musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Tewkesbury

Exploring the Domesday Book

When I heard about the “Doomsday Book” many years ago I was intrigued. After all, a book with a title like that sounded positively like something that could be the harbinger of the Apocalypse. Naturally I filed it away for future reference assuming we ever got to a point in our civilisation where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride forth. 

My first disappointment was the title. It is called the “Domesday Book” and not “Doomsday” as I always thought it was. In fact you can also buy it on Amazon, and in English too!  However, for those who were affected by the book and it’s contents it really was a disaster because from what I have read; once recorded in the book you were really up the creak sans paddle!

The book that I started to explore has its own webpage, quaintly referred to as “The first free online copy of Domesday Book”

To know what the book is about you really need to first read the appropriate Wikipedia page. and there you will find the answer to why it was literally doomsday for the people affected by its compilation. “The assessors’ reckoning of a man’s holdings and their values, as recorded in Domesday Book, was dispositive and without appeal.” By the way dispositive means “relating to or bringing about the settlement of an issue or the disposition of property.”

Now the Domesday Book was not written in English, so it is not the sort of thing you can pick up and read,  as it was written in medieval Latin, and if that is not bad enough extensive use of abbreviations seemed to have been used too. The sheer scale of the compilation was an achievement all of its own. Technically somebody visited everybody and wrote down what they saw, it is literally a record of England at the time and the book’s colophon states that the survey was completed in 1086. Once that data had been compiled it is probable that a medieval bean counter then rubbed his hands together and worked out who owed the king/baron/local lord/boss and then had that cast in stone (or written on parchment). Reading between the lines one person was responsible for writing it in parchment, although others may have been involved in the writing thereof. At any rate they certainly did not use Times Roman size 10px as their font.

The nitty gritty.

Naturally I was curious to read what it said about the town where I live, and lo and behold there is an entry for it. I copied this “verbatim” from the Opendomesday website. 

11 female slaves?  It is an interesting question because slavery back then was “normal” but who they were is a mystery; captives from a war perhaps? or children sold to landowners? the local debtor? somebody that angered the church?  We will never really know.  Actually slavery still exists, the only difference is that it is much more hidden and does involve a people trafficking, drugs and all manner of exploitation. Technically all of those people are buried somewhere around here. 

The page looks like this… 

Tewkesbury is the listing on the bottom right hand side. The line through a name may be a way to mark a reference, I do not know if was like that originally, or whether it was added by the Open Domesday project. 

It is heavy reading, especially if you cannot read medieval Latin (or modern Latin). I suspect if you handed that page to your local pharmacist you could come away with a box of extra strength laxatives, 66000 large yellow pills and a bottle of something green. 

For me the fascination is having this glimpse into an era that we cannot even conceive. Conditions were primitive, people worked hard, children died young, men and women were always at the beck and call of those lording it in their expensive estates. As a peasant/working man you were considered to be property rather than humanity. The role of the church was large, and any person who lived in his wattle and daub hut next to his small field would always be in awe of the grand buildings that they would encounter on their visits to the local market/ale house.

 In 1087, William the Conqueror gave the manor of Tewkesbury to his cousin, Robert Fitzhamon, who, with Giraldus, Abbot of Cranborne, founded the present abbey in 1092. Building of the present Abbey church did not start until 1102. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tewkesbury_Abbey), That shows the great age of the Abbey and its surrounding settlements too. Vasco Da Gama rounded the Cape in 1497 and by then the Domesday Book was probably no longer in use, but strangely enough it still existed, and is usually housed in the  National Archives in Kew. (It may be in at  Lincoln Castle. at the moment). 

It may be viewed as the oldest ‘public record’ in England. 

I am glad I dabbled so briefly in the book because the weight of ages hangs heavily over its pages. It weighed heavily on those who it affected, and of course the fact that it still exists today makes it an immeasurable historical document. I often think that when the monks had completed their task they looked at it with pride, and never considered that many centuries down the line their work would still fascinate us, even though we do not know anything about who they were. Sadly they never signed their name at the end, although I suspect that somewhere in those ancient pages you will find a personal mark left behind; kind of like a medieval easter egg on a DVD or popular game.

I have to admit my curiosity may extend to me buying one of those copies just to have that tangible link to a world that has long gone, and to be able to look back and say “What an amazing book!”  

Of course credit is due too, and  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.  

© DRW 2017. Created 15/08/2017. Image by Professor J.J.N. Palmer and George Slater

 

Updated: 15/08/2017 — 18:09

Buried Him Among Kings

Last night, while reading about the Unknown Soldier, it struck me that I I had seen the graves of at least 3 kings. I am not a royalty fan as a rule, because a lot of the misery in this world was caused by their petty squabbles, minor wars, appetite for vast amounts of money and a generally “holier than thou” attitude. Fortunately Queen Elizabeth II has managed to  be a sensible monarch and that has helped a lot.

In this post I am going to root amongst my images and post the graves of “royalty”, and hopefully settle them in my mind because frankly I can never remember which one reigned when and where they ended up being buried. 

