Posts Tagged ‘2004’

Blossom time

May 9, 2016

Here we have May from our floral underground poster calendar.


Bright and cheerful blossom appears to be the theme of this month. The art work is by Walter Spradbury and dates from 1929. The poster, of course, extols the virtue of reaching the parks and gardens named by Underground.

I don’t feel the need to travel up to London to see blossom. I just look out of my window and see it. Actually, this apple blossom dates from the May of 2004


Our Bramley tree was absolutely awash with blossom that year.


The Wilts and Berks Canal

February 12, 2016

This canal, built to the narrow (7 feet wide) size, linked the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington with the River Thames at Abingdon. It took in some places of some industrial importance at various times, either on the main line or on branches. These included the towns of Calne, Chippenham and Swindon and also Wantage.

The canal opened in 1810 but was never much of a commercial success. By 1841 railways were taking over freight traffic from canals and a final straw came with an aqueduct collapse in 1901.

The canal was officially abandoned in 1914.

These days there is a society hoping to reinstate the canal. Progress is slow, but is being made on this canal which has been out of use for more than 100 years.

Back in 2004 we were in the vicinity of Dauntsey and I took a couple of photos.


Here’s a bit of clear canal, with water. It looks quite hopeful for restoration here. But nearby is a lock.


This was clearly undergoing restoration. The brickwork looks modern and a vertical ladder has been put in. Away from the lock the course of the canal needs a bit of the eye of faith to make it out.

But never say never! The Kennet and Avon Canal was a wreck into the 1970s but is now a fully open and thriving leisure waterway. The Wilts and Berks would make a good link for happy boat folk.

The need to reach extremes

June 3, 2015

And in the UK they don’t come much more extreme than Cape Wrath in the top North West corner of Scotland. It is part of the mainland but the journey there involves a ferry across the Kyle of Durness.


Really hardy folk, I suppose, could swim across the Kyle. Even hardier ones might go the long way and walk. It’s about 6 miles or so of trackless walking to get across to the other side of the Kyle. We took the little ferry.


This connects with a minibus on the other side. Don’t ask me how they got the minibus over there.

The ride on the bus is quite hair raising. You have to hope the driver knows what he is doing – which, of course, he does.

It’s about a 12 mile ride to reach the cape – a wild and remote spot. But of course there is a lighthouse.

There is grand coastal sceneryimage006


The bog cotton grows well.


And so do other flowers.


This rock, with its twin towers is called Cathedral Rock.


I’m glad to have gone. Partly this was just to reach the remote North West corner of our country, but also to discover for myself the lovely scenery and the wild life.

Blythburgh (2)

March 7, 2015

Having looked, yesterday, at Paul Bennett’s view of Blythburgh I thought that today we could see some of my photos.


This was a hazy day in April 2004 and we can see that little hill with the village on it.


It was even mistier on another visit in February 2008 when we walked paths in the marshes.


This boat’s useful days are clearly over – but modern photography makes it all too easy to brighten up what was a very misty shot.


Aha. Now here’s one for a nerd. It’s an old AA reflector to help make sure cars don’t crash into the corner of a building.


Sorry folks. I have photos of church and village but there are dozens of them on the web already


March 6, 2015

Some of my long ago ancestors came from the village of Blythburgh in Suffolk. My three greats grandfather, Edward Cullingford Smith was born there in 1795. Now don’t get any idea that it’s a double barrelled surname and an indication of poshness. Oh no! It’s just that Edward’s parents, Mr Cullingford and Miss Smith weren’t married at the time although they did manage to tie the knot before the next child, Lucy, came along.

Edward’s first born was my great great grandmother, Mary Ann Cullingford Smith. From the genealogy point of view that lack of a timely marriage by her parents is a real curse for it meant that oh so difficult to trace Smith name went down to her. All the clues I can get to usage suggest that the Smith part was only used for those formal things – like birth and marriage certificates.

The most recent of my relatives to have been born in Blythburgh was my great great aunt, Ellen, who was the daughter of Mary Ann Cullingford Smith and her partner, James Crosby. Mary Anne and James also tied the knot after her birth and Ellen was always known as a Crosby but officially she was a Smith as well! Ellen has featured on this blog for I have a photo of her and my gran always described her as ‘a favourite aunt’. You can click here to see that post.

As a little aside, I always reckon I can get a sense of how Ellen talked from the censuses. She was a Suffolk girl who moved to Sussex and enumerators – even her husband, married in later life, didn’t know Blythburgh and had to write down what she said. Her hubby, on the 1911 census wrote this.


That’s Blyburrey. The 1881 enumerator had written blibury.

Blythburgh is on the edge of the River Blyth and is surrounded by a marshy area. The village – and from the name you can tell it was once an important place with Burgh status, sits atop a little hill. I can’t say the church is a favourite of mine. It is simply vast – also an indication of past wealth in the area – and very ornate. I might prefer more simple and homely, but it is impressive and it stands out as a beacon from miles around.

On a visit to that church I purchased a piece of art showing the village across the marsh and river.


It is always so hard to snap a picture behind glass. Glass reflects and that photo doesn’t do justice to the original which has been created using pastel colours.


There’s the village with the church sitting atop the little rise in the ground. I love it so I say a big well done and thank you to the artist.


Paul Bennett is Paul O’Leary Bennett and he is a man who clearly loves his home area – Blythburgh. In writing this blog I have found his web site and I can tell you I drool over his pictures. They catch the atmosphere of the Blythburgh area so well.

