Thursday, April 30, 2009

He ain't heavy

Couldn't resist sharing these.

And to make it clear that the new arrival is George Emery Maurice Richardson. I got the spelling wrong first time round.

His big brother is pretty good, considering. And as for little brother, he just eats and sleeps.

Grandparents are allowed to dote a bit, aren't they?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Last Days in Cornwall

How quickly it all recedes! I guess having a new grandson helps, but in just a week my trip seems far away. I should finish off the story.

After Easter Sunday with the folk at the Wadebridge Christian Centre I had a delightful visit to Trewithen Gardens, just outside Probus, where Jean's parents used to live. The gardens here are fantastic in the spring if, like me, you appreciate camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas etc. I wandered round snapping happily and finished with a cream tea. Then a walk along the muddy river from Tresillian to St Clement and back.

Wadebridge Christian Centre
They were happy, and they clapped, but I enjoyed their fellowship.

Trewithen Gardens

So many beautiful camellias

Just like home!
This is E.G. Waterhouse, which we have at the front door.

Not just camellias

Cream tea at Trewithen
They make their own clotted cream.

Between Tresillian and St Clement
The oak woods come right down to the water.

For my last day in Cornwall I drove to Rock, on the other side of the Camel estuary from Padstow, and walked to Polzeath, scene of many family holidays 40 or 50 years ago, and then out around Pentire Point.

Not so very different to the old days

There was a very reasonable swell coming in, forming a nice point break at Daymer Bay and an even bigger break (but a long paddle, as I well remember) at Polzeath. The cliff scenery at Pentire was spectacular, and I even met an old friend!

Daymer Bay point break

And people riding it

Bigger at Polzeath

The path to Pentire Point

Cliff scenery, Pentire Point
A fine example of pillow lavas (Ruth please note)

An old friend!
Cepaea nemoralis, the subject of my PhD thesis. An unbanded yellow out for a stroll.

ANZAC Day today
And I was surprised to learn that these famous lines were written on Pentire Point.

That's it for the UK trip.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What's in a name?

Just a quick update: Grandson 2 is to be called George. Other names still slightly fluid but Emory Maurice is likely. I'll confirm that.

He's doing well. Came home with his Mum last night and seems very contented. Angus is coping well, but his further suggestion of Tank Engine as a name for his brother wasn't taken up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stop Press! New Baby!

As of 4.15 this afternoon the Richardson clan has increased by one.

I can't tell you his name because he doesn't have one yet, but Angus refers to him as Baby Lucy, since that's the most recent baby he knows, but I doubt the name will stick.

We were able to see them this evening, just a couple of hours after the delivery. Jess was tired, but well, and Baby Lucy was sleeping peacefully. He weighs about 3.4 kg and has quite a lot of dark hair. I can see no family resemblance, but while I was holding him he looked like Chairman Mao. That will probably pass off.

Hugh is staying with Jess and the baby tonight and we are looking after Angus. He is coping with the excitement well, and hopefully will sleep all night!

Pictures follow; captions unnecessary.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cornwall: The Camel Trail 2

Camel Trail sign
Advertising various activities, and a Code of Conduct (walkers have right of way).

Though slightly saddle-sore I hired a bike again the next day and headed inland on the other half (well, a bit more than that, actually) of The Camel Trail. Once again it followed the river, which quickly changed from being muddy and tidal to being clear, brown and chuckling.

The Camel valley
Just a tinge of green on the trees.

The River Camel
They catch salmon and sea trout in there.

At one point I met a real railway, or at least a preserved one where they run real steam engines, but sadly not today. It must have been wonderful when Thomas the Tank Engine and his colleagues pulled little trains up and down these valleys, and many others like them.

The Bodmin and Wenford Line
No trains today, but I'm sure Jimmy and the Little Old Engine were just round the corner.

I went to the very end of the trail at Wenford and then back-tracked to a hamlet called Merry Meetings (who could resist that?), where a steep little lane led to the village of Blisland. Here there is a village green, a granite church that survived the ravages of the restorers and one of those pubs where you feel you should strike the bar and call for "a pint of your best ale, landlord". In fact I asked politely for a pint of Blisland Gold and a pork pie, and consumed them in the sun outside.

Blisland signpost
They have good place names in Cornwall.

The Blisland pub
A few other folk enjoying a pint in the sun.

Blisland Church
A favourite of John Betjeman.

Blisland Church interior
And this is why: it retains the old beams and decorations so often stripped out of Cornish churches by the Victorian "restorers".

After a look into the gorgeous little church and walk through the fields and lanes I free-wheeled down the hill back to the trail and Wadebridge. I was seriously saddle-sore by now, and the knees and hips were complaining about the unusual activity, but both days on the trail were a great success.

