To quote Ratty in full, ‘Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not’.
In my case, this postcard was the result of just messing about with photo editing software and apps. Just passing time, nothing special in mind other than messing about with a photograph taken a few years ago on a fairly dull March morning at Esthwaite Water, near Hawkshead in the Lake District.
The National Memorial Arboretum, near Alrewas, Staffordshire, is always a fascinating place to visit, and being just down the road from us, we have been many times in all seasons. However, this week much of the arboretum is illuminated and this adds another dimension and atmosphere to the experience. The complete trail is about a mile long and the illuminations were tasteful and varied. I include a couple of comparisons with daytime shots.
National Memorial Arboretum Illuminated
The group of ramblers on the first postcard will include leaders, followers and friends, although not quite ‘beside each other’ as they cross one of the many small bridges over the River Windrush at Bourton-On-The-Water.
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend”. Attributed to Albert Camus, French philosopher, author, and journalist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44 in 1957, the second youngest recipient in history. It made us realise that each day we switch seamlessly from leading to following, or not leading, not following, but hopefully walking beside each other as friends.
We saw the quote a few weeks in the Lettering Arts Centre at Snape Maltings. It was presented as a piece of beautifully hand-written calligraphy. Had it been a cheap plaque in a souvenir shop, or a fridge magnet at a garden centre, I may have dismissed it as a piece of sentimental sugar-coated trivia. However, it was displayed in a respected gallery, alongside other impressive works of art, and that seemed to give it more authority, gravitas and meaning.
The quote stuck with me and I knew that it was destined to be used in a postcard blog post. Back home, I searched through various files and folders of jpegs and found the following, hopefully appropriate selection. The first few showing ‘walk beside me and be my friend’ on the wonderful beach at Filey.
But perhaps not so much leading or following in the following one…
More ‘walking beside each other as friends’ this time on the unique cobb at Lyme Regis.
Moira Furnace was built in 1804 by the Earl of Moira. It was a coke-fuelled, steam-engine blown blast furnace for the smelting of iron from local iron ore, with an attached foundry for the manufacture of cast-iron goods.
The furnace was supplied with iron ore, coke, and limestone delivered by means of the adjacent Ashby Canal. The finished iron products would be dispatched by the same means. The furnace was built low down which made it easier to feed raw materials by taking them up the ramped bridge over the canal and feeding them into the top.
Although much thought and innovation went into the design it was a commercial failure. It was used intermittently until 1811 but it experienced continual problems. Bad design, bad construction, bad raw materials, and bad management were all to blame.
The furnace now has another life as a country park, museum, shop and home to numerous leisure activities including canal trips, fishing and the starting point of several walks around the National Forest.
I noticed that at the last three cathedrals we visited there was a pillar box close by and I began to wonder if there was some unwritten rule that a pillar box should always be provided near any cathedral. Why is there such a need for pillar boxes there? Who are the avid letter writers? They almost look out of place, as if they have escaped the hustle and bustle of a busy city centre or commercial area, to find peace and solace in the cathedral green or precinct, and who can blame them?
The most noteworthy of these three photographs is this Penfold hexagonal Victorian pillar box near Durham Cathedral. However, it is not actually a Victorian box. It is a replica, (is that a polite word for fake?) which was installed in the late 1980’s. Once you know that, and look at the overall condition, you realise it is not as old as it claims to be.
The Community of Cuthbert arrived in Durham from Lindisfarne in 995 and built an Anglo-Saxon cathedral. Construction of the Cathedral as we know it today was started in 1093 by Bishop William of St Calais. Amazing to think the construction of the cathedral and the unveiling of this pillar box spans a period of over 900 years.
The second postcard if from Gloucester Cathedral. This is the closest a pillar box got to the door of the cathedral so far!
And finally, a pillar box located at The Close adjacent to Lichfield Cathedral.
A slight deviation from the usual picture postcard but this appealed to my sense of humour and love of anything bizarre or quirky. Is it just me?
The Co-op has an ongoing project of providing defibrillators in the local community. Ours is outside the local Co-op store but this example a few miles from us caught my eye recently. it is on the wall of a funeral directors premises (the Co-op of course). It seems ironic that a business whose very existence relies on death should provide equipment designed to keep people alive! Apparently, these are funded from the 5p carrier bag levy. Full marks to the Co-op.
A post which was prompted by a question asked by a listener on Scala Radio last week – ‘When is all safely gathered in?’ In other words ‘when is the harvest complete?’. We weren’t in the car long enough to hear all the answers suggested by other listeners but I know there isn’t a set day when all the farmers can lock up their combined harvesters for another year, put their feet up and enjoy a well-earned rest after all their hard work. No doubt the finishing date of the harvest depends very much on the type of crop, weather conditions and geographical location.
It’s our church Harvest Festival this Sunday and we will be following the practice of recent years of not offering gifts of fresh, home grown produce, but instead, providing non perishable items which in turn will be donated to the local YMCA food bank. This has significance in more ways than one; firstly, that most people in the congregation no longer grow their own fruit and vegetables, and secondly, the ever-growing need for food banks in 2019. This is a commendable idea but I do miss the sight and smell of all the potatoes, carrots, greens and apples which greeted us in earlier years.
Of course some things will never change as no harvest service is complete without the obligatory ‘We plough the fields…’ or ‘Come ye thankful people come…’!
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.
A postcard from home, taken during an evening stroll by the nearby river Trent. In fact, we crossed the Trent via the Ferry Bridge, a familiar landmark to all Burtonians. The bridge leads to a walkway, Stapenhill Viaduct, which links Burton town centre to the suburb of Stapenhill, around half a mile on the other side of the river.
Before the bridge was built, the only way across the river at that point was by a small ferry. The bridge was gifted to the town in 1889 by the brewer, Michael Arthur Bass.
Around that time the population of Burton was growing rapidly, mainly due to the expansion of the brewing industry. The Ferry Bridge must have been welcomed and appreciated by the large number of brewery workers who lived on one side of the river but worked on the other side. They could finally cross the river free of toll. (Not such good news for the ferryman).
The bridge is described as a semi-suspension bridge. It was the first of its kind in Europe to be built to this design and possibly the only one remaining. It is made of wrought iron and cast iron, and is Grade II listed. Two or three years ago it was completely refurbished.
It is still used by hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists every day. A real turn-around is that cycling across the bridge was strictly prohibited when the bridge was first build until quite recently. Those who ignored the warnings ran the risk of a fine of forty shillings (£2.00) in the early days, which eventually rose to £10 before the rule was finally abolished. Now, a narrow cycle lane is marked and this is part of National Cycle Route 63.
The viaduct part of the walkway is necessary as it crosses the Trent Washlands, an area which can be very wet and boggy and in fact floods from time to time.
At the Stapenhill side of the river are the Stapenhill Gardens, an area very popular with residents. Locals will tell you this is the largest swan in England!