Posts Tagged ‘Alice’

Afternoon in Guildford

July 31, 2015
Alice in Wonderland 150 years

Alice in Wonderland 150 years

Cheshire Cat

Cheshire Cat

Town Bridge

Town Bridge

Town Bridge

Town Bridge

Much warmer than of late, a pleasant warm and sunny afternoon.

I had hoped to have lunch at the Guildford Institute, that is if they were still serving, as otherwise a wasted trip to Guildford.

I found they had stopped mid-July, no lunch until September. The library closed until September.

Excellent lunch at Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage. They have opened a takeaway higher up the High Street a little way past the Oxfam Bookshop on the opposite side of the road. As McDonald’s has closed, yippee, I suggested they stuck a poster on the boarded-up shop front, Thai Takeaway with a big arrow.

Oxfam Bookshop closed, no staff, and yet plenty of staff in the Oxfam shop across the road. Not beyond the wit of man for a couple of the staff to cross the road? The Oxfam shop selling the disgusting peanut butter padded out with palm oil. Do they care? Big business charity with big business practices.

Excellent photographic exhibition in Guildford House (location of Tourist Information). Actually a mixed bag. Photos in the back room not impressive. I could have supplied them with better. The two front rooms, very impressive photos. I did wonder, was two different exhibitions. I asked, and was told no.

Cappuccino and flapjack in Glutton & Glee. Cappuccino acceptable, but not of the quality when Shaun was there. Prices are not acceptable, a fiver for a cappuccino and flapjack. Half an hour before they closed, I fancied a fresh fruit juice. No, too late. The furniture very dilapidated. They close at five o’clock. In the summer when people around, far too early. Since changing hands, I cannot see them staying in business.

I had popped to the market before lunch. I should have popped back after lunch before wandering around the town. Big mistake. The same mistake I made a few weeks ago. By the time I got there, stalls closed. Had I wandered down the street probably those lower down still open.

New restaurant by entrance to Castle Grounds surprisingly packed. Maybe a special promotion. I looked at the menu. Very overpriced. How long will it last? They usually last about a year, then close down.

Castle Grounds reading Post-Capitalism. If the excellent analysis in the introduction anything to go by, then well worth reading. On a par with This Changes Everything,  Revolution and Sacred Economics. They compliment each other quite well.

This weekend in Guildford events to celebrate 150th Anniversary of publication of Alice in Wonderland. Very bad timing as coincides with Staycation Live in Godalming this weekend. There are also Alice exhibitions in Holy Trinity and St Mary’s, if you can find them open. A bit dumb, exhibitions in two churches that are rarely open.

Caught a train at Guildford Station within seconds of it leaving.

A Walk with Alice in Looking-Glass Land

July 5, 2013
Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee

I was not sure what to expect. The posters and flyers gave no indication. I asked at the Tourist Information, they were not sure, but thought it was some sort of promenade.

I thus arrived at the Castle Grounds about half an hour before the start none too sure of what to expect. I asked.

It started with a cat explaining we were about to see something, and led us through a mirror, then back to our seats.

Then along came Alice, and beckoned us to follow her. She led us to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

And that was how the evening would progress, we were led here and there through the Castle Grounds.

There was about a dozen of us, maybe a third children. I think from the looks we got from people in the Castle Grounds as this strange motley crew wandered around, thought us all completely mad.

What came across was the brilliance of Lewis Carroll. The performers became almost an irrelevance.

Alice played her part to perfection. My only criticism of Alice, she should have been played by someone much younger, teens or early twenties.

The performance was by The Herald Players, drawing upon Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

The performance finished at 8-30. The Castle Grounds closed at 8-30. When I tried to leave, I find we were locked in. I did though find a way out. But why lock first, the gates nearest the performance?

Friday through to Saturday (not Sunday) in the Castle Grounds. Part of the Guildford Summer Festival.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

April 23, 2013
Alice Through the Looking Glass

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Today, St George’s Day, search for Alice.

First the farmers market, then I got waylaid at Milk & Honey, a lovely little deli cum café on the left hand side of the main entrance into the Castle Grounds in Guildford, then on to find Alice.

I will not say where Alice is located as she is well hidden, but she is there.

The statue of Alice passing through the looking glass was made by Jean Argent in 1990. The statue stands in a very secluded spot, what once was the garden of Castle Gate, the house beyond. If you know where to look, can also be seen Chestnuts, the home of Lewis Carroll and his sisters. In 1871, Lewis Carroll completed Alice Through the Looking Glass whilst at Chestnuts.

