Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

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[51] Funny But It’s True

[51] Funny But It’s True – A Pictorial Blog of Pedestrian Signs

When I thought of signs I certainly included road signs and street signs in my ideas. But the signs for motorists weren’t quite so easy. I saw lots of them while driving or as a passenger but I wasn’t going to take pictures from moving cars. I do a lot of walking and here are lots of signs for pedestrians. I have included signs aimed at cyclists because often we share the same facilities.

I start with the Thames Path as I’ve done a few sections of it this year. I could have taken many, many more such pictures:

Here are some more footpath signs. Some of them tell you where you are going but some don’t. You will notice lots of other long distance paths sometimes two or three together on the same footpath.

Although we think of footpaths as rural some signs with paths for pedestrians are now found in towns.

The next ones don’t so much go anywhere. They are short usually circular walks taking you on little nature trails.

As a diversion here are some aimed at cyclists.

A few signs aimed mostly at tourists and then some for walkers (and cyclists) that don’t actually point out where to go.


I was going to do a post just about maps but I decided that maps were for pedestrians. They are not useful for passing motorists. Here are some maps from some of the places I have visited over the year at home and abroad.

I spent a lot of time considering the title for this blog. I have gone for one of my early heart-throbs. Helen Shapiro, born in the same year as me, released a song in 1961 when she was fifteen. ‘Walkin’ Back to Happiness’ made number one on the charts for three weeks. It’s vaguely about walking.


Funny but it’s true what loneliness can do

Since I’ve been away I have loved you more each day

Walking back to happiness, woopah, oh, yeah, yeah

Said goodbye to loneliness, woopah, oh, yeah, yeah

I never knew I’d miss you now I know what I must do

Walking back to happiness I shared with you


[Yes, in those days they really had little bits like ‘Woopah oh yeah yeah.’ ]






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[58] Danger of Death

[58] Danger of Death – A Pictorial Blog of Cheltenham Signs

You know something about Cheltenham from its blog. When I walked round the town recently for pictures I didn’t just look at buildings and street views. I looked at the signs.

This blog is just some of the signs you can see in Cheltenham. I could have taken hundreds more. They are in order so you can track my progress by comparing this with the Cheltenham blog.

(I came up with the idea months ago when I took lots of pictures of Slimbridge signs. I kept them in reserve but decided to try a similar theme on a sunnier day.)

Here are the pictures. If you look closely you can almost see me reflected in a few signs on glass.

I have some more pictures of Cheltenham signs in the other blogs about Signs.



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[59] Get a Free Sausage

[59] Get a Free Sausage – Another Pictorial Blog about Signs

I had so many signs left and I put the mostly uninspiring ones into [56] Information Signs.

The ones here need to be read more carefully. There are warnings you might not expect to see, information you might not expect and sometimes wording that is deliberately or accidentally amusing.

Mostly this will be signs for you to read in a random order without comment. I have cropped some pictures and for a few I have adjusted the contrast to make them more readable.

There are just a few at he beginning that need some comments.

The sign above identifies a bridge over a railway line. I have no idea how the half crept in.

This relatively modern ‘foundation stone’ seems to reflect the belief once held in the Church that God created the World in 4000 BC.

(It’s funnier when you see it in the back of a car.)

Found somewhere to take the children around Hallowe’en.

It’s a very famous, old Latin word square. You can read it vertically or horizontally.

We thought it meant something like ‘no busking’ but it says ‘No pedestrian entrance – please use the lower entrance.’ It’s Croatian.

Another one from Croatia. I think it means park in the direction shown, at right angles to the street.

For the rest, read on …

Now you know where the title came from!


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[56] SO 651 014

[56] SO 651 014 – A Pictorial Blog about Information Signs

I always knew that I could photograph hundreds of signs easily so I just took pictures. Soon I had enough for several blogs but I had the problem of classifying them and splitting into blog posts.

[52] Pavement Signs and [53] Road Surface signs were easy and I soon came up with [55] House Numbers. I was never sure of the rest and I had to see if I had enough for some of my ideas. Well, [54] Plaques and [57] Picture Signs turned out to be workable topics and I looked at the rest.

