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Tuesday 28 March 2017 - Filed under WWI

Berkhamsted Gazette ; Sat Nov 24 1917 ; Local War News

Further information has now been received bearing upon the accident which resulted in the death of 2nd Lieutenant J.W.D. Needham, R.F.C., reported in last week’s “Gazette.” (27.3.2017) The following letter from his commanding officer explains the sad circumstances:-

Dear Mr. Needham,-

It is with very great sympathy and regret that I have to write you about the death of your dear son, Joseph, which occurred at about 11 p.m. last night (12/11/17).
Your son was engaged on an offensive patrol over the German lines, and apparently lost trace of … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-03-28  ::  Richard Shepherd

Spring from the Bunker

Monday 27 March 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

Oddly enough I had switched off the Today program on Wednesday morning (22 March). I only ever listen to five minutes whilst I’m making porridge so it has to be pretty bad for me to hit the off button early. I objected to the casual Moslem-bating tone of someone taking the piss out of the idea of virgins in heaven. I wondered what Christians do up there all day long. I couldn’t quite imagine them listening to the Today program. Shopping, probably, eating perhaps. I will never know, sadly.

The Thames at Kew

The Thames at Kew

My mid week walks have been shoehorned … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-03-27  ::  Richard Shepherd

Garden of Love

Tuesday 7 March 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

1 March. The weather in Trumpland, according to the New York Times, had turned to “sunshine & civility” during his address to the two houses of Congress. Here it didn’t get above 6 degrees in the afternoon. Cloudy and irritable: at least, I was. In fact, following rivers through the north eastern burbs, dressed head to toe in black and grey, I felt I bore the same relation to the earth as a passing cloud.

lee_park_way

When Ponders End flour mill was first built 150 years ago it might produce a thousand tons a year – a week’s output today, … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-03-07  ::  Richard Shepherd

Dollis Day

Tuesday 28 February 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

22 Feb. Finchley–Woodside Park. With a storm promised for Thursday (Doris Day) I felt I was sneaking a walk in early. Which is odd because I almost always walk on Wednesdays anyway.

dollis-snowdrops

Note to self: I’m at a critical point in this country diary. I don’t want to write it. I’ve nothing to say. On the other hand, one of the key things about it, like dried prunes, is regularity. If you want to look back and track the changes you want to know what happened in February, week 8, even if what happened was you were particularly uninspired and … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-02-28  ::  Richard Shepherd

Pageant of Winter

Friday 17 February 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

15 Feb.  Crocuses were pushing through in Alexandra Park when we walked through on Monday in the sunshine, snowdrops, too. It was still cold though. Today the wind had shifted round to the south south west. Now it is official. The pageant of winter has been authorized for removal and destruction. Few will mourn its passing.

Pageant of Winter, Birchen Grove, Wembley.

Pageant of Winter, Birchen Grove, Wembley.

But I was in a funny mood. In spite of a rainbow and a troop of parakeets the day was more inclined to gloom than glam. Headlights were on in Hendon at four o’clock. Sunny Hill Park was … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-02-17  ::  Richard Shepherd

B for Brent

Friday 10 February 2017 - Filed under r.cade'sproject

8 Feb. Eleven minutes to Hendon. Five minutes walk to Brent Cross past a barber-surgeon giving free hair cuts to street trees. The sign at the pedestrian gate at the end of Brent Park Road worried me: “ACCESS FOR SHOPPING AND BUSINESS PURPOSES ONLY NO PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY.” All in hectoring capital letters and no full stops anywhere. What if they stopped me?

brent-cross

It reminded me of another walk and another sign: “Constables and other Peace Officers to apprehend all Common Beggars Ballad Singers and other Vagrants for that they may be dealt with according to the Law.”

2003 … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-02-10  ::  Richard Shepherd

Up the Junction

Friday 3 February 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

01 Feb. On 1st February 1760 in East Hoathly, Sussex, Thomas Turner, a shopkeeper, “supped on some roast chicken, a cold ham, a hot boiled green tongue, a boiled leg of mutton, fried chaps, tarts, cold fine baked puddings etc. … ”

willesden-junction

I had to look at The Country Diaries, 2009, ed. Alan Taylor, to get inspiration to write up yesterday’s walk home along the Grand Union Canal from Willesden Junction.

I have been thinking how little expertise I bring to the country diary. For instance: last week I read up how to tell the difference between coots and … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-02-03  ::  Richard Shepherd

Route 66-Lakeside-Tilbury-Chadwell

Friday 27 January 2017 - Filed under Route 66

25 Jan. Ensignbus, omnibus suppliers to the world since 1972, provided this week’s iconic road trip. Shorter than last week’s – I got off about half-way – but man did we make up for it in time. Ninety million years between shop and trolley on the ice of a former chalk quarry in Grays. Grays Gorge

I wasn’t as frisky mind you. Too angry to look at the news. Instead my eye glanced down to a story about a new GM apple. It grows partly segmented and when ripe only has to be tapped with the wrong end of a teaspoon … more ...

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-01-27  ::  Richard Shepherd

Route 66 – Waltham Cross – Waltham Abbey – Loughton – Debden (Circular Service)

Tuesday 24 January 2017 - Filed under Route 66

20 Jan. The day the 45th and possibly final nail was hammered into the coffin of American democracy seemed like a good day to kick start a road trip along some of my homeland’s most iconic routes. This one, operated by EOS, and the first of many, I hoped, turned out to be a circular from Waltham Cross, the south-easternmost town in Hertfordshire.

Route 66 - Waltham Cross

The route, echoing the thirteenth century funeral procession that gave the town its name, crosses the River Lea and the Greenwich meridian into Essex where it speeds through Epping Forest, slowing to a crawl at the Wake … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-01-24  ::  Richard Shepherd

Finchley

Thursday 19 January 2017 - Filed under Country Diary

18 Jan. Checked out of the Hotel Abyss, NW5, and headed north, to Finchley, to ruralize.

I was delighted by a kingfisher racing round a bend in the Dollis in a blink of blue and orange. I heard a woodpecker, too, but didn’t see it. It might after all have been an Enfield supporter, gagged and tied to the top of a hollow tree, who had managed to release an arm and was signalling for help the only way he could.

Followed the river by Fursby Avenue allotments (“best kept small allotment in Barnet 2015”) and playing fields to a … more ...

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2017-01-19  ::  Richard Shepherd