Ten Questions for Grace

This season we’ve been answering a getting to know us a bit more questionnaire and for this post it’s Grace’s (our Kids and Young People Rep’s) turn in the hotseat!

1. What are five things that make you most happy?

Being around friends and family.
Having a nice meal or drink like iced tea!
At Christmas time when we all have fun!
Doing a sport or subject I enjoy like Food Tech/ Home Economics or Ice Skating. Achieving success and for other people to achieve their dreams and seeing other people happy!

2. What would be your dream job and why?

My dream job would be an interior designer because I like the style and think I’d be good at putting it all together!

3. List five things that you are passionate about:

I am passionate about making things neat and tidy and organised.
Decorating rooms.
Making food for lots of people to enjoy.
Making people’s hopes come true.
Making sure that everybody is happy and doing things they love!

4. What are your pet peeves or annoyances?

I really dislike when people make a mess of something beautiful or organised and when people don’t try their hardest just because they want to be ‘cool.’

5. If you were an animal what would you be and why?

I would like to be an elephant because they travel in large groups so I’d never be lonely and they are quite friendly. [I remember when Grace was little that Elmer was on of her favourite stories – sorry for embarrassing anecdote – Ed!]

6. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

I would like to like in Austria because the houses and streets are very cute and cosy and they get a lovely winter, I would love to go there on holiday again like when I was little.

7. If you could choose to have a superpower what would it be and why?

I would choose to be invisible so that when somebody was annoying me or I was embarrassed I could just vanish!

8. If you could invite three or more guests from history and or the present to a dinner party who would you invite and why? Do you think your guests would get on well or not?

I would invite: Marilyn Monroe Robin Williams and Michael Jackson because I think that they are all very inspirational and I think that they would get on well!

9. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?

I think that there is a popular belief in the world that money is the only thing that can make you happy instead of your friends which I don’t believe. I also think that there is a common belief that if you’re ‘not perfect’ that you are not good enough, I don’t believe this and think that this should not be believed.

10. What do people most misunderstand about you?

I think that people misunderstand me in different ways for different people. Some people think I’m very serious and can’t laugh at anything but for others, they think I’m just there to laugh about it and can’t be serious!

Thank you Grace for enlightening us with these interesting answers:)

My Five Favourite… in History

This month we’re talking about five of our favourite things. In history my five favourite things are:

  1. The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is perhaps one of the most famous historical artefacts. Discovered in 1799, It allowed for the translation of the then unknown language of Egyptian hieroglyphs into Greek. It was In a sense an ancient Greek to Egyptian dictionary. I find this amazing as it revolutionized our understanding of the Ancient Egyptians.


  1. The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh

The Starry Night, painted in 1889 by Vincent van Gogh, is perhaps one of his best known pieces of artwork in the world. One of the things I like about it is the way in which it conveys nighttime as being “alive”. I think it evokes a sense of the night as a time of real sereness.  I think what I like is that this painting challenges the idea of the night, which is traditionally seen as a sinister time. This painting shows night in a very different way, a time of reflection and beauty. All the more astonishing is that it was painted from van Gogh’s window during his time at an asylum, after he suffered a nervous breakdown.


  1. Whitehall Cenotaph, London

Built after the First World War, the cenotaph is a symbol of memorial and commemoration of the British and Commonwealth Armed Forces and a place where national sentiment is expressed. I feel that it is an extremely important part of our national heritage as it represents a tradition of remembrance that was unseen before the First World War and continues up to this day.



  1. The Water-Lily Pond, Claude Monet

Painted in 1899, the Water-Lily Pond, by Claude Monet to me evokes the feeling of a relaxing summers day by the river. Also, the Japanese style bridge in this painting, seems to fit really well with the water garden and to me shows a really good example of the blending of two cultures, with the Japanese bridge working with the French garden. Also, what I find interesting is this artwork demonstrates how perceptions of nature and the natural world had changed to be seen as things of beauty.

  1. Colchester Castle, Colchester

The last item on this list is a site that is quite local to me, which I have visited quite a few times over the years. Roman in origin, and located in the beautiful castle park, it is quite a site to behold. The castle, which primarily houses a museum, has had a recent renovation, which has made it extremely good for families to take their children with an interest in history. For adults as well, they do guided tours around the foundations and Roman rooms at the base of the castle. The architecture is stunning and the castle is located near other historical landmarks such as the ruins of St Botolph and St Julian Priory as well as the late Victorian jumbo water tower.



My Five Favourite… in Gardening

This month were talking about five of our favourite things. In the horticultural world my five favourite things are:

1) The Canary Island Date Palm. – Phoenix Canariensis

The Canary Island Date Palm is the palm that is ubiquitous all over the Mediterranean, it is not to be confused with the true date palm (Phoenix Dactylifera), which we get our date fruit from. Instead the Canary Island Date Palm creates inedible fruit that has a similar appearance to edible dates. However it has such a majestic and resolute appearance and outside of the tropics is quite possibly the best known palm tree. With its beautiful feathery leaves and textured trunk it makes quite a statement.

Canary Island Date in Miranda Do Corvo town square, with Myself and Kyle standing at the base for scale.

