Headstone Manor

As mentioned in my previous post, we went from Harrow to Headstone Manor. First built in 1310, when it was provided with moat, it has been altered and rebuilt since then but the core remains largely 16th-century.

Entry is through the 16th-century Small Barn (above). There you can view a film of the history of the house and its area from the Stone Age onwards.

Above is a view of part of the moat, today inhabited by ducks, coots and moorhens.

Rafters in the Small Barn.

Crossing the moat to enter the manor.

A view from one of the windows.

These are the remains of a Tudor staircase. You cannot climb it, however, because, owing to alterations to the house, the staircase just stops at the ceiling. There is nothing above it.

A scan-shot of the Great Hall. Odd bits of woodwork from various periods are revealed giving the feeling if a building being demolished rather than a building as lived in.

Revealed rafters in the Great Hall.

A scan-shot of the rear of the manor.

This venerable old tree lives at the back of the house. To be honest, I don’t know what kind of tree it is. Maybe a yew?

This building is called the Granary.

So, what was my impression of the visit? I must admit to a certain degree of disappointment. The house (Grade I listed) is no doubt old and historically interesting but the visitor, to be honest, sees little of this. What the visitor sees is a lot of rooms furnished with display boards and a few cabinets of museum exhibits. I derived little sense of a lived-in house with a long human history.

That view is perhaps unfair. What, after all, could the curators do to improve matters? Furnish the rooms in period style to give an impression, albeit fictitious, of what the house might have looked like when inhabited? Whatever is done, someone will be disappointed with it.

Would I recommend the place to others. Yes, why not? You might not share my finicky views and enjoy the visit more in consequence.

Harrow

This is part of St Pancras Station as seen from the forecourt of King’s Cross Station. St Pancras is, I think, the most beautiful of London’s railway stations, both inside and outside.

Many of our journeys start from here and so will a forthcoming trip for which we will be taking the Eurostar to our destination.

Today we came to have breakfast at the station’s branch of Pain Quotidien before taking the tube to Harrow.

In Harrow we had a look at the shops in St Anne’s Shopping Centre and stopped for coffee at Costa.

Next, we caught a bus to Headstone Manor. Join us there 🙂

Independent London

I cannot imagine such an earth-shaking historical upheaval actually coming to pass but there is a desire expressed by certain groups to divorce London entirely from the UK and make it an independent state with membership of the EU.

A recent petition to this effect attracted 108,855 signatures.

I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about economic and other matters to pronounce on whether an independent London could survive and thrive but I have often wondered whether it should not at least be self-governing like Scotland and Wales with its own parliament.

If that seems ridiculous, consider the relative population figures:

Greater London (2018) 8.85m

Scotland (2016) 5.45m

Wales (2018) 3.18m

I am sure that you noticed that the population of London exceeds the combined population of the other two.

For comparison, the population of the self-governing Isle of Man (2019) is 86,369.

Independence is an unlikely scenario, of course, but London voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and is in many ways a coherent entity with a history and, I hope, a future, of its own.

In an independence referendum, how would I vote? Truth to tell, I do not know but I would be greatly tempted to vote yes.

A better blog editor

When in my first post I bravely, and somewhat recklessly, announced that I would be composing my posts mainly on my iPhone, using the WordPress app, I was not really aware of what I was letting myself in for.

Yes, I was only too conscious of how irritating it can be trying to type with thick adult fingers on the fiddly little keyboard but, well, it is possible with patience. Also, for lengthy texts, I sometimes use a stylus, which reduces the number of errors somewhat.

More to the point, however, was the fact that I had not yet become familiar with the annoyances and frustrations of the WordPress app itself. That is a story that I will not bore you with except to recount two occasions when things went badly wrong.

The first was when I lost a post that I was composing. I left the editor to check a reference or edit a photo – I don’t remember which – and when I returned to the editor I found that my post had vanished.

The WordPress app does not save your work as you go. If you want to leave the editor, you should first save your edit to Drafts. When you return, though, where do you find your saved draft? Not in the editor. Somewhat counterintuitively, you have to click on My Sites and then Blog Posts. At the top of that screen, click on Drafts and find your text among all the other drafts.

