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Thursday 31 December 2015

End of year

October to December are the darkest days. From time immemorial people have been driven to find and use light sources to chase away the darkness.

In recent years these months have become tainted by loss. 
November 2014 and now December 2015 click on the mouse friends have passed away. In both cases the tyrant cancer claimed their lives.

Words can not express the chasm left behind by their departure. Their families have a long painful journey ahead as they come to terms with what has happened.

Unlike yesteryear blogging has enabled them to share their loss and their feelings. In one case the person kept her blog going as long as possible. It remains a rich vein of memories.

I shall not name names, it would be disrespectful to do so.

Farewell my friends.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Farewell 2015

I am not going to miss you. In fact, I shall be heartily glad to consign you to the past.

How was 2015?

The sort of year you never want to repeat, at least my experience of it has left behind some not so good memories.

I spent from Dec. 2014 and all the way thro' 2015 recovering from major surgery (no details). Suffice it to say that December's op was life changing but at the same time the important part is staying alive to face the future.

Himself also had a major op (hip replacement) which went like clockwork as the saying goes. He went from as our American friends would say extreme pain 24/7 to being pain free. As another saying goes 'you can't see the join'. In fact the community care (district) nurse brought her colleague with her to confirm it and to discharge him from outpatient care.

Some happy parts of the year - coffee and friendly chats with neighbours. We even managed to go for a Chinese meal together. It had been delayed by one or more of us having ill health, but we did it. The three of us have our birthdays in November, December and January. Not good months to go out at night. In 2016 we will find another occasion to celebrate our birthdays no matter when. We like the Chinese restaurant. They have grown used to us and although we officially have a 'set' menu, they let us alter it according to our needs without any extra charges. Our blind friend tends to go there more often with different sets of people.

The three of us are still fund raising towards research into diabetic retinopathy. M & M do the sorting of donated goods and then the sales. I do anything that requires using technology.  We began by making craft goods to sell and it grew from there.

Monday 28 December 2015


Recently, a genealogy site has begun to make parts of the British 1939 census details available for a price.

Fortunately, being a subscriber meant I received a discount code which opened a record of my choice at a much reduced price. But, some parts are still blacked out unless that person died before 1991. 

This means I have to do some guesswork. My memory tells me that during WWII (1939-1945) my grandparents had a lodger. I have no idea apart from the lodger being male. Looking at the street it appears that other houses have an extra person that's not part of the family. 

There's no record of whoever lived at no. 1. Yet, I knew the people living there and that they'd been in the house since new.

Whilst the discount of 50% was applicable (one record) I've opened some more to read and to save.

In the news

Mona Helen Muriel Stonyer from Hereford...

The London Gazette posted her demise 

4 Grove Road, Hereford, Spinster. 26th July 1990.

How come this lady made the news in the 21st century? Apparently an academy came across notebooks from her schooldays. Some bright-spark had the idea to investigate further and compare then with now.

Books dating from 1929-1930 were found during the emptying and relocation of Broadlands Primary School. 

Close-ups showed the meticulous hand-writing and drawings from biology. Then, it struck me when one of today's pupils commented on how neat and tidy they were. Cue a memory from long ago, okay 1950s and to my generation not 'that' long ago. We were taught to always do our best work and that meant neat handwriting and careful drawings. No-one ever rushed through their work, there was no incentive to do it faster. Then, we could and did focus our attention on our studies with nothing to distract us. 'No talking' was the rule, and although rooms were light and airy windows on one side were too high to look through even when standing. The opposite wall would have looked into the corridor and out to the quadrangle but its windows were opaque.

 Who was she? MONA H M STONYER was born in Hereford1914.

The more it rains...

The more I come to the conclusion that the North-South divide remains very much in place.

Media go-fors have headed to more of the flood hit areas. They have gathered to interrupt ongoing work with facile, futile questions.

Of course an historic city, York now claims most of the coverage.

The good folk of Cumbria and Lancashire have lost the media spotlight. Their desperate plight remains but the news-hounds have moved on.

Then there's the knowledge gap, made worse by the popular news media that have their words / writings set for a reading age typical for a 10-year old child. 

Yes, my cynicism knows no bounds.

