Martin Kyrle, one of the authors of Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway, is best known locally as a former Liberal Democrat Councillor. He served on the Chandler’s Ford committee for 50 years. He wrote his new book based on notes he kept as he travelled and long term friend, Michael Roberts, took the photographs. [Read more…] about The Trans-Siberian Railway: Martin Kyrle and Michael Roberts
A rare bird in the Forest and a new one on the coast; prowlers in the garden; no more Red Squirrels, chestnut gatherers and Ampfield lovlier than ever.
On October 7th 1947 Gran copies four pages of Ruskin’s positive views on the human character of the love of nature. She follows this with: [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 9)
The United Kingdom is a fusion of four old countries that have fought wars together and with others. It has had kings, princes, invaders, usurpers, pretenders, bishops, priests and parliamentarians who have fought among themselves. Going back into archaeological time and pre-history and even in legend there have been conflicts of people and ideas of which we know little. No wonder that the country is littered with old castles, battlefields, abbeys, forts and earthworks. [Read more…] about Ruins, what to Do with ’em?
Another visit to Kingston upon Thames; approval for the Winchester by-pass; war-time house-sharing; a rare plant appears in the garden and harvest festival celebrated at Compton Church.
On the 21st, there is a description of the autumnal bird movements and also of the colourful shrubs around Hursley at that time of year. Spindle is Gran’s favourite shrub, the fruits “just becoming that lovely shade of rose”. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 8)
The joy of reading includes the discovery of genres new to you, leading to a wealth of new stories to enjoy. I have just finished reading my first graphic novel – Blood and Valour by Matt Beames (story), Marcus Pullen (art) and Guy Stauber (covers).
[Read more…] about Blood and Valour: Comic Book Review – Allison Symes
She never met William Rufus, but remembered House Sparrows in numbers, a doodlebug lifting her roof and could hear the ocean liners as they left the docks.
Gran spends August 4th 1947, at Romsey Horse Show. There is no mention of how she got there nor of her company, but they found Broadlands, where the show was held, delightful when they walked around it during the interval. And they made a visit to Pepperbox Hill that day too, returning “towards dusk as the sparrows were chattering in the hedges and the crickets chirping”.
[Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 7)
I love radio. I rarely watch TV these days. It has to be something special to make me turn the box on and that’s usually a Doctor Who!
(And yes I am sorry Peter Capaldi is going – I’ve liked an older Doctor being in charge of the Tardis. That’s nothing against David Tennant, Matt Smith of Christopher Ecclestone, all of whom were great, but for a Time Lord meant to be over 900 years old, having an older actor playing the role fits). [Read more…] about The Wonderful World of Radio by Allison Symes
Orchids in Beattie’s Field; High Brown Fritillaries; flowers of Southampton’s bombed sites and a squawking Nightjar chick!
Gran has made a few visits to the Punchbowl area on the Petersfield Road lately, looking for orchids and other wild flowers. When describing her finds, she always uses the plants’ scientific names – but many of them are well out of date today. For instance, she finds Habenaria conopsea, which must be Fragrant orchid – a plant now recognised as three separate species, and with a different Generic name. When at the Punchbowl, she:
…resented the arrival of noisy, chattering people on motorbikes who were apparently quite unaware of the beauty of sight and sound all round them, which they had so rudely disturbed.
I am thrilled to announce my debut flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again, has now been published by Chapeltown Books. It is available in paperback and in Kindle format via Amazon and, of course, directly from me but more on that later.
The stories range from 100 words tales to 500 words to 750 and there are one or two which just creep in as flash fiction, being just under the 1000 words limit. This is generally recognized as the cutting off point between flash and standard short story lengths. [Read more…] about Published – My Debut Flash Fiction Collection
It’s the summer of 1947 – nesting birds, butterflies on the wing and flowering plants – and there are recollections of the Hiltingbury youth.
On May 22 1947, Gran notes Lithospermum purpureo-caeruleum (creeping gromwell) in the garden but, she says, “as this is a rarity I am waiting to verify my identification”.
Presently, the front garden of The Ridge has a large patch of this lovely blue-flowered plant, which was introduced from a small piece collected at Cheddar in 1967, so Gran’s earlier record of it is something of a mystery – though it was surely a garden escape from somewhere nearby. Dad tells me, “It is now a confounded nuisance, its long tough, slender rhizomes getting under paving slabs and amongst other plants, and producing flowering shoots in unwelcome places”. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 5)
Henry Ford came up with what, for me, is one of the most annoying and untrue statements of all time when he claimed that “history is bunk”. Err… definitely not.
