Saturday, 29 June 2019


Outside the sun shines brightly, a cool wind blows, I remain indoors.
I have done too much this week, I sit here sipping tea while outside people burn.
A quick walk to Sainsburys early this morning showed how high the heat will go!
I am happy indoors...

Friday, 28 June 2019

Charity Shopping Fail

The temptation to grasp the Free Bus Pass for Old people and head out took hold of me on Thursday and saw me carried up to Halstead to search the Six charity shops that lie on the main street.  About 12,000 quite wealthy people and six charity shops?  Sadly the High Street is high featuring a hill that rises steeply up into the sky above where the town first appeared.  Prehistoric man had an small input here, the river at the bottom of the hill helps, who however would wish to walk up and down carrying water I ask?  On the hilltop, the Romans had a villa or two and Saxons settled in well until the Normans took over.  Maybe knowing this causes the people to withhold their smiles while running charity shops?  Maybe it is the rumoured inbreeding on the Suffolk border, I cannot say.

During the year 1818 Samuel Courtauld built himself a Mill at Bocking, he also added this one at top at Halstead.  Worked mostly by women, the men did the engineering bit, the women worked the looms, the mill lasted for years.  Courtauld's went into decline after the war some two hundred years later so the town got quite a bit out of the Mill.  Courtauld's were good employers.  Many women, young ladies, with little hope of a life in London were brought, often from orphanages, into Essex and found themselves a better life.  At least this kept them off the streets!  Over the years Doctors, hospitals, schools and housing were among the benefits this employer gave his workers, these houses here were built for them by Courtauld and other aid when required.
If only more businesses did likewise today?

Abraham Rayne must have been someone important to have such a monument erected above his head.  I failed to find him on Ancestry though I only searched quickly.  I wonder how he made his money, what his work was, where he lived and what people thought of him at the time?  I may never know.
My knees were feeling the strain as I sat on a bus full of 'Downs' kids heading home after a day out.  
I was disappointed with the shopping, there was little on offer, and with nothing else to be seen all I got from the day was aches and vies of crops beginning to edge nearer to ripeness.  That was good.

This morning I stupidly wended my slow way into Camulodunum in spite of the need for sleep and pretty nurses to massage my knees.  I found neither there and a search of the charity shops, some of which have closed down or been turned into profit making enterprises, disappointed also.  However a delightful lady at 'Waterstones' was very helpful as I used up my last book voucher there.  Three more books I do not need, have not got time to read and could live without happened to fall into my hand as I wandered about so I had no choice but to bring them home.  It would be terrible if any more such vouchers turned up would it not?  I would have to go back again!  

One good aspect about the town is the narrow side streets, one of which is full of small shops, a wide variety of items on sale, and some wonder why this town can do this while we back home cannot!  The council backs the small trader here, ours does not, that gives us eight charity shops!  Lower the rates and we will find more small shops arising I say.
Empty handed back on the bus now rather than later to avoid the students from the college.  
It was full of students from the college.
Nothing more interesting than the conversation of 16 year olds!
Knackered and bereft I will spend tomorrow asleep!

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Slack Wednesday

Reading the bleating press as they grumble about Harry and Meghan spending over £2:5 million on renovating the house caused many thoughts to pass though my little head.
For a start the media that whine about Meghan are delighted they have a 'Bad Person' in the Royals soap opera, every soap opera requires one.  Since this American 'actress' with a dubious family background who happily take large amounts of green dollar bills to 'reveal' stories while living in 'White Trash Land' first cottoned on to Harry the media have known there were pages and pages of empty space she would fill.  The media just had to decide if she was good or bad, that came easily enough.
Secondly she has, it would appear, caused friction within the royals, separating Harry from his brother and his wife, upsetting back room staff left right and centre, supporting strange policies and making it easy for the royal chattering classes to chatter classlessly.
Spending money on such a home to keep her and him apart from him and her and the rest fills pages in tabloids easily and the royal sap licks it up.
Of course William and his bint have a £5 million pound in Wales they never use, one in Eats Anglia somewhere also unused as  far as I can see, and their London home in the royal complex.  No tabloid has mentioned this or indicated a problem.  We need not mention the vast amounts being spent on Buck House either.
This crossed my mind on Saturday as I burnt myself in the hot sun while awaiting the bus.  Here ahead of me a not unusual sight around these parts.  One long expensive home, possibly divided into two semi-detached properties, but once either two, or four, or six, possibly even eight properties made use of by the many farm labourers who once toiled all day in the sunshine in the fields around. Now one or possibly two families live there. 
The moneyed classes can make use of old houses and renovate them as they please, those in the public eye have however to ensure they keep their fan base happy while the private classes need not worry.  I am beginning to ask myself, not that I really care, when will Harry take his woman to France, as 'Duke of Windsor' to hide behind French privacy laws and keep her out of trouble?

