Unleashing the history junkie…

Last week I decided to unleash my inner history junkie onto Instagram and committed to regularly sharing pictures and snippets of history-related trivia on my gallery there.

If you’ve been coming here to my blog for any length of time, you’ll already know that exploring British history through visiting the places where it happened is the thing I want to be doing most if I’m not stitching – in fact the truth is that some days I actually want to do it more!

The thing that really gets me excited is knowing that there’s such a massive amount of heritage surrounding us, wherever you are in Britain, there will be something fascinating nearby, quite possibly even under your feet. We can trace our history back through the centuries and visit places where our ancestors stood thousands of years ago right up to the present.

But it makes me really sad that many people only ever get to see the major attractions, not knowing that they’re missing a huge wealth of other historic sites all with amazing stories to tell.

So, I’ve decided that my mission is to wave the flag for the historic sites in Britain that don’t generally feature on the Top 10 lists of places to visit. Because wonderful though Stonehenge, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle undoubtedly are, they’re just the tip of a massive iceberg of possibilities and I hope to make a small contribution by shouting out about the sites that don’t get quite so much attention and to help them have their stories heard.

My plan is to come here once a week and talk about somewhere I think is pretty special. (I’ll post pictures on Instagram too).

Now if you’re reading this and thinking ‘oh crikey no, I had enough of history at school thank you very much, I can’t think of anything worse, I’m off to surf the web for a new knitting pattern’ all I can say is that I hope to avoid being a bore. There are some fabulously informative history websites (which I happen to love), but I’m not intending to do more of the same. I’m not a historian, just a history geek who loves seeing for herself, so I’m not going to be writing chapter and verse guide books, instead I aim to tempt you with titbits of information, excite you with little connections and thrill you with trivia.

I know I’m not the only history-junkie out there, so if you’re currently hiding your history habit, now is the time to come out and join me. Let me know what it is that really gets your history juices flowing. What are the British heritage places you think the world should hear about? What is it that you enjoy most about making your own history trips? Where do you really want to see but haven’t been to yet? If you’re reading this outside Britain, what would you love to see explored here? How could I bring our historic past alive for you?

I’d love it if you’d leave comments here or on Twitter (I’m @AnnPawley) or Instagram (dreaminginstitches). Let’s start talking history and see if we can spread the word.



All changes, all stays the same…

You know how at some times in your life things feel steady, grounded, perhaps occasionally just a little bit boring – yes well, this isn’t one of them around here.

It’s not as bad as when I had Number One Daughter and spent the first six months after she was born waiting for things to go back to normal (i.e. pre-baby normal) – the realisation one day that that normal had gone forever hit me like a brick, I’m not sure I ever completely recovered.

stained glass window at baddesley clinton

No, it’s not that bad, it’s just that this autumn, with the girls now largely independent, I’m suddenly (I know I should have seen it coming, I just didn’t, ok) – faced with regaining most of my own independence.

Crikey, too much choice or what!

I don’t think I’d quite appreciated just how much of my own routine was determined by the pattern of the school term, and now although Number Two Daughter is still at school, there’s so much less for me to do, I feel oddly liberated.

But nature abhors a vacuum they say, so I’m going to avoid problems by using my new-found freedom to gad about the country indulging my passion for historic places.

suites of armour

It probably sounds terribly flippant and a poor use of time when I could be doing something very much more useful. But for me, the physical connection to historic places, is in some way I find impossible to articulate, absolutely essential. I derive an energy, a sense of belonging, a feeling of simultaneously losing myself and finding myself when I’m exploring a castle or walking around a stone circle that rarely happens otherwise and the regained ability to tap into that source is life enhancing.

I’m sure that on some emotional level, this energy feeds into the stitchiness I create, although I couldn’t really explain that either. I don’t stitch pictures of moated manor houses, but something of their atmosphere inspires me. It’s a puzzle that I haven’t yet understood, let alone solved.

Is it just me, am I losing it a bit, or do you too share a special connection or feeling towards a place or an activity?

Anyway, I’m rolling with it yet again – another one of life’s spirals…