Thursday, 15 February 2018

Day Out!

Yesterday I decided that of the sun shone and if I was awake I would head out somewhere, it has been a while since I did so.  Last year was horrendous with my knees irking me and the bug that never leaves never leaving.  So after what passed for a late breakfast I made off towards the bus stop with seven minutes to spare.
It has been a while since I toddled off on the 'zimmer' bus  and I was surprised that he arrived on time and did not delay us by changing drivers as they usually do.  'What Ho! Jeeves!' I said to myself and presented my bus pass to the drivers machine.
It didn't work.
It didn't work a second time.  The driver looked at it and said "It's out of date."  
I was surprised as it read 14th July. 
"2017!" he said.
Jings!  I knew it had been a while and mentioned I was sicker than I thought I had been and began to reach for my cash.  Checking my pass carefully he gave me back my money and proffered a free ticket reminding me to get a new pass right away.  I offered thanks and sat in the back of the bus full of embarrassment and shame at my stupidity.  His kindness stuck in my mind, not all drivers would do this although most of them around here are good I find, but the shame of my inability to read the bus pass humbled me as did his reaction.  

Apologising again as I got off I headed into the sun to find something different from the daily grind. I had been desperate to get away from the usual wandering about town and wished to see sunshine and something new.  This wee town, village actually with about 5000 inhabitants, is only six miles away and offered a few photos and a newish scene.  This waterfront looks good today but the buildings were no doubt industrial at one time.  The 19th century saw this village as heavily involved in brewing, four breweries here now turned into other uses, and many remnants of industry remain, often used as housing these days. 

An excellent view and as you can see Paddington Bear was happily enjoying the view and soaking up the sunshine.  Just like Peru or Paddington Station!

A monastery was established by Stephen and Matilda in 1140 and the Abbey remains are now in private hands and unreachable down a long, muddy, lane.  However the tithe barn remains an excellent example of the barns in which the citizens deposited their tithe of produce to the church.  This one, Grange Barn, was closed today (much to my delight as it costs £7:50 though you do also get admission to one of the famous houses in the town) and the National Trust folks were working in the surrounding area so I kept away.  I was in it many years ago but I believe it has been upgraded for visitors since.

I noticed one small Beehive sitting outside the barn with a red tile on it.  Whether this is the way they control bees around here I know not but the monks in days past must have kept bees as well as the sheep which they hoped would make them rich, wool a great industry at the time.

The muddy lane allowed me to see some sunshine and a wee bit of countryside which was what my little brain needed.  Some decent houses around here, large and small, many dating back aeons and almost 300 listed buildings in such a small place.  

We had a book in the museum which gave detailed plans of how many Coggeshall houses had been constructed.  Many began as simple four walled dwellings and developed over the years, additions to the side or back, possibly another story added as wealth allowed with the fireplace and brick chimney at the end as soon as the owner could afford one.  This house calls itself 'Tudor House' and it may well be from that period. 

Coggeshall has a reputation for strange behaviour, the people are not that friendly, middle class wealth abounds and historical attitudes have not died down as yet. The stupidity is revealed through the tale of chaining a wheelbarrow after it had been bitten by a dog in case it spread rabies!  Some of the older women smiled at me somewhat nervously as I passed but there is nothing new in this...

I wanted to see countryside but there were few views and at this time of year little is to be seen.  The sun shining brightly obscured my shots as I aimed in his direction but here we see greenery, with trees in the distance and that is almost countryside!

While sheep did not die out farming did increase and this magnificent Georgian looking farmhouse stand in from of a large ancient building which tells us that some farmers were doing very well around here.  Whether they treated their serfs well or paid their men more than the seven shillings and sixpence some earned by 1900 I cannot tell but someone was doing OK throughout the 19th century.

Farming has changed a lot in the past fifty years and this petrol pump may in fact have been used only for Diesel.  Farmers use tractors and other vehicles off road therefore they do not have to pay tax on the fuel they use in them, this diesel is coloured red and 'Red Diesel' is popular among truck drivers as it saves them plenty.  A traffic police sergeant some years ago informed me of the various dodges they use to fill their large tanks with this illegal substance as it save them a fabulous amount. When caught with red and not blue (taxed) diesel they end up paying out more.  This farm has not made much use of theirs for a while.

Electricity, just to proove that it is available in this village, in case you doubted...

I thought that with it being half term the kids would be out and about.  However the cold wind might have forced mum to keep them indoors.  This will not help the ducks and swans that usually reside under the bridge, none were seen today.

