Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

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[65] Trains and Boats and Planes

[65] Trains and Boats and Planes – A Pictorial Blog about Transport

Trains and Boats and Planes” is a song written by composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David, first recorded in 1965. Hit versions were recorded by Bacharach; Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas; and Dionne Warwick.

I won’t add much to that. This is just a collection of pictures loosely categorized as pertaining to forms of transport. They come from England, Wales, Croatia, Italy, Belgium, France and the seas in between.

I will start with trains, boats and planes!


Now some more land transport.


Two Wheels.

Some more marine transport including boatyards and fishing.

That’s about it, just lots of pictures.



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[66] Striking Thirteen

[66] Striking Thirteen – a Pictorial Blog about Clocks

The author Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell, is well known for the two books ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-four. His dystopian novel starts, normally called ‘1984’ starts with these lines.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

When these lines were written in 1948 its setting was far in the future so perhaps his unusual clocks just made this clear to his readers.

I will be talking of the clocks of today when clock faces generally just go up to twelve! I always planned to a blog about clocks although at first I had just three in mind from the centre of Cheltenham. It will be mostly pictures.

The House of Fraser has a department store that continues to keep its old name of Cavendish House.

Marks and Spencer has also been with us for as long as I can remember. Its clock is high up and not so impressive.

Martin & Co. have a jewellery shop in the Promenade, almost opposite Cavendish House. Their prominent clock show their sponsorship links to Rolex watches.

I didn’t stop at three. I looked around a big and found a few more clocks.

This one is by the taxi rank in Royal Well Road just behind the Municipal Offices.

One of my favourite sights when I visit Newnham-on-Severn is this clock tower.

Two more that you may miss if you don’t look up in central Cheltenham.

Clocks on churches are always impressive.

Two more buildings that may be familiar to Cheltonians. The tower is part of the remnants of a listed building whose wall appears in my Walls blog. The other one is one of several old buildings that make up Cheltenham Ladies College.

You will recognize this one by the post boxes at our main sorting office.

Three quite large plain modern clocks.

Now some from my travels – Cirencester. Bournemouth and Oxford.



World’s Oldest Clock

You can read about this clock in Salisbury Cathedral in my blog about Bournemouth.

It may be the oldest in the World but its provenance is uncertain.

[Yes, I know that Salisbury isn’t strictly part of Bournemouth. Read the blog to find out!]


I’m cheating a bit for the next few pictures.

After some clocks and watches for sale there is picture of a large sundial on a wall. The last one at the entrance to some modern residential buildings is a sign to mark the proximity of one of Cheltenham’s now long dead stations – St James Station. It isn’t a clock. It always shows five o’clock!

Arcade Clock

As usual I have save something special for the end of my blog.

The Regent Arcade in Cheltenham features a large automatic clock designed by Kit Williams.

All that Wikipedia would tell me is that:

‘In the United Kingdom, Kit Williams produced a series of large automaton clocks for a handful of British shopping centres, featuring frogs, ducks and fish.’

Our one at Cheltenham does many things when it chimes to mark the hour. (OK, it doesn’t ring bells. It plays ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.’ You will see why in a minute.) The large wheel at the top rotates and we have an egg-laying bird, a mouse and a snake.

The most familiar action, especially for visiting children, is the large goldfish underneath that turns and blows bubbles.

I was lucky to get these pictures. The next time I visited this was all I could see as the clock undergoes repair and maintenance.




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[62] Neither Beginnings nor Endings

[62] Neither Beginnings nor Endings – A Picture Blog about Textures and Patterns.

In every book of his series on the Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan always opens with almost identical first paragraphs all about the wheel repeating itself.

‘… [It] was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.’

Nature and the works of Man both have many patterns that seem to repeat and I see many of them. Here are just some of them, more or less in random order. You can find others under the topics of Walls or Skies.

Some of these pictures have already appeared in other blogs.

I will leave it to you to work out what these pictures are: –


[60] Wait a Minute

[60] Wait a Minute, (Mr Postman) – a blog about Post and the Post Office

This is one of the topics that was always going to make it, one of the first contenders for a reserved number in my complicated list. It’s basically about those boxes we find everywhere – all painted what we call ‘pillar-box red!’

Christmas is nearly upon us and I couldn’t resist a shot of this card to start this blog.


I suppose I will have to say something about the Post Office for those of you not quite as old as me. The Post Office used to mean the GPO, (General Post Office) which used to be a government ministry. It provided the only way to send letters but it also controlled the only telephone system and what there was then in the way of television (and it was also the usual way to pay for gas, electricity etc. or receive state pensions or lots of other things.) Of course in those days telephones and television were much more primitive than what we know today. But the pillar boxes and public telephones boxes were sturdily built and they are still with us.

Victorian Pillar Boxes

The GPO started in 1660 but it was not until 1840 that we had prepaid postage and postage stamps. Before then it was the recipient who paid, not the sender.

