Summer 2018

Summer 2018

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Dr Edward Adrian Wilson, Cheltenham.

The Meteorological Summer arrived on 1st June as usual and as if by magic the weather stayed hot.

The photo above is the statue on Cheltenham promenade of Dr Edward Adrian Wilson BA, MB (Cantab.), FZS, a famous son of the town by virtue of being a member of both Captain Robert Scott's Antarctic expeditions. He was chief of the scientific staff, artist and zoologist of the British Antarctic Expedition, born in Montpellier and educated at Cheltenham college.

On the 17th January 1912, Scott and his party reached the South Pole only to discover that the Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it although they were the first British explorers to get there.

During the return journey, two of the party, Laurance Oates and Edgar Evans, fell ill and died; around 29th March 1912, trapped by a blizzard, Henry Bowers, Wilson and Scott died in their tent only 11 miles from their food depot.

A search party found their three bodies in November 1912 and erected a cairn over the tent.

The statue was unveiled by the former president of the Royal Geographical Society, Sir Clements Markham, in July 1914.

The Queens Hotel, Cheltenham.

The second photo above is of another famous Cheltenham landmark, the Queens Hotel at the top of the Promenade.

The hotel was built on the site of the old Sherborne Spa in 1838 and boasts many famous visitors including Edward VII, Elgar, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Just in front of it, a construction that looks like the entrance to an undergound public toilet, is actually a memorial to those who died in the Crimean War and as such is quite rare. It orignally had a cannon on top taken from Sebastopol in 1856 which was removed to provide metal for armaments during WWII.

During the rewrite of the code for this new layout I used CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) code much more and was struck by how much things have moved on since I first set up this web site and in particular how much faster it is than using javascript. In particular the menuing system, which is currently written in javascript, has become very extensive and on old machines, paticularly android tablets, seems to take an age to load. I will therefore be working on some more radical redesign in the future.

We were watching a TV documentary the other night about a soldiers return to Iraq where he visited the underground remains of Ninevah around Mosul which date from 6000BC. Isis, the terrorist group, destroyed much of what remained above ground, but I digress. The mention of Ninevah reminded me of a poem by John Masefield called Cargoes which begins: Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir. It was set to music by Martin Shaw.

I couldn't remember the rest of the poem so I googled that line and found it straight away. I remember when we first bought Harmonie and it was difficult to get on the internet how frustrated I would get not being able to source quick answers to loss of memory or barge problems. We now take such things for granted but there are many other poems that I learnt in childhood which I can't remember but which are lurking on the net so another little project will be a new series of web pages containing my favourite poems.

 CLICK HERE FOR SOME OF MY PERSONAL HISTORY.

If you bothered to click on the above you will have read a little of my life before Harmonie. Our life since has seen us travel extensively but since living ashore we have missed the social life we had when we were barging. It is quite difficult at our age to find new friendships as most in our age group already have an established circle of friends. We are still in contact with friends in Scotland, Somerset and France plus barging friends in Worthing and Bristol where we are house and dog sitting Tilly the Wonder Dog (TTWD) while the owners are on holiday.

We will have a ready made circle of friends and relations when we move to New Zealand but we will miss many here and hope they might come out and see us. My residency visa is proceeding slowly and we hope it will be approved in the next couple of months. We aim to do a big tour around to farewell everyone beginning in October.

 CLICK HERE FOR WEBSITE IMPROVEMENTS FOR GEEKY PEOPLE.

I expect you were totally absorbed by all that Geeky stuff above and as you can see I have been hard at work on the puter for the last few days. My next task is to figure out how to make a screen show in CSS instead of javascript as the new menu still does not appear over it and I will try to convert all the old pages to the new format which is a mammoth task. The new menu does not display well on a mobile due to its extensive levels and needs a rewrite with a menu just for mobiles.

We are currently looking after Tilly the Wonder Dog (TTWD) just North of Brissle and the weather is Gert Lush! Tilly has been taking us out walking twice a day and, being a wonder dog, she has a built-in satnav in case we get lost round 'yer.

We have also been further afield. Down to Litton in Somerset which is in the Chew valley and closer to home, Leigh Woods which is on the Southern side of the Avon Gorge. Both walks are described below.

