Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Avoid middle ear infections if you can!! - Part 2

Normally I would dream of posting one, never mind two, blog entries about my health. But so many of you have been kind enough to ask "how are you now" that it seems quite rude not to publish an update!

So - 4 weeks on from my last blog entry how have things progressed?

Well not as far as I would have hoped if I'm honest. Everything to do taking sleeping tablets to "re-establish my sleep patterns" proved difficult. The side effects were most unpleasant and since I wasn't getting anything like the number of hours of sleep that the doctors expected when they prescribed them for me the treatment was stopped. That was a relief as it felt that I was just swapping one problem (going to sleep) for another (eventually coming off the pills)

Then I got a groin infection plus a separate problem with my bladder. Both were quickly diagnosed but both took time to get better. A few days in hospital didn't help me - possibly it actually made me rather worse - but eventually, about 10 days ago, I turned the proverbial corner and started to feel a slow improvement.

This is continuing but is boringly slow!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Avoid middle ear infections if you can!!

A month ago I became aware of a hissing sound in my ear - not particularly loud but loud enough to be annoying. This was on a Wednesday. I phoned the local National Health Service practice and was surprised - to say the least - that the first available appointment with any doctor was 5 days later.

And so the merry-go-round of misdiagnosis and waiting for treatment started. The people I met were pleasant enough but the system, to be blunt, sucks!

The first two doctors didn't listen when I explained my symptoms. As soon as I said noises in the ear each became fixated on ear wax and then on tinnitus and both seemed to filter out all that I told them about how the ringing almost always only started when I lay down. I could be noise free all day but within 30 seconds of lying down the noises would start. I could also usually eliminate all or part of the noise by blowing my nose.

I ended up with a blood-pressure monitor for a week. My blood pressure was slightly raised - yes by the stress resulting from not sleeping due the noises in my ear. Assorted blood tests proved negative and a trip to the not-very-local hospital to have my hearing checked proved that my hearing was excellent.

At this stage, about 3 weeks into the story, I hadn't had any treatment or any evidence-based diagnosis. I was so fed up by now that I went back to the local medical practice. Doctor #3 was much better and gave me a steroid containing nasal spray that started to help almost at once by reducing the inflammation that was causing the noises in my ear. He also gave me something to help with my sleeping problems. Why did he do this? Because he listened to the fine detail of my problem!

September 2016 was one of the worst months of my adult life. I am gradually improving but it will take a while before I will feel relaxed about undertaking activities that had previously made the noises start or get louder. This erosion of confidence is not at all nice - nor easy to deal with!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

More on social history - South African Picture Postcards

As a former stamp collector the idea of conducting my hobby without the use of a full-colour priced catalogue would have seemed ridiculous. Many such catalogues are produced each year - ranging in scope from those covering the whole world in a highly simplified format to others covering the issues of a single country in great detail. It therefore came as a great surprise to me to discover that no catalogue had been produced covering the activities of the many postcard publishers who had been in business in South Africa in the early part of the twentieth century. Starting in the 1980's the now defunct Southern Africa Postcard Research Group (SAPRG) under the leadership of Aston (Archie) Atkinson published a number of preliminary checklists of publishers and the cards they had produced. It soon became clear that these lists, although admirable starting points, were far from complete and it was for this reason that I proposed the compilation and subsequent publication of the South African Picture Postcard Catalogue.
Both of these books are available from Amazon

Friday, 16 September 2016

Sutton Bonington Campus - University of Nottingham

The weekend of September 10/11 2016 was a special time for Claire and I as we had decided to attend the 40th anniversary event for Sutton Bonington campus graduates from 1976. Yes, amazingly, it is 40 years since we graduated from Nottingham University!

We had a couple of days staying in Ashby-de-la-Zouch before the event. We visited assorted churches and cemeteries and made some good finds. Ashby seems busier than it used to be and our first house seemed smaller than we remembered it to be.