Lewis Carroll used to take long walks in the local area. It was whilst on one such long walk came the inspirtaion for The Hunting of the Snark.

Earlier in the day, I had hoped to visit St Mary’s, the church associated with Lewis Carroll, where as an ordained minister he would occasionally preach. It is rarely open, farmers market is one of those rare days when it is open, but they must have forgot today was a special market for St George’s Day, as it was closed.

For my lovely friend Annie.

Synchronicity – Chinese girl with a pocket watch

August 31, 2012
The Edwards Family - Stratford-upon-Avon

The Edwards Family – Stratford-upon-Avon

Alice reading to her sister

Alice reading to her sister

Synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer. — Carl Jung

It is very rare these days to see anyone with a pocket watch.

It was therefore a surprise to see an attractive Chinese girl, very elegantly dressed, wearing a pocket watch.

I commented on it. She said no, it was not an old watch, and referred to it as an accessory, but said she would like an old pocket watch. I said that could be arranged.

We were both on the Reading to Gatwick train. She had travelled from Bath and was on her way to Austria.

I alighted at Guildford, existed the station, crossed the road and walked along the River Wey into the town centre (a far more attractive route than via the road).

Moored on the River Wey was a boat, from Straford-upon-Avon. It was the only boat moored.

How strange thought I, Bath lies on the River Avon, though not the same River Avon.

William Shakespeare is from Stratford-upon-Avon.

My friend Elaine and fellow collaborator on The Way of the Bow audio book was at a Shakespeare Festival this week.

I walked along the river. There was a Alice reading a book to her sister, a rabbit leaping down a rabbit hole.

The rabbit consults his pocket watch and mutters he is very late for a very important date.

This evening a dramatisation of a case of Sigmund Freud.

Sigmund Freud had his consulting rooms in Vienna. His close associate until they had a very bitter falling out was Carl Jung. It was Carl Jung who expressed the idea of synchronicity.

A strange world.

A picture at an exhibition

March 30, 2011
Rosemary for Remembrance - Ann Sinclair

Rosemary for Remembrance - Ann Sinclair

artists on closing day of U3A art exhibition at Guildford Institute

artists on closing day of U3A art exhibition at Guildford Institute

With apologies to Mussorgsky.

Sometimes a particular picture catches our eye, and so it was for me, one picture out of maybe a hundred caught my eye. It was a strange picture. It clearly had an Alice theme, but with dark Gothic overtones, hints of Edgar Allan Poe. I was intrigued and baffled. Why the cross and open grave as the centre piece of the picture? It was unfortunate the artist had decide to put glass over her painting as the refections made it nigh impossible to see the work. The title of the work, Rosemary for Remembrance, gave not a hint, far from it, as it seemed in no way connected to the painting.

I was in Guildford for the day, or at least lunch and the rest of the day. It was whilst having lunch at the Guildford Institute surrounded by paintings that I spotted this strange painting. It was part of an exhibition by Guildford U3A.

It was an altogether strange Alice cum art cum Paulo Coelho cum Orhan Pamuk day out.

My day started seeing an American lady looking rather lost outside St Mary’s. I stated the obvious that it was locked, and added that sadly it was rarely open. For her it was a pity as she was in Guildford for the day for its Lewis Carroll connections. There must be many disappointed visitors like her. More must be done to keep St Mary’s open. I like to sit in St Mary’s in quiet reflection, when I find it open that is.

I explained a little of the history of St Mary’s, told her Lewis Carroll had a house nearby and gave the occasional sermon in St Mary’s. And I gave her a couple of websites where more information could be found on Lewis Carroll and Guildford. —> Lewis Carroll —> Lewis Carroll —> Guildford

I then had lunch at the Guildford Institute where I spotted the strange painting. It was part of an exhibition by Guildford U3A.

I always pop into the library, a lovely little private library. Chatting to a lady I suggested she read Paulo Coelho. I pulled off the shelves one of his books and gave her websites where she could find more information on the author. —> Paulo Coelho —> Paulo Coelho

Leaving the Guildford Institute I chatted with a lovely young Spanish woman who was a keen fan of Paulo Coelho. I gave her websites where she could find more information. —> Paulo Coelho —> Paulo Coelho

I was then in a bank, more Paulo Coelho fans.

