Posts Tagged ‘2002’

New Year 2002

August 4, 2016

I have just come across this piece I wrote some 14 years ago. I thought I’d share it.

2002 – and another fantastic beginning for me, with this view of the world as I opened the curtains on the morning of January 1st.


On January 13th, my picture was rather more with words.

Today seemed such a perfect January morning in an English village that I felt a need to write about it.

Well to start with, it isn’t quite perfect, for the sun is not shining. In fact, it’s a bit drab and grey but the early mist has lifted. Visibility is quite good, but it is better to look at the close scene, rather than our wonderful panoramas across to the chalk downs of Salisbury Plain. There is virtually no breeze. It is ideal listening weather. And the sounds of this English village 120 kilometres West of London, are lovely.

I could be tempted to say that there is no man made noise – but this would be utterly wrong for the dominating sound is that of our village church bells. We have 6 bells in our church and the team of campanologists are ringing the changes well this morning. It is loud, but from my distance of a few hundred metres, it is such a lovely sound.

It can’t drown out the wren, shrieking her way through the winter bramble bushes. Such a tiny bird, she is, yet equipped with a mighty voice – and a charming song she sings. From local trees come the incessant call of ‘teacher, teacher, teacher.’ This is the attractive great tit’s song. Not exciting, but an essential part of our rural sound pattern. They can be seen, flitting from tree to tree, and with them are their smaller cousins, the blue tits and the long tailed tits.

In the distance, I hear another noise of human technology as a train rumbles by about a kilometre to the North. To be quintessentially English this would need to be a whistle blowing steam train (and we get them on special charters from time to time). But this is a hooting diesel – perhaps dragging stone to make the trackbed of the new channel tunnel rail link being built in the South East of England. The sound reaches me as a gentle and restful drone.

But back to nature! Sparrows have clustered in a shrub. There seems to be no organisation to their chatter. It is as though they have met up after a night out, and are gossiping about what they saw. The flock of speckled starlings are too busy for too much chatter. They rush across the grassland, and when one bird finds a tasty morsel, the others dive in to try to get their share. From further afield the woodpigeons are cooing contentedly. Are rooks ever contented. The croak of the colony, a couple of hundred metres to the West sounds like a major squabble.

The robin, though avoids any rows. He sits high in a tree and sings loud and clear to tell us all that this is his patch and that we had better keep out. His relative, the blackbird, is doing the same in a more distant tree but the blackbirds are a bit close packed around here. Squabbling blackbirds chase one another from tree to tree – a sure sign that spring is on its way.

Another spring like sight is the jackdaws, sitting together and sharing food. How romantic. And a pair of winter squirrels have decided that this day is good enough for a chase through the trees. Ah yes! Spring is on the way. It won’t be long before Sue and I decide to take a walk down Windmill Lane to see the first snowdrop flowers of the year. We won’t see a mill. There isn’t one. We won’t see cars either, for Windmill Lane is a narrow footpath through the sandstone hill which leads down to the wet, heavy clay lands.

But winter hasn’t passed by yet, and the flock of fieldfare which fly over are a testament to this, for these birds are winter visitors to our island.

The church bells stop. It is one of those rare mornings when I can hear two other sets of church bells. A couple of kilometres away lies West Lavington church. On still days they can often be heard. But today I can now hear the bells of Urchfont, 7 kilometres East of here. It’s a faint sound, and a mellow one.

Whilst listening and looking, I have been feeding my own, domestic animals. My geese – handsome birds – are now freed from their overnight, fox-proof home and their gentle and polite squawking has joined the bird noises. I note with some dismay that my cockerel is getting far too dominant. One goose, and my ducks are clearly frightened of him. He chases the loudly quacking ducks around.

I am happy to lean on a fence post and observe the sheep. They are very quiet and content today, but it won’t be long until we have the first lambs of the year running in our field. And by the size of some of the ewes, there’ll be twins around.