My first king is to be found in Worcester Cathedral

Tomb of King John. Worcester Cathedral

This is the tomb of King John, He was king of England from 6 April 1199 until his death in 1216. He is generally considered to be a “hard-working administrator, an able man, and an able general”. Although it is acknowledged that he had many faults, including pettiness, spitefulness, and cruelty, so much so that along with his crony “The Sheriff on Nottingham” he is the bad guy associated with Robin Hood. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John,_King_of_England)

Gloucester Cathedral is where Osric, the King of Hwicce, may be found. I have to admit I need to look up where Hwicce is (or was). It encompasses parts of Worcester, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. Technically I live in Hwicce.

Osric also shares the Cathedral with Edward II, who reigned from 7 July 1307 – 25 January 1327, and he has been seen as a failure as a king, labelled as  “lazy and incompetent, liable to outbursts of temper over unimportant issues, yet indecisive when it came to major issues”, he has also been called “incompetent and vicious”, and “no man of business”. Like many kings he overspent, although he did inherit a lot of the debt from his father Edward I.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_II_of_England)

And, while we are in Hwicce we can stop at Tewkesbury Abbey where we will find the grave of  Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster. 

He lived from 13 October 1453 till his untimely death on 4 May 1471 during or after the Battle of Tewkesbury

Moving northwards to Staffordshire we can briefly visit Lichfield Cathedral which does not have a king buried within it’s walls, but rather we can look upon the mouldering statue of Charles II who lived from 1630 till 1685. His claim to fame is that he gave money and timber to the cathedral to restore it following the ravages of the civil war. In reality he is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey is the destination I was aiming for because this is where we find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that was buried among the Kings.

“They buried him among the kings because he

had done good towards God and toward

His House”

Could we say the same about the the kings buried in the sumptuous surrounds of the Abbey?

Unfortunately I never visited the interior of the Abbey, I was fortunate enough that a door monitor allowed me to briefly glimpse the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and I quickly shot 3 pics before being shown the door again. Thank you, whoever you were.

Unfortunately, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral do not allow photography within the buildings so it was not really worth standing in the very long queue.  

The list of kings and their consorts buried in Westminster Abbey is quite a long one (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burials_and_memorials_in_Westminster_Abbey) 

Many other kings found their last resting place to be less than satisfactory.

Boudicca of the Iceni is reportedly buried between platforms 9 and 10 in King’s Cross station in London, although there is no evidence that this is true.

King Richard III was recently exhumed from the car park where he was buried. Of course at the time of his death that site was not a car park, but was “in the choir of the Friars Minor at Leicester”. After being identified through DNA he was reburied in  Leicester Cathedral in 2015.

King Henry I is supposedly buried in Reading Abbey. That unfortunate building is now a series of ruins, but investigations were conducted at Reading Prison which is next to the abbey. Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I in 1121 and was always known to have been the final resting place of the King and his Queen Adeliza. When I was there in 2015 it had been cordoned off because of falling masonry. Consequently my pics were taken through the fence.  The bottom right image in the group below is the gateway of the abbey and it is labelled as 16 on the diagram below

That pretty much concludes my brief visit to kings gone by. I hope to expand on this post at a later date as my reading takes me deeper into this aspect of history.

As an aside, Elvis “the King” is buried in the Meditation Garden at Graceland mansion at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Just thought you would like to know. 

© DRW 2017. Created 11/08/2017

Updated: 10/08/2017 — 20:46

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival 2017. Page 2

Like last year there was a display of hunting birds and raptors. I find them quite fascinating because they are really killing machines, you do not want to mess with them;  that eagle owl was huge and the Kestrel was probably sizing me up as a potential meal.

European Eagle Owl

Barn Owl

 

Harris Hawk

 

Kestrel

A festival like this really shows you many things, and there are odd things to see and snigger at. I think I enjoy those the most. These are some of those strange and odd things I spotted.

 
 
   
   
   
   
   

On the next day (Sunday), a parade was held through Thewkesbury. There were participants of all ages, colours, genders and everything else inbetween. Little kids with cardboard swords, big kids with flags, old women with flowers and strange tall statues with waving arms. It was all there somewhere. Of course there was one of my favourite characters: the so-called “Green Man”

Most of these images were taken from the same spot, so may be a bit boring, however I have also thrown in some images of the groups getting ready.

And then it was over for another year and Tewkesbury will depopulate once again as everybody goes home to wherever they came from. People travel long distances to attend the festival, and you can bet many will be back again next year. Me? I do not know where I will be this time next year. But, if I am still here I will probably be taking pics somewhere because that is what I do best.

Special thanks to those who took so much time and trouble, you did a great job!

© DRW 2017. Created 09/07/2017 

Updated: 09/07/2017 — 14:32

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival 2017. Page 1

Tewkesbury is famous for 3 things: It has an abbey, It flooded in 2017, and holds a Medieval Festival once a year. I have attended it 3 times already, but never really stay the distance till the giant battle. There are just to many people there and I do not have the stamina to stick it out till the mini war breaks out.  on 4 May 1471 the Battle of Tewkesbury occurred and it was was one of many that happened during the “War of the Roses“.   The Tewkesbury Battlefield Society erected a monument to the battle in the form of two 5 metre sculptures of a victorious mounted knight and a defeated horse. It was created by Phil Bews out of green oak wood felled in Gloucestershire, and was dedicated on the anniversary of the battle in 2014.  Unfortunately trying to get a photo of these has always been difficult because they are in a strange place and I have only managed images from the local bus. 

