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GARDEN WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS

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INTERESTS, HOBBIES AND RECREATION   (IN NO ORDER OF IMPORTANCE)

BADMINTON  GARDENING  GOLF   RUNNING  WALKING  WINE MAKING

 

I was born in the very cold and white winter of 1947 at what was to be home until 1973. My mother being the daughter of the village blacksmith, my father was a Woodworking Machinist and retained Fireman. My mothers father was born at Newport and came to North Somerset (Somerset as it was then) at the age of one with his parents when they took over the Bridge Inn in 1892. He was apprenticed to the village blacksmith and in 1912 eventually took over the business. My mothers mother was born locally in 1893 the daughter of a builder, carpenter and undertaker. They grew up together as children and married at St Agnes Church Bristol. My fathers father was born at Bedminster, Bristol in 1887 and my fathers mother was born at Weston-Super-Mare in 1889. I have no memories of my fathers father as he died when I was a child as a result of an ailment related to being gassed in the trenches during the First World War. I can however remember my fathers mother who lived in Weston-Super-Mare and travelling by steam train to visit her.

 

Living in a small community and belonging to one of its largest families had the disadvantage that locally everyone knew who you were. The only family larger than the one I belonged to was that of the village Policeman. Such was the notoriety of these families that T.W.W. produced and broadcast an entire television programme about them.

 

Memories of my early childhood are vague but in retrospect are mostly happy ones. My earliest memory is that of starting school for the very first time and being taken to the pick up point by my mother to await the coach which was the transport to Primary School.

 

At morning break each pupil was provided with a 1/3rd pint of full cream milk which was provided by the state and came in a glass bottle. In winter the milk was often frozen and a plug projected from the top of the bottle with its foil closure sat neatly on top. Sometimes the Blue Tits got to the milk before it froze piercing the foil top with their beaks and helping themselves to a feed of the cream. But, often it was necessary to place the frozen bottles in their milk crates in front of the cast iron coke fuelled heating stove to thaw before drinking.

 

The sanitation provision was sited outside and in winter the water supply occasionally froze making it necessary to close the school much to the joy of the pupils.

 

Lunch at school was cooked and eaten at the Church Hall which is now the Village Club. To reach the Church Hall involved a 200 metre walk from the Primary School along the High Street and Church Road. Safety was ensured by walking two by two and holding hands in a 'crocodile' under the watchful eyes of several teachers. Christmas Lunches were particularly enjoyed as they were accompanied by Christmas Pudding complete with their silver sixpences which were wrapped in greaseproof paper to make them more visible and prevent them from being accidentally swallowed. I like the majority of pupils enjoyed our school meals and having eaten them we returned to school in the same manner as we arrived for a compulsory lie down and rest on individual coconut mats in the school hall.

 

On completion of Primary School education it was necessary to move the 100 metres up the High Street to Church Road where the Junior School was located.

 

At Junior School if you were lucky enough to have a bicycle you could as I did cycle to school which was approximately 2km from home. Because of my proficiency in cycling I can remember being given the responsibility of the weekly taking of the Savings Stamp and Dinner Monies to the Post Office for banking. I also remember being given the task of collecting and recording the rainfall from the rain gauge which was located in the headmasters garden and feeding the headmasters cat when it was necessary. Physical Education was practiced in the school playground which is now a Public Car Park. To play football on grass meant a what seemed lengthy walk to the village playing field via a public footpath, on arrival teams were picked and team shirts issued. The shirts came in two colours, if your team shirt was a green one then your team was the 'Grasshoppers', if it was black and white quartered then your team was the 'Magpies' .

 

As a child I spent a lot of time with my mothers parents as they lived nearby and having had a large family themselves their home was a busy meeting house for my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends of the family. Their home was in my earliest memories without an electricity supply, lighting when required being provided by gas lamps which popped and hissed in a strangely reassuring way. If staying the night a candle was required to find your way upstairs to the what seemed a very large bed with a feather mattress and pillow which almost ate you when you got into it.

 

In the large garden was a well which was covered by a heavy stone capping and at the top of the garden was a large orchard containing apple, pear, plum and walnut trees. Also in the orchard were kept geese, bantams and chickens, a very interesting place for young explorers if you could brave the wrath of the geese who often felt the need to grab the seat of a persons trousers and the person wearing them.

 

I can also remember my mothers grand mother who lived next door to my mothers parents. She had a large fire place with ovens either side of if and a stock pot hanging over the open fire. She always wore a shawl over her shoulders and her metal rimmed glasses and if invited to tea it was always served on and in best bone china edged with gold leaf.

 

My parents house was more recently built and had a mains electricity, gas and water supply. At the bottom of what seemed a longish garden was the track of the Clevedon Branch Railway which I regularly travelled after completing primary education. I failed to attain an 11+ pass and so had to travel to secondary school at Highdale, Clevedon rather than the grammar school at Weston-Super-Mare. Travel to Clevedon was achieved with a Rail Travel Season Ticket provided by the state education authorities and it had the advantage of being able to be used for social visits to Clevedon as well. These visits for me amounted to Saturday morning cinema at the Curzon, weekday evening roller skating at the Salthouse Pavilion, weekend shopping and visits to school friends.

