Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

Leave a comment

[50] Jessant-de-lys Reversed

[50] Jessant-de-lys Reversed – A Blog about Heraldry

I wanted to say a bit about heraldry after a brief allusion in Tewkesbury Banners.

Heraldry used to be for individual men and families but we see it more often now for towns, counties and organisations. [Sorry but heraldry is very sexist. Women were not considered relevant until very recently.]

I won’t say much about where I found these pictures. It’s more of a general introduction to heraldry.

The Arms of Cheltenham

The official blazon granted to the town of Cheltenham in 1877 is as follows: Arms: Or a Chevron engrailed Gules between two Pigeons in chief and an Oak Tree eradicated in base proper on a Chief Azure a Cross flory Argent between two open Books also proper binding and clasps of the first. Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours upon a Mount between two Branches of Oak a Fountain thereon a Pigeon all proper. Motto: ‘SALUBRITAS ET ERUDITIO’

You could write the blazon in more modern English as: Arms: Gold with a wavy red chevron. Two pigeons above the chevron and an oak tree with its roots exposed below it in their natural colours. A blue area at the top has a silver cross with flowery ends between two open books with gold bindings and clasps. Crest: A wreath of gold and red (taken from the arms) with a crest of two oak sprigs and a pigeon on a ball of water. Motto: Health and learning (Latin.)

[The representation of water with wavy blue and white is so common that it has its own heraldicword – ‘a Fountain.’]

You can see the meaning of the arms when you understand the story that the spa waters were supposedly discovered after observing pigeons at a local spring. The blue background at the top represents the spa waters; the cross is the cross of Edward the Confessor who once owned much of the land that is now Cheltenham; and the books incorporate the learning as a result of the establishment of the Ladies College and the College for boys. The oak symbolizes Cheltenham’s position, both historical and today, as one of Britain’s foremost garden towns.

You see these arms around the town, not just representing the town but displaying the authority of Cheltenham Borough Council.

You will notice that colours are not defined beyond a single word. The yellow described as ‘Or’ originally represented gold so it may have a metallic sheen or it may be anything from a pale yellow to brown. You can even engrave the arms in stone without any use of colour!

Hereford Arms

There is a strange division in the Church where the Dean and Chapter hold a cathedral while the Bishop as pastor of his diocese or ‘see’ visits the cathedral only on the invitation of the Chapter. At Hereford Cathedral the arms of the Cathedral and those of the Bishop are given equal prominence.

I can’t trace the arms of the Cathedral (Or five chevronels azure) but the Bishop of Hereford has unusual arms derived from Bishop Thomas Cantilupe in the Thirteenth Century. They are Gules, three leopard’s faces jessant-de-lys reversed Or. [The leopards have fleur-de-lys emerging from their faces and are upside-down.]

As you wander round Hereford you will also spot the arms of the city and its surrounding county.

The City of Hereford has Arms: Gules three Lions passant guardant in pale Argent on a Bordure Azure ten Saltires of the second. Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours a Lion passant guardant Argent holding in the dexter paw a Sword erect proper hilt and pomel Or.

The arms were recorded (without the ‘bordure,’) at the Visitations of 1569 and 1634, and were augmented with crest and supporters in 1645. Hereford bore on an early seal the Royal Arms of Richard I, who gave the City its first Royal Charter in 1189. These were three gold lions on a red background, later to become the Royal Arms of England. [See below.] Hereford seems to have coloured the lions silver to create a distinctive (but unauthorized) coat of arms. The rest of the design, the border with ten saltires, dates from 1645 when the City supported the King during the civil war and kept the Cromwellian troops at bay for approximately five weeks. King Charles I was delighted and visited the City in order to thank them personally. He dined at the Bishop’s Palace and at the end of this dinner he is alleged to have made the Grant of the Coat of Arms, which the City of Hereford now possesses. The lions surrounded by saltires, or St Andrew’s Crosses, represent the Royalist forces hemmed in by the insurgent Scots.