Look!  No ducks!

The monks in the distant past attempted to revive the dead Roman art of brick making, their bricks ceased in time also, however the 19th century was a great time to be a maker of bricks around here, especially red bricks, the village is covered in them.  Admittedly many go back into the distant past and the many walls around large old buildings may be older than I can determine but red bricks in the houses chimneys and walls are everywhere.   The temptation to carve your names and your supposed love life on the walls never ends.

This tree abounded with these, whatever they are.

This other tree was full of these.

Some folks made good use of their money.

The blue sky above the clock tower does not indicate the cold chill.  It was time to get back on the bus.  However when it arrived it was the same driver and my shame forced me to wander away and await the next bus.  I paid the cash on that one determined to fix the bus pass problem very soon...

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Wednesday Cheat...

 I stole this from Lee.

If there were ten people, living or dead, I would invite to dinner, they would be: None, the last woman I invited worked for the Environmental Health at the Council and she closed down my kitchen.

A book that means a lot to me: All non fiction are worthwhile. 

A movie that resonates with me: None, they are all crap!

A song that speaks to me:  Songs speak at different ages, just now I hear 'Stockhausen!'

Someone who makes me laugh: The writing of Galton & Simpson.

My worst fashion moment: Fashion...?

The best thing about living: Not being dead.

My worst habit is:  Breathing (so I've been told).

The weirdest place I've been recognised is:  I never get recognised as those who recognise me hide as I approach.

The last time I cried was: Reading this.

My first job was: As 15 year old Office Boy in Bells Whisky Bond in Leith.  They soon got rid of me.

If my house caught fire, the first thing I'd grab would be:  Me!

Five years from now, I will be:  32.

My favourite toy as a child was:  Hornby Dublo train set.

My secret skill is:  What...?

You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at:  Nothing.

My biggest regret is:  Not believing Jesus.

I wish I had:  A little cabin, on acreage with no nearby neighbours, along with a view of the sea.

I wish I hadn't:  Too much to go over here...

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Holiday Fun they Say

The half term holiday is here!
So early this morning I opened the door f the museum and soon, much too soon, had the kids and mums and the occasional dad, appearing for the activities.  As they trooped in it did at one point appear that Genghis Khans hordes were at the door but it was merely mums and kids.   
Until Friday this will be repeated and I believe the kids will have much fun each day.  Certainly they enjoyed themselves today as the lass who runs it does very well.  Mums often tell us how good she is with them and the kids.  Naturally she worries she is not getting it right but once again we had to turn folks away as the sessions are full each day!
In between the kids coming and cheerfully going we had several visitors who we had good conversations with.  Good to hear their tales, sometimes of family woe, sometimes of good events and experiences, all of them interesting to us.  
Sadly this meant my tea was tepid by the time I got around to drinking it again.  We have so many cups of lukewarm tea that when I get home to a hot cup I am beginning to find it unusual!  

Nothing else has happened.
I have been strangely tired for a few days for no reason.  
Mental exhaustion I say.
The girls at work thought differently...
Tomorrow I will work hard reading books, that will help.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Slow Saturday

The sun strives to break through this afternoon following on from a delightful pink sunrise observed from the edge of my bed as I woke this morning.  Pink mornings are of course a shepherds warning though nobody knows who this shepherd actually is, he was however right.  The dull clouds turn to light but persistent rain forcing me to remain indoors watching football.  English football and I soon fell asleep.  
That sums up the day.
I hope yours was more exciting.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Census Fun Among the Books

As I made my way towards the museum yesterday I came upon a thousand schoolchildren plus teachers heading my way.  These it appeared were happy excited kids going into the museum for a day of fun and learning, I joined them much worrying for the teacher in front who had not realised I was working there.  
Soon after they had trooped through the door a woman followed with a query re her house.  She wanted to know its history, people etc, and foolishly I offered to search for her after showing several sites she needs to investigate.  This has left me with a few hours of staring at maps, census returns which provided some answers, searching through books was less successful but one answer did arise.  It appears the web is better than books at some things.

This followed on from a similar check on some info given re a dead soldier, I had failed to realise there were ten children in his family not eight, I would suggest his mother knew how many there were right enough.  Another census check, another ''Ancestry' search, and another amendment to the site.
It never fails to amaze me how many people look for dead soldiers.  Whether out of interest, family research, military interest or just simply wandering what it is all about I every so often get comments, requests or interesting info on the men who marched away.  I find them more interesting than those around me.  One thing becomes more clear, they are no different to those around me,  culture changes but human nature does not, in fact I am convinced now that meeting the grandsons and great grandsons of men who died gives a decent idea of what kind of men they were, this I am sorry to say is not always pleasant.  These 'heroes,' these 'brave boys,' were men just like the rest, if only we regarded them as such instead of cutting them down to our image.

