Sunday, 31 August 2014

Day 31 - August Challenge 14

Challenge - "Old timbered buildings"

Suggested by - Ray via Facebook

"love those old buildings in your area..The houses etc with timbers olde English. Let's see how you represent this"

Well, I may as well go out with a flourish on the last day of my August Challenge!
One picture of twenty pictures. It just serves to show what a wealth of old timbered buildings there are in Saffron Walden alone, without going further out into Uttlesford.

There are some quite remarkable medieval buildings - the Old Sun Inn (R3P1), the old Youth Hostel (R3P5)... all from a period when timber framing was the way the buildings were constructed. Some of these buildings are further embellished with special plasterwork, traditional to this region. A fine example of this pargeting can be found on the gable of the Old Sun Inn (R1P3)

However, there is one image above which is quite notably out of place in this set.

It is now my turn to challenge all of you to tell me which one it is.

In the comments below, just write the row and position (as I have done above) of the one you think it may be. Obviously I know some of you already have the knowledge so maybe if you are an expert (Martyn!) then perhaps hang back and see what others might choose. Please don't say why at this point, just the number. I will reveal the answer on Thursday night at the viewing evening at Design Essentials. Those answers given here will go into a hat with the others on the night. Do come along for a chat, if you can, to see if you are right, and also to see the results of the challenges all of you set for me - this will be your show just as much as it is mine!

Thank you all for a great month of challenges and all of your wonderful support!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Day 30 - August Challenge 14

Challenge - "Oldest football team"

Suggested by Nigel via blog

"Something to do with the oldest football club in Essex - "Up the Bloods" "

"It used to cost sixpence to come and watch me"

"Well it costs a fiver to come and watch me now - I guess you had better go and ask for your money back after today!"

That was the conversation between a past player, Sid Boyton and current no. 3 player, Jamie Solkhon as they chatted at the end of the FA cup match at Catons Lane this afternoon. They may be separated by age but they were certainly united in their love for the game of football. Both playing the same position, they started discussing football boots.

"Bet you would never wear a pair like this!"
said Jamie as stood on one leg flashing a day-glo yellow boot in front of Sid.

"No! I went into a shop where I was shown a pair that were something special, nice supple leather. At (what is now) £7.50 that was more than a weeks wages to me. Do you know? I still have those boots and they are as good as ever!"

Sid, at 88 years young and life member of The Bloods, admitted he isn't able to get to as many matches as he would like as he can't manage the cold any more. It was just as well it was a pleasant late summer afternoon for him to enjoy the match today. This fine weather also brought a great turnout of supporters to the gate, where the sign 'The oldest club in Essex. Formed 1872' proudly reminds both home and away supporters alike, as they pass through the turnstiles to pay their fiver.

I can't comment on the standard of the match today, as my knowledge of football is...well, pretty sketchy. I know when a goal is scored (and there were four of those today - well sort of. 1 score each and 1 disallowed each). I also have to admit that this is the first FA match and even, the first live football match I have ever been to. I thought I might feel ready to go home at half time but something compelled me to stay and watch my home team in the hope they would maintain their early lead and go on to win the match. Sadly it wasn't to be and the disappointing draw result means a mid-week replay for all the lads. I'm not sure Sid or myself will be making the return trip to Welwyn Garden City, but I'd like to wish The Bloods "Good Luck!"

Today's image and all the other images from my August Challenge will be on display in Design Essentials during September.

Tomorrow, Day 31 - the last day!

"Old half-timbered buildings"

My grateful thanks to:
Martin Johnson (Chairman) Andy Player (Club secretary) Sid Boyton (Life member) Jamie Solkhon (Player)

Friday, 29 August 2014

Day 29 - August Challenge 14

Challenge - "Peace / Quakers"

Suggested by - CJ via Twitter

"how about 'peace' - ties in with the Quaker heritage but also sets against SW as the base of Cromwell's Army..."

Back on Day 14 , I mentioned the fact there was a link with Quakers and Saffron Walden. Indeed, when we moved to the town nearly 30 years ago, we discovered the legacy of the Quaker heritage, even to the extent that there were limited opening hours for the pubs and the one off-licence that was in the town. (It is all changed now!)

Here, perhaps we need to know a little about Quakers. To quote the Quaker website:
"Quakerism is a way of life that is shaped by a deep commitment to peace, simplicity, truth and equality. This commitment is rooted in and nourished by our experience of silent and attentive worship and grows from a belief in the sanctity of all life."
The Quaker way has links with the puritan life which prevailed during the Commonwealth Period, and it was during that period that Oliver Cromwell visited Saffron Walden. He is said to have stayed in the Old Sun Inn whilst he was in talks with the New Model Army.