Wadebridge quay
The weather wasn't that threatening really.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cornwall: The Camel Trail 1

I left Bolton on the Thursday before Easter, and joined the motorway (so many caravans!) heading for the south west. To my relief the worst of the traffic had died away by the time I got into Cornwall, and I found my B&B without difficulty. This was a bit of a pig in a poke, since I had booked so late that little was available over the Easter holiday. But it turned out well. Spring Gardens is a 17th century merchant’s house near the quayside in the little grey town of Wadebridge, once a port far up the estuary of the River Camel, but now silted up. I had a nice room with a shower, and the toilet across the landing, and ate in the old kitchen with slate flagstones on the floor and the hooks for hams, strings of onions etc still in the ceiling.

The Bridge on Wool at Wadebridge
Used to be a major bottleneck, but now the traffic bypasses the town.

Spring Gardens B&B

Wadebridge is a good centre since it sits in the middle of the “Camel Trail”, a walking and cycling path set on the bed of an old railway line. In one direction it runs to Padstow, near the mouth of the estuary, and in the other to Bodmin and further inland, following the riverside both ways. The gradients are gentle and so like everyone else I hired a bike and spent a couple of days exploring.

On yer bike
The start of the Camel Trail heading seaward along the estuary.

On the Camel Trail
Not difficult to recognise that it was once a railway.

A cutting on the Trail
Is that a ghostly whistle I hear?

My first excursion was up the river to Padstow, once a quaint little town (it was over >50< years ago that I first went there), but now rather overrun by tourists, and home to Rick Stein's various fish cafes and restaurants. I moored my bike there and walked around Stepper Point to Trevone and back to Padstow along the lanes. It was a glorious day and the coastal scenery was wonderful.

The Camel Estuary
Looking past Rock to the open sea.

The Camel estuary
Looking inland.

Footpath to Padstow
Rights of way just go straight across the fields.

Coming back along the Trail in the afternoon was a bit busier than in the early morning! There were hundreds of cyclists, on all sorts of bikes. Many tandems and adult bikes with little ones welded onto the back so that small fry could get the impression of taking part.

Bolton Blog

Traveling home eastwards does much worse stuff to your internal rhythms than going the other way! Night 2 back here in Kingston, and I lay awake for hours before giving up the struggle at 6.30 and starting to get some blog organized instead.

After the wedding I spent a few days with Kate and Chris in Bolton. They took me to a couple of Tudor “halls” which seem to abound in that part of the world. Most are open to the public and full of interesting things. The first one was full of tiny Girl Guides and Boy Scouts (“Beavers”) on a treasure hunt, but they only came up to waist height and they were certainly having fun. I’m not sure why so many of these historic houses have been preserved in Lancashire, but it’s good to see them so well patronized. The original owners would surely never have imagined us common folk wandering through their rooms.

Astley Hall
Tudor, though it looks a bit weird outside. Wonderful plaster ceilings, but no photos allowed inside!

Bramall Hall
Fascinating original Tudor wall paintings inside, but again no photos allowed!

They also indulged me by taking me to Martin Mere, a wildfowl collection (ducks, geese, swans etc) that is adjacent to an area of wetland on the Lancashire coastal plain. So not only did I get to see some gorgeous captive birds, but I was also able to add several exotic wild species to my trip list (which finished up at 86 species, by the way).

Hawaiian Ne Ne
Obligatory member of all wildfowl collections. Strangely, no Cape Barren Geese, which are usually equally common in collections.

Male Smew
Photo hardly does this spectacular bird justice.

Common inside and outside the collection.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Andrea and Ronnie get married

I am now in Bolton at my sister's, after spending the weekend in Leeds (or Morley to be more exact), where my niece Andrea was married to Aaron Smith, generally known (to our side of the family at least) as Ronnie.

We all met up at a hotel on Friday afternoon. Andrea's side of the family was represented just by her parents, brother Robert and me, whereas Ronnie has a shirtload of rellies, mostly from Liverpool. That was why it was important for me to be there.

The ceremony on Saturday was in Morley town hall, a grand building that could be described as a Victorian pile, oozing the civic pride of those days. All was going well and on schedule until the moment when the bridal party realised that Andrea's flowers were still at the hotel, but some low flying by a brother-in-law collected them and things got under way just 10 minutes late.

Pictures follow, more or less in chronological order.

Bridal party in Morley town hall.
No flowers!

The vows.

Signing the register.

The happy couple.

Civic splendour.
Group photo in the town hall. The photographer was great.

Andrea looked gorgeous, and together they made a handsome couple. Photographs were taken from every possible angle inside, and also outside on the grand steps, where it was a little bit windy.

On the steps inside the town hall.

A bit breezy outside!

On the steps outside.

Then there was a coach to the reception, where there was food, drink, speeches and dancing for all ranks (at least those whose ears could tolerate the volume) until midnight when the coach came and took us home again. A good time was had by all, except for Ronnie's nephew who was sick all day, poor boy.

At the reception.
The speech from the bride's father, Chris.

Cutting the cake.

It was a very happy occasion and I'm glad I was there. The happy couple are off to Majorca for a week, leaving tomorrow, and they are even happier today because they have just learned that the offer they made recently on a house has been accepted!