There is a lot of talk about Pankhurst's terrorist women these days, I wonder if it is possible to chain today's version to railings throughout the nation, for the good of the nation...?

Much fuss has been made today re 'Cheddar Man,'  Apparently this chap, who died around 10,000 years ago, is thought to have been kind of black.   "This is what Britons looked like just after the last ice age," is what is sort of said.  Hmmm.  An examination along with professional guesswork reaches this conclusion, this of course may be right, and this may indicate that living in the cold north we lost our pigmentation and became white.  However some indicate the chap fund in the Alps dating to 5000 BC was indeed white, unless they will soon discover different, and it is doubtful pigmentation would change so soon.
There are so many intelligent guesses in such work.  Conclusions on limited and often difficult evidence may lead to thoughtful and possibly correct understandings but on the other hand may be wildly erroneous.  For myself I would love it to be true that the members of the 'English Defence League' are indeed descended from an African.  The UKIP faction stopping foreign Joghnny's at the border may be better asking "Are you my long lost brother?"  I doubt they will however and the 'Daily Mail' reader is having a fit as he reads.   
We are after all 'All Jock Tamson's bairns.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Chilly Meeting

Some men love having a son, they can do so much with this heart treasure, they look forward to the day their son becomes something of worth such as a great footballer, this however costs.  On Sunday I passed the park where the local non-league teams under 7's were playing (I guess the age from their appearance).  On either side of the pitch stood a motley collection of persons slowly freezing to death while their son began the ten year slog to make it to the top. Wrapped in their winter best they cheered, clapped and encouraged within the limits of the rules, too much interference causes trouble so parents are urged to keep it quiet at this level, and at the same time drank the umpteenth cup of coffee from the stall that cleverly parks itself in the middle of the pitches.  
It amazes me these kids, when we were eight years old we chased the ball as a group, usually around forty of us at school, and had no idea what to do when we got it bar kick it, anywhere!  The guys playing here were well coached, kept to their positions more or less and were learning to kick the ball properly.  On occasions it is clear one or two of these lads will make it high up in years to come, others will drift into park football or drink, drugs or women problems like the majority however, but what fun getting there!  Dad will age slowly while his body succumbs to frostbite in winter and sunburn in summer with little hope of ever seeing his son score the winning goal in a cup final.  He will think at the moment it is however worth it!

Today was museum meeting day.  This can be enlightening, with info on the future exhibitions, shop work, marketing but it can also be worryingly slow if he or she asks that daft question and he is in attendance to answer it slowly and with added repetitions while he or she argues the case meaninglessly to win a point.  Today however the manager was not with us so that saved us thirty minutes!  
Info on the next few exhibitions was offered, talk on what to do with money in the shop, discussion with my suggestions with what to do with suffragettes came to nothing as a dozen women disagreed with my suggestion, there are no railings available either, and so on until  happy group fled the scene leaving the clearing up to the staff.
Back tomorrow to show my cheery welcoming skills to all and sundry, especially the women who will be checking up on the half term holiday activities so they can dump the brats for an hour or so. I expect a lot of phone calls and visits tomorrow regarding that.  Then I will have time to myself, unless I get snowed in of course.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Dreich Saturday

I was somewhat surprised to come upon this van parked round the corner the other day.  I mean who would have thought a delivery van would be called 'Grabbit & Run?'  I would have said that was one of the local lawyers vans myself.  Fair to say he was facing the wrong way in a one way street so it is understandable that I thought it a legal experts vehicle.

Another gray dreich Saturday with cold winds a blowing.
This encouraged me to remain indoors mostly listening to my new neighbour downstairs move things in to the flat.
One thing about moving is the wonderful way nothing goes through doors.  On one or two nights I have heard strange noises and it was he and a companion pushing things through the window into the flat (He is on the ground floor).  Of course I offered assistance but he may not have heard me say this as I kept my mouth shut when offering assistance.  Clearly he and those assisting him have not yet finished as the noise has abated and he will no doubt return tomorrow to continue his movement.  I know it is a he as a letter arrived with a strange name and correct flat number so someone somewhere knows about him and is already asking for money.
The problem of flitting is the packing.  What do you keep and what do you throw away?  How do you pack it and how do you remember where you packed it after you arrive where you are going?  Some stick coloured labels on boxes, each pertaining to different rooms, other write in large letters the room, still others use numbers, all this to no avail as the box you wish is hidden under all the rest and you cannot find it.
When I moved here 21 years ago, almost 22 now, I had little to pack.  To move now would be torturous as I appear to have so much, where did it all come from and do I really require it all?   I suppose I ought to discover if I really need so much and dispose of the excess in charity shops and to be fair if I am continuing to be as forgetful as I have become I suspect I will buy most of it back again!
Most of what I have was required at the time, books are on the shelf, read once or dipped into as required but are these excess I wonder?  Clothes?  Not much as most people comment on my ability to shop at the charity shops, some rather too often I think.  I suppose some would wonder at what I have but I think most of it has a place.