In case anyone thinks this is a bit of a commercial, I don’t know Paul and he doesn’t know me.


The Old Man of Hoy

February 24, 2015

Sad to say I have never actually set foot on the island of Hoy. It was an Orkney Island we were unable to visit when we were up there in 2004. But the ferry, going from Scrabster which is near Thurso on the north coast of Scotland to Stromness on the Orkney mainland passes close by – and particularly it passes close by the sea stack known as the Old Man of Hoy.


There it was on our outward journey on 9th August 2004. Now I’m no climber and I tend to think people who take up challenges like climbing the Old Man are a bit mad. It’s 450 feet high and mostly pretty well vertical. But those of us old enough well remember the televised climb back in 1967. It was adventurous television then as well as being a truly adventurous climb. It brought knowledge of this stack to 15 million viewers.  So it was grand to go past it and see it.

By the way, one of the televised climbers, Chris Bonnington, celebrated his 80th birthday last year by climbing it again!

We passed it again on our return journey some days later.


What fantastic sandstone scenery.


Authentic Weather

November 26, 2014

We have a habit of going to wilder parts of the UK for holidays. Cornwall often features. It isn’t that far from home, it is utterly beautiful, has a north and south coast only a few miles apart but often with quite different weather and if it is bad we can do a spot of genealogy for my wife has Cornish blood in her.

On one occasion, many years ago, we stopped for a stroll on Bodmin Moor. It was very misty – almost heavy enough to call it drizzle. The ground under foot was very wet and giant slugs were out in force. We stopped to ‘admire’ one of those big orange ones. At this point a fellow traveller loomed out of the mist and stopped. It turned out she was an American lady.

‘Gee! This is so authentic’, she declared.

For a while we didn’t know if she meant the slug or the weather but we deemed it was probably the weather. I surmise that she might have been a Daphne Du Maurier fan. We weren’t all that far from Jamaica Inn.

But that phrase of authentic weather (or slugs) has stuck with us.

I note in my diary for August 12th 2004 that I described the weather as authentic. Mind you, this wasn’t in Cornwall by a long shot. This was on the wonderful Orkney Islands. We were looking at some of the ancient standing stones.


This is a part of the Ring of Brodgar. It probably dates from around 2000BC so is around 4000 or more years old.

The photo makes it clear that it was a tad misty – perfect authentic weather for this kind of place.

We moved on to the Stones of Stenness


It was still very authentic!

This monument is at least 5000 years old and needs a person in it to give it some scale.


Yes, that’s a mighty stone.

This is another monument where we have an improved image painted by our daughter.


She’s able to make it seem less misty but it still retains an authentic look.



Le Tommy Café

November 6, 2014


It was just about ten years ago that my wife and I visited Le Tommy Café. This eating house is at Pozieres, the site of fierce fighting in the battle of the Somme in World War One. The café recreates (or did ten years ago) a little bit of trench life for diners and drinkers to see.


Here we peep into a trench or dug out and see the soldiers awaiting their turn to go over the top.

And here’s debris and junk scattered near the trench.


As you can see Le Tommy is a café and a museum in one. Apart from the recreations outside, the walls inside are a mass of photos. It is (or was) a very handy visit for we folks finding where our ancestors had to fight.


A Cathedrals Express

August 4, 2014

It’s a long time since I featured a ‘real’ steam train on this blog and I thought it was time for one. And here we have one redolent of my train spotting days but in fact dating from 27th November 2004. Gosh! That’s nearly ten years ago.

I don’t know if it has become hard to get a path for a steam train on my local line. Ten years ago they were quite common. Now they are rare as hen’s teeth. I thought for a while one might be due through on 16th August, but a note said it would be diesel hauled near here.

Anyway, here’s the train from back then in 2004. It’s passing through Cheverell.


The loco looks to be working hard as she rounds the curves on the cut off line built in 1900 to give the old GWR a shorter route to the West.

Now I have to confess that this particular loco was not known by me when I was a train spotter. I have no record of ever seeing her back in the 1960s and as far as I know she was based around Shrewsbury. But she was a British Railways standard class of engine and I saw identical locos and back in 2004 this loco was hauling the green train and that was the colour of my local trains back in the 60s. So in virtually every respect this train looks spot on to me.

Butley Street

July 12, 2014

There was a time when Butley in Suffolk was filled with ancestors and relatives of mine. Not that they’d have known this, for I’m going back to the mid 19th century – 100 years or more before I was born.

Butley was hit badly by agricultural depression and people moved away. Great Granny, born 1850, joined two of her sisters at Isfield in Sussex. Some of her brothers moved north up to the Newcastle area to work as miners. Others found they could still make a living in agriculture in Essex. But pretty well the tribe of my ancestors and relatives left the area. By the twentieth century just one of great granny’s sisters was still in the Butley area.

I have no family postcards of Butley but I have bought some to add to my collection in genealogy. This one shows Butley Street.


The marking of a house with an X was done by the card sender – nothing to do with me, but I think Miles Crosby who was a first cousin of my great great grandfather lived there. The house is called Forge Cottage and Miles was a village blacksmith.

I have a picture of the same cottage which I took in 2004.


Censuses only tell us people lived in Butley, but I am sure relatives lived in the terrace of little cottages. I have my photo of them as well.


It’s a delightful, if somewhat scattered village but I bet life was hard for those ancestors.