Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Boys

We had some very happy guys to pick up after arriving in Sydney just after 6am. Mac and Cody had spent the time with Lisa who boards Dogs. Thank you so much for looking after them.

Special thanks to Vickie who took these great  photos.


All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Going Home

Heather - Saturday 7 November 2009
A visit to MacDonald’s for breakfast and some free internet :-) then a leisurely stroll around Hounslow (where Heather found herself a nice small purple trollybag for all the souvenirs - Paul.), then off to the airport by train. Paul left from terminal 5 and heads for Frankfurt, then Singapore then Sydney to arrive Monday morning around 7am. I leave from terminal 3 onto Helsinki, Bangkok arriving at Sydney around 6:30 on Monday morning.

Tube to Heathrow Terminal 5

Paul - Saturday 7 November 2009
Another BA plane, an Airbus A320, this time.

At Frankfurt I had a wait of almost 4 hours. A lady passenger who was looking lost asked me for directions. I was not much help so we set off to find the gate we would be leaving from. One that was found Susan, we had introduced ourselves by now, and I went for a bite to eat. there was a nice little restaurant where we had a light snack and a German beer. Our waitress, an attractive German lass decided what beers we should try, taught us some basic German and kept us entertained. 

Susan was on her way to visit her mother who resided in Christchurch New Zealand. We agreed to meet up at Singapore and boarded our  Qantas Boeing 747-400 for our second leg.

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 6, 2009

London Sights

Heather - Friday 6 November 2009 
London – not as cold as the Midlands but with many more people. Tube is efficient and should defiantly be implemented in Sydney. Sardines are not bad if only conducted for 5 mins at a time.

Announcements were informative and you were not left guessing. The history aspect is quite enticing. We walked around to find the reconstruction of the globe theatre.

It was rather a large building and sticks out enormously. I was surprised to find out that Paul spent a day looking for it in the spot where it was and could not find it. I suspect it was a case of “turn around and look up”.

Tower Bridge and The Tower of London

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge – blue and ornamental. Unfortunately the cost of entry was too much for the Scottish / Midland heritage would permit us to pay. Being daylight robbery I was wondering whether the operators should be locked up.

We did however walk to The Monument which is to the Great Fire of London in 1666, where it began in a Baker’s shop in Pudding Lane. I got half way up and realized that I did not appreciate heights. Paul made it all the way up and took some photos of “London through Chicken Wire” for pigeon defence.

Street Scene near St Paul's Cathedral

We walked through Covent Garden, Soho and Oxford Circus. The dance shops show 10% off for dance students. Bloch was prominent on a street corner being proudly Australian. There were many shows on offer and had we not been passing through, might have contemplated attending one. The Christmas lights were on and the shops were open.

After walking since 10am and not bothering with lunch etc, we were slightly damp when we got to Garfunkel’s in Oxford Street. Highly recommended and enjoyable time. Paul decided he would have a Becks beer. The waitress however was mortified as only the non alcoholic version of the beer was available. She refused to give him a Becks. A London Pride was supplied instead. According to Paul it definitely puts hair on the chest.

Peak hour on the tube was an experience. Crushed for short periods of time.

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Enigma, London and Disinterested Staff

Heather - Thursday 5 November 2009
Went to Merry Hill on the advise of Glynn, Karen and Colette in order to do some last minute shopping.

Bletchely Park was definitely worth visiting however as always, time was too short. We attended an hour and a half tour of the site with one of the best guides I’ve had. She was knowledgeable, friendly and easy to listen to. Bletchley House was definitely a treat as the mansion had been bought and owned by Sir Hugh (Sammy and Fanny Leon) and then added on after each of their holidays. Roman wing, Italian, Germanic, Gothic. Each wing entirely different. 

The park itself was fascinating and the way the war effort was progressed was clearly outlined. The re-construction of the Enigma and the Colossus machines were demonstrated by a gentleman known as Graham. 

The Reconstructed Colossus

The Lake at Bletchley Park

We were definitely unwilling to leave at the end of the day and head to London. It was a 2 and a half hour, 60 mile, drive to London in traffic. It was still better than Sydney traffic. We arrived finally at Hounslow to stay in an Etap hotel. Finally locating a park (as the hotel car park was bolted) we booked and were advised where to park. Just as far away as where we had parked which charged for parking. We were almost locked in for the evening as well. If Paul had a saw, he would have cut through the boom gates, since all we needed to do was drop our luggage at the hotel and then return the hire car. In all, the only issue with the ETap hotel was the disinterested staff which really do not do the hotel credit.

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Museum, History and Dinner with Friends.

Heather - Wednesday 4 November 2009

The wind was lazy, going straight through you accompanied by sporadic rain on the day we went to visit the Black Country Living Museum. The museum was definitely a treat, set up as a town in the early 1900s complete with people dressed in the time, transport, shops, school and industry We toured the mine. I don’t know how the miners worked in such conditions. The pit ponies definitely had a mind of their own. It is good to see that the owner of the Dudley mine refused to leave the pit ponies down the end of the mine at the end of the day.