It rained quite hard on the Saturday morning but luckily the afternoon turned dry.  There were about 30 of us, almost the same faces as 10 years ago.  Even DK turned up in his wheelchair - "I fell off a ladder", he said.  He seemed very good and it was nice to see him.  We stayed in one of the newer hostels beyond the old Hostel 5: goodness me the rooms seemed small although comfortable enough with those little bathroom "pods". The number of aircraft flying over seems to have gone up and some planes seem to arrive in the middle of the night. 

I am second from the left

We were amazed at all the new buildings, and extremely impressed with the quality of the facilities for modern students.  There must have been many tens of millions of pounds spent on the site. Our jaws dropped at the (current) devastation where the JCR used to be.  It is gone!  A new mid-campus "Plaza" is being created: doubtless it will be wonderful when it is finished.  The old Hostel 5 pond was long since filled in on safety grounds, only for modern designers/architects to add multiple new "designer" ponds elsewhere!

We had a meal together in the new facility (The Barn), but Martin and I didn't really think it was £30-worth.  Sloppy pate starter with inadequate bread, and just carrots and mashed potato with the main course.  Not very imaginative. But Sunday was sunny, and after a snacky breakfast in a café in the Costcutter shop on campus we went a walk down to the River Soar.  Altogether a very enjoyable weekend.  We will certainly like to attend the 50th and final reunion event in 2026.

Friday, 1 July 2016

From the UK to the USA - grave hunting!

This 13 day holiday called America's Founding History was organised by Great Rail Journeys and as has always been the case with this company the holiday was well organised and highly enjoyable.

Holidays such as this are rather hostages to fortune with respect to the weather and the energy and enthusiasm of the tour guide. We were lucky in both respects. John Rayment was one of the best guides we have experienced and the weather, although hot and humid, was overwhelmingly dry.

We visited (in order) Washington DC, Jamestown/Williamsburg/Yorktown, Lexington, Monticello, Charlottesville, Gettysburg and, finally, Philadelphia and, of course, we did some serious grave hunting along the way!

Arlington National Cemetery - Joe Louis, World Heavyweight boxing champion.
Arlington National Cemetery - Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II.

The only minor glitches were due to Amtrak and British Airways. The rail trip from Washington DC to Williamsburg was - to be blunt - something of a fiasco. The train arrived 45 minutes late at Washington and then fell further and further behind the advertised arrival times at assorted intermediate stops before finally arriving at Williamsburg nearly 2 hours late.

The outwards trip from London Heathrow to Washington by British Airways was excellent but the over-night homewards trip from Philadelphia was spectacularly bad.
  • The plane left Philadelphia nearly an hour late.
  • The cabin was so cold that many people wore the supplied blanket over their head to mitigate the icy blasts coming from the overhead vents.
  • The breakfast was both tiny and almost inedible. The croissant was so stale that it was solid and the Granola cereal fruit bar would not have been out of place as a surfacing material on a road.
  • When we arrived at Heathrow there was nowhere for the plane to park and we just sat there for 20 minutes waiting for a slot to become vacant so that we could disembark. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Big Society and Social History

In 2010 the UK Prime Minister launched the Big Society initiative  There were five main threads to this:
  1. Give communities more powers.
  2. Encourage people to take an active role in their communities.
  3. Transfer power from central to local government.
  4. Support charities and social enterprises.
  5. Have open and transparent government
The Big Society Network was set up in the same year in order "to generate, develop and showcase new ideas to help people to come together in their neighbourhoods to do good things." but in 2014 the Big Society Network was put into administration owing money to the government and an application was made to the Charity Commission to have the organisation wound up! David Cameron did not use the term "Big Society" in public after 2013 and the phrase is no longer used in government statements.

Critics have concluded that the Big Society was intended primarily as a mechanism for reducing the size of the state and that austerity (in other words withdrawal of central financial support) in combination with the 5 principles of the Big Society would re-invigorated civic society. It didn't.

