A long time ago
In a galaxy close by
our Princess left us for another realm
She has left a large disturbance in the force
And she will be missed by fans from all over the world
Yesterday the shocking news was announced that Carrie Fisher had passed away following a cardiac event while en route to California from the United Kingdom.
The news, coming as it did after a year that saw the loss of so many talented people, was a blow to Star Wars buffs all over. We had lost our Princess.
Princess Leia was amongst the first science fiction heroines that “kicked serious ass” in a manner that appealed to male and female. A strong female character like her is not always easy to appreciate, the old MCP mindset says that women cannot be kicking serious ass, while parts of the female mindset says she should leave the ass kicking to the hero. Irrespective, the fact remains she was tough, she took no crap and she killed off Jabba The Hutt while clad in a slave girl outfit. She was a strong role model for girls who finally had somebody who stood up there and battled the bad guys just like the hero. Heck, she was the hero!
I am an old school Star Wars fan, I grew up with the original 3 movies and they were what defined my outlook towards the canon. She was the one who told us that she would “rather kiss a wookie” and she probably did too. Unfortunately the 3rd movie saw much of her “kick assness” removed and she was a much softer and almost whimpish character. It mattered not though because she would always be our Princess.
Carrie Fisher will probably always be remembered for her chelsea bun wearing hairstyle, and shooting storm troopers while dashing through the death star. But in real life she was a talented writer, producer, humourist and actress who battled drugs and a bipolar disorder. Once Star Wars was completed her career carried on although she will probably always be best known as Princess Leia.
In her book, Wishful Drinking, she wrote about her eventual obituary: “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” Sadly, it was not her bra that let her down but her heart..
She will be remembered by us all and Star Wars will never quite be the same again. Our Princess has gone, leaving so many shallow, selfie loving, vapid celebs behind who could not come close to her talent and would not be able to kiss a Wookie even if they could spell it. .
Rest in Peace Carrie Fisher (October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016)
Debbie Reynolds, mother of Carrie Fisher passed away from a stroke a day after her daughter,
© DRW. 2016-2017. Created 28/12/2016.
Category: Hobbies and Interests
This post is really an expansion of the the original post I did called “Up and Down The Avon” which was supposed to deal with a trestle bridge and which has been expanded considerably since then. I have now decided to create a single post dealing with my findings. Some of the images from that original post will re-appear here as a result.
The whole story behind the railway in Tewkesbury really center’s around the long closed Upton-upon-Severn line, and frankly I am not the expert in this endeavour. There is a wonderful website that explores Malvern’s Lost Railway much better than I can.
This post will start out at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, the current station that serves the town although it is nowhere near the town.
Ashchurch used to be a major junction at one point, with lines heading in 4 different directions. A period map shows the basics of what was a very complex junction. Unfortunately I cannot put a date to this map
Tewkesbury would be left of the Junction and the line to Cheltenham will go downwards and Worcester upwards. All that is left is the line to the right that terminates at the MOD Depot although it used to head towards Evesham.
There is also a water tower still to be seen near the station, but that is it.
That is the approach to what is left at Ashchurch, the line on the right curves off to the MOD depot.
The trackbed of the railway line heading to Tewkesbury is now a cycle path, and I use it regularly. There is one small bridge that goes over the road that still has remnants of the steelwork from the railway
The Avon is bridged by two bridges at the mill.
That ends this branch line and we now return to where the line splits at the cycle path.
Returning back to the cyclepath, the line takes to an embankment that is completely overgrown, although it is doubtful whether any lines are still on it. There is a small gap at “Gas Lane” but the bridge for it is gone. The embankment continues to where it ends in a buttress at Bredon Road.
The winter weather was decidely pleasant when I set out for the village of Bushley in Warwickshire, I had one CWGC grave to photograph so it was worth the walk to get there. However, this was really a test to see how well I could cope with an extended walk like this. Unfortunately I have been suffering with unspecific hip and back pain and that has really curtailed my meanderings in the countryside. The church of St Peter is just over 3km away via the Mythe Bridge, which is not really far until you factor in the return walk and the gallivanting I had planned for my return trip.
