On The Prime Meridian, Day Two

Thoughts and Prayers

I woke early.

Sunrise over the Bluestone Ridge, Lincolnshire Wolds

As with our previous holiday, I enjoy observing the quirks of cottage, like the motion sensitive lights in Anglesey which I had to activate by waving broccoli at them. Here it is the noisiest fridge I have ever come across. Not that I am a seasoned fridge expert. It is almost constantly bubbling and whirring away to itself. Hang on. It’s just stopped. Like the death of the Martian call in Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, the silence is unbearable.

On the way back from our top up shopping, the promise of a geocache leads us to the little Saxon church at Lusby. It is one of the joys of geocaching that many members place caches in interesting places. It is not all about the numbers. This being a case in point. Not finding the cache didn’t matter. The church was a joy to visit.


St Peter’s Church, Lusby, which has stonework dating from Saxon times.

There was a sign warning of ponies in the churchyard, but they were either elsewhere or very very tiny.

I imagine that if I lived nearby, this would be my refuge as and when I needed it.

On a related note, it is Open Churches Weekend in West Lindsey. Somewhere we had driven past on previous holidays but not visited is St Mary’s in Stow. The church pre-dates nearby Lincoln Cathedral, and boasts Viking graffiti, believed by some to be from the 12th century. Entering the church at the moment is like entering a building site, probably because it is one. The roof is undergoing repairs, costing in excess of £500,000. 

The fine stone in-laid vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows.

Above the ceiling is a void with a floor of jagged stone edges. It is said that if you can find the right one, removing it will cause that segment of the ceiling to fall to the floor below.

Someone must have used a step ladder to reach and polish this censer.

It is a majestic building in comparison to the many little chapels and churches in the surrounding villages, second in grandeur possibly only to the cathedral itself.  Lusby chapel would fit inside several times over and I would be inside that chapel.

We spent lunch in an elevated lay-by near RAF Scampton with some bikers, waiting for something that never happened. I can’t tell you what it was, because it never graced us with its presence.

Later we make a random choice of b-road and we are presented with a turning signposted Wickenby Aerodrome and RAF memorial. Wickenby was a base for Lancasters in the second World War and a maintenance unit was based here long after. There is a small memorial, sadly devoid of commemorative panels (stolen) and statue (stored in fear of theft). It declares the price paid for our freedom.  A freedom that some have chosen to use to deface the memory of the fallen.

Just inside the aerodrome perimeter is a memorial walk. Trees planted and dedicated to individuals and or crews. It is very moving. The words “an uncle never known” are too painful for me to consider dry-eyed.

We continue our walk to the end of one runway and pause a while.

Looking along one of the runways at Wickenby Aerodrome

We are again a little early to return, and head for afternoon coffee in a favourite lay-by near Burgh On Bain. Last time we visited, Si grabbed the cache here before I had got the car door open. We check that it is still present before we leave.

Before dinner, we stroll along the lane and grab a couple of caches, taking in the gentle beauty surrounding us.

View from Clay Lane, Little London, Tetford

It’s a pleasant end to a thoughtful day.



Happy Saturday

In my memory, the sun was always shining. I’m sure that it must have rained. This was mid-seventies England after all.

Almost every Saturday, after my brother and father had returned from football practice, mum and I would journey to our nearest chip shop for the Saturday lunchtime treat. It was only half a mile away, but to my little legs,  it was in another land.

Sometimes we walked, but most often we would cycle. Me on my Raleigh Fourteen, mum on an old black bicycle which looked as though it might have been owned by Mary Poppins. It was probably no more than twenty years old, but appeared Edwardian. Or possibly Victorian, which means that Mary Poppins must have bought hers second-hand. She loved that bicycle, and I remember sharing her tears when a clumsy neighbour ran his car into it. Fortunately it was leaning against a wall at the time, not in use. Unfortunately, it was irreparable.

The journey took us out of our middle-class comfort zone towards a less leafy and busier part of town. Still quite young, I had just started to notice that there were houses smaller than ours, and where the only place to park your car was on the road. Unlike us, there was only one car per house. I was slightly scared of one particular road, flanked either side with vehicles, and I was glad not to be alone. Twelve years later I would dread being asked to navigate along that same road by my driving instructor. On Saturday mornings, the younger me would be rewarded for my bravery with fish and chips.

Our chip shop was, at that time, run from the side of another shop. Almost round the back. There was only a short counter and even on a Saturday lunchtime, the queue would spill onto the pavement. By the time I was old enough to visit on a Friday evening, the chippy had expanded into the adjacent shop, acquired a larger counter and customers had somewhere to sit to wait for their takeaway. Back in the mid-seventies, the queue for a Friday night fish supper must have stretched past several nearby houses.

