The Retirees return to Nottingham – Old Neighbours

One of the things we wanted to do was catch up with our old Long Eaton neighbour, Pam Fowler. Pam and her husband John lived across the hall from our flat 41 and we regularly met and they shared their knowledge of the counties with us to help our explorations. Just before we departed Long Eaton we took John for his last walk around the lake at the University of Nottingham. John was determined despite his ill health to do the circuit and enjoyed the outing very much. We returned to Australia and learned that shortly after John had died. Now we wanted to catch up with Pam and see how she was getting on.

We walked from the Novotel to Oxford St (about an hour walk) past one of the many garden beds full of spring flowers and there was Pam waiting at the gate for us to arrive. Pam had planned that we have lunch at Bennett’s Hotel, a site which had been under redevelopment for the whole of the time we were living in Long Eaton. The hotel has been renovated internally in a modern style and it has a simple menu for seniors like us. Lunch was very pleasant. We returned to Pam’s flat, flat 40 a very familiar scene for us from the myriad of visits we made to John and Pam. Over coffee we reminisced about John and Pam spoke of life after John. It appears that Pam has come to terms with John’s passing and is now comfortable living on her own. We will continue to keep in touch.

Monday evening is Rotary at Nottingham. Still meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, we turned up for their AGM and surprised many of them despite having given notice to the Club Secretary. It was a great reunion and reminded us how supportive they were when we lived at Long Eaton. A surprise visitor (apart from us) was Eve Conway the RIBI President (Britain is the only country in the world where Rotary is administered outside of Chicago as a result of war time communication between Chicago and the UK being difficult during WWI). We posed for a photo with the Club dignitaries Paul Jones the President Elect on the left and Chris Spencer on the right the current President and Eve and it is posted on our Rotary website.

Tuesday, we visited Nick Smith at Direct Trimmings our former associate in the Glitter and Dance experiment in the UK. Nick’s business is on the 4th floor of an old spinning mill in Leopold St and site of the first G&D shop. Kerry had always complained that the stairs were killing her without knowing that she had a “wart” inside her heart. This time having undergone open heart surgery to remove the wart she climbed the stairs grinning about the change the surgery had made. The chimney in the yard of the mill, (formerly served the steam boilers of the old factory both now heritage listed) was undergoing some repair whilst we are there and we stared in awe at the blokes climbing the various ladders tied to the chimney to do the repair.

After chatting to Nick regarding business trends and changes around Long Eaton, we jump onto the tram at Toton and headed into the city for lunch with Geoff and Diana Bosworth from the Rotary Club. Diana is a Kiwi who lived in Australia after meeting Geoff and then in Canada with Geoff ultimately moving to Nottingham. Coming from the Antipodes we had a connection. Diana selected the restaurant in a part of Nottingham that is new to us just to show us that we have not been everywhere. Typical Kiwi always trying to out do an Aussie. Not really but we keep the rivalry going.


The Retirees go Abroad – Home for a Few Days then off to the Tattoo

Since we returned from Buckingham Palace we have continued our routine as members of the community in Long Eaton. Part of that routine is to assist at St Mary the Virgin Church at Attenborough. On our last working bee we were not sur e whether we may fit in another working bee so I took a photo of the Clean – up Crew. It has always been enjoyable working with this group of dedicated volunteers. As we work amongst the graves most days, we can probably include a few of the spirits around the place but of course they were absent for the photo.

Photo of the crew in the Vestry at morning tea


The other group we routinely meet with and work with is the Rotary Club of Nottingham. The same thing applies here. We enjoy the company of all the members (despite their gentle ribbing when Australia shows its glass jaw in the cricket) and they seem to genuinely enjoy our irregular appearance and assistance. George, one of the senior members of the Club has held an annual Summers Garden Party and has done so for years. He always seems to pick the summer day and then the weather returns to usual UK weather and this year was the same. Though I was not confident that it was warm enough for swimming and stayed dry.

Photos of our host George, the new President John and Geoff, Past President Roy and David Kerry and the girls

The UK is a small place when compared with Australia but despite this it is always taking us longer than planned to travel anywhere by car because of the infernal delays on the motorways and slow trek when forced onto country roads even though the scenery is often stunning. So we planned our trek to Edinburgh (some 5 hours north) into two days – Harrogate and Fountains Abbey on day 1 and Edinburgh day two.

Harrogate is north west of York and famous as a spa town in Georgian times. Our hotel – the Majestic – although a relic of the Victorian age, is a good example of the idle pursuits that the town became famous for. Built in 1900 in 12 acres of parkland and only 5 minutes walk from the centre of Harrogate the hotel must have been the 7 star hotel of the Victorian era but today it suffers from its glorious past belonging to an era that is not to everyone’s taste today. Sad opulence I would describe it as. But it provided a wonderful backdrop for our wedding anniversary and staging point for Fountains Abbey and Edinburgh.

Dinner in the dining room that night and breakfast the next morning before we took to the treatment rooms for a massage and then a relaxing swim and spa. The way it should be always.

The town itself was easy to navigate but seemed to have become stuck in the same era as the Majestic. However we found a park with a photo frame and when others saw us a number wanted to copy us and we became unofficial photographers for three or four families.

