Wednesday, July 29, 2009

1963 Morris Minor 1000 2 Door Saloon For Sale

Mary is regretfully putting Molly up for sale.

1963 Morris Minor 1000 2 Door Saloon For Sale

Lovely 2 door saloon, grey with red and white trim. Excellent condition thanks to 2007 refurb by Charles Ware. 1098cc. Great runner. Converted to unleaded. Owned for 14 years, lots of past history. Garaged. Now living in London so hardly used for the last two years. 12 months MOT and tax. £3,500 ono

See our ad on Classic Cars for Sale:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another MMG-style four part day

Another quiet MMG*-style four part day on Sunday.

1. Trip to the local auction house to look for sideboards for the breakfast room and claret jugs.

2. Visit the RHS garden at Wisley to check out smelly perfumed roses for May's garden in Scotland.

RHS Wisley: smelling roses
RHS Wisley: smelling roses

RHS Wisley: Rosa Hot Chocolate 'Wekpaltez'
RHS Wisley: Rosa Hot Chocolate 'Wekpaltez'

RHS Wisley: 200 year old bonsai
RHS Wisley: 200 year old bonsai

3. A picnic in NT Hatchlands Park followed by a whistle stop tour of the Gertrude Jekyll** garden. We will have to go back for a fuller inspection.

NT Hatchlands Park: picnic
NT Hatchlands Park: picnic

NT Hatchlands Park: Gertrude Jekyll garden
NT Hatchlands Park: Gertrude Jekyll garden

4. Afternoon tea and cake in Farnham with the Aged P's.

5. A quiet supper of picnic leftovers and an early night.

* MMG = Mary Mitchell Galashan, aka "SWMBO", aka "her indoors"

** Update: 30-Jul-09. Post edited. Do not confuse Gertrude Jekyll (garden designer) with Gertrude Stein (American writer).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Flash web site is not so flash

I was chatting to Mino, an Italian chef, who was over in London for a trade show. He told me about a friend of his who had a restaurant and cookery school in London. So I whipped out my trusty iPhone, googled, clicked on and this is what I saw: screen shot 26-March-2009 screen shot 26-March-2009

Rubbish! No text alternative. What if I had been in the area keen to call them up and make a reservation? So I dropped an email to the "design" company:

Tue, Mar 31, 2009

When accessing on an iPhone I get, effectively, a blank screen (see attached screen shot). I guess the site would not work on a blackberry or an ordinary mobile phone either. You really should provide a low-tech html text alternative unless you think typical iPhone owners are not a suitable target demographic for a restaurant and cookery school.

And the link to your site at the bottom of the page is broken: Site design by Originator © 2009 links to - methinks someone forgot the http:// and that is how it resolves.



Recently I went back to check and, yes, it had changed but not really what you would call an improvement. And the link to their site is still broken. screen shot 21-July-2009 screen shot 21-July-2009

Maybe the answer is to educate the clients as some design companies just do not seem to understand accessibility, cross-browser support, standards compliance or a user centric view of the web.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Further historical facts about Wandsworth in the days gone by

Borough News June 14, 1912

The hand of the improver is busily engaged in Wandsworth at the present time. Buildings which have done duty in their respective spheres for many, many years, are being sacrificed at the altar of improvement; what were not so long ago winding lanes, bordered on either side by hedgerows, severing the corn fields on the one side from the meadow-land on the other are now fairly wide thoroughfares. The modern Aladdins of the lamp are transforming with almost incredible speed old-time premises into more commodious wants more fitted this twentieth century.

The coming of the electric tramway system is much to answer for in this direction. The road-ways, which, until a few years ago, were considered ample for the modest horse-drawn vehicles, are no longer thought worthy of the more speedy and up-to-date electrically driven conveyances. Hence, houses have been demolished to permit of roadways being widened. Unmindful of anything of the historical import, the housebreakers have carried on their work of abolition ruthlessly, and old Wandsworth is fast becoming unrecognisable.

