23 April, 2013

Happy St Georges Day

From the Vestry of St George the Martyr and the Bridge House Estates.

20 April, 2013

Riding on top of the Bus

On a fine day red and green go so well together. So I went off to Theydon Bois for a ride on top of a bus. In fact I took two rides, one via Abridge and one via Loughton Station. The North London Transport Society had 'up to 20 vintage busses on display'. Actually there were about seven of which 3 or 4 were taking people for rides. This splendid Greenline bus used to ply its way to Harlow New Town of happy memory, and this is a South London Routemaster The routes were interesting going through Epping Forrest and the country towns of Essex. I enjoyed the leisurely rides on top of the vintage bus.

17 April, 2013

All aboard the Lady Daphne for Sea Change!

Lady Daphne is a Thames sailing barge moored at St Katherine's Dock, except when she is out on the spree. I was on board as the guest of the Mainelli family, in particular Professor Michael Mainelli to hear about Sea Change Sailing Trust They can put what they do much better than I can so here's their summary: Sea Change Sailing Trust provides residential opportunities for young people to learn and develop in a unique environment. By living and working together aboard a traditional sailing vessel they participate in a wide range of life skills and are encouraged to take increasing responsibility for their contribution and group decisions. We offer a graduated set of programmes from entry level tasters to extended residential periods with accreditation. This all sounds very worthwhile. The young people learn sailing, co√∂peration and self discipline by doing a real job, carrying cargoes on the barges. They are trying to raise some money for a new barge to help more young people learn about sailing so if any of my readers have a spare £60000 lying around that they don't know what to do with, then Sea Change would be pleased to have it. Or even a spare £6. The evening was very pleasant and attended by the High Sheriff of Essex, Mrs Julia Abel Smith, and we enjoyed a rousing presentation by writer, broadcaster and sailor Tom Cunliffe. It was wonderful to see inside of an old wooden ship dating back to the 1920s, and I hope that Sea Change do raise the money they need.

07 April, 2013

Carshalton House and its water tower

Carshalton House is now a Roman Catholic girls school but the grounds contain some fine architecture. Today the water tower, with its orangery, baigno and saloon were open to the public for their first opening of the season. The Hermitage in the grounds was also open, but guided tours only. The water tower complex included an eighteenth century plunge bath with some beautiful delft tiling on the walls and a black and white marble floor with marble steps. The bath was big enough for three or four people, which sounds quite like a sauna. The mechanical apparatus for pumping water to the tank on the top has decayed but some of the waterwheel and the pipes are still present. The place has been altered over the years with a domed ceiling replaced with a flat one after the war. There was a permanent exhibition of prints and tiles from Carshalton House (St Philomena's Girls School).
The house itself wasn't open to the public but a small garden feature, the hermitage, was open. The hermitage has been repaired but the stone has been left dressed to show its newness. There was a round chamber with excellent acoustic properties with a fine tiled floor. The original part was floored with green and red stone.

Carshalton itself is pleasant with two ponds in the middle, one of the sources of the River Wandle, that is fast flowing and powered a lot of water mills in Merton, including one owned by William Morris.    The river runs underneath Honeywood, now the Sutton Local History Museum, which seems popular with the inhabitants, as there were about four families in there when I called. Whenever I hear of Honeywood, I think of Sir Leslie Brash, John Grigblay the builder and James Spinlove, characters in 'the Honeywood File: an adventure in Building by Harry Cresswell - a very funny book. Diamond Geezer has been. This house was inhabited by William Hale White a victorian novelist who wrote about it in a fictional biography. He also lived in this house nearer the Beeches station. The house fell into disrepair and was opened as a museum in 2012 after a restoration. The billiard room is splendid with its inglenook and leather sofas. I ate my tea in Grove park where the wandle flows and there is a watermill being restorred.

01 April, 2013

Windsor Great Park

The main use of Windsor Great Park is as a dog's toilet, judging by all the small bags left lying around. For today's excursion I had a book published by the Railway Executive in 1949 called Rambles in the Chiltern Country. After a brief moment of confusion as to which way was left on leaving Windsor and Eton Central Station (the author was wrong) I walked past the castle and into Park Street. The Queen was at home as shown by the Royal Standard flying and she had kindly arranged for the band of one of the Regiments of Guards to march through Windsor and play as I arrived. The music was wonderful on this cold and misty day. So the book took me down the Long Walk, 3 miles between the castle and the copper horse, and Windsor Castle's garden path. And of course the guide book led me up the garden path here by saying to take a path by the hospital. Well here was an Ozymandias moment: no trace survived of the hospital. Instead I walked up to the Copper Horse, a large mounted sculpture of Georgius Terto, Patri Optimus, Georgius Rex, which roughly translated means George III best dad King George. This was set up in 1831. As recommended by the guide book I took my lunch in the Fox and Hounds just outside the Bishop's Gate to the Park, and here I place on record that the chicken pie I had cost THREE times as much as the one I had in Kidderminster and was not as good. I went back into the dogs toilet and walked down past another equestrian statue, this time of Prince Albert near the Guards Polo Club, walked through a little glade to Virginia Water. Somebody told me it was dug out by bored soldiers, who had come back from war with nothing to do. Sounds quite likely but not the official version.  The lake is man made and has some embellishments like boat houses and picnic places.  There are also some ruins from ancient roman cities on the African coast.  These are built on each side of the main road with a tunnel to go through for viewing.  These had become ruinous by the late twentieth century so they have recently been restored to their former ruinous state.   There is also a spectacular cascade which is at the head of the lake, with people defying the instructions not to climb on it.  As you can see it's a bit of a raging torrent.
The walk then took me past the totem pole, and the obelisk to the Duke Of Cumberland.  The next part was to walk through the Rhododendron walk but these will not be in bloom until June.  Instead I went to sit by the cow pond where there were substantial oak seats, a little bridge and a pergola.  I negotiated the rhododendrons to get out and back up to the Bishop's Gate.  This was a long wal so I had to decide whaat to do.  I think that the railway decided for me in that there is now no Western Region Station at Staines.  The official walk took me to Runnymede and I would have liked to go there but I would not haave been able to get home. Instead I walked in the sunshine back down the Long Wakl with Windsor Castle shining in the sun. No vehicles are permitted on the Long Walk but I did see some skilful driving on the long walk of a Tivo by someone who looked like Prince Phillip.
It was a long road home and I was glad to get in the train on the way back from Windsor.
There is a video available on youtube.