Sunday, 30 August 2015

Butterley Vintage Trains

On Saturday 29th August, our son Jonathan and his wife Rachel took us to the Butterley Midland Railway Museum, Ripley in Derbyshire. The weather was perfect for a day out, sunny with a little cloud, warm but not too hot, with a gentle breeze. 

The first thing we looked at was the indoor model railway layout.

No Chris, it won't fit in our bedroom!

There were so many things to see, we didn't have time to fit it all in. But we did get a ride on one of the vintage trains. This carriage was 3rd class, but quite comfortable.

Back to the future?

This is the Wedding Belle train, which can be booked, but we couldn't get on it. Anyway, there were more interesting things to do.

Wedding Belles are ringing.

The second train we took a ride on was the Ashover Light Railway. It was quite noisy, but very exciting. It took us through some amazing woodland which we were told was home to foxes, rabbits, Little Owls, and Buzzards could quite often be seen flying overhead. Sadly we didn't see any of these, just a couple walking their dogs and a man on a bicycle. 

Filling up with water for the return journey

Chatting to the driver after the ride.

Checking the wheels

To the woods!

These photos were taken inside the exhibition hall, which was full of engines and carriages in various states of disrepair.

Looks familiar!

Thank goodness for all the seats!

Another familiar name.

My luggage

Half way through our visit we went to one of the cafeterias. Chris and I had poached egg on toast, Jonathan had a cheese and tuna toasted sandwich with salad and crisp and Rachel had the same, minus the tuna. We all had a huge mug of coffee.

Later on, before leaving, we popped into the second buffet room where we had buttered scones with jam and a mug of tea. It was a really interesting trip, but we were quite tired when we reached home. 

As well as the vintage train weekends, there are Diesel and steam weekends, Teddy Bears weekends, 1940s weekend, 1960s weekend, and several other events. To find out more visit:

or telephone: 01773 570140

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Poetry and me

Everything comes back to my mum. She taught me to read and write at the age of 3, using a book from the public library called 'Tip The Dog' She also taught me to recite 'Someone' by Walter De La Mer. She loved books, even though she was always too busy to read herself. I think she had an ulterior motive, because by the time I was 8, while she was ironing or doing something else equally boring, she would pass me the newspaper to read to her. She actually missed quite a lot, as in her day, most children left school at 14 and began work.

One of the Tip learning to read books

The first poem I wrote myself was one about autumn, when I was five. Can't remember much of it, but it was something like: "Autumn leaves are falling down, red and green, gold and brown." Not bad for a 5 year old. Anyway, my class teacher liked it and suggested that the school pianist set it to music and I spent about an hour while the pianist mucked about with chords, but we never managed to do it. This disappointed me, and I didn't write any more for years. In fact when I went to grammar school, we would have poetry classes and I HATED it.

But when I turned 40 a few years ago (ahem) I decided I enjoyed poetry after all. Alfred Lord Tennyson is one of my favourites. The Lady of Shalott being my most favourite. Here is my favourite verse in my favourite poem by my favourite poet:

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

She left the web, she left the loom
She made three paces thro' the room
She saw the water-flower bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott.

It is a rather long poem, so that's all you're getting. Another favourite by Tennyson is Mariana, again a long poem, so here is just one verse:

All day within the dreamy house, 
The doors upon their hinges creak'd; 
The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse 
Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd, 
Or from the crevice peer'd about. 
Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors, 
Old footsteps trod the upper floors, 
Old voices call'd her from without. 
She only said, "My life is dreary, 
He cometh not," she said; 
She said, "I am aweary, aweary, 
I would that I were dead!" 

You might think these are rather gloomy, and you'd be right, but I do have some favourites that are rather more light hearted. Here's one I wrote myself (yes, honest).

Jennifer Bream

I used to envy Jennifer Bream
her long red hair and skin like cream,
her eyes that sparkled like Emeralds fine,
I used to wish these things were mine.
But you wanted a girl with cheeks like a Rose
and freckles across the bridge of her nose,
with glossy brown hair and dark chocolate eyes.
You wanted me - to my surprise.
So now I don’t envy Jennifer Bream,
her near perfect looks are no longer my dream,
because Jennifer Bream doesn’t have you —
but I do.

And one for Christmas:

The Disgruntled Fairy

Well - here I am,
look at me;
the fairy on top of the Christmas tree.
Dress all torn,
wings all tattered -
and a magic wand that's bent and battered.
My rosy cheeks are a little bit faded
and my smile is looking decidedly jaded.
I wish that Christmas was over and done
as these pine needles stick in my bum,
but I'll just sit tight,
even though
I suffer from serious vertigo!
For two whole weeks I'm perched up here
then it's back in the box for another year,
squashed between a bauble and a bell
no wonder I end up looking like hell.
I suppose one day they'll throw me out
with the left over turkey and brussel sprouts
'til then they gaze at me from afar -
but I wish they'd swap me for a bloomin' star!

