Posts Tagged ‘1999’

A statement of the obvious

May 10, 2016

Yes, it looks to be a statement of the obvious, but at other times of the day it may not be.


This is a 1999 photo on my first digital camera so it doesn’t blow up much. But quite clearly, the road has flooded. This is Bosham in West Sussex where they are all too accustomed to people returning to a parked car to find it well immersed in the briny.


The houses lining Bosham Harbour are built to cope.


It’s visitors, and there are many, who get into difficulty.

Bosham is a pretty village not that far from Chichester. It has the marine air to it – literally, of course, for it is beside the sea but also in the style of building.


And here’s Bosham from across the harbour.


Worth a visit – but take care as to where you park your car!

Tour of Britain

March 11, 2016

In 1999 the Tour of Britain cycle race (because of sponsorship it was known as the Prutour) came through my home village on 25th May

I was recovering from minor illness and was off work and decided I would get out to see it. I had had a digital camera for less than a year and it took very small photos – but here goes.


Before the event arrived, a random cyclist passed by. The pub in the village still had its porch across the pavement but later that year it was knocked down by a lorry and a smaller replacement, in the same style, was erected much nearer flush with the building line.


An escort on a motorbike warned that the riders would soon arrive and soon they raced through.

These were the leaders. I have never followed much sport and I have no idea who the riders are.

image006A small crowd came out to cheer the cyclists on. The sport didn’t have the high profile then that it has now in the UK.

image008But I was there to see the event – a sporting event of national import in my home village.

Just to record it the overall winner of this race was Marc Wauters of Belgium.


What to do if a car breaks down

August 8, 2015

I had the misfortune to break down on the motorway during October 1999. I can only commend the service given to me by the RAC, the company who transported the car and us back home and my own garage in Lavington, Moonraker Engineering.

But, what do you do if you break down? Smile, stay cheerful and take a couple of photographs!

image001This is the car being hauled on to the transporter at Fleet Service Station on the M3

And this was the cause of the problem – the shattered gearbox.


4ft 8½ and all that

December 5, 2013

Wellow on the old Somerset and Dorset line

There will be many folk who know that wonderful book of British (or perhaps it is more English) history called 1066 and all that by Sellars and Yeatman. My title today is that of a spoof on that famous work – about railways. It was first published in 1964. Like the original, it is full of humour which is much better understood if you have the knowledge.


There’s the front cover but I prefer the title page.


I suspect it was that phrase, ‘for maniacs only’ that really appealed.

The author gives a dedication in the book.


The idea for this post stems from this book and in particular an ode to the country station – a little verse within it.


Oh Wellow, Wellow, down the line….

Wellow is not far from where I live – about twenty miles or so – and way back in 1999, the early days for digital photography, I dragged my wife there for a walk and to see what might remain of the old Somerset and Dorset Railway.

Of course, we found a tracked.



The railway crossed a stream.

We found road walking awkward. It was hilly, bendy, narrow and in cuttings with nowhere off the road if traffic came along. We didn’t really look for a station site. But the viaduct was obvious enough.


It truly was delightful around Wellow. It was a lazy, hazy June evening when we were there and the bees were buzzing on the myriad of flowers. And there was also, of course, that bit of industrial archaeology to keep me happy.

“My” Canal

October 6, 2013

Back at Christmas 1998 my daughter gave me a present of a length of canal. It wasn’t actually ownership; it was a way of giving money to assist with keeping our local Kennet and Avon Canal in good order. But with a certificate, it felt like ownership and so there is a one metre length of the canal near Allington that I take a proprietorial interest in.

With all the hullaballoo of Christmas, it wasn’t until 10th January 1999 that I got to visit ‘my’ canal. The impression was that my daughter’s gift had worked fast, for that very stretch of canal was under repair at the time.


My bit of canal is just this side of the swing bridge and there it was, de-watered so that bridge repairs could be carried out.


