Cotswold Summer

September 12, 2016

A couple of days ago I wrote about going to lesser known places. Bourton on the Water, in the Cotswolds, isn’t one of them. It’s a trippers honeypot and throngs with people. We were there for a visit in connection with a granddaughter back in August. It was a very hot day.

We met up with granddaughter at the model village. I was never well placed for photographing my people but I could take some of the village.

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This group were posing for a photo taken by someone else. They were nothing to do with me, but were very cheerful and friendly.

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It was out in the full sized village that the crowds became clear to us.

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The world was thick with people trying to keep cool. And this photo has captured the village sign.

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It isn’t my first choice to be in crowds like these were, but it is an experience and it is lovely to see happy people all around.

Eric Ravilious – September

September 11, 2016

Now who’d have thought it? A double dose of interest for me this month. Not only a Ravilious wood engraving, but it is of a train.

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This was an illustration for a book called ‘The Hansom Cab and the Pigeons’ published in 1935 by Cockerel Press. This company specialised in handmade books with art work by well-known exponents of illustration.

In terms of the train there is really nothing much right with it, except an overall effect.  The loco appears to have no water or coal storage and those 12 wheeled carriages would struggle on curves. And why did the bridge engineer make the train have to go up and over a hump.

But despite all this I enjoy seeing this image.

Kilchattan

September 10, 2016

Kilchattan

Regular readers may have gathered that I rather like going to lesser known places and lesser visited places. Kilchattan is close to the south east end of the Isle of Bute. It has probably fallen off the bulk tourist trail these days. It felt a homely sort of a place. What caught the eye straight away was a marine weather vane.

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Now I found that absolutely charming. That’s a Clyde puffer used as a vane. It looks as though we had a North wind, but it was gentle and certainly not particularly chilling. And a bit later a latter day equivalent of the puffer passed, on its way up into the Clyde.

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The vane was by a small jetty with gentle grassland reaching down to the shoreline.

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Here’s a part of the coastal village – pastoral and very pleasing is how I judge it.

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Despite the rural loveliness, the folks at Kilchattan clearly thought international.

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Kilchattan Bay – popular with visitors for 7000 (yes, seven thousand) years.

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The Anzacs

September 9, 2016

Many men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps came to my home county of Wiltshire to be trained for fighting in World War One. They fared as well as other troops – which is to say badly. But we do remember them in many ways. We have seen the military graveyard at Sutton Veny – a sad memorial to the many men who died of injuries or off a strain of flu they had never experienced before. Today we’ll look at a chalk mark – a cut out shape on a chalk hill. It is of the Australian badge and is a bit hidden by trees. We associate this badge with the Anzacs.

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This is viewed from Stockton, a lovely little village in the Wylie Valley but the badge is onLamb Down, Codford. It is more visible in winter.

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Of course, we are still marking the 100th anniversary of WW1 events. So we paid our respects here, whilst passing at the end of August.

The train journey to Weymouth

September 8, 2016

No train journey, for us, starts without a road journey first. We drove to Westbury to catch the Weymouth train which left more or less on 9.30.

The fare is bargain basement in terms of cost for us oldies. On this line if you show your bus pass at the ticket office then you get a third off. It comes out at £11 for a return ticket.

The train was quite full but we found a pair of seats at a table and the couple already there were friendly.

A lot more people got on at Frome, more again at Bruton and yet more at Castle Cary. People were now standing in the gangway and sitting on the floor at carriage ends. This was about the time Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader, had a journey involving some floor sitting.

At Yeovil a huge crowd got on. There was not an inch of space anywhere. It really was sardine conditions. The standing passengers were jammed in. The train guard or conductor had great difficulty getting space for himself having ensured all was safe. I’d love to have taken a photo but I had put my bag on the luggage rack and there was no space for me to stand in a position to retrieve it. The flask of coffee we’d planned to drink, similarly, was up there in the rack and unreachable.

Worse was to come for some folks. After Yeovil there are three small stations which are request stops. Waiting passengers have to hail the train, rather like hailing a bus. Each of the stations at Thornford, Yetminster and Chetnole had waiting passengers. At each station the train stopped and the guard (or conductor) emerged on to the platform to inform the waiting people they could not get on the train. Chetnole, a real wayside place, had just a family of four, with kids clutching buckets and spades for the seaside. We could see the eyes of one little lad well up with tears when told he couldn’t go. The next train followed an hour afterwards.

I have to say the good humour on the train was commendable. It wasn’t a comfortable journey for the standees, in particular but they remained jovial. My sympathies were with our train guard. He was unable to walk up and down the train and as many of the stations are unmanned many will have made the journey without a ticket. And how awful to have to tell people they couldn’t board. He managed it all with aplomb. The simple truth was that the train – a nice enough train – just didn’t have the capacity needed.

Our return journey was not as crowded but people were still standing in the corridor and sitting on the floor in carriage ends. This time I kept my camera. I don’t have a good photo because I had to hold the camera at arm’s length and the train was rocking and rolling a bit.

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For this journey, I’ll criticise the train as well as the Great Western company for not providing enough seats. This was one of the horrid class 155 sprinters. They seat 5 across and have a narrow gangway. The seats are virtually all facing the same way – not in groups round a table. There is insufficient legroom for me and I’m not that big. I have to sit in a gangway seat so my knees and feet can be twisted around into the gangway. In my opinion these trains are not suited to lengthy journeys. It’s about an hour and a half from Weymouth to Westbury and this train was going on to Gloucester. They are not air conditioned and whilst OK when moving, for fresh air came in through open windows, when stationary they soon overheat when overcrowded.

