Category Archives: Interest

Remember Me Project- Day 2 WW1 War Graves, France

Cabaret Rouge Cemetery,Rocking Dog

Cabaret Rouge Cemetery

The Remember Me Project, researching names on the war memorial at Whiteshill Common, Hambrook took me to France. The second day of cemetery visits dawned sunny, with blue skies and rich autumnal colours. Our first cemetery of the day was a visit to Le Touret. The cemetery commemorates over 13,400 British soldiers killed in this sector of the Western front from October 1914 until the eve of the Battle of Loos in late September 1915 and who have no known grave. I was able to place a poppy cross close to stone 17B for Pte Francis (Frank) Candy who died on 6th April 1915 whilst serving with the Gloucestershire Regiment. The cemetery was impressive in the early morning sunshine, and beyond the boundary walls there were field upon field of cabbages, cows and people working the land.

We then headed to The Guards Cemetery at Windy Corner, Cuinchy. The name Windy Corner was coined by WW1 troops to describe the cross roads at Cuinchy. Close to the landmark a house existed which served as a dressing station and battalion HQ. In time the cemetery sprang up beside this house. Of all the graves I visited I found Guardsman 19 year old Frank Henry Harcombes disconcertingly moving. He had been buried closely together with two fellow Grenadier Guardsmen who had died on the same day (17th March 1915). Seeing the three graves with no gaps between was poignant. There was sweet birdsong within the cemetery and the thoughtful planting for all year round colour (lupins, sedum, aubretia, rock roses, iris’s, roses, lambs ears and soldiers & sailors). Beyond the cemetery there was the hum of a tractor ploughing.

Much larger was the cemetery we visited next. Cabernet Rouge cemetery contains the graves of 7,650 British Empire servicemen. It’s name came about as a result of a small cafe which was eventually destroyed by heavy shelling in May 1915. The cafe was distinctive in that it was built of brick and had a red tiled roof. Other buildings in the village were mainly thatched. It is a seriously impressive cemetery and is almost spear shaped. Its designer Brigadier Sir Frank Higginson ( a former Canadian Army officer) was secretary to the Imperial War Graves Commission for 37 years and was granted his wish to have his ashes (1958) scattered in the cemetery together with those of his wife Violet (1962). In May 2000 the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier were taken from Cabaret Rouge and laid to rest at the foot of the National War Memorial in the Canadian city of Ottawa. I was at Cabaret Rouge to visit the grave of Sgt Charles Herbert Langley of 110th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He was killed in action on 4th May 1918 aged 22yrs. He received the Military Medal in 1917. The cemetery is set in beautiful countryside and hay was being baled. There were chestnut and spruce trees outside the boundary walls and small conical Yews within.

We next found ourselves at La Targette British cemetery to visit the grave of 2nd Lieutenant Walter William Gibbs of 1st Survey Coy. Royal Engineers. He died on 22nd April 1918 aged 30 years. His life prior to the war sounds to have been an interesting one. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and for two years he was a member of the Bolivian Boundary Commission. He went on to Mozambique and was engaged on survey work for three years. In 1917 he obtained permission from Portuguese East Africa to return to England to enlist. He married shortly prior to leaving for France. The cemetery is a small intimate one with 638 WW1 graves and 3 WW2 graves. We witnessed wonderful autumnal tree colour in woods beyond the cemetery.The little British cemetery was rather dwarfed by the neighbouring French National Cemetery. Here 11,443 WW1 graves are sited together with over 500 WW2 graves.

Arras was our next stop to visit Faubourg D’Amiens cemetery designed by Edwin Lutyens. Here we would pay homage to three brave men. Lieutenant Eyon GA Bowen was killed on 8th September 1916 aged 23years. He served with 22nd Squadron Royal Flying Corps and his name is inscribed on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. Incidentally his name appears on memorials at Whiteshill Common, Winterbourne All Saints Churchyard, on the Braidlea Shield (housed in St Mary Magdalene Church, Stoke Bishop), Sherborne School and Nevern War Memorial. His father, Eyon George Rice Bowen also died in the course of WW1 (26th March 1916 aged 52 years) and is buried in the churchyard at All Saints, Winterbourne. Bowen seniors name is to be found on the Whiteshill and Winterbourne church memorial together with his sons.

Close to the Flying Services Memorial I found Rifleman Albert Hughes’s name on the Arras Memorial. He served with the London Rifle Brigade and died aged 28yrs on 28th March 1918. His name could be find high on Stone 11 Bay Number 9. The white pillared bay felt very serene and peaceful.The Memorial commemorates 35,000 British, South African and New Zealand servicemen who have no known grave. Most were killed during the Battle of Arras (9th April-16th May 1917)

Lastly it was time to find the grave of Private Frederick Graham Amos who was killed in action whilst serving with 5th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment on 6th May 1917. His grave carried the inscription “Not gone from memory or love but gone to our father’s home above” Each letter for a personal inscription would have to have been paid for by a relative. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website carries records for inscriptions, burial details and a wealth of other information. This cemetery was really beautiful, unlike most other cemeteries its boundary walls were high, built of mellowed brick. Beyond the walls were large houses, and within, poplars and silver birch’s creating soft “borders” in front of the walls. It felt very tranquil and there was beautiful planting. The brick contrasted with the magnificence of the white marble Arras Memorial.

