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.
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.
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 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.
The third and final postcard of this trio from Beamish.
Beamish is home to several electric trams which run on a mile and a half circuit around the site. The museum contains modes of transport in all shapes and sizes. Not only is this of interest to transport enthusiasts but forms a much-welcomed way of moving around the site, for visitors and staff, all included in the entrance fee.
Dipping into the file of photos from our recent visit to Beamish again, this time looking at some of the many buildings on site. Most of these have been re-located, (or translocated is the word used on the Beamish website) stone by stone, brick by brick, from outlying towns and villages and now form an important part of the structure and layout of the museum.The town area, officially opened in 1985, depicts a typical street scene of around 1913.Ravensworth Terrace is a row of terraced houses, presented as the premises and living areas of various professionals, e.g. a music teacher, dentist and solicitor.The school opened on site in 1992. The building originally stood in East Stanley, It was donated by Durham County Council. No they are not IPads on the desks! Who remembers a Stephens Ink thermometer from school days?
The relocation of Pit Hill Chapel was completed in 1990. Originally opened in the 1850s, it first stood not far from its present site, having been built in what would eventually become Beamish village. It houses a fine replica of a double-lensed acetylene gas powered magic lantern as the chapel would have been used for various community activities.
As brass band enthusiasts we had to visit the Hetton Silver Band Hall which was opened in 2013.
As one of the more recent ‘translocations’ we felt it need to weather a bit as the brickwork looked new and pristine as did the surrounding block paving. However, it represents the role of numerous colliery bands in the area. The hall had been used by the Hetton Silver Band, founded in 1887, and the band donated the hall to the museum after they merged with Broughtons Band of South Hetton to form the Durham Miners’ Association Band. It is still used for performances at the museum.
St Helen’s Church was relocated from its original site in Eston, North Yorkshire where it had existed since around 1100. It opened at the Beamish site in November 2015.
We recently spent an enjoyable day at the Beamish Museum https://www.beamish.org.uk/ ‘The Living Museum of the North’. It is a vast site and includes relocated buildings making up a small town, pit village, colliery, farm, railway station and much more, all connected by a tramway and other forms of period transport. What really brings it to life is the small army of staff and volunteers who clearly enjoy living out the lives of the characters they depict. It was school-trip season but that didn’t detract and it was good to see young people engaging with all that was on offer.
I am sure we will return on the annual pass offer (pay once and return as often as you like in the next twelve months). Hopefully one or two more blogs to follow shortly but in the meantime here are a few ‘Beamish People’. I couldn’t resist a bit of post shutter editing as these seemed to cry out for some monochrome treatment. I hope you agree.
The second day of our recent mini-break was spent at Grange-over-Sands.
We last visited Grange-over-Sands about 15 years ago and as expected, nothing has changed and we were pleased about that. The town has a sort of timeless charm and doesn’t need to change. That of course is spoken as a tourist; residents may or may not agree.
The only thing that should change is the name, Grange-over-Sands. It is a big misnomer and some have suggested it should change its name to Grange-over-Grass. Apparently the “over-Sands” suffix was added to Grange in the late 19th or early 20th century by the local vicar who was fed up with his post going to Grange in Borrowdale near Keswick. Since then, the river Kent has changed its course and the water (Morecambe Bay) and the sand is now a fair distance away. Instead of ‘Where’s Wally?’ it’s ‘Where’s the sand?’
There is a mile-long promenade but this is not a typical seaside resort promenade. This one is totally traffic-free and instead of shops and amusement arcades there are views across the bay on one side and informal gardens lovingly tended by local volunteers on the other side. We ‘Nordic-walked’ the whole length from the station and back with the gardens on one side and views over the bay to the other side.
The station building was designed mid-1860s and was tastefully restored to its former glory in the late 1990s. It is a delightful building. The light and shade through the glass canopy created this fascinating effect on the platform.
The train was about to leave for Manchester Airport, calling at such places as Carnforth, Lancaster, Preston, Wigan, Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly, all a far cry from sleepy little Grange.
Oh dear what can the matter be…?
What was the problem in the toilets which required hazard warning signs and hard hats? Clearly much more than just a dripping tap!