Something will go here one day soon...Gaiety, merriment and dancing, etc.

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2012

Our latest adventures are here.

22nd December 2012 - This year™s Watson-Laird Gazette, our Christmas letter, is here.

 

 

16th December 2012 - We walked fromn Waterloo Station along the South Bank by the Thames which must be one of the best riverside city walks in the world, and had a wonderful lunch at the Royal Oak pub in Southwark.  I had saddle of rabbit, Alice had pheasant and our friend Chris had pork.

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17th November 2012 - Further to what we wrote for the 11th, rhodadendrons are being removed from the Woodland Garden in Bushy Park to discourage something called ‘Sudden Oak Death™.  I™m sure this apparent war on rhodadendrons  is justified, but we will miss the sight of masses of purple flowers everywhere in late spring.

Alice™s mother has left for a safari holiday in South Africa, and broke her foot on the first day.

 

 

15th November 2012 - We saw ‘Audience with Murder™ at Hampton Hill Theatre, a very clever play, but we can™t tell you how as it would spoil it.  Highly recommended.

 

 

11th November 2012 - A great 5-mile walk around Richmond Park, from Kingston Gate meandering to Richmond Gate and round Sidmouth Wood, before going back to Norbiton station.  Apparently the rhodadendrons are being totally removed from the Wood as they are not indigenous to the park.  We think it™s a great shame as they look so wonderful in late spring, masses of giant purple flowers.  They look good from a distance, and also very impressive when you walk through the centre of the Wood.

 

 

27th October 2012 - We and other Strawberry Hillbillies and Teddington rednecks had an unusual visitor to the former St. Alban™s cathedral, now the Landmark Arts Centre, when we were entertained by gynaecologist to the stars and country-western poet and raconteur Hank Wangford, with his band, the perennial Lost Cowboys. Country singers have often said that it wasn™t God who made honkytonk angels, but Landmark Arts Centre knew the honkytonk angles.  Even the bizarre ‘two bottoms for the seat of one™ ticketing system which left some people not sitting with their chosen guest didn™t spoil the cow-hop, dirt-kicking, hoedown atmosphere.

We last saw Hank and the band at the Half Moon in Putney over 15 years ago, at which time Hank looked not so much ageless, as impossible to age, with his permanent stubble and Stonehenge-like gap-toothed grin.  He didn™t look any older, and, now 72 and dressed in a suit more at home  on the stages of Nashville, he looked as if his tailor was doing very well.  His mostly self-written songs, telling of lost love, heartache, divorce and marital infidelity were interspersed with autobiographical details about his friendship with country music stars such as Bobby Bare and Willy Nelson.  We wondered if a local celebrity author present was looking for inspiration for her next novel in the lyrics of the three-guitared Mr. Wangford. He claims to have registered www.wwwwww.com in preparation for his next album celebrating his beloved waltz rhythm, Weird Wacky World of Wangford™s Western Waltzes.

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The super-twangy Lost Cowboys, who I first saw one Sunday lunchtime almost 25 years ago at Brentford Art Centre, backing occasional Hank guest fiddle player and western-swinger Bobby Valentino, still sound as if their instruments (pedal steel and/or dobro, bass and lead guitars) are part of their bodies, such is their level of expertise.  (Western swing was the 1940s Texan-born bastard offspring of western music and jazz.)  Gravity and greying had aged them, naturally, but they were faultless, filling in with solos throughout.

High points for me were the Webb Pierce classic, “There Stands the Glass”, and steel guitarist BJ Cole™s solo on the early 1960s instrumental “Sleepwalk”, a hit for Santo & Johnny Farina.  The sound for the first half was a bit muffled, and too quiet, but, even in the cavernous St Alban™s auditorium, the second set sounded fine. Hank is proud to be the still very Red offspring of Communist parents, and his occasional (Billy) bragging at connections with Arthur Scargill and ‘Red Ken™ Livingstone confirm this.  He seems to rank the 1984 Miners™ Strike alongside the Battles of Trafalgar, Waterloo and Britain as high points in our heritage. I found it a little dated and out of place in Teddington, and my toes were curling in my cowboy boots.

For me the star of the night was the lurching giant Martin Belmont on his ‘63 Fender Stratocaster. He™s played with megastars the world over, including Johnny Cash.  The Lost Cowboys even backed “Archers” character and C&W fan Eddie Grundy, on his twangy country album.  If you missed Hank Wangford and the Lost Cowboys this time, don™t let it happen again.

PS This entry was also used in this week™s edition of the Richmond & Twickenham Times.

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13-19 October 2012 Dublin

7th October 2012 - An autumnal but sunny visit to Kew Gardens, our first free visit, now that we have a season ticket.

