Good eveing everyone,
I feeling shattered tonight - for the right reasons though! I spent most of the day going through documents relating to War Memorials. It was interesting seeing how they were decided on what and where they would go, there were also a lot of costings, minutes etc. I didn't know this information was needed until last week when I spoken to the IWM, they store this information in the backoffice systems and are not displayed on the website.
On the way home it was a call in to Singleton Hospital for my annual retinopothy check, once done it was head home, pick up Missy and head down to Mumbles for a cuppa...
Tomorrow, unsure yet where I'm going to head to, the weather hasn't been brilliant the last couple of days - it might be St Peter's in Cockett and them Fforestfach
Good evening everyone,
I'm feeling tired tonight to say the least with all the shenanigans going on.
I headed out yesterday to visit one church that had been previously recorded, an airport and a chapel, neither recorded before. It was then on to lunch of Peasant and Fartridge with Mum and her partner Terry, I've never had Partridge before and found it very similar to Pheasant, just a tiny bit different to it.
Today was a totally different day, I was woken a couple of times last night by the noise from upstairs. This morning I was up at around 0800hrs, cuppa and a bit of breakfast before heading out - not! My scooter whilst I'm at the flat is kept in my garage, last night a van was parked in front of it. I knew who had parked it there so knocked on the door, an hour later still no answer so I contacted the Council, they phoned, texted, still nothing, this was an hour after I should have been down at the Council Archives, I was getting very frustrated, I phoned the police, they contacted the owner of the van and eventually came out to hammer on the door, still nothing.
As it was parked on council (private) property there was nothing they could do, they did hammer on the door a few more times for me...
It was nearly four hours later that I managed to get an answer, I needed to use a lump of wood for nearly an hour on the door though...
I can say that today ended up as a totally wasted day and could have done without it to say the least :(
Hopefully a better night and day tomorrow.
An easy day, one church and lunch...
I've been watching Countryfile tonight as it was from Carmarthenshire, in the main from Pembrey Country Park and Cefn Sidan, this is where myself and my friends would cycle to and then run around as young teenagers, I also learnt to drive on the old airport, its now a race track. A couple of bits that made me chuckle were when Matt Baker tried to pronounce Dyfed and Loughor. Another part in the programme that got to me was the piece by Simon Weston, he spoke about having a spot to go to to have a bit of solitude, I can totally understand where he is coming from, I suppose we all have a spot is one, mine is Gladestry on the Offa's Dyke path, I love the place and the people...
Gladestry from Hergest Ridge, I've spent hours sitting here...
Tomorrow is a trip out via Pennard then Three Crosses and back to Mums, another lunch, pheasant and partridge, a bit of a treat, I've never had partridge before. I've been busy emailing more churches to see if I can get access...
I will start with an apology yet again, I didn't think I'd get an update out last night due feelings/brain not being on the right planet, however half a bottle of Dow's Port later I managed to waffle quite a lot!
It's been a quite couple of nights and I will be extremely honest, long may it continue! Living in Pub and Tesco car parks, especially 24hr ones you start to crave a bit of quiet...
Anyway, I was up early after a bit of a restless night to head out to St Paul's Church in Sketty as they had managed to find one of the memorials that I had on the list from the IWM, it had been stored in the loft of the church hall! This means there is still one missing, Ken, one of the wardens went back up there to search for the other but to no avail.
I headed in to town after this via the Scout and Girl Guide Headquarters just on the offchance, nothing there. It was then into town to meet up with one of the RBL Riders branch for a cuppa and catchup, it turns out that one of thelads from the Regiment passed away and the funeral is Thursday, I can't keep up with everything that is happening these days, I won't be able to make the funeral because of the distance but I will try to make the wake at the Dragon Hotel, rest easy Dragoon.
Tomorrow, lunch at Mum's and on the way a couple of chapels I hope...
Good day everyone,
I'm typing this up offline so when I get to post it I don't know... well I manged it on the night when I posted it on Facebook that I couldn't face it.
