Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 30. Escaping the Russian Revolution.

Continuing the series of passport portraits in my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
It is the 10 April 1917 and Alphonse Foirée, a 33 yr. old Frenchman is in Petrograd. 
Eight weeks earlier starving civilians demonstrating in the street were fired on by the army. Many were killed. Some of the soldiers are now shooting their officers and 
Tsar Nicholas II and his family are under house arrest. Lenin has returned and the country is on its way to the October Revolution.
Monsieur Foirée considers that it is time to leave. This is his photograph on the passport issued to him by the French Consul in Petrograd. He leaves on a ship to England and from there regains his native country... which is enmired in the trench warfare of the First World War.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Where has Hatfield Aerodrome gone?

I never have enough time in hand when I visit Hatfield. My first contact with the town was as a van boy for the sausage and pie manufacturer, Brazil's of Amersham in the late 1960s. I was the salesman's runner and we regularly delivered food to what was by then the canteen of Hawker Siddeley. The name originally associated with Hatfield is, of course, De Havilland, for it was they who built their private aerodrome and works here in the 1930s. During World War 2 the Mosquito bomber was built but the most famous development must be the design and manufacture of the world's first jet airliner, the De Havilland Comet.

Wetherspoon's new pub on the former Hatfield Aerodrome site.
Opposite our hotel in Comet Square there stood a modern public house. It is unusual in that Wetherspoons built it in 2015 and I thought that this company specialised in converting existing buildings rather than building new ones. The original Harpsfield Hall was part of the farm which De Havilland purchased and converted into their aerodrome – the hall being demolished to make room for the runway.  

Just down the road is the police station. It is an art deco building in keeping with the style of the original buildings on the aerodrome.  Some sources state that this was the former canteen. So, is this where I delivered my sausages and pies 47 years ago?

I don't know. I do know that on my next visit I will make the time and follow the Hatfield Aerodrome Heritage Trail which explores the university campus.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

A lovely day for thatching.

Cycling back through Littlebourne, having seen two motor accidents at the same junction, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, my spirits were uplifted by the sight of an old Kentish cottage being rethatched.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Fire, Smoke and Iron in Spain.

Martin Lloyd delivering copies of his new book, Fire, Smoke and Iron to the Rialia Museum of Industry in Portugalete.
My new title, Fire, Smoke and Iron – Spanish artists and the Bilbao iron industry has been published and is now on sale. Here I am delivering some copies of the book to the Rialia Museum of Industry in Portugalete which exhibits many of the paintings depicted in my book. 

Why not pop off to Bilbao, visit the museum and buy the book?

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Off the map on the Pont Aven

On the way to Bilbao on the Brittany Ferries m.v. Pont Aven and I look 
on the deck plan to see where our cabin is. 
Luckily it has one of those 'you are here' facilities. 
Shock, horror! I am about to be run down by the ship.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Cars on cycle paths.

Went out for a ride this morning and came across this car on the Great Stour Way cycle path.

Judging by the attendance of the police, fire service and the air ambulance I would propound that he did not arrive there intentionally.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 29

Continuing the series of passport portraits from my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
In 1919 it is civil war within Russia and the country is being besieged from without. In the Far East Admiral Koltchak and the Japanese are attacking the 'Bolsheviks'; Germany is attacking in the Ukraine; British soldiers are marching with Russians towards Petrograd in the north; France and Britain are assisting General Denikin in the south. And in all this chaos, thousands of civil refugees are fleeing the country, fleeing the effects of the Revolution and the civil war.

In Egypt, Mohammed Aly El Serouni, a 26 year old seaman, has signed on as a fireman on the S.S. Bruenn. This is his photograph on the seamans passport issued to him by the Egyptian Sultanate at the port of Suez on 19th May 1919.
Does he know that the S.S. Bruenn has been converted into an ambulance ship auxiliary and that shortly he will be standing off the coast of Russia with a British naval fleet, embarking wounded civilians to transport to Constantinople?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Off the map at St. Louis/Basle

Here I am in the main street of St. Louis, a few metres from the Swiss frontier control and pondering over my location. Luckily there is a street plan provided.


Well, I appear to be off the map.

Barrel organs in Sarreguemines

We managed to time our visit to Sarreguemines to coincide with the 3rd annual international barrel organ festival. How do you like the sound of a barrel organ? I find that the dynamic range of the apparatus (one cannot call it an instrument) is too narrow to give justice to the piece of music it is claiming to present. Or to put it another way: I think they sound awful.
Imagine a street in which twenty barrel organs are playing. Absolute torture.

In seeking refuge from the piped cacophony we came across this splendid organ standing on its own by the town hall. It played the full dynamic range, from piccolo to base drum.

It was powered by steam.