The route encompasses the magnificent Mythe Bridge that I had photographed last yea
over the River Severn
and then following the signs until you reach the village which is in Warwickshire as opposed to Gloucestershire.
The church is easy to find too, it is the highest point there.
The church of St Peter was rebuilt in 1843 by Canon Dowdeswell and consists of chancel, north and south transepts, nave and west tower and spire, it is a Grade II listed building and was designed by Dr Edward Blore & Sir Gilbert Scott.
The graveyard is in a reasonable condition and I spotted a number of 1700’s graves in it, which means that there was a church here for many years before the current building was erected.
My CWGC grave was easy to find, and I also found one private memorial.
The War Memorial is affixed to the outside wall of the church and covers both world wars.
I am always curious as to what these parish churches look like inside, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the church was unlocked.
The building inside is much smaller than it looks from the outside, but it is a very beautiful church on the inside.
There are a number of wall memorials to members of the Dowdeswell family and a few floor memorials but I could not get a clear image of those.
The Font may date from the late 12th century, while the organ was erected in 1908.
Time was trickling away and I needed to start making tracks out of here, I paused at the Nativity scene in front of the pulpit. Christmas was upon us, and it is a very special time in any church.
I returned to the churchyard and took more photographs.
As can be seen the churchyard is higher than the surrounding pavement, which ties into the fact that there are more people buried here than reflect in the 177 memorials in the churchyard with a total of 352 names.
The registers for the church go back to 1538, and the oldest date on a memorial is 1633.
The churchyard does have an extension next to it, although that is nowhere near full.
Then it was time to head back to the Mythe Bridge for my next bit of exploration.
On the right hand side of this image is the sealed off entrance to the tunnel that runs underneath this road.
It was part of the former Upton-upon-Severn to Tewkesbury line and I had been looking for the other end of the tunnel half heartedly for some time. I now had a better idea of where it was, I just had to find it. There is a footpath that runs along the bank of the Severn and by the looks of it I would be able to reach the general area without doing too much bundu-bashing.
The footpath was muddy and there was not much to see in the bush, hopefully at some point I would at least find a clue as to where the tunnel entrance was. Eventually I reached a crossroad with gates in 3 directions, the bush had thinned a bit but was still quite thick, but after checking the gps I was probably close to where I suspected the tunnel was. I walked around the one gate and voila… there it was.
It was bricked up and the entrance door had no visible hinges or lock so was probably fastened from the inside.
Sadly the local graffiti artists had expounded on his occupation, but I was kind of cheesed off that they had found this spot before I had, To see inside that tunnel I would need a long ladder and that would not fit in my slingbag.
There was an interesting little brick hut next to the tunnel with a pipe leading to the roof, but I have no way of knowing what it was in aid of, although I suspect it may have had something to do with signalling.
Then it was time to leave this remnant of the railways and head off towards town and lunch. I had achieved what I had set out to do and that was great. I could now plot that railway almost to Ashchurch Station, I just had to find one more illusive item.
I crossed to the bank of the Avon and took a quick pic of the King John’s Bridge which was commissioned by King John in the late 12th century.
and a strange dredger called Canopus.
and finally a gap in the former railway embankment that leads to the tunnel.
and then home was in sight.
It had been a long walk, and I am tired and sore. I am afraid I will have to stop taking these extended walks because recovering from them is long. Fortunately tomorrow is a bank holiday so I can take it easy, but I may just head out to….
DRW 2016-2017. Created 26/12/2016
For the past few weeks I have been avidly engrossed in a TV series called “Call the Midwife“. It is basically based on the books by Jennifer Worth who worked as a midwife in the east end of London during the late 1950’s. I read the first book way back when I was in Basingstoke in 2015 and managed to read the 2nd a few weeks ago. As a result my curiosity about the series was piqued and I bought the first season.
It has been a roller coaster of emotion for me for a number of reasons. My grandmother was born during the late Victorian Era in Southwark which is not too far from Poplar, her mother was born in a workhouse in Poplar in 1864, the product of an unmarried 17 year old mother. Notions of respectability were very important back then, and an unmarried mother was in serious trouble as her family would be very quick to consign her to a workhouse or throw her on the streets. I will never know all the circumstances of her birth but I do know that Poplar was a definite drawcard for me.