Enjoying fish and chips is more than just eating. It starts when you are close enough to smell the food being prepared. As the chip-shop door was left open, our meal ‘commenced’ as we secured our bikes to a nearby lamppost. My mother unhooked her basket from the handlebars. It was a large gondola basket. I had a mini version which I too unhooked. My role in proceedings would be to carry the ‘mushy peas’ back home in my little basket.

The next phase of the meal takes place whilst standing in the queue. Nowadays I might spend that time changing my mind about what to order, but back then choices were from a limited menu and in your wait the increasingly strong smell built the anticipation of pleasures to come. You would never smell fish, just frying chips and the sharpness of vinegar on a satisfied customer’s purchase as they left the shop and you were one step closer.

Stepping inside the shop you knew you had reached the holy grail. Enormous jars of pickled eggs (YUK!) sat on the counter. They still make me think of eyeballs in a horror movie to this day.  I watched them with a mixture of suspicion and fear until it was our turn. The shop owner silently moved the chips around in the fryer whilst his ruddy-faced wife took our order. I wondered if she eat all the leftovers at the end of a day.

“Three fish and chips please. No vinegar on one of the portion of chips. Oh, and two cartons of mushy peas please.”

I hated vinegar with a passion, and if  ‘my’ chips (which I shared with mum) suffered even the slightest contamination from another portion, this little princess would be sulky all day.

Our fish would be wrapped together, and each portion of chips had its own parcel. All wrapped in greaseproof paper then each parcel cloaked in newspaper to keep it warm.

We left the shop heads high, smiling at the queue. We have our lunch, you still have to wait for yours. Be patient and you will be rewarded.

Baskets re-hooked and bicycles unsecured we headed back home. The return journey seemed longer, the scent of our lunch calling to us, tempting us to pull over and try just one chip. I split my attention between the road ahead and my little basket of jade green jewels.

Upon return we hastily leave the bikes in the driveway and head indoors to dish up. My brother and father are already waiting. A family of four enjoying a greasy smelly treat together, mine with no vinegar but lashings of tomato ketchup (ironically laced with vinegar). How the food stayed warm on the journey back I’ll never know. Magic newspaper? It was probably almost cold, but memory has a habit of glossing over such details.

We have knives and forks but are allowed to eat the chips with our fingers if we wish. A special Saturday treat.



Ref: Writing101, Day 10 Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Yes, I am weeks behind, will complete the course in my own sweet time…..

The Creator

Two adults please.

Grey-blue twinkling eyes greeted me and asked if we’d visited a model village before.

I explained that I used to live near one in Southport and had been taken there several times as a child. Nostalgic eyes smiled as he referred to as a particularly special collection, which he had visited on numerous occasions too.

We discussed various locations where fine villages could be found before the smile-wrinkles appeared again. With a mischievous grin, he asked if we would like to complete the treasure hunt. Yes please!

Walking round the from the ticket booth to be given directions, we were joined by a lean man who we estimated to be in his mid-sixties, dressed in tidy blue engineer’s overalls. Just one small smudge of grease on the front.

With muted pride he advised the best route and told us to watch out for the two model trains which ran at regular intervals.

We set off on our adventure, duly noting our answers on the quiz sheet. At the end of the route we were met by someone who introduced himself as the second in command.

The boss has gone to work on a spare motor for the windmill. He’s a perfectionist you know.

We enquired as to whether he had built the village. Yes, from scratch. And the trains. He used to be a cabinet-maker and couldn’t settle into retirement, so bought the land and created the village.

All by himself?

Yes. Pretty much. At the same time he renovated an out building which is now a holiday let.

Looking back at the village we were given an insight into the soul of its creator.

The paths were clean and free from weeds, as were the colourful flower beds which surrounded each tableau.

A lot of thought had gone into the character of each setting, right down to the contrast between the music playing from some. High Church of England hymns in the steepled church, quieter and more melodic praise from the Chapel of St Mary, while candy flossed barrel organ melodies rang out from the fair.

There was a pleasantly childish sense of humour in some of the signs, in Llangefni High Street you could visit from “Dan Druff’s Hair Salon”.

There was a keen eye to detail in the scale and architecture of the buildings, all based on local landmarks and surroundings. It was clear that he was as passionate about living on Anglesey as he was about his work.

And yet he was humble. Did he deliberately step into the workshop to avoid praise at the end of our visit?

We were surprised to hear that he was over seventy, and that he had decided to sell the enterprise. This could be our last visit to one man’s miniature Anglesey.

We hoped that someone would take it on and continue in the spirit that it was created, but if you read the original post relating to our visit, we also wondered whether this type of attraction is still popular.


