Police practice boarding an IOW ferry

Returning from a few days in the Isle of Wight our Wightlink Isle of Wight ferry was boarded by the police practicing the manoeuvre. As we looked down on the action it looked full of danger – not a place to fall into the swirling sea.

Alerted by the captain of the ferry that police would be practising boarding the ferry, we watched them board and then return to their fast rib. Made for an interesting ferry crossing.

Parts of the Bisley & Pirbright Ranges smouldering – UPDATED

The Bisley and Pirbright Ranges alongside Red Road in Lightwater, and up to the Maultway in Camberley were burnt in a heathland fire last week. The smell of burning has hung in the air for a number of days. Yesterday, I headed over to the gate to the Greyspot Grenade Range, which is in the Ranges, and adjacent to Brentmoor Heath in West End.

The fire reached the fence by Greyspot Grenade Range. It didn’t extend to Brentmoor Heath, which was good, as that suffered a heathland fire along with Turf Hill in 2020. It’s odd to see the edge of a fire. I presume that the fire brigades kept the fire from crossing into Brentmoor Heath.

I took a couple of photos by Greyspot Grenade Range gate, one to the left showing the burnt heath in the ranges, and one I took through the fence which had patches of smouldering undergrowth. The previous major heathland fire in the Ranges was in 2010.

I’ve only seen the evidence of the heathland fire in the Ranges here in Lightwater and West End. I’ve not looked elsewhere.

UPDATE: Decided to see the fire damage to other parts of the Ranges, and so visited Stickledown Range in Bisley Shooting Grounds to see the extent of the fire. Result: the fire was extensive, though not as bad as in 2010, where the fire was worsened by high winds. See photo below.

Visiting gardens is a joy

Last week, even in the heatwave, we joined a small party for a private visit to the garden of Chinthurst Lodge in Wonersh, in deepest Surrey.

Garden visits mostly offer tea and cake. This visit was no different, the cake I chose was lemon drizzle, and the tea was PG Tips leaf tea. Both excellent.

The garden is a member of the National Garden Scheme, where visits are by arrangement. The herbaceous borders are a delight, with hollyhocks and phlox resplendent on the day of our visit.

Here are the few of my photos of the garden.

Industrial history group social meeting

For the Surrey Industrial History Group it’s been two years of zoom meetings. Members met socially at the National Trust’s Dapdune Wharf in Guildford yesterday afternoon. Naturally, on arrival, I had a pot of tea and savoury bun, not cake this time.

One of the Group’s members provided the history of the site and the Wey Navigation during a short walking tour of the site, before some of us enjoyed a boat ride to Guildford and back. It bucketed down with rain on my way there, pleasingly stopping before arrival and rained no further.

It’s a pleasant site next to the river, ideal for a picnic, and the opportunity for a boat trip is always a good thing.

There’s terrific book barn in what was the carpenter’s shed. I bought a book by Pevsner on Dorset, which will be my gift to may brother on a future visit to him in Bridport. I took a few photos for your delectation.

Wow, a cacti blooms

You’ll know, I feel sure, that I like cacti and succulents – being the winner of the Silver Perpetual Cup for them at the 2021 West End, Windlesham & District Agricultural and Horticultural Society Annual Show.

One of our cacti has delivered an amazing show of blooms. It’s our Parotia magnifica that’s come in bloom. If only they’d saved themselves for the Ag and Hort on 10th September this year. Ah well, I’ll have to rely on some of our other plants to present at their best.

Success for Bisley’s Strawberry Fayre

Back after the two years of Covid restrictions, Bisley’s Strawberry Fayre last Sunday was a tremendous success. We’ve enjoyed the Fayre for a number of years, and after a two year hiatus the largest attendance we’ve seen were entertained by Almac Bisley Brass Band, Chobham St. Lawrence Morris Men, the splendid choir of Bisley C of E Primary School, and the Woking and Camberley Rock Choir.

For food we ate scrumptious strawberry’s and cream, and from Ernie’s Bakery stall we ate a few spiced potato and vegetable samosas. We took their last three home with us to eat with a salad – delicious.