 

Being a member of a large well known family I was often recognised by the drivers and firemen of the train and sometimes had the excitement of being invited to travel the branch line on the footplate of the locomotive or in the cab of the train's brake car. With the Clevedon Branch Railway at the bottom of the garden it was not uncommon for my parents to slow the train as it passed and place an order with the driver for fish and chips. These would then be purchased in the Triangle at Clevedon and delivered on the return journey to Yatton.

 

To finance my social activities whilst still at school I did as most young persons did and sought part time employment. I was lucky enough to find this employment in the form of a weekday morning and evening paper round, a butchers round, a grocers errand boy and a Sunday morning paper round.

 

The morning paper round involved a 6.00am start at the newsagents Monday to Friday all year round in all weathers and finishing at approximately 7.30am in time to prepare for school. Certain days namely those on which women's magazines and the Radio Times were published slowed deliveries as they doubled the volume and weight of them. Evening papers were delivered immediately after returning home from school at 5.00pm and did not amount to the same volume as the morning papers so I was usually home and ready for my evening meal by 6.00pm. The rounds territories ranged from Elborough Avenue to South View Terrace in the morning and from Elborough Avenue to Horsecastle in the evening. The Sunday morning round started in Claverham Road Yatton and ended on the A370 at Cleeve and Brockley Court, Brockley. Christmas brought a bonus in the form of tips and gifts from generous customers appreciative of the delivery service provided throughout the year.

 

The butchers round was normally a Saturday morning job except at Christmas when extra deliveries were necessary to deliver the Christmas Fayre. This job required the wearing of a uniform, a white coat and white striped blue butchers apron. It was also necessary to be able to ride a bicycle complete with carrier and wicker basket whilst fighting off dogs intent on stealing the meat contained in the basket. Many times whilst cycling I had to rest my feet on the front carrier to put them out of reach of dogs trying to nip my ankles in their efforts to halt my progress and gain access to the basket. I must of been good at my work as on numerous occasions several competing businesses tried to poach my services.

 

As a child a regular Christmas event was the following of the Clifton Foot Harriers Boxing Day hunt which would meet at the White Hart public house on the A370 at Hewish, North Somerset before setting off and hunting in the fields around the hamlet. It was usually a cold and wet experience but with aunts, uncles and cousins for company and the exercise of the hunt it made the occasion bearable.

 

My father being a retained Fireman was on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365/6 days a year. He was alerted to daytime emergencies by the sounding of a then redundant air raid siren which was located on the top of a telegraph pole sited at the village garage. Night time alerts were achieved by the ringing of electric bells which were installed in firemen's homes and remotely activated. In attempts to avoid the bell waking me (and later my sister) from sleep my mother would temporarily muffle the bell by stuffing it with socks until it had ceased ringing. Once alerted firemen would race by any means possible (running, cycling, driving, taxi etc.) to the fire station and when enough crew had arrived the engine(s) would leave to attend the incident.

 

As a child I did as most others did during our school holidays and spare time. My playground as was most of my friends was Wemberham Lane and Claverham Moor and the surrounding areas. Fishing and swimming in the Congresbury Yeo at the now demolished sluice on the Congresbury Yeo at the bottom of the lane, fishing and exploring at Black Ditch on Claverham Moor, train spotting at the Wemberham Lane level crossing or Yatton Station, blackberry picking and helping farmers with the unloading or loading their stock at Yatton Market were some of my activities. Most of what we did would these days be considered unsafe or even criminal but I learnt life skills quickly and survived unscathed.

 

Eventually my thoughts turned to leaving school and by the time I was 13years old I had already applied for and secured an apprenticeship at Bristol Siddeley Engines which was dependant on me achieving the necessary academic qualifications before leaving school.

 

Due to the population explosion in North Somerset Highdale Secondary School was outgrown and was replaced by a new Clevedon Secondary School built in Swiss Valley and me and pupils of my year became the first pupils to move into the new school.

 

After the sixth form and 'O' Levels I qualified for my apprenticeship and travelled to Filton and Patchway, Bristol to Bristol Aeroplane Technical College and Bristol Siddeley Engines where I received my training. I made the round journey of 40 miles daily (pre M5 Motorway) in all weathers firstly using a second hand metallic blue Triumph Tigress scooter and later a brand new red Honda CB95  motorcycle.

 

The first day of induction at Bristol to Bristol Aeroplane Technical College was spent collecting free issue text books, drawing instruments, signing the Official Secrets Act and being measured for the apprentices passport (a green boiler suit) all of which were necessary and essential to engage in ones training.

 

My apprenticeship and training coincided with the VTOL (vertical take off and landing) and SST (super sonic transport) aircraft programmes. It was spent working on the development and production of Pegasus (RAF Harrier and USAF AV8B power units) and Olympus (Concorde power units) engines. Production of the Hercules and Centaurus radial sleeve valve piston engines was at this time being wound down and eventually piston engine service work at the Whitchurch, Bristol site was terminated and personnel transferred to Patchway, Bristol.

