musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Personal

Photo Essay: Cemetery Cats and other wildlife

The nice thing about gravehunting is that you don’t only see graves, you see so many other things too, as well as small wildlife or animals. The one animal that I tend to spot quite often in cemeteries are cats. Realistically they are the perfect environment for a hunter like the cat because of the abundance of rodents and insects that make the local cemetery their home. I always photograph them whenever I see them because they usually park off and keep a beady eye on you, sometimes they disappear into the undergrowth or sometimes they just continue doing what they do best.

These are some of the cats I have seen, and that I can remember seeing. There are others, and I will add to this collection as I find the pics.

This pair I spotted in Arnos Vale in Bristol

This beauty was in Holy Souls Cemetery in Bristol.

While this friendly moggy came to see what I was up to at Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery

and this black and white moggy gave me the gimlet eye in Highgate East Cemetery

This stunning fellow was a bit shy and would not come close. I was fortunate to get the image that I did. I photographed him in St Johns Terrace Cemetery in Chasetown.

Not too sure where I photographed this puss.

One of my work colleagues sent me this one from Tewkesbury Cemetery. Thanks Graham.

Of course it is not only cats that I encounter, but dogs too. Cemeteries make a perfect place to walk your faithful mutt.  There was this really stunning dog at Abbey Cemetery in Bath

Then there were these two doggies out on their walkies in Holy Ghost Cemetery in Basingstoke

and this nice mutt in Brompton

and I saw Fred Bassett in Sarum St Martin in Salisbury. Ok, maybe it was a distant relative of Fred

Oddly enough I have almost no images of cats in South African cemeteries, although do recall seeing this doggie in the New Roodepoort Cemetery

and I have been lucky to see foxes on two separate occasions. The first time in Tower Hamlets

And my next encounter was in West Norwood

and there was a bunny in Belgrave

I have seen deer in 3 separate cemeteries but have never been able to photograph them, and of course squirrels and birds galore. So far though no elephants have been spotted, but that is because they are past masters of camouflage. I would hate to have to bump into one hiding in a tree, it could be dangerous.

Cemeteries are really mini ecosystems of their own; they provide shelter for small critters and bring a touch of greenery to the city. And, they are fascinating places to visit.

I rest my case

© DRW 2017. Created 27/01/2017 

Updated: 19/02/2017 — 09:08

Photo Essay: Just in Time

I wont say I am an expert on clocks, but I do appreciate the engineering that goes on inside one. Many years ago I used to work for Transnet in Germiston and I was responsible for the very decrepit station clock; I was not amused. 

This short photo essay really starts out about an old clock in Tewkesbury, and then heads off on a tangent all of its own. 

Situated on the outside of what is now a funeral directors, the clock is mounted on an elaborate bracket that sticks out into high street.

I have seen a number of similar clocks in the towns and cities I have visited in the UK, and way back then a public clock would have been very useful to townsfolk that did not have the convenience of a wrist watch or cell phone with which to tell time. 

Age? in this we are lucky because affixed to the side of the clock is a small sign.

Does it still work? yes it does; because a bit further up high street is the clock above the Town Hall. Although this image was not taken today, the time on the clock above was the same as that below.

There is a very nice public clock on the House of Fraser in King William Street, London

and a station clock in Victoria Station.

and Waterloo Station.

Somewhere in London, St Paul’s is in the background and I was in the Bank area, so it is somewhere there. 

I photographed this beaut in Birmingham, and as a bonus it has the 3 balls that indicate a pawnbroker.

Now, about those other time pieces:  many towns had clocks in towers, and many are loosely based on Big Ben in London.

Salisbury had one on the outskirts of the town centre in Fisherton Street, and it is a very interesting structure.

On the side of the small structure at the base of the tower were two indicators of what used to stand on that site before. 

At the time I did a double take because that was not the sort of thing you expected to see on a building. However, on the other side of the structure, and half covered by foliage is another sign that explains why the image below was there.