For the five remaining blog posts about Signs I have four slightly interesting topics to come and this one represents everything else. Most of the pictures are signs that you might not notice and would probably not want to read in detail. They tell you where you are, what you can do or, more often, what you can’t do.

Here are a series of signs in fairly random order without comment. You can look out for some of them in Croatian or French or Welsh or maybe in two or more languages. I have just a few at the start which are further categorized.

The Ordnance Survey (OS) maps worked on a national system of Grid References and these are still used as one way of recording location, especially when recording natural flora and fauna. I take my title from the sign above showing the location of Lydney Dock. Here are two more Grid References on signs and a Trigonometric Point. Trig points were used on OS maps recording height as well as location.

Food and Drink

Places making and selling food and drink have always advertised their wares.

Now we still have signs about food for pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and ice cream.

Here are the rest of my signs without comment. You can read what they say.






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[57] Worth a Thousand Words

[57] Worth a Thousand Words – A Blog about Signs without Words

I am going to start this one with the bit about the title that usually goes at the end of the blog. I have to admit that I thought the origin of the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words” was an old Chinese saying but it’s history is complicated and I take my information, as always from Wikipedia, which say that it is ‘an English idiom.’

The expression “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” appears in a 1911 newspaper article quoting newspaper editor Tess Flanders discussing journalism and publicity. A similar phrase, “One Look Is worth a thousand words”, appears in a 1913 newspaper advertisement for the Piqua Auto Supply House of Piqua, Ohio. An early use of the exact phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” appears in a 1918 newspaper advertisement for the San Antonio Light.

Perhaps the modern use of the phrase stems from an article by Fred R. Barnard in the advertising trade journal Printers’ Ink, promoting the use of images in advertisements that appeared on the sides of streetcars. The December 8, 1921, issue carries an advertisement entitled, “One Look is Worth a Thousand Words.” Another advertisement by Barnard appeared in 1927 with the phrase “One Picture Worth Ten Thousand Words”, where it was labeled as a Chinese proverb. The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Familiar Phrases quotes Barnard as saying he called it “a Chinese proverb, so that people would take it seriously.” The proverb soon became popularly attributed to Confucius.

The actual Chinese expression “Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once” () is sometimes considered as an equivalent.

Despite this modern origin of the popular phrase, the sentiment has been expressed by earlier writers. For example, the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote in Fathers and Sons in 1861, “The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book.” The quote is sometimes attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, who said “A good sketch is better than a long speech” (Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu’un long discours.)

[I won’t confuse you by considering ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,’ a genuine Chinese saying attributed to Lao Tzu.]

It does, of course, mean that a complex idea may be conveyed with just a single still image, perhaps more effectively than a long description in words. In a strange way when we use pictures as symbols the opposite is true. A detailed picture is used to replace a statement of a few words.

The green gross is an internationally recognized term for what we used to call a Chemist. Now it’s sometimes called a Pharmacy – somewhere that dispenses controlled drugs. As a symbol it just represents one word.

The next just means ‘Litter Bin.’ (At least it does in the UK. Americans may call it a ‘Trash Can.’ Perhaps in a way the picture says a little more.)

The next two again replace what could have been one-word signs in an amusing way. With typical British euphemism and politeness we don’t say ‘Toilets,’ and we generally prefer ‘Gentlemen’ and ‘Ladies’ to ‘Men’ and ‘Women.’ Sometimes pubs have more amusing ideas such as ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ (or in seaside towns I have seen ‘Buoys’ and ‘Gulls.’) These pictures say the same thing.

Here are two more symbols, both just a little more than a symbol. The horse-shoe outside a house was presumable a token of good luck and the trigonometric point, used long ago to aid map-making, had to be enduring and fixed.

The next two large pictures are like signs to show a bird hide. They were very large and made the purpose of the little wooden building very obvious.

But the hide did actually also have its name on a sign in letters – in English and Welsh. So perhaps the birds were just pictures.

Traffic Signs

I am doing this blog, as I generally do, in a fairly random order, and next we have some traffic lights. Even a simple red or green circular light is a picture sign.

By the gates at level crossings we have flashing lights (and accompanying noises.)

There are various versions of pedestrian lights. Some are small, others are larger on the other side of the street.


(It’s easier to photograph the red signs. I feel I ought to cross when they are green.)

Some include cycle crossings and so include a picture of a cycle.