Ref: Writing101, Day 6 Prompt “Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?”

Tuppence For My Thoughts : 1998

Found in the box of coins.

Found in the box of coins.

This is a slightly late response to the Daily Post entitled Buffalo Nickel:

“Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?”

I made an eyes-closed dip into the box of coins which I keep in the den and drew the coin you see pictured above. The coin is a 1998 two pence piece, known as a “tuppence” in ye olde Englishe, is made of copper-plated steel, but is often just referred to as a copper coin.

I was slightly surprised to find something over 10 years old, but old coppers are hardy little chaps.

Anyway, back to 1998. This post has not only made me think about what we were doing, but what weren’t yet.

Home Sweet Home

We were both still in our thirties. This was the first full year that my much beloved and myself spent in the first (and only) property that we bought together. It was home and still is. We were having all the window frames replaced, although we had the original 1930s leaded lights re-fitted, and were facing up to the responsibility of a slightly larger than average sized garden. It was the garden that help sell the house.  We’re lucky to have good sized gardens to front and rear, giving privacy and space. I vividly remember us standing at the bottom of the garden looking back at the house in the previous summer. Despite a few issues with the house, we just knew it was right. Nearly 18 years on, we are still here. I think that we made the right choice.

In 1998, we hadn’t yet had the pleasure of tasty home grown produce. We’re still beginners on this front, but I’m always willing to learn.


On The Road

Automotively speaking, my pride and joy back then was an old Rover Mini Mayfair called Henry. Si  gave him the name when I had test driven Henry and another mini, a Mini Sprite. The Sprite was a more basic model and when we walked past the smart little Mayfair, Si said “He’s so posh. We would have to call him Henry”. Well, a car named is a car sold, so I extended my budget and the deal was done. Henry had a walnut dashboard. I bought him alloy wheels and a gear knob to match the dash. I sill have that knob somewhere.

Henry the Mini Mayfair

Henry the Mini Mayfair

Me and Henry visited local craft fairs, where I sold my hand-crafted jewellery and beads. It was no mean feat fitting two folding display boards, signs and stock into that little motor, but I did it and Henry and myself had a fun time on the road. I was sorry to sell the little chap, but he was getting a bit long in the tooth and felt rather small and slightly vulnerable on busy roads. In an old mini your body is the crumple zone. But he was great fun to drive, especially around roundabouts. Sometimes I would deliberately miss a junction just to go around one more time.

Much beloved drove  a blue BMW 328 with more grunt, but a lot less personality.


New Best Friend

1998 saw our first cat share our home. He was called Hughes and had a very calm personality. Hughes knew things, which he kept to himself.

The Very Thoughtful Hughes


We took Hughes in when a friend’s mother died and he needed a home. He was initially quite concerned about his change in abode and kept hiding, which is common for a cat facing upheaval.

On his second day with us, I had been left in charge, and settled down to watch television coverage of the Italian national football team in the World Cup in the room where Hughes  was currently hiding. Unfortunately for Hughes, just as he had mustered up enough courage to venture out from cover, the Azzuri scored. I expressed my pleasure at this by shouting “Yes!”, and Hughes scampered back into hiding, which sadly was the moment when I noticed him. Oops. Treats and soft words won his confidence and things improved between us after that!


Technologically Speaking

I should point out at this stage that we still have the same TV (bought in the mid to late 80s). Yes, our big fat Cathode Ray goggle box at the time of writing was displaying the Manchester City vs Barcelona game, which I was not watching, so our current cat slept undisturbed.

Talking of technology, which I wasn’t, things were quite different.Our PC  in 1998 ran Windows 95. Minesweeper was my preferred game and my mobile phone (Panasonic) was, like the TV, fat and clunky. Unlike the TV, I no longer have the phone! Our connection to the internet was on a 56k modem which made emitted a screaming binary chant (some of which I can still ‘sing’) as it formed a communication link to the outside world. There was no broadband.

In case you have never heard the sound of the modem dial up, or for those who would like a little trip down memory lane, click here.


That’s Entertainment

There was also no Geocaching, but the first recognised cache was only two years away. It took us another 12 years to join in…We hadn’t discovered the local network of footpaths.
Musically, amongst many others, we were listening to post-Marillion Fish and post-Fish Marillion. Much beloved prefers Fish-led Marillion but I prefer them separate. This Strange Engine was probably being played a lot, including the beautiful but haunting Estonia .


Physically we were both a little slimmer with less grey hair. Himself was still clean shaven and had shorter hair than me – that’s changed.  But we are still the same crazy, sarcastic, loved-up couple that we were then. Long may it last.