In the abbey, set inside the tiles of the floor in front of the altar are a number of brass plaques, and one of them commemorates eighteen year old Edward, Prince of Wales, the last legitimate descendant of the House of Lancaster, who was killed either in the battle or during its aftermath and is buried in the Abbey.

On to the festival.

Realistically there is very little to say about what there is to see, in fact many images from all three festivals are interchangeable. However, I am constantly amazed at how the English go all out to participate at an event like this. It is also very well attended by people from all over Europe and the UK.  It is quite funny to see a period dressed soldier talking on a cellphone, or buying the papers at the local Tesco. 

Costumes and other people

Across the one stream was an encampment that had been set up where you could roam around and get a feel for how the people involved way back when may have lived when out fighting battles or on the hunt. It was not as crowded as the market area, and quite a few of the tents were occupied by ye lordes and laydys.​

   

It was a very interesting place because so many people had gone all out to “do their bit” and have a blast at the same time. That is one thing I can say about the Brits, when they go all out they really go all out! It becomes a family affair with men, women and children dressed to the medieval equivalent of the nines and doing their bit.

Weapons and things that go bang!  

I do not recall seeing canon last year, but this year there were quite a few on display, some of which can actually fire! I cannot really give a lecture on each one, but will add in the information board to the left of an image if I have it. The person who was explaining it was excellent, inspite of him being dresses in what could be described as a cut off muslim dress with a funny hat. The weapons were under “The Kyngs Ordynaunce” banner, a re-enactor society founded in 1991 portraying an artillery company of the late 15th century.  

At this point we will hit the pause button and continue on the next page 

forwardbut

DRW 2017. Created 09/07/2017

Updated: 09/07/2017 — 14:32

Post-Mortem: RMS St Helena model

Continuing from where we last left off

Weeks in the making, my 1/1250ish RMS St Helena is almost finished. Large scale construction has ceased and I am left with a model that is more or less completed. The end result looks like the ship, as long as you stand very far away 😥 There are numerous mistakes and skew lines and poor paintwork on her, but that can partly be blamed on my constant chopping and changing of the ship as I experimented.

The image above was actually done deliberately as I wanted to convey the long voyages that the ship makes on her trips between South Africa and St Helena.  Think of it as paying homage to a small ship on a big ocean.  Unfortunately my model does not do the ship justice, and one day I will probably start a new one.  This week I found out that Rhenania made the RMS St Helena model that I had seen before and they do not re-issue models once the initial run is completed. 

Snags and booboo’s that I have made in the construction of the ship:

Hull:

The wood I used worked well, it sanded cleanly and was  workable with the tools I had. However the hull was seriously flawed. The well deck is too long and there shouldn’t be a step between the forepeak and the area behind it. If anything the real ship does not have much of a sheer, the sheer is created by the bulwarks surrounding the forepeak. The knuckle that exists is not easy to fabricate, I would really need to create a hull that has the fine shape and then create the deck above it that has a slightly fatter shape and mate them together. Getting a bow right is always a pain. It makes sense to start the ship by creating the bow and then work backwards instead of the other way around. I may just create a fake hull and try recreate the bow to see how it comes together. 

The area at the deck level aft of the large hatch really needed to be reworked to the point where the gangway area is cutaway before mounting A and B decks.  

The aft mooring deck on my model is too small, I suspect It worked that way because I originally had the stern wrong. The stern is different to what I thought it looked like, but then it has been many years since I sailed on her.

The superstructure that I fabricated was reasonably close to what it should be, but its edges are skew and the individual decks turned out slightly wrong.  The bridge area became messy as I could not settle for the bridge that I wanted. It turned out to be slightly too big and as a result of that I was not able to add on the bridge roof that shaded the area by the wheelhouse doors and bridge wing. 

The pool area… I cannot remember what that looked like, and they seem to have altered it slightly since I was last on the ship.

Fittings and fiddly bits:

Davits… bugbear number 1000000. I made the mistake of trying to create conventional davits the way they look on ships, it did not work. I ended up creating a Γ shape, drilling into the superstructure to support the one end and adding the lifeboat on the flat area. Then I mounted the uprights with their curved shape next to the platform and utilised the superstructure wall as a gluing point. That made them reasonably workable, but they do not look great. The least said about the lifeboats the better. There are 2 different style boats on the ship and you need to make both. They are small, the size of a grain of rice, getting them anywhere near what they look like is difficult. 

My mast ended up odd, I may relook what I have because it really does not work well for me. The problem is that the 2 legs are sloped backwards and I made them the wrong way around. There are also two platforms that house the radar gear. I have not added them or any of the associated monkey island equipment. 

The pair of cranes turned out reasonably well, I eventually changed the cable to a thin wire painted black and was reasonably happy with the outcome. However, because of the long well deck I ended up with having to make one boom longer than the other. The twin derricks were similarly strung with wire, but they did not come out well and ended up hampering my work on the front of the superstructure. I shouldn’t have mounted them when I did and left them for almost last.  My aft crane is somewhat of a mess. As far as I recall it was stowed facing forward. There was not enough space on that pool deck area for it to face forward. 

Did anything go right?

No, it turned out to be somewhat of a disaster. However, having completed my ship I am happy to say that she does bear a resemblance to the RMS, and I probably won’t attack her with a saw again. She certainly will not end up at the breakers, but will be a good example of how not to build something on this scale. It would be very much easier to build a larger scale model, but my ship collection is comprised of 1/1200 and 1/1250 models so I would like to fit her in with that. 