[I am not sure why something bright red turns out to be more or less white when photographed with a red or orange border. Perhaps it’s a trick of perception or perhaps the camera does strange things with bright lights.]

Here are some more symbols on roads, pedestrian and cycle paths and car parks.

Logos and Advertising

All logos are pictures without words. They are instantly recognizable and may convey more than just the name. Where we don’t know who is selling sometimes a picture shows us what is for sale in an attempt to invoke impulse buying.

I wanted to do a lot of pub signs. When I was young all pubs had pictures as signs. We used to play Pub Cricket on long journeys. Now most of the pubs have gone, most of those that are left have become restaurants and the remaining country pubs have nearly all lost their pictorial signs.


A few more picture signs without comment.

Crosses and Flags are symbolic picture signs.

A Little Story

Almost hidden away in Cheltenham’s High Street is a series of mosaic pictures showing the story of an elephant that supposedly escaped from a circus in the town. The first bits of the words of the story have been removed but here are the pictures.

[I am not sure that these are signs but I wanted to include them somewhere!]

Weather Vanes

I wasn’t quite sure where to put these but they are signs and they are pictures.

Many of my photographs have been heavily cropped for this blog to show just the sign.

I will end with one of my shots of pedestrian traffic lights.

You have to be careful with photographing glass surfaces. You can see me with my camera, camera case and shopping bag!


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[54] Kilroy was Here

[54] Kilroy was Here – a Pictorial Blog about Plaques

Any one my age will recognize this title. When I was young graffiti was non-existent by today’s standards. Now we have freely available spray paint in many colours. Back then we had white chalk for drawing and pen-knives, which could be used for engraving wood and sometimes stone walls. If you did see any graffiti, which was unusual, it was probably just a name, perhaps with a date.

I am indebted to Wikipedia for a fairly extensive description of this phenomenon. I will give a more concise summary.

The graffiti ‘Kilroy was Here’ appeared and spread in World War II, and was instantly recognizable. Often it was accompanied by a doodle of the character Chad. Origins of both are disputed but Kilroy seems to have come from GIs (American soldiers) in the Forties. Chad is of slightly earlier UK origin, possible from the RAF or a British cartoonist.

I wish I could show you a picture of Chad – but for this blog I have foresworn the use of pictures – allowing only those taken by me during this year. He appears as the top half of a bald head (possibly with a single curly hair) peering over a wall. His long nose comes down over the wall and his two hands are at the sides as if he is pulling himself up to look over the wall. In an age of rationing Chad sometimes had the slogan ‘Wot, no sugar?’ (Or other commodity) before he became so associated with Kilroy.

I am not going to talk about graffiti. I am going to talk about signs that appear on walls.


Before I started this I thought that blue plaques were a straightforward countrywide phenomenon but I soon found out that things are not so simple. Once again Wikipedia has been helpful. The earliest blue plaques, erected to commemorate a historical link between a building and a famous person, are in London.

In the Nineteenth Century the system was controlled by the Society of Arts. From 1901 the London County Council took over, becoming the Greater London Council in 1965. Since 1986 it has been English Heritage.

There are many other similar schemes, generally restricted geographically or culturally – and not all are blue!

Cheltenham Blue Plaques

I wanted to include the three famous people I have learned to associate with Cheltenham – Gustav Holst, Edward Wilson and Edward Jenner but in the process of writing this I decided to split them off and you can read about them elsewhere. To be honest they were not an impressive source of blue plaques.

I haven’t looked specifically for any others but I walk in and around Cheltenham often and I have been looking carefully for blue plaques. I have found a few quite similar to the traditional blue plaque but not quite such a vivid dark blue. They are produced by the Cheltenham Civic Society.

I have to admit that I have only ever heard of two of these six. Francis Close is quite famous locally. He was the rector of Cheltenham Parish Church in the early Nineteenth Century and is commemorated in two local educational establishments – Dean Close School and Francis Close Hall (now a campus of the University of Gloucestershire.) Also I am very much of the Rolling Stones generation.

I will generally leave it to you to read the wording on these plaques. You will note that, while each one has the Civic Society identified at the top, they have different sponsoring organisations identified at the bottom.

I won’t even tell you where I found them.