Our morning was drawing to a close, but not before a visit to Beurains Cemetery to visit the grave of Private Frederick Walker who prior to the war had worked as a labourer on a farm. He served with 6th Battalion, Somerset Regiment Light Infantry and died on 9th April 1917 aged 26yrs. This intimate little cemetery contains the graves of 317 British, 14 Canadian and 4 German servicemen. It was tucked in tightly by various farm buildings. It was another cemetery designed by Lutyens.

Our final port of call before heading for Switzerland was to visit the cemetery at Landrecies. Landrecies was the scene of a rearguard action in the retreat from Mons in August 1914. It was recaptured from the Germans in November 1918. This little cemetery contains the graves of 165 British soldiers who died in the last three months of 1918. When I came to the grave of William Luton I found it very poignant that he had been killed in action a mere 7 days before the Armistice. William had died on 4th November 1918 whilst serving with 1st/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, aged 22 years. The inscription on his grave read “He plucked the fairest flower and planted it in heaven”. The cemetery itself has a strong connection with the English town of Malvern due to the large number of soldiers from the area buried there. I loved this little cemetery, it was bordered on three sides by working allotments and there were dahlias, cabbages, zucchini and other crops to harvest. Within the low walled cemetery it was planted with four young cherry trees.

So, fifteen cemeteries visited, and twenty poppy crosses carefully placed during some really wonderful autumnal October sunshine. March 2018 will see Andyman and I attempt to visit the remaining fourteen cemeteries in France, paying homage to another seventeen servicemen whose names reside on the Whiteshill Common Memorial.

Au Revoir.

Sunrise Le Touret,Rocking Dog

Sunrise Le Touret

Pte Candy,Rocking Dog

Pte Candy

La Targette,Rocking Dog

La Targette

Another Cross,Rocking Dog

Another Cross

Flying Services Mem',Rocking Dog

Flying Services Mem’

Faubourg D'amiens,Rocking Dog

Faubourg D’amiens

Tucked Tightly,Rocking Dog

Tucked Tightly

German Graves,Rocking Dog

German Graves

Laid Together,Rocking Dog

Laid Together

The Remember Me Project – Remembrance Sunday 2017

Le Touret Cemetery,Rocking Dog

Le Touret Cemetery

As many of you will already know I am currently researching the WWI names on the Whiteshill Common Memorial in Hambrook. As the centenary of the end of WW1 approaches I am keen that the inscriptions on the memorial are “brought to life”. These names were sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, uncles, friends and fellow workers. Many of the fallen played cricket and football on the common, they attended school across the common, collected conkers, courted, ate picnics and participated in village life.

Following some initial research I decided somewhat rashly that I wanted to visit as many graves and memorials before the 2018 centenary. This is a post about my visit to France and Belgium. On this trip I visited the resting place/commemorative panel of 20 of those 53 sevicemen’s names on the Whiteshill Memorial.

Very naively I presumed that there were two or three huge cemeteries to bury/commemorate the war dead. How very wrong I was. There are indeed hundreds of cemeteries scattered across France, Belgium and further afield. In the course of this Remember Me Project I will eventually visit thirty one French and Belgian cemeteries. On this first visit in the course of a morning and afternoon I visited fifteen cemeteries and placed crosses on/by twenty graves/memorial plaques.

I used the Commonwealth Grave Commission website to plot and plan my visit to each cemetery. With their maps and grave/memorial references I wrote up a little plan of directions to reach each grave/memorial. Andyman and I then spent an evening plotting the sequencing of the cemeteries we planned to visit, pre-loading postcodes into the sat-nav. Poppies packed, we headed for le Shuttle. The Belgian cemeteries were those we visited first and it took very little time to reach Artillery Wood Cemetery following disembarkation at Calais. This cemetery was undergoing major restoration work to its boundary walls, but the graves remained undisturbed and with beautiful planting. Beyond the walls crops were growing, wind turbines were turning and life was simply going on. Percy Buckley of the Manchester Regiment was buried here (Feb 27th 1918 aged 20) My first cross was laid.