I rest my case. Unfortunately, the placing of this plaque means that unless you are lucky you would never know what secret this part of the town was used for in days gone by. The proximity to the river would have made that gaol a damp and miserable place to be locked into.

Lichfield also has one of the grand clock towers, and one day I made a quick trip to it to see what it was like up close and personal.

There are two plaques that can date this structure.

The Crucifix Conduit? In St John Street, next to the Library is a water fountain that may provide a clue.

The filenames of the Lichfield images are all marked “Birmingham” and that is where we will head to now; because there is another clock tower of interest in that city.  Called “The Chamberlain Clock”, it was unveiled during Joseph Chamberlain’s lifetime, in January 1904.

This clock ties into South Africa and Joseph Chamberlain, and it is worth reading the article about how Joseph Chamberlain and Alfred Milner  helped to drag South Africa and Great Britain into a long and costly war that devastated the country; and created rifts that would never heal. “Chamberlain visited South Africa between 26 December 1902 and 25 February 1903, seeking to promote Anglo-Afrikaner conciliation and the colonial contribution to the British Empire, and trying to meet people in the newly unified South Africa, including those who had recently been enemies during the Boer War” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Chamberlain#Tour_of_South_Africa)

He is buried in nearby Key HIll Cemetery 

Heading back South again we are suddenly back in Southampton, and another clock tower of interest, although it is more of a monument than a dedicated clock tower. This clock is no longer where it was originally erected,  

The monument was designed by Kelway-Pope and bequeathed to Southampton by the late, Mrs Henrietta Bellenden Sayers, After 45 years in its original location in Above Bar it was then moved to its present site in 1934 when roadworks were being carried out in the city centre. 

There are two plaques on the clock, as well as a small drinking fountain. The first plaque dates from when it was inaugurated,

while the second is above the drinking fountain.

The clock is situated on a triangular island at the east end of Cobden Bridge in Bitterne, between St Deny’s Road and Manor Farm Road (Google Earth  50.924432°,  -1.376106°) . 

Southampton still has a clock tower in its City Hall, but I really prefer the one above.

While living in Southampton I attended a job interview in Surbiton, and it was there where I spotted the Coronation Clock. 

I did not really investigate the structure, but did manage a photograph of the plaque.

More information about the Coronation Clock many be found at http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/art/architecture/johnsonj/4.html

The seaside town of Weymouth has a clock tower too, although again I did not really investigate it as I had limited time available.

Known as the Jubliee Clock, it was erected in commemoration of the reign of Queen Victoria in 1887. Originally positioned on a stone base on Weymouth sands, in the 1920s the Esplanade was built around it to protect the sands from the encroachment of shingle from the eastern end of the beach. The clock is a Grade II listed building.

And having said all that I shall now head off into the sunset. I am fortunate to have seen these buildings with their clocks and plaques. Generally they are ornate structures, and many are very old and have acquired listed status. Yet, in our modern world they are anacronisms from a different age. We are all so tied up in our plastic devices that can do almost anything, that we miss the beauty right under our noses. 

I am sure as I wade through my images of London I will find more clocks and towers to add to here, after all. I still have to consider the mother of them all…

But that’s another story for another time.

 

© DRW 2013-2017. Created 22/01/2017 

Updated: 18/02/2017 — 12:51

It is only desultory snow

Yes it is true, it “snowed” last night, actually that may not be quite true, if anything we had a desultory fall of white stuff that may have been snow, sleet, or dandruff. It is really hard to say with this stuff. The weather had been stormy in the UK these past few days, and my weather app warned that Thursday would be interesting weatherwise.

By the time I left work last night it was just slightly cold and the roads were wet but there were no snowmen in the offing.

Apparently, early this morning round about 4 am is when it happened. I heard and felt nothing.

The results were apparent when I left for work.

The roads and tarmac were covered in a thin layer of snow, even some of the cars had a dusting

Sadly though this was NOT impressive stuff!