More from Cheltenham

There are many other plaques in Cheltenham. I will go for the other blue looking ones next. You can read them yourselves.

These also all seem to involve two organisations involved and for the Civic Awards we now have the Civic Society taking the other role. (I’m not totally clear what the two roles are!)

While I note that some of these are a nice vivid blue I also note that they seem to fade with age. Maybe these ones are not expected to last so long.

Now we have some that are not round and blue.

This one is strange. It’s on the Honeybourne Path on the ground almost hidden my plants. I spotted it recently after passing it dozens of times. I had never heard of the Rendezvous Society. It’s a small local charity working through Cheltenham and its twinned towns abroad.

Two railway related plaques. The first is on a house that until recently was a pub. The second is at the main entrance to Waitrose, my local supermarket. They are not so much about the buildings as what used to be there before them.

I have to include this one, which I missed when doing Statues. You can see the fountain there (not working.)

Here is one about another fountain tucked away in a corner not far away. (Yes, the sun was out and my shadow is in the way.) This is not the place to show you this fountain.

This one on the Everyman Theatre was so high on the wall that it was quite difficult to spot. The Churchill Gardens are something else you might miss if you didn’t know where to look.

These two may look majestic in black but they are not the most exciting ones I found.

Not Quite Plaques

I don’t know if the next come into the definition of plaques but they are signs on buildings telling us something about the buildings. Think of this blog as a loosely defined as a sub-category of signs. These ones come without comment. 

Cirencester Civic Society

I spent a day in Cirencester with friends and we took a walk around part of its historic centre. We just happened to pick a walk with lots of plaques. Here in random order are some of the Cirencester Civic Society plaques we found.

(The walk came from a leaflet that showed lots more of these in the town.)

More from Cirencester

There were other plaques and stone wall signs. Here are some more in no particular order without comments.

Other Places

Two from Bournemouth.

Three from the Thames Path near Oxford.

One from Oxford and one from Stow-on-the-Wold.

There are other pubs in England making similar claims to the one above.

I will end with an enigmatic sign on a railway bridge near to where I live.

I have no idea what it means!

[I have adjusted the contrast of some old and worn signs to make them more legible.]


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[54] Let us Now Praise Famous Men

[54] Let us Now Praise Famous Men – a Blog about Three Famous Men

I have lived for almost fifty years in the town of Cheltenham and I now think of it fondly as my home town. We have three famous people whom I have learned to associate with Cheltenham and this will be about them. (I’m not saying we only have three.)

My original plan was to use these three as a base for something about blue plaques but between them they have almost totally failed in the blue plaque department. I will do a separate blog about plaques.

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

When I was young I assumed that Gustav Holst was German or Austrian because of his name. (OK, the name is from Denmark but I didn’t know that. It sounded a bit foreign.) Since moving to Cheltenham I learned that he was one of our claims to fame. I passed the house where he was born several times. I have even been inside it.

He was born in 1874 in Cheltenham, Gustavus Theodore von Holst, and went to Cheltenham Grammar School. In pop music terms he was a ‘One Hit Wonder.’ Although he wrote a large number of pieces of music he is only remembered for The Planets, an orchestral suite of seven movements each named after one of the Planets. (He didn’t have to worry about whether Pluto was a planet or not. It hadn’t been discovered then.)

The work is not really about the planets in an astronomical sense. That’s why it does not include the Earth. It’s not even about the mythology of the Roman gods. It’s about astrology. The full titles of the seven movements, which convey the nature of the astrological gods, are:

  • Mars, the Bringer of War
  • Venus, the Bringer of Peace
  • Mercury, the Winged Messenger
  • Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
  • Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
  • Uranus, the Magician
  • Neptune, the Mystic

As part of my research I looked him up on Wikipedia and they show a lovely English Heritage blue plaque, one of the typical dark blue circular plaques associated with where people lived. Unfortunately it is at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London where he taught as he was writing The Planets.

I went to his Birthplace Museum and found this on the wall.

It’s not quite what I thought of as a plaque. Below it is this.

I suppose this is a plaque but it’s more about the building than the person.

(There was another notice saying that the museum was closed until further notice. I can report that it reopened in January after a closure of six months.)

We now have a statue of Holst in Imperial Gardens at the centre of Cheltenham. I can remember it appearing as recently as April 2009.

