When I was small …

and Christmas trees were tall … one of the odd things we learned at primary school was the purpose of bench marks.  The school was split between two locations with only one canteen so, every lunch time, we were marched in pairs down to the lower school; a hungry chattering snake.  Carved into a wall near the end of the route was a bench mark – I have never been good with remembering the abstract but because there was a tangible example nearby, the lesson stuck.

With the advent of more sophisticated mapping techniques these old marks have fallen into disuse.  This explanation is from the Ordnance Survey website:

Ordnance Survey Bench marks (BMs) are survey marks made by Ordnance Survey to record height above Ordnance Datum. If the exact height of one BM is known then the exact height of the next can be found by measuring the difference in heights, through a process of spirit levelling.

Most commonly, the BMs are found on buildings or other semi-permanent features. Although the main network is no longer being updated, the record is still in existence and the markers will remain until they are eventually destroyed by redevelopment or erosion.

Bench marks are the visible manifestation of Ordnance Datum Newlyn (ODN), which is the national height system for mainland Great Britain and forms the reference frame for heights above mean sea level. ODN is realised on the ground by a network of approximately 190 fundamental bench marks (FBMs). From these FBMs tens of thousands of lower-order BMs were established. The network has had little maintenance for 30 years, and in some areas (mining areas for example), subsidence has affected the levelling values. In these regions the BMs cannot be relied upon to accurately define ODN.

When outdoors for a walk along the local lanes yesterday I came across this example on a local farm gate:

Benchmark ...

Following some extensive online time-wasting, I found there was a Bench Mark Database – a trainspotter’s delight! Even more exciting, this bench mark was not registered but, it is nowBeaufront, Gatepost 3 – not exactly my own star but an acceptable, humble alternative :-)

Dad’s Army

This creased photograph is from an early Andover Carnival procession – my mother is in the rear seat of the front-running Austin Seven and I guess my grandfather is driving. They have won ‘First Prize'; the car is adorned with everything including the kitchen sink. The sign attached to the radiator points to ‘Squatters Camp’ and the tin tub is inscribed with ‘Here We Come’.  The year is a mystery but I would guess the early 1940s assuming the Carnival continued during the war years – my mother married in 1943 and moved north to Manchester so it is unlikely to be later.

It is the detail that fascinates – the familiar shop names: Johnsons the dry cleaners and Freeeman Hardy Willis, the shoe shop – FHW – For Happy Walking!; the hairstyles, the dress, the shoes and the then familiar sight of a man in uniform. This could be a set from Dad’s Army.

Andover Carnival ...

Oddly, on the rear of the photograph and in my mother’s hand, there is a shopping list.  It too is of its time, probably the 1950s but post rationing:

Butter, marge, lard, tea, sugar, cheese, bacon, soap powder, biscuits, Vim, icing, jam, baking powder, suet, Heinz soup, ground almonds, sultanas, matches, toilet roll, cornflour or custard, biscuits.

This is a cook’s list for this is primarily what she did along with keeping the house clean and keeping the children in check (mostly me :-( ).

(click on the image to enlarge)

Groundhog Days

In late February we stayed overnight in Ambleside at the Salutation, walked up to High Sweden Bridge on the first day, went to the cinema in the evening, ate at Fellini’s after the film and walked up to the head of Stockghyll Lane in the morning.

This week we went back to the Salutation at Ambleside, walked up to High Sweden Bridge on the first day, went to the cinema in the evening, ate at Fellini’s after the film and walked up to the head of Stockghyll Lane in the morning.

The differences:

Back in the Lakes ... Back in the Lakes ... Back in the Lakes ...

I spotted this on the return leg and was reminded that I will not be seeing Top Gear this weekend :evil:

Kankku Defender ...
(click on the images to enlarge)

The Middle House

On high ground between the Tyne Valley and the Roman Wall, there is a wild empty landscape populated almost entirely by sheep.  North of Newbrough and Settlingstones sits The Middle House, abandoned and alone beneath a vast Northumbrian sky.

It is visible long before you arrive; the rough track climbs out of Stonecroft and gradually peters out as it threads west from Park Dam and its solitary swans:

The Middle House ...

The Middle House ...

Abandoned ...

Abandoned ...

Information on the Middle House is sparse online but, this extract from an ancestry site peoples this abandoned space with the Mason family:

My direct line starts with the marriage of William MASON to Mary
RICHARDSON at Simonburn on 23rd June 1743, both shown ‘of this parish’. William
MASON was buried at Simonburn on 26 May 1774, of Middle House, Warden Parish.
Mary MASON died on April 5 1809, widow of William MASON, of Brokenheugh,
buried on 8 April 1809 at Newbrough, aged 97.

They had children baptised:

Ann MASON 24 June 1744, Simonburn (buried 5 December 1744, Simonburn)
Jane MASON 19 June 1748, Simonburn
*George MASON, 25 March 1750, Newbrough, of Page Croft
Ann MASON, 19 August 1753, Newbrough
Mary MASON, 5 December 1756, Newbrough

*George MASON married Sarah HILL at Warden on May 18 1778. They had
children, all baptised at Newbrough:

Jane MASON, 11 April 1779
Mary MASON, 21 May 1780
Sarah MASON, 7 April 1782
**William MASON, 3 October 1784
George MASON, 18 June 1786
Thomas MASON, 6 September 1789
Ann MASON, 5 February 1792

*George MASON died on 21 November 1809, of Middle House, Newbrough and,
surprisingly, left a will proved at York in 1810, where he is described as
of Middle House, Shepherd to Jasper Gibson of Newbrough Lodge. He names
wife Sarah, his sons William, George and Thomas.

**William MASON married first to Priscilla Soppit on 2 May 1807 at Warden.
They had children baptised at Newbrough:

Barbara MASON, 3 October 1808
George MASON, 18 November 1809

When the light dims in the west, it is not difficult to imagine the young Masons still running free across the high moors.


The future’s bright …

… the future’s orange; and wire-free or so they said in 1994. Yet, still I cannot get a worthwhile 3G signal at sunny Beaufront Woodhead.  Not so much Everything Everywhere, more Not Very Much, Anywhere :-(

The future's bright ...

Yesterday we walked from Stonecroft to Settlingstones (still no signal :-) ) and came across this magnificent engine house which formed part of the Stonecroft and Greyside mine, once used for the extraction of witherite. I was hoping to find some connection between the mineral and orange dye but had to settle for this: By using rhodizonic acid or sodium potassium rhodizonate, witherite is stained to an orange-red. Why wouldn’t you :-)

The Engine House ...

(click on the images to enlarge)

It was twenty years ago today …


This gallery contains 6 photos.

… Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. Well, much longer than that but, it was twenty years ago today that we moved into our converted farm buildings.  Things have changed since those long ago days but, we remain the same … Continue reading

Rule of three …

There is no direct connection between the image, the music and the poetry other than I became aware of them over the last forty eight hours.  The picture is from a walk to the aptly named Crow Wood near Newbrough on the southern Tyne.  The music was brought to my attention by my eldest son, Patrick – @smallhours2 – it pays to take notice of junior. The poetry is an extract from Norman MacCaig’s Close-ups of Summer – I am slowly working through his entire works. Poetry should not be rushed:

Hens sloven. But the cock
struts by – one can almost see
the tiny set of bagpipes
he’s sure he’s playing

The sun’s the same – pipemajoring
across space, where the invisible judges
sit, wrapped in their knowledge,
taking terrible notes

Above the south Tyne ...

This is all a reward for keeping the mind open to new things.
(click on the image to enlarge)