I would go further - in my role as Chair of Governors at a local school (equivalent to a School Board in the USA) I am finding it harder and harder to attract high quality applicants to serve as governors. It is particularly hard to find Foundation Governors (representatives of the Diocese). In theory we should have 3 such governors but for most of the last 18 months we had only one and there is a very real chance that in September we will have none at all.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Highlights of Great Orme Cemetery

Martin Nicholson's Cemetery Project

Martin Nicholson's Cemetery Project

St Tudno, Great Orme, Llandudno, Conwy, Wales

In the sixth century the young Tudno (pronounced “Tidno”) entered the monastery of Bangor is Coed, near Chester, which was renowned for its learning, patriotism and missionary zeal. In faith, Tudno then came to the ancient rock of the Great Orme and climbed the steep paths of the windswept headland to bring to the little round stone huts the message of Christianity. St. Tudno’s Church, on the Great Orme, is an emblem in stone of the witness of men down the ages to the faith first brought to this part by Tudno, Saint and Confessor. St. Tudno is now the patron saint of Llandudno and his feast day is celebrated on 5th June.

The dam on Llyn Eigiau, Dolgarrog, Gwynedd collapsed killing 16 people.

"Our own world champion".

Joseph Hobson and Thomas Jones were accidentally drowned in Llandudno Bay on Investiture Day in 1911.

The communal grave for a local Order of Nuns.

Brian Digby Cooke died in Singapore while undertaking his National Service.

Killed one month after his wedding day.

Aged 101.

RMS Leinster was a vessel operated by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, served as the Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire)-Holyhead mailboat until she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UB-123 on 10 October 1918, while bound for Holyhead. She went down just outside Dublin Bay at a point four miles (6 km) east of the Kish light. Over 500 people perished in the sinking – the greatest single loss of life in the Irish Sea.

Sir William Malesbury Letts (1873-1957) was a pioneer of the British Motor Trade and Co-Founder of the Automobile Association.

Aged 101.

Rowland Roberts was killed at the Stafford Road Works Wolverhampton in 1875.

James Lee "was killed by a fall from the Great Ormeshead" in 1871. He was aged 8.

Robert Price was a Gas Engineer.

Harry Van Wart was drowned following the upsetting of a boat.

George Edwards was the Agent of the Llandidno (sic) Copper Mines.

One unusual feature of this cemetery is the large number of interestingly shaped memorials including ones the like of which we have not seen elsewhere.

Martin Nicholson - Daventry, United Kingdom.
This page was last updated on August 19th 2014

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Highlights of Shrewsbury Cemetery

Martin Nicholson's Cemetery Project

Martin Nicholson's Cemetery Project

Kingsland Cemetery, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

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A massive cemetery requiring four separate visits to complete the survey.

Two brothers drowned in separate accidents, in Ireland and in Singapore, nearly nine years apart.

Drowned in the River Severn, aged 22.

Drowned in Clarach Bay near Aberstwyth.

Accidentally drowned, aged 11.

Accidentally drowned, aged 14.

A six year old boy presumed drowned in the River Severn. It would appear that his body was never recovered.

Drowned in the River Severn, aged 19.

Drowned in the River Severn, aged 8.

Drowned aged 3.

Jacob Evans was drowned in the River Rea.

Captain James Sawyers was washed overboard from the ship Martha in 1866.

Aged 100.

Aged 101.

Wilfred Hughes (Service #1819153) was killed while delivering supplies to the partisans.

Aged 101.

Aged 101.

Archie Willis was buried in his own cemetery.

The African Pioneer Corps was previously known as the African Auxiliary Pioneer Corps until October 1944. It would be interesting to know exactly how Nganda Kadugala ended up in Shrewsbury.

Aged 100.

Aged 100.