Because happenings are in the Northern England, rubberneckers from the south have arrived to look, spout words then scuttle back to the S.E. (Having spent ££££s on themselves).

Thursday 17 December 2015

Tis the Season?

Reading the latest magazine it was heartening to read that -

 "You will have heard it said that there is so much busy-ness at Christmas that we lose the heart of it. Buying, shopping, wrapping, and choosing...   It’s very easy to find ourselves disconnected from the very story which should have meaning to us: the birth of Jesus."

Media broadcast 'Christmas' carols, but so many of them are merely catchy tunes with empty words. Films with 'Christmas' in the title, that are all about a mythical man in a red suit, nothing to do with St. Nicholas and even less to do with the Nativity.

In childhood years, a favourite part of December was to walk 'up street' to Castle Gate to see the Manger and listen to the old carols. The background scene changed from twinkling stars to the Star of Bethlehem. Figurines amidst the strewn hay depicted the nativity. How fortunate to have such a precious scene to view and listen to.

Times have changed and not for the better. Now I read the on-line news instead of visiting the scene. I no longer want to go because of the various acts of gratuitous vandalism that have occurred over the intervening years.


CLITHEROE'S Mayor says there might not be a Nativity crib scene at the Castle gates next year due to persistent theft of its figures. In the early hours of Boxing Day, around 3-45 a.m., five figures including baby Jesus, Mary, an angel and shepherd, were taken from the crib.

Drunken revellers?

 CCTV cameras picked up images of two people in their 30s or 40s taking the figures. They left the castle grounds by the Eshton Terrace gate in the direction of Mitchell Street carrying the figures. One wing of the angel had broken off and is now in the hands of the police.


"A MODEL of the baby Jesus has been found on the roof of a Clitheroe church.
The unusual find was made while St Mary Magdalene’s gutters were being cleared. The nativity piece, which is around a foot in length, disappeared from the town’s crib three years ago."
Sadly, Clitheroe's nativity scene is not alone in receiving the unwanted attentions of vandals.
To end on a happier note - I used to really enjoy Christmas Eve as I walked across town to St. James for the yearly midnight services.
Another joyful memory floats to the surface...walking to St. Matthews in a village in the High Peak to take part in the Carol Service.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Over 100 years later

and similarities remain...

I've only read part way through, and the notes make for an interesting read.

Education, still a headline grabber in the early 21st century, but what about in the late 1800s?

Recently, I came across a report book (on-line) written in the 1800s by those in charge of a School in the Peak District. 

June 1887, 'The results are very uneven'. 

'Attendance only moderate',
'A large number of children absent in consequence of fever being prevalent in the families'.

Schools are in and their inhabitants are from nearby communities. Nature vs. Nurture.

April 1875

The Head Teacher understood his pupils and their families remarkably well. He saw the effect of events in and around the school and attempted to respond accordingly.

December, 1874, the winter temperatures being bitterly cold, neither masters nor pupils could hold writing instruments well enough to write. School closed on Christmas Eve. It re-opened on the 28th at the request of parents and pupils. Although cold, school was better than local homes.

July 1883
''The state of the Infants Class is creditable to the Mistress. She should have more assistance. 
There should be a teacher's desk'.


Saturday 14 November 2015

Pauvre Paris!

Printable Emotions Colouring Pages
Today, the Western world is reeling from the horrific news from France. 

What I find even more appalling are the damning comments from the apologists seeking to 'justify' the actions of mass murderers. 

I suspect some will un-friend me...if so..good riddance.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Further studies

Having discovered the joy of learning, it's something I mean to keep on doing. I've always wanted to find out and in some cases to know more...

For many years, study with the O.U. has sated my thirst, but with the way the O.U. has been forced to change, especially the price hike, something has to give. I'm on transitional arrangements meaning the costs are not quite so ouch as for anyone studying post the exorbitant price increases. But, having studied under the previous pricing structure, today's costs are eye-watering.

Fortunately, universities world-wide have got together to offer some short, free courses. 

I've already covered courses by

University of Durham - life on Hadrian's Wall (excellent)
The O.U.'s First World War course (very good)
Birmingham Uni - history of aircraft WWI and development of air power (most disappointing).