 

Other engines in development and production were at that time the Orpheus, Proteus and Viper and when Rolls Royce became involved the Spey and RB211 engines. Development of various maritime and industrial variants of the previously mentioned gas turbine engines was also in progress for such uses as the propulsion of naval vessels, electric power generation and the pumping of oil and gas.

 

On completion of my apprenticeship and with the additional qualifications I subsequently obtained I was offered a position as an Aero Engine Assembly Inspector which initially based me in No 2 Factory, Patchway working day and night shifts. Responsibilities included the overseeing of the correct assembly and modification status of all Olympus and Pegasus engine modules and the engines final build. I was also responsible for the the release of completed engines for test running at the Gypsy Patch engine test beds and the overseeing of any necessary build adjustments during engine test. Due to company reorganisation and order book levels I eventually moved to No 5 Factory, Patchway Repair and Overhaul Facility and several years later back to No 2 Factory, Patchway implementing the same responsibilities .

 

By now I had swapped 2 wheels for 4 and was driving a MG1100, was married and living in my own home. The Arab / Israeli war raised the threat of petrol rationing and so for economic reasons I started lift sharing with other work colleagues whilst looking for work nearer to home. 

 

Eventually I was offered a post as a Production Engineer by AMPEP (now SKF Aerospace) a company designing and manufacturing self lubricating ptfe bearings for aerospace and industrial applications which I accepted.  I pioneered 2 and 3 axis CNC turning and milling programming and machining for the company and applied it to the development /production of the Tornado MRCA aircrafts wing pivot bearings, weapons pylon bearings and flap and slat roller bodies. Other notable development / production engineering projects included various Airbus undercarriage bearings, Merlin EH101 helicopter rotor head bearings, NASA's Space Shuttle payload pallet bearings and various bearings incorporated in the TGV high speed trains operated by SNCF.

 

It would be good to communicate with any former work colleagues that might possibly recognise me from my above employment history.

 

To be Continued.....

 

 

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RUNNING

 

ACHIEVEMENTS

 

STARTED RUNNING IN 2007 TO IMPROVE MY FITNESS.

 

FIRST EVENT WAS AN UN-TIMED 5km CROSS COUNTRY CHARITY RUN AT ASHTON COURT, BRISTOL ORGANISED BY THE BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION ON SUNDAY 9TH MARCH 2008 WHICH I COMPLETED.

 

SECOND EVENT WAS THE 4MILE 2008 CLEVEDON AC BOXING DAY ROAD RACE WHICH WAS COMPLETED IN 38MINUTES AND 3SECONDS.

 

THIRD EVENT WAS THE 2009 BRISTOL 10km ROAD RACE WHICH WAS COMPLETED IN 60MINUTES AND 7SECONDS.

 

SINCE THEN I RUN TO MAINTAIN MY FITNESS AND BEST PERFORMANCES TO DATE ARE :

10km COAST ROUTE COMPLETED IN 52 MINUTES 35SECONDS ON OCTOBER 17 2011

22km COMPLETED IN 2HOURS 13MINUTES 16SECONDS ON NOVEMBER 10 2010

10km TOWN ROUTE COMPLETED IN 56MINUTES 53SECONDS ON NOVEMBER 24 2011

 

Diary Entry January 11 Weather 9C, dry, with a light wind. Ran my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route in 59minutes and 48seconds.

 

Diary Entry January 09 Weather 9C, dry, foggy on Dial Hill with a light breeze. Ran my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route in 58minutes and 53seconds.

 

Diary Entry January 05 Weather 7C, dry with a strong wind. Back to work and back to my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route which I finished in 58minutes and 25seconds.

 

Diary Entry January 02 2012 Weather 4C, sunshine and showers with a strong wind. Again took advantage of the holiday period and ran my Coast - Town 10km route in daylight. Finished in a disappointing 59minutes and 30seconds.

 

Diary Entry December 30 Weather 9C, light rain with a light wind. Took advantage of the holiday period and ran my Coast - Town 10km route in daylight and manage to finish in 55minutes and 55seconds.

 

Diary Entry December 26 Weather 9C, dry with a light wind. Ran my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route in 58minutes and 50seconds.

 

Diary Entry December 19 Weather 7C, dry with a light wind. Ran my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route in 58minutes and 54seconds.

 

Diary Entry December 13 Weather 3C, wet and stormy. Ran my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route in 60minutes and 12seconds.

 

Diary Entry December 08 Weather 9C, wet and stormy. Ran my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route in 59minutes and 35seconds.

 

Diary Entry December 05 Weather 6C, dry with a light wind. Ran my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route in 59minutes and 43seconds.

 

Diary Entry December 01 Weather 7C, dry with no wind. Ran my Dial Hill - Sea Front - Town 10km route in 57minutes and 55seconds.

 

I have now stopped my regular running as poor street lighting and uneven pavements have made it too dangerous to continue. I do however cycle but this too is becoming dangerous due to the potholes in the roads and volume of traffic, even if minor roads are used.

 

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Living On The Edge (North Somerset Nature)