Saturday, 29 November 2014

Saturday on Grass.


Tough but enjoyable is probably how I would describe today's training session. We started off with a warm up of about a mile. Next on the menu was a thirty minute AT run on grass.


There were six of us today. The youngest a mere colt of seventeen years, the oldest a mature stallion who won't see sixty one again. As for the rest of us, well a spread of ages between thirty two and just short of Heinz age. We completed our thirty minute effort pretty much as our form would dictate. Yours truly managed to traverse some seven and a quarter kilometres, (almost 4.5 miles in real money), within the designated time.


The AT run completed we then commenced a pyramid of efforts with a minute jog between each. The first effort was a mere ten seconds, but they progressed in ten second intervals to ninety seconds and then down again. Not as easy as might at first appear. A ten minute warm down concluded matters. A warm shower awaited the aching limbs,


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Tyreing Day

Temperatures have declined this week. One can't pretend that it is autumn any more. The trees have lost their arboreal cover for another year and now present their skeletal form to the horizon. Ground frost swathes the grass and the morning windows are etched with rime.


I have to concede that I am very wary of winter driving. I don't really enjoy driving at any time of year even though I clock up some 18,000 miles per annum. A few months ago I decided to order winter tyres for the trusty horseless carriage. These tyres have, by arrangement, been awaiting my collection for some six weeks. I determined to have them brought into service today. Accordingly I drove to my local village garage for the necessary tyre change this pm. They weren't cheap. I suppose there are less expensive alternatives but I decided to elect for the winter equivalent of my extant tyres. These proved to be Pirelli Scorpion Ice tyres. Hopefully I will get three winters out of this investment.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

November Morning Run.

When the alarm sounded this morning I was very tempted to stay in bed. It wasn't that I was being awoken from my slumbers because I had been awake for more than a few hours. The spectre of thought had made sure of that. Again! No, bed just seemed a warmer and safer environment than the world on the other side of the shutters.

Unfortunately however I had allowed myself to be persuaded into running a 5k race so I had to levitate myself, breakfast early and drive off through the crispness of the morning with the public mask at my side ready to clip in place. I suppose ultimately I was glad that I had forced myself to join the world for the currency of the race as exercise does tend to loosen the knot of worry ,albeit transiently.

The weather conditions were conducive to running, dry, windless and bright ,albeit a tad cold. The course was flat with not too many turns. Over one hundred and thirty runners presented themselves at the startline. There were, as always, six or so individuals who could not judge the level of their ability and sprinted off at the gun and were subsumed into the pack within a quarter of a mile and then spat out of the rear of the pack within a further four forty.

I haven't seen the official results as yet but I think that the winner ran just under sixteen minutes. Unfortunately I wasn't close enough to him to view his moment of glory first hand. He had already commenced his warmdown when I managed to cross the line some two and a half minutes later.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Case of Portstewart Infanticide Remembered

Over the last week or so I have been listening to, "The Butterfly Cabinet," by Bernie McGill whilst undertaking my vehicular peregrinations. I suppose it was the Northern Ireland setting of the novel that caused me to select it. The story revolves around the death of a girl, 'Charlotte," in the Big House and the culpability of her mother, 'Harriett." The mother is convicted of manslaughter and receives a sentence of penal servitude despite being, "en ventre," with her second daughter.


Whilst this may be a novel the events which are portrayed by Ms McGill unashamemedly take their origin from the the 1892 death of the daughter of Robert Montagu of Cromore, Portstewart and his wife Annie Margaret McMicking. Mrs Montagu was convicted of manslaughter. Crown Counsel was Edward Carson.


Several decades have passed since the Montagu's lived at Cromore although they certainly had property interests in the Portstewart area until at least the nineteen nineties. I seem to remember that they sold Cromore railway station in the early1980's.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Chimney Pots.

A couple of weeks ago I had the local sweep along to do the necessary in the two chimneys that are in fairly regular use, those in the drawing room and study. The cost for this service was not I thought too bad. Mr Sweep requested the sum of sixty pounds which I paid if not with alacrity then certainly with contented resignation. Oh that that was the extent of the annual chimney expense!


Three chimney pots were badly cracked and two of them had developed holes near their bases. I do have to concede that they were not new, "pots." Two of them in particular may have been in situ for over one hundred years and if that has indeed been the case then I suppose I should not be too surprised or disappointed that I have now had to replace them.


The rub is that replacing thirty inch tall hexagonal chimney pots at a height of over fifty feet is not cheap. To comply with dear old, "H & S" it is necessary to hire a hoist for a half day. Then you have the expense of the pots and the costs of the tradesman. Hopefully today's chimney works will see me out.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Alma Mater

It doesn't seem that long ago, but just over forty five years have passed since I started upon my grammar school education. Times were different then, quite markedly so. The teachers, (masters), referred to us by our surnames. Only those pupils in upper sixth were allowed to enter the front portals of the dear old alma mater. The masters wore their gowns on all occasions and the word of a prefect had to be obeyed without any dissent. The job of the PE teacher had just passed from the retired Sergeant Major to the ,"professionally," qualified individual.