"Love-lane" is now but a memory, and so for that matter is Slough-lane and Pickpocket-lane. Indeed, as regards the two latter, it is doubtful whether they find a place even in the memory of the average Wandsworthian. As I write these notes my glance wanders through the office window over a forest of bricks and mortar, where previously existed fields of weaving corn, undulating pasture land and orchards. It requires an imaginative mind more pronounced than that of the scribe who pens these notes, to eliminate the hundreds of houses which now exist in the area under discussion and to picture in their stead the beautiful country which formerly existed. It takes one back to the days when Wandsworth was still a country village, nestling on the banks of the one-time pellucid Wandle. Pickpocket-lane and Slough-lane are things of the past; today, York-road and Fairfield-street are the names in vogue. It was the mention of the alterations which are now taking place at the corner of Fairfield-street which induced Mr. Cecil T. Davies, the Wandsworth Librarian, to divulge the following interesting facts concerning the locality:

On turning to Rocque's map of 1741, the street is called Slough-lane, and joined Pickpocket-lane, now better known as York-road, and the district is termed Bridgefield, an older name than the more modern appellation Fairfield. Where the bridge was which acted as sponsor has not yet been traced, the toll of it is mentioned in Doomsday, and in many documents subsequent to date (1087).

In a deed September 24, 1490, by which John Warner, alias John Lincoln, yeoman, grants to Richard Parker, gentlemen Katherine his wife, and John Parker, citizen and writer of the Court letters of the city of London various properties in Wandsworth, appear the following entries:

"And another half-acre lies towards the Slowe on the South and the said road called Millewey on the North, and the land of the said Archbishop (of York) on the East, and the land of the said Thomas Wattys on the West."

"And another half-acre called to the Hedeland lies between the Slowe on the West are 'down' there called the 'Litell Down' on the South."

The 'Litell Down' was open and on the top of Tonsley-hill.

Not far from the 'Litell Down' stood Tonsley Hall, the residence of Sir Richard Blackmore, the physician and poet who died in 1729. The son of an attorney at Corsham, Wilts, he came to Westminster School, thence to Oxford, where he took his B.A. in 1674. For some reason dire necessity making a schoolmaster.

By nature form'd, by want a pedant made
Blackmore at first set up the whipping trade.
Next quack commenced; then, fierce with pride he swore
That toothache, grapes and corns should be no more;
In vain his drugs as well as birch he tried,
His boys grew blockheads, and his patients died."

He took the degree of M.D. in Padua, and became a F. R. C. P. of London in 1687, and eight years after he sought relaxation in publishing "Prince Arthur, an heroic poem, in X Books." Written, so the author informs us, "In such scant moments of leisure as his professional duties afforded." William III appointed him as a physician in ordinary, and on March 18, 1696-7, his Majesty knighted him in his bedchamber at Kensington Palace. He held the same appointment in Queen Anne's court, and that gave a semblance of reality to the tradition that, while Queen Anne resided at the Manor House he occupied Tonsley Hall, so as to be in immediate attendance on her Majesty. 'Tis true he lived at Tonsley Hall, but Princess Anne (afterwards Queen Anne) was never in residence at the Manor House.

He was a prolific writer on medical and divine subjects as well as a versifier. He died on October 9th, 1729, and was buried at Boxted, Essex, where he spent the last seven years of his life. A monument was created to his memory, and to that of his wife, Dame Mary, in that church.

The name of the house is still kept green in the-street names - Tonsley-hill, Tonsley-place, and Tonsley-road. The house was pulled down in about the middle of the nineteenth century, but so far no view of it has been found; in the latter called the same century the stump of an old cedar tree which stood in the grounds still showed a few feeble signs of life.

In Corris's map of Wandsworth, 1787, Slough-lane is shown as far as the corner of present York-road, then practically all open and cultivated land (laid out in strips), stretching to Swanden-shot and Windmill Shot to the waterside. The triangular piece now bounded by Fairfield-street, York-road and Warple-way, was the scene of the Wandsworth fair, which was held there for many years, to discontinued in the last century. It is said that the winning post from the races held in that field is on the gable end of the farrier's forge, in Garret-lane. On June 6, 1838, Dr. Longstaff, sen., enters in his diary, "Maria (Mrs Longstaff) went to Wandsworth Fair."

In 1836, Lord Spence sold a quantity of his freehold land in Wandsworth. In the third portion sold on July 8, we notice:-
"Lot 36, pasture west of Hill Shot and fronting Slough-lane. 1a. 0r. 0p.
"Lot 37, a ditto, adjoining North on Lot 36, also with frontages to Slough-lane. 0a. 3r. 26p.
"Lot 38, a ditto, situate north of Lot 37, with frontage to Slough-lane. 0a. 0r. 14p.
All held by Mr. Phillips. The above the three small lots on East hill, was sold to Mr. William King, of New court, Broad-street, London for £1275. These lots are now covered by North Terrace.