Gregory’s General Store

Street Scene at The Black Country Museum

The Hardware Shop

The Hardware Shop

The Rolling Mill

The skies opened up mid afternoon and it was decided that it was about time we stopped getting wet and started getting dry. Once dry however we did go for a walk around Dudley and passed the zoo, renowned for its bear pit. We decided to give this a miss. The apes were swinging happily in the soggy weather and we could see them above the walls as we passed by.

Dudley is definitely suffering from the economy and appears to have high unemployment. It is easy to see with the mining heritage where the tough attitude and stubbornness arises.

We met with Glynn and Karen for a fantastic dinner and most enjoyable evening.

Paul and Glynn got on famously. I could well believe they are related. Techheads

Collette congratulations for new job.

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ducks, Dogs, Cathedral, Titanic, Romans, Great Uncles and Ghosts.

Heather - Tuesday 3 November 2009

Whittington is quite an upmarket village and the canal has many barges. Whilst walking along the canal we were greeted and followed by a most friendly duck who swam along the path we were walking to keep us company. I was chastised when I walked too far ahead of the duck. In the end, I walked with the duck so to speak along the canal whilst Paul was ahead and enjoying the view of railway line and Midlands express which frequently passed.

Whittington Wharf Coventry Canal

Whilst in Whittington we took a look at the outside of 8 Babbington Close where Paul resided for the first 6 years of his life and primary school, now an education advancement centre.

The Old School

The street where I one lived

Coventry Canal, Whittington

Looking down main Street towards The Dog

We were also approached by a local dog walking his owner. The dog was so happy to see us he refused to let us pass until we had appropriately greeted and paid him attention. The English really do appreciate their dogs. In the whole time we have been in the UK, I’ve only heard two dogs bark. One playing in the park, and the other was an adolescent overcome by exuberance at being walked. Shops permit dogs and there are signs for owners to carry their canine companions up and down escalators.

Leaving Whittington we returned to Lichfield for the Lichfield Cathedral and saw the Lichfield angel with its vast history and the resting pace of St Chad.

Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral

The Sleeping Children

The sculpture is of two children who both died 1 year apart the daughters of the Reverend William Robinson, who died prior of tuberculosis and Ellen-Jane Robinson. The eldest also named Ellen-Jane in 1813, died from the complications of burns when her nightdress caught fire while she was preparing for bed. her sister sickened and died in London in 1814. Francis Chantrey was commissioned by their mother and the sculpture was installed in the South- East corner of the Lichfield Cathedral in 1817 and remains there to this day.

In 1826 the poet, William Lisle Bowles wrote a poem about the sculpture:
Look at those sleeping children; softly tread,
Lest thou do mar their dream, and come not nigh
Till their fond mother, with a kiss, shall cry,
'Tis morn, awake! awake! Ah! they are dead!
Yet folded in each other's arms they lie,
So still--oh, look! so still and smilingly,
So breathing and so beautiful, they seem,
As if to die in youth were but to dream
Of spring and flowers! Of flowers? Yet nearer stand
There is a lily in one little hand,
Broken, but not faded yet,
As if its cup with tears were wet.
So sleeps that child, not faded, though in death,
And seeming still to hear her sister's breath,
As when she first did lay her head to rest
Gently on that sister's breast,
And kissed her ere she fell asleep!
The archangel's trump alone shall wake that slumber deep.
Take up those flowers that fell
From the dead hand, and sigh a long farewell!
Your spirits rest in bliss!
Yet ere with parting prayers we say,
Farewell for ever to the insensate clay,
Poor maid, those pale lips we will kiss!
Ah! 'tis cold marble! Artist, who hast wrought
This work of nature, feeling, and of thought;
Thine, Chantrey, be the fame
That joins to immortality thy name.
For these sweet children that so sculptured rest
A sister's head upon a sister's breast
Age after age shall pass away,
Nor shall their beauty fade, their forms decay.
For here is no corruption; the cold worm
Can never prey upon that beauteous form:
This smile of death that fades not, shall engage
The deep affections of each distant age!
Mothers, till ruin the round world hath rent,
Shall gaze with tears upon the monument!
And fathers sigh, with half-suspended breath:
How sweetly sleep the innocent in death!

Minster Pool and Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral two months later - January 2010

The guild hall was closed however we did see statue of the captain of the Titanic.

Captain Edward John Smith

Whilst in Lichfield we found out how to use the local phone boxes. Just as expensive as Australia.

From there we sent onto wall (Letocetum – Roman for Wall) having the ruins of the bath house and hotel for travellers. It was a greatly appreciated opportunity to see the ruins and streets. Wall was the interception of the three main Roman roads built across England. It gave pause for thought to think that we were travelling on roads to Wall that belong to the Roman age. (The roads in Australia only feel as though they were constructed  2,000 years ago).

From Wall we headed for Dudley via the back roads in order to enjoy the scenery and avoid motorways and tollways. Even the minor roads are sealed and guttered. 

Brownhills Miner

Paul's edit - The Brownhills Miner. This stainless steel statue is almost 12 meters high created by sculptor John McKenna and is situated at the top of the high street in Brownhills. A contest was held a couple of years after the artist 's sculpture was erected in 2008 and the winner was Jak Groves a local schoolboy, who suggested "Jigger" the nickname of his Great-Great Grandfather, in tribute to those who had worked in dreadful and dangerous conditions, sometimes paying the ultimate sacrifice.