The members of the school's ACF attended school on Friday in full uniform and after drill peered intently at the targets in the rifle range. The appearance of the headmaster in the classroom caused us all to stand to attention. Failure to have your dictionary to hand resulted in detention. Allowing your hair to touch your collar meant a trip to the nearest barber and a checkup upon your return to school. It all sounds very harsh but we didn't think it was. We acknowledged disicipline and expected it.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Chillie and Pepper Days


Almost the middle of November, but the weather is still extremely mild. There hasn't been a true frost to date although it can't be long before dear, "Jack " starts to kill and brown the growth of 2014. In anticipation of this killing I cut the remainder of the chillies and peppers today. I think that I will bring one of the chillie plants from the greenhouse indoors in the hope that it will survive and provide me with early chillies next year. In its homeland the chillie is a perennial plant not an annual.



Sunday, 9 November 2014

Labor Omnia Vincit

Labor omnia vincit,- work conquers all, work overcomes all difficulty. I used to think that this pithy Latin maxim was a truism. I tried to apply it in my work and in my sport. It hasn't really worked out in either sphere. I now regret the years spent attempting to be ever assiduous and putting in that extra effort. It hasn't brought inner contentment, whatever that is, nor has it engendered any great feeling of satisfaction in late middle age. Rather the contrary. It seems that I am doomed to the balance of whatever remains of my fourth quartile and any extra time that my genes may have allotted to me being a perpetual period of worry and self questioning of former actions and inactions, (even if I can remember them.)

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori may be the old lie but, " labor omnia vincit," must run a close second. What is the point of it all is the question that demands an answer. Logic tells us there is none.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Ulster Bank Londonderry.

The Ulster Bank was established in 1836 but it was not until 1840 that it opened a branch in Londonderry. In 1876 the Bank, which by then had been registered as an unlimited liability Company, took a lease of lands at Waterloo Place. The branch would remain in this location for over one hundred years with one break caused by the explosive elevation of the original Victorian building. The lease granted to the Bank by the Irish Society was for a term of fifty one years from 29th September 1881 reserving a ground rent of seventy pounds and ten pence.

It would seem that the Bank's investment in the property taken in conjunction with the growth of its customer base caused it to give more permanence to its physical base within the City. As a consequence in 1891 it acquired the fee simple of the lands it had previously held under the 1876 lease together with lands occupied by a firm by the name of Wray & McClintock for the sum of two thousand pounds. By that time the Bank had adopted limited liability status, (1883).

Ultimately the Ulster Bank site at Waterloo place would include the lands comprised in a fee farm grant dated 26th September 1910, Irish Society to George McCool, (Painter) and those comprised in a fee farm dated 20th May 1913, Irish Society to William Alexander Frizell, (Chemist and Druggist.) I seem to remember that the Frizell lands were occupied by, "Lewis Fastravel," during the 1960's and early 1970's

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Peoples Hall, Barrack Street.



It is now more than forty years since the Peoples Hall in Barrack Street, Londonderry became yet another statistic in the history of what is euthemistically referred to as, "the Troubles." It ended up as rubble and burnt timbers as did so many buildings.


The original Peoples Hall was, according to the Methodist Church in Ireland's website, set up by the Wesleyan Rev. Robert Byers in 1909. The assurance of the property upon which the building was situated is to four trustees of the Methodist Church and is dated 19th August 1909. The deed map, (see supra), would seem to indicate that at the time of the granting of the lease that the building was already in existence. The ground landlord was Londonderry Corporation and the term granted was one of 999 years from 1st August 1909. The ground rent reserved was £15.00 per annum. The Church trustees were Charles W Gordon of Bishop Street, Merchant, John Greenhill of Edenbank, Merchant, James Lamb of 119 Spencer Road Draper and Daniel Cormie of Berryburn Drumahoe, boxmaker. The Corporation had acquired these lands and others, totalling just over three acres, from the RCB in 1897. The acreage had constituted the Bishop's Garden.


A new, "Peoples Hall," was constructed in close proximity to the original structure in 1933 and this edifice included accomodation for homeless men. An open air service was held to celebrate the opening, with a portable organ providing the musical accompaniment. Pictures of the event are to be found in the photographic collection of Londonderry's Central Library.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Elderly Cross Country Session.



I have never enjoyed cross country running. Tolerated it on occasions, yes. Been forced to do it, yes. Felt obliged to do it, well occasionally. I think that it is the feeling that at any moment I may loose my footing that causes me to be ober cautious when wet and slippery conditions present themselves. That said I pulled on the old cross country spikes yesterday morning for session of mud and grass. It turned out not to be as bad as I had anticipated.


The seniors and junior masters were obligated to run fifteen efforts of just over 400m. Each effort commenced on the third minute. Those in the last quartile of their allotted span, self included, were awarded by only having to complete twelve efforts. Even with that advantage I was at the rear of the group but hey ho I was the oldest today by some nine years. I have to accept, with a lot of ill grace, that I am getting older and slower but at least I am still able to turn out.




Saturday, 1 November 2014

Sprouts Ahoy

I do find it slightly strange that Brussel sprouts are so much associated with the period of Advent, or more accurately the end of Advent and the gluttony of Christmas. These mini cabbages, depending on variety, weather and mode of cultivation can be ready for cropping at any time from early autumn until Easter.
I don't always grow sprouts as they do take up quite a lot of room but this year I did succumb to the notion. Today's, "pulling," was my fourth of the year. I think that I may have to increase the frequency of the cropping if I am to avoid any of the sprouts blowing. The variety which I grew this year was, "Evesham Special."