A mud dam had been constructed so that just a short length of canal needed draining. Allington is on a 15 mile long loch free stretch. You wouldn’t want to have to drain all that so that maintenance could be carried out.


The setting is idyllic with the gorgeous downs forming a magical backdrop.

We’ll now fast forward to July 20th 2002.


There’s the bridge which had long since been completed and the canal looked as it should.

And boats were passing by as well.


We’ll fast forward again to May 20th 2009.

Here we have my children and their other halves opening the bridge so that I can steer a boat through.


And there I go – very much enjoying a birthday present day on a small hire boat.


So a great present in 1998 – a present which still lasts and occupies no space in my home.

Thanks one and all!

The Battle of Sedgemoor

July 22, 2013

I’m not going to delve into the history or the rights and wrongs of this – said to be the last pitched battle fought on English soil. Suffice to say that The Duke of Monmouth fancied himself as king, rather than the incumbent James II. Monmouth and his 500 men were utterly routed at Westonzoyland in the Sedgemoor area of Somerset. His rebellion and attempt on the throne was over. But Catholic James was replaced by Protestant William soon after.  And of course the lessons of history teach us nothing. People of various religious beliefs still squabble, fight and go to war, all professing their rightness and that God is on their side.

But back to that battle which took place in 1685. There is a memorial which I photographed with my first digital camera back in 1999.


Sedgemoor is part of the Somerset levels and you can see in the photo that it is level! It is all barely above sea level and there is a tendency for the levels to flood. It was in this peaceful scene that the two armies – Monmouth’s and the King’s met.

The memorial is said to mark the site of the battle.


The plaque makes it clear that all sides believed they were right and that many died or suffered.

The whole area is made fit for agriculture by a series of dug drains.


They, of course, are a haven for wildlife.


April 13, 2013

The East Somerset Railway

Cranmore is quite near Shepton Mallet in Somerset and is the nearest place I could go to if I wanted to see a steam railway. It has to be said that I rarely do get there, but the little East Somerset Railway is worth a visit.

One attraction it has is a very unusual telephone box. It’s a K4 style box which was designed in the 1920s and incorporated a coin in the slot stamp issuing machine. Apparently only fifty of this variant of the red phone box were ever made. One is on the platform at Cranmore. My photos date from 1999 and my first ever digital camera which captivated me and others, but by modern standards it was very low resolution. The pictures are as big as they can be.


But Cranmore is the HQ of a steam railway so let’s see some of the locos.


This is a jinty as these general shunting and light duty tanks of the old London Midland and Scottish Railway were called. This one looks to be ready to take a turn at being Thomas. It’s carrying a British Railways (post 1948) number and would never have carried a blue livery then. This one was built by the Hunslet factory in Leeds emerging in 1924. I believe she was on loan to the East Somerset – presumably for a Thomas event.

However, another jinty looked right to me.


This one is a little younger – about 1928 build and made at the Vulcan foundry. These jinties were once a very numerous class of engines.

However, for me the engine I really liked at Cranmore was an old London Brighton and South Coast Railway freight tank of class E1. These were a bit like enlarged versions of the much loved Terrier tanks but with small wheels which made them slower, but capable of hauling bigger loads. Like the Terriers they were designed by William Stroudley and were very much from the Victorian era.


This one, number 110 was built at Brighton in 1877 and was used in the south of England until 1927 when she was sold to a colliery in Staffordshire before the end came in 1963. But 110 was preserved, the only survivor of the 78 engines of this type that were built.

I like Bridges!

March 21, 2013

It must be clear by now that I am rather fond of bridges – so here’s another and with it someone I am very fond of as well. The bridge is the Avoncliff Aqueduct which carries the kennet and Avon Canal high over the River Avon near Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire.


The person is my wife. This was taken in 1971 and there have been many changes since then. Well obviously, my wife is more than forty years older – but still looks lovely and elegant.

