A Raft of Apples

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Petrol Stop

Petrol in Bloomsbury
On the corner of a London street is, what was, the site of Central London's oldest petrol station which opened in 1926.  The Ridgmount Petrol Station (also known as Bloomsbury Petrol Station) closed in 2008.  There was a failed attempt to get it listed and today the site is occupied by a burger chain and office buildings. Where the outdoor seating is in the photograph was once the petrol station forecourt which can be seen on Vici MacDonald's 'Shopfront Elegy' blog here.  I haven't been able to find a period photograph of the petrol station but did discover on the way that the history of petrol pumps is called Petroliana and here is a photograph of some 1920s petrol pumps somewhere in rural Britain.     

Of course what attracted my attention in this corner of London was
Ridgmount Petrol
the eye-catching ceramic mural by the automobile artist Brian James influenced by Art Deco style. The work was commissioned by the Bedford Estate who own much of the land and features a Bedford van and sports car of the 1930s.  The driver is Mary Dutchess of Bedford of whose eventful life a whole book could be written.  She took up flying in her 60s but disappeared at the beginning of a solo flight in bad weather somewhere over the North Sea in 1937.  The colour chosen in the mural was the Bedford Racing colours.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at P here

Monday, 18 April 2016


Tulips opening their petals to the max and enjoying the sun

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


Here is Micklegate Post Office just the place to buy postcards to mail home if visiting York.  One step to browse the postcards on the right, enter to buy them and the stamps and then pop them in the Royal Mail box outside.  There is a handily placed bench outside the Micklegate Fisheries to eat fish and chips in the sunshine.

This block of buildings is, as you have now guessed, is on Micklegate (a name from the Norse, mykla gata, meaning Great Street).  The timbered black and white building is probably 16th Century and was restored in 1967 when it was estimated it was only ten years away from collapse. The lower portion is divided into shops, and has been throughout the centuries,  in past ages they were butchers shops and it is thought that is one of the reasons the building survived.  I am not sure of the dates of the other two buildings but would guess the one in the middle might be 17th Century and possibly the post office building is 18th Century. I believe there has been a post office here since 1842 (two years after the world's first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, was issued).

One way to walk along Micklegate is to enter through
Micklegate Bar, one of the entrances to the walled city of York since Medieval times.  Traditionally when the reigning monarch approaches the gate they have to ask the permission of the Lord Mayor to enter the city.  Here is the present Queen in 2012 outside the gate when she had come to give out the Maundy Money at York Minster on the Thursday before Easter Good Friday.
From Friends of York Walls page
An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at M here

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Egg Trail Loiter

My local canal had an Egg Trail along its length this Easter. Built at the hight of canal mania in the 18th Century it no longer serves its original purpose and access for ships is not possible from the sea at Morecambe Bay as the entrance is blocked off with concrete here which I think happened in the 1940s.
The old loch gate has gradually disintegrated, years ago it was a popular spot for diving off on summer days.  At only one mile in length the canal is a popular stroll on a nice day and in all weathers for dog walkers or sitting by for fishing folk.  Lets set off along the Easter Egg trail and see how many Ls I can spot for this week's ABC Wednesday
 Little Beasties, the local pet shop
Ulverston is the birthplace of Stan Laurel so of course there is The Stan Laurel Inn, a friendly pub with a wide range of beers one or more of which will be
from the Ulverston Brewing Company with their Laurel and Hardy themed beers which include, Laughing Gravy and Lonesome Pine.  They have really gone to town with the canal theme and a lighthouse
Here is the Ulverston egg, nicely positioned with the 'real' lighthouse in the background at the top of Hoad Hill. To save you squinting here it is
The flag is flying so its open for visitors to climb to the top to take in the view of bay and Lakeland hills.  Not actually a working lighthouse but a monument erected in 1850 to another of Ulverston's sons, Sir John Barrow, naval administrator, traveller and writer who also has a school named after him,
the Sir John Barrow Primary and Infant School, their Egg along complete with decorated wooden spoons

Lindow's, the jewellers.  Only sheep in the field and no sign of lambs.