And the steam was British!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Pottery in Sarreguemines

In 1860 the pottery firm of Utzschneider in Sarreguemines adopted the English type of 'hovel' or 'bottle' kiln. By 1900 they had about thirty of these kilns working.

This is the last one remaining. It sits next to the modern town hall in the city centre. It has been opened up and one can visit the interior. 

The inner cone has only been partially rebuilt just to show what it would have looked like. Underneath the floor the coal furnaces were stoked, the smoke being led away to a separate chimney.

At eye level around the inner cone were spy holes so that the potter could see what was occurring in the kiln and judge when best to withdraw the pots.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Giant woman seen in Beaconsfield.

Well... not exactly. As we were in Beaconsfield I could not resist a visit to Bekonscot which claims to be the world's first model village.

Started in the 1920s in the back garden of a residential house, it has survived through the years by charging an entrance fee and using the money for charitable purposes.

I first visited when I was about five years old and it has undergone several changes since then. I am pleased that the policy now seems to be to return to its original time era of the 1920s/30s.

To the right: the village crossroads. The road is being repaired by a steam roller which runs up and down the street.

The canal basin with a pair of coal barges locking down. The edge of the working fairground can be seen.

The nursing home with a resident at the front door walking to the car and in the background, two men discussing the sports car at the old stables.

The detail is engaging. It is very rewarding to look carefully at the models.  If you peer through the church window not only do you hear the choir singing but you can see them all in their stalls.

The Oxford Blue coach on the left contains passengers and each one is a character.

The airfield, having spent a period as a more modern establishment, has now returned to its original 1930s era.

Throughout the village pervades a lovely sense of fun and mischief. It was never meant to be taken seriously; a claim which belies the effort applied for its realisation.

Here we have the race course with the punters and the bookies watching as the horses reach the post.

But in the foreground we can see a policeman in hot pursuit of a bag snatching thief.

Wordplay is never far away.

And in this village green scene the painter's mate standing at the bottom of the ladder from time to time leans forward to kiss the woman in blue whilst his hapless mate at the top hangs on for dear life.

Bekonscot. If you are near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire you must visit.

Not only is Beaconsfield famous for this model village but also for a long time resident: Enid Blyton and thus the birthplace of Noddy (1949) closely followed by the birth of another famous author, Martin Lloyd.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Painting pylons on a Sunday.

Well I suppose somebody has to do it. 

Why did they start at the bottom?

I hope the yellow is only an undercoat. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Hollyhocks, Sandwich report 2017

For the history of these blooms, click here

My hollyhocks sown wild by the river Stour at Sandwich.
This is the state of the blooms in 2017 – several successes on the road side and the river side of the wall. Unfortunately the seeds which I sowed last autumn in the regular gaps which had been left in the hedge growing in front of the wall have all been sprayed with weedkiller by the Highways Authority. It seems that they wish to retain these short views of brick wall so that the graffiti vandals have something to deface. After all, graffiti is much prettier, isn't it?

Friday, 18 August 2017

Broadstairs on a sunny day.

The beach at Broadstairs.
One day when you have the time to spare, take the no. 11 double deck bus from Canterbury to Broadstairs. It is the indirect route through the villages, skimming beside the roofs of thatched cottages and obliging oncoming cars to reverse to allow it to pass.

As you are driven through the cultivated tracts of this corner of Thanet you realise why it is referred to as 'Cabbage Corner.'

Sunday, 13 August 2017

On Romney Marsh with a bicycle.

Church of St. Augustine, Brooklands.
I am not really into churches, despite what appears on this blog, it's just that apart from churches, Romney Marsh only has sheep and they all look the same to me.
This is the church at Brooklands. Because of the soft nature of the marshy soil, it was thought, probably correctly, that the foundations would not support the weight of a bell tower, so the tower was constructed alongside in the churchyard. 
The nave with leaning arches.

It is clad with cedar shingles.
Difficult to depict with a camera which will always distort perspective is the alignment of the nave arches. They do, in real life, splay outwards, possibly due to the soft foundations. Perhaps the weight of a bell tower above them might have held them vertical....?

Eleventh century leaden fount.
The eleventh century fount is made of lead and depicts at the top, signs of the zodiac and below, agricultural workers with their various tools.

Derek Jarman's grave, Old Romney.

Just along the road in the churchyard of St.Clement's Church, Old Romney is the grave of the film director, Derek Jarman. It bears simply his signature chiselled into the headstone and some pebbles, (possibly from his garden at Dungeness?) aligned along the top edge.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 28

Continuing the series of passport portraits from my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
Joseph Beaurepaire, a French engineer working for the Société Hydro Electrique de l'Eau d'Olle in 1918 was living at 9, rue Paul Bert in Grenoble at the time.