Closeup? 

I have retouched some of the paintwork on the computer and the portholes have to be redone because they are terrible. But to do that I need to get 2 coats on the superstructure.  I really need a break from building her though, and will see how it goes from then.

And that is where we stand today. The big question is: “Is she finished?”

The reply is: “yes and no. Ask again next week”.

Postscript:

Since writing this post I took the ship and removed the “portholes and windows”, made a change to the stern deck, repainted the hull and superstructure, added exhausts to the funnel, an antenna on the bridge, a flag staff aft and lost a lifeboat. I then had to make a new lifeboat and mix paint to create orange, mounted the new boat and painted all 4 boats because getting a perfect colour match is impossible. It never really ends does it? tonight when I get home I will be relooking those “portholes and windows” and touching up paint. I have since rebuilt the mast and am currently relooking the pool area. This is what it looked like way back when I sailed on her.

The ship is now officially completed, and has set sail for the inside of my display cabinet. It was fun, and now I have nothing to do at night anymore. bah humbug, that’s ok because I have 2 new ships to work on, namely the SS France and HMS Tiger. That ought to keep me amused until I start on the original St Helena. 

© DRW 2017. Created 26/05/2017

Updated: 05/07/2017 — 19:14

Tewkesbury Mini-steam Weekend 2017

It was that time of the year when Tewkesbury holds a number of events in and around the town. The first event that I attended this year was the mini-steam weekend that was held on the 24th and 25th of June. I attended the event last year too as well as in 2015. I had an information leaflet somewhere but seem to have mislaid it again so will really cheat a bit if I need info. The event is held by the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society. in the grounds of the Tewkesbury Rugby Club.

The engines on display are not the large full sized beasties, but smaller versions that mimic their bigger breathren; and like the full sized vehicles are feats of engineering way beyond my skill level. Realistically most of the machines this year were the same as I saw last year, in fact that was the problem with the event this year, I had seen it before but I do look for the odds and ends that make it different. 

This was the first engine that I saw while I was walking to the event, I have seen this guy quite often with his engine “Jack”, and he seems to thoroughly enjoy himself. The Abbey can be seen in the background of the image. 

The event has the usual mix of traders, enthusiasts, vintage cars and interested parties, and quite a few of the engines were raising steam when I got there.

Oh, and having their brightwork polished. Make no mistake, these machines require lots of time, patience and probably a healthy bank balance too. 

This wonderful showmens engine is typical of that particular type of vehicle with loads of shiney brass fiddly bits.

I am always fascinated by the electrical plant on these machines. It has a certain “Frankensteinish” look about it.

Here are a few of the steamers just waking from their slumbers while their owners had that first cuppa.

There was one exhibit that I ended up rooted to the spot at. It featured a single sided ploughing engine (my terminology may be out of wack though), and I spent quite a lot of time listening to the owner enthusing about his pet project. And, she was a beauty. 

I am no boffin on these things, but this system uses a single ploughing engine, an anchor, with an associated trolley and a double ended tool carrier. Wait, let me see whether I can find a link to explain it all. http://www.steamploughclub.org.uk/index.htm has a nice description on how steam ploughing actually works. In the image above the engine is closest to the camera. The dolly in the middle looks like this. Since the war ended GI Joe has gone into the ploughing industry.

The other end (called a travelling anchor) looks like this….

And it has the large disk-like wheels to prevent it being pulled sideways by the engine with ballast on the opposite side to the engine to prevent it from tipping from the load. A large twin forked anchor is set into the ground ahead of it and it is winched forward to the anchor as the rows are ploughed.  

These models are really magnificent and the owner is rightly proud of them too. I can see why. 

A full sized ploughing engine? they look like this… 

Continuing on my meander I also spotted this quirky steam powered ape. 

Who says steam in not versatile?

While I was walking around a number of engines were making their way to the arena where they circled around in a slightly haphazard way.

You can even use steam to walk the family dog and tow the family around.

There was a small display of vintage cars, and there were some I had not seen before.

And then there was this Kombi in the distance, she should have been in that line-up too.

By now I was considering my homeward trek and stopped at some of the traders tents to look around. The one tent had all of these wonderful old vintage and not so vintage tools in it, and what a strange eclectic collection it was. 

And while I was loitering there I heard a strange noise behind me… 

And then it was time to go. However I shall enthral you with my random pics.

   
   

And that was my day. Hope you enjoyed it too.

One final pic… because this is one of the things that Tewkesbury is known for:

© DRW 2017. Created 24/06/2017

Updated: 24/06/2017 — 15:39

Return to the UK

On the 6th of April I packed my gear and prepared to go home from South Africa. I still struggle with the idea that South Africa is no longer home, and that I really was doing things the other way around. I was flying Virgin Atlantic again, and would use the Gautrain to get to the airport.

The weather had been typical summery weather (even though it was Autumn), but rain was forecast for the later that week, although by the 6th the rains came.  

Driving in Johannesburg is a challenge, the roads are crowded, potholes are large, idiots abound and law enforcement is usually absent. The highways are really a free-for-all and at times a giant parking lot. After having lunch it was time to go and my friends took me to Marlboro Gautrain station where I caught the airport link to Oliver Tambo International Airport. It started raining just as we left and fortunately we were heading east as opposed to west where the traffic was bumper to bumper. I did attempt photography from the front seat but the combination of rain, vibration and everything else rendered the images useless.