The aqueduct actually looks younger now. Back then the canal was decidedly non-navigable. It had fallen into complete disuse as a freight route and, whilst the pleasure boom was arriving elsewhere, this canal through Wiltshire was in a hopeless condition. Hopeless? Well not quite, for some people had hope and the determination to change things. This aqueduct was in need of repair and renovation to ensure it was watertight. It received the attention it needed and now forms a part of the complete London to Bristol waterway.

This was a handsome structure back in 1971, but it is so much better now, with water and traffic.

Here’s a little steam launch going over the aqueduct way back in 1999.


Eclipse – August 11th 1999

November 12, 2012

This is another page from my original website. Well, a nerd just had to see a total eclipse of the sun. What an experience that was.

The eclipse date had been in my knowledge for years. I had planned, with my brother, where we would go to see the eclipse but he died as long ago as 1980 so that idea – of being in Cornwall, went by the board.

However, there was still my dad and he was very keen to be involved with a total eclipse. I believe he had plans to hire a plane so that he might be above any cloud cover, but those plans went by the by, too, for he died in 1996.

However, these losses in the family were not going to stop me from seeing the eclipse but, like many another Englishman, I listened to the tourist advisors get in a total muddle over the places to watch the eclipse in Cornwall and the way to watch it. I, along with my own family, plumped for France.

So it was that on the morning of August 11th we were driving on the motorway near Nancy and finding truly awful traffic – the worst I have ever known in France. Not only was the traffic awful, so was the weather too. Visibility was very restricted from the point of view of a driver. For an eclipse watcher it was dreadful. There was 100% cloud cover and it looked like the thick, nasty cloud that had no chance of clearing. It was just a bit depressing.

We decided that, perhaps, the French might be a bit like the English – mapless – so we turned off the motorway, secure in the knowledge that we were in the total eclipse zone. At times, it seemed as though it might be just as crowded off the motorway, but in fact, we made quite good progress and well before ‘obscurity’ we were sited on our hill top, just outside the little village of Mars la Tour near Metz. Somehow, a place called Mars seemed appropriate, for it seemed that we would be saying, ‘We went to Mars but didn’t see an eclipse’. At least the Mars would call for an explanation.

Once we were settled on our drizzly hill, we got out the ‘safe glasses’. Now in England, people had been told they weren’t really safe. In France they were assured they were. People had been told they must get to the total zone. One pundit, on telly, the night before, had said, ‘To witness an eclipse is like kissing your fiancée, but to see a total eclipse is like a night of love’. No wonder the French were determined to witness totality.

We had to make do with the fun of the glasses.

That’s my daughter and she’ll have been seeing precisely nothing through those glasses. Behind her you can see either thick cloud or very thick cloud.

Then the miracle happened. Gaps started to appear in the clouds.

Through these gaps we got seductive little glimpses of the crescent sun. The world had gone very silent, but from groups of people around our hilltop we could hear the occasional yelp of joy and we knew ‘the gap was with them’

I was really very surprised at how light it was. The cloud was thick and it was a dismal day but it seemed to me that it was just that. It didn’t seem extra dark because there was virtually no sun. But then, with an amazing swiftness darkness descended. There was no sun to be seen through the clouds, it was just that our dull and dismal day became darkness. There was no dusk and no time for adjustment to the new situation. It caused quite an emotional response in me – not least because I was thinking of absent family members who were not with me to witness the moment.

With no sun to see through the cloud, I had time to snap a flash shot of my son. He’ll hate me for putting this one on the web!

That blackness amazed me. It was truly black, except that away beyond Metz there was a glow on the horizon – areas yet to reach totality.

Our miracles lasted for just before the end of the total period the clouds parted and there was a black disc with a corona round it and then, almost immediately a diamond ring effect, accompanied by great cheers from some of our party. The total eclipse was over and I had no photo of it.

Later, though, as the sun’s crescent enlarged and the clouds cleared, albeit partially, I was able to try my trick of taking a photo through my binoculars. I am pleased with the effect.

I rate that eclipse as one of the most magic moments of my life.