Then a secondhand bookshop where I met a charming Indian who I had never seen before. Any books by Paulo Coelho? Yes. Please show me I said, knowing there were none. Oh, she said, there are none. I then explained I had bought all eight the previous Friday! It turned out she too was a Paulo Coelho fan and she told me that he was a very popular writer in India. She also liked Orhan Pamuk. I was impressed! I gave her websites for more information. —> Paulo Coelho —> Paulo Coelho —> Orhan Pamuk

Fancying a cup of tea I thought I would pop in the little tea shop in Guildford House. It has been closed for weeks if not months. Apart from the Tourist Information that has now relocated to Guildford House it all looked closed, so I inquired, to be told, yes it was open. The tea shop was devoid of customers. Apparently few people had bothered to do as I had and inquired, they had walked past assuming it was closed. I asked had they been compensated for the loss of trade whilst Guildford House was closed. No, was the response, and they had still been charged rent!

Walking down the High Street I chatted with a lady who was just finishing a drawing of the Old Town Hall. She said she would be turning it into a water colour. She had come all the way down from Malvern for the day for this one painting. She showed me a photo of a painting she had done in Oxford the previous day. As she had lost her train times, I gave her my timetable, which I said would give her the times of trains from Guildford to Reading. I gave her a website for information on Guildford. —> Guildford

All in all, a very interesting day.


March 30, 2011


I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!

If it had grown up, it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin.

If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.

You are old, Father William, your hair has become very white. And yet you incessantly stand on your head – do you think, at your age, it is right?

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

The adventures first… explanations take such a dreadful time.

We are all mad here ( The Cat)

Alice was posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog as his Character of the Week.

Alice is one of my favourite characters in literature, Lewis Carroll a favourite author.

Last summer I took my lovely friend Sian on a Alice day out in Guildford. We went to a dramatisation of the courtroom scene where Alice appears before the Queen of Hearts to determine who stole the tarts, we sat by the river and I read to Sian from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we had afternoon tea and cakes, and as a memento of the day I gave her a beautifully illustrated copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in order that she would always have fond memories of our lovely day out.

Yesterday in Guildford, I had an interesting Alice cum art cum Paulo Coelho cum Orhan Pamuk day out. [see A picture at an exhibition]

Alice and the Red Queen
Alice in Court
And what is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?
Life of Lewis Carroll in Guildford
Legacy of Lewis Carroll

Alice and the Red Queen

February 1, 2011
Alice and the queen

Alice and the queen

In Lewis Carroll’s famous masterpiece “Alice through the Looking Glass,” there is a dialogue between the main character and the Queen, who has just told something quite extraordinary.

– I can’t believe it – says Alice.

– Can’t believe it? – the Queen repeats with a sad look on her face. – Try again: take a deep breath, close your eyes, and believe.

Alice laughs:

– It’s no good trying. Only fools believe that impossible things can happen.

– I think what you need is a little training – answers the Queen. – When I was your age I would practice at least half an hour a day, right after breakfast, I tried very hard to imagine five or six unbelievable things that could cross my path, and today I see that most of the things I imagined have turned real, I even became a Queen because of that.

Life constantly asks us: “believe!” Believing that a miracle can happen at any moment is necessary not only for our happiness but also for our protection, or to justify our existence. In today’s world, many people think it is impossible to put an end to misery, to build a fair society, and to alleviate the religious tension that seems to grow worse every day.

Most people avoid the struggle for a whole variety of reasons: conformism, maturity, the sense of the ridiculous, the feeling of impotence. We see injustice being done to our neighbor and remain silent. “I’m not getting involved in fights for nothing” is the explanation.

This is a cowardly attitude. Whoever travels down a spiritual path carries an honor code to be fulfilled; the voice that is raised against what is wrong is always heard by God.

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Lewis Carroll is one of my favourite writers. He lived in Guildford with his sisters. A cross provided by his sisters can be found in St Mary’s Church in Guildford, a church in which the Rev Charles Dodgson occasionally preached.

Last summer I treated my lovely friend Sian to a special Alice day out in Guildford.

We had a wonderful day out.

We went to an enactment of the courtroom scene, we visited spots associated with Lewis Carroll including his house, we visited a special exhibition on Lewis Carroll and Alice and his links with Guildford, we had lovely afternoon tea at the back of Guildford House, we sat by the river where I read to Sian passages from Alice, much as Alice’s sister had read to Alice and I gave Sian a beautiful illustrated copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Synchronicity: As I sat down to write, I found I had received a request asking me was the house Lewis Carroll shared with his sister open to the public. Sadly not, it is a private house, though I believe they occasionally acceded to special requests.

For my lovely friend Sian.