A visit to New Irish Farm Cemetery followed (Pte Charles Maggs Gloucestershire Regiment 27th August 1917 aged 32). Enlisting in Bristol this serviceman was killed in action at Ypres. The cemetery was named after a nearby farm, known to troops as Irish Farm. Pte Maggs’s front row grave overlooks fields, crops were being pulled and tractors were hard at work. Then it was onto Tynecot. Tynecot is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in the world. It is the resting place of 11,900 WW1 British Empire servicemen. Many of those buried there fell at Passchendaele. Meanwhile the Tynecot Memorial commemorates nearly 35,000 UK and NZ servicemen who died after August 1917 and whose graves are not known. Firstly I placed a cross on the grave of Pte Sidney T Marks, Royal Berkshire Regiment 1st August 1917 aged 27. Then there were three names to find on the memorial panels Pte George H. Andrews, Gloucestershire Regiment, 23rd August 1917, Pte George Biggs,Gloucestershire Regiment, 9th October 1917 and Lt.Colonel James Hugh Coles D.S.O, 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, 24th April 1917 aged 33yrs. Tynecot was preparing for the New Zealand National Commemoration for the Battle of Passchendaele in its centennial year. 520 New Zealanders are buried at Tynecot whilst many more are commemorated on the memorial.The cemetery looked beautiful with roses in shades of deep red, pink and an amazing orange colour. Soldiers & Sailors, Geranium, spiky grasses, pinks, sedum, auricula’s, Elephant ears also provided botanical interest for all year round colour. On the grassy banks leading into cemetery British Legion poppies had been planted with poignant personal messages and would remain there for 101 days.

The lovely cemetery at Hooge Crater was next on my visit list. Hooge Crater was the site of a chateau and stables and the area saw very fierce fighting throughout WW1. Pte Clifford Percy Lloyd who served with the Machine Gun Corps is buried here and was killed in action on 22nd August 1917 aged 19 yrs. The cemetery looked beautiful with lavender balls and young Silver Birch trees. Beyond the low boundary walls cabbages were being grown and cows were grazing. As we walked back up towards the Cross of Sacrifice a group of New Zealanders were singing a lament. It really bought a lump to my throat.

Bedford House Cemetery was a very naturalistic cemetery to visit, with a bullrush lined stream, little bridges, lily pads and what appeared to be a grassy bunker. Beyond the low boundary walls cows grazed and tractors ploughed the rich earth. The cemetery is the resting place of Pte Arthur Young who was killed in action on 21st September 1917 whilst serving with the Gloucestershire Regiment. Prior to enlisting Arthur was employed as a labourer on a golf course near Bristol.

Another cross was laid at Wytschaete Cemetery for Pte William Harmer who was killed in action on 7th June 1917 aged 25yrs whilst serving with the Worcestershire Regiment. The inscription on his grave read “I shall go to him but he will not return to me mother” This cemetery had a lovely backdrop of evergreen and deciduous woodland and the cemetery felt very much part of the village.

Merville Cemetery saw me lay a cross on the grave of Pte Francis Albert Cox who died on the 8th July 1918. He served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and a war diary reported that on 8th July fourteen were killed and sixteen were wounded by an aerial bomb. It is likely that Pte Cox was one of those casualties. The Commonwealth grave cemetery is situated right next to the Merville town cemetery. Compared to the towering and rather macabre black granite graves the serenity and simplicity of the white Commonwealth graves was rather lovely.

The final cemetery visit for Day 1 was to visit the grave of Pte Percy Jones who lies in Rue du Bacquerot-13th London. We initially mistakenly visited another Rue du Bacquerot cemetery (No 1), one without the prefix 13th London. However our mistake led us to the sweetest cemetery with farm track in between its two halves. One section contained the graves of Indian soldiers, there was a predominance of sweet scented pink roses and the graves were carved with Indian script. It was charming. Further down the road we found Percy’s resting place. This cemetery was small and intimate with less than 200 Commonwealth graves. Pte Jones died on 16th April 1916 aged 24yrs whilst serving with 10th Battalion South Wales Borderers.

It was time to rest our weary heads after this 1st day whistle-stop tour. Many thanks to Andyman for all the twists and turns in the road and for finding all the cemeteries.

My account of the 2nd day of cemetery visits will appear in a further post this week. If any relatives would like photo’s of graves/cemeteries please do not hesitate to get in touch. I would also like to appeal at this point for any information that could be useful for The Remember Me Project. I really would like to try and build a picture of the lives of these servicemen before and during the time they were called up to fight for their country. Perhaps too, any interested parties could contact me to register their interest in a Rocking Dog Vintage Tea planned for Sunday November 11th 2018. Please email me, lizferg@btinternet.com

Thank you.

We will especially remember them this Remembrance Sunday.

Whiteshill Memorial,Rocking Dog

Whiteshill Memorial

Plotting & Planning,Rocking Dog

Plotting & Planning

Precious Cargo,Rocking Dog

Precious Cargo

20 Crosses,Rocking Dog

20 Crosses

Tynecot Poppies,Rocking Dog

Tynecot Poppies

Name Upon Name,Rocking Dog

Name Upon Name

La Targette Cemetery,Rocking Dog

La Targette Cemetery

Buried Together,Rocking Dog

Buried Together

Life Goes On Over The Wall,Rocking Dog

Life Goes On Over The Wall

The Rocking Dog Remember Me Project

Remember Me,Rocking Dog

Remember Me

Real Live Rocking Dog and I have been walking together for a glorious ten years now. Many of our walks have taken us close to the war memorial on Whiteshill Common, Hambrook. I have often stopped and looked at the names on the edifice, many of the surnames have seemed very familiar to me. Having been brought up in a village close by I have more than likely rubbed shoulders in years gone by with the sons, nephews, grandsons and maiden aunts etc.. of those commemorated on the memorial.