Photos – Harrogate park and the Majestic Hotel


Nearby to Harrogate is the ruins of Fountains Abbey and its gardens and it is a story in its self for another day.

The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham

My brother Greg arrived in Nottingham yesterday for a stay of about 8 days. The allure of free accommodation and golf in the Midlands could not be resisted.

We met him at the bus station on Sunday and allowed him to settle and recuperate as we had a busy itinerary planned. So rested and fed, Monday morning we went on the walking tour of Long Eaton (just so he knew where Tesco is located in case he needed to go to the shop) finishing at Anderson’s for a cup of coffee, followed by a visit to Nottingham city centre.


We caught the bus at Market Place into Nottingham to investigate the Caves beneath the city. Now I had been here before but the tour had been changed for the better with three guides giving different parts of the story. It starts with the geology of the city and explains that Nottingham (Snottingham in Saxon – fortunately the name developed over time) is built on a sandstone plinth and that from the times of early settlement people were digging cellars and caves into the rocky plinth. A number of the caves were joined together during WW2 to provide an air raid shelter. Our first guide showed us one of the wells used by inhabitants down through the ages and explained how they unknowingly poisoned themselves through sewerage passing into these wells. She also pointed out the chisel marks of ancient tools on the walls explaining how these caves were dug by hand.

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Our second guide was looking for apprentices to work in the underground tannery and described the dirty filthy work undertaken to produce leather and how this industry also polluted the water of the river causing illness among the inhabitants. Not only did they pollute the ground water by storing the hides in sandstone tanks which leaked into the ground and wells but they also polluted the river by washing their hides in the river.


With the commencement of WW2 and particularly the Battle of Britain, many of the cellars and caves were joined together to create Anderson shelters. Our third guide took us through one such shelter constructed in the caves, fitted out in much the same way as it was during the war with gas masks and bunks.

Even after the war, the caves continued to be used until the development of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre when through public pressure the developers were forced to preserve the caves and build the centre over the top of them.

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It was after 4.00pm when we finished at the Caves however we had purchased a two for one ticket which included the Galleries of Justice which we planned for the next day. Before heading home we visited the Castle and decided to return there tomorrow also. For now we had to meet Kerry at the Crowne Plaza for our Rotary meeting.

The Retirees go Abroad – Rotary Club of Nottingham – Children of Courage Awards

.Whilst we have been visiting the UK we have attended Rotary club meetings where ever we can. Being based in Long Eaton we have been visiting the Rotary Club of Nottingham principally and this is one of their projects we attended.

The club has sought to recognise the courage of children (in many forms) in the community. Through schools and churches, the Club sought nominations to recognise these children. The nominations included disabled children and how they cope with their disability, children who have lost a sibling and how they coped with that loss, through to children with a disabled parent and how they cope bearing some of the burden of caring for that parent.

The awards were decided by the Club and presented at a lunch held at Nottingham Park Inn in Mansfield Rd last Thursday. We sat at a table with Edward Hardcastle aged 5 – 6. Edward was born with a genetic disorder which affects sight mainly but can also affect hearing. He now has only 10% vision but despite this he appears happy and communicative. One of the other persons at our table sought to engage with him and he readily responded without any concern that he can only see shadows images.

Most of the children receiving awards were similar to Edward in that they have a significant disability and yet do not make the disability an excuse. One young girl has the responsibility of caring for her disabled mother and wrote a most endearing poem about having to care for her which the club President read to the audience. The children seemed to appreciate the attention given to them as reward recipients and enjoyed their lunch. Photos of the awards, the Club President, the Mayor of Nottingham City and the children follow.


Retirees Go Abroad – Ordinary Lives living in the UK – Charter Night and the Irish Guards

As most of our friends know we are members of the Rotary Club of Woolloongabba and during our visits to the UK we have made a point of attending meetings here in Nottingham and elsewhere like Whitby and Saffron Waldron. The members of Nottingham Rotary Club have been very welcoming and where possible we have participated in their club functions.

On Friday February 6, the club celebrated its 98th anniversary of its charter as a club by its mother club Edinburgh. This charter night was celebrated at the Senate Room of the University of Nottingham with the Vice Chancellor of the university the keynote speaker and after dinner the President of the Students Association spoke on the way in which the students organised themselves to raise over £1.7m last year.

The evening started with a reception in the council rooms above the senate and then proceeded to the dinner in the senate. After dinner the Quiz (entitled Universeally Challenged) was circulated and thanks to a team effort on our table we won 1st prize with 14 points out of 20. The challenge was to share 4 bottles of wine amongst ten people.

The function was well attended with the District Governor Steve Lawes, our Assistant Governor, and Presidents and members from other clubs including our own Long Eaton Sunrise Club. Cannot avoid it now – we have to go to an early morning meeting at Long Eaton.

Below are a series of photos of the evening.

The following evening we attended a band concert by the Band of the Irish Guards at the cathedral for St Mary the Virgin, High Pavement Nottingham. The concert was in aid of ABF the soldiers’ charity. We attended as much out of curiosity as a love of military band music but rather to support a worthy cause.

