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Sunday, November 07, 2010

No News - or What Killed the Dog

In my boyhood, I lived at the home of my grandparents in Tamworth which is to the north of Birmingham in the English midlands. In their drawing room was a handsome old gramophone radio and I spent many a happy hour listening to music and to various monologues some of which I remember to this day, particularly Albert and the Lion and other classics by Stanley Holloway. Attached is an American Classic - No News or What killed the dog, which is still worth listening to or reciting in a suitable social environment. Give it a try! Let me know what you think - please!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thomas Edward

One of the treasured books in my collection is a nice leather-bound copy of Life of a Scotch Naturalist by Samuel Smiles. It is an 1877 Second Edition with a school prize label as presented to A. N. Jack from Merchant Taylors' School, Crosby. His widow was an old friend of my family and who had been the school matron at Highgate School - my old alma mater. Mr Jack had been a champion oarsman in his day and I remember seeing in her home a cut section from a rowing eight. Anyway! I was given the book by her many decaded ago, presumably because of my interest in natural history.
Thomas Edward led a simple but hard life in Banff a village on the shore of the Moray Firth in North East Scotland. He was a cobbler by trade, a simple shoe mender, but every spare moment he devoted to exploring and studying the wildlife of the area. He collected specimens of the many species which he found in the sea and on land.
The book, written to encourage diligence and assiduity - suitable attributes for school pupils of the late Victorian age.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Return trip to Romania

We (Ibi, Janos and I) returned last night from a lovely trip into Romania. I will uplad some photos later. The village we stayed in, was surrounded by mountains and the kind of place to really relax, soak up the relatively undeveloped ambiance of rural Romania where time seems to have stood still for many decades. Cattle with bells, horses and carts, with attendant dogs and villagers pass by and hay is cut and stacked in distintive small ricks. The village women came down each day to the copius spring water in the square to do their washing. Rugs and clothes were being scrubbed and the latest gossip exchanged ( I expect!) The food was good and the scenery really lovely with swallows and martins wheeling overhead. The trusty Trabant carried us well over the awful rutted Romanian roads with little complaint, even when driven expertly by Janos through a torrential rainstorm close to the Hungarian border. Before that we had stopped at a beautiful old wooden church and nunnery. The church reminded me of the Norwegian Stave Churches I had seen near Bergen many years ago.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Snowdonia 2010 [link to photos]

The link above is to the set of Photos taken by Janos on our trip to Snowdonia. En route we visited Atcham Bridge over the River Severn near Shrewsbury and the famous canal aqueduct at Pontcycllte and on the way back we visited the lovely Bodnant Gardens. We also visited Allt y Rhiw the former home of my parents, now busy being renovated after the awful fire there. As you will see if you look at the photos, we camped at a farm at the foot of Tryfan near Capel Curig in lovely mountain and lake scenery. We also visited the slate museum and shared the demonstration (in Welsh) with a party of school children - it didn't matter about the language! We went up Snowdon on the mountain railway which we all enjoyed. Janos was a bit disappointed that we didn't take a bicycle with us, but I was very worried about him cycling on those winding and narrow roads. I hope he has forgiven me for my refusal.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Tamworth Hoard [click here for link]

My early years were spent at the home of my maternal grandparents who lived in Tamwoth, a Staffordshire town to the north of Birmingham. As a family Doctor, my Granfather often used to take me as a small boy on his rounds to see some of his "pooly patients" and I got to know a lot about the area. In recent times having lived elsewhere for many years, I still look out for news of Tamworth but have not visited for some years. Last year a metal detectorist made a magnificent discovery of buried treasure Saxon gold and silver in a field near the town. The hoard has now been valued at over 3 million pounds and will keep historians and conservationists working on the artifacts for many years to come. Have a look at some of the images!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lonesome George

Son Steve has arrived in the Galapagos Islands as a crew member of the yacht Ghost . His blog tells us of his wonderful adventures. He has met and written about the famous tortoise Lonesome George, who is the famous resident of the Charles Darwin Research Centre. Catch up with Steve's blog. It's a good read!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Great Grandmother

I have stumbled upon a poem written by my mother's grandmother, Jane Jones following the death of her brother Edward in 1890. Full of Victorian sentiment and dark religiosity, but nonetheless heartfelt and worthy of preserving here.
In loving memory of Edward Jones, Coedtalog
Written by his sister Jane Jones">

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sad news on the Welsh border!

I am still in shock from the news that my parents' old home at Allt y Rhiw on the Welsh border near Oswestry in Shropshire is no more. After spending thousands on renovation, the present owner was having a party at the house when a fire got out of control leaving no option but to escape with their lives. Only a ruin remains - we can only hope that he was adequately insured. So many memories have gone up in smoke. I never lived there but was a frequent visitor prior to my parents' demise and my brother and I still own the 40 acres around the house which are let to a local farmer for sheep grazing. I have no idea yet what other damage has been made by the fire, I suspect that the ancient yew tree on the east corner of the house must have gone up in flames as well as eveything else. I am glad that I have several paintings and photographs of the house which will remind me of happy times there.
I am staying with my dear Hungarian friends for the next few weeks. Still cold here with snow lying on the ground, but their new house has almost been completed and with wonderful underfloor heating we are snug as bugs in a rug!