Perhaps you are asking, what is the connection then between my image today and the challenge? Well this evening I took myself to a little jewel in the crown, tucked away at the medieval end of the town. Bridge End Gardens is a garden that has been restored in recent years, to bring it back to how it might have been during the time when the Gibson family commissioned it. This is the same Quaker family of Gibsons who also built the house that we live in now and which I wrote of on Day 14. The gardens are a peaceful place to enjoy - either the horticultural delights, or getting lost in the splendid hedge maze or even sitting watching outdoor theatre, as I have also done on many an occasion. Indeed, as I walked around the garden tonight, there was a performance of 'Britain in History' being performed by the Shake a Leg Theatre Company, which is based in the town. Quietly wandering through the garden behind the temporary auditorium, I came in on the performance just at the point they were re-enacting the facts about...who other than Cromwell! I couldn't help but linger a while and enjoy this 'managable history'

Once the 20 minute interval was announced and just as the last of the light was disappearing from the sky, the audience got up from their assorted picnic chairs and wandered back and forth along the little paths which were now lit up with floodlights. The charming gardens took on a completely new feel and it was this alternative view of these peaceful, Quaker-founded gardens which I chose to capture.

Today's image and all the other images from my August Challenge will be on display in Design Essentials during September.

Tomorrow, Day 30 (Penultimate Challenge)

"Oldest football team"

Tower Poppies

A couple of weeks ago, I had to make a visit London and whilst there, I made a point of dropping by the Tower of London to see the Tower Poppies.
This post is acting as the perfect bridge between my Carver Barracks challenge post yesterday, and my Peace/Quaker post for later today.

Well, what can I say?




I will just let the images speak for themselves...

Somewhere there is my poppy - this is where you can buy one too...

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Day 28 - August Challenge 14

Challenge - "Carver Barracks"

Suggested by - Wendy via Facebook

It is not an unusual occurrence to see uniformed army personnel in Saffron Walden yet this doesn't cause alarm amongst the townsfolk as it would in some towns, for we live alongside Carver Barracks as our neighbour. Located on the former RAF Debden airfield, the barrracks are currently home to 33 Engineer Regiment and the 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment, bomb disposal units. Originally built just prior to the second world war there were a couple of custodians of this base, including the American Airforce from 1942-45 and the RAF, before it being handed over to the Army in 1974. Since then there have been Dragoon Guards, Royal Hussars, and in my time living in the town, the Royal Lancers, finishing up now with the Royal Engineers

Over the years I have been inside the base to visit army friends and to attend assorted events, although sadly in July I missed one big event - the Open Day a great way for the army to showcase what they do, and for the local people to show their support for these brave soldiers. And support they do! For example, on the occasion of the one of the homecomings following a tour in Afghanistan, the town turned out to welcome them back, applauding as they paraded through the town. Sadly though, there was no joyful reunion for a number of families. As with any conflict, there are always casualties.

On a drizzly grey morning, I was escorted, in a perfectly friendly manner, to a place a short walk inside the fence and beyond the guard room (where I had reported at 9am as planned). It was a large square, currently used for parking, but could possibly be turned into a form of parade ground. Around all four sides were buildings, each, I was told, taking the name of a person lost in the course of their duties in Iraq. It brought it home but what I was really there for, was to see the new memorial to all those bomb disposal personnel who had lost their lives in the course of their duty. Still to be completed, the carved stonework panel depicting a sapper in action, was set into brickwork, with two brickwork arms reaching out on either side, in a manner that could be seen as providing one final hug for those whose names are currently being cut into granite panels, and which will be fixed on either side. I asked my military guard, if he knew how many names were to be on the panels and who the artist of the carved panel might be. Not to be defeated, he escorted me to the QMs office where I spoke to an equally friendly officer who filled me in with a little more about the memorial. Apparently the carved panel was commissioned a few years ago and is being re-incorporated into this new memorial. He admitted though that he was equally stumped on the artist and the sad tally of who were to be included on the panels. He felt it his duty to find out for me, and when I am furnished with this information, I will duly update here.

As the Union Flag fluttered above the memorial which stood silent this morning, I couldn't help but stop and think of those who had paid with their lives, in the quest for a peace that may ultimately flutter through, and in a hope it might be appreciated throughout the world.


Today's image and all the other images from my August Challenge will be on display in Design Essentials during September

Tomorrow, Day 29

"Peace / Quakers"

My grateful thanks to the personnel at Carver Barracks

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Day 27 - August Challenge 14

Challenge - "Oldest used building"

Suggested by - Kay via Twitter

"That time again!!! Love the challenges last year! May I set u the challenge of Uttlesford's oldest building? And to confirm, a building still in use and not a ruin."

Having lived in this cosy corner of North Essex for almost 30 years, I have come to know many of the local landmarks and features. One such landmark being the incredible Prior's Hall Barn at Widdington. With this area of Uttlesford being rich in medieval buildings, it's no surprise to find this barn - one of the finest surviving examples of of its type in the East of England, and I couldn't but fail to be impressed on the occasions when I have visited it.