I had a lot more to say, very important and relevant stuff at that however I also had a pile of shirts to iron, there is a selfie of me above doing the work.  This meant my day was ruined as after that tedious and hot effort I sat in a daze for a while before sinking into a bath, and it's not even Sunday!
No head left to think with after that...ironing is what women were made for!

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Colne Valley Railway Day Out.

Having lived after climbing Castle Hedingham the other day I considered it was worth while exercising my bulk once again by going half a mile further up the road to the Colne Valley Railway.
The line opened in 1861 and passenger services pasted for a hundred years before ending in 1961.  The line was closed to goods in 1965 and the tracks lifted.  It lay dead until 1973 where for two years work began recreating one mile of line.  There was no infrastructure so the original 'Sible and Castle Hedingham' station buildings were taken down and rebuilt here and the disused wooden top half of the signal box at Cressing was transferred here also.  Today, after much work and a recent attempt to throw them off the land, the railway still runs.  The line is short, just over a half mile in either direction, with plans to go further if they can and when money is provided, but in spite of the short line I found two hours worth of enjoyment wandering around the collection there.

The value of heritage railways is the way they bring back memories to the mind.  This first sight, the gate, the old signal box, signals, water tower, all the way I remember them from days of yore.  Not that I was ever down here of course but the similarities with the many rail trips, hauled by steam, are numerous.  They also educate the young not only in local history but national history also, so many great events had at least a side show on such rail lines.

Not a special picture but it evokes memories of such scenes throughout the country in days of British Rail.  British Rail?  Bring it back!

The original Colne Valley and Halstead Railway (CVHR) remained independent until 1923 when it was merged into the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER).  Some names changed but the oil lamps and heavy trolleys remained the same!  The railway evokes memories well with the objects left lying about, such as the passengers box, the Avery weighing scales and other items we find.

With so much reconstruction occurring it is no surprise to see rougher areas.  These were however covered in an abundance of Poppies, these were all round the site and this chap picking hos way through them was only a few feet away from me and quite used to people.  He did not however pose properly and soon disappeared. 

I made my way there by using the bus pass and a Hedingham Omnibus, No 89.  I mentioned the railway to the driver and was told he would not drop me there, instead he would take me further on into Great Yeldham, turn around and drop me in the way back.  This because there is as yet no bus top at the museum.  This would be fine I thought but as it happened the road being quiet on a  Saturday he dropped me opposite the Railway and I crossed over in between speeding automobiles.
Hedingham Bus drivers are usually good.

The gates had just opened as I arrived and one other man was before me.  Of the two women on the till one was clearly efficient and experienced at her work, all volunteers of course, and the other tried to charge me full price, considering I "Did not look old enough," which I understand.  I did pay the £6 and not the£8 she demanded however.  The staff I spoke to appeared competent, friendly and knowledgeable concerning the questions asked.  However chatting up the friendly young women in the Buffet did not get me anywhere, £2:50 for coffee, not bad.  

In the days of proper railways, British Rail and Steam, passing trains were either completely maroon or this half and half style.  The coaches were never better dressed and never looked as good as all maroon did.  How lovely to see all these names on coaches everywhere.

The waiting room was equipped with all mod cons, including a vast radio, so passengers could enjoy 'Workers Playtime,' 'Listen with Mother,' or 'Housewife's Choice.'  It was off today.  An atmospheric waiting room, table and chairs and a phone for those who need to inform someone the train is late.  No private calls here as it is placed by the door.  

