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September 2020


Cromer pierCromer, Norfolk. I wish I was there now.

It's time for me to take a break. I haven't had a break from blogging since Christmas, so I'm going to take a couple of weeks away, but at home. There will be no new posts during that time, but there's plenty to read in the archives; you'll be fine. I will be reading a few books, going for walks, and riding my motorcycle.

You probably all know that 'staycation' is a word formed from 'stay' and 'vacation'. But it's an American term; here in England the word we use for time off is 'holiday'.

So now I'm on stoliday. See you in two weeks, on 5th October.

_IMG5575I have a later model of this fine machine, BSA's M33.

The Distance Project 18

Social Distancing Project 154In the church hall at Little Horwood, the sub-postmaster from Deanshanger provides a post office service for a few hours, one day a week. The table helps to ensure customers stay back, and provides a place for them to use the card reader while still keeping their distance.

Carrying on With the New Normal

Here’s a few Distance Project photos from a month or two ago that I haven’t shown you before. The first two are from Little Horwood, and the others are from Winslow. I’ve shown you photos from both places before, but these were all taken on a later date.

As the lockdown rules change, behaviour has changed. As I wrote this, I heard on the radio that the government are considering stricter lockdown rules. They say they want to prevent a second wave.

Just when I thought I would soon be running out of things to photograph for this project, it looks like there will be more to come. I didn’t think the pandemic would last this long, and I’d rather photograph something else now. But I have to carry on.

My other photos from the Distance Project can all be found here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.

Continue reading "The Distance Project 18" »

Blackberry Ways

Buckinghamshire blackberries

The Monday Photo

Autumn is nearly here. Out taking photos for last week’s Thursday post on the East West Rail project, I found plenty of ripe blackberries in the hedges by the lanes, so I picked quite a lot and ate them on the spot.

But these lovely ones in the photo were way out of reach. Oh well, there were plenty more further along the hedge.

I’m told that there are hundreds of species of blackberries across the country. Over the centuries the blackberries have bred differently from the ones on the far side of a line of hills, or on the other side of a big river.

That day I had some blackberries from Winslow, and more near the old Swanbourne station perhaps two and a half miles away. The bushes seemed spikely alike to me and the berries all tasted the same, but perhaps some from twenty miles away might be different.

I’ve made a nice drink from blackberries, from a recipe my dad gave me. It’s very simple:

Pick a load of blackberries. Remove any twigs, but do not wash them.

Put the blackberries in a demijohn; do not fill it over half way. Add the same volume of sugar, and put a cork and trap in the mouth of the demijohn.

Natural yeast on the blackberries will ensure fermentation. Leave the demijohn for about a year in a warmish spot, making sure the trap always has water in it. Collect a few empty spirits bottles over the year; you will need them.

You’ll now have a demijohn full of dark red liquid. Filter the liquid and add vodka; 1 part liquid to one part vodka. It doesn’t have to be the good stuff. Put it all into bottles; you'll also have to bottles the vodka came in.

Clean the demijohn, cork, and trap, and start again with that year’s crop of blackberries.

You can see that a quarter of a demijohn of blackberries and the same volume of sugar will give you about four pints, two and a quarter litres of liquid. This is doubled once you add the vodka. But it isn’t something you can drink a lot of at once. Even with the vodka it’s still a bit sweet as I know from the couple of times I’ve made it.

Having said all that, I have about a gallon’s worth of blackberries and sugar that has been left fermenting for about five years. If I ever get round to finishing the process I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Have you ever made something like this? Do you have a recipe? Please comment below!

From East to West

Cast concrete  BletchleyOne of the great supporting piers at Bletchley. You can see the scale of it from the two men just visible at the top.


Across the middle of North Bucks, the rebuilding of the 1850 railway is steaming ahead. Many local roads have been closed while works are carried out for the East West Rail project.

The project will create a rail link between Oxford and Cambridge, much of it on the routes of long closed lines, though there will be a brand new stretch of line on the far side of Bedford.

Often, it seems, the road are closed simply to keep a safe distance between workmen and the general public, but at Bletchley the road is closed while the 2,000 feet long railway flyover is being extensively rebuilt. The flyover was first in use in 1959.

The great piers are remaining, but a huge crane has been lifting the heavy concrete spans away one at a time. The first span was lifted in two parts, as it weighed 295 tonnes.

Continue reading "From East to West" »

The Maid’s Church

St Edmunds  Maids Moreton

The Monday Photo

Why is this village, just North of Buckingham, known as Maids Moreton? It used to just be called Moreton, and it’s all to do with the church, completely rebuilt around the middle of the 15th Century.

Two sisters, the Maids, paid for the rebuilding work, and so the name of the village changed.

Some say the sisters were daughters of the Pevre family, but others say they could have been Alice and Edith de Moreton, who held part of the manor from 1393 to 1421.

The church was built in the perpendicular style, where advances in design meant that the windows could be made very large without compromising the strength of the walls. This means that St Edmund’s is a bright and airy church.

Another church built in this fine style is at Hillesden.

St Edmund’s was rebuilt around 1450, and I think this would be the completion date; it would have been a long process when everything was done by hand. It’s quite a large church for such a small village.

The chancel was first to be rebuilt, and we think this because there are clues in the way the stonework is jointed between the chancel and the nave.

The West doorway, at the bottom of the picture, is thought to be unique with its elaborate canopy supported by fan vaulting.

The big perpendicular window above has remnants of the original glass. Those long tall recesses with the louvres for the bells at the top are also unique.

This church is close to being unchanged since the 15th century. Perhaps that’s why although village churches are nearly all Grade 2 listed, this one is proudly listed Grade 1.

The Distance Project 17

Social Distancing Project 145There’s a moment between the end of the first part of the ceremony and the procession down to the lake, where nothing seems to happen. They are just getting organised, but with only 18 lanterns instead of 200, they’ll soon be on their way.

Lights on the Water.

The Hiroshima Day ceremony at the Peace Pagoda, by Willen Lake in Milton Keynes was officially cancelled this year. I expected a small invite only ceremony of a similar scale to the Pagoda Ceremony, back in June; there had been just six there.

But I was wrong.

Continue reading "The Distance Project 17" »