Thursday, January 25, 2024

Do you ever weep ?

 Do you every weep? For the state of the world? The people of Ukraine or the ones risking their lives crossing the channel in small boats? Now there are the people of Israel and Palestine, none of whom would choose to go to war against eaach other but are stuck in a situation created by zealots on both sides. We should weep for them all.

Tears can come watching TV at all of this and stories of children in trouble or happy because their football heroes acknowledge them. I weep remembering our family tragedies even though a long time ago.

When I see politicians with po faces and no emotions then I weep for them and for us that those who will be in charge of our destinies for the next few years have no empathy orf even genuine understanding of ordinary people.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Six Nations ? We have more than that.

 The six nations rugby competion has come round again and if we swapped those six nations around a bit, one of our family would always win!

We have English Irish and Scots and there might also be a Welsh, if you assume that Pritchard was really Ap Richard from across the Marches from Herefordshire.

We could leave in the French as family tradition suggests that there was a French grandmother somewhere but we can definitely include the Maltese, who could also have had Italian connections as the island is within sight of Sicily and there was constant traffic between the two. Then there are our German, Slovenian, and Czechoslovakian ancestors and if so minded we could throw in a couple of Aussies and Kiwis  into the mix as well.

Perhaps it is salutary to think in these times that these British Isles for centuries was more welcoming of migrants coming as refugees, fleeing appression than it is today. It seems that the only foreigners who are given the glad hand now are footballers coming to play for large sums of money for foreign owned "English" football clubs.  Ironic dont you think?

Friday, November 25, 2022

PPE but not plastic aprons or masks


If I had gone to university, as I might have done as a mature student then no doubt I would have chosen PPE as a course. These initials became synonimous in the covid pandemic with the plastic aprons and masks, many of them supplied to the NHS at exorbitant prices by Tory cronies.

I meant  Philosophy,politics and economics, Sounds grand doesn't it and ideal for budding politicians, which is probably why so many current parliamentarians seem to have their degrees in that.

Over the years I have thought about what was actually learned to study PPE.  Judging from the attitudes of so many of the aforementioned parliamentarians many seem to have skipped the philosophy modules and concentrated on economics,more specifically perhaps their own finances!

Doesn't matter what shade of politics philosophical commitment to the cause doesn't seem to rank as high as the need to climb the proverbial greasy poll. 

Tories by definition have to pretend to be concerned about the condition of people in poverty whilst at the same time supporting policies that make them poorer whilst so many labour hopefuls have never had their hands dirty and are only too willing to pander to the worst aspects of the attitudes of people who have no affiliation to the labour movement,decry trade unionists and voted Brexit.

Monday, November 21, 2022

A challenging project right off the bat

 A challenging project right off the bat

 The conservation and partial restoration of an 18th-century taxidermy bat specimen

 © Simon Moore ACR   

Cumberland House Natural History Museum received a grant from the Collections Care Stimulus Grant Fund to conserve and partially restore a taxidermy bat dated 6 September 1779 - the oldest specimen in their natural history collection.  

 1779 Taxidermist's label still intact 

The taxidermist's label on the rear of the case is still intact, and shows that it is the work of Thomas Hall. Thomas Hall was one of the UK's earliest taxidermists and described himself as "the first artist in the world for preserving birds, beasts and all sorts of reptiles, to resemble attitude and perfection of life". He had a museum of stuffed animals at his home and is thought to have owned and exhibited the first kangaroo seen in Europe. 

© Simon Moore ACR 

Specimen label dated to 1779 

  A delicate and challenging project The work was carried out by Simon Moore ACR of Natural History Conservation, leading expert in the field of natural sciences conservation. The job was very delicate - head and both ears were detached, exposed part of armature rusted, wings embrittled and frequently torn and holed. Judging by the frass particles under the fur, the specimen had also been attacked by clothes moth larvae.  

© Simon Moore ACR  

 The right wing had become detached and the wing membrane and many other areas, especially the tail web, had either become torn or eaten away by the pest larvae. The brittleness of the wings was extreme and the project suffered a setback - a large hole appeared during the sizing of the wings because of the rehydration process and the weight of the size; but this was quickly tissued over and held together. The sizing, once dry adds a stronger and invisible membrane and also helps to blend in the tissued areas.

 © Simon Moore ACR

Left wing prior to adhesion  

 Final result 

At the end of the project, the bat was mounted on a bit of cocktail stick and a small depression was drilled in the box base so the bat could be mounted back in its box. The partly-missing lower left corner of the box was also rebuilt so that the glass would sit nicely in the rebate, and also to help keep the pests out. The ripply old glass was carefully sealed in using old-fashioned gummed paper tape. This was then painted black and the final result is shown below.

