Wednesday, August 24

When petrol was 6/8d a gallon

This 1960 Ford Popular took me around Hertfordshire lanes at 17, on a trip to Glen Trool in the west of Scotland with Ian Golds to celebrate leaving school and later all the way to St Andrews University and back and back again. With just three forward gears, a key that you could remove from the ignition when it was still on and windscreen wipers that went slower when you went uphill and often packed with teenagers, there was never a dull moment! I called it Trundle and bought and sold it for £30.

Next came The Cardinal (named by Vincent), a 1957 Wolseley 1500 with leather seats and real wood on the dashboard. I bought it in Dundee for £40 when the Ford had expired and was going to cost more than that to repair. This was the car in which Tony Bragg and I made the trip home in March and took the treacherous A68 across Carter Bar in a blizzard, a detailed account of the journey is written on the inner sleeve of a Beach Boys Greatest Hits LP. It started with a button on the dash.

There were a couple more that I haven't found any photos of yet and then the wonderful Hengist, a 1962 Rover 100 with rear doors that opened the wrong way, a big bench seat across the front and an electric fuel pump that often got stuck, usually in Edinburgh traffic. A sharp thwack with a hammer or large screwdriver, however, got it ticking again soon enough! The Rover cost £100 and I sold it for the same price, being without a car for a few months before and after getting married in 1973, when a train to Edinburgh from Kirkcaldy where we lived was a rather more sensible way of commuting.

Tuesday, August 23

Me and a road sign

This is somewhere near Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire. As I didn't get long trousers until I was in the Third Form at school it must have been around 1965.

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The sign doesn't look as if it's changed from this Google Street View image today! 

Monday, August 8

Problem solving at Level 8

Found this computer chess set that JM gave me back in the late 1970s. It's still immaculate and works well. It probably has less processing power than my door-bell but that was enough to make me struggle to beat it 30 odd years ago. It has eight levels of play and I do remember eventually winning at Level 8, after which it must have gone back in its box until now when my son's starting over at Level 1!

Even though there are probably wonderfully animated and instant response versions on-line nowadays there's something appealing about the buttons and old-fashioned beeps, not to mention the warm browns that would once have matched the sofa, cushions, carpets and curtains!

Problem Solving at Level 7

Graduation Certificate arrived. Missed the ceremony but not too worried about the hat and gown and clutching rolled-up prop picture. Something I can arrange when I have some spare cash for gown rental with a friend with a decent camera! Amused that I was awarded 20 Credits at level 7 for Problem Solving which I reckon I really need more than the other stuff just at the moment. What a week.

Tuesday, August 2

Broken down in Saskatchewan

The aforementioned Harold took a position in Saskatchewan in early 1923 that seemed to require travelling huge distances from town to town, with most letters coming from Laverna. Shortly after arriving, he is delighted at getting a car. My guess is it was one of these:

Lent 3, 1923
My new car is a great rig. It has self starter and battery lights that go dim to order, detachable rims, a wonderful tyre rack and a green glass vizor on the top of the wind screen to protect the same from rain and one's eyes from sun glare not to mention a Thermostat on the Radiator top to tell you when the eggs boil + a little electric light inside it to light the dial up at night.

St Lawrence Day, 1923
I did not think I should be able to reply so soon, but my car has gone bust - four loose con. rods, one loose cam shaft. five valves out of eight leaking - slack back end and a broken shock absorber and it is at this minute in pieces in the hands of the garageman. So I am stranded at Laverna for a day and a half and having celebrated the occasion by having a bath, shave and a clean shirt, I am able to sit down with clean hands and a pure (sic) heart.

His second letter was written a mere two or three months later!

Reviewing the situation over the stove and a pipe

"your humble reviewing the situation over the stove and a pipe - there is a shortage of seating in the house"

This is a photo of one of my old friend Vincent's correspondents, taken at home either in Ticehurst, Sussex or Saskatchewan, Canada in the 1920s. So far all I know is that his first name is Harold and from the reams of letters I've got covering 1920s to 1940s he appears to have been a deacon, (if not a preist or bishop even), in the Catholic Church as he writes of 'sermons to work on' and often dates letters with St Someone-or-other instead of the day and month.

No doubt I'll discover more as I read through them all but that'll take some time and I suppose I should do something useful over this summer break. I do just love this image, though, the fellow seated on a Quaker White Rolled Oats tin, the gas lamp and milk bottle in the background. although it looks like an electric light bulb in the ceiling. He writes brilliantly and I shall endeavour to reproduce sections on this blog from time to time as, despite his apparent church role, in private he takes a delightfully maverick viewpoint of much of what goes on!

Like Vincent, he did not marry or have children but would have had an influence on many and will similarly not have failed to make a significant mark on the communities where he did reside. 

Newfoundland newspaper and a silver something

In another bundle of boxes to sort out I found a lovely copy of The Evening Chronicle from St John's, Newfoundland, dated 7 August 1879, a mere 132 years old next week. Intriguing, though, is a small silver something that I need some help to identify. One friend thinks it might be a toothpick holder but I haven't been able to find anything with a similar shape anywhere in a range of internet searches so far.

The hallmarks show it was made in 1939 (I think it's that type of P) in Birmingham but I can't find anything resembling the maker's stamp, which ends LT(D?) in a sans serif font on any of the pretty comprehensive-looking catalogue sites I've looked through so far.

Maybe when I've cleaned it something will be a bit clearer. In the meantime if anyone out there has any ideas do let me know. Click on the images to get a better view of the details.

Wildlife in the village

After an amazing weekend when the sun shone and lots of people smiled a lot and Pete & Gemma became Mr & Mrs Fuller, the paddock looks nearly normal again. It would be normal but for the fact that the grass is still exceptionally short and tidy and the geese haven't yet had a chance to drop their feathers everywhere. T & L Marquees have made their last negotiation of the drive between the cottage and the main house. They deserve the link there because the guys all did a brilliant job, not only getting all the stuff in but creating such a wonderful environment at the heart of proceedings.

There are some more preparation photos in the Marquee post now. No doubt there'll be some from the wedding itself before long too. For now it's back to seeing what's growing and moving around and here's a first selection of August's wildlife in the village.