Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Making plans 1974 style

By the beginning of March, Winter 1974 was on the way out and the weather had started to improve. One evening, we decided to make plans for our first holiday of the year and Iris wanted to go somewhere different.
I had taken her to Cornwall and Scotland a couple of times last year. We had been round East Anglia and we had enjoyed several weekends in Derbyshire. I suggested a Yorkshire coastal trip to Scarborough and Whitby. I knew both those places very well and there was plenty to see and do in that area. She asked me if we could have a few days in London at Easter instead. Iris, strangely, enough, had never visited London so we agreed to have a break there.
I remember telling her what she would see; not only the tourist spots but I told her about friends I knew in the East End, which was a very different London altogether. She was raring to go!
We also decided that we would be going to Berwick again later in the year. Cornwall was not part of out plans as the company I kept having to go to last year was now fully productive and needed no further assistance from me. Besides, the kids liked to go to Cornwall and twice a year was enough!
I had a few days owing to me from my holiday entitlement the previous year but I had to get them in pretty soon before the end of March. Iris, unfortunately, wouldn’t have any holidays to come until Easter.
There were a couple of mid-week meetings taking place around this time and I had been asked to speak at them. One was in London and another in Manchester. I spent a couple of days at both locations and I remember feeling a little guilty at enjoying myself while Iris was working. Fortunately, Iris knew of my deep interest in politics and didn’t complain. She jokingly warned me not to pick up any stray blondes while I was on my own.
Funnily enough, there was a rather striking blonde who was a member of the Manchester National Front whom I knew very well. We had been out together a couple of times previously but this time, I made a point of telling her that I was in a steady relationship. We still went out for dinner after the meeting but that was it. Nothing more!
When I returned home, Iris had told me that she was really looking forward to Easter and the proposed London break. We decided to give it a whirl.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Scotsman's Pack

This pub features regularly in the pages of my blog and has been a favourite haunt of mine for a great many years.
I first went there with
my grandfather before the war; I would have been about five years old at the time. I remember he had taken me to see the new reservoir being built in the Derwent valley where the inhabitants of a village had been re-settled prior to the flooding. It was the very last day that the village would be accessible. I could see the huge viaduct overhead; it looked massive compared with the winding road where we were walking.
After the closure of the
roads, the wooden buildings were burnt down but the rest of the structures, including the church, were left to be covered. Today, the village of Ashopton lies beneath the deep waters of the reservoir.
There is an older reservoir further up the vall
ey and again a village, Howden, was flooded in the construction. It is very distinctive as it has two turrets on the dam wall that are very impressive.
It was here, in 1943 th
at the RAF rehearsed the raids on the Mohne, Eder and Scorpe dams in the heavily industrialised Ruhr valley. Unfortunately, although the dams were breached, it cost the lives of many of the aircrew who took part in the raid. The reason for the raid wasn’t as some may think to flood the lower Ruhr valley and destroy factories. It was to deprive the canal system in the region of water. Canal transport was the easiest and cheapest way of delivering munitions from the region and a closure of the waterways would have had a serious effect on the distribution of vital supplies.
However, the raid didn’t have any adverse effect on the canal system as they were fed, not only by the Mohne and Eder rivers but from the Weser
, Fulda, Ruhr, Lippe and, of course, the Rhine!
Once a year on the anniversary of th
e raid, a lone Lancaster bomber, The City of Lincoln, flies over the dams. It is a tribute to all those who took part in 1943.

Ashopton village April1939

My grandfather loved Derbyshire and he had visited every town and village in the Peak District. He was a great rambler and he took me with him on many of his walks. I was there when he took the photograph above. It shows the viaduct being built over the valley.
The ‘Pack’ was one o
f his favourite watering holes and although not a heavy drinker, he liked a couple of pints after a long walk. In later years, I would go out there with friends on motor bikes. I had my first bike when I was 17. It was a Douglas T48 model 350cc twin. I remember that my uncle bought me a pewter tankard when he was over one time that year. It was the custom in those days to leave one’s tankard at a favourite pub. Naturally, I kept mine at the ‘Pack’! I didn’t use it much though, for only two months later, I was reporting to a military camp in Aldershot to commence my army training.
I still managed to get out to
the ‘Pack’ whenever I was on leave. I took a succession of girl-friends there, as I had bought a car when I was 20. Unfortunately, girl-friends were few and far between as I wasn’t in the same spot long enough in those days to form any lasting relationships.
At the ripe old age of 23, I got married to my dancing partner and we had three children in four years. This didn’t give us much time for socialising. However, from time to time I managed a night out with the lads and where did we all go? Yup, the ‘Pack’!
It was only natural, I su
ppose, that I took Iris there shortly after we had met and it became one of our regular haunts. In those days, as I think I have mentioned before, the landlord kept a pet fox and she was allowed to wander round the bar area. She was called Sandy and Iris loved to cuddle her and she would happily sit on her knee for ages! The fox is still to be seen there but these days it is as a stuffed display. Sadly, Sandy was run over by a car outside the pub in 1978. Iris was heartbroken when we heard about it.
I’ve mentioned the famous chair before; the one supposed to have belonged to Little John of Robin Hood legend. Over the
years, I have taken several friends there and photographed them sitting in the chair. Some of these friends have featured in this blog and I have produced photographs of them.

The ‘Pack’ remains to this day, my favourite Derbyshire haven and now, I only take very special friends there. However, I shall be returning soon with another beautiful lady and once again the old chair will be graced with a new occupant! It is truly a very delightful place and the cuisine is second to none.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Back in circulation!

