Saturday, June 28, 2008

rivers, pig farms, twenty20 cricket+mobile phones

Had a very enjoyable day yesterday with a group of Year 8 pupils on a Geography field trip to a river and a pig farm(!). At the end of the afternoon, a group of us from school had intended to meet up to watch the twenty20 cricket in Bristol. It was raining in Midsomer Norton, so I called the cricket ground and a very helpful lady informed me that “the sun is shining here” so our group duly made arrangements to meet at the ground. Of course, by the time we arrived in Bristol it was pretty heavy drizzle and absolutely no prospect of there being ANY play whatsoever (we reckon the lady on the end of the phone must have in a call-centre in Bombay!). Rapid changes of plan ensued – James decided we’d all meet at “The Cambridge”, so James+I collected Giles from Temple Meads station and then got Moira to drop us off at the pub in Clifton Village (communication difficulties meant that initially we weren’t able to get a message to Pat – who was returning to Bristol from London – but we DID eventually let him know the change in plan). Having waved goodbye to Moira, James realised that he’d got the name of the pub wrong (it was “The Clifton”)! By some miracle of communication, Andy+Helen turned up at The Clifton pub…. but we were having great difficulties in contacting Pat to let him know that we’d got the pub name wrong. Meanwhile, he (of course) had walked in the rain from the cricket ground to The Cambridge pub beyond Clifton Common (an awful long way from Clifton Village!). Obviously, we weren’t there so he walked all the way home to his flat (about 5 minutes from the Clifton pub!!)(he reckoned the whole adventure took him over 2 hours!)….. before he was eventually persuaded by Helen+Andy to join us (he’d got into his jim-jams by this time!).
Oh what fun we had!!
Photo: data collecting in mid-stream (if only mobile phone communications had proved as simple!).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

leavers day

Yesterday was Leavers Day at school. It’s my favourite day of the school year – with all Year 11 pupils (“fresh” from the end of their GCSEs) arriving at school in their frocks (boys too!) and via various outlandish modes of transport. All the other pupils (plus parents+friends) gather outside the front of the school to welcome them – lots of cheering and photos (a little like the catwalk at the Oscars!). I’m about to complete my third year at school and so I’ve got to know a lot of the pupils pretty well over that time – which made it all the more special for me.
Great day!
Photo: just a few of the morning arrivals!

…. and leavers night!

The Leavers Day celebrations continued into the night at the four-star Cadbury House Hotel+Country Club, Congresbury. More posh frocks (many had bought two outfits for the day!). Some students even arrived in a helicopter (money no object?)! Year 11 tutors were there too to join in the celebrations (with gusto!). The event had been organised by the students themselves and I (and a few other teachers) attended to “oversee” at the request of the hotel. We needn’t have bothered because the pupils were absolutely brilliant – no trouble whatsoever, no over-the-top behaviour, just some 200 students (and their tutors!) really enjoying themselves (without alcohol!).
Lots of hugs+tears at the end of a special day.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Spent some time “looking after” Iris yesterday. It’s amazing how run-of-the-mill things like changing the sheets and loading the washing machine provide a completely different experience when they’re undertaken with someone who’s not yet two years old! Lots of giggling and general hilarity!
Simple pleasures, huge joys.
Photo: Iris (in a break between chores).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

humphrey lyttelton

I missed Stephen Fry’s “Chairman Humph – a Tribute” on Radio 4 last week. I’ve just listened to it on the listen again thingy… and it’s wonderful! I actually went to watch one of the “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue” shows (well, two actually as they recorded them in pairs) about 25 years ago in London – very, very funny experience! Samantha was simply stunning.
Precious man.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

murder mystery?

