Archive for March, 2016

Pulpit Rock

March 31, 2016

These photos, taken at Portland Bill in Dorset, date back to 1972. The bill at the end of this almost island is a fantastic place of limestone rocks. We have looked at the area before – a lovely little crane for getting small boats up the cliff (click here).

This time we go right to the end.


It’s fabulous scenery – wild and rugged although maybe my little Canon Demi camera and a rather second rate slide copier didn’t do it full justice.

Right at the end we find Pulpit Rock.

image003This was deliberately created in the 19th century by quarrymen with the leaning slab having the appearance of a bible leaning on a pulpit.

What a shame people had used it as a graffiti wall – albeit one can agree with the ‘ban the bomb’ symbols painted on.

That was over 40 years ago and I don’t think I have been there since. Maybe it is time to go again.

Mum does the washing

March 30, 2016

Now to be honest, I can’t tell you just what was going on here. It was 1957 and we were at camp. Mum has gone to the local cattle trough and appears to be doing the washing.


I know it isn’t a brilliant photo but I still like it. There is mum and she is clearly rinsing something out in a cattle trough. The curious cows have come to watch whatever is going on and the one on the left certainly looks to be eyeing up mum – but rest assured, she came to no harm and we never found the local stock anything but docile.

There is another photo of the same event.


Happy days!

Small round bales

March 29, 2016

Bales of hay seem to be something from the past as many farmers feel silage made in big round bales and wrapped in black (usually) plastic is a better, more guaranteed option.

Bales of straw produced from what comes out of the back of a combine harvester have become enormous and need machinery to handle them.

Time was, not so long ago, that the small cuboid shaped bale was the thing. A bale of hay was heavy, but a decent farmer could pick them up with no problem. Straw is much lighter and they were easy.

Of course, before that and really before my memory in the prosperous south of England hay had been stacked loose. Straw was stacked in sheaves with the ears still attached to await threshing. In both cases the stack was then thatched to keep the rain out.

Back in the 1950s I recall seeing, somewhere near Firle in Sussex, some small round bales, probably of hay. I recall my dad commenting on their advantage of being like thatch and the shape meant rain drained off them. He also pointed out the disadvantage that round bales, inevitably, leave gaps when stacked. The small round bale didn’t seem to catch on, but I did see some on another occasion, near Alton Barnes in the Vale of Pewsey. This was in 1973 and I had by little Canon Demi camera and got a photo.

I should say these bales were no more than18 inches in diameter but the shape of the end shows they have been rolled rather than compressed and so water will drain off well.

Thirty years on, in 2003, and in a similar area, this was the scene.


Well clearly bales are now much bigger – and cameras have improved as well!

Dungeness revisited once more

March 28, 2016

Dungeness revisited, but not recently. This was back in 2003.

I really am fascinated by the area. I’m not sure who regards it as pretty – but I do. It is an extending shingle area, much bigger now than when I first knew it because more shingle is deposited all the time. Eventually plants gain a foothold and the ground begins to stabilise.


And what lovely plants they are.

image004This is a place where small fishing boats get hauled up onto the shingle above the high water mark.

A bonus for me is seeing the steam trains on the miniature (15 inch gauge) Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

image006This one is (I think) Black prince and behind it you can see the top of the 1960(ish) lighthouse which is now a long way from the sea. This loco is not a favourite for me. I prefer the ones that have a more UK look but on this day the next train suited me well.

image008This is Typhoon and she has been on this line since 1927. She is gorgeous. By the way, these locos are just about one third the size of a full sized UK steamer.

No wonder I love Dungeness.



March 27, 2016

Now what could Lydia be? In my world I suppose Lydia could be a great aunt or maybe the name of a steam loco. It could even be the title of a song on a 78rpm record – perhaps a Glen Miller one to rhyme with Perfidia. Yes, Lydia Perfidia sounds good to me – but none of these are the case. Lydia was a goose.

I kept geese for some 25 years and I love those birds. They are feisty, of course, but also very endearing. They really came into their own when I came home from a stressful day at work. I’d go and tell my geese about it and they would gather round and express their deep sympathy for my trials of life. OK! I know they weren’t really. They were actually saying, ‘where’s the food?’

Lydia was one of my last geese. Foxes had changed habit and would take a goose in the middle of the day. I was not prepared to cage my geese and eventually they all fell victim to old Reynard. But he’s another creature I can admire although they are a tad cowardly. My cat, half the size of a fox, can see them off.

Anyway, here is Lydia back in March 2002.


She has laid a clutch of eggs and is sitting on them. I’m seen as an intruder and she is doing her best to frighten me away. The mouth is open and you can be sure a loud hiss is emanating from it.

She has a long sit. Goose eggs take 35 days to incubate but of course they don’t sit continuously. From time to time she’ll get off, covering her eggs to hide them and keep them warm. She can feed and generally have a spruce up before settling down again. Each time she settles she’ll roll her eggs over so that the developing gosling doesn’t stick to the shell.

Ganders don’t share the sitting although they’ll stand guard and be very attentive partners and when hatching happens, fathers.

Of all the animals I have kept (cows, pigs, sheep, donkey, geese, ducks chicken, bees to name quite a few) it is geese I miss most. My geese live on in the memory and in photos.

Lovely Lydia!


The Quarter Mile Field

March 26, 2016

My dad died in November 1996. Ten years on we had a family get together and took a walk that Dad would have taken many a time.

And here’s a group of us setting off.


I can recognise siblings, children nieces, wife, cousin, great nephew etc in that photo. I took it so I’m not in it.

The walk was from (more or less) my childhood home and it took us to the Quarter Mile Field.

image004This field is said to be a quarter of a mile long. And that is about right. In my young days it had always been pasture but now it has come under the plough. Of course, in animal drawn plough days the field was too long. A furlong – the length taken between rests for a horse plough, is an eighth of a mile.

