Wednesday, 28 July 2010

My Brompton

I have been trying to rid myself of some of my bicycles before I go to France. The Brompton, my folding bike that I have had since 1997, was on the list to sell. However, it has been saved by the possibility of the part time job in Bordeaux. The school is 6 km from the railway station, and as the train looks like it will be the best option for travelling, the Brompton will come in handy. Now we come to problem two. I rode Brommie for 5 years and did not one single bit of maintenance on it apart from mending punctures! Ian was horrified at my neglect and decided that we needed to do some work on it. I also needed some new handlebars after falling off and damaging the originals in the first three weeks of owning it. So.. we replaced the chain, cogs and jockey wheels, put a new front brake, cables and saddle; and I bought some folding pedals. We then decided to try a bit of customisation for the bars and brake levers and 'stole' some riser bars and mountain bike levers off of one of Ian's bikes. This is a bit radical as anything like that can affect how if folds. However we experimented, it worked and now I have the first ever' pimp  my ride' Brommie!

Brommie with riser bars
Ready to ride
And it still folds

Monday, 26 July 2010

Logo launch

So here it is.. the logo..

As explained in an earlier post, this was done by my neighbour Dave. This is a scanned picture of the original pen and ink drawing that we have. I may at some point experiment with a bit of colour but at the moment we have the black and white version for letters, cards etc.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


We edge slowly towards France. Thinking about everything that needs to be done in a short space of time fills me with panic but each day more jobs get done. Ian arrived at the weekend with 30 packing crates and insisted that I start packing so that he has somewhere to put some of his things when his flat is rented. I went a good way to filling them up with my books, photos, and contents of some cupboards but Ian is most concerned that I start on my wardrobe! That is a job for later!

Today I took Mandelson the cat to get his pet passport. He was micro chipped, given two rabies jabs, and had a blood test (that can only be done at a government approved, i.e. expensive, laboratory) and today I had to go to pick up all the documents. Total cost was approximately £200  which makes it more than double the cost of my passport! There is a space on the document where I can put his photo but as I can never get him stay still long enough to take a photo of anything other than  his a*se I don't think I will bother!

My mother told me that she is waiting until her 80th birthday (in two weeks time) before renewing her passport, as then she won't have to pay.

Talking of Mandelson (this time Peter), I saw an interview with him the other week about his memoirs where he confessed that he wants to be a farmer. This is a quote from an interview with him from the spectator:
If you ask me where in 15 or 20 years' time I'd like to be, it will be probably on a farm somewhere close to the land, getting up early in the morning ... I want to be near land. I want to be able to grow my own food. Look after my own farm animals, worry about the weather and get the timing of my harvest right.

Where we go Peter Mandelson follows!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Black Nana

When I was younger and my grandmother was still alive she showed us this old family photo on a tin plate image. The baby was my grandfather, Thomas Welch, with his mother, Mary  Miriam Price and his father,  Thomas Welch who was a postman. The older man in the hat is my grandfather's mother's father, Luke Price, who was a lamplighter from Merthyr Tydfil and the old lady in bonnet was my grandfather's mother's mother,  Mary Du Prez. When I first saw this photo I said to my grandmother:

"who is the black woman in the photo?"

"Black woman!? She wasn't black, she just worked with coal and it tinted her skin"

No amount of explanation would ever make her see this any differently! After my grandmother died we had some contacts with the other side of the family who knew more about her and had a big picture of her on their wall. She was known to them as "Black Nana"

Monday, 12 July 2010

My Grandmother

I mentioned my grandmother in the previous post. One of the things that I did this weekend was to scan all my mother's old family pictures and I plan to post a few from time to time in case anyone out there is interested!

