On the outskirts of a North Yorkshire village stands a house, once a former Priory dating back to the 12th century, owned and occupied by the same family since the middle of the 16th century.

But this house at Coxwold hides a secret.

Behind the Georgian and Tudor exterior, within the Jacobean interior, and once hidden in the roof gables lies a tomb. A tomb that holds a secret, a sealed tomb that has never been opened. It is believed to hold the remains of the body, but not the head, of one of the most famous people in British history.

It is the tomb of Oliver Cromwell, politician, military commander, executioner of a king and from 1653 to his death in 1658 Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

After his death from natural causes he was interred at Westminster Abbey but two years later his body was dug up, hung in chains and beheaded. His daughter Mary, Countess of Fauconberg, rescued the remains (but not the head which is buried in the grounds of Sidney Sussex College Cambridge) and brought them to her family home Newburgh Priory at Coxwold. 

Although many visitors to Newburgh Priory, including the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) have tried to open the tomb to establish the truth the family tradition of keeping it sealed remains unbroken and the secret lives on. 

The old fishing village of Runswick Bay with its red-roofed cottages clings perilously to the surrounding North Yorkshire cliffs and the way to the bottom and the beach below is steep.

But near to the village lies a cave formed by the action of the waves, and completely submerged at high water. Within this ‘hob hole’ it is said, lives a ‘Hob’, a hog goblin with the power to cure whooping cough. Afflicted children would be carried into the cave and their parents would invoke the spirit of the Hob for its cure and shout “Hob-hole Hob! my bairn’s got kink-cough; take’t off, take’t off.”

The practise has now ceased and people come to Runswick Bay to enjoy the narrow winding paths and alleyways between the cottages, a walk along the beach and to search for fossils in the rocks.

I was there yesterday and it was a glorious sunny day and not a hob goblin in sight!

The seats were arranged in a semi circle and in the centre stood a lone table, no chair, just a table placed a foot away from the wall and covered with a cloth. Near the edge there was an orange mug, a mobile phone and a letter. To one side a light turquoise rug had been placed on the floor and a brightly covered shopping bag leant against the wall.

And that was it, apart from 40 people sat in the seats!

It was the stage for a play performed in our local village hall by the Library Theatre Touring Company. A play written by Geraldine Aron and performed by Deborah Kelly as Angela.

It is the story of Angela Lipsky whose husband Max has a mid life crisis and leaves her to live with Rosa, a Mexican woman with big hair and little English, and her search for a new life and happiness. She tells of bizarre dates, suicidal tendencies at Christmas, her disapproving catholic Irish mother, shifty divorce lawyers and dodgy counsellors. And then she meets Dr Steadman on a Wild West singles weekend in deepest Wales…..

Laugh – it was hilarious, and the description of her visit (in shawl and dark glasses) to the sex shop really caused a stir and made the tears roll. Hugely empathic, devastatingly honest with a mixture of comedy and pathos it was also thoroughly enjoyable. And the large glass of wine in the interval certainly added to the occasion.

What a great evening out and a brilliant divorce!

Talking over the table last night after our evening meal my daughter suddenly says,

“My friend’s bought a wi-fi kettle.”

“A what?”

“A wi-fi kettle. She can turn it on first thing in the morning whilst still in bed using her phone.”


“And if you’ve forgotten to fill it up with water the night before?”

“Oh it tells you how much water’s in it too.”

Stunned silence.

The appliance of science. Now I know technology is clever and often a wonder to behold, but a kettle you can boil remotely. Why bother. Is time so precious, such a scarce commodity or some people just plain lazy?

Intrigued I looked into it further. You probably already knew (I didn’t) it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s no end to the number of household appliances you can control. But I couldn’t find one to raise the toilet seat for those unforeseen emergencies in the night!

And what happens when there’s a power cut or you forget to charge your phone up, or delayed in traffic…..

Maybe it’s just me and I am missing something here.

First posted on Bubblews at “http://www.bubblews.com/news/2755403-why-what-is-the-point”

April 1st, April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day is the day for jokes and playing tricks on friends and family.

I bet there are few reading this who when young didn’t say to a friend ‘Hey, your shoelace is undone’, or pointed to their father’s trousers saying in a serious voice, ‘Dad, your flies are undone’.

But where does this strange custom originate? The origins are said to lie within Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, although the reasoning does seem a bit vague and obscure, and to be honest I don’t get it. Similarly another often cited source says we owe it to the French and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar when  New Year celebrations moved from the last week of March to 1 January. Thereby those still celebrating on 1 April were derided as ‘poisson d’Avril’.  It does sound feasible but the new calendar was introduced over the space of nearly a century, so perhaps not! However, the French do still pin paper fish on people’s backs and shout ‘poisson d’Avril’.

Whatever the origins April Fools’ Day has been with us for a long time and celebrated in many countries. In Scotland it’s known as ‘Hunt the gowk day’, gowk being a cuckoo or daftie, and here in England you have to get your April fool before midday or you become the fool yourself.

Television and the media have been responsible for some good April Fools gags over the years too, including:-

In 1957 the BBC reported on the bumper annual spaghetti harvest in Switzerland showing pictures of workers picking it from the trees.

BBC Radio reported in 1976 that the planet Pluto would be passing behind Jupiter and the resultant gravitational alignment would temporarily reduce Earth’s gravity, and for a while people might experience a floating sensation.

1998 saw Burger King’s newspaper advert announcing the new ‘Left-Handed Whopper Burger’ (same as the original but rotated through 180 degrees) for all left handed Americans.

In 1972 the body of the Loch Ness Monster was fond, and in 2008 a rare colony of flying penguins was discovered.

I am sure you have heard of many others, so whatever you do on April Fool’s Day, enjoy your jolly japes and jokes but be careful about what you see on the television or read in the newspapers!

No it’s not a song by Paul Simon it is what’s happening on Facebook!

Facebook is now expanding its gender options so you no longer need to be “male” or “female” or even “don’t know” you can be one of up to 50 alternatives. Oh and if you don’t care for “him” or “her” you can be a “them”.

I am not looking to offend anyone or ridicule these changes which quite clearly some people find personal, very important and necessary. I am just utterly floored by the fact that there are up to 50 alternatives, the majority of which I had never even heard of and now that I have heard of them don’t even know what most of them mean.

Perhaps Facebook should introduce a new gender just for me – “baffled”.

The 50 genders are:-

Cis Female
Cis Male
Cis Man
Cis Woman
Cisgender Female
Cisgender Male
Cisgender Man
Cisgender Woman
Female to Male
Gender Fluid
Gender Nonconforming
Gender Questioning
Gender Variant
Male to Female
Trans Female
Trans Male
Trans Man
Trans Person
Transexual Female
Transexual Male
Transexual Man
Transexual Person
Transexual Woman
Transgender Female
Transgender Person


Whichever way you look it’s 2014.

Happy New Year everyone!



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