In fact it reminded me a lot of “the winter of ’12” and that only lasted for 5 minutes  

What I found strange was that there was none of this “snow” on the grass, it was only on the tar and pavements. I would have expected that the residual heat from the black tar would have melted what there was reasonably quickly, leaving the greenery covered. Alas that did not happen.

There were scattered patches though:

But not the sort of stuff that would make me ooh and aah, still, it was better than nothing, and the cycle track did look kind of nice.

Although it did look very much different on the 30th of October

That very spectacular bush is now quite limp after its glorious burst of colour.

And that concludes the weather. We now return you to our regular broadcast.

© DRW 2017. Created 13/01/2017

Updated: 18/02/2017 — 12:51

Looking back on 2016

Many would agree that 2016 was not a good year, the world has become an even more dangerous place, and the political rumblings in many countries is cause for concern. In South Africa the corruption and incompetence gets worse, although local govt elections upturned a lot of apple carts. We also saw the death of a number of old school entertainers, and of course the happenings around Brexit and the new American President. Syria became a battle ground and sabres are being rattled. The biggest problem that we face though, is the proliferation of fake news sites and the gullibility of those who tag, share and like!

Amongst those who passed on in 2016: David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Prince, Debbie Reynolds, Douglas Adams, Ron Glass, Florence Henderson, Robert Vaughan, Arnold Palmer, Gene Wilder, Kenny Baker, Anton Yelchin, Muhammed Ali, Ronnie Corbett, Nancy Reagan, George Kennedy, Harper Lee, Bud Spencer, Shimon Peres, Fidel Castro, and John Glenn. (Complete list for 2016 at wikipedia)

I did not have a busy year, although there was a major spurt of activity in June when I went down to London. These are some of the highlights of my year.  

January:

It was a relatively quiet month, the biggest highlight for me being the rime frost that happened on the 20th. The winter days are quite short so I came and went in darkness which is why these images turned out the way they did. But, it is sad that the weather was the most exciting thing during that month.

February:

I paid a visit to Twyning, it was the first gravehunting expedition of the year and it was a long walk too,  

March:

Bredon was my chosen destination for March, and it too was a long walk away. 

April:

The most memorable event of that month was definitely the Wartime in the Cotswolds weekend held at the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway 

May:

May saw me once again at the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway  where they were holding their Festival of Steam.  Because I was in the area I also paid a fleeting visit to Winchcombe.  I will probably return to the town in 2017 as I will definitely love to do the Wartime Weekend again.

June:

This was my busiest month as I headed down to London to see the final arrival of the RMS St Helena. Subsequently the ship is being retained in service till 2018 so it turns out that this was not the end of the line for her. I also revisited Kensal Green, and did the museum thing at the V&A as well as the Science Museum. I returned to Tewkesbury exhausted. 

July:

In July we attended the Welland Steam and Country Fair, and it was the anniversary of 100 Years of Delville Wood.

August:

This month I attended the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival and saw some amazing vehicles from the past. Fortunately the weather held out and it was not washed out like the previous year.

September:

I did not venture far from home as I was struggling with hip and back pain, so vegged at home and reminded myself that it was the anniversary of the sinking of the OSV Voortrekker

October:

The weather had started to turn by now as we headed into winter. I had a major nostalgia jag when I photograph a lot of Teddy Bears at the local craft market.

November: 

November is the month when military veterans take out their berets and caps and don their medals and poppies to Remember The Fallen. I also revisited St Nicholas Parish Church in Ashchurch

December:

And, I closed off the year with some Blundering around Bushley to photograph a CWGC grave 

And that was my year. Not a lot of excitement but I am seriously limited to what I can do as a result of the hip issue. The trip to Bushley has left me sore and that makes me very concerned. Given how I have battled this past year with the problem it does not auger well for the future.

If 2017 does not meet up to my expectations I am going to send it back under warranty. I should have done that with 2016, but I thought I would wait and see, but realistically it was not a good year at all.

