Saturday, 16 June 2018

The OLD Dover Hoverport.

I went across to Calais for lunch with some friends a few days ago. Passing through Eastern Docks at Dover twenty years after I had finished working there was a mind rattling experience. For all the time that I was there the port had been a building site. If a building was not being erected it was being demolished. Now, the place is almost empty. Where once you would have arrived at the front of the port under an enormous illuminated DOVER HARBOUR BOARD sign, checked your ticket at one of the ticket booths, if you were a hovercraft passenger your vehicle would have been directed to the first floor parking area, if not you continued under the canopy to the enormous Customs and Immigration shed; or you might, before continuing through, have parked up to visit the passenger services building attached to No1 Control Building, in order to return your rental car, exchange money at the NatWest Bank or amend your ticket at the ferry company's desk; now there was... nothing. It was just an expanse of concrete and tarmac with different coloured lines painted on it. It seems that the entire port has now been demolished.

The original Dover Hoverport buildings now converted to office accommodation.
Well not quite. Some buildings have been replaced by newer versions but many have just disappeared so I was surprised on disembarking in the evening to realise that the original Dover Hoverport buildings were still standing. The hovercraft moved across to Dover West in 1978 because they needed more room than was available at the East and their terminal building and maintenance area was converted for use by Kent Police. Originally, the glazed section in the middle of the building was a glass roofed area where the hovercraft would be run in for repairs.

Ironically, the newer Hoverport in Western Docks has already been demolished. 

Friday, 1 June 2018

Holiday Inn Express-ion

I am uncertain what the Holiday Inn Express in Peterborough was referring to with this notice in my hotel room and even more nonplussed as to what they thought the employees on reception could do to relieve this unwelcome nocturnal excitement should I contact them.
The mind boggles.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Sandling Park 2018



Sandling Park was open on Sunday for the one day in the year. Once again, the azaleas and rhododendrons were magnificent.




So was the cake.




Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 34 – Escaping from Hitler

Continuing the series of passport portraits in my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
Ruth is a fourteen year old schoolgirl living in Berlin. She has grey-blue eyes and brown hair but the distinguishing feature which is dwelt upon by her passport is that she is Jewish. The front page of her German passport bears the letter 'J' stamped in red ink. 

What sacrifices her family had to make one can only imagine, for Ruth was issued her passport on 18 November 1939 complete with a German exit visa permitting her to leave via the Brenner pass to Italy, and a visa to enter Chile.
She crossed into Italy on the following day and embarked from Genoa on the m.s. Augustus, one of Italy's transatlantic liners working the South American route. On 28 December she was examined on board by Jorge Baumann and given permanent residence in Chile. 

On its return to Italy, the m.s. Augustus was withdrawn from service and converted into an aircraft carrier for the Italian Navy. In 1944 it was scuttled in Genoa harbour by the Germans.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Fifteen rabbits and a rainbow.




Having just delivered three lectures in Oxfordshire I gazed out of my hotel bedroom window and this is what I saw.

Fifteen rabbits and a rainbow.

Monday, 23 April 2018

How do you pronounce 'Leominster'?

I recently visited Leominster for the first time and wondered if the pronunciation of its name would provide the genus of controversy that Shrewsbury does. (Is it 'Shrowsburry' or 'Shroosbery'?)

Of course we are happily familiar with Leicester (Lester) Loughborough (Luffboro) and Towcester (Toaster) all of which still trip up the unknowing so working on that knowledge I calculated that Leominster would probably be pronounced 'Lemster'.

Well, blow me down, I had not expected an exhibit outside the town museum to answer my query so substantially. My next question is, if the town was called 'Lemster' then why and when did they decide to spell it 'Leominster'?


I should have asked the question in the tourist information centre but arriving at the counter I was distracted by the prominent display of a handbill advertising my imminent talk. And at the corner of the street was another.

What a lovely place Lemster is, however they spell it!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Cumberland pencils.

When I was at primary school I was given a set of coloured crayons made by the Cumberland Pencil Company. I think that there must have been about fifteen colours in the set. I had shades such as, spring green, grass green, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and crimson.

The crayons and pencils were made in Keswick in the Lake District. This was because of the discovery, centuries earlier, of very pure graphite in the hills around the town. I visited the Lake District for the first time in my life a few days ago. I was pleased to be there outside of the tourist season – it must be hell in Summer – and I went to see the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick.

My entry ticket to the museum.
The museum is set in the grounds of the former factory. The latter is now awaiting redevelopment and production has been moved to another location in the same area.
The disused Cumberland Pencil factory in Keswick.



If you are in the area, visit the museum and you will learn how pencils are made and a lot more besides. You might have to elbow your way through hordes of schoolchildren doing 'projects' but it is worth the effort.

And for a good light lunch, served quickly, go to the upstairs restaurant of the bakers in the high street.