The first pillar boxes date from around 1850 and the earliest Victorian ones were green. In the 1870s the hexagonal design emerged and red became the standard colour. (I am sure you will know that we have Robins on Christmas cards because Victorian postmen wore red uniforms. Perhaps this is why pillar boxes are red.)






As for nearly all of my pictures for this blog, these two come from the streets of Cheltenham. The positioning of the Crown, Royal Cipher and ‘POST OFFICE’ are not standardized and you will notice that only one of these has the coat of arms below the letter slit.

vict03In 1879 the cylindrical design replaced the hexagon. From then onwards boxes always carried the royal cipher and the words POST OFFICE. There were two sizes, both the same height – ‘A’ (slightly larger) and ‘B.’

Later Monarchs

I have been lucky enough to find most of the different pillar boxes and the main thing to look for is the Royal Cipher. The hardest to find was Edward VII (1901-10). This one was covered in moss and looked old.



I did find a much newer looking one on a trip to Oxford.


After Edward we had George V (1910-36), George VI (1936-52) and Queen Elizabeth II. [I wasn’t expecting to find Edward VIII!]





I couldn’t quite catch this last one open as it was being emptied.


Since the 1980s we have a more modern design and the words POST OFFICE have become ROYAL MAIL.


This one, inside the huge local Waitrose supermarket, is made of plastic.


Larger oval Type ‘C’ boxes, with slots for town and country post, date from the turn of the Twentieth Century.



We also have rectangular Type ‘G’ boxes.


You normally only find these larger ones outside where there used to be main Post Offices.

The next one is quite modern, for franked mail only.


I have never quite worked out how and why they can distinguish between stamped and franked mail but the distinction was there long ago even before postcodes.

Smaller Boxes

There have always been roadside wall boxes. From 1885 to 1965 they were used particularly for sub-post offices.

(You may not understand the term sub-post office. There were Post Offices, which did nothing but Post Office business and there were smaller sub-post offices, sharing their premises usually with a shop. Now most of them have disappeared and those that remain are nearly all sub-post offices.)

Now wall boxes are seen mostly in countryside towns and villages. This one is at Newnham-on-Severn.


I was intrigued to find the next one low down in a wall in the countryside near Stow-on-the-Wold. I photographed it without knowing what it was.


It’s an earlier Victorian model used until 1904 and this is clearly an Edward VII post box. It is no longer red so I presume that it is now just used privately. I note that you can now buy old post boxes or replicas in various colours so maybe this was never active where is now located.

The Lantern type is quite rare nowadays but I see this one often on my trips to Slimbridge.



As you can see the notice at the front gives the last collection time. When I was young they always used to list all of the collection times.


During the very successful 2012 London Olympics there was a decision to paint post boxes gold over the country to commemorate local success. We have this pair on Cheltenham High Street. I have to say that it’s more of a light beige colour than what I would call gold but the thought was there.


Alex Gregory from the coxless fours in the Rowing, was born in Cheltenham.


I feel I ought to end the section about post boxes with these two pictures from our main sorting office at Cheltenham. I think of them as new but they must date from the Nineties. They are certainly showing signs of age!




You are, of course, wondering what telephones have to do with letters and the Post Office. Well, when all of our post came under the GPO it must have fairly logical to put the developing technology of telephones under the same organisation. From about 1900 to the Fifties telephones were big chunky black bakelite machines fixed by wire to the walls of houses. They were expensive and unreliable. Calls over about thirty miles were connected manually by an operator so most calls were local.

Not many people had telephones but there were many public telephone kiosks – in towns for the use of the general public and in the countryside for emergency use.


You can see a certain similarity in the style of these with pillar boxes for post. Both were solid metal structures, painted bright red, with the royal crown.

Here is the equipment inside a modern working kiosk.


Things have changed. Since about the eighties and nineties we have mobile phones that do all sorts of things that telephones didn’t do in the fifties. They have developed and become so popular that very few people even use their own landlines. People no longer need public telephones. Public Telephone kiosks have disappeared almost everywhere.

Thousands of them have been removed, either scrapped or sold, although some remain unused as listed buildings! Here is an unused one I spotted in someone’s front garden.


(The pillar box at the front is a little toy model!)

As part of the revolution in telephone technology, the old GPO has disappeared and the telephony bit became BT. Here are some new telephone boxes from BT and the equipment inside it.



The one above is an early BT version. The logo of Mercury disappeared over ten years ago.

Here is a more modern version.


Many of the old red boxes still remaining now have other functions such as housing emergency defibrillator equipment.



Here is one in the town centre that manages to include a cash machine while still retaining its function as a telephone.




At the centre of Cheltenham where the Main Post Office used to be we had ten telephone boxes – a group of four and another group of six. They have recently been taken away, refurbished and replaced roughly where they were but they are no longer public phone boxes.




If you look closely you find that the doors do not open. They have displays making small museum exhibits about Cheltenham.




