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Wonderful guests and a Marlborough connection

After six and a half years of welcoming guests, every day is still a joy as I meet and make new fascinating friends from all parts of Britain and all over the world, and from every walk of life.

From time to time I take guests on walks round the city centre, or we enjoy a drink together in one (or more!) of my favourite pubs, but best of all, most days, we enjoy long chats over breakfast for once the cooking’s done I can sit and join fascinating conversations.

This last weekend was very special when some guests breaking a journey back to Dorset from London, Geoff and his wife – both keen historians – took a close interest in family photographs I have.

Geoff, an expert on military transport, seeing a photo of very early veteran cars gathered for an army parade in an English country town, but unidentified, offered to track down it’s date and location.

Within 72 hours he has comeback with details so precise that I now know the exact place and date and how my grandfather John Alexander Holder was involved.

This is part of a very fine print showing the newly formed Motor Volunteer Corps on its first manoeuvre at Marlborough on 12 September 1903. This was the beginning of a week’ camp and movements. This was one of the first military exercises with cars, here 43 of them volunteered by grandfather (Lieutenant Holder with a Napier) and others, including Captain Charles Rolls.

With Geoff’s help I will soon be in touch with the author of a book on the Motor Volunteers.

Now I am hoping for new guests who might be experts on other aspects of early motoring history.

So, many thanks to Geoff and Sally.

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The perfect pub for a perfect lunch

Every Sunday at the end of a busy morning of B&B work I walk past the cathedral to my favourite pub, The Eclipse, in one of the oldest buildings in Winchester, dating back nearly five hundred years. This is a pub with real history and even its own ghost. Here a terrible execution took place following the Monmouth rebellion in 1685. On the timbered face of the pub is a reminder that it was the rectory for the ancient St Lawrence church round the corner.

I have been calling in now and then since I first arrived in Winchester in 1973.

Much in life is not quite as good as our memory tells us it was in the past. This is a pub which has only got better.

It has a tiny bar with a lovely warm fire for wintry days, and a second room at the back. The staff are always ready to amuse you, to listen to your woes, to pour you a beautiful beer or, best of all, bring you the most wonderful lunch. I am there every weekend for my super Sunday roast, cooked and served by Sarah and Alan, perfect hosts.

It is not hard to imagine that each time I go in the same familiar faces and friends are there, some chatting at the bar, some sharing tables and eating together, others peacefully reading the newspaper.

Meanwhile outside some customers can always – summer or winter – be found chatting and drinking outside where there are tables on the pavement, the perfect spot in summer to watch the world going  by to and fro from the cathedral around the corner. 

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Winchester for the perfect ‘nanobreak’

In the Travel section of the Times (January 10 2009) John Naish sings the praises of taking Bed and Breakfast mini-breaks where the journey from home might be just sixty minutes or even less!  The result: "that rarest of modern commodities – simple relaxation". These are escapades to get over the difficulty of big "trophy holidays", so stressful apparently that 1.7 million Brits have to take time off to recover!

John Naish’s advice is to travel just a short distance, to stay in a country hotel or a B&B, take minimal luggage, and book  no more than two nights, one of them possibly Sunday for the best rates.

Many of the guests in Wolvesey View B&B are doing exactly that (well not so many staying the Sunday nights yet): coming down by train from London to enjoy smooching about the streets, feasting in great pubs and restaurants, touring the cathedral, enjoying the sound of bells chimiing all over town, shopping at the incredible Farmers’ Market and walking down along a beautiful waterway to St Catherine’s Hill. Just one final walk through the city centre to catch one of the frequent trains for the hour long ride back to Waterloo.

What a great break from the hustle and bustle and stress of your "trophy holiday" – or life in London!


John Naish is the author of "Breaking Free from the World of More"

Times article "Pack up your troubles: Leave your passport at home"

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A great jazz singer comes to Winchester

One of the coolest young jazz singers in the UK, Clare Teale from Skipton in Yorkshire  is coming to Winchester on January 17.  Clare has a long string of cds, six recorded over eight years, the most recent Paradisi Carousel, Don’t Talk, and Get Happy. Her powerful joyous songs are mixed with beautiful moody love songs.


I have these three beautiful albums and listen to them constantly savouring the brilliant passion with which Clare sings familiar classics and her own lovely works. This is music to fall in love to! Music for Moondancing cheek to cheek. Certainly music to make you Get Happy

I will not miss this wonderful chance to see Clare live and have tickets for the front row.

Clare Teale will be in concert at the Theatre Royal Winchester on January 17.


To learm more about Clare see her website.

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Welcome back and Happy New Year


After a long absence due to some sad changes in our family life I am back bringing more photos and news about what to enjoy in Winchester, past present and future, from the perspective of my Bed and Breakfast Wolvesey View right in the centre of this beautiful city. Soon I will catch up on the photos of Winchester month by month, talk about the forthcoming concert by the brilliant jazz singer Claire Teale and show a bit of Christmas in the city.

Sorry for disappearing, but its great to be back again and celebrating Winchester!



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Harley Davidsons in Winchester

On my way through ther city this morning I say a great line-up of gleaming squeaky clean bikes.

The riders were stopping for a coffee in my favourite Winchester pub, the ancient ‘Eclipse’, before riding down for a great day out in the New Forest. I rushed home for my camera and luckily got back in time to take these shots.

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