A Hundred Years Ago…

Sorry, this is a bit of a downbeat post, but it relates to events 100 years ago today, and it seems appropriate. This is from the Clitheroe Advertiser on 21st December 1917.

Obituary notice - Wm H Wilson

Obituary notice – W H Wilson

It’s not quite accurate, as he’d originally volunteered in 1914 but been turned down (my grandfather went with him to volunteer that day but claimed to be less than nine months younger than him – this was hailed as a medical miracle by the recruiting sergeant, who also rejected my grandfather.) The fact that he wasn’t called up until  a year after conscription could indicate that he was needed on the farm as part of the war effort, but there is no indication on his card.

He joined the battalion in July 1917 and was wounded in action on 22nd October, a slight gunshot wound to the head according to his medical records. Slight? They were obviously tougher in those days.

He rejoined the battalion on 5th December, and was, as reported in the paper, fatally wounded whilst in trenches in the Ypres salient on 12th December.

He is buried in Lijsssenthoek Militart Cemetery and is unusual amongst the three members of the family killed in the war in having a marked grave.

 

This is the lisy of personal effects sent home to his mother – photos, wallet, cigarette case, cards, 2 cap badges, 2 numerals (probably shoulder titles), 9 carat gold ring (WHW), 1 farthing, bag.. They would later send a tin case containing a safety razor and blades. Shaving was a complicated subject in the trenches.

WHW Effects

He was, according to one of my great-grandmother’s letters, walking out with a local woman, before being sent to France. At that point he had only five months to live and was to be wounded twice and mentioned in despatches in that time.

    

The war memorial in Slaidburn (currently being restored) features his name, as does my great-grandmother’s gravestone (which also mentions my great-grandfather). If you compared the war memorial  figures at Clitheroe and Slaidburn you will see that they are the same, something I learned whilst pteparing the previous post on Clitheroe. She never recovered from Billy’s death (he was Billy to the family – William to record-keepers) and threw out anything that reminded her of the war. That, we are told, is why there is no existing photo of him.

Great-grandmother is buried in Chatburn, the village where my mother was bombed, and where I later went to school less than 100 yards from the gravestone, which I never knew about until a few years ago.

This closes the circle as her son-in-law is commemorated on Chatburn war memorial – something else I never knew when I went to Chatburn school – the school is the building in the background of this photograph.

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Flowers in the Frost

It was a bit cold this morning – minus 3.5 degrees C according to my car. With a bit of a breeze and the proximity of the River Trent it felt even colder. I started taking photos and twenty minutes later, when my hands could no longer feel the button, I called it a day and sat in the car with the heater on. Julia continued her inspection, declared the garden closed for the day and started ringing round to reorganise things.

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Frozen solid and minus three and a half degrees, though the moles are still active

I think it’s fair to say that they enjoyed themselves more in the main building than they would have done in the garden.

 

There was still plenty to see, though it was mostly droopy and covered in frost crystals. I tried to get some sun into the pictures but it was a bit low in the sky, and concealed behind trees.

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A cold-looking garden gnome

The poppies, meanwhile, are standing up to the cold weather better than the real flowers.

 

From there I dropped Julia at the main building and went to the jewellers to get a safety chain fitted to one of her Christmas presents. I will say no more…

I managed to do some shopping before my return home and a session of writing Christmas cards and blogging before starting to cook tea.

This is the street, complete with frozen snow. Despite the forecast of higher temperatures I fear it may last a week or more, and continue to be a hazard underfoot.

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A wintry scene

Volkswagens Ain’t What They Used To Be…

I had a Passat once before. It was a year old and had 104,000 miles on the clock. It had been used by a rep in Scotland and had been serviced roughly every six weeks. I had it six more years and added 143,000 miles, much of it full with either stock or tools. Apart from regular servicing, the engine was trouble free with only a leaking water pump to report in all that time, though we did have to replace the brake pipes and fix the central locking with a piece of insulating tape (a basic bodge).

Apart from that, the window opening mechanisms were the main source of trouble and were, in the end, the reason I got rid of the car. When you are using it for work there are only so many times you can put up with losing a day because the windows need attention.

The new one I bought a couple of years ago has not impressed me. It doesn’t pull as well as the old one, it has too many electrical fripperies and it has just cost me money for engine parts. I was shocked. In thirty years of running diesels I’ve only ever had to replace one set of glowplugs before and I’ve never had to replace engine parts at 50,000 miles. I’ve always believed that each car should be an improvement on the last, but this seems not to be the case.