 CLICK HERE FOR CHEW VALLEY AND LEIGH WOOD WALKS.

We had Sunday lunch in the garden of the White Hart pub at Littleton Upon Severn then attempted to walk down to the river but took the wrong path and ended up in deep mud so had to turn back. I did not download the OS map to my mobile before we left so I did not have the benefit of GPS as Google Maps does not show footpaths. Lesson learnt!

Every week we need to go back up to Cheltenham to water the plants. On the way we detoured off the motorway to Wotton under Edge. We had been here before walking but found a scenic part of the Cotswold Way which we had not visited and our walk is described below.

 CLICK HERE FOR A WOTTON UNDER EDGE WALK.

Weather here is scorchio at the moment. We had a bit of rain last night and it was a bit blowey and colder this morning when we caught the edge of the storm "Hector". The forecast is to get colder over the weekend then warmer next week.

In order to display better on mobiles I have now rewritten the menu and divided the web site into three sections; Barging, Travels and Living. This page is in the Living section so it has the "Living" menu at the top and should fit mobile screens better.

At the time of writing this latest page and the previous one are rewritten whereas all the other pages still have the original javascript side menu. I will gradually work my way through and rewrite all the old pages. Once complete you will have to navigate via one of these new sections if you want to go to a page in another section.

In practice the Barging section has very few updates or new pages since we sold Harmonie so is more of an archive. The Travels section is only updated with a new page each time we travel abroad and I will put a link to any new pages on the latest update page.

We drove down to the Mendips and walked around Ebbor Gorge and details of our walk are below. We then met up with the Hockeys for lunch at the Ring o'Bells pub in Wookey. This is a pub recommended by our friends the Palmers who live nearby and in fact their grandaughter Daasha is working there at the moment but was not on duty when we were there. It was a shame we didn't see her as it was way back in 2010 when last saw her when she was a guest on Harmonie cruising in Holland.

 CLICK HERE FOR OUR EBBOR GORGE WALK.

Any pub which Mike Palmer drinks in has to serve good beer and Chris reckoned the Butcombe was in good nick as were the enormous sandwiches served with proper fresh bread, real chips and a side salad.

I have now completed the re-write of this page and have part completed several others. The slideshows are coded using a combination of HTML, CSS and JS but the code is quite small so should load quicker on tablets and older slower machines. You will however need a modern up to date browser to see them whatever the machine. The page displays on a mobile quite well if you rescale it to suit but the slideshows leave a large chunk of space below the image on a mobile which I have yet to resolve.

Two things I have been unable to resolve despite hours of experimentation is the menu disappearing behind the slide show and stopping the slide show when you hover the cursor over an image. Still work in progress.

Our next walking expedition was to Castle Combe in Wiltshire which is only about 20 miles away and on our next trip up to Cheltenham we again detoured, this time to Dursley for a circuit of Stinchcombe Hill. Both walks are described in detail below.

 CLICK HERE FOR OUR CASTLE COMBE AND STINCHCOMBE WALKS.

With the various rugby union test series against Southern hemisphere sides our players can take a well earned summer break. The home sides did relatively well with Ireland winning the series against Australia as did Scotland and Wales against Argentina.

England lost their series against South Africa two games to one, winning the final game in Cape Town and bringing to an end a dreadful run of five games lost. You would have to suspect Eddie Jones decision to train at sea level in Durban instead of acclimatising at altitude where both the first games were played despite the so called "sports scientists" saying it makes no difference. In both those first games England started brilliantly then seemed to run out of steam but that didn't happen in Cape Town?

England did have a pretty miserable Six Nations so something has gone wrong somewhere. Bruce Craig the Bath Rugby owner has complained at the number of players returning injured from England training camps which upset Eddie who had to apologise for his remarks. I think Brucie might have a point if training methods deprive England of players through injury and England did look tired.

We had a visit from the Harpers so TTWD made a couple of new friends. We also took her down to Somerset to meet my daughters family and she enjoyed wading through Shurton brook on the way to lunch at the Babbling Brook Pub.

