Archive for January, 2015

Aysgarth Falls

January 21, 2015

Today I am returning to our holiday in Yorkshire which was at the end of November last year. We seemed to go in for waterfalls and this included the falls at Aysgarth.

Aysgarth Falls are in Wensleydale which means it is the waters of the River Ure which are tumbling down here. The Ure is quite a big river which means an impressive amount of water makes its way over a sequence of falls. None of the falls are that high and, we gather, in dry seasons the flow reduces to little more than a trickle. But these falls are a tourist honeypot, probably due to good communications – in the past. Even now there is a big carpark (charging big carpark prices) and a visitor centre with associated tea room. But the popularity of the falls probably stems from the adjacent Aysgarth Railway Station which we have already seen on this blog (click here).

We stayed in Carperby and that was no more than a mile away from the falls – a delightful walk through what I call ‘stone country’. We’ve looked at that before as well (click here).

On that occasion we did end up seeing two of the falls at Aysgarth.


Not much height but plenty of water make this impressive.

A couple of other tourists give this some scale.


Being a tourist site, this is laid out with firm paths, steps and safety fences.

You walk a bit further to reach the lowest fall and things get a little less well trodden and just a tad wilder.


You can get close up to the fall here.


Now my unsolved question. Maybe you have an answer. The water looks much like churned up water on the more level sections. Why does it look so brown on the tumble?

These falls were well worth the visit but for us the walk from and back to Carperby was also very lovely.


January 20, 2015

My Dad aged 0 to 10

I am well blessed with photos of my father. My grandparents were, I am assured, always short of money but photos were taken. Of course these were not in the huge numbers taken today. But there are enough to portray the change from baby to boy and onto being a young man and more on into adulthood and old age.

Let’s just look at early days here.

Dad was born in 1919. No doubt this was approximately nine months after his dad returned from World War One service.


This is an early photo with dad just a few months old.

Dad was born and raised in Bexhill so the seaside was always an available attraction. Here we see him as about a two year old with his spade and ready to dig.


At a similar age dad had a close encounter with a black swan. This must have been in the Egerton Park in Bexhill.


The next photo has been captioned by my dad.


His Aunt Mercy lived on Malthouse Road in Crawley.


This collection was taken when Harry stayed with Aunt Nellie. Aunt Nellie at Firle seemed to have been his venue for a summer break.

Another photo at Firle.


I think there are amazing family likenesses here with grandchildren and great grandchildren my dad never knew.

Let’s finish with Harry the schoolboy in 1928.


So there we have just a few photos to cover the first ten years of Dad’s life. There are many more.

Ice breaking on the Ashby Canal

January 19, 2015

Back in 1988 we took my dad for a week’s canal holiday. About a year before my dad had undergone heart surgery so we made decisions on boat and route based on his health. We went for luxury in the boat department. Something with plenty of size was needed; something which could have a cabin with a permanent bed for dad. And bearing in mind the fact that our week was at the end of October and into November we decided on one with good heating.

We also decided that we’d go up the Ashby Canal. We never had so that was reason enough, but it was also lock free which meant there would be less temptation for dad to overstretch himself.

We hired a boat at Nuneaton. We’d actually hired from that firm earlier in the year – a big and more basic boat but we had espied a suitable candidate for a holiday with Dad.

We set off on October 29th in really lovely weather. People may think the Midlands of England are industrial (or ex-industrial), grubby and not at all the place for a holiday. That just isn’t so. Mostly, on a canal trip you’ll see pleasant, gentle English countryside – like this with bridge number 4 over the Ashby Canal.


The Ashby Canal was little used back then so the water ahead of our boat is still and undisturbed – perfect for reflections!

When we awoke on the morning of 1st November there was a thin sheet of ice on the canal. It wasn’t enough to stop a boat but it was quite an eerie experience listening to the noise of ice breaking as we moved through it.

It proved very hard to photograph but this shot to the rear of the boat shows the disturbed water where we had broken the ice giving way abruptly on either side to the area where the ice sheet remained.


I have to say ice breaking was a one and only experience for me but as far as canals were concerned it was a serious problem. Canals could be closed if they got seriously iced over for boats couldn’t break their way through it. Canals had special ice breaking boats and one happened to be on dry land at the terminus of the Ashby Canal which is at Snarestone.

My wife and I took a look at it.