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 31/12/2016

Updated: 02/01/2017 — 15:00

Farewell Princess

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)

*Update*

Debbie Reynolds, mother of Carrie Fisher passed away from a stroke a day after her daughter

© DRW. 2016-2017. Created 28/12/2016. 

Updated: 01/01/2017 — 08:26

Calling the Midwife

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

Updated: 18/02/2017 — 12:52

Merry Christmas

And so Christmas is upon us once again. I suspect a lot of the message of Christmas has been misinterpreted over the years, and of course tis the season to be commercial. However, it is still an excuse to be with those you love and to eat copious amounts of food. Wherever you are, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody a Happy Christmas, and to enjoy this special day. And for those who are on duty performing public service a special thank you is in order.

Updated: 01/01/2017 — 08:26

The Musings Advent Calender 1-24 December

I started this in 2015, and have decided I will do the same for this year, although was  6 days behind when I started. 

and finally….. 

24 December

 

23 December

22 December 

21 December

I have no idea.

20 December

19 December

John Betjeman (St Pancras Station)

18 December

Greenwhich (1500×386)

17 December

Queen Alexandra Memorial (St James Palace London). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Alexandra_Memorial

16 December

15 December

“‘ullo ‘ullo ‘ullo, bear with me for awhile” (Harrods in London)

14 December 

Homage to Leonardo

13 December 

12 December 

Battersea Power Station

11 December

10 December

9 December

8 December

 

7 December

HMS Illustrious

6 December

5 December

Gift Horse, by Hans Haacke, is a “contemporary comment on history, power and money”. (Trafalgar Square 2016)

4 December

3 December

2 December

1 December

 

© DRW 2016-2017

Updated: 24/12/2016 — 17:12

Farewell HMS Illustrious

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. 

 
I was fortunate enough to have seen both Ark Royal and Illustrious, but sadly I never saw them when they were the pride of the fleet, only when they were at the end of the line. 
 Fair weather for your final journey fair maiden, thank you for your courageous service to your country and crew.  You will be missed. 

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 07/12/2016. 

Updated: 14/12/2016 — 19:49

Brrr. Its chilly out there

The temperature around here has been steadily declining as we head into Winter, and this can produce some really spectacular results from a photographic point of view. The evening of the 29th saw the temperature fall to -5, and the results were really worth seeing. 

This is the cycle track that I use on my way to work every morning.  I was using my phone to take pics with although there was not a lot of light around as the sun was just starting to rise.

Before heading off to work I first stopped by at the local playing field to see what it was like. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought that it had snowed.

I leave earlier in the mornings nowadays so the sun is really still rising, and the pics I took were over a period of about 15 minutes.

The spiders were not having a lot of fun either.

and the leaves were edged with frost

The field next to the cycle track was a mass of white, and looked beautiful.

The teasles had also come to the notice of the frost and they too were covered.

The small stream that feeds into the Carrant Brook runs alongside the cycle path and it was frozen, I photographed it but the image I took the next day was a much better one.

What amazed me was how many cobwebs there were in this field, you don’t normally notice them, but when frost like this arrives they become very visible.

I will not even contemplate how many spiders may be involved in creating those webs, but then nature does find ways to balance this all out. In a few weeks this will all be under water and all the webs will be gone and the spiders washed downstream. 

The next day was not as spectacular though, and it has gradually been warming since then. But, on the 20th January similar conditions existed and I took some pics. I knew more or less what to expect and what to look for and when next the temperature plummets like this you can be rest assured  I will be keeping a beady eye open and my camera handy.

And if that just happens to be on a weekend you can bet I will be heading to the local cemetery to see what I can see. 

I love winter, the cold may be horrible, but the light is spectacular and the effects of the weather make for wonderful photographic opportunities, if you can deal with frozen fingers and snow on your nose. 

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 01/12/2016

Updated: 13/12/2016 — 07:43
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