For a while now I have been wanting to research those 53 WW1 names on the memorial to link in with next years Armistice centenary. Then my plans became more bold, I decided I wanted to visit the graves/memorials of these fallen soldiers. The challenge has begun.

As we are heading through France and Belgium next month I have started to research the resting places of all those inscribed names. I am ashamed to say I was incredibly naive to think that the majority of these servicemen would be in a couple of cemeteries. Thus far I will need to visit 18 French cemeteries and 2 in Belgium. There are some Commonwealth graves in local churchyards and one that I will visit in the Rhondda, Wales. Others are off limits due to their location or security risk (Iraq (formerly Mesopotamia), Azerbajan, Israel, Gallipoli and Greece). The biggest of the cemeteries I need to visit is the Thiepval Memorial with over 72,000 casualties. Meanwhile other cemeteries to visit have only 100 or so casualties. I am wondering which I am going to be most moved by, the enormity of Thiepval or the intimacy of the smaller cemeteries. Thiepval is the largest Commonwealth Memorial to the missing in the world. Most of those commemorated there died during the Somme Offensive of 1916.

I have been using Ancestry.co.uk, the Commonwealth Graves Commission site and local archives (including Frenchay Museum) to conduct my research. The research has led me to war memorial plaques at Marlborough College and the Australian War Memorial. It has also uncovered stories of the near blind villager who knitted a large quantity of woollen mittens and socks for those in the trenches at Gallipoli. There are stories of a villager housing many Belgian refugees and other locals who were instrumental in organising & sending out Christmas parcels to the soldiers of the villages. These parcels were an amazing morale boost for the men at the front. Others nursed at a temporary hospital tending the wounded, whilst others managed poultry to lay eggs for the patients.

As 2018 beckons I want to start compiling A4 sheets (which will be laminated) of the lives and deaths of these soldiers. With the current householders’ permissions I hope to attach one of these “Remember Me” sheets to a door or gate where the soldier was bought up, schooled, worshipped or worked. I will hopefully be able to track down photo’s and personalise each history. These soldiers will simply not be allowed to be just a name on a war memorial. Thank you to kind friends who are knitting poppies to attach to the histories. Pretty please sometime later I would love to buddy up with anyone who has a super duper laminator!

I am hoping that the culmination of all this will be a vintage tea next November. The icing on the cake would be if ancestors of those commemorated came to pay tribute to their relative, and of course to eat Rocking Dog cake.

I include photo’s of my Great Aunt Susan who was called up to be a nurse with the Expeditionary Force in the first few days of the war. Another photo shows my two great uncles, one of whom (David Cresser) served in Gallipoli with the Anzacs. He also had the honour of raising the Union Flag in German occupied Samoa. Finally another photo shows my Grandfather John Warrington Scott (top right, bit of a lad!) He served with Royal Engineers and was very badly gassed in the trenches. Thankfully all these relatives returned home to Scotland and New Zealand.

Have you got relatives who served in WW1? As the 2018 centenary beckons let us Remember Them.

Have a good week and stay cosy, autumn seems to have arrived! Love Rocking Dog x

 War Memorial Rocking Dog

War Memorial,

Frenchay Church,Rocking Dog

Frenchay Church

Commonwealth Grave,Rocking Dog

Commonwealth Grave

Royal Engineer Grandfather,Rocking Dog

Royal Engineer Grandfather

My Great Uncles WW1,Rocking Dog

My Great Uncles WW1

Gt Aunt Susan WW1, France,Rocking Dog

Gt Aunt Susan WW1, France

Rocking Dog & Andyman Head To York

Gloomily Lovely Hotel Wallpaper,Rocking Dog

Gloomily Lovely Hotel Wallpaper

It was a weekend full of the history of Viking invasions, William the Conqueror, birthplace of Guy Fawkes, snow, sun and lovely things to eat. A small group of us met up for the weekend in York, and all I can say is that the hotel was very appropriately named!

I loved the somewhat gloomy wallpaper in our bedroom. It was reminiscent of the drawings of Edward Ardizzone. Long ago this building was used as the lodgings for Judges who assembled twice a year in York. One of those visiting legal residents was Judge William Chapple who went onto have the notorious Highwayman, Dick Turpin hung in 1739.

Our first evening was spent eating at a wonderful Indian restaurant,
Coconut Lagoon. Specialising in dishes originating from Kerala we so loved the food, the Cardamom beer and friendly staff.

Saturday morning the group joined a three hour walking tour around York. Completely free, (though donations were encouraged and welcomed at the end of the tour) we learnt SO much. Alix our young, knowledgeable and eccentric guide revelled in telling us some of Yorks’ more grisly history. The Romans, Vikings, Civil War, the vandalism of Henry VIII and Jewish persecution all featured. I can really recommend a tour like this to  understand a city. The weather was perfect for walking atop the city walls, crisp with bright winter sunshine and blue skies.