The County of Herefordshire has Arms: Gules on a Fesse wavy between in chief a Lion passant guardant Argent and in base a Herefordshire Bull’s Head caboshed proper a Bar wavy Azure.

The arms were officially granted in 1946 to the Herefordshire County Council and re-adopted in 1998 by the new County of Herefordshire District Council.

The red background is taken form the arms of the City of Hereford and also represents the red earth of Herefordshire. The silver lion is from the arms of the City of Hereford, and in base is a Herefordshire Bull’s head. The silver and blue wave represents the River Wye.

Oxford – City, County and University

The arms of the City of Oxford recorded in 1634 from a Fourteenth Century seal are based on the heraldic device of ‘canting,’ showing an ox crossing a ford! Arms: Argent an Ox Gules armed and unguled Or passing over a Ford of Water in base barry wavy Azure and Argent.

The county arms of Oxfordshire, granted in 1976, represent the Thames and its tributaries with elements of nature (the oak tree) and agriculture. In heraldry a ‘garb’ is a sheaf of wheat. They were still seen in 1976 before automated harvesting machines took over. Arms: Azure two Bendlets wavy Argent between in chief a Garb Or and in base an Oak Tree fructed Or.


The University of Oxford also has its Arms: Azure, an open book proper, edged and garnished Or, leathered gules, pendent from the dexter side thereof seven seals gold, the pages inscribed ‘Dominus illuminatio mea’, the whole between three open crowns also gold.

As for Cheltenham, books are associated with learning. The inscription of the book has varied from time to time; it currently reads ‘Dominus illuminatio mea’ or ‘The Lord is my light.’

You will notice the modern trend to simplify heraldry into simplified logos.

Here we have city and university together.

The University consists of about forty colleges and halls, each with its own arms. I bought myself a postcard to help me with identification but it doesn’t show them all.

I did manage to spot Magdalen College Oxford in this strangely reversed version done in a cut glass pattern on a transparent door.

You can probably do the blazon for yourself. It’s Lozengy ermine and sable, on a chief of the second three lilies argent slipped and seeded or. [Don’t worry about ‘slipped and seeded.’ Heraldry likes to put in tiny details like seeds, tongues and claws.]

I wasn’t sure about the next two. (Ignore the two on the left and right.)

Both are University College, Oxford. Wikipedia conveniently gives the blazon: Azure, a cross patonce between four [sometimes five] martlets or.

If you were wondering about the cross, which looks ‘flory’ like the Cheltenham arms above, then Wikipedia also notes – a cross fleury (or flory) is a cross adorned at the ends with flowers. It generally contains fleur-de-lis, trefoils, etc. Synonyms or minor variants include fleuretty, fleuronny, floriated and flourished. In early armory it is not consistently distinguished from the cross patonce.

Martlets are common in heraldry. They are birds, something like swallows, but without feet.


All Souls College (officially The Warden and the College of the Souls of All Faithful People Deceased in the University of Oxford) is unusual in that all of its members automatically become Fellows. It has no undergraduate members, but each year recent graduates of the university and graduates of other universities now registered as postgraduate students at Oxford are eligible to apply for Examination Fellowships through a competitive examination (once described as “the hardest exam in the world”) and, for the several shortlisted after the examinations, an interview.

Its arms entered at the Visitation of 1574 are: Or, a chevron between three cinquefoils gules.

Royal Arms

As we have seen above, the Royal Arms of England started with Richard I as: Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langued azure. (Red, three gold lions, walking with one paw raised, sideways but with their heads turned to look at the viewer, lined vertically above each other, with blue claws and tongues.)

Since then there have been several changes, adding the arms of France (later removed) and Scotland (the single lion with a very complicated border – a double tressure flory-counter-flory) and Ireland. The arms of the United Kingdom can now be blazoned simply as Quarterly 1 and 4 England 2 Scotland 3 Ireland.

This one dates from Elizabeth I or possibly earlier and is Quarterly France modern and England. (France ancient had lots of fleur-de-lys, not just three.)