I spent a lot of the day in the West Glamorgan Archives after a hint, well I came out with twenty plus new/unrecorded Rolls of Honour, Books of Rememberance etc, a truely enlighting day. After emailing the IWM in London I need to go back down there as I found documents about memorials such as plans, costs, wages etc that I need to record as well, these get added to the existing information if we have it.
I'm sorry to say I'm struggling a bit at the moment with my head, the wobble at the start of December was caused by (loosely) by my flat and it continues. Since being back I've had a noisy night best described as from 0330hrs until 0630-0700hrs noise some days to until 0400hrs - quiet - 0700hrs other days, I am shattered and its getting me down, the council are involved BUT they can't do anything yet, its all down to evidence... and my neighbours and myself. We do get the odd respite when there is nobody in the flat like last night. It has also caused problems for me in other ways, I need to be out and about doing my "job" and being tired like driving a car can be dangerous, luckily I don't have them with me, they are in the flat.
I had to go and see the doctors tonight, I needed it on record that I was having problems with disturbed sleep by noise, the council also needed evidence that I had a wobble in December for the Council. This became the main thing as the doctor didn't know what had happened previously, each time I've been to the doctors this Winter, three times, I've seen three doctors...
I've been emailing various parishes so that I can get access to churches, some are a bit awkward, I can only access St Illtyd’s, Ilston on Sunday at 0930hrs, that will have to be skipped as its a steep climb in from Parkmill and will take me about two hours to get there!
I've also had an email about one of the memorials that was missing in Sketty, they have found one, I need to be there in the morning by about 1000hrs...
On a positive note, a couple of friends have suggested a curry with a warm flannel for pudding, a few of us are heading into The Mumbles on Saturday the 28th for a Chicken Korma or better ;)
It was a "breezy", cold day today, it was a long way out to see the only memorial I was going get to see today, a twenty-four mile round trip, the problem was new building on what used to be Swansea docks, if it was how it was when I was a teenager then it would have been around sixteen miles or so... anyway I got the photo and the grid references.
One of the things I forgot to mention yesterday waswhen I returned home and put the scooter in the garage I found a parcel shelf with speakers in my garage, as they are dumped (fly tipped) "on" my land I have to get rid of them responsibly, so if anybody that likes loud music in a car please PM me, free to a good home. Its not just cars blocking my garage and loud music/noise at unsociable hours I have to put up with :(
JVC speakers, free to a good home
If nobody wants them then they will go to the Rag and Bone man if he wants them.
Tomorrow is meant to be wet so I will head to the Swansea Archives to check out some tip offs I've had...
A quiet couple of days due to the weather more than anything. I started yesterday slowly and rather wetly as I headed to Swansea Central Police station to get the World War One memorial, I also had to visit Swansea Museum to go through their Archives as they had some memorials and Rolls of Honour in storage, they also had a World War One display on which had a rather magnificent prototype memorial for Cheltenham (if I remember correctly) depicting a team of horses, a gun carriage and all struggling through the battleground. I ended up with six new/unrecorded memorials yesterday.
Today started cold and grey, because of this I kept my route simple and close to base, I headed for a small village called Murton where we had a memorial in a chapel, I had got the email and phone number of the Minister so that I could get in, in the end I didn't need it, the local ladies were having a coffee morning so I got a picture and a mug of tea to boot, bonus!
My next stop was Bishopston, where Missy was born, the church here was locked and I hadn't managed to get hold of anyone to get access, I keep trying, I plodded on to some other churches and chapels that had nothing recorded in them, in the end I ended up with two new/unrecorded memorials.
Tomorrow I'll try and head down the west of Gower to Pennard and Southgate...
Its been a quiet few days, I've pottered out and done a few memorials in the area.
One thing I had forgotten about my flat is that internet access and phone signal are dire, this as normal has as before had a knock on effect for getting photos upto the clould and also writing my updates and sending and receiving emails...
