Sailing By


BLOG - Sunset

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.

BLOG - Certificate#1

Still maintaining the theme, for a while at least.

I’ve been sorting through papers (and photographs – see 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’.]

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.



Me and my much loved dad – who died earlier this morning.

For those of us that remain the world’s not going to be the same without him.

Bye dad x.

Enjoy Yourself


BLOG - Marvellous

If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch Marvellous, “the inspirational and incredible true story of Neil Baldwin”, I’d suggest you head over to the BBC’s iPlayer sharpish, because you’re unlikely to be anything other than delighted by it.

The following exchange, that happens about two thirds of the way through the film, that sees Lou Macari (not the Lou Macari, but the actor Tony Curran, (although the Lou Macari does also turn up at one point, which must have been a little confusing on set) quizzing Neil (also known as Nello, and in this instance played by the mighty Toby Jones) on how he remains so upbeat is particularly affecting and something I need reminding of on a disappointingly regular basis.

Lou How do you do it Nello? How do you stay so positive?
Nello I’ve always wanted to be happy, so I decided to be.
Lou Brilliant. I’m going to write some of this stuff down.
Nello If bad things happen you think about good things.
Lou Like what?
Nello Like, the best signing you ever made.
Lou Well I wouldn’t know where to start.
Nello With the shorts. The cleaner the shorts the better the player. It means they’ve stayed on their feet longer.
Lou If you don’t mind me saying that’s very much a kitman’s point of view.
Nello Cloughie thought it too.

So today I’m reminding myself of this, whether it’ll work or not remains to be seen, but whilst happiness holds host momentarily as the word of the day it would seem apposite to wish you all a very happy new year.


It’s probably not everyone who’s on the search for publications produced by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office for the Ministry of Transport (Scottish Development Department) on ‘Informatory Signs for use on all-purpose Roads’, which to be honest is just as well, as otherwise I wouldn’t have picked up a copy for next to nothing last week on a popular auction based website. To be honest I wasn’t actually aware of this specific pamphlet from 1964, however having seen Mr Phil Baines mention that he’d been able to secure a copy of it it rapidly became something that I was keen to add to the Weir collection.

Dating from just after the final report from the Traffic Signs Committee in 1963 this appears to be an interim document, a fabulously detailed one mind, dealing with “all directional signs and with other signs which give road users information of use and interest on all-purpose roads”. And as a (temporary) style guide it’s a delight, being both fabulously detailed – “The sign should be used sparingly. In urban areas it will be seldom required: in rural areas it can be used to indicate the distance to the nearest telephone where the telephone itself is in an inconspicuous position and would not normally be seen by road users.” – and beautifully illustrated.

Perhaps not everyone’s ideal Christmas gift but it works for me.




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