Thursday, 27 March 2014

So who was Jeremy Bentham?

A view of the Cleddau Bridge –

Cars are transported high above the waters of Milford Haven now.  Decades ago the Hobbs Point jetty was where foot passengers and cars lined up
to catch the Cleddau Queen and later the Cleddau King ferries

across to “the other side”.

A long shot down the Haven
– just to the left is the embarkation point for the Irish ferry to Rosslare; on the right there’s a glimpse of the tanker jetties, a reminder that Milford Haven’s deep waters accommodate huge oil and liquid gas super tankers.

It was Sports Relief weekend – there were bananas on Barafundle beach,
a heavy sea at Freshwater West.
The winter storms have left their mark: undercut dunes at Barafundle,
shingle replacing the sands at Freshwater West.

So why were the Cleddau crew back in Cleddau-land?  Well, there was an invitation to a Pembs-based relative’s 60th birthday event in Tenby. Family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and Jeremy Bentham were there.

Jeremy Bentham...? Jeremy Bentham! Wasn’t he the guy who attended a UCL (University College London) board meeting despite having died 181 years previously? Wasn’t he a nineteenth century philosopher and social reformer?

Change the verb – who are Jeremy Bentham? A teenage school pop group in the 1960s called themselves ‘The X’. They played noisily and enthusiastically in the school hall and at local night clubs. Seeking wider publicity, acclaim and bookings ‘The X’ group decided to change its name - and with the aid of an encyclopaedia a worthy substitute was found.  So there, on Sunday, the founder members of ‘Jeremy Bentham’, now all in their sixties, played sixties’ music at the sixty-year old’s birthday party. It was a good bash!

As for Cleddau – after six months she’s emerged from the Stoke Boats shed and is afloat alongside on the Trent and Mersey Canal.
Trials of systems and installations are under way  – but don’t ask yet when she’ll be fit for cruising...

Monday, 10 March 2014

Eyes wide open in Lincolnshire

It was a Spring jaunt to Lincolnshire, a week of re-acquainting selves with faces and places from a long ago past...

Who cannot be stirred by the sight of the vast Lincoln Cathedral presiding high above the city?
Stand in front of the enormous West Front,
contemplate the skill and dedication of those who more than nine hundred years ago began this building. Inside, far removed from the city’s hubbub, in the gloom at dusk, hear just the murmur of Evensong and gaze at the fine-arched ceiling
and intricate stone carving.
Retailers in a city must vie for trade: some utilise memorable shop names as at this butcher’s
and this dress shop.
Some rely on significant locally kept artefacts
and some use words
to attract attention to their window displays.
There is no charge for window browsing – and there were no great purchases. Someone drooled here
while someone else tried fruitlessly to acquire a non-spill teapot in appropriate size and shade. In these parts some folk use teapots as lampshades
– or lampbases.
More curiously, it would seem that some people are inclined to do odd things with their teabags
(read the notice mounted above all three toilets in the rented cottage).
Away from the city there are flat fields and large skies to the south,
but lumps and humps north and east on the Wolds.
It’s good walking territory in Lincolnshire and signs mark the Viking Way
(which runs 147 miles from the Humber Bridge to Oakham in Rutland).

Look to the west: as the sun lowers over the Trent Valley
steam clouds indicate the location of power stations.

Down south at Boston the Stump dominates the skies.
There’s a fine West Door and a mighty tower...
Was it a cow, a bull
– or just a picture in the market-place? Tempted by fruit
or sprouts...?
The Grand Sluice lock enables passage to the north onto the River Witham, south onto the tide and to the Wash.
Will Cleddau and Tentatrice pass this way in a few months’ time?  From this South Lincolnshire town Puritan pilgrims set sail,
seeking freedom in the New World.
Over to the coast, to Sutton-on-Sea. A boat at last..
Could another book or saucer have been squeezed into the Knick Knacks shop?
A starfish lay on the sand,
beach huts line the sea wall.
There, attached to the Lion Pillar, a stark memory is recalled.
And an hour later there was tea at the home of a then ten year old evacuee.  Her family’s house inundated by the sea, she and her small sister were dispatched to a London aunt, still in their Saturday party dresses, the sister minus her shoes.

For folk reunited by a Forces past, sightings of Lancaster memorabilia in the Dambusters Inn at Scampton,
of a Vulcan beside Waddington’s perimeter fence,
and of the Red Arrows daily practising for their 2014 display season
provided nostalgia and joy in equal measure!

A perfect heart drawn in the sky
– its memory revives a long-held affection for Lincolnshire...