Next from the Seventeenth Century, two quarters are Quarterly France modern and England. The others are Scotland and Ireland.

You probably can’t see the details in the next pictures but they are for George V so they have lost the French parts. They must be Quarterly 1 and 4 England 2 Scotland 3 Ireland.

The motif of the England national football team has three lions passant guardant, as in the English arms but the lions are blue. In 1949 when the FA was given an official coat of arms by the College of Arms that includes ten Tudor roses, one for each of the regional branches of the FA.


Bournemouth has an interesting coat of arms using just two colours. The blazon, granted in 1891, is quite complicated (but the important word is ‘counterchanged’) Arms: Quarterly Or and Azure a Cross flory between a Lion rampant holding between the paws a Rose in the first and fourth quar­ters six Martlets two two and two in the second and four Salmons naiant and in pale in the third all counterchanged. Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours upon a Mount Vert a Pine Tree proper in front four Roses fessewise Or. Motto: ‘PULCHRITUDO ET SALUBRITAS’ – Beauty and health.

[OK, I will try to re-order the words and translate and expand the blazon to make sense: Divided into quarters of gold and blue. A cross with flowery ends covers the shield. On the first and fourth quarters a lion holding a rose. On the second quarter six footless birds arranged as two by three. On the third quarter four salmon vertically aligned and swimming horizontally. Everything is just gold and blue with counter-changing.]

The arms are based on the Royal Arms of King Edward the Confessor, in whose Royal estate the area now known as Bournemouth was situated. The four salmon represent the River Stour, which marks the boundary between Christchurch and Bournemouth. The roses in the paws of the lions are the English roses and are also a part of the arms of the county of Hampshire.

The Russel-Cotes Museum at Bournemouth was given by Mervyn Russel-Cotes, who was the Mayor of Bournemouth to his wife – so it has this arrangement with the arms of Bournemouth and, presumably, those of Russel-Cotes. I’m not sure how it manages three helmets and crests!

Diversion – Istria

The Istrian peninsular has a long and complicated history. It now spans the countries of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy but it was founded in 1062 as an independent state, then acquired by the patriarchs of Aquileja, and in the late Thirteenth Century it became part of the State of Venice. It still uses the arms used by the Doges of Venice.

I can’t find a blazon but I would describe it as: Azure a goat Or armed and unglued Gules.

We went to the town of Koper now in Slovenia. Its old city, which used to be an island, keeps the Italian name of Capodistria (formerly Capo D’Istria) and uses its old arms.

It’s not unknown to show a face on a star. This one looks like a Molet of eight points over an Estoile of eight points although I suspect it is blazoned in Croatian as a star. The arms were not granted until 1997 but have been used at least since the Nineteenth Century. In the past it has been shown as a Medusa head, which may either be the original arms (from which the sun was derived), or a misinterpretation of the sun.

They were so fond of this star that they used it on the pavement to mark a walk round the historic city.

More Arms in England

You can find coats of arms on signs in many places. Apart from those for towns, counties and universities they may represent independent schools or even be used as pub signs.


Sadly English pubs are disappearing rapidly or becoming restaurants. Those that are left change their names and very few still have pictorial pub signs – and some of the signs are not very good. The sign for the Kings Arms above does not represent any king. You will be able to do the blazon yourself by now as: Quarterly ermine and gules. An Internet search reveals these arms as appearing in the heraldry of the Bedford Chapel, Chenies Buckinghamshire for a man called Stanhope.

The town of Tewkesbury seems to avoid using its full arms perhaps to concentrate on its displayed banners. I did find this ‘Castle proper,’ which is a small part of the full shield.

I will end with more examples. You may be able to identify some of them.


Heraldic Terms

Here is a brief heraldic dictionary to help you. I have only included words I have used (including some from the Tewkesbury Banners blog post) and I have simplified some definitions.

Achievement – a full set of arms. The shield or ‘escutcheon’ often called the ‘arms’ has a helmet (or crown etc.) topped by a ‘torse’ (a circle of twisted material in two colours) and a ‘crest’ with ‘supporters’ at each side and ‘mantling’ behind. All of this is on a ‘compartment’ and a ‘motto.’ Most of my pictures just show the shield.