He would often hold the baton as shown in his left hand because he had neuritis in his right arm. This prevented him from learning the piano so he took up the trombone – becoming a professional player and music teacher.

On the plinth of the statue we can find perhaps his best plaque.

Edward Adrian Wilson (1872-1912)

Not far from this statue is another statue modelled by Kathleen Scott, unveiled in 1914. This one is Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, my second famous Cheltonian.

This monument has an inscription.

If you can’t read this picture the important bits are, “Artist and Zoologist of the British Antarctic Expeditions 1910-1913. He reached the South Pole January 17 – 1912 and died with Capt. Scott on the Great Ice Barrier March 1912.”

I knew where he was born and I went there in search of a plaque and I founds this.

It’s big and very impressive but it’s not exactly a round blue plaque! You can get a better idea of the size of these letters when you notice the two large windows shown at the edges of the picture.

Wilson was born here in Montpellier Terrace, Cheltenham and went to school at a preparatory school in Clifton, Bristol, then at Cheltenham College. He lived on a farm in Leckhampton and developed a strong interest in nature and wildlife. He read Natural Science at Cambridge University and then studied Medicine in London.

While convalescing from tuberculosis in Norway and Switzerland he developed his skills as an artist. Then he qualified in medicine and became a Junior House Surgeon at Cheltenham General Hospital before turning to arctic exploration with Scott. Scott’s fate is well-known.

I am going to add one more picture about Edward Adrian Wilson. Cheltenham has an Art Gallery and Museum, which underwent a major redevelopment process a few years ago. Just before its relaunch in September 2013 they decided to rename it. I think they suggested two or three options and left it to public choice. It is now known, somewhat enigmatically, as ‘The Wilson’, proudly displaying this plaque outside.

Edward Jenner(1749-1823)

Jenner was the pioneer of the smallpox vaccine, proving that cowpox could be used to provide immunity from smallpox. He was born in Berkeley, a small town in Gloucestershire and from 1795 he lived in Cheltenham for the summer seasons.

There was a building called Alpha House, which until a few years ago stood on the site of our local engineering firm, Spirax-Sarco. It had a plaque saying that Jenner lived there. But the site was sold for development and Spirax moved a few miles away. Now there is a residential Home for the elderly and many flats and houses. The last houses to go up have just appeared where Alpha House used to be. There is no plaque!

I was a bit disappointed so I searched the Internet for information. I now know that he never lived there but it was one of the places he used to dispense vaccination, free of charge, to the poor. I found a lot more on the Internet.

Since 1795 Jenner lived nearer to the town centre in Jenner House, in St George’s Place. (At the time St George’s Place was simply a coach road across the fields known by its earlier name of Stills Lane.) His house was demolished in 1970 but a replica was constructed in 1994, similar in appearance from the outside. This house does have a plaque!

Jenner was a keen gardener but just had a small back garden here. In 1804 he bought a large portion of land opposite (then still a field) and made a kitchen garden and ornamental garden.

In 1809 he sold some of this land for Cheltenham Chapel, built to relieve the overcrowding at the Parish Church. (It is still there but no longer used as a chapel.)

Trustees of the chapel bought part of Jenner’s gardens for use as a cemetery and a lane was made to link this to Jenner House. Eventually the congregation of the Chapel declined and the graveyard filled. Its last burial was in 1889 and the graveyard closed in 1894. It became an overgrown and forgotten site until closed to the public in 2004.

With help from volunteers and local businesses the area of the cemetery was restored and planted with flowers. Since June 2009 it has re-opened as Jenner Gardens.

The lane linking these gardens to Jenner House is now known as Jenner Walk.

Apart from the Civic Award of 2009 shown above my three heroes had failed me for plaques but I decided to give them a blog to themselves. Plaques can come later. (They will. I have plenty of pictures from other places.)

After a bit of searching I found my title quotation in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 44.

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning. Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies: Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions…

As always, I use the Authorized Version of 1611 also known as the King James Version.

[I suppose I should have said that Ecclesiastes is a book in the Bible. Maybe not all of my readers won’t recognize it. The web-site where I found this quotation called it ’Ecclesiasticus.’]


As well as one on plaques, you can expect a blog on some of the other sights of Cheltenham.