Month: March 2018

This time last year

This time last year I was in the air somewhere over Africa (I think) heading South towards Johannesburg.

Approaching ORT, with Johannesburg in the distance (1500×964)

It was a trip that I had to organise at very short notice and was one I did not really want to do unless I really had to. The reason behind it was the ever declining health of my mother who lived on her own in the South of Johannesburg. When I finally saw her early the next day I was shocked, it was hard to believe it was the same person I had known for all my life (my father passed away in 1981).   

There were a few problems that needed dealing with, and we were fortunate that things happened when they did or we would have been in an extremely difficult position.  The decision was made that we needed to get her into frail care. She was not coping well and a recent fall had really robbed her of self confidence and raised the alarm bells. The complex where she lived had no facilities for frail care, or even a resident nurse or caretaker. Too many occupants died unnoticed in the past and it was a situation we wanted to avoid at all costs. 

I won’t waffle on much in this post, I just wanted to say that a year down the line she is doing better than she was this time in 2017. I wont say she is healthy as a 70 year old, but at least she is in a better place physically than she was in March 2017. 

She moved out of her flat in May 2017, and that must have been a horrible experience for her. Leaving your life behind to embark on what may be your final days is not something to be taken lightly, and I do understand her reticence about going into frail care. Naturally the question is: did we do the right thing? whether it was right or not is irrelevant,  what is important is that it was the only option we had and it was better for her in the long run. 

Only time has the answer to our situation. Fortunately I am in a better position visa wise, but there it is inevitable that at some point will have to make another trip down south. There is very little I can do about it and just next year this time I will be doing a two years down the line post, let’s wait and see.

DRW © 2018. Created 20/03/2018 


Sheepish in the snow

There is snow outside again. Wow, we will write about this winter for a looooong time, or at least still spring or summer (assuming we have one).  Anyway, I went walkies again because frankly I love seeing the snow.  I never grew up with the phenomena when I was young, in fact the first real snow I saw was in the USA in 2000.  Gathering my winter woolies I headed out on a different route and looked for somewhere new. The sad irony is that from Mitton I could see hills in the distance but could not find a place to photograph them as there was no open area with a clear view. Unless otherwise noted all images are 800×600 when opened.

(1500 x 567)

My meandering took me to a part of Mitton I had not been in before and I really wanted to see whether I could find Mitton Manner which served as a military hospital from June 1915, until it closed in January 1919. It treated 1,188 sick and wounded soldiers, the first patients being a group of Belgian soldiers. Over that period, only three patients died, and those from the 1918 influenza epidemic. It was manned by the Gloucestershire Red Cross volunteers, who were almost entirely local women, under the command of Mrs Devereux. (https://www.tewkesburymuseum.org/mitton-manor-plaque-unveiled/) . Not too long ago I spotted a set of images at the local doctors office about the house and it’s history as a hospital, but as usual I could not find them (since found  and their information is added to the update).

This strange structure below is supposedly called “the long barn”.

Update 07/05/2018.

This wonderfully warm and sunny bank holiday took me back to the former Mitton Manor where I was able to photograph the plaque relating to the role the house played in World War 1. I have however not found any trace of the Devereux family that were associated with the house at the time. 

The display at the Devereux Centre did not throw out too much information either. This is what it says:

In 1872 Dr Daniel Devereux was the inspiration for the opening of the first hospital and was appointed as surgeon.   

1914, Dr W.C. Devereux presides over the Tewkesbury Voluntary Aid Detachment under the Red Cross, to treat the influx of wounded. Mrs Ethel Devereux is appointed Commandant at Watson Hall

In 1915 the Red Cross moves to Mitton Farm. Over the next four years at least 121 local people served there.  

In 1918 Mrs Devereux is awarded the M.B.E for her work as Commandant.  And in 1919 Mitton Farm is stood down.  In 1927 Dr Devereux resigns from the post and the couple move to Cambridge. Mrs Devereux dies in 1931. Strangely enough, one of her daughters married a South African from Johannesburg. 

The Domesday Book entry for Mitton reads: 

  • Head of manor: Bredon.
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 4 geld units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £4. Value to lord in 1086 £4.
  • Households: 12 villagers. 6 smallholders. 10 slaves. 3 female slaves.
  • Ploughland: 5 lord’s plough teams. 9 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 40 acres. Woodland 2 furlongs.
  • Lord in 1066Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Lord in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Places mentioned in this entryMittonTeddington.
  • Phillimore reference: 2,23

I hope to revisit this post once I find the odds and ends I had collected about the manor and Mrs Devereux. Another interesting snippet came via a work colleague who told me that at at one point the house was in the family of some baroness who was a famous model and who slept under her car when she arrived home only to find it had been vandalised in her absence (the house.. not the car). After our original conversation he found the following info:

“In the 1950s the estate was in the possession of an Austrian Baroness, Violet von Gagern, a former Cecil Beaton model. However, by 1960 the Baroness was rarely in residence, and the manor started to fall into decline. It was at this time that she sold much of the surrounding farmland to the housing company Jane s of Luton, which constructed the present housing estate, mainly between 1963-7. By 1969 the manor house had become so dilapidated that local residents started to voice concerns. But thankfully in 1971 a planning inquiry refused the Baroness permission to demolish the manor house to provide space for further new housing. Subsequently the house was bought and carefully restored by its present owners Jan and Margaret Lucas.”  (http://www.glosarch.org.uk/Glev%2037.pdf)

I also found out that the Carrant Brook that flows past where I live is actually the border between Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. 

My exit from Mitton took place more or less where the border signpost is, and I photographed that sign when I paid a visit to St Giles in Bredon in 2016. On the left hand side of this sign is a farm and of course the Avon flows past here too. It looked like this in 2016.

(1500×506)

The Avon was running quite low at that point, although the same cannot be said of today. What I was hoping to see were the sheep that live on that patch of green, and this post is dedicated to them. 

They were looking quite cosy in their woolie jumpers too. The area where they are is now a snow covered winter field, and the Avon is much higher than in 2016

(1500×791)

(1500×731)

(1500×747)

It is looking very beautiful out there, and at the time of writing the wind is blowing like mad. The weather forecast is for temps between 1 and -2 degrees with snow showers and breezy. It looks like it Winter will be with us just a wee bit longer this year. 

And that was the weather. We return you now to our regular Sunday broadcast of church music, radio drama and pictures of sheep. Baaaah. 

Incidentally, this is what it looks like today (07/05/2018)

(1500 x 544)

DRW © 2018. Created 18/03/2018. Updated 07/05/2018.  Domesday Book Image by Professor J.J.N. Palmer and George Slater. The Open Domesday Project and the associated  images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.  


Stephen Hawking. 1942-2018

The world has lost one of its great minds with the passing of Stephen Hawking. A giant among men and a visionary who inspired so many, and who had a unique vision of time and space that is beyond the understanding of most of us on this planet.

He was born on the 8th of  January 1942 in Oxford, England, and earned a place at Oxford University to read natural science in 1959, before studying for his PhD at Cambridge. He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease early in 1963 and given two years to live. Fortunately he proved that not every deadline has to be reached and he left his mark on civilisation that will be with us for a long time. 

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet” – Professor Stephen Hawking

Our planet is a much poorer place as a result of his passing.

DRW 14/03/2018