My grandmother was born in Camden Town, London. I can't remember the exact date but she was christened Dorothy Turner. There are quite a lot of old family photos and although they were not a rich family I would guess that they were probably what we would call upper working class at the time. This was her, I assume around 5 years old, in a wonderful posed picture! She was quite a character. She was quite short (not much more that 5 foot tall) and I remember her as being rather round in her younger days. However, whereas nowadays people may think of diets and toned bodies she thought of herself as a 'mere slip of a thing' and quite voluptuous! Here is a great picture of her in her bathing costume! She described the young Dorothy as being very popular with the boys! (Although in those days this had the much more innocent meaning of 'flirty'.)
She met and married Thomas Welch when she was about 19. He was a childhood friend and they had know each other pretty much all their lives.  He played the piano and piano accordion and she sang soprano. They loved music and seem to remember them saying that for a while they performed together in music hall. One of her regrets in life was that she was never able to train as a singer as her mother wouldn't let her. She was devoted to Tom, as she called him, for the following 60 years, although she also deeply resented the role that had been placed on her as a woman of her day. I think she was actually rather envious of her grandchildren for the opportunities that we had and in another life she would have loved to have been an independent woman.  

Thomas and Dorothy Welch on their wedding day (They got married on Boxing day, a common day to get married on as people would not need to take time off of work.

Weekly update: on destiny

Time for my weekly post. I seemed to have settled into a once weekly post at the moment. I would like to do more but will have to be content with this. There are no shortage of things to write about and I often compose blog posts in my head whilst on the way to some place, or when on the train, or when sitting at my desk trying to work! However I never seem to get time to write them all down.

I had plenty of time to think on Friday as most of it was spent sitting in the car park that is the M25 (composing blog entries in my head). I went  to Windsor to take my mum to a hospital appointment that lasted all of 20 minutes. What was nice was that we then had plenty of time to talk and have lunch together; a rare occurrence in these days. She will be 80 in a couple of weeks so we talked about that and also about my planned move to France. To her, this must seem like the end of the earth, but then she thought that when I moved from London to Eastbourne! Anyway, I think she is coming around to the idea. We looked through her old photograph album together and that prompted her to talk about my grandmother (her mother)

"She always wanted to run a bed and breakfast..she rather liked cooking and always thought it would be a lovely thing to was one of the things that she regretted not doing.. ." (She had many regrets about her life)
Funny, I never knew that about her. I also never knew that my grandfather  learnt to speak French quite well at the age of 50. My mother couldn't remember why he suddenly took it up other than to say that he was rather good at spoken French (not something I have inherited!).

So, perhaps, somehow, without realising it, I am attempting to live out some of the unfulfilled dreams of my Grandparents by going to France, to breed llamas and run a small B&B. Mind you, unfulfilled dreams are always full of excitement, fun, positive thoughts, hopes and wishes, whereas the reality may be less dreamlike!

Monday, 5 July 2010

A good book

One of the problems with spending my days reading student work, documents, academic papers etc. is that by the time my head hits the pillow I am too tired and brain dead to do anything other than listen to the radio as I drift off to sleep or at best, do an easy Sudoku puzzle (on my tiredest of days I can't even do the simple ones). I used to like reading, but these activities are not condusive to sitting down with a good book. This is something I hope to rectify when I start my new life away from full time academic life. Occasionally however I find a book that breaks through my tiredness and inertia and I read it to the end. The other week I picked up an old copy of Tom Simpson's 'Touching the Void' from a shelf at work. Tom and his climbing partner were caught out in an accident whilst climbing in South America and, in what is now a well known incident, Tom's partner eventually had to cut the rope that was holding Tom precariously above a crevasse and leave him to what he was certain was his death. Tom survived and the book is really an incredibly powerful account of his survival. I'm not to into the climbing details but the book got my attention and I can recommend it. (Don't bother with the film, it doesn't come close to the actual words.)

The joys of summer

Summer is here in full swing. We have had about three weeks of warm, dry weather give or take a few showers. Summer is a little late. This time last year I was already picking the last of the blackcurrants but this year they are only just ripe enough and I am still picking the last of the strawberries! Nature in early summer is almost terrifying with the speed with which it takes over. I like it but it so quickly gets out of control. I can remember coming back to Eastbourne from Brighton after spending two weeks in hospital and rather than feeling pleased to see all the lush greenness of the Downs I found it rather overwhelming and that is how Ian and I felt looking at my garden this weekend! The weeds were waist high, the plants over grown, the hedges encroaching on the flower beds. We worked hard and filled three wheelie bins (mine and two belonging to the neighbours) and still only managed to do half!