Here are some of the men folk traversing ‘the quarter mile’.

image006Twenty years will have passed since Dad’s death this year. Maybe time to mark it again.


March 25, 2016

Oh how we steam enthusiasts used to like it when diesels let down the railway by failing. And back in the 1960s they did, far too often. British Railways seemed to have no sense of direction with the diesels and ordered twenty or so from various manufacturers. Some of them were, frankly, very poor in terms of reliability.

But then things got sorted out and by the 21st century most diesels were very reliable. But it was still possible to grin when things went wrong. And here was a case in point.

This was a dire day back in November 2006. Roads and railways had been hit with floods and problems. One of my work colleagues had managed to get to a station some ten miles from work and I went to pick him up. On crossing the railway  near Pewsey I could see a problem and stopped and took a couple of photos.


There’s no blame to the loco, but its leading bogie had left the rails. Nobody was hurt but on a difficult day it added to the chaos for it meant the main line between London and Exeter was blocked.

The loco is a class 67, bought in principally to operate mail trains, a job they lost when mails forsook the railway to add more clutter to the roads. I think, but am not certain, that this train was spreading some kind of rail adhesion substance.

Another loco of the same type was on the other end of the train and back down the line we can see a tree fallen on the tracks. It had been this with an accompanying heap of earth that derailed that leading bogie.

image004The loco was rerailed later the same day and removed. The track was checked and repaired as needed and reopened the next day.


New Ross letter box

March 24, 2016

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I am an absolute sucker for post boxes. I prefer rural locations and tend to favour boxes mounted in walls rather than the free standing pillar boxes but sometimes you come across a pillar box that just screams out to be noticed and this is one of them. It is in New Ross, Ireland. This town is on the banks of the River Barrow in County Wexford. It is about twenty miles from Waterford. We were there way back in 1990. And here is the pillar box.

Of course, you need to know a bit of Irish history here. Eire, covering the bulk of the island but not six counties in the north, was granted independence from the United Kingdom (after a bloody struggle) in 1922. It remained a dominion for some time and became a republic in the 1940s.

Infrastructure that predates 1922 was built under British rule and off course, the postal service was the British Royal Mail.


It is no surprise, really, to find a very British post box in what is now a separate country. This box dates from the era of Queen Victoria and has her monogram on it.


This box was to the design of J W Penfold and they were first introduced in 1866 – a standard design in three different sizes.

Early post boxes had been green in colour, but this box would, initially, have been in pillar box red with the monogram and other details picked out, possibly in gold.

Ireland, of course, became non royali so all traces of the old regime were painted over in uniform green.


It looks good.

Record request

March 23, 2016

Back in 1966 my grandparents celebrated their Golden Wedding. I’m sure it was my sister who decided it would be lovely if the BBC played a record request for them. She sent off a request to a suitable programme – nothing too trite for Granny and Grandad and as far as I remember the record she chose for them was a piece of light classical music.

I don’t think anybody realised that Granny and Grandad would be informed that a request was to be played by telegram.


This envelope was delivered to them by the telegram boy.

I wonder what emotions this stirred. It is hard to think back fifty years and remember what the world was like – or our part of it, here in the UK. Many people, my grandparents included, had no telephone. If an urgent message needed to be got to someone you sent a telegram. If you had a phone you could use it to start the process by telling someone what your message was. This was passed to an office near the destination where it was printed out and put in an envelope. A telegram boy then used whatever transport was appropriate to deliver the message.

Often, a telegram was not good news. It quite likely told of the death of a family member so the arrival of a telegram was often treated in a very downbeat way. But this one was OK for inside the message said…

image004The message tells us that the request was planned for as programme called ‘Home this Afternoon’ – appropriate as Radio 4 was then called the Home Service. This programme was aimed at an older audience – like my grandparents. It was played on 3rd February, just days after the Golden Wedding and had been sent from London to Hastings before delivery to grandparents in Bexhill.

But it is the whole nature of telegrams that just seems so archaic now – fifty years on from that Golden Wedding.

Isle of Man Steam Railway

March 22, 2016

Gosh! It came as a surprise to me to find it was 23 years ago we went to the Isle of Man. It was 1993 so we took a couple of teenaged children there. And we spent time on railways!

The Isle of Man is just a great place for railways with, at that time, half a dozen (roughly) different networks using three different types of motive power. But here we’ll concentrate on the steam railway.

Once upon a time there was an extensive network heading from Douglas, the Island capital North, South and West. By 1993 only the line to the south was left and that had only just hung on by its finger tips. One imagines (or hopes) that these days the line is secure – mainly as a leisure trip for tourists like us.

Actually, it was handy for us that there was a good rail network for we suffered a car breakdown and the need to import a part from the UK. We really didn’t suffer – except financially, of course.

We got to Douglas from our camp site at Laxey and made our way to the quite grand railway station.


Inside it really was stepping into a time warp. The stock on the line is decidedly heritage.

image004At the head of our train was a smart little steamer.


The journey from Douglas takes us south close tothe east coast. It is delightful scenery, hilly, verging on mountainous with some glimpses of the sea.

At Ballasalla we passed the up train heading for Douglas. Then at Castletown we had reached the south coast and had a change of direction as we headed across to Port Erin on the west coast.

The total distance is just over 15 miles.

My final photo I have captioned as Port St Mary.

image008I hope that’s right. 1993 was before digital days. You had to finish a film and send it off for processing before you saw your images. By then you may have forgotten the actual location. And 23 years on I can look and say ‘Isle of Man’ without a doubt, but just where, I couldn’t assert.

But a lovely trip remembered.