At the public library of West-hill may be seen two views of Wandsworth, shoing the Slough-lane and the district around. Then open fields, well cultivated - the corn is shown so high that only a man's head and shoulders may be seen - are now all covered with bricks and mortar.

In the year ending March, 1880, the South London tramways introduced a Bill to authorise the construction (inter alia) a line from Plough-lane along York-road, by the Wandsworth Station, along North-street to the foot of East-hill and along Red Lion-street, to High-street, Wandsworth. The last portion was not sanctioned. In 1882, it is reported that this line is under construction, and was finished opened in that year, and was in continuous use till the new line in Tooting was opened in 1907.

The old horse car, with its uncovered top, makes many long for similar ones to be used on the electric lines during the bright summer weather. The covered tops are oft exceedingly useful, though when the windows are open they are very draughty, and many a cold may be traced to them. It would be agreeable to many if a car with open top were to run from time to time.

When the Richmond railway was opened the Wandsworth Station was situate where the line passed over North-street, at the station was afterwards removed to the York-road Bridge.

Beyond the line lie the works of the Wandsworth and Putney Gas Company, but a description of them and of the site cannot be given now, nor an account of the Baptist Chapel, which stood opposite the Gas Works.

Dr. Longstaff, in December 1837, moved to Bridgefield House which he took for a short time furnished. It was opposite the old Fairfield. A view of it is at the West-hill library. He was there about six months, when he moved to Tooting. Mr. W. R. Selwood has told me that a Mr. Sadd had a cottage with a shop window front on the site of Mr. Stamper's coach factory, in which were displayed drawings of a flying machine, which he believes was the first on record.

In accordance with instructions from the London County Council the name North-street was abolished, and Fairfield-street substituted in August 1906.

R. H. H.

Wandsworth in 1786

Wandsworth in 1862

Note: If you look carefully below Tonsley Place you can see Myrtle Villas (that's us) and the four blocks below are North terrace which is where Fairfield Drive is now. See also "Our house is not Georgian". I cannot help but wonder if the White House shown on the 1862 map isn't, in fact, Tonsley Hall in its final years - that would fit with the above article and the census of 1851.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My uncle was a one-armed paper hanger

Uncle Ralph was a most picaresque role model for an impressionable young lad. My earliest memory was of him living in a basement flat in Philbeach Gardens in Earl's Court (aka Kangaroo Valley on account of the number of Aussies who lived there). His lived with his girlfriend "in sin" as it was described in those days. Very exciting and risqué.

Uncle Ralph at my sister's wedding 1979
Uncle Ralph at my sister's wedding 1979

He was a qualified mechanical engineer and lost his right arm just above the elbow in an industrial accident. Interior decorator was not the obvious career switch for a man under those circumstances but so he chose.

He used to have a mechanical arm but it was heavy and he only wore it on formal occasions. The rest of the time he tucked up his sleeve as you can see. One of my more vivid memories was him driving round a corner whilst changing gear. This necessitated using his stump to steer whilst changing gear with his left hand - can I open my eyes now?

Uncle Ralph at my father's investure (MBE) 1984
Uncle Ralph at my father's investiture (MBE) 1984

It is over ten years since he died of a massive stroke which is one reason we have done several bike rides in aid of that charity.

And since you ask... He pasted the paper, concertinaed it, went up the ladder, headbutted the wall with the end piece, used the stump to hold it in place and his good arm to position the drop as it unfolded.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

London Bikeathon in Aid of Leukaemia Research

Today was the 13th London Bikeathon in aid of Leukaemia Research

We did 51.77 miles in 3 hours 57 minutes at an average speed of 13.09 mph. We didn't bother to ask for sponsorship. They suggest a target and we simply both send in a cheque sponsoring the other. We will save the begging letters for a BIG event.

