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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Old Dilapidated WWII Churchill Tank





I stopped off at a place called Mucklebourgh in Norfolk, where there was a collection of many old military vehicles - a sort of private collection of anything from various nations over different periods of time. Of course, WWII paraphernalia was most common. I always enjoy wandering about such places and was thrilled to see a sad looking WWII Churchill Tank in a dilapidated looking state, yet awaiting attention in a yard full of derelict items. I presume that once such wrecks are restored, they go on display on the main site where visitors get to see them close up. 

The tanks were used in North Africa, Italy and North West Europe. They underwent many adaptations throughout the war. Their production was somewhat hurried when France fell and British allied forces retreated home to the Isles. Most of the military vehicles were lost on the roads too, and the sands of Dunkirk. The prospect of a German invasion was imminent and therefore tanks were needed desperately.

The Churchill tank came into existence out of desperation and because of its hurried development, the tank was plagued with a number of problems. Fortunately, Britain was not invaded, but other theatres of war saw the Churchill as underpowered, and unreliable when up against the more pristine German tanks. It had weak armament at first too. So many problems had to be overcome and at one point production was almost scrapped. However, a reprieve was won and gradually the tank began to be fitted with more modifications. By the time of the Normandy invasion and with other types of military support, the Churchill performed adequately enough.

It was grand to see such a tank upon entering the Marlborough collection, but the Churchill vehicle will obviously need to be renovated before going on display. I like the tank because of it's vulnerabilities during the induction phase. These things I find interesting. However, I would not like to have been one of the poor blighters inside, when confronting one of the more superior German tanks of the day.

Some of them were sent to the Soviet Union, and Australia took some for the war in the Pacific with Japan. However, the war ended before Australia could put them to use. How the Churchill fared in Russia is another matter. They would obviously become outdated by the big Soviet tanks of that conflict and replaced.

Churchill tanks were also used during the Korean war and more were sold to the Irish Army. What mark of design the above Churchill tank is; I cannot say, but I presume it is one of the latter developments.


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Victorian Battleship Model

I saw a model ship from Victorian times in a military Museum in Norfolk as I drove along the coastal road back to my home in the Fenlands. It was a pleasant surprise because the museum had a little more to look at than I expected.

In one section I saw a number of model boats. One of them HMS Hornet of the Dreadnought class or just pre-Dreadnought. I wrote a pastiche novel of H.G.Wells' War of the Worlds. It is called: The Last Days of Thunder Child. Although in my book, Thunder Child is visualised as a ship looking more like HMS Devastation the HMS Hornet, the models figures of the sailors on board would look the same. I loved the look of the superstructure and the wheel house and the figure standing about in their RN uniforms of the era.

I could not help but excitedly snap the model in order to get a look at the sailors aboard. It sets my old imagination going into overdrive.  


To my further delight, I saw a paddle steamer called the Waverly. This little boat still exists and goes all around the British Isles to various seaside locations each year. When I lived at Southend-on-Sea she often came to the pier and took people out on excursions. I based the paddle steamer on the one in H.G.Wells' War of the Worlds when I wrote the Thunder Child pastiche story. Therefore, I had to click all. I have the image of the sailors aboard HMS Hornet for the uniforms of the day, the paddle steamer Waverly (re-named Southend Belle) for the fleeing boat full of refugees and the model of HMS Devastation for my mind's image of the fictitious  HMS Thunder Child.  


The model of HMS Devastation with her short barrelled muzzle loading guns are what I imagined Thunder Child to look like. Outdated, even in 1898, but able to pack a punch for the people on the paddle steamer in the Last Days of Thunder Child.




Bringing You: How a Person can live in such a Small Norfolk Seaside House?

We were driving along the coastal road of Norfolk, making our way home to the Fenlands. We had visited the seaside town of Cromer. As we followed the road back we stopped off at various places of interest. One was another seaside town called Wells by the Sea. As we pulled into the car park, I saw the smallest house I've ever seen. I could not imagine anyone living comfortably in such a space as this quirky little seaside cottage. My wife, Carole stood at the street door. She is 5ft 3'. Look at her by the front door and you'll understand what I mean.

We laughed - the place was up for sale. I'm sure someone with a rich sense of humour might by the place. The mind boggles at the thought of those who lived here in the past, for it is several hundred years old.


We went about the rest of Wells by the Sea for a reconnoitre and found lots of quaint places before going on to the next part of our coastal drive home. I, of course had my camera ready for some snaps. There were a few charming places of interest, but the tiny house took the biscuit.




















