A sunny return for the West End Ag & Hort show

It was the splendid return of the West End, Windlesham & District Agricultural & Horticultural Society (Ag & Hort for short) last Saturday, and the sun turned out to welcome it.

The show organisers said that the number of show entries was up from 2019, although some categories were affected by a combination of weather and Covid. Covid obviously figured in the committee’s deliberations on the show, notably to hold the prize giving outdoors for the avoidance of the crush in Tringham Hall. That’s the only thing that I noticed being different to the last show, which is remarkable and a commendation to the organisers.

By holding back on giving my show report, I hope it’s given me a chance to not to be vainglorious about winning first prize in the Cacti class, and first prize in the Succulents class, nor to share my dear wife’s pleasure in winning first prize with her (spicy)cheese straws, or how delighted she was to win first prize in jewellery. We, as a family, entered eight exhibits, seven of which were placed.

Enough of the self-congratulatory stuff. The show has many helpers, all of whom make it easy to submit exhibits on the day. The indomitable Angela Astall – the Society President, was always around to offer advice and help.

The wide variety of categories makes for a show full of interest. There’s adult and children’s art and photography, always a pleasant diversion, and the poultry and pets were to admire. I was particularly drawn to a chinchilla, we faced one another for a minute or more. I wondered what he though of me gazing into it’s eyes, no suggestions please.

In the Hall the produce was, as ever, of the highest quality and wonderfully well presented. For our cacti and succulents all we had to do was put their best sides to the front. My winning cacti was a Echinocactus grusonii. It’s taken many years to get to the size, as shown in my photo, and has yet to flower. Sadly, having won, it can’t be exhibited again.

The joy of all things mechanical

I admit it, I’m a lover of all things mechanical. There’s electrical stuff, and chemical stuff, and lots of other stuff. But none excite me more than mechanical stuff.

It was, therefore, a pleasure to voyage on the steamship SS Shieldhall, last August Bank Holiday Monday, from its home base in Southampton to Poole. Wikipedia’s description of the ship:

SS Shieldhall is a preserved steamship that operates from Southampton. She is one of the last reciprocating steam engined ships built, using technology that dated back to the last quarter of the 19th century and which was obsolete at the time of her construction. She spent her working life as one of the “Clyde sludge boats”, making regular trips to dump treated sewage sludge at sea. These steamships had a tradition, dating back to the First World War, of taking organised parties of passengers on their trips during the summer, allowing day-trippers access to the engine room of while at sea to see the workings of the engines in operation.

Extract from Wikipedia entry on SS Shieldhall

I ventured down into the engine room, and boiler room to see the mechanical workings of the ship. It has two triple expansion steam engines, with steam provided by two oil-fired boilers, to turn two screws. I took a short video of the engines, although I have to say I was more interested in talking to the volunteer engineers and looking at the workings than focussing on the quality of the photography. Click on images to expand.

The Inglis Pipe Bridge over the Basingstoke Canal in Aldershot

Following on from my previous article about the new Holland Moorings on the Basingstoke Canal, here’s a report on the purpose of my visit to the canal.

An Inglis bridge is a portable military bridge designed by Sir Charles Inglis. Many of the Inglis bridges, by their very nature, were temporary, such that many no longer exist. There is a fine example of such an Inglis bridge over the Basingstoke canal just of Laffan’s Road in the newly created Duke’s Wood, part of the Wellesley Woodlands in Aldershot. The bridge does not have any decking, it carries a single pipe, which is shielded with a durable outer covering. There’s no information that I’ve uncovered that says what the pipe carried. The Basingstoke Canal Authority has some information on this bridge, stating that it was erected in 1915.

The Think Defence website has an excellent article on the Sir Charles Inglis, his bridge designs, and technical detail about them. In The Inglis Bridges article in Think Defence if says this about the Inglis Bridge over the canal

An Inglis Portable Military Bridge (Light Type) with the pyramidal construction is situated in Aldershot, just off Laffan’s Road near Browning Barracks. Laffan, of course, is familiar to any Sapper in the Hurrah for the CRE song, a former CRE. In WWII, Malta Barracks was on the edge of Laffan’s Road on the edge of Watts Common and was used for Royal Engineer training as well as the nearby Hawley Lake. The bridge itself is between the Claycart and Farnborough Road bridges (see the Google map at this link).

From Think Defence.

Here are my photos of the bridge – click on a photo to expand.

New moorings on Basingstoke Canal in Aldershot

Another couple of odd posts from me. My dear wife had a ladies lunch yesterday, which left me to my own devices for a good part of the day.

I’ll not be surprised if you find these two articles odd. I thought I’d walk a stretch of the Basingstoke Canal as it was gloriously warm, sunny and still. The part of the canal I wanted to walk was to pass the Inglis Bridge over the canal in Aldershot near the Farnborough Road, on the A325 where it crosses the canal. There’s a turning into a small car park by the canal off the short road joining the A323 to the A325. Primarily the car park is for those needing to access the slipway into the canal. There’s no canal towpath on this side of the canal. Just, I thought, an idea opportunity to see the Inglis Bridge in the sunshine.