Argent – strictly ‘silver’ but in practice usually ‘white.’

Armed – with horns.

Azure – blue. It can be any shade of blue.

Bar – a thinner form of Fess, hence ‘barry’ meaning in horizontal strips.

Bend – a diagonal stripe. (Bend Sinister goes the other way.)

Bendlet – a thinner bend.

Bezant – a Roundel Or, representing a coin.

Blazon – the official heraldic description in a mixture of English and old French often with unexpected word order and no punctuation.

Bordure – a border all the way round the shield.

Caboshed – cut so that only the face shows.

Chief – a block along the top of the shield, hence ‘in chief’ meaning ‘at the top.’

Chevron – an inverted ‘V’ shape.

Chevronel – a narrow chevron.

Counter-changed – a term that normally means that the two sides of a shield are almost identical mirror images but with the colours reversed. (You can also have quarters counter-changed.)

Crest – part of the complex Achievement of arms, usually on a torse covering a helmet.

Cross flory or patonce – a cross with shaped ends. (There are many different forms of cross.)

Dexter – right, from the perspective of the wearer, so left on the page! [Stage Right – Audience Left!]

Engrailed or Invected are like Wavy but with points on one side. (There are many forms of modified edges.)

Eradicated – of a tree, torn up by its roots. (Similarly animal heads may be ‘erased.’)

Ermine – a kind of fur represented as white (argent) with regularly spaced black (sable) tails.

Fess – a block across the middle.

First – ‘Of the first’ means the first colour to be mentioned in the blazon.

Fountain – a Roundel Barry Wavy Azure and Or, usually representing water.

Fretty – with a basket-like criss-cross pattern.

Fructed – with fruit.

Garb – a sheaf of corn.

Gules – red.

Indented – a zig-zag version of ‘wavy.’

Jessant-de-lys with a fleur-de-lys coming from its mouth.

Lozenge – a diamond shape. Lozengy means a diagonal checked pattern.

Martlet – a bird without feet.

Molet or Mullet – a star with straight edges, usually of five points. (An estoile has wavy edges.)

Naiant – swimming. It just means that the fish is horizontal.

Nebuly – a more ornate form of Wavy. It’s even wavier.

Or – gold or yellow.

Pale – A stripe down the middle, hence ‘in pale’ means vertically aligned in the middle. ‘Per pale’ means divided by a vertical line.

Passant guardant – one of many way a lion can stand. (Salient is another.)

Quarterly – it can mean divided into quarters but you can have a ‘quarterly of six’ or other numbers.

Reversed – upside down.

Roundel – a small circle.

Sable – black.

Saltire – a diagonal cross.

Sinister – left. See ‘Dexter.’

Supporters – animals shown at the sides of a shield.

Torteau – roundel Gules (tart.)

Unguled – with hooved feet.

Vair – a blue and white pattern supposedly representing the skins of squirrels.

Wavy – as it says, wavy, not a straight line.


As well as Wikipedia I have taken some of my information from Heraldry of the World at


Leave a comment

[42] Life, the Universe and Everything

[42] Life, the Universe and Everything – A Pictorial Blog about Buildings

It was hard dividing ‘Buildings’ into two separate areas for blogs. I have done one about Old Buildings. This one will cover the rest of my pictures of buildings – some more modern ones but also some small, curious or unusual buildings.

I start with three very new buildings. The shopping development at the Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham has only just been completed; the brand new Cotswold stone house is somewhere in the Cotswolds and the other new houses are beside Pittville Park.

Next are Waitrose and a nearby office block, both at Cheltenham and the Roses Theatre and Library at Tewkesbury.

Two school buildings and what used to be the headquarters for Gloucestershire Police. (Now it’s a ‘Development Opportunity.’)

A nice house seen on one of my walks.

A few recognisable Cheltenham buildings next. The old fire station and three from Pittville Park – Café, Scout Hut and Public Conveniences.

