So it seems that every trip we make to the North results in a number of fine additions to the library here at Weir HQ. Largely because of a handful of tremendous bookshops including the much mentioned (well here anyway) Barter Books, and the equally fine, although marginally less handsomely located, Keel Row Bookshop – if you’re in or around the North East both are worth spending time, and perhaps more importantly, money in.
The book I was most happy in acquiring during our time away from home was The Shell Book of Roads published in 1964, which comes with illustrations from David Gentleman and drawings from Peter Branfield. As it goes it’s a beautifully put together book and whilst Branfield puts in some good work, Gentleman’s pictures are what stand out.
(I’ll put some further pictures up in the next few days of some of the other purchases made which include a number of virtually untouched Puffin Picture books, and a great Miroslav Sasek book celebrating the work of Matchbox model cars).
Filed under: Art, Books, Illustration | Leave a Comment
Tags: Barter Books, David Gentleman, Matchbox, Matchbox Model Cars, Miroslav Sasek, Peter Branfield, Puffin, Puffin Picture Books, The Keel Road Bookshop, the North, The Shell Book of Roads
After events last Friday resulted in the local geography remaining a very disappointing but perhaps not entirely surprising hue, the tremendous Mrs Weir and I decided to spend some time in the People’s Republic of the North East. As ever our time in Northumberland was hugely enjoyable, although it would been better still had Mrs Weir not had a cough worthy of someone with a greater knowledge than her of the work of Mr Henry Overton Wills and I not managed to put my back out scouring the beaches for Victorian sea glass.
Personally I blame the government.
Filed under: Travel | Leave a Comment
Tags: Northumberland, Northumbria
Given that we’re led to believe that the majority of television comes into existence through a war of attrition, it’s reassuring that programmes such as last night’s Dawn Chorus: The Sounds of Spring make it all the way through to broadcast. Shown as part of a short season of programmes praising the dawdle over the sprint, Dawn Chorus saw BBC4 set aside an hour of it’s schedule for a narration free recording, by sound supremo Chris Watson, of an April morning’s birdsong in an oak wood on the edge of Dartmoor, a lowland heath in East Devon and a small park in Exeter.
Considering the cost of most television programming in comparison – the budget for this was described (perhaps unsurprisingly) as a “pittance” – I’m hoping that this short season doesn’t need to gather together too much interest to be deemed successful enough to repeat (although before the programmes went out Channel Editor at BBC4 Cassian Harrison admitted that the concern over potential ratings was “slightly nerve wracking” – so perhaps it’s not quite as straightforward as I’d have hoped).
Filed under: Ideas, TV | Leave a Comment
Tags: BBC4, Chris Watson, Dawn Chorus, Dawn Chorus: The Sounds of Spring, Slow
If you’ve passed by this way on previous occasions you’ll have perhaps read of Mr George Borrow and his assertion that “there are no countries in the world less known by the British than these self same British Islands”. As time passes this seems an increasingly accurate view and given that it was made over a century ago when the physical limitations of day to day travel were far greater than today, a particularly pertinent one. Having considered this many times over the last few years, I think there’s probably also some kind of formula that sits alongside Borrow’s words that dictates that knowledge of an area is often inversely proportional to it’s distance from your doorstep. Sadly I’m as guilty as anyone in this respect, which is why, whilst Mrs Weir was on her travels at the weekend, I ended up at Middleton Mount.
Middleton Mount is a motte that survives from one of Norfolk’s many castles. Given that most of the castles built in Norfolk were constructed in the 11th and 12th centuries it’s safe to assume that the motte in Middleton is of a similar heritage. However, having been mistakenly noted as a tumulus for many years it wasn’t until the 1930s that it was eventually identified as such.
Given that I only live a few miles from Middleton Mount I’m surprised that I’ve never visited before, although to be honest the main reason for that is that I’ve never heard anyone speak of it. If you make it to the top it offers extensive views in almost every direction, however it’s location – somewhat incongruously sat between a golf course and a housing estate – results in it being hidden from view until you’re virtually bedside it. In fact I only stumbled across it through a piece in the local paper about the Norfolk Archeological Trust’s admirable attempts to look after the site.
