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The weather today was absolutely glorious, it was still quite cold but the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky, the ground was still a bit damp underfoot but the patches of mud were easy to avoid.
In contrast to yesterday I was on my own (most of the time) and knew where I was going without the need a of map. Although I knew where I was heading (West Grinstead Church, Sussex) the route I was taking changed several times, such is the joy of knowing an area so well.
To be honest this is not the best-looking side of West Grinstead Church, but just look at that clear blue sky. I wanted to go to the church to photograph a few gravestones, and everything just came together today, some free time and good weather.
The best part of the walk however was the walk back, a combination of clear skies, bright sunshine and splendid views certainly raised my spirits after some cold, damp and dark days. The photo below is the view looking roughly south-east towards the South Downs.
I have walked these paths for many years and as well as the fine weather there were many good memories of time spent exploring the countryside. From a family history perspective just to the left of the photo at the bottom of the field is where my grandmother lived for a few years, something which I really should have blogged about by now.
This month is shaping up to be the coldest December for 100 years (according the weatherman on the news this morning). Yesterday there was quite a heavy, but thankfully brief, snow shower about lunchtime, and today there was another heavy shower in the morning. There hasn’t been quite as much snow as there was a couple of weeks ago, only about an inch in total, but just enough to mess up our plans for the day.
Instead of a day out in London “enjoying” the festivities in the run-up to Christmas, we had to make do with a short walk in the snow. To be honest the landscape wasn’t looking quite as pretty as I hoped (the snow had started melting), but I did take a few photos to share with you.
As a follow-on from my Postcards from Australia series of posts, this is another treasure that was sent from Australia by the BATEMANs back to England.
The envelope above probably (I can’t be 100% certain) contained the three photographs below, which are views from the town of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia.
From left to right they are:
I know this because someone has helpfully written the locations on the back. The handwriting looks the same as that on the envelope so I guess it was either Annie or William BATEMAN.
These were sent quite a bit later than the postcards I have previously featured, the postmark on the envelope looks like 25 FEB 29, and I believe the monarch on the stamp is George V, so this would fit in with a date of 1929.
The other difference is the recipient, these were sent to my grandmother Dorothy Annie TROWER who would have been 16 years old at the time. Dorothy Annie was the daughter of Henry John and Dorothy May TROWER, making her William Joseph Henry BATEMAN’s neice.
Three seems an odd number of photos to include, so I wonder if there were originally more. If anyone knows then please get in touch.
Over the last few months I have been thinking about writing my own personal history. Not that I think my life has been particularly interesting and I am sure it will not be of interest to anyone other than myself. I would be writing it for purely personal and selfish reasons, to enable me to remember things that have happened in my life.
I am becoming aware that things are changing in the world around me and I am not getting any younger. My memories of my childhood and schooldays, my early working life are starting to fade or have already gone. It was really brought home to me last weekend when I was thinking about my walk along the South Downs Way, although it was only a few months ago the details are starting to fade.
I know I wrote about it on my blog, but that was only a very basic outline. Perhaps it will be enough to jog my memory in the future, but I am sure there will be things that I have missed out which will fade from memory. I also have lots of photos, and these will help jog my memories, but will I be able to remember all of the place names and why I took that particular photo?
I suppose this blog is the closest I have ever got to keeping a diary, despite previous attempts I have never lasted more than a few weeks keeping a daily diary. Going forward I probably need to try again, but not recording every day, just important or interesting days, most weekdays are not that memorable the following day, but every now and then something more interesting happens that I might want to remember at a later date. Even if nothing interesting happens it will probably be worth recording what a typical day was like every once in a while.
Then I can go back and record as many of my memories as I can before it is too late. Many of them will not be for a specific date, more for a period in my life, such as childhood or schooldays. Some entries may be very brief, perhaps even just place holders for things I need to try and remember (or ask others about) such as when we visited a particular place, a book that I read or a film that was special in some way.
I have been wondering just how I was going to record all these memories and I think I will probably use a blog like this one, except that it will be private, not that there are any shocking or scandalous secrets, just that it will probably not be of any interest to anyone other than me. Occasional memories might slip over into this blog (hopefully not accidentally) if I think they might be of interest or relate to my ancestors.
I think a blog is going to be the perfect medium, because of the simplicity of adding photos and other media and because I know may way around it. I have always been one for hanging on to things like train tickets and buying postcards when we visit places. Then there are things like the covers of books and CDs that have some special significance. The good thing is that because it is for my own personal use I don’t need to worry too much about copyright on images.
