Posts Tagged ‘1976’

Farewell to the old home.

February 2, 2016

It is 1976. We had lived in our first home since we married in 1971. Now we were saying farewell, ready to move into our present home.

There’s my wife sitting on the floor.


Knock down furniture had been taken apart for removal. Pictures were off the wall. There was a clutter of cardboard boxes.

But now for something to amuse.

We still have the same L S Lowry print hanging on the wall.

image004It has faded quite a bit in the last 40 years.

We still have much of the same furniture.

image006Stool, chairs and coffee table all exist still. We had that rug then too. The chairs and the sofa have been reupholstered twice.

The knock down furniture is still up and in the orange colour we had chosen then to match the furniture. They have been relegated to a spare room, along with the same curtains.

image008Actually, the carpet in that room is also still the same as the one my wife sat on in 1976.

There’s a blue suitcase in the 1976 picture. That is in use as a container in our loft. I can recognise that in front of it is the gramophone I still use – a battery electric one rather than a wind up.

And of course, I still have my wife or should I say we still have each other.

The French phrase is plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose which means the more things change, the more they stay the same. Perhaps in my house we’d better say the times change but the things stay the same.


Welcome to your new home

April 23, 2015

We moved to our current home in 1976 – 39 years ago. I think some people thought we were mad to take on a very run down, albeit post World War 2 house and about 4 acres of land with a neighbour who had recently been involved in blocking access. But we had by-passed him and had no worries on that score, the house was basically sound and we approached the acres with enthusiasm.

Friends Brian and Sheila were certainly supportive and they baked and decorated a cake for us.


We planned to live the god life of self-sufficiency and some of our plans featured on the cake. We certainly planned to keep poultry, and very soon we had our first little flock. Whether we had reckoned on keeping sheep, I can’t remember, but we certainly did keep them and there are still sheep on our field, but these days they belong to a friend. We also planned to grow Christmas trees as a cash crop and that never did work out well for the livestock had too much of a taste for the succulent, tender, new shoots of the conifer trees. Having said that, we have the one that got away and now stands thirty or more feet tall and we haven’t given up on the idea of doing Christmas trees again.

The good life had been in operation before we moved and continued. There was a time when we made all our own bread and certainly the loaves by the cake are homemade ones.

The make do life continues. I note the table cloth which, if memory serves me right was sold as a bed spread. Thirty nine years on we still have and use it. There’s a teapot stand in the frame as well. Yes, we still have that although it isn’t much used. Teapot makers seem to have lost the art of making non-drip spouts so we tend to use a tray which catches the drips these days.

The table, under the cloth is definitely the one we still use. We have only had the one table throughout our 44 years of married life. The chairs, though, have changed. The originals we had, basic 1970 style seats, did not survive the rough and tumble of normal life. We replaced them with much sturdier examples.

Fashions may come and go, but we’ll continue to use what we have and like.

Oh yes. We still have the friends to but it gets harder to see them for we are all involved with children and grandchildren these days.

The cockerel

April 14, 2015

Soon after we moved to our present house, way back in 1976, a friend decided to emigrate. We became beneficiaries, receiving items she and her family were unable to take with them. We were given the poultry.

Well, we undeniably had space and we also had buildings that could house a few hens – and a cockerel.

He was a handsome beast.


He was not only handsome, he was very protective of his ladies. He fussed over them and very much kept them in order. And of course, he was determined to be top of any pecking order – and that included the humans he came in contact with.

He did not entirely approve of us. Any human who showed the slightest hint of worry or concern was picked on mercilessly. Those humans not willing to let this bird rule the roost could get away with it. If a spot of aggressive behaviour got nowhere then cockerel became a coward. Or perhaps I should say he was just a tad chicken!

Actually, as cockerels go, he wasn’t too bad. We had others much more determinedly being top dog. These, would see possible threats and chase after them, rubbing spurs together.  This one, our first, remains a fond memory. He fathered quite few chicks as well so altogether he was clearly a good egg.

We no longer keep poultry. During the last forty years foxes changed in habit. When we used to be able to allow the poultry a goodly free range all was well. When foxes left the night and did 24 hours a day hunting, we found ourselves unable to keep birds.

I still miss them.

The Hen House

October 18, 2014

When we moved into our present house, back in 1976 there was a hen house out in the field.


Yes, that was it and pretty derelict it was. But when we were offered some poultry – a friend was moving abroad and needed to re-home their little flock – we decided we could renovate this old wreck and move it to a better location. And amazingly enough we did. You can’t see it in the picture, but this old shed like building was on wheels but it needed things we hadn’t got to move it – something with horse power so in rebuilding it we removed the wheels and built a solid base for it.

