The Rollright Stones

The Rollright Stones is a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monuments in the Cotswolds, the postcode address for it is OX7 5QB if you want to visit.

The complex consists of three main elements, The Kings Men stone circle, the King Stone, and the Whispering Knights.

The oldest, the Whispering Knights dolmen, is early Neolithic, circa 3,800-3,500 BC, the King’s Men stone circle is late Neolithic, circa 2,500 BC; and the King Stone is early to middle Bronze Age, circa 1,500 BC.

The Stones are made of natural boulders of Jurassic oolitic limestone which forms the bulk of the Cotswold hills. This stone has been used extensively in the region for building everything from churches and houses to stone walls. The boulders used to construct the Rollright Stones were probably collected from within 500m of the site.

In 2012, inspired by the legend of the Witch and the King, the environmental artist David Gosling created a wooden sculpture of a witch. This was made of the branches of Wellingtonia trees that were donated by The National Trust’s Compton Verney property, and held together with wire. The sculpture lasted for over a year but eventually succumbed to the forces of nature.

(text from the Rollright Stones website)

There is another temporary sculpture there now, also created by David and his son Adam – The Three Fairies 

Cloth, or gifts, tied to trees is an ancient tradition.  I believe it is a physical representation of a prayer or wish in which the help of Nature Spirits and Deities is asked for but I haven’t been able to find anything that explains this fully so if anyone knows more about it please let me know. The trees around the Rollrite stones are adorned with ribbons, flowers and other gifts. Some people see this as litter which I think is sad, as long as people consider the environment when choosing what to leave and don’t damage the trees I don’t see the problem and the wishes and prayers will mean a lot to someone and I believe should be left where they have been placed.

It’s a very peaceful pace to visit and a lovely place to go for a walk. The Stones are famously uncountable and it is said no one ever counts the same number twice.

 

 

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Massa Marittima

We recently spent a lovely, very relaxing, week in Tuscany. We stayed at the beautiful Valdonica Winery (more about Valdonica in a post to follow) nr Sassofortino. We spent the week touring the area and visiting some of the beautiful, mediaeval, walled towns and villages and enjoying the hospitality, the rejuvenation and the wine of Valdonica.

One of the cities was Massa Marittima, founded by the Etruscans, with it’s history closely linked to the Copper and Silver mines nearby.

At the centre of Piazza Garibaldi is Saint Cerbone’s Cathedral, first built in a pre-Romanesque style in the 12th century in order to shelter the remains of St. Cerbone.

It’s a stunning building, indicative of the many Churches and Cathedrals throughout Tuscany, a grand design, steeped in history and a focal point of the town.

(Artistic Temperament Scavenger Hunt – Something Old)

Ageism In Employment

How hard is it to move to a new career once you get into your late 40’s or 50’s? What can you do if you’ve decided that something you’ve done for a large percentage of your life isn’t for you anymore and you want to start a new career? The obvious answer is to work for yourself which is fine if you are financially stable enough to be able to take the risk of  not having a regular income or a reduced income whilst you set up and grow your new venture but if you still have a mortgage to pay then sometimes that’s not an option.

Sometimes circumstances can force change. What if you are made redundant and find yourself starting over at a time in life when you should be planning for retirement or at least looking at options that would give you more free time to do the things you want to do?

I chose this as a topic for a college photography project – ‘A Day In The Life Of’ and asked the question, what if Darth Vader had been made redundant? What could he do with his life after dedicating it to the empire from the age of 23 (approx.) until his death at 45 (having a 6ft cardboard cut-out of Darth as a prop helped tell the story).

Darth-Redundant

It’s the last days of the Empire and money is tight. There are cutbacks in all departments and no room for old school Sith Lords anymore at 42 Darth Vader is forced out from what he thought was a job for life. With a very specialised skillset he’s woefully underqualified to start a new career and has no direction in life anymore. As he leaves The Empire HQ for the last time with nothing but a box of possessions and a feeling of despair he contemplates what his future will hold.

Darth-Job-Centre

For the first time in his life Darth tries to navigate the hoops he has to jump through at the job centre to try to get something to live on whilst he looks for gainful employment and very quickly realises that a lifetime of working, paying taxes and contributing to society means nothing. He would be happy to take any job he could find just to get himself back on his feet and to be able to earn again but every job he applies for either wants a younger, more malleable person instead of an older ‘set in his ways’ Sith or feels that he is over-qualified and will only stay with them until he finds something better (NB – even if that was the case, which it usually isn’t, would it matter? What if you just took him on and used his knowledge and experience for as long as you had him? After all there’s no guarantee a younger person is going to stay either is there?)

Darth-Bus-Stop

For Darth the downward spiral was rapid, he sold his TIE Advanced x1 Starfighter shortly after being made redundant, it was a wrench to let it go, not for the possession itself but for what it represented to him. Darth had always loved to fly and had wanted to be a pilot since he was a small boy on Tatooine, owning a TIE X1 was the culmination of everything he had strived for in his life (destroying the Jedi was a priority but in his heart it was all about the TIE X1) but without a regular income he had to sell it quickly just to keep food on the table. He sold it on Autotrader for a fraction of it’s true worth and traded in his dream for a bus pass. Interviews were few and far far between and life was hard for a once proud leader.

Darth-Shopping

It wasn’t long before Darth had hit rock bottom, just getting out of bed was difficult and he fell into the trap of junk food and alcohol dependancy, a deep depression overtook him, feeling like he had no purpose in life sadly Darth died at just 45 years old.

It’s important, at any age, to keep renewing skills and learning new ones to be able to adapt to an every changing world and an increasingly diverse job market. Keep learning, keep striving – don’t be a Darth.

 

Remote Control

Isn’t this the perfect solution to remote working?

I love working from home when I can but the company I work for prefers a more traditional, office based, approach when it comes to admin days. My role is field based so for the majority of the working week I’m out face to face with clients and although, arguably, I could so the same thing via the phone/conference call/video etc there is nothing like a face to face meeting to build important relationships with my portfolio of clients and I wouldn’t change that.

Meetings generate admin and it’s good to plan in an admin day once a week. Everyone is different but I find when I work from home on an admin day I start much earlier than normal –  without the grind of the commute to face it’s wake up, shower, coffee then straight into it, on a good day I can get an early morning walk as well which really fires up the productivity.

I can wear clothes that I feel comfortable in, put on whatever music I want to, without fear of offending anyones musical taste (and who doesn’t love a bit of thrash metal to work to 😀), I can do everything that I can in the office at home (more in fact – our office landlines and company mobiles are barred for International and ROI calls and Skype makes connecting to the world so easy). I can always get a mobile signal, even though we’re not in the best area for connectivity our home set up is designed to overcome that.

And when I work from home I have an assistant. 😀

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