Silver, by Walter De La Mer

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream. 

Finally, one by Sarah Teasdale - The Look.

Strephon kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.

Strephon's kiss was lost in jest,
Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes
Haunts me night and day.

And so, I still keep trying. Some would say very trying. I'm still waiting to write my masterpiece, if I ever do, you'll be the first to know.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Skegness Holidays

Ever since I was a little girl, I was taken to the East Coast for holidays. Skegness, Ingoldmells, Chapel St Leonards, and Mablethorpe, I've visited them all, but Skegness has to be my favourite. 

The first Butlin's holiday camp was built here in 1936. I had two holidays there with a friend and her parents, when I was about 12. Fantastic holidays. We've had camping holidays with mum and dad, and caravanning holidays when our kids were young, in mum and dad's caravan. The most recent holidays were in a guest house called The Americana. I've recently found out this has now closed.

There is a lovely beach, gardens, boating lake, a seal sanctuary, a model village and a wind farm out to sea.

Seal Sanctuary at Natureland

Penguins at Natureland

Part of the Butterfly House at Natureland

The town is popularly known as Skeg, Skeggy, Costa del Skeg or Skegvegas or "the Blackpool of the East Coast", and has a famous mascot, the Jolly Fisherman (designed by John Hassall in 1908 for the Great Northern Railway), and a slogan - "Skegness is so bracing" - a reference to the chilly prevailing north-easterly winds that can and frequently do blow off the North Sea. The slogan is thought to have come from an unknown member of staff of the railway. The poster was first seen at Easter in conjunction with an excursion from King's Cross railway station. The last of these trips ran in 1913.


Chris by the Axenstrasse

Yours Truly by the Axenstrasse

Many of the hotels, guest-houses, self-catering flats and bed & breakfast establishments in and around the Skegness area are members of the "Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association". An association formed in April 2008 after the merging of two previous associations known as the "Skegness Hoteliers' Association", consisting of hotel, bed and breakfast and guest house accommodation providers and the "Skegness Self Catering Association", consisting of holiday flats, chalet and caravan parks.
Skegness, like many British resorts, has suffered in recent years due to the increase in cheap foreign package holidays over staying at home. In the 18 months leading up to the end of 2008, the resort had suffered the destruction by fire of three of its most popular attractions - The Dunes pub at Winthorpe, the Parade Complex which housed a nightclub, bar and amusement arcade, and a seafront building housing two bars and a fish and chip shop.

The famous clock tower

At the end of Lumley Road is the town's clock tower, built in 1898-99 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and funded through public subscription. With the "Jolly Fisherman" mascot, it is the most recognised symbol of Skegness. The Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower became the subject of a hoax in the Skegness Standard on 1 April 2009, when the newspaper claimed that it was about to be dismantled and moved to a museum. It is featured as a 3D rendering in Google Earth.

The Compass Gardens with Jolly Fisherman statue
Beyond the clock tower, Tower Esplanade leads to the beach, with a statue of the Jolly Fisherman in the Compass Gardens to one side and the entrance to the once-popular boating lake on the other. The name Lumley comes from the surname of the Earl of Scarbrough's family. St Matthew's Church of Early English Gothic style is on Lumley Avenue, being built by the Earl of Scarbrough in 1879, and [St Clement's] is on Church Road North. Tower Gardens, previously known as the Pleasure Gardens, opened in 1878 after being donated by the Earl of Scarbrough. The gardens have events during the summer.
Below are photos of the model village

Skegness had a 614 yards (562 m) long pier which was opened on Whit Monday 1881 at a cost of £20,840 and was at the time the fourth longest in England. It was a T-shaped pier with a saloon/concert hall at the pier head. Steamboat trips ran from the pier to the Wash and Hunstanton in Norfolk from 1882 until 1910. In 1919, it was damaged by a drifting ship, the schooner Europa, and it took twenty years to raise the money to fully repair it. During the Second World War the pier was closed and parts of the decking was removed as part of anti-invasion policies and did not reopen until 1948 following repairs. The north east corner of the pierhead suffered damage during the North Sea flood of 1953 and the pier entrance was flooded but the main structure survived. In the early 1970s the pier entrance archway was demolished despite it being classed as Grade II listed building and at the same time the pierhead theatre was enlarged from a seating capacity of 700 to 1,000.