Joyce Winifred Rose died in an air raid on London in January 1944. Between 27th July 1940 and 26th April 1944 there were 101 daylight and 253 night raids on London by piloted aircraft.

An invalid for 50 years.

Motor Torpedo Boat 671 was lost through gunfire from German destroyers off Cape Barfleur, Alderney. A report of the battle can be found here.

Aged 101.

Aged 100.

A widow for 59 years.

This man lost his wife and his three children on the same day.

Aged 103.

Aged 100.

Aged 102.

Aged 102.

Aged 100.

Robert Teece worked for the Post Office for 49 years.

Aged 100.

A particularly uninformative memorial but the names amused us.

Aged 105.

Aged 100.

Aged 101.

Aged 103.

HMS Vernon was a shore establishment or 'stone frigate' of the Royal Navy.

Sadly the words used on this memorial don't make sense. You cannot be the parents of your grandchildren.

Aged 100.

Whoever came up with the wording for this memorial deserves great praise.

Anna Follini "Gave her life to horses"

"Granny Biscuit". Did she get the biscuit tin out each time she had visitors?

Police Constable Richard Gray was shot while attending a domestic disturbance.

Aged 100.

United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 09:03, killing all 65 people aboard.

Aged 100.

HMS Warrior was badly damaged at the battle of Jutland and was abandoned and allowed to sink

William Henry Carter died as the result of an accident on the Great Western Railway.

HMS Vivid was a Royal Navy Shore Training Establishment.

Aged 102.

Henry George Price died of illness on the Royal Navy training ship HMS Impregnable. It is not known why his age (16?) has been deleted from the stone.

Private William Paskin committed suicide at Copthorne Barracks.

A very unusual first name - Tryphena.

John Cowdell lost his life though an accident on the Great Western Railway in 1883.

Samuel Webster Allen was the 4th Bishop and Ambrose James Moriarty was the 6th Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury.

Antonio Colombotti - was a victim of the Shrewsbury railway accident of October 1907.

Aged 100.

Peter Alfred Davies was a Royal Marine who drowned off Pembokeshire while testing an experimental landing craft.

During the Battle of Balaclava Henry Preece took part in the charge of the Heavy Brigade as a result of which the Russians were forced onto the defensive.

An unusual design where only one part seems to have been renovated.

William Walter Vaughan was killed when two London, Midland and Scottish Railway goods trains collided near Stafford in 1938.

Stephen Crabtree Hodgson - another victim of the Shrewsbury railway accident of October 1907.

Aged 108 - an excellent find by Claire.

Joseph Jobson died in 1860 following an accident on the Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway.

Aged 100.

It looks as if additional text was being engraved on this stone and that we happened to see it before it was finished.

An extra line of text has been inserted and this has left the memorial looking rather strange.

The mason seems to have had a problem with the name of Mary Meredith's mother. There is a confusing mixture of i's, m's and n's.

Wilmsdorff Mansergh died in March 1893 having been "thrown from his car". This must have been steam rather than petrol powered.

HMS Worcester was the name given to the Thames Nautical Training College. Norman Hunter Sillar was only 13 when he died there.

A very impressive military memorial.

This is a very curious gravestone. It looks as if some text was partially deleted and the new text engraved over the top.

Frank Turner drowned in the River Severn while staying at the Unicorn Hotel.

This is first time we have seen "Recruit" engraved on a military grave.

Amy Alicia Vincent had been the Principal of a school in Ceylon for 7 years when she died aged 32.

John Edwards was a prisoner of war when he died in 1942. Curiously details of his military record cannot be found.

Aged 100.

One small section of the cemetery has been set aside to remember all the babies that died in Shrewsbury hospitals. There are currently 20 stones bearing the names and the date of death.

From the front this looked like a fairly standard memorial - then we looked around the side!

This must have been an expensive memorial when it was first purchased.

Martin Nicholson - Daventry, United Kingdom.

This page was last updated on June 15th 2015.