This is his photograph on his sauf-conduit issued to him by the Prefecture of the Isère which permitted him to use a motor car, registration number: 753 H2, for his business in and around Grenoble. It could only be used in conjunction with his petrol ration book and was valid for two weeks.

The use of the vehicle was reserved strictly for his business and he was entitled to this allowance because he was employed by a company which was, 'working for the national defence'.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Church of St. James, (he of Compostella) Staple, Kent.

The Pilgrimage Window, St James' Church, Staple.
The Church of Saint James in Staple is dedicated to the patron saint of pilgrims. It is rather unusual in that it is one long building, rather like a shed. The 15th century stone fount is decorated with figures of pilgrims. In 2007 the pilgrimage window was installed, being a gift from the widow of Roger Burges, a pharmaceutical scientist who was instrumental in the discovery and manufacture of a drug to treat angina. He also played the church organ.
A strikingly modern window and the first time that I have seen a representation of pubic hair depicted in stained glass. In the bottom right hand corner of the window, a close inspection reveals the chemical formula for the drug that he invented – too small to be seen on this illustration.

I rather liked the decorated hassocks. They looked to me like mediaeval laptop cosies.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

London Military Band in Folkestone

The London Military Band playing in the church of St Mary and St Eanswythe. Folkestone
We have just returned from a superb and intimate concert at Folkestone. The London Military Band who are composed of serving but off duty military musicians and others who have studied at the Military School of Music played a selection of favourites with style, panache and skill – the Light Cavalry Overture, the Radetsky March and even selections from the Sound of Music.

If you get a chance to hear them, take it.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Church of St. Nicholas, Ash, Kent.

Alabaster carving in Ash Church, 1612.

The Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Ash is said by knowledgable authorities to possess the finest collection of mediaeval monumental effigies of any parish church in Kent, possibly surpassed only by those of Canterbury Cathedral. 
The above carving in alabaster represents Sir Thomas and Lady Septvans, both in a position of praying. Below them, the line of seven figures represent their daughters, five of whom are carrying a skull to signify that they died as children. (see enlarged inset) The sons' effigies which originally appeared on the left of the predella have been lost at some time during the last four hundred years.
Christopher Toldervey and wife, Jane.

Interestingly, Jane, one of the two daughters who survived, figures with her husband, Christopher Toldervey on a carving nearby.

When King Henry VIII appointed himself head of the new Church of England one of the first things that he did was to have any of the Pope's insignia removed from 'his' churches and replaced with his coat of arms.
Arms of King Charles II, dated 1660, painted on wood.

Recently discovered in the church is this royal arms of King Charles II dating from his accession to the throne in 1660 with the restoration of the monarchy. Note that the shield is quartered with the Bourbon family arms, the fleur de lys, because the kings of England still claimed sovereignty over France.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Low tide at Folkestone.

I had to go to Folkestone today.

It was low tide and through one of the arches of the railway viaduct I could see a bait digger at work.

Ecologically powered street lamp in Folkestone.
Up in the town I came across the bizarre construction below. It appeared to be an enormous boulder moulded in glass fibre or some such material. I have it on unreliable authority that it is an artistic installation in which the lichen growing in the container will produce flammable gas which will be led off via the pipe to fuel the adjacent street lamp. 

Most illuminating. 

I wonder if it will work.

My 'unreliable authority' now informs me that the lichen is somehow producing electricity, not gas and it is this which is being used to light the lamp.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Hollyhocks at Stelling Minnis – Gone!

See my post of 2 July. Click here

Obviously the Highways Agency considers that hollyhocks constitute a danger at the side of the highway and need to be removed. Which is what they have done. So those flowers will never seed and never brighten the lives of those using Stone Street.

We must infer from this action that chopping down flowers is a more effective safety manoeuvre than filling in the awful potholes in the actual road surface.

And it is probably cheaper.

And so satisfying.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The US Navy comes to Sandwich.

Well, not quite.

We sat eating our fish and chips on the quayside in Sandwich and ogling this very military looking launch as it rocked on its moorings on the rapidly rising tide.

Not a vessel to argue with on the River Stour. I think I would give it right of way.

It was built in Germany in 1952 and as P22, patrolled the River Rhine for the US Navy.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

A much better use for a cycle lane.

What would the concert goers do without a cycle lane in which to put their notices?

At least it is not cluttered up with bicycles.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Cycling at sunset

I spent too long indoors today, writing on computers and sorting out my tax return. 

I just had time for a ride before bedtime.

You can just distinguish my bicycle resting in the gateway. I was watching an owl which was trying to maintain its balance on a telephone line. I deduced that its talons were too large to grip the cable firmly because it kept teetering back and forth as if drunk.

And then the sun really set.