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July 2020

June 2020

Flying at Ground Level

Flying Millyard

The Monday Photo

This motorcycle is the Flying Millyard, built by the very clever Allan Millyard, with parts from an aircraft engine.

He used two cylinders and pistons from a nine cylinder Pratt & Whitney R1340 aero engine, to make a five litre V-twin motorcycle engine. Inside, each cylinder is as big as a two and a half litre paint tin. Inside a typical 1.8 litre, four cylinder car engine, the cylinders are only about as big a coffee cup.

The bike isn’t built for top speed; it’s good for about 100 mph. It came about almost by accident. Millyard had won an award for his tiny 100cc SS100 V-twin, built with Honda SS50 moped parts, at the prestigious Salon Prive motoring event.

They asked him what he was going to do next, and he just told them on the spot that he was going to build the world’s biggest V-twin. Eleven months later, he had finished making the Flying Millyard. He has made many other unique engines, so many that there isn’t the space to go into them here. But here’s his Youtube channel.

The R1340 engine was Pratt and Whitney’s first engine, and powered aeroplanes and later on even helicopters, from the 1920s on. It’s a radial engine; the nine cylinders are arranged around a central crankcase, directly behind the aircraft’s propellor. They are fitted with a supercharger, though the Flying Millyard doesn’t have one.

I photographed the bike in 2018 at the annual Ludgershall Bike Night, which is always (but not this year) held in the village on the first Monday in July.

the Distance Project 8

Social Distancing Project 67A woman takes a child to school, past posters in a Church Street window.

Wolverton, mostly

I’ve been having a look around the railway town of Wolverton for the project. There’s a cluster of houses on Church Street where most of the houses have lockdown posters in the windows, and nearby a shop has a big painted design, though it’s closed under the rules. The town is quiet, and just a few shops are allowed to be open.

I’ve also got three shots from other places in Milton Keynes to show you.

This week’s photos were taken a little over two weeks ago, but I’ve held them over to cover two events, or rather the absence of those events, in Stony Stratford. That is, Stony Live, and Folk on the Green.

In the project I'm photographing what people are doing differently under lockdown. You can see all the other Distance Project photos I’ve put on the North Bucks Wanderer here, but there’s many more from this project that I haven’t published. 

Some would not come over well on the NBW because the photos are rather compressed here; they lose fine detail. Some are too similar to pictures already published on this blog, but I took them to make as complete a record as possible.

The project continues.

Social Distancing Project 66On what would normally be a school day, the car park at the Radcliffe School is almost empty.

Continue reading "the Distance Project 8" »

Bowing to the Buddha

Bowing to the Buddha

The Revd. Nagahama (first right) bows to the Buddha at a Peace Pagoda ceremony in Milton Keynes. He came from Japan for the ceremony.

The Monday Photo

Ten years ago I was proud to be the official photographer for the 30th Peace Pagoda ceremony in Milton Keynes. Monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order came from all over the world, to this most important event at their temple by Willen lake.

They are the ones in white and saffron yellow. Monks or nuns from other Buddhist orders wear different colours.

It was a great day but a long one. Photographing an event like this meant I was on duty nearly all day long, then in the days following were hours of editing and processing.

I think I took about 700 photos that day, but in the end I gave the temple 366 photos, all on CDs and ready to print.

A few weeks later, one of the nuns went up to Boots the chemist in Central Milton Keynes with the CDs and had hundreds of prints made, to send out to anybody the temple knew that had been there on the day. In those quantities the prints cost pennies each.

I believe the Revd. Nagahama received a full set, as the Milton Keynes temple and Pagoda were under his control back then; they still are.

Everyone else would be sent any photos they appeared in, plus maybe a few general shots. I took the photos for over forty temple events and enjoyed it, though in the end I felt it was time I had a break.

Why did I choose this photo for today? Because the long awaited 40th Pagoda Ceremony should have been yesterday.

Oh well. Maybe next year I can take the ceremony photos again; it’s bound to be a great event.

The Distance Project 7

Social Distancing Project 53A few locals walk by the closed Cock Hotel. In previous years there’s barely a parking spot to be found on the High Street, but tonight the street is almost empty.

Not Live in Stony, and few folk on the Green

Last week should have been the nine day annual Stony Live festival with bands and other live entertainment in Stony Stratford, Bucks; there were over a hundred acts last year. But the pubs are shut, the streets quiet. There are other venues too, but here are some pubs in the town that usually have live music during those nine days.

On Sunday 14th June, another regular event had been planned to take place in the town, on Horsefair Green. It’s called Folk on the Green. In previous years the green is filled with people, there’s a stage half way down one side, and stalls line the edge of the green and the road that goes by it.


Social Distancing Project 52The Plough is dark, the front patio is empty. All is quiet. In previous years during Stony Live the outside tables would be full of drinkers.

Continue reading "The Distance Project 7" »

Signs of the Times.

Finger post  Mursley  Bucks

The Monday Photo

In the middle of March, I started a photo project about a small area of Buckinghamshire. Wary already of Covid-19, I began to take photos; not of the people, but of the places. I started here, in Mursley.

Ten days after I took this photo, we were in lockdown and the project ground to a halt; I haven’t taken a single photo for that project since. Instead, I have been busy with my Distance Project, far more relevant for now.

This is a finger post. Sometimes they are called guide posts. Dating from the early 1920s, there are hundreds of these cast iron signs all over mainland Britain. Most of them have this same circle on the top, with the name of the council that looked after the roads, but some used a different design.

Dorset and the Yorkshire West Riding areas both had a bar across the circle with the name of the parish; it looks a bit like a white version of the London underground sign. Somerset County Council’s signs have a four sided pyramid with SCC on each face.

Design guidelines were issued by the government in 1921. The posts and fingers were to be white, the letters upper case, and two and a half or three inches high.

But on this finger post, the letters that spell “Little Horwood” are much bigger than three inches, though it was probably the smallest village of the lot. I think it’s to fill the finger, which has to be the same size as the other side because of how the clamps work.

In 1930, the font was changed and the posts had to be painted with black and white bands, but I can’t work out when this particular sign was erected. All I know is, it’s not the first one on the junction, as late 19th Century maps show the letters G.P., for guide post.

Stony is Quiet Tonight

Simply Floyd front manMartin of Simply Floyd, at the Cock Hotel.

By today, I would usually expect to be very tired. I would have been out every night since Saturday to see live music, at Stony Stratford’s annual Stony Live event.

I miss it. I’ve been out to Stony Stratford in the evenings, to take photos of all the closed up pubs for my Distance Project, which covers the changes the lockdown has made to our lives. 

The town, usually busy with live music fans at this time of year, was strangely quiet. So here, just to help keep you going until next year, are some unpublished photos from 2019. There's also a couple of shots from the Folk on the Green event, also in Stony Stratford in June.

Stony Live will be back next year.

Continue reading "Stony is Quiet Tonight" »