Once at the airport things got really slow as we queued to go through immigration. So much so that by the time I got through it the gates for boarding were open and I was not able to take any images in and around the international departures. The one thing I do recall was the exorbitant price for half a litre of  water (R35), at one vendor and R10 at the duty free.

The flight was scheduled for over 10 hours and we took off at 8.30ish and it wasn’t too awful and there were just over 250 people on board. It always amazes me how some people consider 5 items of luggage as being perfect for carry on luggage.  Service was much better on this return flight than it had been on the departure flight and I didn’t watch too much though. A rewatch of Rogue One was in order and I also took in Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival. Those two were really good watches and I recommend them both. 

I had an aisle seat in the centre aisle and for once I actually remembered to show what food was available on the aircraft and the menu is to the left of the text. I had the Bobotie and the eggs for brekkies and they were not great. 

I managed quite well during the flight and my bladder did not make a nuisance of itself for once, and I did not sleep at all as we headed North with the longest stretch over Africa.

We landed around about 6.30am and after a long queue at immigration I had my baggage and was on my way to the Heathrow Express station to catch my ride to Paddington. I had used the Heathrow Express to get to Heathrow initially, but wanted to use the Heathrow Connect for this trip so that I knew it for the future. The Express does not cut too much time off the trip to Paddington, but is more than double the price of the Connect option. The first time I landed in the UK I had used the Tube to get me to my destination, although that made more sense considering I was heading to South London whereas now I had to get to Paddington Station.

The train is comfortable and got quite crowded as we got closer to Paddington and it appears as if it is used by a number of locals to commute with. The cost for a ticket is £10.30 (or thereabouts)

At Paddington I finally stopped and grabbed a breather. I had almost 3 hours to kill before my next train to Cheltenham Spa was due. It was too short a time to go into London but very long if you have time to spare. If I had not had luggage with me I would have spent the time in reckless abandon in London on what was a really nice Spring day. I had deliberately planned the train time to be able to deal with any eventualities or delays along the way.

Paddington Station is an interesting space, especially when it comes to the roof. And, while there is not a large variety of trains in it you do get unique images if you look for them.

I am quite proud of seeing 4 HST’s under one roof on the same day!

The new shopping area is also open and I found that they had installed a Paddington themed shop in it too. 

I also found a neat Paddington shaped collection box in the shop and was able to donate some of the heavy change that I was accumulating along the way.

Paddington Station can be very full at times, and there is a constant hussle and bustle as trains arrive or depart. My 11.36 train appeared on the board at roughly 11H10, and was listed as “preparing”. 

They put up the platform number roughly 10 minutes before scheduled departure and then there was a mad rush as we all headed to the platform for our train. 

I arrived in Cheltenham Spa close to 13H30 and managed to grab the bus to Clarence Street Bus Station and then a bus to Tewkesbury where I found that there was no real way to get home with my luggage unless I hung around to 15H45 for a taxi or 15H17 for the local bus that goes through the area where I live. It was too far to hoof it with luggage though so once again I waited. 

It was all done and dusted. I had used 8 trains, 2 aircraft and 3 buses on this trip, I had covered a lot of kilometres, and discovered that even though I had last driven 3 years ago, still knew how to drive. Unfortunately my trip was not about pleasure and more about reality, it was not a holiday either, although I did get to renew acquaintances with friends I had last seen in 2014. 

South Africa has changed and is constantly changing as people get more cheesed off with the powers that be. At some point something is going to have to be done. The events of 7 April show that more and more people are getting very unhappy with the status quo. Whatever happens I just hope that it does not involve violence. 

And, to make matters worse it is back to work on Monday.

Random Images.

© DRW 2017. Created 08/04/2017

Updated: 05/05/2017 — 12:48

Going home

Early on Monday I started my long journey to South Africa. It entailed 4 train rides and an 11 hour flight. I am doing a direct flight this time around so won’t have that long layover in Dubai to deal with and two flights. Frankly I do not mind flying Emirates but really dislike that airport and I am struggling with my lower back and hip pain.

It is worth noting that my destination is no longer what I consider “Home“. 

Why am I doing this? My mother is 87 and doing poorly. My original intention was to head down there next year, but I am sufficiently concerned to change my plans. I do not know what the outcome of this trip will be. Actually, if things do not go well in the future I will be flying back anyway. 

The chances are I won’t be posting many updates until I get back in April, so till then keep the powder dry, and boil the kettle!

And don’t forget to put the cat out, although I did not know he was on fire.

Getting underway…. 

I left Tewkesbury early on Monday 20th from Ashchurch for Tewkesbury Station. It was a cold and gloomy day and from there I traveled to Cheltenham Spa and boarded the GWR train to London Paddington Station.  I had last been at Paddington in June 2016, so was more confident of what I could do or not do from the station. 

Our loco; 43187, was one of the recently repainted GWR operated vehicles, and she was  branded as “The Welshman”. My plan was to leave my luggage at Paddington and grab the tube to South Kensington and then go visit the Science Museum as well as photograph the interior of the Natural History Museum. I had allowed roughly 3 hours to do this before I had to get back to catch the train to Heathrow,

However, before I did anything I went to the War Memorial on the station that has really taken on a deeper meaning since I read the book (Letter to an Unknown Soldier) that is based on this famous statue.  