The second was a serious hiccup that occurred during our trip to Bristol. I composed the post St Nicholas Markets on my phone as I went, adding the photos as well. Then I tried to insert the photo of the street art painting. It refused to load. I tried again and again but in vain. Later I found that I could insert no photos at all. Nothing I did would remedy the situation. It looked as though all my posts henceforth would be text only.

Next morning, I tried again. This time it worked! Inserting images has worked ever since. I have no idea why it stopped working on that occasion or whether it will happen again and, if so, what do about it.

In view of the lost text, I decided that it would be a good idea to use a separate editor for composing my posts, one that would safely hold the text until I deliberately deleted it. Thus began a long and frustrating search online for a “plain text editor for iphone”.

The editor would be simple to use and, if possible, allow insertion of images and carry these over to the WordPress editor by means of copy/paste. Oh yes, and it had to be free as I didn’t want to pay for an app that would turn out to be unsuitable. Did such an app even exist?

I read a lot of reviews and tried a lot of apps. These included much lauded standards such as Evernote and Google Docs, along with a host of apps I had never heard of. I discarded them all for being too complicated for my simple needs or for not fulfilling my basic demands.

Then I decided to try the app I should have started with. If you are an iPhone owner you’ve probably guessed the one I mean. Yes, Notes! Would this fill the bill?

I tried it out and, in short, it worked! It can compose in normal print and in italic and bold. I can insert images into my text and when I copy/paste the piece into the WordPress app, it loads the images too!

There do remain one two things that Notes cannot do and which require post-editing in the app but it performs most of the main labour of composition and that’s what counts.

So Notes is now the app I use to compose my posts. There is no risk of losing my edit and I can keep this for as long as I wish afterwards.

There is one final point I should mention. WordPress has two editors, the Classic editor and the Gutenberg or Block editor. When blogging on my iPhone, I use the Classic editor. This is because it is simpler to use and does everything I need but also because it allows me to copy/paste from Notes, as described, whereas the Block editor does not.

What do counters count?

If you run a blog – or for that matter, any website – you will probably want to know how many visitors it attracts. There is nothing conceited about this desire because setting up a site on the Web is, after all, an attempt to communicate with the world and it is natural to want to know how the world is responding.

A simple and popular way of counting visitors, and one that I started using myself (see my post Counter culture), is to install a “hit counter”. There are many of these available online, ranging in design from a plain number, through numbers beside visitors’ national flags to world maps showing visitors’ locations. Most of the simple ones are free while those that provide more extensive information may require a fee.

I soon realized that there are problems with the simple hit counter. The first, a practical issue, is that they count every hit on you blog, including a visitor refreshing the page. They also count all my visits, including those where I am viewing the blog to check on editing changes. All this leads to an inflated figure of supposed “visits”.

Then there is the question of what is meant by “a visit”. If the same person visits your blog several times during the day, do you count all these visits or only the first one? Some hit counters can be configured to record “unique visits”, that is, they count only a person’s first visit of the day and ignore all further visits until next day. Most of the simple hit counters do not offer this option.

The second problem is one that I alluded to in my previous post: to what use are the suppliers of free hit counters putting your blog? They have to make money somehow, so what, exactly, are they selling? At the very least, they will include a link in the counter so that anyone clicking on it will be shown advertising. What else might they be doing? Well, we don’t know really, do we? With these thoughts in mind, I deleted the hit counter.

I then took a look at the list of “widgets” supplied for use with the blog. There I discovered one called Blog Stats. WordPress collects very useful statistics about your blog and these are readily accessible to the blog owner. The widget Blog Stats copies one of the quantities from these statistics. So I put it in the sidebar and entitled it “Visitors”. Then I realized that the number that Blog Stats displays is not the number of visitors (unique or not) but the number of pages clicked on, referred to as “page views”.

A moment’s thought will make it obvious that that number of page views is not the same as the nunber of visitors. Any one visitor may click on several pages so the number of page views will be at least a large as the number of visitors but almost certainly much larger. So I renamed the widget in the sidebar to Page Views.

The annoying thing is that, though WordPress does keep a tally of the number of visitors (unique visits) from the start of the blog to the present moment and I can see it by looking at my statistics, there doesn’t seem to be any way to display this number in the sidebar. This is one reason why hit counters are so popular, I suppose.

“Page Views Culture” wouldn’t have the same punning ring as “Counter Culture”, and so this post has a rather tame title but it does at least pose the question that I hope the post answers.