Posts Tagged ‘2003’

Ride with Caution

April 1, 2016

Cast iron signs! I love ‘em! I love them particularly if they state the obvious. This one is at North Rode in Cheshire.


I took this in 2003 and whilst I remember the sign, I can’t now say why it was there. However, it looks as though there is a steep descent ahead – steep enough for the National Cyclists Union to invest money in a sign. One hopes, of course, that cyclists exercise caution all of the time – along with all other road users, whether a Rode road or elsewhere.

We were in North Rode seeking out family history. Various distant and some not so distant relatives of my wife were born there and lived there.

So we looked around the churchyard and came across this grave.

image004My wife’s direct ancestors include Fishers from this area, but search as we might we have never linked Thomas Fisher and his wife Fanny into our family.

In fact we recorded several graves and none of them led to a family link. But like so many of our family history places, it was a lovely location and a delightful visit.

Small round bales

March 29, 2016

Bales of hay seem to be something from the past as many farmers feel silage made in big round bales and wrapped in black (usually) plastic is a better, more guaranteed option.

Bales of straw produced from what comes out of the back of a combine harvester have become enormous and need machinery to handle them.

Time was, not so long ago, that the small cuboid shaped bale was the thing. A bale of hay was heavy, but a decent farmer could pick them up with no problem. Straw is much lighter and they were easy.

Of course, before that and really before my memory in the prosperous south of England hay had been stacked loose. Straw was stacked in sheaves with the ears still attached to await threshing. In both cases the stack was then thatched to keep the rain out.

Back in the 1950s I recall seeing, somewhere near Firle in Sussex, some small round bales, probably of hay. I recall my dad commenting on their advantage of being like thatch and the shape meant rain drained off them. He also pointed out the disadvantage that round bales, inevitably, leave gaps when stacked. The small round bale didn’t seem to catch on, but I did see some on another occasion, near Alton Barnes in the Vale of Pewsey. This was in 1973 and I had by little Canon Demi camera and got a photo.

I should say these bales were no more than18 inches in diameter but the shape of the end shows they have been rolled rather than compressed and so water will drain off well.

Thirty years on, in 2003, and in a similar area, this was the scene.


Well clearly bales are now much bigger – and cameras have improved as well!

Dungeness revisited once more

March 28, 2016

Dungeness revisited, but not recently. This was back in 2003.

I really am fascinated by the area. I’m not sure who regards it as pretty – but I do. It is an extending shingle area, much bigger now than when I first knew it because more shingle is deposited all the time. Eventually plants gain a foothold and the ground begins to stabilise.


And what lovely plants they are.

image004This is a place where small fishing boats get hauled up onto the shingle above the high water mark.

A bonus for me is seeing the steam trains on the miniature (15 inch gauge) Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

image006This one is (I think) Black prince and behind it you can see the top of the 1960(ish) lighthouse which is now a long way from the sea. This loco is not a favourite for me. I prefer the ones that have a more UK look but on this day the next train suited me well.

image008This is Typhoon and she has been on this line since 1927. She is gorgeous. By the way, these locos are just about one third the size of a full sized UK steamer.

No wonder I love Dungeness.


Limousin Cattle

August 30, 2015

We English are supposed to be obsessed by the weather. I rather think the French are as well. 2003 was the year of very high temperatures. At Limoges I took a photo of my car thermometer.

image002Well there we have all the information. It was 4th August 2003 at just about ten to five and the temperature was 43oC. For those who prefer the Fahrenheit scale that’s almost 110oF. For any true nerds in the readership I suppose I’d better say it’s about 316K!

For the second time in my life I was with people interviewed on French radio about the weather. This time it was my wife who was interviewed. She’s a much better French speaker than me. ‘How did we cope with the heat?’ was the gist of the interview.

Oddly, the previous year I had been with a school trip and we were on a freezing cold beach near Boulogne. It was late June. One of my colleagues was interviewed. ‘How did we cope with the cold?’ was the essence of that one

In 2003 it was too hot for us and for much of the time we sun dodged but when I came across this bunch of beautiful ladies, well, I couldn’t resist them.


These are Limousin cows. The Limousin region surrounds Limoges so these were very much at home.

Such elegant beasts, and I gather farmers find them ideal for beef production. At this time I wasn’t interested in seeing them on a plate. I just thought they were such pretty young things. But I am realistic. If these beasts did not serve humans well then they wouldn’t exist. I am no vegetarian although I think many people (possibly me) overdo the meat eating.

Wadebridge Station or the John Betjeman Centre

June 7, 2015

Regular readers, particularly of the train blogs, will know that I first visited Wadebridge back in 1961. My dad took my brother and me – young train spotters – to see three very special old engines.

Probably unsurprisingly, the line was ‘Beechinged’ in 1967. All passenger services ceased but freight hung on until 1978 at which point complete closure saw the end of rail transport in this part of Cornwall.

Let’s fast forward to 2003 and another visit to the station.  By then it looked like a station building, but had a different use.


Tea, which we wanted, was on offer at the building so we parked up and went in. Actually, we were not eligible for it was for over 60s and back then we weren’t. But we were admitted and had a welcome cup of tea in what is now a John Betjeman centre with memorabilia about the former poet laureate – who was also a lover of this part of Cornwall and of railways.


We visited Betjeman’s grave, across the Camel estuary at the church of St Enedoc.


And what a delightful little church and setting that is.