 © Simon Moore ACR  

 Made possible through the generous support of the Radcliffe Trust and others, the Collections Care Stimulus Fund supported the care and conservation of collections at a time when budgets for the conservation of collections and objects are diminishing.
 Icon awarded eight grants of up to £1,250 to UK-based museums, galleries and heritage institutions with less than 100,000 visitors per year that have suffered from a major drop in income over the last 12 months and were less able to commission conservation projects as a result. The conservation activities were carried out by Icon Accredited members. An accredited member of Icon (ACR) will have been through a robust professional practice assessment process to demonstrate that they have met the ‘proficient’ level of Icon’s Professional Standards. Accredited members can be identified through the Conservation Register.


This article was copied, with their permission from the Institute of Conservation website.
The pun in the heading is not mine! althoughy other errors may well be. Although we spent many years researching the lives of the Hall family this is my first post about them since 2014

Monday, September 5, 2022

The Old Man at sea

Eighty years ago at the age of 42 my dad joined the Royal Navy for the second time having already been in the First World War. We do not know if he was called up or volunteered.

When he was sent to Scotland to serve on HMS Whimbrel the following year he was the oldest man on the crew and also the only grandfather. Even the Captain was seven years his junior.

Whimbrel had only recently been completed at the Yarrow shipyard and was doing its sea trials before being handed over to the Royal Navy.  Dad remained with Whimbrel until he was sent home after VE Day to be demobbed.

Whimbrel was a sloop of the Swan class and had been essentially designed as an escort and submarine defence vessel.  It served in this role throughout the war providing escorts for convoys between the UK and America, Russia and the Mediterranean as well as also being involved in the Sicily landings in June  1943.

It was eventful few years in the war not just for Dad but for Whimbrel. It was never damaged by enemy attack but the weather damage during those fateful Atlantic and Russian convoys during winter months took its toll and the ship was in for repairs on several occasions. The Russian convoys were particularly hard on the crew and the ship because of the extreme weather. It is galling to many of the descendants of those men that the present day rulers of Russia have chosen to ignore the sacrifices of the men of the Royal Navy in saving the Russian people by getting greatly needed supplies through. Putin and co of course were not alive then and it is easy for them to choose to portray "the west" that saved them as now being the enemy.

There are several stories about these years in my book "Tales my father told me" available on Amazon at

HMS Whimbrel is still afloat, although under the name ENS Tariq, having been sold to the Egyptian Navy in 1954 despite many attempts over the years to bring her back to the UK for preservation.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Lavender Place,St. George in the East

 Lavender Place was situated just along Pennington Street from where my dad was born in August 1900.

Lavender Place had 11 Houses where 134 people were listed on the 1901 census including 21 children under 14.

It was a multinational community, if it thought of itself as a community, with birthplaces including Russia, Germany, Ireland, Palestine, and Scotland as well as those born in London.  The occupations were also diverse including dock workers, boot makers, rag sorters, tailors, tent makers, as well as the inevitable carmen and van boys. 

The southern side of Pennington Street was the high wall that encircled the London Docks and was the outer boundary of the Parish of St. John of Wapping.  Pennington Street was therefore not in Wapping despite the hundreds of images on the internet which describe it as such because of the problems that arose when the notorious Murdoch moved his printing presses to the newly industrialized London Docks and thus set off a dispute with the print unions.  It was easy for the Murdoch newspapers to describe the strike pickets at the gates in Pennington street as being in Wapping because it took up less room in a column than St. George in the East, although it would have been just as easy to say Stepney.+

Friday, February 4, 2022

Covid 19, Old Age, or food processing?

 One of the symptoms of covid 19 is a loss of smell and taste.  Well, we have experienced that for some time before the pandemic and we are often told that it is related to the aging process. I am inclined to the view that it is also related to eating foods that have been processed or manufactured in some way.

Almost everything that we eat these days has been through some processing. You may think that raw vegetables do not come into this category but with the emphasis on "natural", or "organic" there has been some interference with the normal growing process.  Farming today is as much a factory-type activity as the production of bread. so even the humble potato or carrot is not safe from being manipulated in some way and tomatoes grown in chemical fluids rarely if ever taste like tomatoes.

In ordinary food processing then the recipes have changed over time and the emphasis on being salt-free has changed most foods that we buy.  But simply removing salt from some recipes would not have been enough so something had to be substituted.  Going salt free of course had an added bonus for manufacturers, less cost!

Even meat goes through processing even if it is still referred to as butchering.  If your chops arrived prepackaged, cryovacced etc then they have gone through a process that is far removed from what used to happen at your local butcher. And it is tempting to wonder if beef mince has ever been near a cow let alone being part of one!

Had one of these for breakfast:

Dont know what it tasted like, but it was not like a crumpet.