Note: Alice met two Queens on her travels. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland she meets the Queen of Hearts infamous for ‘Off with her head!’ In Alice Through the Looking Glass she meets the Red Queen with who she has this conversation. The first Queen is a playing card, the second a chess piece. The illustration is of the Queen of Hearts. In the conversation Alice is talking to the Red Queen. The two are often confused, or worse, merged into one.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (illustrated by Robert Ingpen)

July 29, 2010
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I saw this illustrated edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Guildford Museum. Unlike the original edition by Lewis Carroll, it did not have the John Tenniel illustrations, instead the illustrations are by Robert Ingpen.

It was an absolute must have.

I was looking at the Lewis Carroll exhibition in Guildford Museum, part of the Curiouser and Curiouser season. I could have picked it up there and then, but I did not wish to carry it around with me all day. A decision I regretted once home.

A week and a half later I was in Guildford for a performances of Alice in Court in the Guildhall, and picked up a copy.

What makes this an absolute must have is the fantastic illustrations by Robert Ingpen. He bases them upon the original John Tenniel illustrations. The only major difference is that Alice is not as we recognize her from John Tenniel, she is more like Alice Liddell as portrayed in the photos taken by Lewis Carroll.

As an added bonus there are a couple of facsimile pages from Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, the handwritten manuscript Lewis Carroll gave to Alice Liddell ‘A Christmas gift to a dear child in memory of a summer day’. The illustrations were by Lewis Carroll himself.

I was though disappointed to find that some of my favorites are missing. Alice hunched up and the White Rabbit scurrying away, drawing to one side a curtain and seeing a small door behind the curtain, to name but two.

A neat touch is Lewis Carroll reading to Alice Liddell, which prefaces the book.

If you have one copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland beside that with the original John Tenniel illustrations, then this is the one to get.

I cannot wait for Through the Looking-Glass.

Also see

And what is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

I need somebody to love – White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

July 23, 2010

Two Jefferson Airplane classics at Woodstock (1969)

At a recent meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society, White Rabbit was set to a montage that illustrated the lyrics. [see Legacy of Lewis Carroll]

Life of Lewis Carroll in Guildford

July 19, 2010
Chestnuts – home of Lewis Carroll and his sisters in Guildford

Chestnuts – home of Lewis Carroll and his sisters in Guildford

Fight for your dreams, and your dreams will fight for you. — Paulo Coelho

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. — Paulo Coelho

An excellent talk by Mary Alexander, curator of Guildford Museum, on the Life of Lewis Carroll in Guildford, drawing upon his journals.

The Rev Charles Dodgson lived three lives (apart from that as the writer Lewis Carroll), he lived at Christchurch College Oxford, lived in Guildford with his sisters, spent time in Eastbourne on holiday.

Charles Dodgson came from a large family. His father was ordained, as was his grandfather. It was a tradition for the men of the family to go into either the army or the church. Charles Dodgson chose neither, his preferred profession was mathematics at Oxford.

To hold a position at Christchurch it was necessary to be ordained. He also could not marry.

He was very religious and would attend church twice on a Sunday. Not always the same church. Although ordained, he chose not to go into the Church, but he did occasionally preach.

After he was ordained, it was six months before he delivered his first sermon. He was pretty relaxed about it. He made no preparation the night before on the grounds he was too tired. Over breakfast he made a few notes.

He gave a few more sermons over the next few years, then nothing for twenty years.

He noted in his journal that he felt unworthy to enter the church, but intriguingly does not say why. This has opened the door to worthless speculation that too often gets reported as fact.

None of his sermons survive, but he was known as a good story teller, we can therefore only speculate. A contemporary account speaks well of his sermons.

One myth to be knocked on the head: He did not befriend children because he did not get on well with adults. He had an active social life whilst in Guildford. He also had several female friends.

Note: Edward Wakeling (Lewis Carroll researcher and editor of the Dodgson Journals) makes a similar point in a talk he gave a few years previous to the Lewis Carroll Society. Charles Dodgson was a socialite! Edward Wakeling slams biographers for perpetuating myths, for writing what readers wish to hear to sell more copies, for failing to use primary sources, and even when they do, failing to comprehend the context. All very basic for historical research. [see The Real Lewis Carroll]

In his talk Edward Wakeling cites a lovely example from the Dodgson journals relating to St Mary’s (only it was St Mary’s Oxford, not Guildford!):

Dec: 6. (Sun). “Preached at St. Mary’s, at the evening service. One of our Chaplains, the Rev. Sydney Baker, is curate in charge, and had asked for my help. It was indeed a privilege to be thankful for – but a formidable task: I had fancied there would be only a small audience, and the church was full, as well as the West Gallery, and the North one partly filled as well. I took as text Mark IX, 24, and the sermon lasted about 18 minutes.”