William Lanceley

May 22, 2015

In reply to a blog comment, the other day, I suggested that genealogy which is a list of names and dates is just a tad uninteresting. I like censuses because they give just a bit of information. Gravestones can, as well and I know my great great uncle, William Lanceley, via census and gravestone only. Let’s start with the gravestone which I snapped (with the camera) back in 2003. I knew I was related to people called Lanceley back then, but at the time I had not identified William. So as ever, I broke that rule of genealogy which says ‘start from the known and work towards the unknown’.  This was an unknown and I was able, very easily, to work towards the known.

In terms of technology, 2003 was almost the dark ages. We didn’t have mobile access to the internet back then and so research to identify William had to wait until I was home from a family history hunt in Cheshire. So, my raw data was a grave photo.


This was in Timperley churchyard and straight away stories appear. Freddy, infant son of William and Emma died in 1891. One can imagine the sadness. And William himself was no great age when he died. Emma had nearly twenty years as a widow.

Something else that was not available in 2003 was the 1911 census.


Had I seen that we might have searched out 89 Oakfield Street in Altrincham where William and Emma lived.

One of the aspects I like about the 1911 census is that it asked the fertility questions – how many children have you had and how many are still alive? It means we know that after 28 years of marriage William and Emma had had just two children, one of whom was Freddy. The other was Alice who was born in 1883.

We also know from the censuses that William was a blacksmith. This wouldn’t have been a romanticised rural blacksmith. Quite probably William worked in a factory for he was listed (in 1901) as a worker.

Alice married Joseph Ashley, a waterman working on the River Weaver Navigation in 1909. They had had no children by the time of the 1911 census.

Timperley church is not, in my judgement, the prettiest structure. I took this photo on the same 2003 visit.


Searching for Great Great Grandfather

April 11, 2015

James (Feathers) Fisher was a nineteenth century police officer in Manchester. He lived in the area known as Ardwick.

Back in 2003 we went looking for his former home but it turned out to be a ‘no hoper’. Ardwick has been flattened and rebuilt. I haven’t investigated whether this was due to Second World War bombing or later slum clearance. Maybe it was both. But this is what we found.


Even the street names from his over ten year stay in the area seem to have vanished so we just took a general shot of what Ardwick looked like. That was our car parked on the road. It like all the buildings would seem to date from the second half of the 20th century.

James would have known the railway viaduct approaching what is now Manchester Piccadilly station. No doubt he’d be baffled by all those wire supporting gantries.

Oh well! You can’t win them all!

The Alton turnstiles

March 24, 2015

The twin villages of Alton Barnes and Alton Priors in mid Wiltshire are lovely little places. Whether your interest be thatched barns, ancient yew trees, Saxon churches (or a Norman one), modern glass engraving or maybe just really pleasant ambles in the countryside – the Altons have it for you.

But my favourite are the delightfully chunky and simple turnstiles at field boundaries along the often cobbled footpaths. For me they are really lovely little mechanisms.


They might be enough to stop a cow, but for a man with a dog these are very easy.


There’s lovely for you – and so is the chap. He’s the husband of a distant cousin found through genealogical research.

A tryst at Salisbury

March 2, 2015

Back in 2003 we (that’s my wife and I) went to see and greet a train at Salisbury Station. The train was a steam hauled special, hauled by a loco which did a lot of main line specials back then.

And here it is arriving at Salisbury Station.


The train looks right to me. Actually, the loco never was a local engine in that part of the world but others of the same class were. And the train has a good rake of matching green coaches behind it. So although this is 40 years on from my train spotting days, the train looked just like some of the ones I used to see hauling trains out of London, Waterloo, to Basingstoke, Southampton and other places in the West.

This train was special for me, not so much because of train or loco, but rather because we had an opportunity to meet some old school friends including my best friend from junior school days, a chap we all called Boz.


I hadn’t seen Boz, probably for about thirty years then although I have seen him a few times since then and we always get on as though the intervening years (close on 60 of them) since we first met just didn’t matter.

I couldn’t leave Salisbury without offering a rather miserable sight.


This diesel would have been called a Brush type 4 in my train spotting days but at some point it became a class 47. It was around forty years old back in 2003 – about ten years younger than the heritage steamer.

It really is in a rather sad condition with chipped and rusting paintwork and parked up amongst litter and detritus. I was told it had been taken off a train due to a flat tyre. Lest that sounds odd for something with a totally steel wheel, it does happen. If for any reason a loco skids, then a flat surface is worn on a steel tyre. A non-round wheel makes one heck of a racket and is damaging to track and loco. I can’t tell you if the loco had its wheels ground round again or if it was deemed not worthy of repair.

The windmill at Villefagnan

December 4, 2014

A few days ago we saw a sunflower field at Villefagnan – a place which I might loosely describe as being in the middle of France. Near that field there was a windmill.


From the outside this is a very basic tower mill. For efficient working the sails must face directly into the wind. For this mill, keeping that so is up to the miller. He must push on the hefty pole out of the back of the mill to turn the cap so that the sails do catch the full force of the wind.

We can also see that the sails are what we call plain sails. They consist of a wooden framework on which canvas sheeting is fastened to catch the wind.  It seems only half of each sail needed covering for the other half of the sail has the canvas twisted so that it looks rather like a white rope.

But in fact the canvas was still being unfurled.


The sail has to be used as a ladder for this.


It should be mentioned that this mill, with sails reaching right down to the ground, is potentially very dangerous.

But it looks good and no doubt the fences and walls are adequate.