Posts Tagged ‘1990’

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.

Tullie House

June 23, 2015

Tullie House is a museum in Carlisle. The museum first came to my attention back in the 1990s when I was asked to write a review of a piece of software called Frontier 2000. This was software for schools – and very good it was too with all the problem solving activities centred on Carlisle and the borders. Tullie House had clearly supported the development of this project and provided resources which meant it all came in quite a big pack.

image002There’s the pack and here are some of the contents.


There are blasts from the past there in the shape of an audio cassette and a VHS video.

The software itself is on a couple of discs.


There’ll be a whole generation of youngsters who have no idea what these are now. The so called floppy disc arrived and vanished in a short space of time.

Tullie House provided a bit of Roman wood to enthuse youngsters.


This came from an original Roman fort in Carlisle.

Now let’s move forward to June 2015 and take a look at the museum which is in a rather ugly (my opinion) modern building.

Once inside, though, the building doesn’t matter. There’s a large museum and all the staff we met were very friendly and helpful. There are lots of fun activities for children and, of course, lots and lots of artefacts. Photography is allowed although some items have a no photography sticker by them for copyright reasons. So here are some items which caught my eye.


This, I understand, is a Roman mason mark. Fantastic and we have more Roman masonry below.


What a curious trio.

But not all is Roman. Railways feature and here we have a rather austere mock-up of third class rail travel.


My other railway artefact isn’t in the museum it is in the subway under a very busy road that makes it easy to get from castle to museum.


The big sign has obvious meaning. The smaller one above is addressed to men. It means make sure you do up your flies after using the loo!

Tullie House was well worth the visit.

The Real Tamworth One

March 29, 2015

Back at Christmas time I commented on a coaster my wife was given – a coaster which featured a Tamworth sow. I told a little of the story of the Tamworth sow we had kept for a work colleague of mine – a chap who had to go for cancer surgery.

It was not an easy pig for us to keep. This young girl proved adept at high jump and she could easily vault out of our pigsty, even when I added an extra layer of blocks to the wall. She was also a powerful weight lifter and could happily lift heavy steel gates off their hinges and lay them down flat before setting off for escapades around our village.

Back when I wrote about her, I had really quite forgotten just how long ago it had been since our time with the Tamworth one, but I was recently looking through photos for something else and came across pictures of her. It was 1990 which, it scares me to think, is now 25 years ago.


And there she is, with me offering her some food. By this time I had learned that an electric fence was the only way I could keep her in. Our Tamworth was tamed by one electric shock and then knew to keep her distance from the netting. She settled down to doing what pigs do, which is to be a kind of living plough, rooting through the soil. Lest anyone worries, she had a pig ark to offer shelter from wind and rain. Being solo probably wasn’t so good and she loved human company. Yes, she was quite cute when she wasn’t escaping and terrorising the village.

The Queen visited Devizes

October 4, 2014

Now I don’t claim to be much of a royalist. I’m not anti the royals as people. I’m sure they are, mostly, quite decent people. But I don’t think that somebody has a birth right to a top job just because their mum or dad had it before. I suppose if you wanted to attach a label to me you might say I believe in meritocracy. But having said that, if an opportunity comes along to see a top royal, then I’d take it. Once came along, for me, back in 1990. The queen came to my local home town of Devizes.

She came, largely, to declare the Kennet and Avon Canal re-opened and there was an outcome I was all in favour of. But whilst in the area, she also opened the new and extended leisure centre in Devizes.


My son, then a 12 year old local scout was asked to be part of a sort of welcoming corridor for the queen to walk through as she entered the leisure centre so my wife, daughter and I had to be there. I was just a part of the crowd.

The brochure for this event gave a list of all the dignitaries the queen was to meet and a precise timetable of events. The queen was to see the swimming pool, the disabled swimmers, and then tour other facilities to see and meet various athletes.

We were waiting – for we had had to arrive early, when a slightly worried table tennis player saw me in the crowd.

‘Can you come inside and play?’ she asked. ‘One of our players hasn’t turned up.’

So of course, I agreed. I had time to dash to a shop and buy a suitable shirt and some trainers. I couldn’t find a pair of shorts! I had to pass some kind of security check as well!

When the queen arrived to see four people playing table tennis, three were smartly dressed. I was wearing an ok shirt and trainers, but in between I was in jeans. We played a few rallies whilst our sovereign looked on. Then we had to line up in front of her and bow whilst she mumbled a few words at us.

So I sort of met the queen. This followed a bit of a family tradition for my dad had been properly introduced to her when she visited Crawley in 1958. He wasn’t what you’d call a royalist either.

I put it down as an experience that was a bit wasted on me – but at least I made sure table tennis was represented properly.

On the royalty business, I often compare myself with Charles.  He and I were born in the same month of the same year so I could say we have led parallel lives. When I was a child I was envious – jealous even of all his wealth and privilege. I couldn’t say when I realised that I was the lucky one and he has had a bit of a rough life by comparison. I could mention that I am now very happily retired from paid employment. He’s still waiting for his proper job! I was allowed to marry the person I wanted to. I’ll leave the other part of that unsaid. In so many ways, if I compare myself with our future King, I realise how tough life has been for him and how lucky I am by comparison.

And perhaps I could add that even though I object to privilege by right of birth, I have to say that Queen and many other leading royals have caught the mood of the people better than politicians. Maybe there is something to be said for the system!

Cacti at Kew

June 21, 2014

We had a recent family get together at Kew Gardens. Luck was with us and we had good weather with no need to go in the glass houses to escape the rain. But of course we did visit these interior spots and the Princess of Wales Conservatory remains a favourite, perhaps because of its cactus collection.

Back in the late 1980s and into the 90s our son had been an avid cactus collector. We took him to Kew to see them back then and when it came to his GCSE technology project he designed and built a watering system with trays to hold water and a reversible pump to put water in and take it out again. He attended meetings of the local cactus society so for a while our life seemed to revolve around these prickly plants.

Remnants of his once extensive collection still linger on – inevitably in our house and not his. And look, this one even has flowers about to open.


But we can’t rival Kew, of course and here’s a collection at that west London botanic garden.


Looking around again, after more than twenty years, certainly brought old memories back for us three – self, wife and son.


Louise Reeve

December 2, 2013

Meet the Relative

Louise (known as Lewie) was not a close relative of mine. Actually, she is so distant that she is what I term a genealogy relative. That means a relative I only know of because of genealogy. Louise is, or was, my third cousin twice removed. Her great great grandfather was my 4 greats grandfather. I think that means we have less than two percent of common genetic material.

But Louise is interesting and I have a photo and a bit of information. It is surprising that these two things can make a person seem more real.

Let’s start with her Granny. Her Granny was Fanny the Granny. Fanny, born as a Miss Crosby is some one we have already met on this blog and you can click here to read about her.

Descendants of the somewhat scandalous Fanny have an advantage. They already start interesting.

Louise was born in the Butley area of Suffolk in around 1898. Her father, Henry was a horseman and her mother was Susan. She had two older brothers. The family lived at Wantisden Corner. That would be in one of the cottages in this terrace. I believe Louisa was there all her life.


It was as an adult that Louise led a truly singular life. She became a forester and had a uniform to wear, as we can see in the photo.


By 1930 vast areas of the local heathland had been purchased cheaply by the Forestry Commission. Over 3500 acres were planted and planting trees was what Louise did. She planted saplings, one at a time by hand after the ground was prepared. Planting the forest became the life work for Louise and she lived long enough to see the effect of the 1987 storm which must have been a sad time for her. Of course, the trees have now reached maturity and are being felled.

Louisa died in 1990.