It’s a shame it’s not better known though because I’m sure you’d agree that out here in the flatlands it cuts quite the dash.
Filed under: Norfolk, Travel | Leave a Comment
Tags: Middleton, Middleton Mount, Motte, Norfolk, Norfolk Archeological Trust, Norman
Haven’t been feeling at all myself this week so an evening with the tremendous Mrs Weir out on the Norfolk coastline was a fine way to spend a few hours. Sadly the forecast appears to have stalled at ‘moderate, occasionally poor’ so I may have to repeat the exercise in order to ensure the weather improves a little.
Filed under: The Seaside | Leave a Comment
Still maintaining the theme, for a while at least.
I’ve been sorting through papers (and photographs – see one-eight-nine.tumblr.com) over the last few weeks and came across a number of certificates my dad had gained through various efforts in his earlier years. Like the photographs they seem impossibly personal, holding a much greater significance than their appearance suggests, and as a result will no doubt reside for many years to come in the vault here at Weir HQ.
Given their age they are a deal more exotic than the same available to those willing to apply themselves today, the one above in particular appears both the height of modernity and at the same time from an age long since passed – it’s actually from 1967, when he attended a course in the programming language Fortran, which he was always pained to point out was of very little use to him subsequently.
[For reference the top image is the previously mentioned award from the inauspiciously named Stafford House Computer Courses Ltd, then the four smaller images (starting top right and working clockwise) are a certificate from The College of Preceptors (no idea) for success in Geography and Arithmetic, a Brooke Bond National Travel Scholarships and Educational Award celebrating First Prize in Art, then comes something from the more soberly sounding Pitman Examinations Institute awarding my dad a pass in Elementary English and finally a certificate from The Hotel and Catering Institute indicating his success in the Institute’s ‘Intermediate Examination in Waiting’.]
Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
Tags: Brooke Bond National Travel Scholarships and Educational Award, Certificates, Fortran, Pitman Examinations Institute, Stafford House Computer Courses Ltd, The College of Preceptors, The Hotel and Catering
And on we go. Albeit with an eye on the past.
Before my parents made the inordinately wise decision to move to the fine county of Norfolk they lived in the village of Lidlington in Bedfordshire. Given that they located a fairly short time after I was born I don’t have any real memories of the place, other than those planted by my parents in conversations with them over the subsequent years, including one unlikely recollection that at the time we were living next door to a “bank robber”.
I’ve only been back once, a couple of years ago when I had to attend a meeting in Bedford, and the visit was only fleeting (I’d spent too long trying to find the best vantage point to see the nearby Cardington airship hangars). The main thing I recall from the visit is being glad that my formative years were based in Lidlington and not neighbouring Sheeptick End which as glamourous addresses go leaves a deal to be desired.
The other thing that I remember is passing a sign for a Vehicle Proving Ground as I left – I had no idea what this was and to be honest I largely forgot about it until I happened upon an Ordnance Survey map of the area which details its peculiar markings.
The Millbrook Proving Ground as it’s now known (after another local village) was built in the late 1960s by General Motors to allow it to test a variety of its European models and is based on their US facility in Michigan (the first testing facility of its kind opened in 1924). The people at Millbrook state on their website that “Our custom-built facility provides virtually every test, validation and Homologation service necessary for today’s demanding programmes, complemented by a worldwide reputation for confidentiality, service and competitiveness.” Which is good to hear, because I’ve been considering changing from my usual Homologation service supplier.
Given that these places aren’t generally open to the public or largely visible to those that pass by, I think they’re geographic features that most are unaware of – which is a shame because as a card carrying cartographiliac (admittedly a society of limited numbers) I find them fascinating.
Filed under: Maps | Leave a Comment
Tags: Bedfordshire, Cardington, Cardington Airship Hangars, General Motors, Lidlington, Maps, Milford, Milford Proving Ground, Millbrook, Millbrook Proving Ground, Sheeptick End, Vehicle Proving Ground