After spending a week in hospital for an urgent operation, I’m back home.
I have been advised to take things easy for a few days as I was filled up with dope to alleviate post-operation pain. The pain was so intense that even the drugs couldn’t help much.
However, my guardian witch cast healing spells for me and sent wave after wave of relief to me while I was recuperating after surgery. You may think that this is a complete load of bollocks but she certainly devoted quite a lot of time and energy in ensuring that I would recover quickly.
I would like to thank all my friends and readers for their messages and phone calls. They were very much appreciated.
Thank you R… I owe you a night out at least and I’m going to organise one as soon as I get back on my feet again.

Blesséd be and merry moot.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Our first anniversary Feb. 1974

St. Valentine’s Day was always regarded as our anniversary.
It was on the eve of this day a year ago that Iris and I first made love. 1973 saw us develop from a shaky relationship to a deep and meaningful partnership.
We celebrated our first year together by going for a meal at our favourite pub. Yes, the Scotsman’s Pack in Hathersage! It was a Wednesday and snowing hard! It was very quiet in the Pack as the weather had kept most people away. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the meal and we lingered there until almost
. As I sat and looked at her, I felt so very proud to have such a wonderful girl in love with me!
It took us about an hour to get back home as the roads were icy and no gritters had been out where we were. Once back home, we hit the hay and spent a very special night together. I had written a poem for the occasion earlier that day and I gave it to her as she lay beside me.

To my love on our first anniversary

I found you in the winter of the year
And waited longingly for you to show you cared,
And aching arms cried out to hold you near.
All through those winter days, my heart so dared
My love to grow.

And as spring came, I knew I loved you more,
I saw your feelings for me start to flower,
And knowing not such love like this before,
Dreamt wondrous thoughts and hoping every hour
Your love to grow.

And as the golden days passed one by one,
Gazing at you, I saw that love was there.
I knew that winter’s doubts and fears were gone.
As I caressed you softly in the summer air,
Your love did grow.

The leaves turn autumn brown and fall away,
But you and I, my love, are still together,
And through the night as in my arms you lay,
I know the happiness we have will last forever.
And our love will grow.

Full circle now, the year has turned around.
This New Year sees us share a love so tender.
With each and every winter will be found
The memories of that first embrace; I shall remember
s our love still grows.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Out of action...

I shall not be around next week as I have to go into hospital on Tuesday for a minor surgical op.
I shouldn’t be away for more than a few days but during that time, I will not be able to be contacted.
Friends and regular readers know my personal land line home number and any messages for me can be relayed by my family. My mobile will not be on during my stay in dock. I shall, however, have a bedside telephone but until I get one, I won’t know the number.
I shall be in the best of care; I shall have plenty of books and newspapers. I will have access to my own television and radio transmission and I am reliably informed that the grub isn’t bad! I hope to be home within a few days although I won’t be chasing around for a bit.
All donations; grapes, chocs, cans of coke and cheques from wealthy admirers gratefully received. Don’t bother with flowers and ffs no bloody wreaths!

ps… Before I go, I shall publish our anniversary blog.
pps. I know I shall not be alone in there! Thank you R… Blesséd be!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Is it a year?

In early February 1974, I was having dinner with Iris and suddenly she looked at me and gave me a sort of dreamy smile. I asked what she was thinking and she said she was remembering all the things we had done together last year. We talked about our stumbling steps to build up a relationship and how it had changed from a chance encounter to a committed partnership. We had both changed over the last twelve months. We had become part of each other and we were as near to being man and wife as we possibly could be.
We had done quite a lot last year as events in my blog has shown. Iris had been to places she never thought she would see and I had taken a great delight in taking her there. We had been to Cornwall, East Anglia and Scotland for holidays and I had taken her all over Derbyshire for several weekends. I had introduced her to friends both personal and those from work. She had a wardrobe full of dresses and clothes she would have never dreamed of wearing at one time. I remember her reaching out her hand across the table to take mine. She said, “It will soon be St. Valentine’s Day; do you remember?”
I asked her “How could I possibly forget?” That was the time we had first made love; it was in front of the open fire. I told her that we would make St. Valentine’s Day our official anniversary, which we did every year from then on. Even now, 26 years after her death, I still remember it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A promise made; a promise kept #1

A promise made…
About three months ago, a young friend of mine left home for a new life in the US. I was worried about what she would find there away from her usual habitat. Fortunately, she is now living with a caring family who look upon her as their daughter.
She said that she had to get away from home and three days after her 16th birthday, she travelled half-way round the world on her own to start afresh. She left secretly early one morning, took a train to the airport and then on to New York where she had to get another flight to her destination. She did this unaided by her family and personally, I thought it was a fine example of initiative.
Before she went, I promised her that I would always be there if she needed anything and we are regularly in touch via the Internet and ‘phone. She left this country with one suitcase and £85 in her pocket; no mean achievement for such a young girl!
I do not wish to go into the ‘why’s and wherefores’ of her leaving home. Suffice it to say that she is far happier where she is now than at any previous time in her life.
There is, however, a down side at the moment. There are those who would not wish to see her succeed in trying to forge a new life and they are a constant thorn in her side. This young girl was the victim of abuse from a very early age and her only hope of release was to move away from the past. It hasn’t taken her long to become part of her new community and she is being warmly accepted by them.
All she wants to do now is to get on with her life in a stable and loving environment. All I want is for her to be happy and safe and I am determined to do anything it takes to see that she has every chance of rebuilding her shattered life!