Monthly Archives: March 2016

T is for …



My first experience with knowing someone who had been ‘abroad’ was in the late 1970s when a school friend went to Spain and my grandparents went to Malta and I think my dad went to Germany a couple of times, work related.

People that I knew didn’t really venture very far for their holidays and I suppose I naively thought that the 1970s was the first time people did that sort of thing. Well I was wrong, Virginia et al were doing it long before then.

Here is a summary of Virginia’s travels.

In 1896 Virginia went to France with Vanessa. She must have gone with her parents or some other adults as she was only 14 in 1896.

In 1904 she went to Italy with Vanessa and Violet Dickinson

In 1905 she went to Spain and Portugal

In 1906 she went to Greece. This is when Thoby caught Typhoid and sadly died.

in 1908 Virginia visited Italy with the Bells.

in 1911 she travelled to Turkey

In 1912 Virginia and Leonard honeymooned in Provence, Spain and Italy

In 1923 she went to Spain

In 1927 she went to France and Sicily

In 1929 Virginia and Leonard visited Germany. They spent the 17th to the 21st January in Berlin. They were joined by Vanessa and Quentin and by Duncan Grant who were touring galleries there. Virginia is reported to have suffered badly from the sea sickness drug that she had taken and on her return home, she went to bed for a few weeks to recover.

In 1935 Virginia enjoyed a car tour through Holland, Germany and Italy.

Virginia was clearly very well travelled but apparently she always felt more comfortable at home, specifically in London which she loved most of all, and in Cornwall.


A Beautiful Book

Virginia Woolf’s GARDEN. The story of the garden at Monk’s House

Virginia Woolf's Garden

I was getting ready to go out to meet some friends yesterday evening and there was a loud knock on the door. I grabbed my purse because I assumed it would be the window cleaner calling for his payment. But, when I opened the door there was a gentleman standing there with a  parcel from Amazon in his hand. I hadn’t ordered anything from Amazon so I was a bit confused but I confirmed my name and he assured me the parcel was mine so I brought it indoors and opened it.

It was a gift from my special Dorset friends for helping them to move house last week. It is THE most gorgeous  book. Not only does it appeal to my passion for all things Virginia, but it appeals to my love of gardening and my very new love of photography. The photographs are stunning. It is:

The story of the garden at Monk’s House

and having visited Monk’s House it means such a lot. I absolutely adore it and can’t stop looking at it. Something to cherish.

Leonard’s Proposal

Frome Railway Station


We have just been to visit friends in Somerset for a few days and on the way home, back to Yorkshire, we decided to call at Frome Railway Station (pronounced like ‘broom’, not like ‘chrome’).

I wanted to see where Leonard had set off from to propose marriage to Virginia. Leonard was staying with a friend, the Rector of the Church of St Mary Magdalene, at the nearby Great Elm Rectory (about three miles from Frome Station) when he decided to get the train to London in order to ask Virginia to marry him. It was the eleventh of January 1912.

In his autobiography, Leonard says:

The change from the incessant whirl of London to the quiet somnolence of a Somerset rectory was the passing straight from a tornado into a calm, or from a saturnalia into a monastery. At last I had time to think. It took me 48 hours to come to a decision and on Wednesday I wired to Virginia asking whether I could see her next day. Next day I went up to London and asked her to marry me.

To commemorate this (albeit tenuous) link to Bloomsbury history, Frome Station installed a plaque which was unveiled by Cecil Woolf (Leonard’s nephew) in November 2014.


And to think that this very famous marriage began in a quiet railway station like this.

20160309_120636 20160309_120621 20160309_120710

You can just see the plaque in the middle photograph.

The rest, they say, is history.

S is for …


Stream of Consciousness

Well, I had to cover this at some point didn’t I?


I  understand the ‘Stream of Consciousness’ technique to be the written version of what is going on in a character’s mind.

The modernist writers were the pioneers of this technique. James Joyce takes the credit for inventing this new type of writing in his first novel,  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in 1916. and Virginia developed it in Jacob’s Room in 1922.

Have you ever thought about thoughts? They occur so randomly and often fleetingly in your mind, jumping about from one thing to another, that they are hard to pinpoint. Actually capturing them in the first place and then writing them down seems near impossible.

I find the whole idea of thought fascinating. Do we all think partly in words and partly in pictures? Do we have to understand language to be able to think in words?  I suppose we must; I couldn’t think in German for instance. Do we have to be able to see to think in pictures? Thoughts are incredibly difficult to stop as well, as my attempts to ‘think of nothing’ during yoga practice have testified.

Stream of consciousness is a narrative technique that describes in words what is going on in the minds of characters; and from this we learn much about them and their personality and history etc. The story can be told through the characters’ thoughts and feelings and not through a structured plot so this written equivalent of mind chatter is not necessarily logical. How many times have you been thinking about one thing and suddenly the thought has gone and you’re thinking about something else completely different?

Written down, on the page, this technique may lack punctuation and appear random and unstructured and be very difficult to read and understand. At first attempt it may appear as nonsense even. It is compelling though; we are inside a character’s mind seeing it at work.

When we come across this technique in fiction, the odds are that we find it difficult. I certainly do. But it is engrossing and challenging and awesomely clever.

Difficult but worth it.