I'm back out on the road in ernest next week weather permitting, I mentioned before Christmas that Wales appears to be hugely under recorded, I've hardly scratched the suface of the Old West Glamorgan, I started with 153 recorded memorials, I've removed 3 duplicates, found 58 known memorials and found 78 unknown. What I strugle to get my head around is like when I visit a church where I have one memorial recorded, a World War Two tablet on the wall, twenty feet away I have a World War One tablet on the wall, between the two a Book of Rememberance... these aren't new and have been there before the archive was started in 1989! I do get a certain amount of satisfaction from finding unrecorded memorials :)
I also find it interesting when people tell me a bit of history about a memorial such as a reasonably new memorial in Gowerton School. A former pupil, Pilot Officer G Penry Guy who stayed with his Lancaster Bomber while his crew bailed out and went down with it, he piloted it so that it didn't hit a small Belgian village. The shool now has a memorial to him in the hall with some bits of his aircraft mounted in a case.
Anyway, a quiet weekend getting things washed and cleaned in, from and on the trailer...
It has been another year of learning and it doesn't seem to stop! Also another year of discoveries, whether it be the grave of a Knight from the Crusades or a new memorial window being fitted to a church in the New Forest remembering the ANZAC's of The Great War!
My knowledge is expanding rapidly and trying to remember everything is hard work.
I wouldn't be able to find and document or photograph any of this without my wonderfully trusty Tramper TWS, Beamer have kept me going with replacement tyres and inner tubes and on one occasion a replacement switch after I wore one out through too much use! It is thought I have put my poor Tramper through roughly fifteen years use in three and a half years, it really is a remarkable machine, to top it off I'm still on my FIRST set of batteries... may I say I love it to bits, if I didn't I wouldn't be doing this still ;)
It does feel extremely unrewarding at times though...
It has been a bad year both mentally and physically, on the plus side it has been a good year for the memorials and graves, I started in Dorset, then on to Hampshire and finishing off parts of Somerset that I didn't manage to get done last year.
Again Tesco, Greene King and the many small businesses and families that allow me to plug in the scooter and welcome the cats and myself have enabled me to keep going and raising money for the charities, without all of these I'd get nowhere, thank you everyone that has supported, donated or looked after myself or the cats since the 7th April 2013.
I base myself in one location, leave the cats and trailer behind and head out to find the graves and memorials. Not having the trailer means I can cut through little pathways or pavements instead of battling traffic. It can take some of the larger towns and cities quite a number of days to get to find and photograph everything. I also have to work on the old World War Two counties for the War Graves and pre-1974/1996 counties for memorials, this does cause me a few headaches!
I also don't head out in the rain, I have trouble getting things dry and graveyards can be miserable enough in fine weather. I will head out in the morning and normally return by mid-afternoon and then download the images and start cataloguing them.
I do put a lot of hours into this, I won't say how many exactly but even if I was on minimum wage I'd be very well off!
I'll be covering South Wales until the end of April and then to Andover for the Plain Invasion weekend, then it will be Gloucestershire for five months and then I suppose South Wales again.
I travel on my scooter with a tablet computer on the front, this displays an Ordnance Survey map with my position marked on it, when I get to a location I open a document on the tablet and check what is supposed to be there whether that be graves or memorials.
This is Cardiff, the yellow and black circles denote a memorial or memorials at or near that location, the yellow triangles denote war graves. My list for Cardiff is for 229 memorials, I've shortened the list:
There are a lot of inconsistencies across the original memorial recording system, I have have found some people would record all military memorials in a church and some would only record The Great War and World War Two leaving out the Rolls of Honour for each of these! This means I can go into a church for example expecting to find two memorials and come out with up to ten!
I also find the odd one named or titled incorrectly, I visited Alcoa in Swansea (Waunarlwydd) the other day, there was one memorial recorded there as “Alcoa Memorial Stone”, I found it was actually an ICI memorial, Alcoa being a company that took over the site. So it should have been the “ICI Memorial Stone” at Alcoa, Waunarlwydd, I think this is where the OCD bit comes in.
I do also get asked why didn't I make an appointment when I turn up at a school etc, the simple answer is I can't, as I mentioned I have marks on a map and I have no idea what or where they are until I turn up.
I do also have the frustrating problem of churches being locked, I understand the reasons but it does make my life awkward. I have before now arrived at a church to find it locked and a note on the door, “If you find the church locked please call at Bluebell Cottage for the key” or “Please ring 871234 for access”, two problems here, where is the cottage and what's the area code? I did have one church near Shepton Mallet, three mobile numbers listed and one local number, I couldn't get an answer from any...