I then caught the Circle Line at Paddington, heading west towards South Kensington Station.

There is a subway that runs under the streets from the tube station to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, and that saved me a long walk through Kensington Gardens in what could have changed to wet weather.

Emerging from the subway I was at the Natural History Museum.  I had seen the building in 2016, but had not really taken much notice because I am not really interested in a museum like that, however, the building is magnificent and unfortunately the entrance where I emerged was closed, and at that point alarm bells started to ring in my head.

The museum was boarded off and my heart sank when I realised I was not going to be seeing the interior of the building. I had seen it briefly in the Paddington Movie and that is what really spurred my interest in seeing the interior. Unfortunately, this part of the museum was closed and I had to make do with a few long shots and not much else.

Around the block I schleped… thoroughly browned off at this happening, a similar thing had happened when I first arrived in London in 2013 and went to visit the Imperial War Museum.

My walk around the block did reveal one interesting object worthy of photographing:

Known as the “Queen’s Tower” it is all that remains of the Imperial Institute, which was built to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. The unveiling stone was laid by Queen Victoria on 4 July 1881,  The Imperial Institute building was demolished between 1957 and 1967 and between 1967 and 1968 work was carried out to enable the tower to stand on its own and the lower portion of the tower was substantially rebuilt. (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/about/history/queens-tower/)

The London Science Museum

The London Science Museum

My first Science Museum visit in June 2016 was by necessity a short one. I had missed the entire flight exhibition and I really wanted to explore it further.

The London Science Museum

I have created a post dealing with the Science Museum visit but I will expand it when I return home in April, This post is really a quickie to establish some sort of continuity, and as such we will jump forward to Paddington Station where I boarded the Heathrow Express  and headed off to the airport to board my onward flight to South Africa with Virgin Atlantic.

It cost me £22 for the one way trip, while the trip from OR Tambo airport to Marlboro Station in Johannesburg on the Gautrain set me back R150. It is an interesting comparison. (£1 = ±R15)

Check in was easy although I kept on dropping everything, and after a shortish wait I was on board the Boeing 787, with a row to myself. This particular aircraft is called “Birthday Girl” and it would be the first time I have flown in a “Dreamliner”. 

As far as flights go it was not too bad, the food was ok, the onboard video service was reasonably good, although I only watched 3 movies. What I did find poor was that that they did not come around with beverages often and luckily I had a small water bottle with me. Service wise Emirates wins hands down, but I was not as sore and tired after this flight as I would have been had I done the stopover in Dubai.  The interior of the aircraft changes colour which explains the pinks and purples, and the windows do not have blinds, instead they have a button that either lightens or darkens the window when needed. I was however concerned that there were not as many toilet facilities as on the other aircraft I have flown on. 

Because I had a row to myself I was able to indulge in some photography too as we headed south.

And then we were on final approach to OR Tambo, and I saw Johannesburg in the distance. I had last been here just under 3 years ago, and considering how much I had read about the economic and political situation in the country I was not too sure what I would find.

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

Because it was “Human Rights Day” the airport was relatively quiet, and by 8.30 I was on my way to Marlboro where I was collected by my brother.

24/03/2017

My mother is doing very badly and drastic action has to be taken and tough decisions made and I do not any quick and ready answers. To be frank I was shocked, and at times I still cannot believe it. However, we can only do our best with what resources we have and then take it from there.

© DRW 2017. Created 21-24/03/2017.

Updated: 11/04/2017 — 12:39

Return to Worcester

On 13 March I returned to Worcester as I had some free time. It was a spur of the moment thing though because the weather was wonderful and Spring is in the air. Unfortunately the trains were not. Somewhere something had broken and Ashchurch had one at the platform and one in the distance and none of ours in sight.

The train was delayed by 20 minutes and in an effort to make up the schedule was only going to Worcester Shrub Hill Station.  It is also a larger station than Foregate, but seems to take very little traffic compared to Foregate. Last time I was in Worcester I spotted the semaphores again and the set at Shrub Hill is much larger than the one I had seen previously

Here you can see the split in the rails (Shrub Hill sits on the vertical leg of the T junction, with Foregate on the line to the left and Birmingham to the right). I asked a conductor about them and he said that they are still in use and they do not know when they will be replaced. There is signal box located at the south end of platform 1, and two signal boxes at Henwick (west of Foregate Street), and Tunnel Junction to the north of Shrub Hill. 

Bailing out at Shrub Hill messed with my plans because I had planned to head off to St John’s Cemetery in Henwick, and then return via the cathedral. Now it made sense to go to the cathedral first, take my pics and then go to the cemetery. I could see the cathedral from the station so really just had to head in the general direction. 

Actually I am glad things did work out like that because I saw more of Worcester as I wobbled along. 

Presumably this was the local Great Western Hotel associated with the station. The station building is quite impressive and was designed by Edward Wilson and built in 1865. It is a Georgian-style building mainly of engineering brick with stone facings, but situated where it is you cannot get a decent image of it from the parking area beneath it.  

To the right of the hotel was what seems to be an “Industrial Park”, what it was before I do not know, but it is large and very impressive. 