The weather turned uncomfortably hot with temperatures as high as 30℃. We did venture out down to Severn Beach and walked along the Severn Way plus another one along the same long distance path from Oldbury-on-Severn as far as Oldbury Nuclear Power Station then back across the fields. On our way back we stopped off at Thornbury for coffee which is a delightful market town full of flowers but Peter and Jan will be back from their Canadian exploits tomorrow and TTWD will miss us.

I've cracked the slide show problem of pausing when you put your cursor or mouse over or touch an image if it is a touch screen, so in the slide shows above they will stop to enable you to view any image at leisure. Touch outside an image to resume the slide show. The problem of the slide show covering the menu remains and may be impossible to resolve for now. Everything displays properly now on a mobile phone except that the menu stays put at the top of the page.

Sad news from North of the border is that my old friend Brian Melville has died from Motor Neurone Disease. He was spared prolonged suffering as his demise came a comparatively short time after being diagnosed. Brian was an accomplished musician who played and sang with us in our Edinburgh folk group The Ghillies during the late 1960's. Brian could play almost any musical instrument he put his mind to and was a master on the bagpipes so was much in demand at Hogmanay. He was always known as "Brian Brian" because he always said things twice. I once introduced him to someone who asked why he was called Brian Brian and I told him the reason to which Brian Brian replied "no I don't, no I don't". He will be sorely missed.

Cheltenham from Leckhampton Hill.

Having become used to a twice daily walk with TTWD the habit has been hard to break and the weather has continued hot. We have tended to get up high on the Cotswolds where there has been a gentle breeze to cool things down and we have motored to the top to avoid any hard uphill slogs in the heat. We have walked around Leckhampton Hill above and Crickly Hill where the old Beeches are pictured below.

Crickley Hill Beeches.

I have now completed all the pages in the Barging section with the new layout and I will eventually convert all the slideshows to the new CSS format which shrinks to fit any size of screen.

STOP PRESS

My New Zealand residency visa has now been approved in principle although they actually approved it "in principal"! One of my rellies said I "may need to brush up on his yeah/nah, bro, sweet as, fush and chups .. there's got to be a lot more.. I think he can go to ucol for a 101 on this kiwiana.. ?" Having visited NZ many times I thought I was fluent in Kiwiana but going to ucol for a 101 was a new one. I know ucol is the Universal College of Learning but 101 is a mystery.

It reminded me of a trip many years ago when we stopped for lunch somewhere in the NZ countryside and I asked for chips. The girl serving said "we've no chips only widges". I asked my Kiwi wife what "widges" were and she didn't know either. Turned out it was potato wedges. You will not go far wrong if you understand that Kiwi's often pronounce their "e's" as "i's" and vice versa hence "I'll have sex iggs please" and if a girl asks you for sex she might mean six!

Lincolnshire visit.

Some of Sue's ancestors came originally from Lincolnshire so it has been on our bucket list to visit for some time. We thought we should tick it off before we depart these shores and so booked a hotel, basing ourselves in the city of Lincoln for three nights.

On the way there we called in at Stamford which is just over the Lincolnshire border from Rutland and a very handsome town indeed. I was a frequent visitor here during the time I worked for Lister Blackstone Marine as it was the home of Blackstone and Company where I was schooled in their engines and later brought prospective clients. Lister Blackstone was a well established name in the world of diesel engines but you were always put in your place if you dare mention Listers in Stamford as these were Blackstone engines, not Listers who manufactured much smaller less powerful engines.

Blackstone & Co were once the largest employer in Stamford and was founded in 1837 to manufacture Oil Engines and agricultural implements. The factory closed in 2002, a casualty of Britain's membership of the EEC when its markets were exposed to more efficient German and Japanese manufacturers.

The local librarian explained that there is a band of Jurassic limestone that stretches from the Dorset coast up through the Cotswolds and into Lincolnshire which is why towns and villages along the route so resemble each other.

Alfred Lord Tennyson.

We chose the Charlotte House Hotel in Lincoln which is located right next to the castle in a place called The Lawns. It used to be the nurses quarters adjacent to the lunatic asylum so we were in the right place!

The cathedral was also a few minutes walk away so we were walking distance from the city sights and began by visiting the castle. You can buy a combined ticket for the castle and cathedral which saves you 20% and is concessionary for old people like us.

