Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Spring or not?

Wow, what a shock to the system a walk on the reserve was this morning. Yesterday morning I wondered round coat less for the first time this year and marvelled at butterflies and bees on the wing in the warm sunshine - today it was back to full winter gear, it was bloody cold in a grey, murky light with a cold NE wind. When the wind is from the NE on the North Kent marshes there is little to break it's progress and it never fails to chill to the bone.
A bit of a sad story has been unfolding on the farmland alongside the reserve for the last few weeks. There is a ditch between the farmland and the reserve and around four weeks ago the cob of a resident pair of Mute Swans was seen laying dead in the rape field alongside the ditch. Ever since then his mate has rarely left the stretch of ditch where she presumably last saw him alive, simply feeding on rape alongside the ditch and presumably hoping he'll come back some time soon - quite sad.

The flock of c.300 White-fronted Geese still remains on the reserve, always restless as their time to leave comes and goes but they remain with us at the moment.

And at home in my garden pond the frogs have returned to spawn, just got to hope that the frosts stay away now until the spawn has hatched.

So what else has been going on in my retired life of ever increasing aches and pains.

Last Friday night, my long-time friend and I made another visit to the excellent Whitstable Folk Club to see two guitarists who we first saw at a club in the Tottenham Court Road, London, in the mid 1960's. We have seen Wizz Jones and John Renbourn a few times since but separately, but at the moment these two old friends from the 60's folk circuit are on a mini tour together and are well worth getting to see. It kind of hits home at how old we are all getting when you see these two arthritic old boys, looking like escapees from a Rest Home, climb awkwardly onto the stage, but when they begin playing, oh dear, there's nothing arthritic about their guitars and their playing, it was sheer magic. I was talking to John Renbourn in the break and despite being in his early 70's and not finishing the gig until 10.30, he was still planning to drive back home to Scotland in his old van straight after. Old Folkies never lose it, he'd probably hitch it if he had too!

Forever trying to maintain a bit of variety in what I post, it's been a bit of a struggle lately to find something new to say. I don't want to flog the "Growing up in Sheppey" series to death an so I'll save the three wives and promotion from simple docker to part of the management team in Sheerness Docks for another day.
Lately I've been working on writing a potted history of part of the Williams family here on Sheppey. They go back to the early 1800's and are scions of both myself and girlfriend Di's families and their research saw the two of us originally meet nearly two years ago and we remain together today.
Edwin Williams and his family moved to Elmley in c.1884 until his retirement as a cowkeeper to the tenant farmer in c.1927. As anybody knows who has got involved with researching family history, or indeed any kind of history, sometimes the compilation of just one sentence can take hours of research to find what you're looking for, I've spent quite a bit of time in the local library just lately looking through local newspapers of the 1880's. Then there is the buying of all the birth, marriage and death certificates at £9.25 each and I have an awful lot of them and Di, twice as many.
But writing about Edwin and his family maintains my love of Elmley and it's history, and some of the black and white photos from the 1920's in my collection were used in the recent BBC Countryfile programme on Elmley. 


  1. You are definitely an old hippie at heart. It's always great to see good musicians still able to "do it". To often the media shows embarrassing come backs by old stagers who've lost it. I enjoyed the Elmley piece on countryfile, one of the last really remote bits of Kent.

  2. Yes Derek, I know my too above should have two o's!

  3. Tony, I'm not quite so obsessed with spelling mistakes as you. I'm definitely an old hippie, would go back and do it all again tomorrow.
    I agree re. Elmley. To have such a huge chunk of farmland turned over to NNR is awesome and they have some good ideas yet to come to fruition out there.