We chatted to people we know, and met Tim Price, who was offering tractor rides, and heard about his recovery from a bad fall in Bisley Church.

As Wallace and Gromit would say – another grand day out. I’ve a few photos for your delectation.

How Bletchley Park’s intelligence gathering helped D-Day success

My normal reading fodder is crime and adventure fiction. Occasionally I’ll pick up a book on history, or a biography, and even more occasionally I’ll select a famous work of fiction. It’s the light reading of a crime novel I enjoy, where the bad people get their comeuppance – where right wins over wrong.

Back to Bletchley Park. There on the shelf of new books in Camberley Library was Bletchley Park and D-Day – The Untold Story of How the Battle for Normandy Was Won by David Kenyon.

Everything about Bletchley Park and the code breaking that went on there in WWII was secret until the mid 1970’s and for many years afterwards the secrets dribbled out. The popular view of Bletchley Park (BP) is of hundreds of clever and eccentric people involved in code breaking, but with little knowledge of the actuality.

This book, by David Kenyon, looks at the work of BP from the angle of how the process of interception of enemy messages were decrypted, interpreted and conveyed to military, diplomatic, and governmental customers.

Through the book I learned that by 1945 there were over 9,000 people working for BP and its outlying branches, and that the process of converting coded messages into intelligence was done in a factory-like environment. I also learned about the many brilliant people, other than the famous ones such as Alan Turing and Tommy Flowers, one of whom was Dilly Knox. He was in charge of a group codebreaking the ciphers of the German Army Intelligence service. In his team were more than a dozen women one of whom was Margaret Rock, whom Dilly Knox considered her to be one of the half-dozen finest minds in BP. She was assisted by Mavis Lever. David Kenyon says,

“Knox – a classical scholar – is reported to have paid tribute to Margaret Rock and her colleague Mavis Lever with a paraphrase of a famous remark by Archimedes: ‘give me a Lever and a Rock and I shall move the universe.'”

David Kenyon’s book is full of such pieces of historical information. It’s only after reading the book and ‘googling’ him, I can say I’m quietly pleased to say that, some 10 years ago, I was part of a small group of people in a Battlefield Summer School of WW1 battlefields. I’m wondering if I should write to him to congratulate him on his book. Maybe, I will.

Frimley Green Gardens Open Day this Sunday

I can’t resist tea and a choice of cake, that’s what’s on offer at Frimley Green Gardens Open on Sunday 12th June, from 2.0pm to 6.0pm. To explain, the entrance fee to all the gardens, including the essential map is available on the Green, where teas are provided by the 1st Frimley Green and Mytchett Guides from 2pm to 6pm. This means starting off the garden visits fortified by tea and cake, and also more can be had after the garden visits.

We like to study the map, selecting our route over tea and cake. I’m looking forward to Angela and Graham O’Connell’s garden – 22 The Hatches – as I always enjoy a chat with Graham, and noted that he’s been to the Chelsea Flower Show this year, and I’d like to hear of his impressions. Anyway, here’s a photo of Graham outside his home at last year’s event.

A video of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacon lighting in Lightwater

A beautifully organised event by the combined efforts of The Lightwater Society, Windlesham Parish Council, Lightwater Connected, and All Saints’ Church. I think that’s everyone, I hope I’ve not missed anyone or organisation.

The lighting of the beacon was preceded by a prayer offered to the Queen by Rev’d David Sigsworth; a young piper from Gordon’s School played Riu Regnare, a piece composed by Stuart Liddell as a tribute to Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; followed by Lightwater Community Choir ably led by Rev’s David Sigsworth.

Next it was the lighting of the beacon, which exceeded my expectations as the beacon was professional and acquired by the Parish Council, and I think the event and the beacon was appreciated by the hundreds of visitors. Below is my video of the event, a bit scrappy as taken with my new phone, and above that is a photo, courtesy of Katia Malcaus Cooper’s Facebook page, of the beacon and the audience.