Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Sandling Park 2018



Sandling Park was open on Sunday for the one day in the year. Once again, the azaleas and rhododendrons were magnificent.




So was the cake.




Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 34 – Escaping from Hitler

Continuing the series of passport portraits in my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
Ruth is a fourteen year old schoolgirl living in Berlin. She has grey-blue eyes and brown hair but the distinguishing feature which is dwelt upon by her passport is that she is Jewish. The front page of her German passport bears the letter 'J' stamped in red ink. 

What sacrifices her family had to make one can only imagine, for Ruth was issued her passport on 18 November 1939 complete with a German exit visa permitting her to leave via the Brenner pass to Italy, and a visa to enter Chile.
She crossed into Italy on the following day and embarked from Genoa on the m.s. Augustus, one of Italy's transatlantic liners working the South American route. On 28 December she was examined on board by Jorge Baumann and given permanent residence in Chile. 

On its return to Italy, the m.s. Augustus was withdrawn from service and converted into an aircraft carrier for the Italian Navy. In 1944 it was scuttled in Genoa harbour by the Germans.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Fifteen rabbits and a rainbow.




Having just delivered three lectures in Oxfordshire I gazed out of my hotel bedroom window and this is what I saw.

Fifteen rabbits and a rainbow.

Monday, 23 April 2018

How do you pronounce 'Leominster'?

I recently visited Leominster for the first time and wondered if the pronunciation of its name would provide the genus of controversy that Shrewsbury does. (Is it 'Shrowsburry' or 'Shroosbery'?)

Of course we are happily familiar with Leicester (Lester) Loughborough (Luffboro) and Towcester (Toaster) all of which still trip up the unknowing so working on that knowledge I calculated that Leominster would probably be pronounced 'Lemster'.

Well, blow me down, I had not expected an exhibit outside the town museum to answer my query so substantially. My next question is, if the town was called 'Lemster' then why and when did they decide to spell it 'Leominster'?


I should have asked the question in the tourist information centre but arriving at the counter I was distracted by the prominent display of a handbill advertising my imminent talk. And at the corner of the street was another.

What a lovely place Lemster is, however they spell it!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Cumberland pencils.

When I was at primary school I was given a set of coloured crayons made by the Cumberland Pencil Company. I think that there must have been about fifteen colours in the set. I had shades such as, spring green, grass green, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and crimson.

The crayons and pencils were made in Keswick in the Lake District. This was because of the discovery, centuries earlier, of very pure graphite in the hills around the town. I visited the Lake District for the first time in my life a few days ago. I was pleased to be there outside of the tourist season – it must be hell in Summer – and I went to see the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick.

My entry ticket to the museum.
The museum is set in the grounds of the former factory. The latter is now awaiting redevelopment and production has been moved to another location in the same area.
The disused Cumberland Pencil factory in Keswick.



If you are in the area, visit the museum and you will learn how pencils are made and a lot more besides. You might have to elbow your way through hordes of schoolchildren doing 'projects' but it is worth the effort.

And for a good light lunch, served quickly, go to the upstairs restaurant of the bakers in the high street.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Kendal is not just mintcake

If you say 'Kendal' to many people it will conjure up the flavour of Kendal Mint Cake which is a confection of mainly sugar and peppermint but the town of Kendal in the Lake District has other curiosities.

The Carnegie Library in Kendal, Cumbria.
The Carnegie Library in Kendal is one. Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish American who started work as a telegraph boy in Pittsburgh at the age of 14 and progressed to become a millionaire in iron, steel and oil. He spent much of his wealth on endowments to universities and in other educational projects.
This library in Kendal was financed by Carnegie, designed by a Kendal architect and opened in 1909.


Iron house fronts in Branthwaite Brow.


The fronts of these buildings in Branthwaite Brow are iron faced. Installed in 1863 as part of a street widening scheme, the plates were cast by a local iron founder, John Winder.











And exploring the many alleyways that creep between the buildings one can sometimes come across evidence of a former activity. 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

I didn't know Daleks were bronze coloured.


When I arrived at BBC Broadcasting House for my recent interview, apart from the security search, baggage scan and the issue of a pass, I was met by a Dalek. This was the first one that I had seen in the flesh and I discovered that they are bronze coloured. Well I never knew that. I had always thought that they were a silvery colour.

When Dr. Who came on television in the early 1960s the picture was in black and white and by the time colour TV had arrived, I had moved on (grown up) as it were.

You live and learn don't you?