Fairy Dell Paddling Pool

Boating Lake

Part of the beach
On Wednesday 11 January 1978 a northerly severe gale and storm surge which coincided with high spring tides brought disaster and Skegness Pier along with other piers at MargateHerne Bay and Hunstanton was irretrievably damaged and only 127 yards of landward pier deck walkway from the main entrance was left with the eastern shelters and the pierhead totally cut off and isolated from the shoreline. Debris from the wrecked pier was scattered for several miles around with souvenir hunters coming into the area to see what they could find.
For several years following the storm these two isolated structures remained as features on Skegness beach whilst plans to try to repair the pier and relink the structures were sought but this failed citing the costs as simply too high and in 1983 the eastern shelters were dismantled and demolished. By 1985 the decision was made to demolish the now derelict and isolated pierhead and theatre as the building was falling into a state of disrepair as the upper deck of the structure had been badly damaged following the 1978 storm although it had become a roosting place for hordes of starlings. It was considered a risk to small shipping and also to the public. Special permission for its demolition was granted as it was a Grade II listed building as was the rest of the pier. It was planned to dismantle the pierhead in stages starting from October 1985 and just as work was getting underway the structure caught fire and two stranded workmen had to be rescued by the town's lifeboat. After the fire burned itself out only the cast-iron stanchions were left and these were removed in January 1986 on one of the lowest tides of that year.

Chris and I looking like American tourists, with Jonathan

Jonathan and Rachel by the beach

Rachel with Chris and I
Today the pier is only 129 yards (118m) long and no evidence remains of the old pierhead and shelters but what remains of the landward pier deck walkway has since undergone major refurbishment and is now once again a tourist attraction, Though a tiny amount of the structure still stands from the sand, with a triangular sign warning of the piece of iron's presence. Despite its much reduced length it is a major landmark along the beach as far as Gibraltar Point to the south and Ingoldmells to the north.
The RNLI has a station in Skegness manned by a crew who are volunteers except for the coxswain, and equipped with two lifeboats - the all-weather Lincolnshire Poacher and a smaller dinghy-style inshore boat. The Coastguard have a base on the town's industrial estate.

 Part of the Skegness Wind Farm
Two miles (3 km) out to sea is an offshore drilling platform for gas, and clearly visible from the town is the large Lynn and Inner Dowsing Wind Farm operated by Centrica. There is a wind farm further out to sea now.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

2010 A Sad Year

Mum had a stroke in 2001-ish. She lost most of her mobility, and speech. But with help, she regained some of her speech and we were able to have a reasonable conversation with her. Dad looked after her at home for several years, until it became too difficult for him. Anita and I were worried about him having an accident of some kind and mum being at home alone, and not knowing what had happened. It was decided mum should go into a nursing home. She lived in two different ones. The second one was within walking distance of the family at home, and when the weather was nice, dad was able to take her home in her wheelchair so she could spend the afternoon in the sun lounge looking out at her garden.

That year was mum and dad's 60th wedding anniversary. It was a beautiful day, so we had a tea party for them. Anita, me, Chris, Jonathan, Rachel, Stuart, Corinne, Danny and Benjamin all enjoyed ourselves and from the big smile on mum's face, so did she.

In July 2010 dad lost his only surviving brother, Jack. He had a heart attack and died instantly. It was a shock. Then later that month mum had another stroke. A brain scan showed the damage from the first stroke had damaged three quarters of her brain, the second one took most of what was left. She was in pain, and eventually became bedridden. Dad visited every day, but of course he could no longer take her home.

She lingered for a few months more, getting steadily worse. She wouldn't eat, so was put on Fortisip. Eventually she couldn't even manage that. On November 10th she turned 80 - three days later she died, with dad and Anita sitting by her bed. Chris and I had been to see her that morning.

The funeral was  at Bramcote Crematorium. A beautiful service (I chose the music). Elgar's Nimrod to walk into, 3 hymns and Amazing Grace (music only as dad doesn't like the words) to walk out to. Well we had to have that one, didn't we. It took place on 26th November. Three days later was dad's 80th birthday. He was back at the crematorium as one of his neighbours had died and the family invited him to the funeral. He collected up the cards from the flowers our family had arranged for mum. Three deaths and three funerals in less than 6 months!! 

Dad's still with us thank goodness, although he has arthritis in his knees and shoulders and is on steroids. Anita takes him shopping once a week, as we persuaded him to give up driving shortly after mum's death. He'll be 85 this year, I don't think he's really happy, but he does his best. 

Family Fun and Frolics

This section is about my mum, dad, and sister Anita.

