I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


As Mr R Kipling had it over 100 years ago

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

(Please click on link above to learn more about this superb charity)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Transport through the Ages (3)

HHnB, in her blog has mentioned that she rode pillion on a motorcycle since the age of 8. Reference to image files proves that this is so. Above you see her in 1967 alongside my ex-police LE Velocette.
These side valve 200cc bikes were so feeble that one was overtaken on hills by Japanese Honda 50cc scooterettes. Top speed, without a headwind, was about 50 m.p.h.on the flat. However they have a charm about them. Being water-cooled they are almost silent (great for country policemen to creep up on poachers!) and still have an enthusiastic following in spite of being discontinued in 1970. (I had three at various times but grew out of them).
My present Honda SH300 scooter is what they should have been and I look upon it as a latter day, improved version.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Our National Day of Remembrance is on November 11th and this year is also the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I should like to remember one man who can represent all the young men who fought in the skies above South Eastern Britain in that summer of 1940.

My cycle rides take me through the tranquil fields and under the vast skies of Romney Marsh in Kent. But in 1940 it would have been a very different scene. Air war was being waged here and as I turn a corner ahead I can see a lonely roadside monument.

Arriving at the corner one sees it is a grave, but a grave without a body. The remains of Pilot Officer Arthur William Clarke lie still within his Hurricane fighter nearby - embraced by Mother Earth, 30 feet beneath the peaceful fields of Romney Marsh, but by no means forgotten. Whenever I pass I will stop for a moment and there are always fresh flowers on the monument.

The story behind this little corner of the earth is poignantly told in detail here. Please do Arthur the honour of reading it.

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"

The above link is a fitting ending to this post and is worth watching to the end.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Autumn in Dorset

A family bereavement caused us to cancel our summer holiday, so now a week in Dorset beckoned. It is a lovely county, fairly unknown and forgotten by the hordes, but known and cherished by, amongst others, Thomas Hardy aficionados.

Our caravan settled down in a field on a small farm, with glorious views from the front window

However, there is a price to pay - to enjoy a view one needs a hill, which means a slope. Siting the caravan was tricky but accomplished, with the help of stone props.

The caravan is level, the angle of the awning gives some idea of the slope.

But the autumn days were glorious.We awoke to misty mornings

But by about 10 o'clock the sun had burned through, drying the hedgerows and burnishing the autumn fruits

and lighting sympathetically the views over the Blackmoor Vale (which Hardy likened to the "cottage garden of Dorset")

On only one morning did we draw the curtains to find rain obscuring the view

And that day we made good use of our National Trust membership to visit Kingston Lacy

All in all a gentle, relaxing holiday. No plans, no rush. A gentle nurse for fractured souls.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Awoke to the first "Misty, moisty morning" today.
Autumn is arriving, with its sense of completion and bounty .
(Blogging has taken a back seat these last couple of months with my mind on other things.)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Just returned from 10 days immersed in Cornwall.

Cornish Wild Flowers

Woodland Rivers

Prehistoric Hut Circles  (What was the life of a megalithic farmer like, tending sheep on these moorlands? Bleak, according to our standards, maybe? Or Arcadian according to theirs? The climate was warmer then. There is clean running water nearby. There are signs of early agriculture. Warmth, shelter, food and drink. It could have been a simple and satisfying life even with an expectancy of about 30 years absolute maximum.)

Tiddy Oggies  (link)

Cornish Clotted Cream Teas

Oh... and the (fairly) new dog, Rex, enjoyed himself having been introduced to "watersports"  - a new experience for him but he took to it like a duck to water!

Saturday, June 05, 2010


This morning we loaded the car with quantities of baggage, plus my antipodean daughter, HHnB and her husband to travel to Heathrow airport. This was at the relatively civilised hour of 7.00am - 5 weeks ago we had to leave for Heathrow at 3.00am to pick them up at 500.am when they arrived from Oz - hot, tired, dishevelled and jet lagged. (Most of which applied to us too!).

It was wonderful to see them again and they had a super holiday here. As you may see below, I kept my promises. The bluebells were right on schedule and a perfect June morning allowed me to give my daughter the (60 mile) motorcycle ride she had asked for. (With a stop for coffee and dark chocolate and ginger fridge cake at a seashore hostlery).

The house seemed very empty when we returned from Heathrow, but Rex made it pretty obvious that he was glad to see us.

Until the next time, my dears.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


As Chaucer has it:
"Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote....
...Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages"
(now, persevere, this is all relevant!)