The long straight canal path, how appropriate that the bikes were 'parked' by the Appleseeds the health food shops Egg
 Here is one that made me laugh, the Boogle and Bump shop (clothing for little people)
Lastly it is the Ulverston Lantern Festival Egg, an annual event that takes place in September.

I was pleased to see an Easter Egg with an X, always a tricky letter for ABC Wednesday so that one is tucked away for another occasion. 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at L here



Tuesday, 22 March 2016

River Kent

The River Kent starts its life in the Kentmere valley, here it is weaving its way through the town of Kendal, about nine miles away, in benign manner.  Not so recently, the winter storms saw the water level rise, and keep rising, eventually flooding the riverside walk and the houses alongside it.  The many bridges that cross the Kent
had to be checked for safety, one closed,
This footbridge is the most modern of the bridges.  The Kent is a short river (20 miles) but one of the fastest flowing in the spring wending its way over weirs and waterfalls and through villages
but here it is on a still autumnal day placid in the sunlight passing through the Levens valley while
sheep graze
and goats keep a curious eye open.
Kent Viaduct at Arnside
Eventually it will reaches Morecambe Bay, mingle with the salt water 

 and head out with the tide into the Irish Sea.

 "You could not step twice into the same river" (Heraclitus)

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at K here

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Jodrell Bank

Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope has come a long way from when in 1945 Bernard Lovell  (after his war time work on radar) was researching cosmic waves with an ex-military radar detector unit at the University of Manchester, with difficulty, because there was too much electric interference from the city's trams.  The Botany Department had an outpost at Jodrell Bank so he decamped out here and arrived at a muddy field on the Cheshire plain, expecting to be here for a couple of weeks, but eventually proceeding to build his telescope with used equipment left over from World War II.  He was told by the firms he contacted that what he was proposing was impossible but in 1949 found an ally in a bridge builder, Charles Husband, who said it was difficult but not impossible.
The whole telescope rotates on circular railway tracks, the bowl (which rather excitingly started to move while we were perambulating around it)
is supported on either side by two towers and can be tilted at any angle. The telescope became fully operational in 1957 just in time to follow the launch of the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, by the Russians.  The bowl is in the shape of a paraboloid and gathers the incoming radio waves from space.  If you can pick out the two small dishes in the gloom at either side of the base of the telescope in the first photograph
Whispering Dish
these are two miniature paraboloid dishes where one can whisper a message to a friend and discover why the shape is so important.   Today Jodrell Bank Telescope has been renamed in honour of Bernard Lovell (1913-2012) which even now, all these years later, is one of the biggest and most powerful radio telescopes in the world and has gone on from work on quasars and pulsars to things not even guessed about back then.  Apart from his contribution to radio astronomy (for which he was knighted in 1961) Lovell was a great communicator and that tradition continues with the  
Discovery Centre, here I am outside the Planet Pavilion which explains the wonders of the universe and the Jodrell Bank telescopes, not to mention interactive objects to while away a gloomy December day. Then to move outside to enjoy one of Bernard Lovell's other interests
trees (I think this one is a Whitebeam). He opened the Arboretum in 1972 and there is a large acreage to wander around containing the national collection of Sorbus and Malus
In 2011 they opened the Galaxy Garden designed by the gardener Chris Beardshaw which tells the story of the formation of the galaxy in seven key stages. The story in plants surrounds a mound inlaid with a chalk motif of the galaxy which can be seen on the gate notice above.  Wondering why I did not get up close and personal?