Lincoln was founded as a Roman garrison town in the latter part of the 1st century. Yer Romains called it Lindum Colonia and it is easy to see how this was abbreviated eventually to Lincoln. Yer Romains left in the fourth century and the town fell into decline until the Vikings began raping and pillaging a few centuries later, liked it so much they decided to stay.

The Danes held sway until Bill the Conk came over in 1066 and two years later he gave orders to build a castle here. In 1072, Bills mate, a Benedictine monk called Remigius de Fécamp, laid the foundations of the cathedral. He was given the Bishopric of Dorchester, the largest diocese in England, as a reward for his help in the invasion and Remigius decided to move his episcopal seat to Lincoln in the very North of a Bishopric which then extended from the Thames to the Humber.

The cathedral has been damaged by fire and earthquake since its first construction and its central tower had a wooden spire making it the highest building in the world for some years before it was blown down in a storm. Our cathedral guide gave us a little history of Eleanor of Castile who died near Lincoln which we both found interesting.

 CLICK HERE FOR A HISTORY OF ELEANOR OF CASTILE.

Stained glass window in memory of George Boole in Lincoln Cathedral.

Our cathedral guide also showed us a stained glass window in memory of George Boole which is devoted to the subject of learning.

George, the son of a shoemaker, was a mathematician who was born in Lincoln in 1815 and was largely self taught. In 1847 Boole publish a pamphlet called "The Mathematical Analysis of Logic" in which he described a new form of mathematical logic.

We usually count using decimals represented by digits from 1 to 9 but another way to count is by using only the binary digits 1 and 0. To represent decimal numbers in binary form (meaning only two parts), you simply arrange 1 and 0 in a unique way for each number using eight digits or bits.

Boole proposed to use 1 and 0 as true and/or false values. This became known as Boolean logic or algebra. Computers work by using two different voltages to represent true or false values and therefore do not have a problem with translating binary values to decimal numbers unlike us. Without Boolean logic computers would not work so George Boole was a bit clever!

Another famous son of Lincolnshire was Alfred Lord Tennyson who was born in Sommersby in 1809 and whose statue can be seen above. Tennyson was the poet laureate for many years and perhaps is best known for his poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade".

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!" he said;
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Few children of my age did not learn this classic poem but there are many lines from his poems which we often use without realising who wrote them.

For example; "Theirs [is] but to do and die" from "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and "'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all," from "In Memoriam". Then there is "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. from "Ulysses".

We thought that Lincoln is looking a bit mucky. Dirty pavements stained with the remnants of a boozy night out which look as though they are never swept or cleaned. We spoke to some people at breakfast who used to live here who had the same impression. The city council would be well advised to spend a bit on cleaning if they wish to retain the tourist trade.

Just across the road was a Batemans pub, The Victoria. Now Batemans beer is one of my favourites and my pint was in prime condition as was Sue's Bombay Sapphire gin and Fever Tree tonic, however we nearly fell over at the price of over £9! More like London prices we thought. That impression extended to a meal at a Chinese restaurant where we paid £5.80 for a bottle of Highland Spring sparkling mineral water which costs 87p in our local Morrisons!

Lincoln Cathedral.

The castle is more than just a castle and has a court house and Victorian prison within its walls. In the basement of the prison is one of four surviving copies of the Magna Carta sealed by King John in 1215 and originally kept in the Cathedral. The Magna Carta guarantees the rights of the individual regardless of rank and is regarded as the foundation of modern democratic principles. Perhaps todays British Establishment and especially the European Union should have a read!

Lincoln Prison Chapel.

The photo above is of the prison chapel where the prisoners were each locked in wooden stalls for the service. Prisoners were kept apart for the duration of their sentence until the prison became overcrowded and was criticised for having up to three prisoners per cell. It seems that nothing has changed much. Incidentally the prisoners are dummy's and Sue is standing at the back.

We walked around the castle battlements and you are given an audio guide which provides a potted history of the city as you walk round.

Bill the Conk's first castle was built on an artificial earth mound called a Mott. Being originally an important Roman town, the Fosseway started here which ran down to Leicester and on down to the South Coast. There was also the River Witham which connected with the Trent and eventually The Wash so navigation was possible to the North Sea.

