Posts Tagged ‘Wiltshire’

The Garden in 1975

September 21, 2016

Back in 1975 we lived in a pleasant little semi-detached house which we had bought as the first owners of a new house in 1971. It had a small garden, but backed on to the disused Devizes railway line. Our dream of buying it had become reality and we (and neighbours who bought) had a landscaping job to do. The railway was in a shallow cutting and the ballast was still there. The ballast needed a goodly layer of soil on top but would always be well drained. We decided a rockery with steps was the way of coping with the descent down to the old line level. We were able to transfer soil down to make the lower tier of the garden level. And here is what we finished up with in the summer of 1975.


There’s the rockery with our cat, Wilmot, sunning himself on a warm stone. I built a reasonable flight of steps to get down the level. The grass down there does look a tad parched but that was on the ballast. We can just see that our neighbours had a different scheme and just made a gentle slope.

The following year we moved to our present house so we have been there for forty years now.

This photo, of course, was taken on my little Canon Demi using Agfachrome slide film.

Kew September

September 15, 2016

Kew September

My September Kew gardens poster dates from 1927 and shows a plant archway.


Now I like that artwork which is by Clive Gardiner. He wasn’t familiar to me but having looked him up I shall keep an eye open for his posters.

Now here’s an archway in my garden.


This arch is very utilitarian for it is covered with our fig tree. The steps are out to pick figs. It was an entry from this tree that won my wife the best horticultural exhibit in our village produce show at the August bank holiday. Blackberries also earned a prize.

I’m sure the arch at Kew was more beautiful. After several weeks of moderate neglect our garden needs attention, but it is being productive. The dinner I ate earlier had a grand collection of veg and fruit from the garden – fresh, tasty and as healthy as can be.

The Anzacs

September 9, 2016

Many men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps came to my home county of Wiltshire to be trained for fighting in World War One. They fared as well as other troops – which is to say badly. But we do remember them in many ways. We have seen the military graveyard at Sutton Veny – a sad memorial to the many men who died of injuries or off a strain of flu they had never experienced before. Today we’ll look at a chalk mark – a cut out shape on a chalk hill. It is of the Australian badge and is a bit hidden by trees. We associate this badge with the Anzacs.


This is viewed from Stockton, a lovely little village in the Wylie Valley but the badge is onLamb Down, Codford. It is more visible in winter.

image004However, there is an explanation board.



Of course, we are still marking the 100th anniversary of WW1 events. So we paid our respects here, whilst passing at the end of August.

Visit by a Princess

September 6, 2016

People expecting visions of female beauty or grandeur might as well look somewhere else now. There’ll be grandeur and some might think beauty, but it will be of an engineering kind. This princess is a steam railway locomotive which hauled a special through my locality on its way from London to Minehead.

Back in my train spotting days around 1960 I’d have said that the Princess class of locos was my least favourite of the express passenger designs I might have seen. There was a mix of regional bias and aesthetics in this. I automatically put the Southern Railway designs first and this loco was built for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

However, we steam enthusiasts take what we can these days and I was pleased not to miss this loco pass by.


The loco was built in 1933 and is called Princess Elizabeth. Actually, it ought to be the Queen now but it has always been affectionately known as Lizzie and the other dozen similar locos were referred to as ‘Lizzies’.

I never saw this loco in my train spotting days. In fact I don’t recall ever seeing one on a train. My sightings were of engines idle in a depot.

I’m reasonably happy with my photo. I’d have liked a spot a little further to the right to get a bit more side on to the loco. But other enthusiasts had beaten me to the prime spots. I could have gone across to the left, but then I’d have been shooting straight into the sun and had she been working hard she might have been obscured by wind blown steam.

So I took what I could.


And do you know what – she isn’t so bad really.

Show preparation

August 23, 2016

Maybe we are mugs but we do enjoy the village produce show which will take place in just a few days time. We enter with no great hope of doing well but just to enter into the fun and friendship of it all. Contrary to what newspapers and TV portray, whilst rivalry is keen it is very friendly. The old established competitors are always ready to help newcomers show their items to best effect.

This August has been hectic in our household, so real show thoughts have only just begun and the only photo I can show just now is of some of my wife’s potential entries.


In the foreground here we have garlic. Now there isn’t a class for garlic but there is ‘any other vegetable’. Could there be an attempt to wow the judge by plaiting the stems? That’s something advice might be sought on and an alternative, in plaited set is available.

Behind, sitting in a box, are various jars of jam, curd and chutney. Now they have been purposely decorated with a cloth top. It isn’t essential and the judge will taste some samples – but there’s no harm doing something to catch the eye.