At the start Royal Hospital Chelsea
At the start Royal Hospital Chelsea

Trevor MacDonald at the Ham House start
Trevor MacDonald at the Ham House start

Cycling through Richmond Park
Cycling through Richmond Park

The Yellow brigade (52 milers) at level crossing
The Yellow brigade (52 milers) at level crossing

The Blue brigade (26 milers) at traffic lights
The Blue brigade (26 milers) at traffic lights

The Thames Barrier at 39 miles
The Thames Barrier at 39 miles

Mary Enjoying Some Jelly Babies at Thames Barrier
Mary Enjoying Some Jelly Babies at Thames Barrier

The Finish Line at Royal Hospital after 52 Miles
The Finish Line at Royal Hospital after 52 Miles

Hard Working Volunteers Handing Out Drinks
Hard Working Volunteers Handing Out Drinks

Riders Relaxing on the Grass
Riders Relaxing on the Grass

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Twitter: over-hyped, information poor, time sponge

I don't get Twitter.

I check once a day more or less. I get hundreds of tweets and I'm only following 50 or so people. Most of it is drivel: replies @somebody who I don't know in response to some tweet I did not see - like hearing only one half of a telephone conversation. Or it is out and out marketing puff dangerously close to spam. Why waste my time sifting through all that dross in order to find the occasional nugget.

I have enough trouble processing my inbox at home and at work and catching up on my Facebook notifications and writing my blog and living my life without allocating more of my scare time to Twitter.

Don't these Twitterers have a life or a job? Unless you are a professional communicator when do these people find the time? Are these people surfing at work? I have a job, stuff to do, I have a life, places to go, a home, chores to do. Something has got to be good to claim some of my precious time and Twitter is not that.

Who are my followers and why are they following me? Till now couple of friends but mostly me doing reciprocal follows. Have they picked up on my witty banter, my contribution to #fqf and #jazzfest? No it looks like they are searching Twitter for certain key words and stalking me as marketing fodder. Looks like spambot work to me. I have now started un-following.

And what is it with all this talk of "promoting your personal brand"? What kind of marketing b*ll**ks is that. I am not a commodity like a packet of soap powder. There seem to be a lot of people out there who think that Twitter is there solely as some kind of monetisable sales channel. Go away you people, I do not want to be CRM-ed.

No, I really don't get Twitter.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sapphire Bullets play the music of The Mahavishnu Orchestra

Saturday, 08 August 2009, 20:30 - 23:30
The Grey Horse 46 Richmond Road Kingston KT2 5EE

A new band, Sapphire Bullets, playing the music of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, the best fusion band ever, mixing indian music, jazz and furious rock. Sat. 8th August at The Grey Horse in Kingston. Come along and join in, it's amazing music.

The pub: Beer in the Evening info
The location: Google Map

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cleaning the Wandle July 2009

I have a soft spot for the River Wandle . When I lived in Garfield Road it ran past the ends of the gardens. Every day I would walk down past Wandle Park on my way to Colliers Wood underground watching the river flow. Sometimes, after a long evening at the pub I must confess to occasionally augmenting the flow.

When Sainsbury built their hypermarket on the site of an old cardboard box factory part of the deal was building a riverside path along that stretch of the river. Next to the superstore, Merton Abbey Mills ( opened up in old Wandle-powered works used by William Morris for printing the original Liberty silks. It is a great place for craft markets and food stalls and general meandering.

We then moved out of London for 14 years but ended up moving back in - this time to Wandsworth where the Wandle emerges into the Thames. Many a Sunday we have gone for a walk along the Thames side path from Wandle Creek to Putney Bridge and back, stopping at the creek to hurl bread at the ducks.

Volunteers cleaning the River Wandle 1/4

Last year while wandering the Wandle trail through King George park we came across a huge pile of tyres, a man in waders and an eel wriggling out of the former to be captured and returned to the river by the latter.

He was a member of the Wandle Trust ( who organise monthly river clean ups. This weekend as I was home alone with a clear second-Sunday-in-the-month I decided to join them for a bit of old shopping trolley retrieval.

Volunteers cleaning the River Wandle 2/4

The main theme of the day was in fact weeding. The invasive Himalayan Balsam is destroying the banks and driving out native species. Three hours and dozens of black bin bags later we had cleared a good stretch but given the river is 15 miles this seems something of a Herculean task.

Volunteers cleaning the River Wandle 3/4

After that it was time for their annual picnic.

Volunteers cleaning the River Wandle 4/4

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chianti and Super Tuscan Tasting

The wines of Principe Corsini presented by Il Duccio.
Tuesday 07-Jul-09 at Planet of the Grapes.

Always fascinating to meet the owner or wine-maker in person and get the back story on the wine in the glass. This time we had the Duke himself. The estate has been in the family since 1427 and Il Duccio can boast a saint and a pope in his ancestry.