Beneath the Cobb Hall tower is The Strugglers pub. This is where people used to gather to watch 38 public executions between 1817 and 1859 when they ceased. The landlord of The Strugglers believed much of the ground below the castle walls belonged to him so he began to dig away the earth to create useable land making the walls unstable. Despite repeated imprisonment in the Castle and in London he refused to stop digging and was eventually placed in the nearby lunatic asylum that is now our hotel!

We visited Gosburton where Sue's Great Great Grandmother is buried. Sarah Arliss died of TB and exhaustion in 1872 aged 39 when her only child, also called Sarah was only 5 years old. We think she left England with her father Charles soon after. We know she is buried here as the Lincoln archives show it but were unable to locate any grave and the cemetery was overgrown.

The Boston Stump interior.

We next paid a visit to Boston where Charles came from and his father was a seaman. Boston was full of people speaking a foreign language and Sue often felt distinctly ill at ease asking me to cross the road to avoid a couple of blokes who she thought drunk. Boston's crowning glory however is its Stump. St Botolphs Church known as the Boston Stump is one of the finest parish churches in all England. The church tower is 83 metres high and is a landmark from land and sea. Inside it is more like a cathedral than a parish church.

The Boston Stump parish church

We continued to Sibsey and met John Fixter in St Margaret's parish church who said he was babtised and married in the church and often came here. We told him that Sue's Great Great Grandmother was also married there but he did not know any Arliss family. He gave us the name of someone who might have further information at East Kirkby where, according to the census, Charles and Sarah both worked in a Free Boys School. We surmised that the manor at Revesby might have once been that school but could find no evidence.

We continued over the Lincolnshire Wolds to Louth then back to Lincoln via Market Raisen which Sue thought might be nice as it has a pretty name but is wasn't! In fact we were generally unimpressed with the scenery in the wolds as it is supposed to be an area of outstanding natural beauty. It was pleasant enough farm land but nothing much outstanding, natural or beautiful other than the churches.

Vision Express

Just over a year ago I had an eye test at Specsavers and they told me I had a stigmatism in one eye. My new distance glasses affected my peripheral vision to the extent that I saw double when I looked right but I continued to persevere and hope my brain would get used to them. Finally I experience double vision driving at night on the motorway and drove back once from Bristol with one eye closed.

Back I went to Specsavers who tested the lenses to make sure the prescription was correct and it was. They then said that the horizontal distance between each lens was incorrect and gave me new glasses. This resulted in some improvement but the same problem remained and I suspected the astigmatism correction was incorrect. I decided to try Vision Express as Julie Walters reckoned they were the best!!

I told the optician of the problems I was having and suggested the astigmatism correction may be at fault. She agreed that it could be and she made a considerable change in the prescription but she also tested me with different lenses looking at vertical and horizontal lines and found another problem was my eyes were not working together very well so included a prismatic correction of 0.5 prism diopter in each eye. I now have no problem with double vision.

The new web site design has now been completed for both the Barging and Living sections. The last job is the Travel section and then I will get to work on the slideshows. The rewrite has exposed conflicts between CSS and HTML codes which have required work arounds and web site design remains an inexact science.

 CLICK HERE FOR A BREXIT UPDATE.

Cave Rescue

I have watched the recent cave rescue in Thailand with some interest.

As an ex-caver myself I observe that the media remain ignorant of the way cave rescue works. Most cavers will have participated in rescues from caves as it is usually cavers who rescue cavers. The only difference this time is that a group of non-cavers were let into a cave system by an irresponsible individual who happened to be their football coach.

I was an instructor in the Somerset Scout Caving Group which was formed because cavers were fed up with pulling scouts out of Mendip caves where their irresponsible Scout Masters had taken them. After its formation rescues of Scout Groups virtually ceased.

Those who participate in cave rescue are not brave or heroes but are usually just helping out their mates who are in difficulty. They are doing something they do most weekends as a hobby and are probably safer than on a normal caving trip due to the large number of people in the cave during a rescue call out.

Cave divers are cavers on steroids. When I was caving the fatality rate in the Cave Diving Group was about 10%

So they are not brave either just mad as hatters for caving underwater!! Follow this link to The Cotham Cave Club Hymn and UBSS hyms which describe cave divers accurately!

The heat wave continues and so does this story to another page.

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