As can be seen it is a boat of hefty construction with sturdy iron plates riveted together. It isn’t flat bottomed like most canal boats. That’s so that it could rock better. It was, of course, either horse or human pulled. Teams of men stood in the craft holding the hand rail and they rocked the boat as it attempted to pass through ice – which caused the ice to break up – a cunning and simple solution to a canal problem.

By the way, we did make sure Dad had a full canal experience.

Here we are about to exit Snarestone Tunnel.


And we also managed the Watford flight of locks.


This is very close to the Watford Gap services on the M1 geographically, but nigh on 200 years apart in time.

Eric Ravilious – wood engraver

January 18, 2015

There may be some relieved to know that my monthly look at the work of artist Eric Ravilious via the calendar I was given at Christmas 2013 is over. Others may be pleased to know I’ll still feature my favourite artist from time to time. You see I was given the book ‘Imagined Realities’ which was produced to accompany a Ravilious exhibition some years ago. The book was written and compiled by Alan Powers and was published by the Imperial War Museum. If this seems a surprise then remember that Eric was an official war artist in World War II – a role which led to his death in 1943 when the plane he was on crashed into the North Atlantic near Iceland in 1943.

But the book covers the full gamut of Eric’s work and today we’ll look at a wood engraving from 1925 when young Ravilious was just about 22.


This is clearly far removed from Eric’s watercolours but it is amazing how the essence of a scene can be captured in this way.

This image was called ‘Sussex Church’ – the artist wasn’t willing to precisely locate it. But I will. This is the artist view of Lullington Church, most of which had been destroyed by fire, probably in the seventeenth century.

Of course, Eric has been a little fanciful with trees but they add to the scene and frame the church very well.

Now it happens I have written a blog post about this church and that incorporated my grandfather’s photos taken in the 1920s. This is one of his photos


 or click here to see that blog.

Clearly Eric tidied up the ivy but his church has to be Lullington.

A very early digital shot

January 17, 2015

Today I’m going to look at one of my earliest digital photos. It shows my daughter’s hands cradling her hamster.


What you see is the size that a digital photo was back on 16th July 1998. Gosh, it seems a long time ago that my daughter lived at home and had a hamster. These days she and hubby live 100 or so miles from us and have two children (not to mention a cat). Back in 1998 I had the good fortune to be the first person I knew with use of a digital camera. Who could have foreseen the way electronic and communications technology has changed.

But having commented on the size, I can remain quite impressed with the quality, and by the time I bought a bigger memory card for the camera it could happily handle photos of up to 640 by 480 pixels. That, of course, is still tiny by 2015 standards but big enough for many a web site.

It’s good to have a record of the hamster. Mind you there are other records in the shape of chewed carpet in daughter’s former room.

Second Hand Books

January 16, 2015

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without second hand books.

I’m not anti electronic book readers. I can see they have their place and I think the screen displays are good – not bright and glaring but actually quite restful and clear. But they are not for me at the moment and that’s, in part, because of my nerdy taste in books.

The book half-brother Matt gave me back in December can illustrate the point. Matt found a perfect second hand book for me and I rather doubt it would ever be available on an E reader. In any case, this is a book in which you are expected to write. I’m not sure if that can be done in standard E Books.

Matt’s gift looks terribly dull.


It is a very plain looking book. You need to open it up to find out more.


Aha, ‘The Weekend Problems Book’ compiled by Hubert Phillips with a variety of aliases in 1933.

But what are weekend problems?  I understand gents’ barbers, here in the UK, were always wont to offer customers, ‘Anything for the weekend, sir?’  Last time I went to a barbers I was only a lad so the offer never came my way but maybe barbers realised that men had problems at weekends and that a simple purchase might solve them. Don’t write in. I know what was being offered by the barber and it certainly wasn’t this book. For this book contains problems to be solved. Like this one.


Or maybe this one.


Answers come at the bottom in this blog or towards the back of the book.

Another section which will interest both me and my wife is that containing crosswords. These have a title which is an extra clue.


This one is called Salopian which means about the county of Shropshire and that led me straight away to the answer to 1 across. In fact I have the answer in an earlier blog post I wrote (click here). Clungunford is the answer that fits. I don’t expect to solve them all so easily.

And why is this book so suitable for me. Well of course I love puzzles but this is just the kind of puzzle book that my dad had at home when I was a lad in the 1950s. Half-brother Matt was born after I had left home and was married. But he remembers similar books too. In fact he told me he felt a bit jealous giving this one to me.

And now those answers.

Question number 7 the answer is something very familiar to many Londoners. It’s UNDergroUND. Oh gosh – so simple when you know,

Question number 12 – divide the ingot into a 9lb weight, a 3 lb weight and a 1lb weight. Yes, that really does work.