In the early '60s I worked in my father-in-law's blacksmith/engineering business which specialised in wrought iron ornamental work. I did the estimates.
One day we received a request for a quote to make  7 vast ornamental gates to fit the archways of the being restored Aylesford Priory. These were to be backed with plate glass.

Such was the effort and complication involved we decided we did not really need the work and, having worked out a quote, doubled it to lose the business! Much to our amazement our quote was accepted. The plate glass sheets were a nightmare to cut and fit (we broke two) and we did point out that, as the gates were outdoors, metal expansion/contraction could well shatter the glass over time - this the architect ignored.
But fitting the gates was a wonderful experience, taking one back to the times when mediaeval craftsmen were constructing the cathedrals.

Work was going on all around us with the construction of the shrine

and at mid day all the workmen would gather for a meal in the monks' refectory, prepared in the monastery kitchens, while we were lucky (?) enough to have a monk at the lectern reading from the scriptures whilst we ate. (The food was excellent). An experience that has stayed with me all my life. When I first saw the television Cadfael series it was like déja vu!

However, the reason for Chaucer's opening lines here is that it is some years since I last visited the Priory and, although wanting a few days until April, with showers far from "soote" (sweet) at present, I decided "goon on pilgrimages" and see how all our work (which developed into more than just gates as time went by) was faring.

All gates are still OK after nearly 50 years in place, although all but one of the plate glass backings have been replaced with perspex after they broke (told you so!)

And both the great coats of arms (see first panorama shot of site, above) all fashioned in wrought iron (the lettering was crafted by "old Mac" our oldest employee with a lifetime doing such special work) still look good, although one is missing an "M" I notice.

As with our ancient cathedrals, this work should still be there in 500 years hence - a lasting testimony to the firm of  "J. Emery & Son (Maidstone) Ltd." which existed only until my father-in-law's death some 20 years ago.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


This photograph of a garden rake being put to good use is especially for Barret Bonden who will understand why I have included it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


In the early '60s a car rammed the back of my bicycle at some 40 miles an hour, leading me to perform a parabolic curve towards the sky, leaving my shoes still captured by the pedal toeclips. I remember nothing of the accident, except coming to with an excruciating back pain whilst being strapped to a spinal board.

Apparently I came down on my head (a pretty solid part of the Avus anatomy), concertina-ing my spine and fracturing 3 vertabrae (nearly 50 years later, wet weather always reminds me of this).

However, every cloud has a silver lining (although not immediately apparent at the time). The subsequent compensation enabled me to buy a second hand motorcycle combination with a huge family sidecar. Here a somewhat larger munchkin takes her brother for a ride in Ashdown Forest.

Hopefully, in May, there will be a finale for this sequence when HHnB rides pillion on the BMW.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Looking through some old photographs on this, a cold wet day, I found a memory of how a young married couple with two children travelled in the early 1960s. The little munchkin peering over the child seat now makes mosaics in Australia!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My SAAB car was in the wars before Christmas. The insurance assessor was going to write it off, but changed his mind and allowed the repair.


Researching the internet I see that this model (2002) is now valued at £4,500 and the garage tells me that the insurance assessor wishes he had given me the money!

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Welcome, wild harbinger of spring!
To this small nook of Earth.
                                                                                                                                                Bernard Barton

A cold February morning. A thin north-easterly wind in my face as I pedalled my bicycle up the rise from Romney Marsh. Stopping for a breather at the top I surveyed a panorama of dull greys, greens and browns. But there in the leafless, newly flailed hedgerow, right by my resting place, a yellow spray of wild gorse had defiantly asserted that Spring is not too far away.
In view of my blog's title Barton's second line seemed appropriate.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I have been getting slightly "stir crazy", not able to get out on two wheels since Christmas. Riding on ice and snow is OK if done carefully, but it is other road users of whom one needs to be in fear. However most roads are now ice-free, so some fresh air called. If nothing else, the image proves that I am not just a fair weather rider (even if my blog's header image suggests otherwise).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I have always been impressed by Pohangina Pete's blog with his ability to post large images. I asked him how he did it and he was most generous with his time and advice (a natural teacher, is Pete).
So now I can manage large images too......thanks to Pete.

Friday, January 01, 2010


Lined coat, warm cap and felt slippers,
In the little tower, at the low window,
Sitting over the sunken brazier.
Body at rest, heart at peace; no need to rise early.
I wonder if the courtiers at the Western Capital know of these things or not?
                                                                                                           Po Chü-I (772 – 846)
Congratulating himself on the comforts of life after his retirement from office. (c844)
(Arthur Waley translation)
These lines, I have always felt, convey absolute comfort and contentment. (my feelings when taking early retirement!).
I dedicate them to you all as a wish for the coming year.