There have been a number of episodes that have touched me personally because many of the incidents in the series are easily transportable to to my own upbringing 10000 kilo’s away in South Africa. I was born in 1961, and those were the days when childhood diseases were still dangerous. I recall one of my early classmates had polio and she wore callipers to school, I recall our family doctor making house calls, and I recall that many children still died in their early years; one of my school friends died from Leukaemia. We had a rough and tumble childhood with packs of kids playing games in the streets, very similar to what I saw in the backgrounds of the series. I laughed at the antics of the boy scouts and cubs with their mania for collecting proficiency badges, and I sniggered at the horned rimmed spectacles and large bouffant hairstyles in the women. I experienced some of what I saw there (Ok, maybe not that bouffant hairstye). Strangely enough, one of our neighbours had a daughter that made a mistake and I recall the horror and shame of her parents. Her feelings were moot though, and one day they quietly moved away.
The series does not only concentrate on life, but also death, and way back then death was always around the corner, medical science does not solve the the problem of death, it just recognises it as the end of life. The last episode of series 3 was particularly sad, dealing with the death of Chummy’s mother. There is a lesson in that episode, and I fear that one day I will be facing a similar situation.
The obtuse point I am making in this seemingly disjointed ramble is that the one thing that struck me about the books and series is how good the midwives actually were, and how they cared for the community around them. It must have been an incredibly emotional job, and one that had a very high element of job satisfaction. There must be an element of satisfaction to knowing that you brought so many babies into the world, and sometimes you saw them leave too. I do know that this is a TV series, but the books contain that element of truth about them that only somebody who has experienced it could have written about.
The second book: “Shadows of the Workhouse” does make for horrific reading, dealing as it does with the horrors of the workhouse system in Britain. And while reading it I could not help but feel shocked that something like that was experienced by my great great grandmother. I cannot but help feel empathy for those who ended up there, and the many children who suffered in the system and who fell prey to the monsters who ruled over their day to day existence.
There are just so many emotions running through my mind when I watch this series that there are times when I think I should not watch it. It is the same effect I get from watching some war movies, that sense of deja vu and the knowing that you cannot do anything but watch it play out and dream about it in the depths of the night.
I have season 4 lined up already, although I believe it has a very different feel about it compared to season 1-3. I will have to wait and see. But, if all is quiet on a Saturday afternoon the odds are I am clutching my hankie and watching it with interest, and inside my mind the gears are turning as they root through my past, reminding me that had things been different I would have not been here today.
Dedicated to Emily and Eliza Ann Mott.
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 25/12/2016
Tonight when I logged onto Facebook I saw the images of HMS Illustrious sailing on her final voyage to the breakers in Turkey. She is the last of her line, there will never be another like her. She is one of a multitude of ships that have come and gone over the years, become firm favourites with crew, family, friends and admirers. They exist for so many years and then one day that make that final voyage. Her sister, HMS Ark Royal made her final voyage on 20 May 2013, and when she sailed it was just a matter of time for Illustrious to follow.
I saw “Lusty” on 28 September 2014 when I was in Gosport and she was being destored prior to being laid up for possible further sale. The hope was that she would become a museum ship, but we all knew that it would never happen. Ships are expensive to preserve, and a ship her size would have really cost a packet.
Regular readers of this blog may have seen posts about my slowly expanding fleet of Triang Minic Ships. The fleet occupies 2 display cases and a smaller plastic box and has become somewhat too large for the few harbour parts that I do have. This weekend I hauled the ships out and set them up on my kitchen table and took some pics.
The dominant ship in this image is the RMS Queen Elizabeth; she is one of my original vessels and I really want to buy one in a better condition. Also in view is the Ivernia, Flandre, 2nd Mauretania, United States and QE2, with the Pendennis Castle underway. The piers are lengths of stripwood while the cranes are all Triang issues.
And while the Pendennis was sailing the Pretoria Caste was arriving
The two Union-Castle ships are part of my Union-Castle collection that was also in port on this reasonably sunny day.