2) The Bird of Paradise. – Strelitzia Reginae

The Bird of Paradise is often kept as a houseplant here but makes a fine garden plant in favourable climes, it has long green stems with leathery, tough leaves and creates the most magical flowers that resemble the beautiful plumage of the birds of paradise. It makes a fine houseplant for keeping near a large sunny window or in a conservatory and can take several years before flowering. Despite this it is well worth the wait and won’t disappoint.

Bird of Paradise Flower, Coimbra.

3) Covered Pathways. – Using Vines or Roses etc

The Covered Pathway is an amazing way to create a sense shelter yet allow one to be in greater touch with the natural world. This often takes many years of careful pruning and management and of course a sound structure on which to grow the vines. However if done correctly it can create the most amazing space and a real sense of wonder.

Grape Vine Covered Arch Passageway, Winchester.

4) Spanish Dagger. – Yucca Gloriosa

The Spanish Dagger plant is a true architectural gem, it has very spiky deep green leaves (although a variegated one is available) and creates the most magnificent flower columns of cream flowers. Despite its common name and even though it is seen all over the Mediterranean, the Spanish Dagger is in fact a native of North America, this particular species has to cope with fierce continental winters and therefore is hardy in the UK, given good drainage. It makes a good addition to most borders and makes a fine specimen plant, but do take care as the leave tips are unforgivably sharp.

Yucca Gloriosa in the snow. In a British suburban front garden.

5) Water Features. – Fountains and Water Rocks

A Water Feature makes a fine addition to any garden, it creates the most soothing sound and can help to create ambience. Water features were traditionally stand alone specimens such as a large fountain and meant to dominate a space. However a more contemporary interpretation of a water feature are the use of natural stones and pebbles to create the effect of a brook. Another modern concept of a water feature is the use of an architectural water spout to create a fascinating effect.

Grand Water Fountain and Pond in the Coimbra Botanical Garden, Central Portugal.

Ten Questions for Jo!

After our theme of Dreams and Nightmares we thought we’d try something different which we have not done before. So we had a search online for a compendium of questions that we have answered that tell you a little bit more about ourselves, first up here’s Jo’s…

1. What are five things that make you most happy?

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2. What would be your dream job and why?

To be a writer or a dancer (think I would have liked to have been a dancer as a child).

3. List five things that you are passionate about:

Building good relationships with those that I love
Visiting art galleries and museums
Going to the theatre and watching good films

4. What are your pet peeves or annoyances?

Rude ignorant & intolerant people
Drunken loutish behaviour
Unhygienic manners
Disrespectful behaviour
Bitchiness and Sarcasm
Violence and threatening behaviour
Snobbishness and Pretentiousness

That looks like quite a long list actually!!

5. If you were an animal what would you be and why?

If I was an animal then I would like to be a vegetarian owl! One because I’m vegetarian, two because they are nocturnal and naturally so am I most probably! They are also seen as wise, learned creatures and have an association with books so the book connection also resonate with me!

6. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

If I was really rich then I would have a few houses dotted around where I could stay for different parts of the year, I would love to have a house in the West Coast Highlands of Scotland for the Summer and live maybe somewhere in Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain or Portugal) for the Winter.

7. If you could choose to have a superpower what would it be and why?

The ability to travel through time would be quite cool, as long as you could escape back to safety if you ended up in a bad place or time such as in a war! If not time travel then flying would be fun to get to places quickly and see a different perspective of the world.

8. If you could invite three or more guests from history and or the present to a dinner party who would you invite and why? Do you think your guests would get on well or not?

• The first guest that I would like to invite would be Arthur Miller. We share a birthday so that could be a good starting point but I would love to talk about his politics and his writing routine and methods as I am a great fan of his work.
• Cleopatra would be an interesting guest, we have this glamorous association with her today but it would be interesting to see how much of this is true or not.
• Jane Austen (I was going to say Emily Bronte but I think she would have been too introverted as she was supposed to be painfully shy) I think Jane Austen would be very humorous and add some wit and lightness to the party. It would be great to find out if Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy were based on real people too!
• Orson Welles would be an interesting addition if he was the age he was when he filmed The Third Man as I understand that he became quite difficult in his older age.
• Michael Ondaatje would be my final guest as I think his writing is really beautiful and it would be great to get some writing tips and advice from him!

I think that the guests would probably get on ok overall though it depends on how much of a diva Cleopatra would be and whether or not Orson Welles was drunk which he hopefully wouldn’t be!

9. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?

I think that there are two things that are popular notions that the world has most wrong:

The first one is the worship of celebrity, This increases the conspicuous consumption and covetousness of luxury goods ‘knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing’ as my dear mother would say which does not a happy life lead.

The second one would be conforming to a narrow acceptance of an ideal body shape that affects everyone but the young in particular increasing eating disorders, mental health issues and body dysmorphic disorder.

What I would call the misuse of social media can exacerbate both of the above.

10. What do people most misunderstand about you?

I can be quite a guarded person initially towards people that I don’t know that well (unless they are close friends and family). So some people may think that I’m cold, aloof and distant but that’s just me being a bit wary! When I get to know people then the barriers come down and then people get to know that I am loyal, trustworthy, helpful and kind. That is the real me.