Now, I'm studying corpus linguistics with Lancaster Uni, and it's another excellent course. This time it overlaps with a level 3 O.U. course E304. Or more precisely, complements E304 even tho' the two courses are independent of each other.

The tutor for E304 has been in touch about Manchester tutorials. She's changed the timing of the first two; they are now 3 hours instead of two. That means it will be even more worthwhile making the journey.

Friday 25 September 2015

There's no such word but


No such word, but it describes many of today's users of social media.

One group (naming no names) has already become 'moans r us'.

The course hasn't started yet the moans are coming thick and fast. I know I'm a cynic, but to me it seems the advent of social media has made some folk lazy. To me the Open University is about independent learning. I can't help but take a dim view of anyone complaining that they have not got a tutor yet. The course opens in just over a week's time, plenty of time to be allocated a tutor. Especially, when you consider that tutors only begin their responsibilities when the start date comes. 

Next on my list of gripes is also to to with on-line comms. When you sign up for a course that says quite openly it has an on-line format, I expect folk to have some digital skills. Granted, the course has digital learning skills built into it, but too many claim problems with working on-line. I did not expect anyone to send the assignment info to fellow students in pdf and glorify in the 'achievement'. 

In fact, I'd like to send these moaners back some 15 years, when there was almost no on-line activity in any courses except the tech ones. No word processing, everything handwritten, no electronic submission, no on-line forum. You were truly reliant on your own resourcefulness. Putting cynicism aside, I ought, perhaps to feel sorry for those that hardly do anything for themselves, those that will not make an attempt to be independent.

When I want to find out something, I do the research, I do not take to social media to ask someone else to do the research for me.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

All change

Another 'sign of the times'. Last year the O.U. used Archbishop Blanch School as the venue for Saturday tutorials. ABS built themselves a new school in a different location. Word went round that the O.U. had parted ways with ABS and in future tutorials would be at Hope Uni. Fine, and in theory no problem until tutorials were announced for 2015-2016. No Merseyside tutorials anywhere! Checking the tutorial finder, everything has been scaled back. The venues on offer used to be - Preston, Chester, Manchester and Liverpool. Now it's Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton.

Owing to 'austerity' cutbacks, several Regional Centres are closing, and this has obviously had a knock-on effect.

Students complain about the lack of face-to-face tutorials. With the cutbacks, fewer students are going to travel even further to the tutorials.

If I were to go to the tutorials, it would mean train to Manchester Oxford Road station and a 15 minute walk down Oxford St. I know, I did it some 12 months ago. I'm even less likely to repeat the journey this year. 

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Getting to grips with linguistics

I've always had a fondness for reading and writing.

At Grammar school (age 11) we read Homer's Odyssey (in translation). In junior school we'd come across some poetry. Over the years, I read / studied Charles Dickens' stories and plays by Shakespeare. English Language and Literature were compulsory, with the bonus that I enjoyed most of my studies.

Recently, I took up the study of linguistics (O.U.). Worlds of English whetted my appetite for more study. This year, I'm doing E304, Exploring English Grammar. 

The website opened last week, so I had the opportunity to look at and download resources. I also accessed the first 5 weeks of the syllabus. We're going to be learning something called 'Corpus linguistics', working with corpora and doing our own research activities. I'm looking forward to it, but I reckon there'll be some who'll moan.  

I had a go at using the corpus linguistics software (O.U.) and was thankful to have done some technology courses, M150 in particular. The GUI graphical user interface looks fairly simple, but not intuitive. Looking thro' the course calendar, study they've built in time to learn to use the software, and something called digital skills.


No sooner did my friend say she hoped to be home soon; than plans have gone awry. She fell, yesterday, and now has a broken wrist.

Can't help but worry. I know she's in the right place for treatment; but to break so easily, that's the next problem. 

Hope she'll be more careful and not have any more accidents.

Monday 14 September 2015

Modern comms

Being a good 60+ miles away, I visited my friend in hospital just the once.

We've kept in touch by sending text messages. Until recently, that was something she just did not do. Needs the saying goes. 

Today's message was the best so far.