What I did find was something very new and pleasing too. My photos below will show what I found – click photos to expand. There is a plaque stating that on the 26th August 2021 200m of new canal moorings were opened by Derek Holland and Kay Markham, the son and daughter of Peter and Margaret Holland with monies from a legacy from the Holland Family.

While I walked the full length of the mooring, at which I gained a close-up view of the Inglis Bridge (more about this bridge in the next blog post), I saw a group of young children gaining their first experience of canoeing.

The Silver Perpetual Cup is polished and the cacti are titivated

We’re delighted that the West End, Windlesham and District Agricultural Society’s (WEDAHS) annual show is returning this coming Saturday 11th September.

I’ve polished the Silver Perpetual Cup I won for the best cacti in the 2019 show, and I’ve selected, titivated, and spoken to the cacti and succulents for this year’s show. My dear wife is doing far more than I am, she’s baking an artisan loaf and cheese straws, also entering a craft item and a jewellery item. My hopes are low for cacti and succulents. I’ve seen my dear wife’s craft item, and thinks it’s a winner, however, like all competitions you never know the strength of the opposition or the preferences of the the judging panel.

I’m excited that the show is happening, and apprehensive at how my cacti and succulents will perform.

A Western Approaches paint scheme for HMS Severn

HMS Severn, newly recommissioned into the Royal Navy, displays a Western Approaches dazzle paint scheme. HMS Tamar is similarly adorned with a ‘dazzle camouflage’ paint scheme. The Royal Navy states that all of the River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels will sport a dazzle paint scheme. Wondering which scheme will be next applied to which OPV?

The magnificent Runnymede Air Forces Memorial

With dear wife off volunteering to the Royal Logistic Corps Museum at Worthy Down, weather being pleasantly warm and windless, and me in need of a bit quite reflection, I popped along to the Runnymede Air Forces Memorial.

In the brilliantly maintained memorial, almost not a blade of grass out of place, the cloisters spotless, a mere handful of visitors, the sun peeking through the clouds, yes, a perfect place for quiet reflection.

The memorial is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission ( CWGC ) site commemorating more than 20,000 service men and women of the Commonwealth Air Forces who died in operations during the Second World War who have no known grave.

It’s an immensely pleasing design, in the form of a cloistered quadrangle where the names of the missing are displayed on stone panels in the cloisters. The ceilings of the cloisters have richly decorated painted coats of arms of the Commonwealth countries. The memorial chapel is contained the building designed to emulate an air field control tower. It is adorned with three stone figures representing Justice, Victory, and Courage.

Climbing to the top of this building, standing on the crest of Coopers Hill, it affords a spectacular view over the Thames Valley, with the River Thames, Windsor Castle to the extreme left and Heathrow Airport to the right.

Magnificent is the right word to describe the memorial, and admiration is the right word to describe the work of the CWGC who maintain it. Here are my photos of my visit to the Memorial.

The successful British Motor Show in Farnborough

Over 50,000 people attended the 2021 British Motor Show held over the 19 – 22 August 2021 at Farnborough International Exhibition Centre, which shows that there’s still life in motor shows.

I liked the new venue, preferable to the over big similar event at the NEC in Birmingham, which tended to be dominated by the big motor manufacturers, or the now demolished Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre.

The refreshed show format’s indoor exhibition area included specialist motoring providers, and a live stage hosted by Fuzz Townshend from TV’s CarSOS, with discussions of the merits and technicalities of electric vehicles among other topics

The large outdoor area was used for display of heritage motors from a range of clubs and societies, and a Live Arena hosted by TV motoring pundit Mike Brewer which saw a mixture of thrills and spills, and car parades.

There were plenty of exotic supercars to drool over. Having once tried to get into one of these ground-hugging monsters I found I could get in them, but struggled to get out.

The show is scheduled to remain at Farnborough till 2025. I’ll be sure to attend in future. It’s a fun day out, especially as our small party were able to enjoy the delights of the nearby Aviator Hotel. Here are my photos, solely represenattive of the super cars.

Underestimating the time to create a presentation

A while back I offered a talk to a club needing new after lunch speakers. I said I could offer a talk on three subjects, including one about our tour of Rajasthan in northern India. A character flaw of mine, perhaps, to offer a talk without really thinking about what was involved. I just wanted to help.

I didn’t expect a rapid acceptance of a talk on our India trip. Ah, well, I did offer.

Our tour of Rajasthan was in October/November 2008, so long ago now I’ve forgotten details of or trip, just happy recollections remain. I did say that I’d plenty of photos for my talk. What I neglected to remember was that none of the 1600 or so photo had a description of any kind, or that we had retained any written information. Of which photo was the Junagarh Fort or the Mehrangarh Fort, I knew not, nor did I recall their names.

Selecting 60 photos from 1600 was tough enough, to then provide a description of what these 60 photos are about has taken me weeks of effort. Books on India from the library and the vital Internet as a source provided what I needed. One surprising thing I discovered was that there was sometimes no agreement on what I’d photographed or about the history of the object in the photos.

I’m not intending to post my talk here, or the PowerPoint photo album. I will write about aspects of our tour. In the meantime here are a couple of photos, of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, and a view from the top of the fort over part of Jodhpur.