Having a grouse

January 15, 2015

It was at the end of last November that we spent a week in the Yorkshire Dales. We stayed in Wensleydale but on several occasions we went over the tops and down into Swaledale. Those tops were grouse country.

I suppose they are really there to provide pleasure for the shooting fraternity and a little bit of meat for some. But for me they were just birds of beauty.

I have to confess that these birds hadn’t really crossed my radar before. When we first saw them I had to look up what they were.


This early in the week shot was not particularly good. We didn’t know these birds were to become things seen regularly.


This was a common roadside sight – a grouse – these are female – on a fence post or road side wall.


Now we’ll get to some better shots.

These grouse would pretty happily ignore cars but if you got out and walked you heard them – and a fascinating sound they made – but you didn’t see them.

So we sat in the car to get the close up shots.


This one with the big red eyebrows is the male.



Another fence post female.


Sorry folks. We also found that grouse were on sale in a Leyburn supermarket.


A family foursome

January 14, 2015

Since my sister died last year I have looked again at photos which either she, or more likely her husband digitised years ago. I came upon this one.

Here we have four young ladies sitting out on the grass just outside a family home in Tonbridge.


My sister had them labelled as Dimp, Vera etc. Now Dimp was a long standing nickname for my mother and she’s the youngest of the four girls at front left. She was born in 1924. Behind her is her big sister Vera. She was born in 1921. Next to my mum is her aunt Marj who was born in 1918 and died last year. Behind Marj is her niece Kath who was my mum’s cousin. Kath, like her aunt, was born in 1918.

They all look different in this photo but it can often be hard to tell Dimp, Vera and Marj apart. They share many similarities in appearance.

I was pleased to come upon this photo which has sat on various computers of mine since 2002 without ever being thought about.

My mother died back in 1967 which meant this half of my family was a bit of a closed book to me. It has been good, in more recent years, to catch up with them and I’d particularly like to thank cousin Ali for all her help.

Timing eggs

January 13, 2015

Most of us may have thought that boiling an egg is one of the more straight forward culinary tasks. Yet it’s a task that seems to gather gadgets which aim to make sure you get an egg done to your own personal perfection. Here we see one such gadget. This appeared back at Christmas in my ‘stocking’. Oh yes, we may be adult but Santa still visits us. He seems, quite often to be in a bit of a light hearted  frame of mind with some of the presents he leaves, and maybe this particular item was in that class.

In shape and size it is a bit like half an egg but inside a clear plastic egg shape are coloured crystals.


This is the device which has, as yet, only had experimental use. I had to boil some water in a pan for another purpose lest anyone thinks I just wasted energy and released yet more carbon dioxide into the air.

What I discovered was that the pinky orange crystals turn white starting from the outside. I took about five minutes before the white reached the line which says ‘soft’. After another two minutes it reached ‘medium’ and fully nine minutes of boiling had elapsed before the hard line turned white.


It really is quite a dramatic change. I believe the crystals are what are known as ‘thermo-chromic’.

In time the egg timer returned to its lurid cool colour.

When you think about it, the device is fun but probably not all that useful. It takes no account of the main variable which is the size of the egg and, of course, you have to keep looking at it – taking the lid off the pan which does mean a bit more energy is used. So thanks, Santa but I may well stick to a clock or kitchen timer but as its fun, I will probably demo it to other people.

Shove ha’penny again

January 12, 2015

This game for a third time? Surely it can’t be worth so many posts. Well clearly I think it is.

My wife and I had a couple of games after most of the Christmas hullaballoo had died down. It reminded me of the lovely old ha’pennies I use for the game.

When bought, the game came with some of the old coins but to my way of thinking they weren’t quite fit for purpose.


These coins date from the 1950s and 1960s and they are lovely, with the sailing boat tails side which those of us ‘of an age’ will well remember. But they are a bit new looking.

You don’t want coins in new condition. You want ones  which have been worn smooth with the passage of time. Actually, in pubs they tend to use discs, cut to the required one inch diameter. These have never had heads or tails sides embossed on them.

Anyway, I searched through my collection of old coins and came up with a set of five half pennies which were pretty well smoothed down and these are what we use.


These coins all carry the image of the elderly Queen Victoria. They all show Britannia on the reverse and all are 19th century.

In use we keep them heads up so it is the tails side which gets worn very smooth.

The old Ha’penny ceased to be legal tender in 1969.