Monday, 7 April 2014

Car Club Rally in Stockbridge

Stockbridge High St

The Bean Car Club held its 50th Daffodil Run rally in Stockbridge High St on 6th April.  On a damp day the beautifully prepared cars gleamed and the sound of ancient gears being ground echoed round the town.

Triumph Dolomite
The rally was heading to the Alice Lisle pub in the New Forest before ending up in Christchurch

For more photos click here

Monday, 24 March 2014

Falloden Nature Reserve Closed for Good

The Falloden Nature Reserve early on a spring morning

The Falloden Nature Reserve between Winchester College and St Catherine's Hill has been shorn of many of its mature trees and has been closed for over a year, but seems now to be shut off to the public for good. This is a great pity; it was not well-known and never in danger of being overused, but the College seems to think that they should keep people out on 'health and safety' grounds after a woman sued them after falling on one of the bridges. That is letting the cart drive the horse; make sure that the bridges and walkways are safe and maintain insurance. The College's rationale would require most of the pavements in the country to be closed to the public.

Bridge into Falloden

See also 'The Destruction of the Winchester College Wingnuts'

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Winchester College 50 Years On Dinner

Flint Court, School, Chapel and Chantry Cloisters
The Winchester College Society held a 50 years-on dinner in School on 15th March 2014. In fact it was for the leavers in the 1963, 1964 and 1965 years and about seventy people attended. The Warden-Elect, Charles Sinclair and David Fellowes presided and I replied for the old boys.

Sixes played in Meads
We watched Sixes being being played in the afternoon (OTH v Commoners) and attended Compline in the Chapel before dinner.

Compline in chapel

The Dinner

The Dinner Guests (photo by Andy Sollars)

School at night
For my address at the dinner, click here

For more photos from the event, click here

Monday, 17 February 2014

Stockbridge and the Storms of February 2014

Stockbridge before a storm

The town of Stockbridge has been facing the risk of flooding for the past two weeks as a result of the storms and heavy rains that have swept the country. The local flood coordinators hand delivered
a guide to residents on 7th February warning them what to do to minimise the risk of flooding and sandbags were issued by the Test Valley Council to be placed in doorways and over air bricks to prevent potential water entry.

The River Test above Stockbridge on 15th February 2014
By 14th February the water meadows above the town were widely flooded and the River Test had risen to its highest point - 9ft - on the marker at the main road bridge. But as the storms passed on 15th, only two properties in the fields above the town, one at the lower end of the High St and two on the Houghton Road reported water ingress - mostly from under the floor. The main river and the subsidiary channels across the High St were in full flood but water didn't escape their banks except where this was intended - as in the water meadows. With better weather forecast this week, it looks as if the threat of flooding has somewhat receded.

Even at it's highest point, the main river was flowing three feet below the road bridge and so there was no risk of it backing up - as it had when parts of the town flooded in 1963 because the river could't get under the low narrow arches of the old bridge that the present bridge replaced. The river keepers opened sluices to allow the river to spread as widely as possible over the water meadows and they kept the channels flowing smoothly, clearing branches and other debris as soon as it fell.

View Larger Map

The Test rises at Ashe just short of Basingstoke, about 17 miles from Stockbridge, and flows over slight gradients through water meadows, chalk farmland and villages, being joined by the Bourne at Whitchurch and the River Anton at The Mayfly before reaching the town, so it can never gain the volume of a long river like the Thames. Nevertheless the water table remains extraordinarily high and the flow experienced over this weekend was impressive, so only great care taken with its management even in good weather will allowed it to continue to pass through the town without causing significant damage.

Rainfall map for January 2014

I have just seen the rainfall map above showing January rainfall for the UK and am interested to see that Hampshire is part of the area that has experienced the highest rainfall of all. It will be fascinating to see the map for February, but it does bring home how fortunate we have been in Stockbridge and how well designed and managed the river defences have been.

PS: The rainfall map for the early part of February confirms this winter to be the wettest on record, and the areas most affected are much as in January the map above   

For photos taken from 7th February to 7th March 20-14 in and around Stockbridge, click here 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Dazzling Fluidity of Days

There's a lot in this article from the New York Times that mirrors my own use of cameras since the 60s. And since the arrival of the iPhone 5s, I have almost stopped using a larger camera (a Lumix) and the Nikon DSLR is just gathering dust!

Furthermore the time spent with the family in Australia brought home to me how photos are now edited and shared on an almost real-time basis, with context replacing quality as the primary goal.