The remainder of the weekend was less structured with meandering to be done in Yorks’ quaint cobbled streets. The Shambles, a maze of twisty lanes are the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Mentioned in the Doomsday Book the Shambles in medieval times was a street full of butchers shops. Many of the timbered buildings still sport meat hooks in their timbers. Incidently the word Shambles originates from the Anglo-Saxon word Shammel, roughly meaning shelves. The meat sellers are no longer in residence, instead, tea shops, and independent retailers dominate this picturesque and much loved area of York. I adored the bobbled organic baby knits being sold by Natures Purest.

Duttons For Buttons, The Imaginarium and Make Your Mark were other shops that caught my eye.

Of course no trip to the North is complete without a trip to Betty’s. Sunday breakfast I enjoyed Betty’s Bircher Muesli with blackberries and apple. At 10am there were visitors already enjoying a cream tea, and as we left long queues had formed to gain a coveted table.

All too soon the weekend had disappeared and we were on the train heading south.

York is a really lovely city, with gorgeous architecture and very friendly people. I hope we will return soon.

Wishing that the week is going to be a good one for you. Love a rather foot sore Rocking Dog! x

Whistle Stop Hotel,Rocking Dog

Whistle Stop Hotel

The Imaginarium,Rocking Dog

The Imaginarium

Make Your Mark,Rocking Dog

Make Your Mark

Glorious Minster,Rocking Dog

Glorious Minster

Betty's For Tea....,Rocking Dog

Betty’s For Tea….

..& Bircher!,Rocking Dog

..& Bircher!

Grim Tales,Rocking Dog

Grim Tales

Henry's Vandalism,Rocking Dog

Henry’s Vandalism

Plotters Birthplace,Rocking Dog

Plotters Birthplace

Duttons For Buttons,Rocking Dog

Duttons For Buttons

Babywear &...,Rocking Dog

Babywear &…

..Barrels In The Shambles!,Rocking Dog

..Barrels In The Shambles!

My Christmas List, Love Rocking Dog.

Are You In The Attic Zac?!,Rocking Dog

Are You In The Attic Zac?!

I should be getting on and frou’ing the kennel in readiness for Winter Wonderland this weekend. I hope I’ll get to see you then. However, I just wanted to sit down and take the opportunity to take a few deep breaths!

Have you repeatedly been asked what you’d like for Christmas? As I get older I really find it difficult to come up with anything. The things I do want are impossibly out of reach or need time. Anyhow I thought i’d just jot down my 2016 Christmas List. Are there the same things on your list ?

Here Goes-

1. Peace throughout the world. I have asked for that one for years and years (we are talking about when Ireland was in the midst of terrible bombings). Is it unreasonable to want a safer place globally for our children and grandchildren to grow up in?

2. My friend to get better. I miss her so much, but she’s come such a long courageous way. In with this big wish I want continued strength for her LOVELY family. Big love to all the staff too. You are all truly brilliant.

3. For Donald Trump to be a surprisingly good President… and that we all have to eat our words.

4. Patience and kindness with my Mother In Law. I will truly scream if I have to endure one more conversation about Bristol’s white elephant Metrobus. Just get the damned thing finished, get an operator to run it and we can all move on…. or maybe not… there’s always the weather and traffic to be gloomy about. Do you sense now why I need to sit down and breathe!

5. Love, hope, support and happiness for Young Carer’s everywhere. you are a truly amazing group of people and I love volunteering for the South Gloucestershire Young Carer’s group. Lovely friendly committed staff try to do their very best for these families. These youngsters have to grow up so very quickly and the levels of responsibility on such young shoulders’ is huge. A massive sprinkling of fairy dust coming your way!

6. Unlike Donald (Trump) I do believe in Global Warming- I hope that everyone makes small personal strives to live their life a little greener and be more respectful of the beautiful world we live in. Buy things you want to live with for the next 10 years (or even better life!) Sorry if this sounds preachy.

7. To make the time to sit, eat and socialise with friends. Time hurtles by so quickly and friends are so massively important. I’ll be ringing you to put a date in the 2017 diary.

8. Keep my family safe. I am sure I am not alone when as parents we say goodbye on the drive way to our children. They are instructed to text or ring when they get back (however relatively short the distance they are driving). Parenting really is for life and there is no switch off button to stop the anxiety and concern as they navigate life’s rich tapestry!

9. To have absolutely no more requests to make Roman Blinds… love you all that I do. It’s just a mathematical thing.

10. To eradicate fly-tipping and rubbish everywhere. Yes the kids will tell you it’s a real pet hate of mine and so unnecessary. This year there have been e.mails to Councillors, Pub management companies and MP’s. Exhausting. Finally, this seems petty but would the litterer who drops a cigarette packet in the lane on an almost daily basis please stop doing so- this simple thoughtless act makes my blood boil!