Unfortunately, only while I was packing away did I realise that the Reina Del Mar was not in this image and was probably away cruising somewhere. I did rectify the matter in a later pic.
I also gathered the Cunard fleet together for a photo session.
I lined up the battle wagons for a rare airing too, fortunately they did not open fire on each other or there would have been bits and pieces all over the place.
My newest addition is the SS Australis, but she is in limbo at the moment as she is not scaled according to what she should be.
The fleet is now back in its display, and the table has been restored to its former state. That was a lot of work, and I am not likely to do it again for a long time. I do have a smaller project on the go that may end up here, although sometimes my ideas are a bit better than the actual end result. Watch this space as they say in the classics.
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 26/11/2016
The service is held at the Abbey, and then everybody moves to the War Memorial at the major crossroads in town. I did not attend the Abbey service, but waited till it ended, taking photographs in and around the graveyard while I waited. There is a very poignant memorial to Major James Cartland who was killed on 27 May 1918 and it has been the focus of the Somme 100 commemorations.
While I was taking these images the service ended and the people started to leave the Abbey
I changed position to where the parade would be marching out from, and it was a long parade too.
Apart from the military there are a number of civilian groups in the parade, including military veterans, emergency service, scouts, school groups, and all shapes and sizes and colours and creeds. The problem is that by the time the front of the parade has reached the memorial the rear hasn’t left yet.
The area around the memorial is in the shape of a Y standing slightly skew, with the memorial in the centre on a small island. The through roads had been blocked off and just as well as the small area around the memorial was packed.
I ended up close to the memorial, but nowhere close enough to see the base of it. I am sure that most of the town was there, and it is not a large town. The one thing I have seen in the UK is that people take the period around Remembrance Day seriously.
It is hard to know how children process the events, certainly those in the parade must have known a bit about why they were there, and I am sure that some must have family connected to the armed forces. I do not think I ever attended one when I was young in South Africa, but I am sure my father did. It does not really matter though, what is important is that we were here with a common purpose. I dusted off my beret for the occasion, and was probably the only Bokkop in town.
Unfortunately the low angle of the sun and the surrounding buildings cast dark shadows over the parade, but at least there was sun, sort of…
And then the last post was played and there was 2 minutes of silence. The two minutes of silence originates in Cape Town; one minute was a time of thanksgiving for those who had returned alive, the second minute was to remember the fallen. Before the period of silence a bugler plays the Last Post and Reveille signals the end of the silence. It is a very moving moment, and the only noise was the occasional small child who may have been puzzled by the cessation of hubbub around them.
And then we reaffirmed our commitment to the fallen and those who survived:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
And then it was over, the parade marched out from around the memorial to form up once again.
and the memorial was once more visible.
The parade then marched past the memorial, presenting their salutes and under the command “eyes right”. I would hope that those who marched past today will one day stand where I was and watch servicemen and women from the future march past too.
and while the front of the column was smartly turned out, things became slightly more ragged as we reached the back.
But, if amongst those kids just one takes this parade to heart and becomes a greater part of Remembrance then I acknowledge their salute.
I took a short walk down the road to check out a building, and when I returned to the area of the memorial things were almost back to normal with traffic restored and families were heading home and people in uniform going wherever they went after a parade like this.
The poppies will slowly disappear from the shops and clothing, although some of us will keep them visible for much longer. The wreaths will fade and and the red dye will run in the rain, frost will cover the memorial and once again clouds of exhaust fumes will envelop it. I always thought it was a stupid place to put a war memorial, but if you really think about it, everybody that drives past here has to see it, and maybe that is a good thing after all.
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 13/11/2016
Following my visit to the Chieftain just up the road I headed back towards Northway and St Nicholas Parish Church. I had visited it before in July 2015 but it had been a gloomy day and my images had never really been any good and I did not even do a blog entry for it at the time. Hopefully, with the wonderful Autumn light I would be able to remedy that situation. I was also hoping that the church would be open
As usual my primary interest is the churchyard, and the original one was not too large although there is a modern extension to it. There is one CWGC grave in the churchyard although there are other military graves and memorials inside the church.