The Art Gallery in Montpellier Gardens and the nearby bandstand.

Three slightly unusual Cheltenham buildings. First, an electricity sub-station at the strangely named Westal Green – It hasn’t been a green for at least fifty years, it’s a petrol station in an odd-shaped roundabout. Then a bridge linking Cavendish House to the Regent Arcade – and an unassuming building, next to the old Fire Station, that claims to be the oldest purpose built primary school in the country.

Away from Cheltenham here are a large orangery belonging to a country estate; a racecourse; a small Post Office shop and a collection of miscellaneous buildings, some of which are somewhat dilapidated.

I have saved a few. Here is a little lighthouse at RSPB Newport, followed by a collection of boathouse pictures.

Some houses by the sea and a steelworks.

A house at Newnham-on-Severn backing on to the river Severn. It’s been unoccupied for about seventy years but the owners don’t want to sell it.

Finally two pairs of houses at Taylor’s Yard in Cheltenham. When I started this blog this area was a large wholesale and retail building supplies shop. The old buildings have gone, the land has been flattened and about a hundred new houses are being built. The first ones completed are the show homes. The rest may take another two years to complete.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a radio series that became a five-volume series of books by Douglas Adams
In the radio series and the first novel, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be … … 42. Deep Thought points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never actually knew what the Question was.



Leave a comment

[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.



Leave a comment

[30] Health and Education

[30] Health and Education – A Blog about Cheltenham

Cheltenham is a very old town which rose to prominence as a spa town with the discovery of its waters. You can still sample the taste at the magnificent Pittville Pump Room – but I would not recommend it! The town became fashionable with the visit of George III in 1788 and much of the central residential area reflects Regency architectural styles. I have lived here for nearly fifty years so I think of her as my home town.

Flowing through it is the River Chelt. I don’t think he town’s origins or name derive from this quite small stream. It’s probable that ‘Chelt’ is actually derived from Cheltenham.

Cheltenham has grown in the last fifty years and is now a popular shopping centre, probably most well-known through the UK for its horse racing.

I won’t say any more about my home town. [No, we are not jealous of Gloucester because it’s a city. Everything about Cheltenham is better than our near neighbour.]

After a lot of failing to get on with this blog I just took a walk around on a nice sunny day and took lots of pictures. Here they are in order.

I started on the Gloucester Road by TGI Fridays and walked along the A40, passed Dean Close Preparatory School, (formerly Dean Close Junior School,) Cheltenham Police Station, the old Gloucestershire Police Headquarters building and Westal Green to Montpelier.

I did a brief walk round Montpelier Gardens with its Art Gallery and bandstand, then went through Imperial Gardens for a look at the Town Hall. In the Promenade I saw Neptune’s Fountain and the Municipal Offices then headed towards the Regent Arcade – to see the newly restored Kit Williams clock.

Coming out on the High Street I went eastwards towards the London Road turned into Sandford Park and looped back round to take the High Street westwards.

With a coffee stop at Marks and Spencers and a diversion for the Everyman Theatre I went on past Boots corner to the brand new Brewery Quarter, then back and into the Parish Church. I wish I had done this before [41] Churches because it’s the best church I have been in this year!

Back to the Promenade for Cavendish House and the Minotaur and the Hare before heading homewards via Royal Well Road and Royal Well Lane. I walked along beside the River Chelt, paid a visit to Waitrose and took the Honeyboune line back to the Cheltenham Spa Station.

Watch out for the buildings I have noted in bold but also some of our old houses, (many in Regency style,) shops and statues. You can also spot the Queens Hotel and several views of the Cheltenham Ladies College.

I have many more pictures including some equally impressive and famous buildings but I can’t fit them all in here! You could look at [20] Remembrance, [31] Pittville Park, [41] Churches, [45] Streets, [48] Statues, [64] Cheltenham Trio and all the posts about Signs for more of my home town.