Mum and dad were both born in 1930, both in November. Mum on 10th and dad on 29th (these facts become more important later on). Anita was born in 1958, when I was 7 years old. We also have a brother, Stuart, who was born in 1967, when I was 16. Most of the photos of my parents and sister haven't been digitised yet, and none of Stuart have.

Mum in the 1970s

My parents were married on 8th April, 1950. I put in an appearance 10 months later. Dad was the youngest of 4 brothers, George, Robert, Jack and Leonard (dad). Mum was the eldest of 7 children. Grace Anita(mum) George Alan, Gordon Andrew, Gilbert Anthony, and  the twins Ernest and Glenys. You can notice a  pattern there, but I think gran had enough choosing names by the time the twins arrived. Sadly Gilbert (known as Tony) died of pneumonia before he turned one year old.

Mum (seated) with gran, granddad and aunty Glenys

As my grandfather's name was also George, everyone called them 'Big George' and 'Little George' which gran didn't like, so little George became known as Alan.

Mum, with gran and uncle Alan

Anyway, back to my beloved parents. I've already told you about the adventures dad and I had chasing Goldie through the neighbours gardens. Other adventures were involving his motorbike and sidecar. He once took me to by some straw for my guinea pig, also called Goldie. I'm not very imaginative when naming pets. I sat on the back of the bike, with the straw in the sidecar. Dad revved off, and I promptly fell off the bike!!

Dad in 2014, aged 84

Mum, 2002 aged 72

We would go into Derbyshire quite a lot, Matlock, Matlock Bath, Black Rock, and the pretty villages that would hold Well Dressings every year. One year we set off for Bakewell. Dad driving, mum on the back, me and Anita in the sidecar. I had a portable reel to reel tape recorder at the time and had recorded the Top Ten from the radio. Anita and I each had a plastic flask of raspberry pop - which promptly got warm, made me feel sick, and put me off raspberry for years. Still, it was an enjoyable journey, with my music playing as loud as I dared and the beautiful view of the Pennines on the right of us. We never made it to Bakewell, dad took a wrong turn and we ended up in Glossop!! So back it was, this time with the menacing view of the Pennines on our left (it was raining by now).

Mum, dad and Anita

That motorbike and sidecar took us everywhere. Uncle Gordon took his family to Dawlish Warren in Devon. It was a brilliant holiday, under canvas. Another trip we went on was to Great Yarmouth. The bike let us down on that trip, it broke down on the way home. As it was getting dark, and the back lights weren't working, dad parked outside a cemetery. Mum slept in the front of the sidecar with Anita on her lap, I slept in the back seat. Dad slept on the ground, leaning up against the cemetery wall. Not very pleasant.

Uncle Gordon with my cousin Avril at home in Australia

Uncle Gordon and Aunty Maggie

Aunty Maggie on my cousin Steve's motorbike

We had some great times. When Stuart arrived, dad upgraded to a car. I was a teenager then, and didn't go out on family jaunts any more. I wanted to be out dancing, ice skating, horse riding, walking for miles, things I can no longer do.

Anita and Marley

Anita 2015

Anita's partner Val, 2015

Other family members are: 

Anita's son Benjamin who lives in the US. He and Anita were married for a short time. He came from St Kitts, and one year he and Anita went island hopping in the Caribbean, trying to keep ahead of one of the hurricanes that was punishing those beautiful islands at the time.

I've already mentioned Stuart, who married Corrinne. She already had a son and daughter from a previous relationship, and went on to have Billy and Danny. Billy had Cerebral Palsy, and died at the age of 3 of Pneumonia.

Cousin Avril, part of the ever growing Australian contingent of our family

Avril has 2 brothers and one sister, Paul, Steve and Julie. She also had a brother Lee who was born in Australia and was killed aged 19 in a motorcycle accident. He and his brothers loved motorcycle racing. All had accidents, but only Lee lost his life.

Alan has two stepsons and one daughter, Carole.

Ernest and his wife Gill have Phillip, Sindy, Patrick, Yana, Carrie-Ann, Isaac (who died a few days after his birth) and Zakkia. Not sure if that's spelled correctly!!

Glenys' children are Perry, Amanda, Sally, Keith, Duncan and Douglas.

That's all mum's family. Here is dad's. Uncle George had one son, Robert, who died a few years ago. The only cousin I had who is older than me.

Robert (no longer with us) had two  daughters, Linda and Jill. Jack who died in 2010, has Ian, Neil, Jacqueline (Jackie) and Joanne.

So that's most of my family, there are more, but we'd be here forever if I listed them all!!

Next chapter, sad times.