Yes I am a grumpy old woman. So there it is my wishlist and I hope i’ll be crossing off at least one or two of them in time.

Right back to the serious business of frou’ing the kennel!

Lots of love Rocking Dog x

PS another Real Live Rocking Dog would be lovely (but dogs are for life and not just for Christmas), and oh I do need a potato peeler!

Great Little Exhibition-Parcels Of Comfort

Knitting List,Rocking Dog

Knitting List

Last week I went to a great little exhibition, “Parcels of Comfort”. Until January 8th people can visit this poignant space at Bristol Cathedral. Parcels of Comfort examines the story of the importance of parcels sent to the front during WW1. The British Army considered the delivery of letters and parcels to servicemen as vital as delivering rations and ammunition.

Parcels and letters provided an amazing boost to the morale of the troops, especially those suffering the mud, lice, cold and deprivation of life in the trenches.

This exhibition uses small room sets to create the environment where loved ones would knit and sew useful items to send out to the boys. Warm woollen socks, gloves and under-garments would undoubtedly have made the recipient more comfortable. Five local textile artists, together with GCSE textile students from a Bristol school have used hand-stitching and mixed media to cleverly recreate the atmosphere of home during WW1. The knitted items for the exhibition were created from original wartime patterns.

I loved the embroidered tea and soap packet, together with the embroidered addressed linen parcels.

I am fortunate to have my great Aunt Susan’s postcards sent to my Grandmother from France where she was serving as a nurse. Two of her cards mention the fact that the parcel of sweets hadn’t arrived. Then, another postcard thanking the family for the parcel.

Later in time, my father Doug, served in the Royal Navy during WW2. A bundle of letters written by my father to his aunt and uncle have survived. Egypt, Australia, Shanghai, my dad was obviously hopeful there’d be mail waiting for him at his next port. From all this correspondence it was evident just how much he loved hearing news from home. One letter carries a list, messages and signatures of all the guests who attended his sisters wedding in Scotland.

If you live local to Bristol I can really recommend this little exhibition. Perhaps you can tie it in with a delicious visit to the renowned Ice Cream parlour “Swoon” which is close by on Park Street.

Whilst on a war theme, I am heading to Clifton Cathedral on Friday to see the 1916 silent film The Battle of the Somme. It is accompanied by Laura Rossi’s orchestral score, performed by the newly formed Bristol Symphony Orchestra. I need to remember to take a box of “Man-size” with me.

 

Great Aunt Susan is the nurse holding the lantern. Grandfather, John Warrington Scott is the cheeky looking soldier back right.

Embroidered Wall,Rocking Dog

Embroidered Wall

Parcel Of Comfort,Rocking Dog

Parcel Of Comfort

Wool & Embroidery Silk,Rocking Dog

Wool & Embroidery Silk

Aunt Susan Person Of Comfort,Rocking Dog

Aunt Susan Person Of Comfort

WW1 Grandfather,Rocking Dog

WW1 Grandfather

WW2 Navy Dad,Rocking Dog

WW2 Navy Dad

The 11th Hour Of The 11th Day Of The 11th Month

Poignant Somme Symbolism, Rocking Dog

Poignant Somme Symbolism

Armistice Day has been commemorated for the last 98 years on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It marks the day when the Armistice was signed at Compiegne, France between the allies of WW1 and Germany. It brought about the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front.

Beginning in 1939 the two minute silence was moved to the closest Sunday to 11th November. This decision was taken so as not to disrupt wartime munition production if 11th November fell on a weekday. After WW2 this Sunday was named Remembrance Day or Remembrance Sunday.

The Poppy worn in the lead up to, and on Remembrance Sunday itself came about as a result of the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Colonel John McCrae. A Canadian doctor, he was inspired to write the poem in 1915 after losing a friend at Ypres. The bleak battle torn ground was barren, but he witnessed resilient scarlet poppies struggling through the churned and barbed fields. Later an American academic Moina Michael, started making silk poppies which were brought over to England by a French woman Anna Guerin. In 1921 the British Legion was founded, and the organisation that year ordered 9 million poppies. The sale of these poppies raised a staggering £106,000, helping veterans with housing and employment.

Yesterday I went to College Green in Bristol to see the installation of “Shrouds of the Somme”. I witnessed servicemen meticulously laying out 19,240 12inch shrouded figures. The number represents the allied servicemen who died on the very first day of the Battle of the Somme. Somerset artist Rob Heard made the figures and personally wrapped and bound each figure with a hand stitched shroud. Studying a list from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he systematically worked through the 19,240 fatalities, crossing off each name as a figurine had been given its shroud. Though I didn’t witness the exhibit in its entirety, it was truly poignant. The “Shrouds of the Somme” remains in Bristol until the 18th November.

Driving away from College Green I happened to notice that poor old Queen Victoria sited outside The Bristol Royal Marriot Hotel had been given a rubber gas mask by some joker. From experience she’s the butt of many a prank, for a student city we are!!