But now another man made noise begins – a gentle clicking. It is the noise of my hoe, as I prepare ground for planting up our vegetable crops. We persist in growing vegetables despite the fact that we see to get less and less of them for our rarely seen, neighbourhood badgers are also fond of carrots and sweetcorn and the squirrels are happy to nibble peas, the woodpigeons just love cabbage and the rabbits eat anything green. But we’ll keep growing, for nothing can beat the taste of a freshly dug, roast parsnip or a slow baked potato.


21st May

May 21, 2016

A personal item here. It was 50 years ago today that I had my first date with the lady who is now my wife. For a few months my future mother in law helped us celebrate by putting an appropriate number of candles on a bun for us to share. If we still did that we’d need 600 candles now and the bun would have to be one heck of a size.

So how has the day been marked in the past. The honest answer is barely ever. We were both workers and so the day was like any other. But back in 2002 the working day for me involved being at Bristol zoo so here are a few zoo photos from May 21st 2002.


A giant sized bug – I think it is quite pretty.


We all love meerkats


A swimming penguin.

A sea lion.image008

Well I had a nice day, clearly. I wonder what my wife did on that day.


March 10, 2016

All the English Wikipedia site says of this French place is Ouchamps is a commune in the Loir-et-Cher department of central France.

There’s more, as you might expect, on the French version of Wikipedia but it clearly is not a place on the main tourist trail. Wed got there in 2002 when we were being proper tourists, looking at the Loire Valley and even a couple of the famed chateaux. I note that the day we saw Ouchamps we also visited the well-known Chateau de Chenonceau.

But when I look through my photos from that day it is this one of Ouchamps which catches my eye.

Sheer beauty for me!

Sheer beauty for me!

This was in the March of 2002 and some early spring green is appearing on some of the trees whilst the tall thin trees (poplars?) still display winter gauntness. And to set off the scene there is a charming little barn.

To me this is real France – more so than the castles and grand homes found nearby. This is clearly a building needed by a toiling worker who tills the soil. Just lovely.

Finally, I can’t resist translating Ouchamps to ‘where field’. Somehow that sums up the picture.


Symonds Yat

March 6, 2016

Like my father before me, I have a habit of missing the big honeypot tourist places but sometimes opportunities arise and you get to them. We were at Symonds Yat in 2002 because our daughter was taking the opportunity to visit the Hay on Wye festival. She was (and still is when time permits) very much into books and at that time, just post degree, she felt a need to soak up the atmosphere. Others in the family thought a day in that area wouldn’t go amiss.

Anyway, we stopped at Symonds Yat.


It’s a fine viewpoint, high above the River Wye. The river takes such a convoluted course through the hills here that I find it impossible to work out (now) just where I was when I took the photo although clearly there is flatter land in the distance.

Close to, the river is closely confined.


This is one of several 180o turns (or more) that the river does in this area. The river water travels about 11 kilometres in one stretch and ends up little more than a kilometre from that starting point.

However, here we have Symonds Yat Rock


You can’t see them, but there are peregrine falcons nesting in that shot. The RSPB very kindly set up telescopes to let people see them and they are magnificent. That’s both the falcons and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Not to mention that area. A grand place and it wasn’t busy.

Hay on Wye, on the other hand, was utterly awash with bookish people.

New Year Targets

January 1, 2016

I’ll quote the two targets I always wanted to set when I was a working man and had to have management agreed targets each year. Mt two aims for each year were:

1) To still be alive at the end of it.

2) To still be smiling at the end of it.

When the second one was getting a bit hard to achieve was when I decided to quit. I haven’t looked back since then. My only regret? Well not being able to irritate management by offering them those two targets!

Well strictly, I spend a lot of time looking back because I have a voluntary role looking after matters historical where I live. And on this first of January I shall look back to another. It was in 2002 and I took a couple of early morning sunrise photos with the more limited camera of the day.

This one was exposed for the frost covered land.


Getting that right made the sky a white out for it was much brighter than the land so I took a second photo for the sky with the land becoming just about a black out.


It was a simple job using a ‘magic wand’ tool to take this sky and paste it into the other picture to actually capture what the brain thought it saw.