‘Health and Education’ is a loose translation of the Latin ‘Salubritas et eruditio’ on the Arms of Cheltenham. Google Translate says ‘Healthfulness and learning’ but I’m sticking to my version. Wikipedia agrees with me. I can confidently predict that a version of these arms will appear in [58] Cheltenham Signs and perhaps some explanation in [50] Heraldry.



Leave a comment

[31] A Walk in the Park

[31] A Walk in the Park – A Blog about Pittville Park

This is mostly about my local park which has served as a local birdwatching patch and now helps me with my searches for insects, flowers and blog pictures. But we start a little south of the actual park with some history.

Pittville Gates

A little to the north of Cheltenham town centre you come to a magnificent arch over equally magnificent gates. They have recently been restored (2012-16) by the Friends of Pittville.

The sign over the arch proclaims it as the entrance to Pittville Park but it actually the entrance to something even grander. Just inside the gates are two notices. One describes the gates and the other is about the Pittville Estate.

The Pittville Estate

Joseph Pitt (1759-1842), a local lawyer who prospered from property speculation, wanted to create a large estate of houses and gardens to the North of Cheltenham with its own Pump Room – a new spa town to rival Cheltenham. The gates would have been the entrance to this estate.

The estate was only ever partly completed. The housing development is relatively small but a little further north we will come to Pittville Park and the impressive Pittville Pump Room opened in 1830. It’s all now included in the expanded town of Cheltenham.

Pittville Park

As part of his new estate the area of Pittville Park to the East of Evesham Road with its ornamental lake was formed about the same time as the Pump Room by damming the stream called Wyman’s Brook. Originally it was enclosed by railings for the private use of residents and subscribers to spa facilities. It was formally opened to the public in 1894 just after its purchase by Cheltenham Borough Council.

There are several informative notices in the park and we will come back later to the useful map on this one.

The area of the Park to the West of Evesham Road, not included in Pitt’s original plans, is called the Marle Hill Annexe on its notice. It has a Boating Lake, formerly known as Capper’s Fish Pond. I hardly ever see boats on the lake. The Boathouse opens in summer providing ice-creams and other refreshments.

(While some of my information comes from these signs, I have also turned, as always, to Wikipedia.)

A Walk Round the Park

I will take you on a route round the park and point out areas of interest. I have several routes that I use but they are all similar to the route I will use here. Here is a map from the park notice on which I have numbered some locations to guide you round. (My pictures come from two or three visits so the weather and vegetation may appear to change suddenly.)

To the Boating Lake

I won’t start anywhere near Pittville Gates. North of the Park, just off Albermarle Gate there is a rough car park marked [1], which I use when I drive to the Park. It’s one of the few places around Cheltenham where I can park free.

Not far from here is one of my favourite trees, this tall redwood.

From our starting point it’s a short walk downhill to the lake. This large grassy area is used for ‘Pitch and Putt’ golf in the summer. Here is one of the greens almost ready for its flag.

We come to a path by the lake marked [2] on my map. Note the chair and the bridge.

I stand behind the chair turn a little right and photograph a group of six young trees.

Then I go to the middle of the bridge and photograph the view of the lake and its surrounding landscape.

My plan is to do a blog showing you how these two pictures change through the year.

Here is the path continuing along the northern edge of the lake.

A little further on the lake widens. Here are two views showing how it changes with the seasons and the weather.

The Far West

I will come back to the lake but we have to cross Tommy Taylors Lane to an extension of the Park, a wilder area normally not frequented by park visitors – just dog-walkers! On the map we go from [3] to [4].

Sometimes I start here when I have walked to the Park. I follow the edged of this section clockwise, starting with the trees at the edge by the Prince of Wales stadium.

At the far end we come to a corner [5] with a wild area nearby.

From here the short walk along the far edge is ideal for summer visiting birds.

This area of land that we are circling used to be an extension of the mini-golf but it hasn’t been plain grass for a few years. It’s now left as longer grass with wild flowers.

As we come round back to the road the back gardens of houses provide the habitat for sparrows and other garden birds.