We pulled up and parked right outside the church and behind the Lord Mayor’s car – we recognised him and his wife from having met them at the club. The Church is huge in the way that cathedrals are always huge but this one was quite austere and severe in its plain finishes. However it was a perfect setting for the band in their red jackets and shining brass instruments. It was a true military band – the conductor was a Lieutenant Colonel, the Band master a Warrant Officer 1st class and the instruments played by warrant officers, sergeants, corporals, and lance corporals.

Their repertoire included classical (Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld) folk (Danny Boy) marches (Colonel Bogey) Theatre (Lord of the Dance) and songs (What a Wonderful World). Unfortunately the audience was quite small for such a professional show so I don’t think they made much profit. However that is the story with fund raising – it is always a hard slog. Here are some of my photos from the evening.

Remembrance Day

It is the 11th hour on the 11th day 100 years after the Armistice.

The strength of support for Remembrance is tremendous. The similarity with ANZAC Day in Australia is phenomenal and the pride of the nation for its fallen servicemen is tangible. Everywhere there is silence as we remember those soldiers, sailors, and airmen sacrificed for the security and stability that British people enjoy today.

We feel we have been part of this remembrance and glad that we have involved ourselves. Our involvement started with assisting the British Legion with its Poppy Day fund raising through the Rotary Club of Nottingham. For two hours we sold Poppy Day mementos at Broadmarsh Shopping Centre in Nottingham. Our shift, 4.00pm to 6.00pm meant that we saw people of Nottinghamshire coming home from work (the rail station is accessed through the shopping centre) all stopping to donate or buy a poppy, badge or wrist band. One of the styles of poppies on sale was a knitted poppy. We had not seen these before. All individual but based on a standard pattern. We learned that these had been created by members of the public following a request by one of the local radio stations that 11,000 be knitted for the 11,000 Nottinghamshire soldiers lost in WW1.

Kerry delighted in relaying this story to the many women who picked through these poppies looking for the right one. I am not sure if they were interested in the poppies or just wanted to hear the Australian talking. We were visited by one surprised Aussie who heard the accent and had to ask what the hell we were doing raising money for the British Legion.

We were visited by Val Lievers, a past District Governor for this Rotary District. Val is one of the originators of the project and she continues with organisation for the British Legion and has cemented the relationship between the organisations. Busy and bubbly, Val was surprised to have a couple of Aussies on the stand. Below are the snaps of us on the stand courtesy of Val. According to Val tens of thousands of pounds will be raised through this effort by the Legion and Rotary.


Val also told us that the response from the public to supply the knitted poppies was overwhelming with more than 100,000 poppies being donated from Nottingham.

We also had present servicemen visit and donate. One in particular stopped with his wife and family to talk to me as we shared a common interest – it is probable that he encountered our son Adam serving with the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan. This fellow is currently in his 30th year in the service, having started as a Private and risen in the ranks to Major and having served a number of times in Afghanistan, Iraq and Falklands.

Our next encounter was when we went to the Tower of London to see our Poppy. For those of you who are not aware the British Legion has arranged the sale of hundreds of thousands of ceramic poppies (almost 900,000 in fact, designed and made right here in Derbyshire) to represent the British soldiers, sailors and airmen lost in the WW1. The poppies have been planted in the moat of the Tower. These poppies are about 4 feet tall and cost 25 pound. We hope to receive ours in January 2015 as the display will be dismantled after today. The vision of these poppies is spectacular and has been visited by over 4 million people according to press reports. A picture is worth a thousand words or so the saying goes. I agree in this case and here are my photos.


Here in Britain they remember on Remembrance Sunday. This is the Sunday before the anniversary of Armistice Day and they have two minutes silence at 11.00am on the 11th as well. I was not aware of this and by accident came across the Long Eaton Memorial parade and service returning from Tescos. On returning to the flat, I told Kerry and both of us hurried back to the Memorial. Marketplace Rd and Tamworth Rd were closed and now filled with people. We had missed the parade but the formal service and wreath laying was taking place. There were dignitaries on the official dais beside the Memorial in the centre of town. It was hard to see what was happening from the back of the crowd but the audio was crystal clear. I don’t know who everyone on the dais was but there was clearly a priest who conducted the service and probably the Mayor for the borough in mayoral regalia. There were representative units from the Army, Navy, Air force and Commandos, and other community organisations laying wreaths.

The priest gave a moving and interesting address about the first two minutes silence. Someone, and I cannot remember who, put the idea to King George V shortly before the first anniversary of the armistice. The King approved of the idea and through the Times requested that on the 11th hour of the 11th day that everyone stop their daily activities for two minutes silence in remembrance of the fallen. Even with the short notice, the country came to a standstill. Traffic stopped. Trains delayed their departure. Pedestrians stood still in the streets. And every year thereafter this ritual of remembrance was performed until Remembrance Sunday was announced for the remembrance of those lost in war, as well as the two minutes silence on the anniversary. With the completion of the ceremony the parade reformed and marched out down Tamworth Rd. I have captured some of it for you.


Lest we forget.