The image above shows part of the original churchyard in the shadow of the church, it was just after 9.45 am and there was still frost on the ground where the sun had not reached. The image below is the more modern extension of the churchyard.
Churchyard Random Images
Inside St Nicholas Church
I was ready to leave when I spotted people going to the church, evidently to set it up for the next service, so I asked if I could have a look inside and they very kindly let me.
The church was founded in 1121, and is a Grade II Listed Building.
There are not a lot of wall memorials in the church, but a lot of the floor is covered in floor memorials, the oldest that I spotted dated from 1696
The Parish Chest (pictured above), had three locks; the one key being kept by the incumbent, and the other two by church wardens. This particular one is either Medieval or Norman.
Talking about Medieval, there is a pair of foot stocks outside the church, its position being on the path where parishioners would pass on their way into the church. A solemn reminder that sometimes a good bit of public humiliation did wonders.
Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe, and there is a very nice statuette of the Saint, mounted against the wall by the entrance to the church that encompasses most of his “flock”.
The interior walls of the church are supposedly bowed outwards to represent the curvature of a ships hull,
Although the Buttress does make me think there is some other reason behind it.
The image above is taken in the quire looking towards the back of the church where the spire is. The entrance door is on the left, roughly midway in the church. The tower was added in the 14th century.
The church may be found at Google Earth Co-ordinates 51.999119°, -2.106766°
And then it was time to head off home. I felt so much better that I had these two beneath my belt before Winter sets in.
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 06/11/2016
A few weeks ago one of my workmates asked if I had seen the tank near the MOD DSDA depot in Ashchurch (Defence Storage and Distribution Agency (DSDA) is the storage and distribution arm of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S)). I did not even know there was one, and the furtherest I had been in that direction was St Nicholas Parish Church. My ears went up and I added this to my list of things to see. Unfortunately many odds and ends prevented me from heading out that way, but this morning, with the sun shining and frost on the ground I grabbed the Rusticle and headed off into the distance.
It was not very warm though, and I kept on thinking that I needed another warm jacket, but after a few minutes cycling I was a bit warmer and and soon passed the station and St Nicholas. I wanted to pop into the church on my way back but that was still to come.
Then I was at the depot and the tank was in view.
I am not really a boffin on tank identification, and only found out when I got home that she is a FV4201 Chieftain, which were main battle tank of the United Kingdom during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. By all accounts they were formidable vehicles and a number of variants of it were built.
She is really in need of a coat of paint at this point, but overall is in a reasonably good condition. She has the serial number 36 on her hull, which may mean something to somebody somewhere.
Google Earth co-ordinates are: 51.998504°, -2.099172°
Chalk one more up as completed. And a very nice vehicle it is too
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 06/11/2016
The advent of cameras that are not tied down to film is a godsend for someone like me who tends to photograph anything. Unfortunately I do not always carry my camera around with me, but tend to rely on my cellphone that has a pretty respectable camera built into it for times when I need to take a quick pic.
Today was such a day. Wobbling my way out of the gate at work I nearly fell over, because lo and behold, right in front of my eye was this oldie from an era long gone.
Naturally because I wanted pics every car and truck in town decided to pass by, leaving me on the other side of the road. Fortunately the driver climbed out and so I was able to wobble over and get more pics.
This old beauty is a Bristol FS6G, and if I read it right is means “FS: Flat-floor, Short length, Gardner 6LW or 6LX engine”. I am not a bus boffin though, so may be reading it wrong. The vehicle was wearing the Carters Coach Services Livery and was en route for somewhere (Sea Front perhaps?)
According to the driver the vehicle was built in 1960 (so it is the oldest of the pair of us).
The platform at the rear is not open sided but does have a folding door fitted to it, although whether this was standard or not I cannot say, but I did get a peak inside the bus and it was great.
What I did find strange was that the seats were upholstered in fabric and not leather like they were in South Africa when I was riding on buses as a child, it could be the weather may have made it a bit warmer to use fabric than leather. However, that is pure conjecture on my part.
And then it was time for me to wobble off home. A last pic and away i went, although as you can see I was kind of out of focus, but then I was never a fan of standing in the middle of the street trying to take pics.