Inappropriate footwear in one of the wettest winters on record
Here is the Birth of the Planets, the grass is clumps of dust particles starting to gather together.  You will just have to imagine the flowering perennials representing the protoplanets clashing together.  We all agreed that a return in the Spring would be a more interesting time and also the apple trees would be in blossom
so enjoyed a few surprises, the trees and of course
the radio telescope.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at J here

Thursday, 10 March 2016

On the Essex Coast

I inherited a bound set of The War Illustrated from my paternal grandparents. One hundred years after publication I'm exploring its pages to discover the people and their times.
"The Modern Coastguard Goes Awheel"
The caption under the photograph's title continues "The breezy East Coast, so long the rendezvous of holiday enthusiasts, is now the scene of serious military activity.  A German raid upon the shores of |East Anglia is still possible, though highly improbable, but nothing has been left undone to defeat such attempt.  The extremely picturesque study shows a body of |Essex Cycle Scouts riding along one of the coast roads, which they patrol day and night, to give warning of any enemy approach by sea or air" 
I tried to identify where the 'river' and windmill was but despite a virtual roam along the East Anglia coast I could find no post mill that fitted its geographical location but did enjoy some stunning photographs.  The windmill made another appearance in publicity about the Essex Cycling Scouts but this time in a Cycling magazine (and it was this article that gave me another clue)
"The Essex cycling Battalion Guarding Our Coast"
Interestingly the War Illustrated image is from the 1st May 1915 and the Cycling image is from the issue 22nd April 1915. I imagine from this that the photographer enjoyed his day out with the Essex Cycling Scouts. The caption on the Cycling paper continues "It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the work entrusted to the cyclist in the home defence scheme.  The full scope of their duties cannot be disclosed - for obvious reasons - but upon their vigilance and resource much depends.  Our photographs show 1) the special kind of training the new battalions undergo; 2) lookout observation post manned by trained cyclists (yes that is our windmill ladder); and 3) a coast patrol at work,  A glance at the latter photograph enables one to appreciate the hazardous nature of this work at night when, of course, every light is extinguished and the precipitous paths on the cliffs are difficult to negotiate"   and you can also hazily see a windmill.

The story of the Cycling Battalions appears on the BSA and Military Bicycle Museum here.  Who knew there was a BSA museum, well not quite, its a virtual museum but a fascinating resource.  My first bicycle, and the one I learnt to ride on with my father running behind, was a BSA, I vividly remember its badge. Did I love my first bike and I don't remember bothering that it had no gears although I couldn't do without them now!  Money was tight so it was bought at a second hand shop for £5 but the pleasure and freedom to roam was without price.

But enough of my reminiscences, the 'Cycling' article mentioned cliffs so combining that with my search terms meant I stumbled across this
Old Windmill 1908

Yay. Unfortunately the windmill no longer exists but the Walton and Frinton Yacht Club who featured the postcard, built their club house (which opened in July 1920) on the foundations of the old windmill , this is Walton Creek. The windmill location -  Walton on the Naze - was built in 1846 for grinding cereal,by 1892 it was disused
Windmill at Walton, Essex AA78_01450
English Heritage say they do not know when the above photograph was taken but point out the costumes are Edwardian but wonder why there was a trip to a disused windmill..  Both the above photograph and the War Illustrated one make it look as though the post mill was on a river or creek.. But everything is in the crop because actually the
Walton Windmill and Boating Lake
view looked like this. The photograph appears on the Walton History Trail page of the 'Visit' site.  The Mill Pond or 'Mere' was converted to a boating lake.  "In its heyday it offered 250 small rowing, sailing and paddle boats".  They go on to say "Mill lane is the site of the former windmill and watermill (tide mill,) grinding locally-grown corn until 1922. Flour was then shipped from Halls Quay dock, and coals from Newcastle arrived on the return journey to supply the foundry and the former gas works near the station".  Other sources say that both the water mill and the windmill ceased working around 1900 and were demolished in 1920, or rather the tidal mill was demolished and the windmill collapsed.

I hope our Essex Cycle Scouts enjoyed a sail on the Walton Mere (as it was renamed) in more peaceful times.

Walton on the Naze Old Mill Pond 1920

More Walton on Naze windmill photographs at Windmill World   
BSA and Military Cycle Museum page - Cyclists Your King and Country Need You
Visit Walton On The Naze site - History Trails. (The cliffs also played more wartime roles in WW2)
Walton and Frinton Yacht Club - History
English Heritage photo on Flickr
Walton Archive (Putnam Photographers) - The Windmill and The Watermill