It is really a large warehouse type structure, and at the far end is one of those wonderful clock towers that seem to pop up in the strangest places.

Then I crossed over what I suspect is the Worcester and Birmingham Canal that eventually comes out at a set of locks into the Severn River. If you follow the Severn there is a good chance you may end up in Tewkesbury.

Just look at that sky! I had not brought my parka with today and eventually had to remove my hoodie because I was getting decidedly overheated. 

I then threaded my way through the maze of streets towards my end destination.

Finally ending up at the Guildhall. 

And if you know where to look you will spot Cromwell above the door, with his ears nailed to the wall (theoretically).

While Edward Elgar looked towards the traffic and probably lamented the lack of Pomp and Circumstance.

At this point I went to the cathedral to photograph the “Woodbine Willie” plaque and window, and those will be covered in my “Connections: Woodbine Willie” post. Suffice to say I did take some new cathedral images and you can view my original Cathedral post on its own page.

After finishing the cathedral I then headed to the right of the image above into what is known as Deansway Street, passing the Ducal Palace 

Until I detoured to the remains of the Medieval Church of St Andrews. 

The structure is also known as “Glover’s Needle”. The plaque inside gives more information, unfortunately it is affixed to the far wall of the spire and not readable from the locked gate. Thank goodness for optical zoom. Click on the image to read the plaque. 

It is a very pretty spot and it overlooks the river close to the bridge. It must have been a fine looking church and today is a very easily recognisable landmark in the city. 

This is the road bridge over the Severn, while the railway bridge and viaduct is in the image below.

Once across the bridge I entered into Cripplegate Park.

And then through the park and onwards to my destination: St John’s Cemetery in Henwick. 

As far as cemeteries go, this one is reasonably uninteresting, there are 33 CWGC graves in the cemetery and I would photograph those that I saw, my final tally being 29. My real aim was to photograph this grave.

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, also known as “Woodbine Willie” would gain fame through his work on the Western Front during the First World War, and his devotion to the poor. He was an orator and a poet who drew crowds to hear him speak. He was also the vicar of St. Paul’s in Worcester (next on my bucket list).

This grave really closes a chapter for me, one that started in London in 2016, and which led me here in 2017. Read about the strange chain of events at “Connections: Woodbine Willie”

Then it was time to head back. I had 2 choices. I could increase speed and make the 13H03 train, or dawdle and make the 15H06 train. Given how wonky the trains were the former seemed like a better idea and I rang down for full ahead. 

Back along the path I had come, passing over the railway line with it’s signal cabin that was mentioned above,

Past St John’s Church,

Through Cripplegate Park with its really nice ornate non functional fountain,

Over the bridge, pausing to take a photograph,

Up Broad Street and past All Saint’s Worcester,

along Foregate Street, pausing to take an image of Lloyd’s Bank and the former church alongside. Now called “Slug and Lettuce”  it was the former St Nicholas Church that dated from the 18th Century. It is a Grade II listed building but is no longer an active church.

I snuck a peek inside and it was stunning. 

Leaving slugs and their lettuce I finally arrived at  the station with 6 minutes to spare.

That was not my train though, mine was the next one. And, while it left on time it tarried before Shrub Hill and did not rush to Ashchurch either. 

Worcester was in the bag, although there are enough reasons to return one day, It wont be anytime soon though because I have an even bigger trip ahead of me, but that is another story for another day. 

© DRW 2017. Created 13/03/2017. 

Updated: 06/04/2017 — 06:21

A waddle through Worcester

The last time I was in Worcester was in June 2015 when I came for a job interview in Tewkesbury. At the time I had a few minutes between trains so quickly walked up Foregate Street to see if I could spot the cathedral. I did however not go far enough before I turned around and went back to Foregate Street Station to catch my train. There are not a lot of trains between Aschurch for Tewkesbury and Worcester (or anywhere else for that matter) so any trip I made would be a short one; there is a 3 hour window to sightsee in, and after that you are stuck for almost 2 hours waiting for the train.  I had not planned any cemetery visits for this trip, this was really about the cathedral.  The weather was grey and gloomy as my pics show, and definitely not photography weather, but one day hopefully I will return on a sunnier day.  

(I made a return visit on 13/03/2017 to photograph St John’s cemetery, you can read about it at “Return to Worcester”)

Your first view of the cathedral was through the dirty window of the train as it pulls into Worcester Shrub Hill Station. The two stations are quite close together but Shrub Hill is on the line to Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol and eventually Weymouth. 

Worcester Foregate Street serves the line that goes from Great Malvern to Birmingham and this is the street I would use to get to the Cathedral. 

The town is a pretty one with a very nice array of old buildings and some really spectacular ones too. There was one building that I was really after and that was the Guildhall, but first…

This building is labelled “The Hop Market Hotel” and it is stunning. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the name is still clearly visible on the stone façade of the building, although it is no longer a hotel.  It is a Grade II listed building and the date 1836 may be seen above the one doorway. 

The next building on the right hand side of the image is/was a church, it is sadly now called “Slug and Lettuce” A bit of rooting around reveals that it is the former St Nicholas Church that dates from the 18th Century. It is a Grade II listed building but is no longer an active church (which is a shame).

Lloyds Bank is next door

and this beaut that I cannot name as yet.