The other thing I like about using a blog is the ability to tag things, so I can put things in a rough chronological order, buy tagging with a specific date, a year or even just a time period such as schooldays or 1980s. The only problem will be finding the time to actually do the writing and adding in images, although once it is set up it shouldn’t take too long to just write a piece. For starters I think I shall try adding just one memory or event from the past each day along with anything interesting that happens on a day to day basis.
If I were to create a top-ten of my favourite postcards (now there’s an idea) this one would almost certainly be in it. This is an excellent quality photographic card which features, in incredible detail (click on the image if you don’t believe me), the coastal town of Seaford, East Sussex and the countryside beyond. The card was posted in Seaford on September 1910, although I can’t quite make out the exact day.
My copy of the eleventh edition of Black’s Guide to Sussex and its Watering-Places (published in 1898 by Adam and Charles Black of London) describes Seaford thus:
In a break of the cliffs, where the Ouse enters the sea, Seaford displays a growing assembly of red and gray houses, the new ones running rather to the bungalow style, nearly all offering accommodation to the visitors who throng this place in the holiday season. Its nucleus as a health resort may be considered the Convalescent Hospital, a well-known London charity, to which has lately been added the Surrey Convalescent Home, taking advantage of the “tonic” properties claimed for the air, and of the frequent sunshine with which Seaford is blessed, not to speak of some little shelter from the east wind. The drainage and the water supply have been seen to ; then it has an esplanade, a shingly beach, bathing machines, rowing boats, sailing yachts, and cricket field. The great factor in its recent prosperity is the Golf Links stretching over the Downs to the east. The scenery around has admirers. For our part, we are disposed to pronounce it somewhat monotonous in its expanse of bare green tableland ; but there are hidden hereabouts some pretty nooks ; and two or three of the quaintest villages in Sussex nestle along the course of the Cuckmere, which falls into the sea 3 miles eastward.
I have several reasons for valuing this card so highly, aside from the quality and level of detail. Of course I have ancestors that came from Seaford (or at least passed through), and it also provides an excellent cross-section of Sussex landscapes, with a beach and chalk cliffs side by side, and a backdrop of the rolling hills of the South Downs.
Perhaps the strongest reason for my love of this card is the personal memories it conjures, and hopefully will continue to do so for years to come. One of my most enjoyable days this Summer started out with a climb up the hill from Seaford to roughly the same spot, where I paused and took in the view across Seaford to Newhaven and the hills beyond.
It was not long after that day that I returned to full-time work and my Summer of exploring was brought to an end, but I still have happy memories of that short walk from Seaford up over Seaford Head and down to the mouth of the Cuckmere River. Lots of memories and lots of photographs, like the one below, which was taken almost 100 years after the postcard above was sent. Happy days.
I cannot help myself, it must be an addiction, it seems I take every available opportunity to visit Beachy Head. Today’s excuse was paying a visit the airshow at Eastbourne, East Sussex.
It was a rare opportunity when both my wife and I had a day off together and nothing else more pressing to do. For me it was pure indulgence, no work, no genealogy, no (serious) walking, just enjoying the scenery and the flying.
Beachy Head was not perfect as a viewpoint for the airshow, with the aircraft displaying along the seafront at Eastbourne it is a little bit too far away, although several of them did arrive or depart over Beachy Head. What it does have is lots of open space and terrific views all round.
As you can see the conditions were not perfect at the start, the day began with grey skies (and a light rain shower whilst on the bus) but it did clear later on. Even whilst the skies elsewhere were blanketed in cloud, Beachy Head seemed to be basking in sunshine. It really felt like a privileged position.
Having taken the bus up to the top of Beachy Head we felt that we at least ought to walk back down to Eastbourne to get the bus back to Brighton. We made our way down the side of the hill and walked along the foot of the hills and into the town. This gave me a chance to get a photo of Beachy Head lighthouse and the cliffs.
The flying display was excellent, especially as we got closer to centre of the action on Eastbourne seafront, I prefer the older historic aircraft, but my wife preferred the faster and noisier modern jets, like the F-16, which I must admit was absolutely awesome. Unfortunately the seafront also meant crowds of people and traffic, which was a real contrast to the slopes of Beachy Head. We didn’t hang around long, we had a bus to catch, and the crowds were a bit too much for us.