(And while I know he was focusing on what mattered to him, the there and then as he had obvious reasons for wanting to focus on the progress his cars were making, I still think this statement is rubbish, as recalling history should never mean not making progress. I really can’t fathom his reasoning here.). History is far too important to just be dismissed. [Read more…] about Vital History by Allison Symes
Gran records several bird species now lost as breeders in Chandler’s Ford – Hawfinch, Wryneck, Red-backed Shrike and Nightjar.
The last day of April and the first of May 1947 give the first hint that I have found of Gran’s constant bitter sadness, which apparently underlies all her writing: [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 4)
JANE AUSTEN FESTIVAL AND THE SARAH SIDDONS FAN CLUB
One of my favourite authors is going to have a Festival in Southampton in 2017 thanks to the Sarah Siddons Fan Club winning a Heritage Lottery Grant to co-ordinate such an event. [Read more…] about In the Footsteps of Jane Austen and Sarah Siddons by Allison Symes
Signs of spring excite Gran but she is worried by news of pending development of her beloved woods.
Gran notes Salix caprea (goat willow) catkins open on March 15th, and a male Early Moth coming to light at a bedroom window the day before this. On the 16th:
The speckled Wood butterfly which I brought home from the greenhouse on March 5th was today spreading its wings to the sun in the dining room.
I went to see the Chameleons’ production of the pantomime, Robin Hood, on Thursday January 26th. The production was excellent and the pantomime had all the key ingredients you’d expect.
Humour, topical jokes (at the expense of D.J. Trump Esq), songs (sung with gusto and great enjoyment) and a wonderful story. There was the “oh no we won’t” moment from the audience and the usual dressing up of women as men (though not the other way round as well here). Robin was actually a man in this production! (And played by the excellent Paul Jones who got into the traditional thigh slapping with considerable enthusiasm). [Read more…] about Robin Hood and the Chameleons – Review by Allison Symes
It’s the freezing winter of 1946/47, but Gran is still out and about in the countryside
It’s dated January 1st 1947 and is headed “A Country Diary”. The inside of the front cover has five or six paragraphs, the first of which goes:
Flowers bring a spirit of comfort and happiness which money cannot buy, and being a spirit, is neither measured nor defined, but only perceived.
This is followed by:
“The tragic beauty of life is revealed nowhere so movingly and so clearly to the spirit as in a wild flower, which blossoms into life and fades into death.”
June 17th 1945 – January 12th 1947
In memory of my friend, “Adrian”, (Kenneth R. A. C. Turvey) who gave me an even deeper appreciation of the beauty and wonder of nature. He died January 12th 1947 aged 34. His brave, wholesome spirit was an inspiration and an example. Semper Fidelis.
I suspect that the words in quotation marks were from Adrian himself, though the journal is peppered with similar rather trite and flowery quotes from all sorts of sources that are not Adrian. And the dates are the period of Gran’s brief friendship with him. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 2)
Her name was Joan Adelaide Goater, her maiden name Adamson. She was my grandmother and she kept a journal. More than 150 hard-backed exercise books covered by a cheap blue paper that fades within half an hour of being exposed to the light. I’ve read small parts of some volumes, which date from January 1st 1947 to the mid-1980s. They are written at “The Ridge” – that is number 27 Hiltingbury Road, Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire. It is the home where Gran and her husband Bill (William Cecil), whom I knew as “Grampa” or “Gramps”, lived and where their children Barry (my father) and Jane were brought up. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 1)
Because of my passion for history I’m a sucker for old books and some years ago I was delighted to find ‘Highways & Byways in Hampshire’ by D. H. Moutray Read, first published in 1908. My copy, soft brown leather with a gold embossed title, is an updated version published in 1923. [Read more…] about Old Chandler’s Ford and Victorian Dentistry
One of the great joys of writing for Chandler’s Ford Today (and in reading it too) continues to be the wide variety of topics it covers. It’s only due to CFT that I found out about the Road to Agincourt Project and, due to my love of history, started writing about it.
I’ve particularly liked The Story Shuffle Project and the Sir Bevis of Hampton posts as the first is a phenomenally good idea to get kids involved in creative writing and a local legend. The second post was, of course, all about that local legend. [Read more…] about Introducing Guy Stauber – Marvel at Sir Bevis Comic
One of my favourite post-Christmas traditions is to ride on the Watercress Line between Alresford and Alton just after the end of the Santa specials and before New Year.
My family used the Santa specials years ago when my son was younger and the present given was always a good one. The downside is these Santa trains are very popular and booking early is a must (not a downside from the Watercress Line’s viewpoint of course) but now my son is older, we can avoid all that! The post-Christmas trains are also busy but not to the same extent and booking is generally not necessary. [Read more…] about Review the Watercress Line