In 1951 Jack "Jigger" Taylor was critically injured when the roof of Walsall Wood pit collapsed. He died after an emergency operation failed to save him, leaving his wife, Ivy, and children John, Jill and Valerie. Jack and his family had lived lived in Bridge Street, Clayhanger and "Jigger" rests at St James Church in Brownhills.

Jack went down the pit in 1929 aged 14. 

I found out later from my Cousin Jayne that Jack Taylor was my Great Uncle.

Was Yer Ferther A Miner?

Was yer ferther a miner like mine
Did he work in the dirt and the grime
Went to work on a byke, used a bow saw and pike
To dig out black diamonds that shine?

Was yer ferther a wrecked body like mine
Through working in dust, no sunshine
His shuky was his light, damaging God’s given sight
Deep in the dark bowel face of the mine?

Did he take a piece of best Sunday cake
Ter give to the pit pony, whose poor limbs ached
As he dragged a pit tub through rubbish-sludge
So mine owners their profit could make?

Did he bath by the fire in a tub
Un yer mother his marked back did scrub
Scratch caused by low roof, scars plain making proof
Of the days of pit-props and horse hoof?

Did he often sit and tell the old tale
Of disaster and pain that prevailed
When the roof tumbled in – rock ripped at the skin
And sight of widows – children their faces pale?

But if you asked this old ferther of mine
Ter tell yer about it, his old eyes would shine
No sad tale to tell, of the Muck – the Hell
But would proudly boast
‘Ar them days of hard work were mine’.

We booked in at the Station Hotel in Dudley which had a rather attractive bed and breakfast package only to find when we arrived there that it was rather well known in the UK as being haunted. I have no idea of the history of the haunting and intend to find out after we leave the hotel. As far as I know no respects were paid to us by the resident spirit (s) for the two nights we were there, unless it was the snoring which we heard from the next room and the creaking of the floors in the late evening and early morning. The hotel itself was faded and the room was a look into the glory days gone by. The shower was definitely interesting as hot and cold temperatures appeared to optional extras at the whim of the pipes and this also included the water. 

"Originally built in 1910, the Station was demolished in 1936 in order to build a larger Hotel. This became particularly popular with theatrical artists playing the Hippodrome Theatre, once situated opposite. Laurel & Hardy, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and George Formby are amongst the famous names who have stayed at the Hotel."

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Anslow, Steam, Druids and Carriages

Heather - Monday 2 November 2009

The Bell at Anslow

Went to Anslow and around the world for sixpence. We parked behind the Bell Inn and were promptly accosted by a black and white cat and ginger cat demanding breakfast. The black and white was more successful in obtaining a pat and back scratch from me. With the cold morning, I can well believe they need their thick coats.

From all of the walking we have done to date, the paved footpaths out of town and along the fields, that thicket is an apt term for the hedges. I have also arrived at the conclusion that the word thicket is a swear word. It hurts to brush up against it and I can well imagine saying “Oh thicket!” if falling onto the hedges.

Found walking trail to Burton – a right of way that had been established for nearly 1000 years and next to the pig sty of the farm it passes through.

The functioning train museum – The Duchess of Sutherland steam engine. Someone had hired at £500 for the day and was riding it up and down the line. We met the station master who was a retired gent from near Kirkby.

Dutchess of Sutherland at Butterley
Dove north to Derbyshire dales.

- hills and valleys, houses so different – stone and Derwent river.

- train bookshop which was extremely well stocked. Never seen so much railway books, dvds and memorabilia. We would have lost dad for days. I think there were a couple of gents who had setup camp. Fred Dibner displays of his chimney demolition.

- Extremely pretty and easy to understand why people are so fiercely proud and loyal to their heritage.

- Drove to the ladies circle of 9 stones + kingstone 40yards away complete with hippies. Druidic circle. First time I have experienced hayfever since leaving Sydney. Thanks to the incense of the hippies. Walked through heritage trail’s on common land Surrounded by moor lands and heather.

Nine Ladies Stone Circle

“A small early Bronze Age stone circle of (actually) ten stones. They were traditionally believed to be nine ladies turned to stone as a penalty for dancing on Sunday. Part of a complex of prehistoric circles and standing stones on Stanton Moor.”

On the way to Kirkby, we saw a sign to the Carriage Museum and found it to be a working museum with horses and carriages frequently utilized in British period films. The cat at the museum was most put out at being outside however he followed me around the establishment demanding scratches and attention. I think this was more to be let into the saddlery where it is warmer and more comfortable. Red House Stables Working Carriage Museum

Somewhere between Matlock and Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

A village in Derbyshire
A village in Derbyshire. Not sure of it's name, somewhere between Matlock and Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

Went onto Kirkby – Vernon St? The houses are different again to everything noted so far. Was extremely working class look. To dark to take photos but appeared exactly as dad’s photo of Kirby from his aunts.

All text and photographs are Copyright ©2009 Paul Anslow. All rights reserved.