I believe the white box contains sweets, but as I’m a rival competitor in that class (with two firsts and a second in the last three years) I won’t peep.

One of the things that makes this event really enjoyable is family involvement. It turns this into two shows in one. There’s the open competition and the private, family one, which continues after the show is over and we eat some of the items.

Yes, the show is good, wholesome fun for the family and friends.

August at Kew (and in Wiltshire)

August 17, 2016

The August Kew picture isn’t an absolute favourite, perhaps because it doesn’t emphasise the transport links. It does remind us that it used to be cheap to visit the place – just a penny!


OK, it mentions a station. This was a 1937 poster by Betty Swanwick.

Now we’ll turn to my garden which has not had the best of years. Very wet conditions earlier in the year brought out the slugs in huge numbers and then we have our mammalian marauders – roe deer, muntjac deer, rabbits and badgers which all make use of the garden for their own benefit sometimes at our expense (but we love seeing them all). And we also suffer avian attack notably from wood pigeons.

Our garden tends to be at its best in spring. It rapidly turns from too wet to too dry, being light sandy soil so it tends to be small containers, near the house and above ground level that provide us with colour.


But some plants do amazingly well. Hollyhocks could be regarded as weeds for they spring up all over the place. But what lovely plants they are.


The assault mob of animals must find them distasteful for they grow well. Well isn’t that delightful!



August 8, 2016

Today I return to old friends with a couple of photos taken some three weeks ago.


Yes, it is one of our local green woodpeckers but as I see them they tend to be lawnpeckers. In the picture above the bird is taking a quick look around to ensure safety but he or she is soon back to the task at hand. For the pecker the task is finding soil creatures. I hope they are to take back to a nest to feed the youngsters. But at the same time he is doing a fine job of aerating my lawn with that powerful probing beak.


The head just pumps up and down – no wonder it is a tad blurred. In fact all the movements are rapid. The bird puts his head up and appears to be posing nicely but by the time you’ve pressed the shutter – already half pressed to get set as it were, the head is back down as it seeks its prey. It is actually a bit lucky to get the perfect head up shot but here I decided to show what the woodpecker does best.

Delivering the black stuff

August 7, 2016

As I write this I have no definite idea as to what the black stuff is but for some days huge tipper lorries have appeared – just occasionally – and tipped black stuff on a prepared patch halfway up Salisbury Plain. This, of course, is in view from my house and here is a scene with two lorries in view.


That’s the scene with a growing pile of black stuff and the two drivers approaching one another for a chat.


Now they chat – well we assume so for this is half a mile from my home.


I really ought to get up there and find out what the black stuff is. Is it very well rotted manure, soot or what?

Quite possibly it is biochar – effectively charcoal. That’s a trendy thing to use to improve soil fertility.

Any ideas out there?


Having taken a closer look it is not biochar. It is a slimy looking mud – looks a bit like silt and it stinks to high heaven!


15 years ago

July 28, 2016

A few days ago I looked back ten years. Today I’m looking back 15 to 28th July 2001. It was the day of a stunning sunset.


This was taken at the front of my house. I found the important thing was to use spot metering for light levels rather than averaged metering. Point the centre of the frame at a suitable bit of sky and half press the shutter. With it half held compose the picture you want to take.

This blacks out the land and gives us a nice silhouette of the shapes at the bottom. I could wish there wasn’t a double telegraph pole – but it is there. Yes I could clone it out very easily but on the whole I take what I can see. Personally, I think the end result is stunning.

By the way, my camera in 2001 was a pretty basic affair. The best assize was 1.3 megapixels – tiny by present day standards but it seemed to take good photos for which I don’t claim credit. I’m a recorder with a camera rather than an artist.

Up in the air

July 27, 2016

I have remarkably little flying experience. Flying to places just hasn’t fitted our life style which has favoured the car and, when needed, ferries. In fact I have only left the surface on one occasion and that was in a glider. There was (maybe still is) a gliding club at Upavon. On occasions they’d have a party of people who’d pay for a couple of brief flights in a two seater. It raised money for the gliding club and gave the group an experience. The team of staff I worked with did this once – one of my colleagues was a member of the club.

The Upavon club flew from the old airstrip situated on Salisbury Plain so the photos I took – on the little Canon Demi = were of that area. The view was good for the passenger gets the front seat.


This looks down onto the airstrip buildings


Another view of the area which is no longer RAF Upavon but is an army place called Trenchard Lines.

And this must be a part of Upavon Village. The River Avon, which this village is ‘Up’ can be seen.


I can recommend gliding. It was a wonderful experience to float slowly and noiselessly above the world. This must have been more than 30 years ago now.