Albermarle Gate

After crossing back at [6] I don’t always do the next short section along the edge by the street known as Albermarle Gate.

There is some more rough grass with wild flowers and an expanse of grass that includes the mini-golf area.

There is another impressive tree followed by a development of houses jutting into the park.

Some of these houses share a small open area by the park with another one of my favourite trees at [7].

Just beyond this is the car park [1] where we started.

Wyman’s Brook Outlet

I need to say something here about Leonhard Euler, who in 1735 famously considered the mathematical problem known as the Seven Bridges of Königsberg. The city of Königsberg in Prussia (now Kaliningrad in an enclave of Russia) was set on the Pregel River, and had two large islands connected to each other and the mainland by seven bridges. The problem was to decide whether it was possible to follow a path that crosses each bridge exactly once and returns to the starting point.

Well the answer that it is impossible. Going round my circuit of Pittville Park is similar. Wherever we start and stop there is some duplication. So we move instantly from the car park [1] to the end of the lake [3] where we have already been.

On this lake you may find swans, ducks and other waterfowl but when I went round there was this Magpie.

Here is the lake as seen from near the end.

Water leaves the lake here down a little waterfall to the reconstituted Wyman’s Brook on its way out of the park. It soon disappears underground for a while. This is the best place to spot Grey Wagtail.

I used to do a regular bird census and would routinely count twenty or more Mallards here at the end. But numbers have now dropped and it’s common to find none here.

This may be a bit repetitive but around [8] on the map is another of my favourite trees leaning over the lake.

Here is a squirrel by the lake before we come to the section by the island.

South of the Boating Lake

The path continues and near the point marked [9] there are several tall trees.

We pass the other side of the bridge which we saw earlier.

This metal pedestrian bridge, joining the north and south banks of the Lower Lake, was opened in February 2012, replacing earlier wooden bridges which had been damaged beyond repair. The bridge is decorated with metal sculptures based on drawings made by local schoolchildren and artists.

A little further on we see the Boathouse opposite and then a murky looking almost stagnant pool.

It can’t be that bad as there are often birds here, sometimes Great Crested Grebe. I saw a Coot here recently settled on its newly assembled nest.

Just before the Evesham Road is another area of trees – sometimes with Green Woodpecker or Jays.

East Lake and Pump Room

It’s best to go under the road through a dismal underpass to the part that Pitt included in his original designs. This section is dominated by its lake with stone bridges at each end. Here is the first bridge [10] and the view from it.

We walk past a quaint little building reminiscent of the Boathouse. (Public Conveniences!)

There is a large Children’s Play Area, recently rebuilt and enlarged, and an open grassy area leading to the Pump Room [11].

I will say more about this building when I look at Cheltenham. I stop at the edge of the lake with this building behind me. Usually there are lots of Mallard, Moorhen, gulls and pigeons here.

We are nearly done. At the far end [12] is the other bridge.

You can look back over the lake.

The other side of the bridge is a nasty looking area of stagnant water and a much smaller bridge over the incoming Wyman’s Brook. This is rumoured to be the best place to see a Kingfisher but I have only ever seen one once – for about two seconds.

Towards Town

Continuing round there is a short section with an enclosed area of trees to the right, then a final view of the lake before heading south towards town.

This open tree-lined section would have been the way from those splendid gates when the park was enclosed.

Half way down at [13] our last numbered point on the map is another little building, the Central Cross Café.

I have never been tempted to stop here but I am a bit of a coffee snob. Over a small road past the cafe is an old building, used as an ARP (Air Raid Precaution) Centre from 1942-46. It now serves as a location for Scouts. (I want to call them Boy Scouts but the sign is clear – boys and girls welcome.)

Another bit of tree-lined grass brings us to the end of the park, still a few hundred metres from those gates!

As for my blog about Slimbridge I have so far only taken pictures in the wintry half of the year. In the spring and summer we will see more flowers, more leaves on the trees, more birds and more insects.

Even in winter I get my exercise by walking to the park and round it.





1 Comment

[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.




Leave a comment

[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.]