I awaited with baited breath the Heart of Midlothian v St Johnstone game on BBC Alba this evening.  At ten minutes to six I switched on the laptop and found an update in the top left hand corner.
Eventually the machine woke up and demanded I 'RESTART NOW!' in that loving manner it possesses.  This I obediently did and after what seemed hours, partly because of my impatience as time was running out, partly because in my impatience I switched things on quickly and banged the buttons it all fell apart.  After many rude words and much finger twitching the game appeared two minutes after it began.
Over an hour and a half later I said to myself, "That's better out than in."  A worse first half could not be imagined.  Our lot appeared to consider going backwards the way to go forwards, I told them my opinion of this, they however continued to play a game of football unknown to kids in the playground.  Kids would try to score.  Kyle Lafferty, has he played football before? 
The second half was much better they started facing the right way, which was an improvement, and soon scored a goal, which was also an improvement.  For a while they pretended they were a football team and passed the ball to one another, checking the colour of the shirts worn by each side beforehand, something they had not done in the first half.  However it soon degraded into a slog and by the end we were all glad Barcelona were not coming in midweek.  We were not cheered by the knowledge that we meet St Johnstone next week in the Scottish Cup once again, oh joy!
Kyle Lafferty, has he played football before?

Wednesday, 31 January 2018


I am told that this 'super moon' is having all sorts of effects on people.  Now I am as willing as the next man to hang about on the rooftops howling but it appears to me that in no way have I been affected by this large white ball in the sky.  Note the colour, white, not red, making photography very difficult especially when leaning out of the wee window unable to get a proper shot.
I personally notice no change in my demeanour because of the moon, and there is little requirement for you to offer sarcasm at this point.  The last few days have seen me extremely tired after overdoing the rushing around last week and little has been done beyond what was required, though I did manage to sleep a lot.

In between rain showers I wasted time listening to the news informing us Theresa May is "Not a quitter," though she forgot to add "I am not a Prime Minister either," for some reason.  Several members among the backbenchers have been admitting that Brexit is a disaster, and one minister  has also been told off for admitting this.  Thankfully the whole idea is beginning to fall apart.  While being annoyed by daft rules from the EU and the manner in which they run the organisation it is unlikely the UK could survive separate from the EU, only the 'elite' would benefit, their money being
lodged in banks abroad.  I note that the man at the top of Legatum (?) the organisation that demands the UK leave the EU has himself obtained an EU passport through Malta, a device many rich folks are making use of.  Now what does this tell us that the media is not revealing?  The leak of a government document that reveals the UK would suffer grievously has been denounced by the cabinet with all the assurance of government ministers lying in their teeth.  
All this because a few public schoolboys wanted to be Prime Minister.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Exhibition Opening Talk

Saturday was a busy day, I rose very early as I had to be at work by ten, and it takes a while to get ready.  Before ten I arrived to be greeted with the phrase "Go away!"  This was because the email system at work had failed, again, and the email telling me to arrive at one p.m. had not arrived at my end, it did arrive around 11:30 that day however when I was back home.  So I dragged my weary bulk back home via the market ensuring I bought nothing and rested my intellect until time to retrace my steps.    

At two p.m. we had a talk to open the 'Cold War' Exhibition which runs alongside the exhibition featuring the 60's to 80's period, a very good idea indeed.  Here the curator of the 'Wethersfield Airfield Museum' give a talk on the history of the base during the days of Cold War activity.  This base was used by the USAF from the early 50'suntil sometime in the 90's when the world was once again safe for democracy, if you vote the way we say.  There appears to be no webpage but there is a 'RAF Wethersfield' Museum page on facebook which is worth visiting.  