The Dodgsons moved to Guildford from Croft in Yorkshire when their father died and the rectory had to be vacated.

Cross given to St Mary's by sisters of Charles Dodgson

Cross given to St Mary's by sisters of Charles Dodgson

His sisters were also active in the Parish, helping with good causes. The brass cross on the altar at St Mary’s is believed to have been given by his sisters. They are known to have given St Mary’s a cross and there is no record of a subsequent cross.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in Oxford following a story telling for his friend Alice Liddell. Through the Looking-Glass was part written in Guildford.

He liked walking. He would walk to Albury. Or walk to Farnham along the Hog’s Back and return on the train.

His death was sudden and a shock. He took ill with flu, it went to his chest and he never recovered. His funeral was poorly attended. He lies buried in Guildford. His sisters placed a simple white cross on his grave with the words ‘Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) fell asleep Jan. 14, 1898.’

Mary Alexander has written a booklet, Lewis Carroll and Guildford, published by Guildford Museum (July 2010). The front cover is illustrated with Chestnuts, the house a few minutes walk from St Mary’s where Charles Dodgson lived with his sisters.

Mary Alexander was an excellent speaker, knowledgeable on her subject, it was therefore very unfortunate that most of her talk was drowned out by the ringing of the church bells. Pleasant walking to the church, but a headache once inside.

Mary Alexander and Edward Wakeling

Mary Alexander and Edward Wakeling

The talk was followed by Matins. Mary Alexander read the two lessons, Selwyn Goodacre, from the Lewis Carroll Society, gave the sermon.

Selwyn Goodacre spoke of the religious aspect of the life of Charles Dodgson. It was not the odd sermon, or regular attendance at church, it permeated all aspects of his life. Father of Selwyn was ordained and a good friend of Father Somerset Ward. Father Somerset Ward draw religious and spiritual insight from Alice.

I was reminded of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. Not because his style is similar to Lewis Carroll (as it is not) or that he writes nonsense (as he does not) but the spiritual element of his writing. The Alchemist is a fairy tale of sorts. Alice descends into a dream, Santiago follows his dreams.

Two of the hymns had a Lewis Carroll connection.

Breathe On Me Breath of God, written by Edwin Hatch, father of the three Hatch sisters who were friends of Lewis Carroll. Evelyn Hatch went on to edit the 1933 volume of The Letters of Lewis Carroll. Selwyn met Ethel Hatch many years ago when she was over 100 years old!

All Creatures of Our God and King, written by W H Draper who married one of Lewis Carroll’s friends. Selwyn has written a booklet about Lewis Carroll and W H Draper.

The pulpit from which Mary Alexander gave her talk and Selwyn Goodacre the sermon, is the same pulpit used by Charles Dodgson.

Matins was followed by sherry, which I thought was very kind and generous of St Mary’s.

Members of the Lewis Carroll Society went off to have lunch. I decided to follow the example of Charles Dodgson and took myself for a walk along the River Wey to St Catherine’s Lock.

St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church

St Mary’s is the oldest church in Guildford. The tower dates from around 1050 AD and is the town’s oldest pre-conquest building. Norman columns and arches dominate the interior. Somewhat unusual it is twinned with Holy Trinity Church at the top of the High Street. I thought this was our secular society, churches and parishes having to time share the same vicar, but I learnt this was not the case. When Charles Dodgson was involved with St Mary’s this arrangement existed. I spoke with the Curate who took the service and he told me that the parish had two churches and this arrangement had existed since at least 1699. As well as occasionally preaching at St Mary’s, the funeral of Charles Dodgson also took place in St Mary’s.

Charles Dodgson and his sisters lived at Chestnuts, a house only a few minutes walk from St Mary’s.

Curiouser and Curiouser: A programme of events in Guildford, part of (though extending beyond) the Guildford Summer Festival.

The Lewis Carroll Society meet at places associated with Lewis Carroll.

Serendipity: Little did I know when I took the photo at St Mary’s of Mary Alexander and Charles Wakeling comparing notes, that Charles Wakeling had made a similar point to Mary Alexander on Dodgson Myths in a talk he had given to the Lewis Carroll Society a few years earlier. A talk I literally stumbled upon a few days later! Synchronicity? [see The Real Lewis Carroll]

Also see

Legacy of Lewis Carroll

Tai Chi in the Jabberwocky Maze

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