Today I will be remembering my grandfather John Warrington Scott (Royal Engineers) who was badly gassed in the trenches during WW1. As a consequence of the gas he died from stomach cancer aged 46 on Armistice Day 1941. Also remembering my lovely mum who died 31 years ago today. On a happier note Happy Birthday to lovely niece Iona who slipped out into the world on the bathroom floor 17 years ago today!

Shrouds Of The Somme, Rocking Dog

Shrouds Of The Somme

3 Of The 19,240, Rocking Dog

3 Of The 19,240

Gas Masked Royal, Rocking Dog

Gas Masked Royal

Grandfather John W. Scott, Rocking Dog

Grandfather John W. Scott

My Mum, Rocking Dog

My Mum

Niece Iona, Rocking Dog

Niece Iona

Singing The Night Away Near Hinkley Point

Beautiful Britain, Rocking Dog

Beautiful Britain

The weekend was spent singing the night away near Hinkley Point in Somerset. Friends of ours invited Andyman and I to join them on a camping jolly. So Friday night we took to the road on the run to the sun!

We camped on a wonderful site not a million miles away from Hinkley Point. Run by a lovely young family Moorhouse Farm & Campsite is situated at the foot of the picturesque Quantock Hills. A working arable farm, we were met by a menagerie of hens, ducks and other colourful feathered fowl. There were also a lovely collection of old ploughs, threshing machines and tractors. The charm continued with wooden mushrooms, a characterful BBQ den, fire pits, handsome trees and hedges. Barns on the farm provide the space to make
“Mad Apple Cider”.

Our friends arrived with their new “baby” – a T@b. Larger and more practical than our Pod, it is still head-turningly cute! I really envied the fact that our friends could put on their jeans standing up. We need to shimmy into ours lying on our backs!

In the evening we walked to a local pub for a meal. We were all somewhat bemused when the landlord asked us to order any desserts super quickly as the chef wanted to go home. It was 9pm …. only in England!!

On Saturday we headed off to Kilve beach with the dogs. The day was perfect, warm, with stunningly blue skies and magical scenery. We were walking in the footsteps of Wordsworth and Coleridge. I loved the brick retort with its shrubby “smoke” which was built in the 1920’s. It was discovered that oil could be extracted from shale. This has more than a whiff of fracking about it! In time the scheme was abandoned before the whole area was laid to waste. I wonder how the locals feel about the decision to go ahead with the new Hinkley C power station.

The walk took us from stunning coastline, through freshly ploughed fields and onto paths lined with brambles, sloes and cobnuts. There were also pretty settlements. Cream windowed cottages with rustic porches, allotment style gardens, duck ponds and picket gate fences. Idilic.

In East Quantoxhead we chanced upon morning teas and a village produce sale at the village hall. It felt as if we had stepped back in time. Tea and coffees were served in vintage cups and saucers, not because it was trendy, but that’s because the way it’s always been done. Coffee drunk and bacon floury bap eaten, we picked up some chicken skewers and headed back on the steep climb to the campsite. The September sun was delicious and meant that a spot of deckchair sunbathing proved irresistible!

Kebabs cooked on a disposable barbecue and served with rice and salad we enjoyed some rather generous glasses of Italian wine, local beers and Prosecco. Us girls embarked on an impromptu red wine fuelled sing song. We chose to select groups/singers alphabetically and to sing an iconic song.So there were The Osmond’s Crazy Horses, Whitney Houston Run To You, etc… The boys were very exasperated… but there really is NOTHING like a good sing.

I suspect this  just may be the last camping foray of the year. I so love spending time with friends, the landscape and the elements.

 

 

Farm Transport, Rocking Dog

Farm Transport

Agricultural Metal, Rocking Dog

Agricultural Metal

Hen House, Rocking Dog

Hen House

Our Baby, Rocking Dog

Our Baby

Their Baby, Rocking Dog

Their Baby

Massive Mushrooms, Rocking Dog

Massive Mushrooms

BBQ Den, Rocking Dog

BBQ Den

Alternative Energy, Rocking Dog

Alternative Energy

That View Again, Rocking Dog

That View Again

A Lovely Weekend In September

September Beech Wood, Rocking Dog

September Beech Wood

The weekend was full of lovely impromptu things. A wettish Saturday was spent travelling to Dorset with a friend. Somewhat fortuitously Di’s Sat-nav took us on a little bit of an unconventional journey. It meant that we couldn’t resist having a peek into Antiques Bazaar near Crewkerne. We both loved a circus trapeze bar and various pieces of quirky furniture. There were lots of toby jugs, but I managed to resist! I did however buy a large and pretty curtain which will more than likely form the backing for my future hollyhock quilt.

We travelled onto lovely Bridport, drank coffee, ate lunch, chatted, laughed and enjoyed dipping into lots of independent shops. Unfortunately with the weather being a trifle rainy and windswept there were not many of the usual street stalls. However, it was a really great day and certainly blew away the cobwebs!

Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Andyman, Real Live Rocking Dog and I decided on a spur of the moment Bath walk. We walked on Lansdown Hill, the site of a bloody civil war battle in 1643. The views were truly breathtaking. In the distance we could pick out the old and new Severn Bridge Crossings together with Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It was tempting to stay sitting cherishing the views long after the picnic was finished.. but there was another four miles to muster.

The hawthorns and elders as we climbed, were covered with a profusion of berries. My mum would be saying “it’s a sign it’s going to be a hard, cold winter. It’s nature’s way of providing well for wildlife” We will have to wait and see!

At one point in the walk we had a lovely view down to the ribbon of water at Saltford. There were so many pretty sails, a gorgeous scene to ponder. We also chanced upon the sweet little church of St Martin at North Stoke. 12th century with older additions, I could easily imagine Jane Austen empire line, bonneted weddings. Unfortunately the church was locked. It apparently has a plaque inside honouring the 23 men and unknown number of farm horses who went from the village in WW1. The plaque was unveiled in 2008 by Britain’s last Tommy, Harry Patch, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of WW1. Just a year later at the age 111 Harry died, his funeral service being held at Wells Cathedral.

The last part of our walk took us through a beautiful wooded area. The last glowing embers of the Sunday sunshine penetrated the beech canopy. It was glorious and so atmospheric.

So the new week now begins….

A very Happy Birthday to our lovely boy Alex who is 29 today. He is working at the Paralympics in Rio, and we hope is having the time of his life. Very wonderfully we had a glimpse of him on C4 just after Jonnie Peacock’s 100m gold medal win.

Toby Jug Treasure, Rocking Dog

Toby Jug Treasure

Back At Albion, Rocking Dog

Back At Albion

Sunday Skies, Rocking Dog

Sunday Skies

Green Hill, Rocking Dog

Green Hill

Doggy Picnic Time, Rocking Dog

Doggy Picnic Time

Pretty Sails, Rocking Dog

Pretty Sails

Peaceful Place, Rocking Dog

Peaceful Place

Carved Cherubim, Rocking Dog

Carved Cherubim

Happy Birthday Alex!, Rocking Dog

Happy Birthday Alex!

Alfresco Lunch In My City

Water's Edge, Rocking Dog

Water’s Edge

I met with a friend for an alfresco lunch in my city yesterday. Bristol was bathed in the most beautiful sunshine and the city looked glorious.

We passed through Corn Street and enjoyed looking at some of the amazing buildings in the vicinity. Corn Street is famous for its Nails. These four bronze “tables” are sited outside the Corn Exchange and were used by merchants to close a sale. Money placed on the surface of the Nail signified that a deal had been struck. This is where the saying “Paying on the Nail” comes from. The Nails are from different dates, the earliest being Elizabethan.

We decided to head to St Nicholas Market to see what took our fancy. “Ahh Toots” had its usual array of wonderful cakes dressed with gold dusted fruits, rose petals and pretzels. We managed to resist the temptation and bought a falafel and salad box at “Eat a Pitta”. Freshly cooked falafels were accompanied by a variety of salads, hummus, pickles and choice of dressing all for £5.50. Bargainous! We marvelled at the wondrous blue sky through the glass ceiling as we walked through to some green space.

Our alfresco lunch was eaten picnic style in dappled shade in Queen Square. The Square is used for many public events, but yesterday it had a sprinkling of lunchers, sunbathers and readers. The history of the square dates from 1699 when it was planned, and 1727 when it was completed. It was named after Queen Anne and was an incredibly fashionable place to live. In 1831 much of it was destroyed during the Bristol Riots. It was rebuilt, and now the majority of the buildings are offices.

We left Queen Square for a coffee at the Riverstation. We enjoyed gorgeous waterside views- such a perfect summers day. On our way out we loved Edward Allen’s stonking enamelled tin basin full of succulents and slender twigs. Yummy!

Our final port of call was a photo call at the ruined church of St Peter’s in Castle Park. The area was heavily bombed during the Bristol Blitz 24th-25th November 1940. The church has been preserved as a memorial to the civilian war dead of Bristol. During the Blitz 200 Bristolians’ lost their lives whist another 689 were injured. A beautiful sensory herb garden has been planted on one side of the ruin. Five silver birches meanwhile grow to represent the beaches of the D Day Landings.

In conclusion, a lovely sun blessed afternoon with yummy food and lots of chat!

Feeding Time, Rocking Dog

Feeding Time

Delicious Dogs Dinner!, Rocking Dog

Delicious Dogs Dinner!

Ahh Toots, Rocking Dog

Ahh Toots

The Glass Ceiling, Rocking Dog

The Glass Ceiling

Corn St. Nail

Corn St. Nail

Stone Angel, Rocking Dog

Stone Angel

Carved Beauty, Rocking Dog

Carved Beauty

River View, Rocking Dog

River View

Casualty Of The Blitz, Rocking Dog

Casualty Of The Blitz

Ed's Succulents, Rocking Dog

Ed’s Succulents

Sky & Spire, Rocking Dog

Sky & Spire

Plaid Bundles, Rocking Dog

Plaid Bundles