Originally built for World War 2 bombers, twin engined A-20 'Havocs' flew from here, the runway was lengthened for jet fighter bombers when the US returned in the early 50's.  The 'Thunderstreak' and later the 'Sabre' jet that became famous during the Korean War were later superseded by the 'F100 Super Sabre' supersonic jet and later the first prototype 'F 111' arrived here.  
These and other aircraft put on airshows attended by many locals.  When asked how many in our audience of 60 persons had attended one of these around half had done so.  The locals and the Americans got on very well indeed.  The friendships were such that between the early 50's and 1990 around 4000 weddings took place, not all from the town but from the wider area.  One anecdote concerned a bus driver who often drove girls from Ipswich to the base on a Saturday night for the dances and events staged there.  He commented that when he left for home after midnight the bus was always half empty.  Many women went to the States, some men remained here and one of those was in the audience last night, by chance his photo and details were mentioned during the talk.  Many of the US folks return regularly to the town, often visiting the museum as they ought!

There was little fear during the Cold War that I can remember.  Certainly we knew of the cost if war broke out but the 'Cuban Missile Crisis' was the only time that this came close and then neither side wished to pursue this.  'MAD,' Mutually Assured Destruction, ensured no successful war was possible and few entertained the idea.  Today there is more danger from small militant groups carrying even smaller nuclear weapons in hand luggage!  
However the first CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament') march left from Wethersfield and marched to the House of Commons.  I often wondered why these folks did not march through the streets of Moscow or campaigned to get the Soviets to stand down their weapons.  In war two sides participate not just one, Soviet influence was strong among these groups, feeding on fear and a one sided 'appeasement' attitude that prevailed mostly amongst the middle classes as far as I can remember.  They do not gather in large groups to oppose North Korea or Iran or Israel having such weapons, is there a reason for this? 

A very popular and enjoyable talk which afterwards encouraged some attending to wander again through the exhibits and even spend money in the shop.  This we were delighted to encourage!
It did mean we did not close until late and then I got home just in time for the 6 pm football which was acceptable after a hard day enjoying myself working.  It has been a physical hard week on my knees and I am dead beat today.  Coming home from St P's I had to crawl up the stairs and sleep of my exertions.  Sadly I feel I must do the same tomorrow, but I will manage to do so even if I would rather be hard at work somewhere...honest.

I have just discovered this on YouTube, a video by Ross from the Wethersfield Museum which is worth a look.

Friday, 26 January 2018

A Foggy Day in ...

The mist descended today to remind us it was January.  After a quick stroll to Tesco I ventured out into the dank climate to remind myself that I ought to have stayed indoors.

I spent time indoors where the warmth was preferred scanning in pictures for my niece.  This done I also added some old fotos that I will annoy you with later.  It is amazing how long it takes to search for and then scan a few photographs.  The ones you seek are in the last album you search through and the ones you remember as near perfect are as far from that as I myself am.  That is quite far...

Amongst the old photos was this one.  A mostly red brick building with a great deal of fancy brickwork indicating the wealth of the company that created this artistic fa├žade of green, gold and silver tiles in 1903.  What was once a Gas & Electric engineers company is now a mere art gallery, the 'Woolff Gallery.'  At the time I took the picture, probably on my way home through the back streets rather than by bus as this was quicker in the evenings, the street contained many interesting buildings which I ignored.  These can be seen on Google maps however.  The business died a while back and the art gallery moved in and changed its name to T.J. Boulting, which makes sense.  Many buildings in London, and indeed elsewhere, carry adverts still that go back into the distant past and it requires the head craned upwards all the time to find them.  Not far from Oxford Street this area is called 'Fitrovia,' this includes the 'Fitzroy Bar' once frequented by Dylan Thomas.  One cartoon featured this bar with one of those Blue Plaques given to the famous this time situated under a table in the bar with "Dylan Thomas Lay Here" inscribed thereon.

Miles away from there but down the road from the Maida Vale Hospital where I spent many a happy hour and occasionally worked also stands Lords Cricket Ground the home of the MCC whoever they are.  Outside the ground stands proudly this mural created in 1934 featuring sportsmen of various talents, clearly not something seen by cricketers of recent years.  Not that those who played cricket in the past held to high standards either of course.  The noble sportsmen, portrayed as something you may expect to see on the Parthenon rather in St Johns Wood, speaks volumes for those who created this mural.   The sculptor was Gilbert Bayes.

All that sunshine in London and we wake up to this!  In spite of the mess that London offers there is a wealth of interesting streets to walk down, history, people, events, many of which I would avoid at the time can be imagined all around.  If only most of the population were out when I pass through.