Saturday 31 January 2015

Cumbria's Museum of Military Life, Carlisle Castle

My cousin and I visited Cumbria's Museum of Military Life the other week, it was the first time I had been there and I was looking forward to visiting it.

The museum is in  the Alma block within the courtyard of Carlisle Castle. It is a small museum that cover the history of Cumbria's County Infantry Regiment and other military units from 1702 to the present day. It also looks at the social and military barracks of the castle inself, the regiment has had its headquarters there since 1873.

The museum is on one level and you pass through the eras of the military history starting with the earliest days. One thing that caught my eye was a photo of  men marching to war in Water Street, Wigton, I knew that there would be relatives of mine amongst those men and it was quite moving to see. There were uniforms, drums, medals, personal items, a reconstruction of a WW1 trench, photos and lots more from campaigns all around the world. I was surprised at just how many campaigns the regiment had been involved in.

The museum was well laid out and its staff were very friendly and helpful. There is a cafe, but we did not go there so I can't say what it was like. The museum is small but worth visiting as it is packed full of fascinating militaria. It also has a shop which had reasonably priced items for sale.

It is £4.00 entry and there are various concessions. It is open every day, though the hours vary according to the time of the year, check the website for full details.

Carlisle Castle's Portcullis

Address:  Cumbria's Museum of Military Life
                Alma Building
                Carlisle Castle
                Cumbria CA3 8QR

Website:  Cumbria's Museum of Military Life

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Review - Afternoon Tea at Dobbies, Orton Grange

I have always though that the British tradition of afternoon tea is one of our best, but Dobbies garden centre isn't the first place you would think of to go to for it, but if you go along and sample their tea you will be pleasantly surprised!

Our Afternoon Tea
Dobbies has a choice of four different afternoon teas and we went for the luxury one. There is an area that is separate from the main cafe which is solely reserved  for people having afternoon tea. Tables are nicely spaced out to give privacy but we did find it a little cold - it was a very cold day outside, and we had to move from our original table to one that was warmer.

We were served quickly and had a choice of sandwiches, we chose salmon and soft cheese and egg mayonnaise, and drinks and we did not have to wait long for our teas to arrive. The tea was served on the traditional three tiered stand. The sandwiches were freshly made, crustless and very nice. There were two large plain scones - so fresh they almost fell apart - with butter, jam and double cream. We followed this with the strawberries dipped in chocolate which were delicious. There was a good selection of cakes, a meringue with cream and raspberries and blueberries, a strawberry tart, a toffee eclair and a carrot cake, all very fresh and tasty. It was more than enough, in fact my friend took one cake home for her husband.

The service was pleasant and quick, though the tea spoons were forgotten and we had to get our own from nearby, but not a big complaint. 

In conclusion, this is a really good value afternoon tea. Prices start from £8.00-£20.00 for two, and our luxury one was £15.00 so it was only £7.50 each, which was an excellent price for what we had. They are available every day from 2pm.

Address:  Dobbies,
                Orton Grange,
                Carlisle CA5 6LB


Thursday 8 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie - Break One, Thousand Will Rise

Few can have missed the horror that happened in Paris yesterday - fanatics trying to snuff out free speech. Je Suis Charlie is the slogan of  a movement of support for those who died at the Charlie Hebdo offices  Vigils have taken place in cities throughout France, Europe and further afield as people express their condemnation and defiance at those trying to prevent free expression in such a violent way. For me personally, the best expression of the defiance was an illustration by Lucille Clerc, (originally wrongly ascribed to Banksy) a graphic designer based in London, she accompanied it with the statement: "Break one, thousand will rise." Sometimes a picture paints a thousand words also.

Friday 2 January 2015

Renewing the Spirit Means Moving Forward with Intention

My good friend Dianne Beeaff is a writer based in Tucson, Arizona. Her latest book is called Spirit Stones, which takes us on a journey to numerous standing stones throughout Europe. It looks at the spirituality of such monuments and their place in the human psyche both in the past and present day. The book is a enthralling journey into our prehistoric past, it is an informative book which is easy to read and the text is accompanied by beautiful photos of these amazing places that still hold a sense of mystery and fascination in the modern world.

Below is a press release from the book's publishing company giving more information.

CONTACT: Linda F. Radke
Five Star Publications, Inc.
Phone: 480-940-8182
High-res photos available upon request

Looking for inspiration in 2015? Get grounded with Spirit Stones
CHANDLER, AZ (Dec. 20, 2014) – What could hold more promise than a New Year? “The turning of the year is neither an end nor a beginning, but a continuance and a renewal. With it we are given a unique opportunity to refresh and rededicate our lives with clarity and intention.” Those are the words of Dianne Beaaff, author of the book that provides spiritual grounding in the most ancient of forms. It’s called Spirit Stones.
Spirit Stones has been, for me, a journey through some of the most powerful places in our civilization’s history,” she says. “When we stand and reflect in many of these places, as I have been privileged to do, they inspire us to live more fully in the present, to capture and apply the powerful concentration of life they express.”
Both a history lesson and a modern-day guide to what the author refers to as “Spiritual Fitness,”Spirit Stones captivates readers with a unique metaphysical perspective. “This lively and engaging work explains why the ancient monuments continue to renew our sense of the wonder and mystery of life,” said reviewer Kristine Morris. “Her book is an affirmation that these objects have much to teach us about living in the present.”
Providing insight into the contemporary relevance of ancient monuments like Stonehenge, Castlerigg, and Callanish, Beeaff makes masterful connections between timeless generations of humanity, leading willing participants on a quest both grounded in stone and spiritually transcendent. “Through them, we can rediscover the inexhaustible, multifaceted, and wonderfully divine existence that is the life in all of us,” Beeaff explains. “Nothing is worth more than this day.”
Complete with breathtaking pictures of Western Europe’s most inspiring stone architecture, Spirit Stones is available through and It is distributed by Ingram and Baker & Taylor. For more information about the book, visit
About Dianne Beeaff
Dianne Beeaff  is an avid traveler, author and historian. A native of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, she has traveled the world extensively and combines a lifelong love of history with a quest for present-day understanding. She has published poetry and magazine articles throughout the United States and Canada. She has also published two works of nonfiction including Spirit Stones, and an award-winning novel, Power's Garden. Her upcoming projects include a follow-up to her bestselling memoir, A Grand Madness, Ten Years on the Road with U2. Dianne's extensive collection of graphite sketches and watercolor paintings have been on display in both local and national galleries. She lives in Tucson, AZ.