The one place I did remember from my passing through in 2015 was the Guildhall, and it is really quite an ornate affair on the exterior with  statues, gilt, carvings and reliefs. it was built in  1721, and designed by Thomas White, a local architect. 

Unfortunately you cannot get far back to fit the building into a straight forward image.  I am particularly fond of the statues that adorn it, as well as the various faces that peer out from above the windows. The local tourism centre is housed in in one corner of the building and if you like decorative gimmicks I guess this is the place to see it. I believe there is an interesting war memorial in the building so it is listed as worth going to see again.

Charles I

Queen Anne

Charles II

I believe that the stone head above the door in this image is supposed to represent Oliver Cromwell, with his ears nailed to the frame, although we do not know what Oliver Cromwell looked like in real life, so they could be having us on.

I was now close to my goal, and I spotted a statue of Edward Elgar who was a great believer in “Pomp and Circumstance.” The Cathedral was across the street. 

 

At this point you can go to the page about the cathedral by clicking the convenient arrow below.

forwardbut

Like most of these buildings it is very difficult to take a photograph that encompasses the whole building. This is the best that I could do from this position. I believe that a better image can be taken from Fort Royal Hill

Pride of place in front of the Cathedral is the Memorial to the men from Worcestershire who lost their lives in the Boer War. 

At this point I entered the Cathedral and that part of this post continues on another page. My return to the station continues below.

I exited the cathedral and headed to the embankment that overlooks the River Severn (which also flows past Tewkesbury). There is a rail bridge and a road bridge over the Severn and I was really curious about the rail bridge.

The bridge in the foreground is the road bridge. The cathedral was behind me at this point.

I walked a bit further until I found what looked like an exit from the cathedral close, and it came out at the Edgar Tower. 

At this point I had quite a lot of time to kill till before my projected train at 15.06 (or thereabout). I had seen something called the “Museum of Royal Worcester“, and I thought that it was related to the local regiment so headed off into that direction. However I was sadly disappointed to find that it was a porcelain museum! Royal Worcester is believed to be the oldest or second oldest remaining English porcelain brand still in existence today. 

What now? I was tempted to take a walk to one of the two cemeteries in the city, but neither was really within walking range given the train timings, so I decided to head in the direction of the station. 

Like Tewkesbury Worcester has a lot of old timber framed buildings that line it’s narrow streets, many are taken up by small business that cater for a specialised clientèle. They are pretty buildings and some are probably very old, but they are very difficult to photograph.

By the way, the slightly furtive figure is a representation of Charles II fleeing Cromwell on 3 September 1651. “Worcester was the site of the Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651), when Charles II attempted to forcefully regain the crown, in the fields a little to the west and south of the city, near the village of Powick. However, Charles II was defeated and returned to his headquarters in what is now known as King Charles house in the Cornmarket, before fleeing in disguise to Boscobel House in Shropshire from where he eventually escaped to France. Worcester had supported the Parliamentary cause before the outbreak of war in 1642 but spent most of the war under Royalist occupation.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcester)

There are a number of these small bronzes in the area where I now was, and I was surprised to find a statue of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy aka “Woodbine Willie”. I had seen a wall memorial to him in London in 2016 and this was a nice feather in my cap.

Close to Woodbine Willie was a small church, actually it was the back of “St Martin in the Cornmarket”, although it should now be called “St Martin in the car park”. 

It was a pretty church on the inside, although not awe inspiring. Sadly the churchyard was a disgrace.

I discovered four of those small bronze statues in the area of the church and they were really charming. These are the other three. 

I was slowly heading in the direction of the station so really just decided to see about getting an earlier train to Tewkesbury, I had 35 minutes until a train left so had till then to decide what to do. 

The sign on this building reads: “The Worcester New Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd. 1888” 

I grabbed a quick bacon butty and decided that I would head towards the two bridges over the Severn, There were a number of interesting buildings in the street I was heading down, although it is doubtful whether many are still being used for what they were originally built as.

This building was fascinating, Now occupied by “Tramps Nightclub” it was formerly the East Side Congregational Church and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1858. Right next door to it what is now known as the Angel Centre.

It has a very interesting Memorial Stone that ties it into the former church next door.

As I walked I was able to glimpse portions of that railway bridge I saw from the cathedral, although time was starting to become an issue again.

It is a very impressive structure, and I was not even seeing all of it from where I stood. Sadly though it was time to leave and I turned around and headed back to the station, passing this oldie that stood on the side of a hill.

If only I knew the stories behind these old faded buildings that seemingly exist with our characterless modern architecture. 

At the station I spotted my first class 166 in the new GWR livery. It was heading to Paddington, I was not.

The strange thing about Foregate Street Station is even though it has two platforms you catch the train to Weymouth on the same platform as you would disembark from it.  

When last I was here I had photographed from the other platform and there was a tantalising glimpse of two churches which will be on my list for the next time I am in Worcester.

Now why wasn’t the weather like that on this trip? definitely a reason to return.

And, one final puzzle, why are there semaphore signals in this portion of the line?

And that concludes my trip to Worcester. I will be back one day I hope, there is a lot more to see that I did today, but then I was really there for the cathedral, and now that it has been seen I can make a plan to see the other sights that I know about now.  It is all about exploration and waddling through Worcester.

© DRW 2017. Created 20/02/2017  

Updated: 15/04/2017 — 13:22
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