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6th October 2012 - A walk around St Martin™s Lane, taking in a Japan festival in Trafalgar Square, followed by a visit to Benjamin Franlin™s House near Charing Cross.

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4th October 2012 - A rare amateur performance of ‘Calendar Girls™ at Hampton Hill Theatre. It™s the story of some Women™s Institute members who produced a successful ‘topless™ calendar.

3rd October 2012 - Back at Easter we stayed at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool.  I™ve just added notes and pictures.

22nd September 2012 - Open House day.  We had decided to visit the Churchill Gardens Estate Pumping House yesterday, just south of Lupus Street, near where I  used to work in Pimlico.  It dates back half a century and goes under its official zippy title of Pimlico District Heating Undertaking, the UK™s first combined heat and power network. The Combined Heat & Power Associationsite says,

    “Located in the heart of London, the PDHU provides heating and hot water services to 3,256 homes, 50 commercial premises and three schools via 5km of heating mains. Built in the 1950s, the network was the first major initiative to combat London™s air pollution, ahead of the Clean Air Act of 1956.

    “Its original use was to reduce heat waste from Battersea Power Station and to supply housing that, needing no coal fires, could be built without adding to London smog. The network has a thermal store (a 41 metre tall tower), which stores 2,300 tonnes of water just below boiling point. Visitors can view the impressive engines used to power PDHU, or climb up the tower for a view of Westminster and the Thames.

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I didn't realise until we arrived that it is the tower shown in the  first picture above. We had to climb eight 22-rung ladders to get to the top.  It is full of near-boiling water. The idea of climbing 176 rungs seemed daunting, but it was surprisingly easy. The views, especially to the north, and east, away from the lowering sun, were wonderful.  Here are three more pictures from the afternoon.  The staff were wonderful, and we feel really lucky to have seen this bit of secret London.

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20th September 2012 - ‘Someone to Watch Over Me™ at Hampton Hill Theatre, a poignant melodrama set in a cell in Beruit. It™s based on the story of John McCarthy and Brian Keenan, who were held hostage together.

15th September 2012 - It was the day of the annual Great River Race, so we walked the Thames Path (left, below) from Putney to Hammersmith, watching the rowers heading upstream, before visiting our old favourite, right, Barnes Wetlands.

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13th September 2012 - I take most of the pictures, so I™m rarely in them.  Here™s a self-indulgent minute of me in front of the camera. Go on, you know you want to, click the white triangle.

 

9th September 2012 - We saw a little egret at Kempton Nature Reserve.

8th September 2012 - A walk to Home Park, trying to find the parts we visit least often. we particularly liked the area around Oak Pond. The wet summer seems to have resulted in more dragon flies this year.  I™ve even seen on in our garden on a couple of occasions. Also we™d often wondered what sort of fish there are in Long Water.  Is this (or was it) a carp?

4th September 2012 - Alice bought me ‘Long Steel Rail™ The Railroad in American Folksong by Norm Cohen.   It™s a fascinatingly detailed labour of love, telling the tales of legends of the American railroad and the songs they inspired, mostly from 1860-1900. I was shocked to read that train crash re-enactments were a regular feature of state fairs.

 

 

1st September 2012 - We had a meandering walk around the City of London, exploring all the hidden alleys. We saw many interesting sights, old church yards, quaint pubs and small gardens. We based our travels on this site listing the Top 10 Square Mile Alleyways which gave us our first few but we got a bit carried away and kept deviating up other back passages. We walked from Bank station, all around the City, and back to Waterloo via St Paul™s, Temple and Fleet street.  We found some very interesting mathematical tilings by Rupert Spira, just east of the end of Fleet Street.

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One alley, Wine Office Court lead past the Cheshire Cheese pub, towards  Dr. Johnson's house, and we saw his view on alleys of London.  "Sir, If you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this great city you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts.”

18th August 2012 - We™re just back from a wonderful holiday in Washington, DC.

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29th July 2012 - I have added a picture of the Olympic cycling in Teddington on the Teddington Diary page.

26th July 2012 - My 55th birthday! We went to Kew Gardens, it was wonderful, such a hot sunny day, the third one in a row, although it is back to rain today.  We™ve joined as members as we have decided to go much more often. This isn™t an advert, but it was 55 for me to be a member, including 10 off for paying by direct debit.  Alice can come as my guest! Considering it is about 15 a time each, that™s quite a deal.

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21st July 2012 - ‘July 4th™ picnic at Alice™s parents™ house.

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14th July 2012 - 40th birthday of our friend Simon Williams.