These are surely not conditions for passengers which the so called Great Western company can be proud of. I was OK but I do wonder what arrangements were made to compensate people not able to even board the train they hoped to get. And will the guards/conductors get a bonus for having to cope with near impossible conditions and doing it with a smile? They deserve it.

Summer at Weymouth

September 7, 2016

My wife’s birthday corresponded with one of the warm weather days in August. We took the train down to Weymouth to enjoy a seaside day.

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The place was heaving with people. Weymouth looked like the photos of summer beaches that newspapers used to publish back in the 1950s.

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Now if you are one of the travelling folk who go to remote places you might hate this sight. I prefer quiet and peaceful myself, but here we had thousands of people just enjoying sun, sea and sand. And, hopefully, some of them bought things and put some money into Weymouth’s coffers.

It looks a merry, happy throng.

Weymouth seems to have traditional entertainments. There is a Punch and Jud

That’s a grand puppet theatre.

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I used to love swingboats and there they were on Weymouth beach.

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There’s a helter-skelter.

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And of course there are donkey rides seen here with a new attraction beyond – the Jurassic Skyline.

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There’s even a simple beach crazy golf.

Actually, these attractions were not doing a roaring trade as we passed. But then maybe many folks were having lunch.

It was definitely an experience and tomorrow I’ll describe rail journeys which, for many were not such a good experience.

 

Visit by a Princess

September 6, 2016

People expecting visions of female beauty or grandeur might as well look somewhere else now. There’ll be grandeur and some might think beauty, but it will be of an engineering kind. This princess is a steam railway locomotive which hauled a special through my locality on its way from London to Minehead.

Back in my train spotting days around 1960 I’d have said that the Princess class of locos was my least favourite of the express passenger designs I might have seen. There was a mix of regional bias and aesthetics in this. I automatically put the Southern Railway designs first and this loco was built for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

However, we steam enthusiasts take what we can these days and I was pleased not to miss this loco pass by.

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The loco was built in 1933 and is called Princess Elizabeth. Actually, it ought to be the Queen now but it has always been affectionately known as Lizzie and the other dozen similar locos were referred to as ‘Lizzies’.

I never saw this loco in my train spotting days. In fact I don’t recall ever seeing one on a train. My sightings were of engines idle in a depot.

I’m reasonably happy with my photo. I’d have liked a spot a little further to the right to get a bit more side on to the loco. But other enthusiasts had beaten me to the prime spots. I could have gone across to the left, but then I’d have been shooting straight into the sun and had she been working hard she might have been obscured by wind blown steam.

So I took what I could.

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And do you know what – she isn’t so bad really.

The Bute Sheep

September 5, 2016

Now how could anyone resist this gorgeous beast we saw when walking on the west coast of the Isle of Bute in Scotland? We were to the north of Ettrick Bay.

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Actually, how could anyone resist the whole scene? Yes, the ram is a singularly handsome brute and he was one of several. But the green and the trees were a delight as well. But it had to be worth a bit of patience to get a closer view of one of the rams.

After a few not so good attempts I finally snapped this one.

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The horns are spectacular although they may make things hard for the ram. Where are his eyes? They are hidden behind his horns. I love the nonchalant way he has one stalk of ‘grass’ in his mouth. It’s a bit like a traditional cartoon of a straw sucking country bumpkin. I think he’s a Scottish blackface. I thought it was worth going to Bute just to see him.

Brenda

September 4, 2016

Brenda was my mum’s cousin. She was the daughter of my Great Uncle Ron and was born in 1934. That made her roughly midway in age between my mum and me.

I can’t say I saw much of her until the last twenty years or so of her life. She lived in Tonbridge in Kent and trips there involved seeing grandparents, possibly an uncle or aunt and sometimes a great aunt or uncle. We tended to see Great Uncle Ron in his antique shop – or junk shop as we all called it and Brenda inherited his love of old items and also the shop.

Here is Brenda, a lovely caring, sharing lady sitting at the back of the shop.

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This photo dates from 2001. My sister visited and wrote this.

….It was but a little way then to call on Mum’s cousin Brenda, sitting in the back of the most wonderful jumble of an antiques shop. I hadn’t seen her for a few years, but when I told the lady in the shop to tell Brenda that Paula was here she called out “Oh I was thinking about you because I have some toys!” She made a cup of tea and I browsed through all the higgledy-piggledy items. The shop was busy – lots of dealers in and she always knew who they were and what they wanted and could always put her hand on just the little item that they might be interested in.

Brenda was probably the last person I really knew who lived in Tonbridge. She died in 2014.

Visiting the gents

September 3, 2016

When in Rothesay you simply have to visit the Victorian gents’ toilet. That’s easy enough, if like me you are of the male gender. You pay your money and make use of them. For ladies, you need to find a time when they are not in use and then you, too can visit. I was able to get my wife in with no problem. She was impressed for the ladies have a modernised set of facilities.

However, I have jumped into my tale without setting things out. Rothesay is in Scotland and is the main town on the Isle of Bute. You can travel straight to Rothesay on a ferry from Wemyss Bay or you can sail to Bute from Colintraive – a very short crossing. That’s what we did but we were staying quite near Colintraive.

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This building houses the Rothesay loos.

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And inside they are just magnificent. Look at these wash basins.

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And see what a fantastic mosaic tiled floor they are on.

The urinals are magnificent.

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The cisterns for flushing are glass so you can see what happens.image009The cubicles and lavatory pans are pretty good as well.

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It may all be historic but it is spotlessly clean and, no doubt, as hygienic as any public loos.

It does cost more than a penny to make use of the facility, but really, at just 40p it makes this a very cheap to visit utility and museum in one.

It’s definitely a place to visit.