Indeed it is context that most needs enhancing now: photos should come not only with technical metadata about the photo itself, but facial recognition, links to the website and blogs of
those in the photo, the history of the place in which the photo was taken (especially of landscapes where battles and other historical events should be accessible though links), weather,
geography and topography, flora and fauna, links to any reviews which you or your friends might have written to the venue (for hotels, restaurants and clubs), and the like. The idea is to give the
fullest context to the shared event.    

This line of thought reminds me of the strap-line of this Journal: 'No medium has yet been devised for the translation of life into language, nor can any words recall the dazzling fluidity of days. Single yet fixed in sequence they fall like the shaft of a cataract into time and through it.'  (Freya Stark - Beyond Euphrates). For me, this is the great attraction of photography, as a single image can capture a moment in life in a way that prose or poetry can do only with great effort. And the growing ease of sharing our images moves us still close to this dream. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

S. Venkiteswaran 1941 - 2013

My dear friend 'Venky' Venkiteswaran died on 21st December 2013 following several years of increasing ill health. His ashes were scattered in the Ganges at Rishikesh by his sons Kumar and Anand on 23rd December and prayer meetings have been being held before his funeral on 1st January.

Venky was an exceptional man; a brilliant advocate who passed early though university and law school and argued his first case before the Supreme Court when he was only 21. Most of his long career was spent in the Commercial Court where he specialised in shipping matters, founding the Chambers which bear his name and training many of India's leading shipping lawyers and judges.
Venky was the best kind of lawyer - a 'consigliere' - who was sought out as much for his worldly counsel as for his legal skills. He acted for many of India's shipowners, transport operators, agents, and port owners and was frequently called upon to advise the Government and the Director-General of Shipping as well as the Indian Register. Venky also headed Pandi Correspondents, set up at the request of three P&I Clubs to advise their Indian and foreign shipowners, and much of his time was spent in dealing with their more complex cases. He maintained exceptionally strong links with the Clubs in London as well as the insurance market. In 2004 his services to the shipping community were acknowledged when he was presented with the Varuna Award. He also acted for the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, and Indian Pilots Guild and defended their pilots in several notable crash investigations. He was even retained by the Indian Wrestlers Association! He served on the boards of the National Stock Exchange, SICIC and Gujarat Adani Port and other commercial organisations.

I first met Venky in 1972 and maintained a close relationship with him and his family - his wife Lakshmi, his sons and their wives Hema and Ranjini and his grandchildren - ever since. We visited several places in India and Europe together and while travelling often enjoyed his fine cooking skills. He attended the weddings of two of my children in Australia and he and Kumar even attended church with me in Litchfield. Fortunately he was well enough in May to visit Stockbridge with some of the family and in July I visited him in Mumbai as one of those helping him gain accession of the Indian Maritime Law organisation which he had founded to membership of the CMI.

Venky was a great friend to many and an exceptionally loving father and grandfather. His death at only only 73 leaves a great void and great sadness.

Many prayers have been offered at the ceremonies around his funeral. A lovely eulogy was given here

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Thomas Miller Carol Service 2013

The Thomas Miller Carol Service 2013 was held at St Katherine Cree Church, Leadenhall St, on 18th December 2013. The beautiful neoclassical church - the only surviving one in the City - has been extensively restored over the past few years with financial assistance from a number of City institutions including Thomas Miller and is now is a now very fine state of repair. I have written before about its fascinating history, notably here, and earlier posts have links to some of the carols we sing. This year, after the usual get-together over sandwiches in the office nearby, we retired to The Trident, a club in Mitre St, which has been taken over by one of our fellow retirees, Chris Simpson, and is now a well-patronised watering hole serving excellent food backed by Chris's warm hospitality.

Thomas Miller Carol Service 2011
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2010
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2009
Thomas Miller Carol Service 2008

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Coventry Cathedral Carol Concert

The Cathedral seen through the John Hutton West window
A lovely traditional carol concert was held in Coventry Cathedral on 14th December 2013, with St Michael's Singers and the Cathedral choir singing with the Coventry Youth Orchestra conducted by Paul Leddington Wright. For more photos, click here 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Wellbeing of Women City Christmas Fair at Drapers' Hall

Drapers' Livery Hall ringed with stallholders

The Wellbeing of Women Christmas City Fair was held once again at Drapers' Hall on 2nd December 2013, and was more successful then ever.  53 individual stalls were ranged around the Livery Hall, the Court Drawing Room, the Court Dining Room and the Court Room. A percentage of each stall's takings go tho the charity which also charges £5 entry. The Drapers give their hall for free. For photos, go here 

Saturday, 26 October 2013