Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Boxing Day Hunt Tenterden

An enthusiastic turnout once again for the Boxing Day hunt meet in Tenterden 
High Street and a lovely winter's day – crisp and clear. 

The High Street is closed to vehicular traffic for an hour whilst the horses and hounds assemble.

This obviously causes a little congestion and a certain amount of curiosity in those who are not familiar with the annual tradition.

But soon the hunt is away. For more details visit the Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt website.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Red passport or blue passport?

A blue covered British Travel Document
issued to a stateless person but not to a
British Citizen.
This story should be dead by now but let's just give it another little kick of life. 

What is amusing in all this jingoism is that a proportion of the British public resented the loss of the British blue passport and the addition of the words 'European Community' to the front cover and yet all the time that the UK was issuing its red passport for its own citizens, it was, and still is, issuing a blue covered document which does not say 'European Union' on the cover.

The only snag is that it can be issued to anybody but a British Citizen.

So what do you think of that?

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 31

Continuing the series of passport portraits in my collection.
Peruse and wonder.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the British Government agreed tacitly to not object to France creating a 'zone of influence' in Morocco if France would stop stirring up trouble in Britain's Protectorate of Egypt and so in 1912 Morocco was carved up between France and Spain. France immediately began to settle its nationals in its new Protectorate of Morocco.
In 1923, an 'international zone' was created for those countries who had missed out on the party. 

This is Charles Henri Delamare, He is a French native-born farmer of 38 yrs and he lives in Morocco with his family. This is his photograph on his 'Chérifien Empire' passport of the Protectorate of Morocco which he obtained in 1921 in order to go to Kénitra. Once there, he obtained a Spanish visa and travelled on to Tangiers.

Blue passport or red passport?

Yesterday the Home Office announced that the next version of the UK passport would have a blue cover. What are the implications for the British public? 

Well, as far as I was concerned, it meant that on Friday I started work at 06.30, gave three television interviews and nine radio interviews; travelled three hundred miles making four train journeys and three taxi trips and my breakfast was a sandwich eaten on a railway platform at 16.15.

It's no wonder that I am slim.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

No more apples in the orchard.

Take a last look at these apple trees in Mountfield Farm orchards opposite my house in Canterbury. They have just been grubbed out along with the windbreak of poplar trees. A developer is going to plant 4,000 houses here instead.

With a bit of luck the increased congestion will reduce the speed of the traffic going down my road to a walking pace. 

All I will need then is a gas mask.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

No snow in Chillenden

Yup, there's no snow in Chillenden.

And judging by the position of the windmill, not much wind either.

When it is windy the windmill falls over.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Immigration Cyclists see the Brassiere Tree at Kingston

Every Christmas time this fir tree at the side of the road out of Kingston, Kent, acquires a set of Christmas decorations. I have no idea who affixes them or why but I utterly support the concept. It does no harm and it amuses people. 
The Highways Authority have, over the years, chopped the lower branches of the tree as it grew and so the anonymous decoration hanger has had to migrate his attachments higher and higher up the tree.

As I led the Immigration Service cyclists on our monthly ride down the hill into Barham for lunch I warned them to keep a look out for the tree.
It was covered with brassieres!

Merry Christmas!
(I'm glad I've got that off my chest.)

Friday, 1 December 2017

Just to keep me legal...

I found a sum of money in the street in Canterbury today. If I keep it with intent to deprive the owner of its use then I will be convicted of stealing. So, if any of you lost a sum of money in Canterbury today, if you would like to tell me what exactly the amount was and where you lost it, I will gladly return it to you.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

How to hack into a Mac.

Listening to BBC Radio 4 this morning I was shocked to hear that Apple had discovered an easy hack into their latest operating software. My shock was not so much at learning that the hack existed but rather that the BBC announcer explained the key strokes necessary to achieve success. 
So now we can all do it. 
Jolly good.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Rock & Pop music in Bromley

Bromley Court Hotel in the 1960s
I recently worked in Bromley and revisited the 

I was aware that it had been a private residence and was over two hundred years old but I had not heard of the part it had played in the popular music scene of 
the 1960s.
The 'Bromel Club' had hosted such names as The Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann, The Who, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. Even Jimi Hendrix had played there. 

Have a peruse of the contemporary adverts for the club and decide which evening you would have liked to have attended.

I think I would have gone to see Monty Sunshine, regardless of the expense, all of half a crown.

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.