I liked the way the wall was decorated with pictures of various railway types.  Also several rail employees who died during the Great War were remembered by these print outs on the wall.  A very good way to connect with the railwaymen of the past.  Father and son often worked all their lives on the railway, many companies treating the staff as well as they could, not all did of course and strikes in some places occurred before the Great War.  Whether it affected this region I do not know.


While there was still few around it was time to get on the train.  With so many volunteers not on duty there was a problem with this.  As we went in the first northerly direction the driver has to get off and open the gates, nobody else around to do this job.  He also had to fix things when we did stop.  However the guard, a friendly helpful woman, kept us informed and no-one appeared bothered much, it was bringing a real life situation into the line I suppose.  

At the buffers the driver came through to the other end of the 'Bubble Coach' and, once he and the lass had worked out how to open the door, he took his place assisted by two young trainee drivers.  This I thought marvellous.  This is what such railways are for, to teach kids what it was like in the past and to give them a thrill of pushing buttons to make horns work and standing at the front of an engine giving the H&S man a heart attack.  We went straight through the station, worrying the family waiting for us, and down to the far end, half a mile away in a southerly direction.  As we had been kept waiting the driver took us back, not stopping at the station causing panic for the family awaiting, and back down to the far end.  Then we returned to the beginning and alighted.  Not far, and we could keep going back and forward if we wished, but it gave an inkling of times past and a railway network long gone.

As is normal in such places every time you turn a corner, in every nook and cranny, there are things either lying about or placed to be seen.  No corner is allowed to be empty unless something is planned for it.  I like that.  Many items are bought or donated or work their way into the heritage railway and may not be used for many a day, that however is not a reason to hide them let them lie in public view and one day they will be restored.

Talking about something lying about!  Merchant Navy Class, No. 35010 Blue Star, built 1942 is no longer heading out of Waterloo towards Bournemouth or Salisbury but resting here awaiting renovation.  What a powerful looking loco she is, especially compared to the smaller 'pugs' around her.  The 0-4-0 has had an outer restoration, clearly no chance she will run again but it was fun trying to board as my stomach did not wish to go between the gates!  

These places always have a Royal Mail coach, these services have long since disappeared.  I avoided the temptation to follow the command, "Have a go at sorting letters," which hung above, enough of that!  The stretcher is from the Great War and maybe one day there will be a hospital train coach here also.

The line has several sub lines containing a variety of coaches, some look as if they could be used while other require more than just a lick of paint.  Some huts appear from other railways and one day will find a home on the line.  

The coal, or is that coke, for the steam engine which will run on Sunday.  I am not sure if it runs on coke these days, many are now oil fired.  I would think these chaps would prefer coal myself rather than oil.  The model rail layout did not run today however in a hut at the back a tremendous model railway can be found.  The young lad running it had several trains moving in different directions.  The model was made by one man over 30 years and when he passed away the layout was donated to the museum, an ideal choice.  The two lads running it knew what they were talking about and enjoyed it immensely.  One mum told me they were having trouble getting one son out of there.  I forgot the picture but it was an immense layout, worth looking at.  

Everybody has to have a 'Barclay' also!  The 'Pug' reminds me of the Cowdenbeath one that pulled coal wagons across the High Street to the marshalling yards.  These little engines, and others like them, were found in all major factories, dockyards, industrial areas almost all gone and replaced with gentrification or nihilism.  

 Some messages never change.

The old wooden coaches are hard to find now, being made of wood they were easy to break up when no longer required.  When we went to fife we often saw aged truck bodies in allotments and gardens where they were used as huts while they and their owners rusted away.  Not so many seen these days.  

The abundance of Poppies was joined by other flowers, clearly someone takes good care of these just as station staff did in times gone by.  The purple thing I think is the one that came from the Himalayas and 'escaped' via little birds and winds onto the nearby rail lines and was swept throughout the land leaving people to consider it a 'British' plant.  A gardener will correct me soon.
I had a great day out in the sunshine.  The Colne Valley Railway is small and desperate to grow bigger.  The staff were friendly and knew their business, the short train ride can be taken several times, occasionally by steam, the buffet and other services were good and the buffet staff friendly.  
The kids there, few today it must be said, were clearly enjoying themselves, especially 'driving' the train!  Soon they will have a proper museum built to tell the history of the line and the area around and in years to come the big engines will also run along the small line, well worth seeing.