Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Cycle ride before dawn.

 Setting out at 06.00. 
Cold in the air, birds singing.

Horses standing asleep 
in the fields.

Saw first other human at 06.50 – another cyclist.

Sun rose as I climbed to Stelling Minnis.

Rabbits scattering across the fields, 
stupid suicidal pheasants running 
along the road before me.

Lambs tucked into their mothers' flanks under the hedgerow, watching me pass, wide eyes, ears sticking out sideways.

07.15 saw second human – a lady walking her dog. 

07.55 Home for breakfast.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Lambs and dragon's teeth.

Spring has sprung. A time when ewes have lambs... 
...and in the hedgerows in Kent the dragon's teeth can be seen.
Concrete pyramids were installed in various locations in Kent in World War 2 to protect strategic points from attack by tanks. These are guarding the main Dover-London railway line at Canterbury, the embankment of which was designated as one of the 'defensive lines'.


Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 42

Continuing the series of passport portraits in my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
 This is Umberto Savoia an officer in the aeronautical section of the Italian Army. In 1908, Wilbur Wright (he of the Wright brothers) sold one of his aeroplanes to the Italian Army who then detailed two officers to fly the machine and thus Umberto Savoia, a talented engineer, was instructed by Wright in the novel technique of flying a heavier than air machine.

When the aircraft crashed a few months later, Savoia managed to repair it with whatever materials came to hand. It would seem that this experience served him well. In 1915, when Italy declared war on Germany to join the allies in the struggle of the Great War, he set up his own Società Anonima Construzioni Aeronautiche Savoia and began building aircraft. The following year he obtained a UK visa from the British Consulate in Turin, crossed France and embarked at Boulogne. He landed at Folkestone and spent twenty days in the UK, 'on a mission in the service of Italian military aviation'. What was he doing here? Was he trying to sell his fighter aircraft to the Royal Flying Corps? I cannot say but by the 1920s, the aircraft of Savoia-Marchetti were winning prizes for speed and performance and in the Second World War presented themselves as formidable opponents to the Allies.

This, then, is the portrait in the first passport of the second pilot of the future Italian Air Force.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Show some respect for the inventor of the Illustrated London News.

Herbert Ingram, a politician and printer, was born in Boston,  Lincs in 1811. He trained as a printer and moved to London where, in 1842, he printed and published the first edition of the Illustrated London News – a weekly newspaper filled with woodcut illustrations. It was an immediate success, outselling the daily newspapers of the day.

His achievements are recognised by his birth town, Boston, who erected this statue in his memory.

Not everybody treats it with respect.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Crossing the Thames at Henley

  With the River Thames running so high this is a difficult bridge to negotiate for the tall masted boats and with the load restriction on the carriageway of the bridge it is a potential bottle neck for traction engine drivers.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 41

Continuing the series of passport portraits in my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
Rafael Turina is a 37 year old marine engineer. He was born in Slovenia which is now part of the new Jugo-Slavia created by the Treaty of Versailles drawn up after the Great War.

It is March 1932 and he is on his way from Belgium to Italy where he leaves his ship at Venice. He stays in Italy and in the August of the same year he obtains a British visa in Trieste to permit him to join the Lloyd Triestino liner S.S. Wien in Cardiff, Wales.  He takes the train through Switzerland and France and disembarks from the packet boat at Folkestone in England on 4th September 1932.

The ship he is joining is a 7,700 ton liner, built in 1911. At the outbreak of the Great War it was requisitioned for wartime use by the Austrian government. On 1st November 1918, it was sunk by the Italians and after the war, raised by them and recommissioned as a liner. This is the ship that he is joining. Ironically, in the Second World War the liner was requisitioned for war use by the Italian government and sunk by British bombers off the coast of Albania on 4th March 1941.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

High lorry, low bridge.

Wincheap, Canterbury, Kent. Tall lorry. Is it going to pass under the bridge?


No, it is not. It has hit it.