There’s one of the wheels after a fall of snow.


Snow was obviously the occasion for photo taking for here’s the hen house in new location with a few hens pecking at the food put out in the snow.



It lasted for years but after one storm we were unable to find all of the roof and that was basically the end of it.



Our House – then and now

August 10, 2014

We have been in our current house since 1976. It is just slightly over 38 years since we moved here – a long time in our life, and in the life of our house which was built in 1952.

Here’s a 1976 picture – and a reason for getting old slides digitised. There’s a mould blob on the old slide and it will surely spread.


It was, I have to say, a very drab and dull looking place. A lot has been done to it, but some things still remain the same. Let’s describe what we had then. That small window on the right hand end was for the loo and then we have the front door with wood that was so rotten you could poke your finger through it. The next window was the bathroom. That was quite a walk from the loo which always seemed silly for hand washing purposes. You had to leave the loo, walk into the house along a corridor, turn the right angle in the corridor and then you could get to the bathroom which had a bath and a washbasin.

In making changes we moved the loo into that bathroom.

The next window was the smallest bedroom and the left window was the middle sized bedroom.

Above the roof we can see the large TV aerial laden chimney stack with just one pot. The lack of a second pot meant that in East winds smoke from the lounge fire was blown back down the chimney and into the room!

Near the left hand end another chimney stack served a tiny fireplace in the large bedroom.

Now let’s look at a recent photo.


There’s quite a change. That much larger window, just above the car, is now in the kitchen. There’s a porch on the front door and that then leads straight into the same kitchen. The old ‘main room’ was tiny. Now it is a fit size for present day life.

It’s clear that rooms have been added in the roof – three bedrooms and a new bathroom have gone in there – and we still have an ample loft for storage. To do this we sacrificed the smallest bedroom which became a new front entrance with stairway to the upper floor.

The old, ill fitting, draughty windows have been replaced. The left hand chimney has entirely gone – right down to ground level and we have gained a second pot on the remaining chimney stack. We can now light a log fire in our lounge, no matter what direction the wind is coming from.

One worse thing is that the front path – a lovely stone walkway, is weedy. We are awaiting a builder who is going to lift the stones and reset them in concrete.

So that’s our house, then and now.


February 6, 2014

When we moved into our present house, which was back in 1976, we found we did not have sole occupation. Ben already lived there. Actually, Ben didn’t say a lot and by and large he preferred to be outside. We were lucky for we had moved into a house which was a bit of a wreck, but which had about three and a bit acres of ‘outside’ along with a tumbledown barn and some old pigsties. Ben stayed in the barn if it was lousy weather, but some will remember that 1976 was the drought in Britain. There wasn’t a lot of lousy weather.

We worried a bit about Ben and wondered if he might have friends – possibly whisky drinking friends. We found the evidence in the store room that linked pigsty to pigsty.

It was sometime before we met Ben’s friend and it turned out to be a lady. She was called Sue and she was a bright and chatty lady. I came across her with Ben, in the tumbledown barn and she was holding the bottle of whisky.

But now all of the mystery fell into place and we felt no need to worry about sharing our home with Ben. Well, to be honest we never had worried much for Ben had never bothered us. And here is Ben.


Aha, Ben is a horse – a friendly old boy he was too. Sue was human for she was Ben’s owner and the bottle (which said whisky) contained hoof ointment for Ben.

Ben stayed with us for a couple of years until Sue’s husband, John, who was in the RAF, was posted elsewhere. When he retired from the forces, they returned to this area but found a home for Ben right next to their house.

Dirty Wilmot

January 25, 2014

We have met our cat, Wilmot, before on this blog (click here). He was something of a lovable rogue, always willing to explore and rtry new experiences and completely amoral when it came to knowing what was his and what was not.

Today we have a different story about him. It needs a bit of preamble.

My wife and I married in 1971. By present day standards we were absurdly young but as we are still together in 2014, it can’t have been a mistake.

We moved in to a brand new, all electric house on a little estate. Actually, I had moved in before we married and we lived happily there for the next five years. During that time, Wilmot came to join us along with his little kitten relative who, sadly, did not live all that long.

Then in 1976 we moved to our present house. It was only a few miles from the previous one and we hired a van and a couple of friends and moved ourselves.

During the move, we got Wilmot to the new house and shut him in the room we designated as ‘lounge’. There wasn’t much in there and there was no method of escape from it.

Except that when we went in the bleak, bare room there was no sign of Wilmot. He had vanished.

We, unused to fireplaces had forgotten that this was just the sort of place that Wilmot would explore. On hearing us a plaintive little mew was made and down he came, from the chimney.