Monday, 22 June 2015

Father's Day to see our Dads Plus Jellied Eels and Crayfish Tails - yum yum.

My wife, Carole and I decided to go out for the day on Sunday. It was Father’s Day and both our Dads live in Essex. My Dad lives in Hornchurch and Carole’s Dad lives in Burnham-on-Crouch.

We started early, as it is a one hundred miles trip to my Dads and another 30 miles on to Carole’s Dad. Then back along the motorway to the ring road M25 and back up the M11 towards Cambridgeshire and our little Market town of March. It was a good day out and both Dads were pleased to see us. I, of course took my camera and photographed some of Essex on the fine Sunday summer’s day. We even found a sea food stool in the middle of nowhere, coming out of Burnham towards Latchingdon. I, of course, had jellied eels. These delicious eats seem to make anyone, not London born, go yuk! I can’t understand them. We also had crayfish tails too – yum, yum.


It was a pleasant Sunday all round. First pictures are at my Dad's in Hornchurch. The second lot are on the way to Carole's Dad and of the old miniture Norman Castle he built in the Garden over 50 years ago. 

My Dad's Garden is like a secret place with lots of floral archways and nooks and crannies.










My Dad.

On the way to Carole's Dads at Burnham on Crouch. We pass through Bradwell-on-Sea








The old miniture Norman castle that Carole's Dad built over 50 years ago.




The Grass Snake at the Bird Hide

After my enjoyable trip to the bird hides of Manea, I decided to try and persuade my wife, Carole, to come with me, because she seems to spot things that I might miss. She agreed to come along and so we packed sandwiches and salads, plus a flask of hot water. Carole had her coffee and I, the Latte granules in sachets. We arrived after driving through the countryside. We saw lots of Kestrels on the way and I stopped to try and get one. They are rather difficult because the little things tend to fly off the moment they realise you are observing them. I got one in a photo shot just as it turned and spotted me.

CLICK!

…and then it was gone. Still it came out fine.

Carole and I arrived along the canal bank right out in the middle of nowhere. There was a car park, which I made use of and then off we set upon the planked walkway towards one of the many scattered bird hides that were stationed upon the dike at about 900 meter intervals. We had a bird hide to ourselves and a clear view over the marshy Fen.

There were a variety of different birds. Lots of Swifts, Swallows, Terns, Coots. We had small telescope, and a small pair of binoculars. Also my camera. I was hoping to see birds of prey. I had already got a small Kestrel on the way here, as I said earlier, therefore, I was happy with that knowing other things might unfold.

A Heron came gliding down and I caught that on camera plus a Tern as it came along the river. For some time Carole and I sat looking out of the window shutter of the hide. We chatted about all sorts of things while scanning the Fen with telescope and binoculars. Both of us agreed we needed better binoculars and spoke of infa-red ones in case we came in darkness looking for owls. We are novices and are learning along the way.

Carole spotted a buzzard far off across the Fen and we each looked onto the hawk with telescope and binoculars. It was too far to photograph, but we were able to watch it gliding and circling for some time before it swooped down behind a distant dike.

Later two Kestrels came over the hide and we watched them for some time. They seemed to be sweeping along the dike where our hide was. They would move off some distance away and then gradually return. The pair were a little distance apart and were hovering then swooping down into the long grass. Each time the little falcons lifted back up, we expected to see some vole or other gripped within the talons but no. The continued to try and I could not produce any photos worthy of the blog, because they were always a little too far. I need a camera lens with stronger magnification.

It was on the way back to the car as we walked along the wooded gantry bridge over the marsh that Carole started spotting things. I was photographing a rickety old cottage that looked in need of some TLC.

“LOOK!” said Carole.

As I did so, I saw the end of a snake slither into the long grass and amid the foliage of the river bank. I could not get the camera into play quick enough. Then a few more steps and Carole spotted a coiled adder, basking in the sun and as I lifted the camera again, the viper was gone into the long grass and bushes. It was so frustrating because the things moved so quickly. Then I almost trod on a smaller grass snake. Fortunately, this little viper is none venomous and this particular fellow seemed to be a poser. It slithered about out of the grass and onto the gravel path, allowing me to catch a few shots before it too, slithered off into the long grass towards the canal.

The kestrel just clocked me before flying off. 

Heron swoops in for a recky.

Tern swoops over the river.

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