I’ve been trying to pick my way through some very complicated (murky even!) family history lately. My grandfather (ie. my mother’s father) Frank was born in 1897. We have a certified copy of his birth certificate "for the purpose of employment" dated 1911, signed for by his mother Helen Witcomb - referring to his father Albert Witcomb as being a metal aumeter(?), journeyman. As far as the family is concerned, he was always known as Frank Walker and, somewhat mysteriously, by the time of the 1901 census, the Walker surname is shown for Albert, Helen plus Frank and his brothers. There are two family “legends” regarding the name-change: one refers to Albert (or another family member?) having committed a murder and the other as a result of Albert having “jumped ship”! Oo-er!!
My aunt Edna - one of Frank’s three daughters - refers to Albert (or Elma as she knew him!) as being a violent alcoholic. It’s thought that this was a key factor in all the Walker sons “taking the King’s shilling” when they did – Frank joining up when he was only 17.
Alas, I don’t think we’ll ever get to know the real story!
Photo: my great grandmother Helen Walker/Witcomb (nee Hunt) 1871-1928

Monday, June 16, 2008


Had a really lovely weekend in Birmingham visiting my brother Alan and Lesley+Megan+Eleanor. Initially met up at Spetchley Park Gardens, near Worcester – a really beautiful, informal and relaxing place (and not overrun by people when we were there!). Lovely surprise to find that Alan+Lesley had prepared a picnic lunch for us all to enjoy in the sunshine. This was followed by a somewhat embarrassing (for me!) game of Frisbee – when yours truly trod in a cow pat when catching the frisbee, slid and then fell back into the offending substance – thus covering (and I mean covering!) my shoes, trousers and top with smelly green/brown stuff. This caused much amusement to the others, which I felt was entirely inappropriate!
Beautiful meal out on Saturday evening at Malmaison (to celebrate the end of Megan+Eleanor’s exams) and a city walk on Sunday morning which brought back memories from my youth!
Great weekend. We’ve been SO lucky recently with our weekends!
Photo: canal near Cambrian Wharf, Kingston Row.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

my brother: the new chelsea manager?

We’re off to see my lovely brother Alan and Lesley, Megan+Eleanor this weekend in Birmingham. It might be the last time we see him for a while – he’s currently managing the Portugese national football side in the Euro 2008 tournament before he takes up his new post as Chelsea manager – so life is a little busy for him at present. The media thinks that these teams are being managed by Luiz Felipe Scolari, but I know that it’s actually my brother Alan Neil Broadway!
Keep it to yourself for the time being, so I can get the exclusive interview.
Photo: Luiz Felipe Scolari (left) and Alan Neil Broadway (right)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

war diaries

I’ve recently been looking through my father’s diaries from 1943+1945 (for some reason I don’t have his 1944 diary) from his time in India/Pakistan. He spent much of the war at Mauripur, near Karachi (now in Pakistan) with the RAF. It’s not mind-blowing stuff, but it’s still fascinating to me all the same. There clearly wasn’t much to do at the end of his routine day and he seemed to be watching “movies” virtually every evening (all duly listed)!
But the diaries also contain some quaint (and sometimes shocking) language from a bygone age, such as:
1 Jan 43: “had a wizard tiffin”.
11 Jan 43: “Nobby put the wog driver on a charge for not reversing”.
10 Aug 43: “Little disturbances on Gandhi’s anniversary of being a year under arrest”.
30 Aug 43: “Naini Tal, near Tibet, sounds a wizard place for leave. A lake there reminiscent of Lake Bala in Wales the boys say – but more beautiful” (with all due deference to Lake Bala, I think this slightly undersells the place - situated as it is in the foothills of the Himalayas!).
17 Dec 43: “Mr Churchill is ill – with a patch of pneumonia in the left lung – it appears as he is still in the Middle East” (I love the notion of Ron feeling that he had address the PM as “Mr Churchill” in his diary!).
18 Feb 45: “Black panther took the dog “whiskey” off (about 9pm)”.
He had malaria at the very start of 1945 and wasn’t finally discharged from hospital until the beginning of August.
Interestingly, there is a short list of “things to do” at the back of his 1945 diary, including:
a) “form City of Birmingham swing orchestra to play in Town Hall” (what? he was no musician!) and
b) “cellophane wrappings for food etc” (complete with a sketch!) – he always DID maintain to us that he’d invented the idea of plastic bags for food and so this could actually confirm it! He’s clearly got an awful lot to answer for in these eco-friendly days of 2008!
Photo: Corporal Ronald Broadway (with hat!).

