogs about days out.


Day out to Leatherhead Miniature Railway


It’s always the same.  You live in a place for many years but don’t visit the nearby tourist attraction.   I knew it was there, hidden by trees and the mainline railway and had seen glimpses of it from the train but I had never been to visit until Bank Holiday Monday when I met a couple of friends for lunch and we went there afterwards.  So what am I talking about? Well, it’s Leatherhead’s best kept secret…the miniature railway in Mill Lane.

The Historical and Factual bit:

The Surrey Society of Model Engineers was founded in 1978 and their miniature railway has been at the 9 acre site in Mill Lane, Leatherhead, for 40 years.  The track is 960 feet with several different gauges.  The society meet several times a week to play with the locomotives, and then dress up in uniform and open the site to visitors 12 days a year, take people for rides on the trains and maintain the tracks and engines.

Riding the trains:

Adults and children can enjoy a ride on the miniature railway for just £1.80 and the driver hoots the horn as the train leaves the station, goes into the woods, over the streams and round the fields and back to the station.  We were surprised at how large the site was and delighted to see garden gnomes round each corner. The trains themselves are all different and each has a name.

It’s like going back in time to the age of the steam engine with traditional signal boxes  and there’s a wonderful atmosphere and everyone from the visiting children to the volunteers running the site were cheerful.  Click here to see the miniature railway on Youtube.

Enjoying the facilities:

Leatherhead Miniature Railway has a small cafe with toilets and the site can be hired for picnics and parties. Parking is available and Mill Lane is easily accessible by public transport as Leatherhead mainline railway station is a 10 minute walk and bus routes are nearby.

A day out to Leatherhead Miniature Railway can be combined with lunch in the local pub, the Running Horse, a visit to Leatherhead Museum, a stroll along the scenic River Mole or a more strenuous walk up and down Box Hill.

And finally…see below for more ideas about days out.

art and literature