So never believe digital photos. This is the result of merging two images. I love it for it really did capture what I saw. And I thought what I saw was beautiful.

By the way, being the lucky person I am, that’s the view I look out over from my bathroom. There’s no obscured glass for us since it is not overlooked. This is what I see every morning when I carry out my ablutions.


March 18, 2015

This is a lovely village in France. We have visited more than once but these photos date from 2002.


The A marker shows where Gerberoy is. Yes, it’s in the North of France. That’s about 55 kilometres from Rouen, 70 from Dieppe and  50 from Amien.

Gerberoy is quiet and beautiful with all sorts to see.


A street and a gateway arch.

Some kind of lookout tower.


Or maybe, it is a garden feature.



Interesting tile work.

I have recorded this as a chapel. I have to say it doesn’t look much like one.


And finally, the blue house.


What a delightful village.


January 11, 2015

Lightlands is a rather lovely Tudor house near Frant in Sussex. Most of my ancestors were farm labourers, but one branch had descended from higher things and had once owned this house.


This is me standing in the back garden, with permission from the owner.

That was about a dozen or so years ago. Actually, it was in 2002.

My family, surnamed Stickland, lived there in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some parts of the family later stuck an r in to make it Strickland.

You can read more about Lightlands on the Weald web site at . This was an article published in the Sussex County Magazine back in 1935.

The route down from landed gentry to agricultural labourer took three generations. My great granny (I never met her but my sister did just) could have said that her great grandfather was a rich man. Who knows where it all went. Not that I much care. I’m amongst those who think love of money brings people a lot of misery.

Changes in a building

January 6, 2015

Cottages at Plashetts

Great Grandfather Stevens was a farm labourer and in particular a woodman labourer. He spent his life in and around an area of woodland near Uckfield in Sussex known as Plashetts. His home, and that of his family, was in a cottage convenient to the current workplace. Sometimes it was in the parish of Ringmer, at other times it was in Isfield.  He spent time in Ridgewood but this cottage was in Little Horsted and this is the place where my grandmother was born.


This pair of little semis was called Plashetts Cottages. The evidence is that great grandfather had the right hand half as home, for a while, certainly in 1892.

This photo is one of Grandad’s negatives and dates from the 1920s. He and granny must have paid a visit.

My dad visited too but around thirty years later in 1956. He cycled there from ‘camp’ with my brother.


My brother is standing in the middle and the occupant of the time is outside her front door. The windows and doors have been altered and each half has a lean-to. It looks as though the weather boarding has been replaced – at least on the bottom of the structure.

My dad had captioned his picture.


I visited in 2002. It was all rather different for two little cottages had become one large house.


I was pleased just to find the place but I’m not sure my gran would have recognised it.

More shove ha’penny

December 22, 2014

I made a mistake yesterday and published the post about the old game of shove ha’penny which I intended to publish today. So we’ll regard this as a shove ha’penny bonus with a bit of carpet croquet thrown in.

This is my sister having a go at pushing the coins. It is Christmas 2002.


Of course Paula, my sister, won’t be up for a game this year for she died in the summer.

We had a whole range of silly games that Christmas and here are members of the family engaged in carpet croquet.


This is half-sister shoving the ½ds.


And here we see her mum – my step mother. She is much more like my age than the age of a mother!


Happy Christmas past! We’ll certainly miss my sister this year but I’m sure we’ll still have a good time. And half sister, with her two youngsters and step mum will be part of it.

Pointe Chevet

December 10, 2014

Pointe Chevet is a headland just west of St Malo in France. At a time when we may all be feeling the weather in the UK has been a tad gloomy, I felt it was time to enjoy the look of some sun, sea and sand. The photo date from 26th July 2002.


This is just about 130 miles from the English coast – it would be a couple of hours by motorway but we seem to have captured a different world on the northern French coast.

It does look lovely!

As a final thought, I got google to tell me what Pointe Chevet means. It seems it means bedside tip!