All of our landlines are connected. You don’t see nearly as many telegraph poles anymore carrying the final lines. I noticed last year these identification signs on them.


I think the poles have been made shorter in some places because these numbers are now lower.

Most of the cables go underground.


There are lots of boxes at the side of the pavement where connections are made. Some are old and some not so old.




In the age of the Internet we have telephony mixed with broadband computer connections and also television.



I was lucky enough last year to get a picture of the inside of one of these boxes for my daily picture blog. My luck continued this year.


Just to complete this dissertation, we still have postmen delivering mail and we still have Post Offices!




Please, Mr Postman is a song from the early Sixties, most famous for versions by the Beatles and the Carpenters. (I can’t do biblical quotes every time.)

Here are some of its words.

(Stop) Oh yes, wait a minute, Mr. Postman;

(Wait) Wait Mr. Postman.

(Please Mr. Postman look and see);

Oh yeah (If there’s a letter in your bag for me,)

Please, please, Mr. Postman (Why’s it takin’ such a long time;)

Oh yeah (For me to hear from that boy [/girl] of mine.)

It sounds better when it’s sung.


Apart from Wikipedia special mention for this blog must be made to PULP – Paul’s Unofficial Letterbox Pages, which I have used to identify the various letter box types.



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[61] Joshua Fit the Battle

[61] Joshua Fit the Battle – a Picture Blog about Walls

I love the textures we see every day, some of which have to be looked at closely. Walls are an example and they are everywhere. This blog post will not be much more than a lot of pictures of walls.

What you might think of as fairly modern ‘ordinary’ brick walls actually come in many variations.



















And there are older stone versions of bricks.







In the country here most of our country walls are dry stone – Cotswold stone.






Some may be very old, covered in moss and almost invisible.


Of course, not all walls are stone or brick.

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[I took a series of these at Newnham-on-Severn, all in one street. The textured walls were painted blue, green, buff, pink and white but my camera adjusted its white balance settings so that they all came out just light grey.]

Here are some more types of walls, some a mixture of two walls.





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I’m nearly done. Next some more specific walls. The next picture shows part of the walls of Cheltenham Station made of very old, large bricks. Just a few yards away a metal wall makes the road bridge over the railway.

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The old Honeybourne line from the station, which goes under this bridge has now been converted into a footpath and cycle path. A little further away one side of the path has a wall like this.


On the opposite side the wall has not been cleared so it looks like this!


The footpath splits here, near to the modern Waitrose building, where there used to be a station. There are two short tunnels that offer tempting surfaces to graffiti artists. Under the tunnels they have proper graffiti style artwork. It has to be re-done often. This is a section of wall between the two tunnels.


This is a little of the artwork just inside one tunnel, near enough to the end of the tunnel for reasonable lighting.


The next series of pictures shows an old wall, which has become a listed ‘building.’ It is all that remains. The rest was demolished to make way for a Tesco building now behind the wall!

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I have to admit that the next pictures came as a revelation to me. Sometimes very old brick walls look as if they are covered in white paint that has faded away in places. But as I discovered in doing this blog, it’s actually an incomplete thin covering with white lichen – as shown in these pictures.

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That’s just some of the walls I found in November! There were a few others in local housing developments that I didn’t feel happy photographing. I didn’t want to get too close to private houses.

I could have done a lot more but I suspect I have already lost most of my (very small) readership.


When I thought of walls I thought, of course, of the Wall of Jericho, famous from the Old Testament, the Book of Joshua. But my quotation, as a change, comes not from the Bible but from the song sung by Elvis Presley. A quick search on the Internet seems to attribute the words to him but I suspect it an old traditional song, maybe sung to a more modern tune.

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho.

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho,

And the walls come tumbling down


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[68] The Fourth Day

The Fourth Day – A Picture Blog about the Sky

For no reason, other than the need for an enigmatic title, I start with Genesis, Chapter 1, verses 14-19. I am too old to consider anything other than the King James Version. Without changing any words I have tidied up the punctuation a bit.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,” and it was so.

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.

And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.

And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Of course the sky is blue because of our atmosphere. But the weather makes some or all of it black or grey or white; and at dawn or sunset we can have red, orange or yellow tints.

While some blogs will be issued just once; and a few will be updated once or twice through the year; this one will be updated many times to show how the sky changes.

It will be a picture blog in chronological order, with some pictures identified by date or location.

I may sneak in some pictures with skyline landscapes round the edges.DSCN4406.JPG

A dull day to start November.


A sunny day of blue skies at Batsford Arboretum, not typical of autumn.


I couldn’t resist the first chance of an aeroplane trail.


First sunset sky over Cheltenham.


Still early November. Another Sunny Day. Clouds and Aeroplane trails.

Two shots of the ‘Super-moon’ of 13-14 November.


Near Moreton-in-Marsh.

I won’t do a new picture every day but lots more to come ….