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11th July 2012 - I have just bought a breadmaker and it arrived on Monday. Yesterday I made my first loaf.  I had done a lot of research before choosing a particular model.  I also did a lot of background reading, which has all paid off.  Today my second attempt was equally pleasing. Tomorrow I plan to try my own pizza base.

7th July 2012 - We visited East London to try the new cable car across the Thames from the Dome to Royal Surrey Docks.  For 3.20 each way it was a wonderful day. If you have an Oyster card then you can bypass the entire queue. the cars looked immaculate and even smelled brand new. The day was cloudy but very clear and the views over Docklands, The City, Greenwich and downstream beyond the Thames Barrier were sensational. We travelled across and back and then walked west along the Thames Path to just upstream from Greenwich. We looped anticlockwise around the Dome, looking up at a few intrepid folk doing the new walk across the roof.  We had to move inland for a while due to building work, before rejoining the path in time to see the newly restored Cutty Sark..

6th July 2012 - Today I left BTP, my employer for the last three years.  I will shortly be an unemployment statistic.  I will have more time for documenting our adventures here.

29th June 2012 - It™s been a while since I added here. I™ve had a lot on my mind. Today I invented the phrase "elasticated badinage", while removing a stretchy knee-support. It describes the free-flowing, pun-ridden, beer-assisted witty banter between some friends on a Friday night. I™ve added an elasticated badinage page which I will use to record some outrageous off-the-cuff puns.  I searched on Google for the phrase, and it said “No results found for "elasticated badinage".”  I therefore claim the expression as truly my own. 

10th June 2012 - A walk on Ham Lands, after visiting Ham Convent for the open day.

4th June 2012 - We did this self-guided tour of Fulham, SW London, passing through Chelsea Harbour just where the Royal barge had been the previous day.  I also wanted to visit part of Fulham as I recently discovered that our house was built by a man who had premises in Fulham early last century.  the walk ended in Bishop™s Park, across the Thames from Putney.

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3rd June 2012 - A very wet Golden Jubilee, which we celebrated by getting the train to Wimbledon, and walking all the way home across the Common and Richmond Park.

27th May 2012 - Something a bit unusual. A the garden of a house in Hampton Hill was open to the public to raise money for charity. It isn™t a very large garden, but it was ‘decorated™ in rather an unusual style.

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On our way home we visited the cemetery of St James™s church, where we found the 1883 grave of George Barrett Wright, the one-time station-master of Fulwell station. 

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13th May 2012 - Chestnut Sunday in Bushy Park.

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12th May 2012 - Richmond Fair, followed by an open day at Fulwell bus depot, to celebrate 50 years since the last trolley bus went out of service.  The depot used to be one of the most important in SW London.  It still is to us...

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April 2012 - We stayed at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool.  If you missed the last 20-plus years, Alice did a post-graduate diploma in Beatle City in 1990, and I made many journeys there to court her. We thought we™d go back and reminisce. The city has changed so much that we almost didn™t recognise it.

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24th March 2012 - Alice and I had volunteered to take part in 4 bird surveys in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace with friends from Surbiton Bird-watching society. Today was the first one. We had to mark on a large map every bird we saw, along with notes about what they were doing, such as foraging, carrying nest material etc.

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3rd March 2012 - Another visit to Barnes Wetlands.

17th February 2012 - Summoned at short notice with two colleagues to a meeting at police HQ, I wasn™t expecting it to be a good day.  It wasn™t.  I™m not very good at interpreting management gibber-speak, but being told that our jobs were ‘at risk™ can™t be good. The best part of the day was a cold but very sunny walk back from Camden to Victoria to let the events of the morning soak in. I stopped to watch the changing of the guard.

11th February 2012 - For Alice™s birthday we walked over Waterloo Bridge, with its wonderful views down the Thames to the City and beyond, then walked down Fleet Street to Dr. Johnson™s house, followed by a visit to ‘Number One, London™, Apsley House, the former home of the Duke of Wellington. We then had tea at the Wallace Collection.

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2nd January 2012 - The year took an early turn for the worst when I started eating my traditional New Year™s haggis, only to discover that I had inadvertently picked up a vegetarian one.   It tasted like a cross between a bad falafel and the padding out of a Jiffy posting bag. Things can only improve.   Perhaps I should have tried it with alcohol-free whisky?

Our 2011 Christmas letter is here.

What we were up to in 2011

I started this web site in about 1998.  As of Autumn 2016 it is getting its biggest ever refurbishment. 

My goals are to include more current information, more pictures, no dead links, consistent format and typeface, better readability on more screens, and to get rid of characters that display badly.  But no free beer.

It is a bit untidy and experimental ...but just wait...

Text first, then pictures to be replaced.