Surgery has been a success, the physios have given the 'all 'clear' and my friend will be discharged soon to return home. Not certain whether that will be home as in semi-detached or home as in bungalow, depending on who holds sway.

I can see the advantages of the bungalow, but after hospital 'home's best'. 

Strangers to the Truth

For several years now, I've been studying linguistics.
Today, my interest was piqued by the daughter of an acquaintance who's just gained her Honours in English & German. That she's an accomplished linguist is without doubt, but here's the caveat.

At some 21 years of age she has found herself ' in a school in Germany. Doubtless her linguistics skills serve her well. 

Why the caveat?

This 'newbie' 'greenhorn' teacher's assistant comes (as people do) with her own set of baggage from her upbringing. (Enough said).

Straight from uni, she shared on social media a cartoon from one of the textbooks and it shows a jaundiced view of the English. Typically, I did some research and the author/editor of that particular series is an ex-pat with negative views of life/politics in England.

Another storm in a teacup - as one might say.

Saturday 12 September 2015

What a difference...

a week makes...

Last weekend, some nervousness about driving North, finding my way around the grounds of Waddow Hall and finding out what had been happening to some dear friends.

C & S were super-busy and completely worn out by all the work they'd been doing / organising. Folk tend to watch events such as the Tour of Britain Cycle race without a thought for what it involves. It is not simply close some roads and get on with it. Planning had been going on for several months. It's not just about riders, teams and their road crews. The bigger teams booked themselves in to some of the more prestigious hotels. Sky were at the Dunkenhalgh

Then there's the welfare of all the residents and businesses along the route. Liaising with police, fire, ambulance and mountain rescue teams was another 'must'.

Add on to that an accident and the pressure as they say was 'ramped-up'.

N is a volunteer fund-raiser and a marvellous one. For a number of years part of the round of fund-raising has involved crossing Morecambe Bay. For several years this has always involved one of the grandsons. Not this year, unfortunately. N had almost competed the walk when the accident happened. Result, Westmorland Hospital followed by Blackburn Royal Hospital. A plaster cast on a realigned foot and waiting for swelling to subside.

Next, the cast was 'clam-shelled' as in sliced on half, foot checked to see no further alignment needed and another wait.

This weekend, the super-busy pair are having some well-deserved r&r. The casualty is (hopefully) having surgery to plate the injured foot and I'm waiting to hear about the op afterwards. 

Later on
I have officially been instructed to , 'stop worrying'.
The op is over and post-op recovery is under-way.
Worry mode has been disengaged.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Went the day well...

The Tour of Britain Cycle Race came to the valleys of Ribble and Calder.

Pendle Hill adorned with an outline of a racing bike.

Bowland & Pennine MRT shared images of the event.

Ribble Valley Police had a busy day.

Monday 7 September 2015

Waddow Hall lunch

LFHHS Committee at their 'top' table

Ladies who lunch...
Table 4
Hazel Bleazard, Edna Redpath, Heather Penswick, Pat Allouis, Audrey Gunson.
(no particular order)
Pat is a sculptress and also restores paintings.

A good time was had by all.

Eventful, to say the least

Yesterday, I did a tour involving three rivers - Ribble, Hodder and Calder.

I drove northwards, and in my mind was the recommendation to 'avoid the A59'. It was a bright, sunny day, perfect for viewing the countryside. Journey's end #1 was Waddow Hall, just across the Ribble on the Yorkshire side. Yorkshire that is by everyone locally except the movers & shakers of local government and central government. They upset everyone locally by moving administration into Lancashire. As on speaker put it, 'Administration comes from Lancashire, but we still live in Yorkshire.'

After Waddow Hall, I drove towards Pendle and the main road along the lower slope. Thence on to Rishton to stay with friends.

Back to journey #1

Heading northwards, being 'a friend of the M6', I left the motorway at Longridge instead of the A59. I had a lovely time meandering along country lanes, through picture-perfect villages towards Clitheroe and Waddow Hall.

The event was the LFHHS annual lunch to be held at the Hall. (Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Soc.)

Instead of going to the Hall from the Lancs. side I came via the village of Waddington (Yorks) not to be confused with Waddington, Lincs. home to R.A.F. Air Command.