He was a decidedly dirty Wilmot.


His filthy state doesn’t show well in a photo, but rest assured, what should have been white was now very much darker, well doused in soot.

Not long after the move we were off on one of our canal boat holidays. Being very new to the area, we used a cattery for Wilmot. He was probably bored there and spent a lot of time grooming himself. He came back spotlessly clean and then settled happily in the new home.

The Good Life

December 24, 2013

Hands up if you remember ‘The Good Life’.  The whole premise of the TV programme was a little bit absurd but never mind that. It was great fun and we all willed Barbara and Tom to win out against the odds and against the middle class snobbery of next door neighbour Margo.

We were planning to live the good life before the TV programme hit the air waves. But it beat us, for the first episode was broadcast in 1975 and by the time all our legal niceties had been sorted out and we began our stint at the good life, it was spring 1976. But I still say we were there first.

When we did move in to our bit of a wreck of a home, but with about 4 acres of land, we had all sorts of plans. Some proved successful and others did not.

But in that first year, we planned to grow all our own vegetables as soon as possible.

Do you remember 1976? It was the year of the drought. But we overcame that by not wasting a drop. No water was allowed to go down the plug hole; it was all collected and used. And we grew a fine crop of marrows.


That was me pondering over the marrows. I may have been trying to decide what to enter in the flower show.

One enterprise we tried with hopeless results was growing Christmas Trees. They were to be a cash crop. The outlay was small – just a packet of seeds. We prepared an area for our plantation and when our pot grown seedling trees were big enough we planted them out. They looked good. Well our livestock – sheep and goats – certainly thought so. They forced the fences and turned potential trees into mis-shapen shrubs. None were ever going to be fit for us to use, let alone for selling. That enterprise ended almost before it had begun.

Later I tried bee keeping which was something my dad had done.


There’s Dad and my sister at what must be an empty hive.

I couldn’t match him on that one. I’m afraid that no amount of protection could enable me to overcome my terror. Bees just scared me. But for a little while, I tried and that’s me opening a hive.


That was back in 1976. Eventually, a friend took on our hive.

The good life had to come to an end for us. We couldn’t sustain it with children and paid jobs. But it was fun.

The Cash Railway

May 24, 2013

‘Oh no’, you say. ‘Another post about a railway?’

And I say, ‘why not?’ After all I do bill myself as a nerd.

But actually, this is different and this will bring back memories for all sorts of people. For this was something that you found in use in shops.

As a child, I loved it if my mum took me to the Co-op household department. They had a cash railway – one of those overhead money carrying systems that had a central cashier, often in a sort of cage and a system of cables which could carry small containers to the various different counters.

The counter staff sold something, put the money and the bill in the container, pulled the lever and the little container whizzed overhead to the cashier. They stamped the bill and made sure the right change was in the container, pulled their lever and off it went back to the counter.

Times change and the old Co-op closed and the cash railway went.

But when I moved to Devizes, the department store, Sloper’s, had a cash railway. Oh what a treat, now as a sensible (ha, ha) adult, to watch those capsules race through the air to the cashier. But times changed again. Sloper’s was not profitable enough and closed. The cash railway was a thing of the past once more. But I did take some photos and here is the network of wires at the cashier desk. There are four lines, all aiming in different directions.


I’m told that once upon a time, Sloper’s also used a pneumatic tube to get bills and cash to a separate nearby property.

Sloper’s was a treasure trove of antique items. And this was 1976.


Look at that telephone on the desk. Magic.

I bought the typewriter.


No shift key here – just a completely separate set of keys for capital letters.

I no longer have the typewriter. I gave it to the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes because, obviously, it has real Wiltshire and Devizes history. And in the museum it joins Sloper’s cash railway. The museum has set up a part of it and so once again it can be seen in action.

A canal side mile post

May 17, 2013

What is it about cast iron signs? I love them. They often give information and tell some history at the same time. Just look at this one, photographed by me back in 1976.


Well first and formost it told me I was five miles from Braunston. That’s a canal junction where the Oxford Canal meets the Grand Union Canal. Braunston is in Northamptonshire.

But this wonderfully long lived mile post was set up by the G.J.C.Co. That’s the Grand Junction Canal Company.

The Grand Junction was the original name of the canal from London to Braunston – now part of the Grand Union.  The first bits of canal, around Braunston, opened in 1796 so there’s a fair chance the old sign dates from the 18th century.

If you search on the web you’ll find lots of these signs – now all neatly painted and properly supported above ground level. They look good, but I like the lost world look of this one from days of yore.