Sunday, June 08, 2008

oyster shack

Had an excellent lunchtime meal on Saturday at the renown Oyster Shack restaurant (joined by more lovely friends Mags+Jez). We walked to the restaurant along the estuary road (beautiful 30 minute walk). Food was great but we watched in amazement as sudden, prolonged torrential rain+thunder+lightning+hail scattered al fresco customers (we had a sheltered corner location!). Incredibly, the hail was 15mm thick!
At the end of our meal, we walked back to the house in bright sunshine (of course!).
Photo: Jez+Mags+Ian+Gail+Moira at the Oyster Shack

devon weekend

Wonderful weekend with brilliant friends Gail+Ian at their house in Aveton Gifford, Devon…
Just relaxing+eating+drinking+talking+walking+reading!
Arrived on Friday evening after driving through beautiful, lush green countryside in bright sunshine… chilled, great food+drink.
Got up early on Saturday (just me, that is!) and walked along the estuary road at dawn… then we all went for a pre-breakfast walk through hillside fields. Breakfast was followed by a brief trip into Kingsbridge (where we bumped into Foundation friends Becky+Marc from Bristol!)… Oyster Shack lunch… Ian+I took another wonderful walk through the fields in late evening sunlight before yet more food+chilling+reading.
Another glorious morning on Sunday, so we drove down to Thurlestone and walked along the beach and coastal path before returning to Gail’s great brunch, plus coffee and newspapers.
Weekends don’t get better than this!
Photos: images from the weekend.
PS: only downside of entire weekend: Pig Finca has closed!! Disaster!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

eva quartet at st george’s bristol

Hannah had two complimentary tickets for a concert of Bulgarian folk music at the wonderful St George’s (with its beautiful acoustics) in Bristol tonight. She had no idea what was in store, but asked if I’d like to go along with her - at the very least, it would be an opportunity to get together for a drink and a bite to eat beforehand. In the event, it was an absolutely lovely evening of the most exquisite, pure music from four brilliant female singers. The voices were entirely unaccompanied and, unlike this youTube clip (which hardly does justice to the quartet), required no amplification whatsoever. After the first five seconds of the first song, Hannah+I just looked at each other open-mouthed - you just knew it was going to be a wonderful musical experience.
Just stunning!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

clockwork orange?

I recently spent an evening searching through our shoeboxes full of old photographs for a particular photo (I never did find it). I ended up retrieving a whole bundle of pictures that made me laugh or brought back memories (or both). One of them was the attached photo (I’m the one at the bottom, complete with strange hat!). When Hannah saw it, she immediately felt it looked like Malcolm McDowell in “Clockwork Orange” (I’ve subsequently added the eyelashes, by the way, via photoshop!). I think it was taken by John Tremlett when four of us shared a house in Norreys Avenue, Oxford in 1969.
Oh, what fun we had!

Monday, June 02, 2008

beach walking

Moira+I set off early yesterday morning and drove down to the tiny hamlet of Seatown in Dorset. Our plans were somewhat scuppered however when we arrived to find the only car park didn’t open until 9am! So we had to drive on to Charmouth instead. It was lovely – we walked east along the beach for about 3 hours before returning to eat our sandwiches. The weather was fine (if a little misty) and we hardly saw a soul until about midday. We were aware that there had been some massive landslips along that section of coastline but were amazed at how extensive this had been. At one stage, as we walked under one the highest sections of cliff, we heard an incredibly loud “crack” and were convinced that another portion of cliff-face was about to tumble down on top of us.
But, fortunately, it never did!
Photo: part of the changing (cliff-)face of the Dorset coastline – we left with the strong feeling that the serious erosion would continue over the coming months.