Waddington, Yorks. was basking in the sunshine and looked charming apart from the visitors, walkers, cyclists & bikers. 

Time for a trip down memory lane, a long time ago, when as a child one of our favourite walks was a circular tour to the Ribble, along its banks, crossing over the river and return along the opposite bank. 

Waddington's war memorial and gardens along the brook that flows thro' the village. 

Tranquillity in the heart of the village

When you can see the gardens in bright sunshine, they are at their best!

Thinking of times gone by when Wakes Weeks were in effect and most shops and businesses closed for the fortnight.

Imagine the image without flower baskets and the lower half of the sash window open. Newspapers spread out inside the room on a table by the open window. This was where people bought their newspapers and children bought sweets.

© Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Thursday 27 August 2015

Roundabouts, slides and...

There's a page entitled 'Growing up in the 50s / 60s which has images from those times. 

Here are some of the roundabouts, slide and 'horse' typical of playgrounds then. 

My local park had the roundabouts just like those pictured. We called one of them the 'Witch's hat' or 'Umbrella'. Beginning by sitting on the planks, soon we graduated to standing and then climbing up the bars. Often there was a 'competition' to see who could climb highest and stay on as the roundabout not only went around, but also swung from side-to side. No idea why, but the nickname 'Daz' springs to mind. Must have been one of the older ones responsible for making it bash too and fro. I still remember hanging on for dear life, yet enjoying it at the same time.
The small roundabout was a challenge to get on whilst it was spinning. Sometimes older youngsters would spin it faster and faster. Again us littlies needed to do our best to cling on. 
As for the 'horse' the one pictured looks like one I knew in a park in Derbyshire (Pavilion Gardens, Buxton). This 'posher' version has seats and 'running boards', a more staid version than the local one. Again, older youngsters would come and make the 'horse' rock faster trying to get the younger ones off. 
The slide had a cinder path surround, imagine the H&S response today! I still have scars on one knee from falling on the cinders when coming off the slide.

Looking back, playing on all these rides must have been good exercise. What a contrast to today!

Monday 24 August 2015

Weathering the storm

...or more precisely a storm in a tea cup.

Auntie Beeb has done it again, she's making changes that ordinary folk might not be too pleased about. It has certainly come as an unwelcome change to me.

For over 90 years the BBC has been broadcasting weather reports, and useful too. Now a decision has been made to use another provider for the reports. Out with information from the much respected Meteorological and in with t.b.a.

Apparently it is a cost-cutting exercise.

Wonder who will provide the forecasts in future? As far as I am concerned, the best, most accurate records come from the U.K. Met Office; they've been doing it for over 150 years!

Monday 1st of August 2011 was a very special day for the Met Office. They celebrated 150 years of forecasting for the nation, and marked the anniversary of the first ever appearance in print of a public weather forecast.

Social media has been agog with all and sundry expressing views about the Beeb and the Met. Office.

Problem being it made me realize that the 'average'  person has little, if any accurate knowledge of meteorology. The cynic in me says that when the Beeb dumb-down the forecasts by using a.n.other provider, Joe Public will probably be none the wiser. 

At least, I can continue to access 'proper' forecasts from the Met. Office web-pages.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

September, I'll remember

Part of the lyrics from Paul Simon's

'April, comes she will'


17th-century manor house set in 178 acres of beautiful Lancashire 

countryside along the banks of the River Ribble.

 The memories are vague, as it is so long ago, but I have been in and across Waddow's grounds. In, with the Brownies (probably) and across taking a short cut thro' the grounds.

  © Copyright Jon Royle and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

 For a long time now, it has been a centre for the Girl Guides Association. In these modern times, it has also become a Conference Centre.

It's even part of Lancashire Folk Lore in the tale of Peg O'Nell and her well.

In 1841, it was known as
Waddow, Mitton, Clitheroe, Yorkshire, England

The Lancashire market town of Clitheroe is on one side of the Ribble with the village of Waddington and Waddow Hall on the opposite side. For centuries, as is common in England, the river formed the county border.

1841 census
Son, Yorks

Jeremiah Garnett 30 born 1811

  James Garnett