I’ve also always believed that Volkswagens rate highly for reliability and longevity, but looking at the internet these days seems to suggest differently.

Modern life can be quite a let-down.

The Snow Arrives

Finally, it arrived.

It wasn’t impressive.

We have some snow left in the street, where it will be a patchy nuisance until it melts, but all the main roads are clear. Driving into town to pick up Julia at 4.00 pm it was quite clear that the centre of town was warmer than Sherwood as there was nothing on the floor at all, not even the narrow road at the back of the leisure centre.

The bad news is that we’re meant to be down to minus 12 degrees C tomorrow. That’s minus 10.4 degrees F. We will be as cold as northern Scotland, which, the news tells me, is colder than Everest.

Based on the accuracy of previous forecasts that will probably be a few degrees under freezing.

Number Two son has just been out for a walk and says it isn’t too bad. He arrived home by train this afternoon and says Sheffield has even less snow than Nottingham.

All in all, it’s a very unsnowy day round here, though news reports do show that there is plenty of snow locally. Looks like we dodged the bullet.

Though it may be a bit early, as their is time for snow yet, I will permit myself a small smile. 🙂

Waiting for the Snow

As I sat and wrote about my new job and Peter Rabbit (two separate posts, in no way linked, even in my imagination) I was expecting snow. It didn’t happen.

We were then supposed to wake up to find we had between four and seven inches of snow this morning. Now that we’re awake, and snowless, the forecast has been modified to show it starting at 7 am. As I sit and type, having dropped Julia off at work, there is still 37 minutes for this prediction to come true.

According to one on-line map we are already under snow. Other sites predict an almost 100% chance of some snow (between two and ten inches) between now and 8 pm with the possibility of disruption, the likelihood of travel problems and the chance of some rural areas being cut off. They further qualify it with “in some places”. Am I alone in finding that a little vague?

Much of the vagueness, of course, comes from journalists trying to sell newspapers. The Met Office is generally quite good at this sort of thing. It is, after all, what they do.

If you live in a country that has proper snow and are wondering what all the fuss is about, look at it this way. If you live in a small town somewhere snowy you probably have more snowploughs, more winter tyres and more snow shoes in town than we have the whole of England. In fact you probably have more snow shoes in your garage than we have in the whole of England. Scotland and Wales, having mountains, take it a bit more seriously and I’m not sure about Northern Ireland. I never think of it as overly snowy, but then again, I do think of it as rainy, and if it’s cold I suppose the rain has to come down as something.

If I was in charge I’d keep us in the European Union and close the country down from December to March while we all went on holiday somewhere warm.

 

 

A Rabbit Comes to Call

Here are some pictures from the MENCAP Open Day.  The painted stones sold well, as did the nest boxes and various other items. I say “various” because I’ve forgotten what Julia said.

I know it came to around £100 and is going to make a useful contribution to the garden running costs. One of the volunteers who helps with the garden brought Peter Rabbit to form the centrepiece of the garden display. Ironically, when you consider what he did in Mr McGregor’s garden, Peter is a scarecrow.The group all helped out and everyone had a good day.

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The group took a number of photos of Julia with the visiting rabbit

Even the photograph album (which was back-to-front after my late night glueing session) was judged to be successful.

A New Job and Work/Life Balance

It’s now official – I have a new job. For the first time in 25 years I’m going to be employed instead of self-employed, so it’s a time of mixed emotions.

It’s true to say that it’s close to being a job in a million. For one thing, you don’t get too many job offers when you’re my age and have no proper qualifications. For another, there aren’t too many jobs going in the antiques trade. And finally, a job that allows you Wednesdays off (that’s Julia’s main day off) and regular time off for blood tests is also hard to find.

I’ve also been offered a job as a consultant with the jerk seasoning project. There’s no money attached to that yet but I’ve always wanted to be a consultant so I accepted.

In one way it’s a failure, as my original self-employment plan was to make a lot of money, become a well-respected figure in the trade and go into semi-retirement around the age of sixty.

The reality is that I scraped a living, enjoyed myself and have just accepted a job as a shop assistant in a collectors’ shop. However, I spent plenty of time with my kids and will be in the fortunate position of making a job out of my hobby, it’s hard to see it as a failure. Let’s call it a flawed success.

Watch this space…

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Past Mayoress’s Jewel – Collectors’ World, Nottingham