Saturday, 28 March 2015

West Mendip Hills - Murvi Rally Mar 2015

Last weekend we took our newly acquired Murvi Motorvan down to Cheddar for the Murvi Owners Club AGM Rally. As 'newby' owners we were intrigued by the enthusiasm for this particular motorvan fit-out and found the group welcoming and informative. We picked up many tips and answers to our questions.

Happy Murvi Owner

Murvi Vans everywhere!

Our home for the week
This is a new area for us and so the opportunity to walk/run over the Mendips.
On a lovely day, I took the uphill paths direct from the Cheddar Bridge Touring site where we were and headed south up to the top overlooking Cheddar Gorge.
Here is a selection of photos taken.

Early daffodils

One of the many disused limestone quarries - this one at Black Rock
Worked out slag from the Victorian lead mining at Velvet Bottom (!)
Old pits from the lead ore extraction - here at Blackmoor

To my surprise, this pot-holer suddenly appeared. Apparently, this is a capped entrance to a limestone cave system
This whole area around Charterhouse was an important lead mining area from Roman times until the 19th century. The remains of old lead workings can be seen around Velvet Bottom and Ubley Warren which are covered with 'gruffy' ground, a local name for uneven mined ground. The area contains worked-out mineral veins known as 'rakes', black glassy slag heaps, round stone-lined 'buddle' pits used for washing the ore, smelting plants, old flues and a complex network of dams and leats.

Although hard to identify, this looking at a Roman Fortlet established during the 1st century to protect the local lead (and silver mining)

Spring gorse flowers

Signs of lead mining
Locally called a 'rake', where the lead ore seam has been worked

Signs for the times

After heading south, I reached the southern edge of the West Mendips at Westbury Beacon.
This photo is looking up to a tumulus on the top - the highest point here at 272 m (892 ft)

Looking over to my next climb on the edge

You've guessed - an airfield is here on the top
The gliding club

Coming in to land

Looking down through the haze to Cheddar - with the reservoir behind

Back down in Cheddar at the Market Cross which dates from the 15th century.
In the 16th or 17th century it was enclosed with a hexagonal arch structure. It was rebuilt by Thomas, Marquis of Bath in the 18th century

Enjoying a pint of Butcombe Real Ale - after my 13 mile walk with 2300ft of climb

A lovely sunset through the surrounding campsite trees - rounds off a great day!


Monday, 16 March 2015

A Bridgnorth Weeknd, Shropshire Mar 2015

Last weekend we made the short journey southwards to just beyond Bridgnorth. The occasion was the social weekend for the Audlem Ramblers - many staying in the Pub and just two of us on the adjacent campsite.

We tried out our 'new' (2001) motorvan, having sold the bigger coach built Roller Team to get a 'slimmer' Fiat Panel Van.

Our previous motorhome
Our 'new' Fiat Ducato MWB - Murvi Van
Chris enjoying her craft activities whilst I went walking!
Walking with the Audlem Village Ramblers - here on top of Brown Clee Hill,
the highest top in Shropshire at 540m (1770ft)
It was very cold with a strong wind!
Good views though, back to the Wrekin and across west to the Wenlock Edge and the Mynd

Descending the open moor westwards - we covered 10.4 miles and climbed 1883 ft
A big thank you to Peter for leading us! 

Lunch stop at the delightful Anglican Norman Chapel in Heath near Bouldon, Shropshire
Built in the middle of the 12th Century, there are some medieval coloured wall paintings that are to be renovated
Note the distinctive Norman arch over the main door and arrow slit windows

After the most enjoyable Saturday Night Ramblers Meal in the Pub, we awoke to a wet Sunday!
Seemed the ideal day to call in on the way home at the Severn Valley Railway at Bridgnorth!
Always a delight, here are some pics taken at the Bridgnorth Station and Engine Shed
'Sir Keith Park' on Shed. A modified 'Battle of Britain' Class Southern Railway Pacific.
Built in Brighton Works in 1947 to the Bulleid design and later modified in 1958.
This loco was named after the New Zealand RAF WWII Commander

Here the Great Western Region 2-8-0 2857 hauls the afternoon train
Build by Churchwood in 1905, it was rescued from the Woodham's Scrap Yard and restored to running order in 1975

Next in was Ivatt Class 4 2-6-0 43106, pulling the Dining Train

Here seen running around to the shed for re-coaling and water
This is the only surviving loco of the 162 that were built between 1947 and 1952

Taking on water and coal before the run back to Kidderminster

Getting ready to set off, tender first, on the return trip
We will be returning in September for the Autumn Gala!
A great finish to a great weekend!


Thursday, 12 March 2015

London - Opera at the Coliseum Mar 2015

Last week we travelled down to London.
The purpose was to get to see/hear English National Opera perform their new production of Wagner's Mastersinger's of Nuremburg.

In the centre of London - St.Martin's in the Field

Visitors from the North - Are we?

Lord Horatio Nelson looks down on Trafalgar Square 

Opera goers relax before the late afternoon performance starts.
Apologies to George Washington
A fine statue of the first President of the United States of America 1789
See this link to learn more about the statue and George Washington

South Africa House (opened in 1933) in Trafalgar Square -
the Flag of South Africa (adopted in 1994 at their general election as a democracy)
This photo shows the Tower and Globe of the London Coliseum Theatre, built in 1904
Our venue for ENO's wonderful performance of The Mastersingers
The opera had not been sung by the Company for over 30 years!
Chris and I came here to see it when we got engaged way back in 1971!!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Rode Hall Silver Band Success! - NW Area Champs Mar 2015

Each year, our brass band prepares for the challenge of the NW Area Championships held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
I missed last year so was eager to contribute this year and more so as the 4th Section Test piece of music was very enjoyable to play - which is just as well given the number of rehearsals we put in to 'perfect' it!
This year, I was asked to play the 2nd Cornet part which had the added bonus of me playing in a quartet movement allowing the challenge of some exposed playing!

The atmosphere is great in the Band at the moment and everybody has been working hard to bring this Test music up to a high standard.
Under our Musical Director, Nigel, we went to the Brass at the Guild Contest at Preston and came away with a very creditable 4th place.

Nigel stepped aside due to family priorities and our new Conductor, Aiden, took us for the last month in preparation for Sunday's Contest.
It has been a big commitment, hard work and lots of fun - so arriving at Blackpool, we were excited and confident we could do well.

Morning rehearsal at the Duke of York Pub in Blackpool

Last 'tricky' bits rehearsed

Laughter - relaxing us!

Great fun playing alongside the emerging talent on the Back Row
Last Band 'motivational' from Aiden, our Conductor 
Rode Hall sticks together in the Winter Gardens, before going into the Preparation Room
The view that greeted us as we took our seats in the very impressive Emperor's Ballroom
We played really well, considering the challenges, and had great, immediate comments from 4BarsRest. Then the wait!
And yes - we were placed 6th in the very competitive NW 4th Section!
An excellent result - so a big thank you to fellow band members and our MD, Nigel and Aiden, who prepared us over the last few weeks and encouraged the best performance result by Rode Hall Silver Band.