"But?" I hear you say...Yes, I know, it is old and not a ruin but is it in continual use? Well, no, but over the other side of a flint wall adjacent to the barn is another surprise. Prior's Hall Farm is a beautiful family home, full of charm and character, and under the blue skies this morning it looked friendly and inviting. Clearly a building with history, and a history which I wanted to find a little more about as I had been directed to it by a local historian, indicating that it could well be the oldest (continually) inhabited building in the area, if not in England. With a heritage possibly dating back to the late tenth or early eleventh century, this building of saxon origin, pre-dated the beautiful medieval barn by four hundred years or so. Hard to believe - but there was evidence. Maggs, the lady of the house was so kind as to point out the features that had led previous owners and historians to determine it's heritage.

Running ground to eaves next to the front door was a a band of exposed stonework, and which was mirrored at the other end of this north-facing side of the house. With long thin vertical stones punctuated by long thin horizontal stones (see example e) these features were a clear indication of saxon architecture. The presence of a v-shaped stone window arch and a solid semi-circular arch, now incorporated in an end wall corroborated the evidence.

As I stood in the sunshine in the beautiful gardens, listening to the robin singing in the nearby fruit tree, I chatted to Darrell on the cordless phone that Maggs had handed me. He explained to me more of the fascinating history of this Grade 1 listed building, from involvement with William the Conqueror, to Edward III, to the manor becoming part of the estates of New College, Oxford. All far more involved than I can write here in this short post. As we chatted I looked back at the manor house and clearly there were medieval and later additions, but for me, this fascinating evidence was good enough to allow me to present to you what is probably the oldest, still in use building in Uttlesford, my picture showing you the beautiful detail of the saxon quions, set against the backdrop of the medieval barn.

Today's image and all the other images from my August Challenge will be on display in Design Essentials during September

Tomorrow, Day 28

"Carver Barracks"

My grateful thanks to Darrell and Maggs for allowing me to photograph a corner of their beautiful home, and also Martyn for the inside historical information.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Day 26 - August Challenge 14

Challenge - "Stansted flight"

Suggested by - Ian via Facebook

"Your challenge is to photograph the longest scheduled flight to/from Stansted"

Well, I have to admit, this was certainly going to be a challenge (as well as fun), as to start with I would have to find out which flight it might be. Thankfully, the cat was let out of the bag a little so I guessed it was a commercial flight rather than a passenger flight, FedEx being my first hunch. With a bit of digging around online, it was possible to find out where FedEx flew and it was clear that it was a flight to the American continent that was possibly going to be the winner. A closer look revealed that FedEx2 out of Memphis was measuring up to be the longest with a distance of 4381 miles and a time of 7 hours 38 minutes. I was on to it.

Next would be the tracking to ensure I was in the right place at the right time. Now that bit was easy as once I knew which flight I was looking for, there were several apps available which tracked them. I chose to use flight tracker and first thing this morning, I logged on to begin my watch.

At several times throughout the day, I checked the progress and it appeared to be not too far off the scheduled times. My next plan was to decide on my spot to capture the shot but this was dependent on which way the planes were taking off and landing. Having taken shots of important arrivals at the airport before, I had a shot in mind and set off with my trusty photographer's assistant and my new assistant in training (aka my visiting big sis). As we made our way towards Stansted Airport, it was clear that my hope for the planned shot was going to be thwarted as the planes were landing at the Stortford end. Not for the first time this week, plan B was put into action.

Killing two birds with one stone, we were able to walk mutt along the old railway line - now The Flitch Way footpath and bicycle trail, which conveniently took us right under the flight path of the approaching planes, but this wasn't a good enough spot. I knew it was going to be a scramble up a bank to a raised spot I had used previously as a plane spotting vantage point. What I hadn't planned was slipping back down said bank into a crop of tenacious burdock, much to the amusement of my assistant in training. Undeterred, I pressed on to the spot, my jumper and worse still, my hair being full of burrs. (What I do to carry out these challenges, heh? And I have to say, the burrs certainly do what they are designed for!)

Setting up my kit and checking the app on my phone, I knew it wouldn't be long before the plane was due (and hopefully the one the challenger had in mind). We watched as the various 'low fares airlines' followed in one behind another, and then I had the alert from my assistant in training - "Plane coming!" Sure enough, it was sporting the colours of FedEx and I had just this one opportunity to accomplish my challenge to photograph the plane.

It was odd to think that I had tracked this very plane since it had left in the early hours of the Memphis day and now here it was, close enough to see the crew in their seats. As it came in on final approach, I was able to prove the moment with the landing gear down and verify the plane as the registration was clearly visible on the side of the aircraft. And to corroborate that, the screen grab proved the time (give or take my camera being out by a couple of minutes). So I would like to think it was a clear case of 'Mission Accomplished!'

Oh, and I might just keep on my assistant in training, seeing as she very kindly removed the burrs from my hair!

Today's image and all the other images from my August Challenge will be on display in Design Essentials during September

Tomorrow, Day 27

"Uttlesford's oldest used building"

My thanks to Addo for apps suggestions and Gillian for being the necessary hairdresser.