A mixture of chianti and 'super tuscan'*. I will spare you my scrappy notes and simply indicate my preferences.
  1. Chianti Classico "le Corti" 2006 @ £16.00 - OK :-)
  2. Chianti Classico Riserva "Cortevecchia" 2005 @ £26.50 - Not keen on this one.
  3. Chianti Classico Riserva "Cortevecchia" 1997 @ £35.00 - Lost its fruit.
  4. Chianti Classico "Don Tommaso" 2005 @ £25.50 - My favourite of the Chiantis in the glass.
  5. Chianti Classico "Don Tommaso" 1999 (from magnum) @ £65.00 - Marginally better than 4 when with food.
  6. Maremma "Birillo" 2006 @ £15.00 - Elegant, light & fuity.
  7. Maremma "Marsiliana" 2004 @ £35.00 - My favourite of the Super Tuscans. Well balanced.
  8. Maremma "Marsiliana" 2001 @ £40.00 - Intense note (cheesy?)
* Google search for "Super Tuscan"

Thursday, July 09, 2009

James Taylor at The O2

Mon 06-Jul-09. A fantastic concert and a great evening. Also catching what I missed in New Orleans and a whole load more. At the Jazz Fest I mistakenly decide to miss the first half of JT's set in favour of Johnny Winter, blues legend. Big mistake. Mary raved about JT so when we learned that he was on at the O2 is was an easy decision to go.

James Taylor at The O2

We went with our friend Elizabeth from the US who was staying with us for a couple of days. We had a Thai meal beforehand but due to our contingency-free timing and their slow service we missed the first 10 minutes of his set - fortunately none of the greatest hits.

He played all the old songs you could hope for (Sweet Baby James, You've Got a Friend, Carolina in my Mind, Fire and Rain) plus loads of interesting covers - country, jazz, blues, even an Elvis number. The PA system sounded top quality to my ears and he was in excellent voice so much listening pleasure :-)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Trullo Azzurro works

A tale of temperamental water supplies and a new courtyard...

Another weekend in Italy, part relaxing and part maintenance of the property.

Thursday we arrived late on the Ryan air flight, Stansted to Bari, just in time to catch our outgoing tenants on their last night. They had not had the best of weather with thunderstorms most days. We are the last property at the end of the overhead power lines and sensitive to the effects of lightning. When the fuse trips it means no water - the water is delivered by tanker and supplied by a submersible pump. No power, no water.

That would be no problem except that the key to the technical cupboard, where the boiler and fuse box live, is temperamental and only opens to a sympathetic turn. To cut a long story short we decided to get a locksmith in and replace the lock for the benefit of future guests. That meant a trip to the hardware store in Locorotondo to get six extra keys cut for all the various sets. As Friday is market day we stocked up on food for the weekend.

In the afternoon after lunch I went for a siesta wearing some eye patches, fell asleep and woke up with a bad case of Panda eyes.

Later our neighbour Anne came round for a chat. It was she who bought down here first and inspired us by her example, see Trulli Limone.

Then it was the turn of neighbours Chris and John along with Donato the builder who organized much of the paving and walling for the original restoration. He was there to quote for paving the back courtyard which is gravel at the moment. We have had a quote from the architect which was way too much but going direct to the builder and for a lesser quality stone brought the price down by more than 50%. By lesser we mean the same stone but not the super smooth, front-of-house, quality of the main courtyard however perfectly adequate for our needs at the back.

The chianchi - paving stones - are recycled and full of character but hence not available off the shelf from the local stone yard. Donato will have to acquire a few square metres here and there until he has enough to do the job which may take several months. He seemed pleased that we were happy to wait even till next Easter - longer for us to save up the money.

John and Chris then stayed for supper and Mary cooked a rabbit tiede an traditional casserole.

Saturday was down at the beach at Rosa's for a sea food pasta lunch and snoozing. Careful application of factor 25 round the pink facial parts, war-paint stylee, greatly reduced the Panda eyes by turning the white parts pink to match the rest. Rosa as seen on Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes:

Sunday was a reciprocal relaxed lunch round at Chris and John's then home via Bari, Ryanair and Stansted. We stayed at the Radisson SAS on airport as it was after midnight by the time we got off the plane and through passport control. Then our usual alarm call and the Stansted Express into work. Boo!