Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bedford (non) Castle

We went to Bedford Museum this afternoon, because we hadn’t been there before, it was raining, the kids needed some kind of entertainment and they haven’t got to old that they baulk when faced with something cultural.  And it was very good too, the exhibits I saw as I raced past them chasing Toby looked very interesting and Harriet only set off one alarm by invading an off limits area. 

Then we left and saw what appeared to be the remains of a castle!  Well, we had to investigate, so with some difficulty we got two children and a buggy up a slope that had been presumably designed about 950 years ago to be so steep as to put people off running up it.

Though, I assume the steps and hand rail are a more recent addition.

Anyway, we made it to the top and saw the castle.  Or rather where it was before it was torn down several hundred years ago.  Toby then ran around in a circle.

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Then we found that although Bedford Castle has no castle, it has some mean conker trees.  We went  conkering, and found many good conkers.  Then down the other side we found a bizarre tile thing – a bit like the Bayeux Tapestry but smaller and considerably younger.

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But it turned out to be very good for kicking around our newly acquired conkers, so its all good.

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Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Concrete Elephants and Alligators of Abington

Abington in Northampton is a nice place to live.  No area is perfect of course and there is a modern-ish estate among all the Victorian terraces which is frankly a bit of a state.  You would not want to walk around there at night, unless you were armed with an alligator.

Maybe its because off this that there are concrete alligators scattered about – and if you look very hard, an elephant.  The local youths have of course taken the opportunity to spray paint them a bit and there used to be three elephants by the look of it, though only one remains now.  Overall, you can see what the planners were aiming for, though I’ve never seen any children playing on them – except for mine.

Stuck for something to do an hour before bathtime a couple of weeks ago I suggested a safari.  What’s a safari, they asked (I like to introduce new words where I can!!).  They could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the almost derelict 1980s concrete based reptiles.  And when I say they could not believe their eyes, I mean they were impressed!

We have been around all of them now about three times over the last fortnight – I am sure it won’t last, apart from anything else they might realise what a dodgy estate it is.  We had to abort one alligator today as my eagle eyes spotted the two dodgy geezers hanging around right next to it with a beer each (at 10.30am…) and a mean looking fighting dog with no lead.  Nice.

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Conkers as playthings

Wow, it seems only a week ago that it was summer (albeit a very wet summer!  Does summer end in early July now?), and suddenly its properly autumn.  The kids (okay, kid) being back at school, the nights drawing in, the coats coming out of the cupboards and apparently the conkers are here now too.

The kids always like a new toy, and the conkers in question are no exception.  I thought I would try to document some of the things the conkers got up to this evening...

They flew a plane - "those two are the pilots!"

Got carried around in a bucket

Briefly filled a boot (I hope they are all out, that could hurt tomorrow if there's one left!)

 Toby went conker shopping

The "fish" (sea-monster?  It glows in the dark you know) ate one

Harriet planted some "seeds"

And Hector carried some around on the train set.

Until the high speed crash at the bridge...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Harriet’s first day at school.

Its official, she is growing up.  Harriet started school today and so far is enjoying it enormously.  As is usual, it was Toby that caused all the trouble, by first insisting on running into a wall and then having a series of crises wanting to stay at school when Harriet was dropped off.  He also took great interest in Harriet school shoes when we were trying to take the obligatory photos on her first morning (below).  He does like a new pair of too-big shoes to walk around in. 

Anyway, the “main event” of Harriet actually going to school and coming out again went very well.  We are very proud, and obviously feeling rather old as well. 

We have had to be careful what we said recently – phrases like “Poor child, school was awful and I was glad to leave!” would probably not do anything for her optimism!

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Monday, 6 September 2010

Malmesbury Almshouse

We were in Malmesbury visiting friends this weekend and passed lots of old buildings – including one especially old one with a nice plaque on the front.  As we walked away from it one of the people I was with commented that it was a shaame it was so high up or we would be able to read it.  Well, to a man with a zoom lens on his camera that sounds like a challenge…

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This is my best attempt at getting the text of this odd plaque:

Memorand that Whereas King Athenfran did give into the Free School within this Burrough of Malmesbury, Ten pounds and to the poor people my Almshouse at St John's Ten pounds to be paid Yearly by y Alderm and Burgeffes of y same Borough for Ever

That now Michael Wickes Esq late of This sd Burr and now Citizen of London hath augmented & added to y afore sd gift Vis to y sd Free School Ten pounds and to y Sd Almshoufe.  Ten pounds only be paid Yearly at St John's aforsd within this sd Burr & by his Trustees for Ever and hath alfo given to y Minister of this Towne For y time being 20s only by y Year For Life to preach a sermon here yearly on y 10th day of July and to his sd Trustees 20s by the Year beginning on y 25th of March

Anno Dom 1694

My days studying History are a good 10 years of fixing computers ago and to be honest the only relevant thing that can help me here is that “f” can mean “s”, so the word “alfo” is easy to translate.  Oh, and that spelling used to be a bit more optional than it is now, though given the state off Facebook status updates I’ve seen recently it still is.  Anyway, that explains “Burrough”.  It also seems logical that “sd” is “said” (is this 17th century text speak?) and “y” is “the” (it is – maybe plaque carvers charged by the letter) so my best translation is:

Remembering that King Aethelstan gave ten pounds to this school and Almshouse, Michael Wickes (who used to live here and has since moved to London) has added to it another ten pounds a year every year and also another 20 shillings for someone to preach a sermon here each year.  In 1694.

It all seems a lot of fuss over what appears to amount to just over twenty quid and a free sermon.