The images of the graves and memorials I've managed to get online so far are at www.war-graves.co.uk
I have been questioned many times about my disability, without a disability I would have no need of a mobility scooter. I was injured on the 1st October 1991 whilst attached to the United Nations from my Regiment, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (aka The Welsh Cavalry) in Cyprus and the medical term is “Internal derangement of the right knee with common peroneal nerve palsy”, this means I can't feel my right leg below the knee, I also have arthritis creeping through my main joints and reactive depression as a knock on from this.
All of the above have had a huge impact this last year, I fell in March and damaged the left-hand side of my body, in particular the left shoulder, it still hurts nine months later and my depression has been at an all time low in the latter quarter of the year with having a bit of a meltdown at the beginning of December, I am still struggling as I write this between Christmas and New Year.
All the images and information gets sent back to the Imperial War Museum so that records can be added or updated, this is one of the most satisfying parts of the challenge, the fact that not only am I raising money for the charities but that I am also doing something useful.
I aim to get 55% or more memorials in a county, again two years in and I now know more about what I'm looking for and where they might be as well. I don't go past a church, a park, a NatWest Bank, a Town Hall, in fact they can be anywhere! I have had to turn into a nosey person and I also suspect I have developed OCD in doing this... what I can say it is at times hugely humbling and also fulfilling.
All the figures can be found on the last pages of this document.
These are still a personal goal more than anything else, I suppose it's a way of saying thank you to those men and women that gave their lives in the two World Wars and the many conflicts before, in between and after, so that we can live how we do today. I do send feedback back to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission when I find a problem and I've found quite a few!
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintain a Book of Remembrance in Westminster Abbey and have the lists of 65,000+ casualties on their website I have however come across some not recorded by them (the headstone is clearly marked as “Killed by Enemy Action”), I used to send them the details but after being asked to provide Death certificates and newspaper clippings I no longer do, I have enough on my “plate” without doing this.
They are both fine, Missy still loves to meet people and have a good sniff and a tickle, Smudge is more than happy when he is on my knee having a tickle! One of the things I've noticed he doesn't like is people on stairs, balconies etc, not sure why?
I still take the odd bit of grief from some people because I have them on leads when in public spaces, they, like many animals have no road sense! I don't think anyone would complain if they were stuck in a house day after day just because they couldn't see them!
They do get let off the lead especially if I'm on a campsite and not near a road, Smudge is the more trustworthy one by far, Missy is just a troublemaker! I let her off on one campsite and within two minutes she was in that amount of caravans, the second didn't like cats which caused a bit of a problem, she now stays on a flexi-lead or if room allows a one hundred foot lead and a spike in the ground unless we are well away from other campers.
I do get told they should be free to catch things, they don't need to be free, they catch them when they are on their short travel leads, invariably when we have just pulled in and I'm setting up the trailer!
Myself and Mrs Alison Brown have been let down hugely on this, I was contracted by Two Ravens Press to write it and got it too them before last Christmas and they seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth! I can't do anything with it until they tell me they are no longer interested or no longer in business, the charities also suffer in a way as they were to get money from the sale of any of the books.
Facebook.com/aroundbritain1 & Twitter.com/aroundbritain
I tend to access these using my tablet and apps, these don't show me all the messages or friend requests, I can only apologise in the delays getting back to some of you.
I'll also use these mediums to send out a short update instead of putting one on my website and then on to these.
At the end of the day this whole thing comes down to numbers, these figures are as at the New Years Day, so here goes...
New should really say * Possibly New, I get sent a list in advance of me starting a county, I don't get an update if something has been added after it was sent to me, there is also the odd occasion when a memorial has moved with a regimental headquarters or museum is moved and may be recorded in another county. As I send everything in to the Imperial War Museum in London they will have the final say as to whether something gets added to the register, I make find something obscure that should be recorded and they may decide no.
What defines a Memorial can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/h8enx63
All 16034 Non combat deaths 2426 2314 95% Crimean War 1 1 The Great War 1914 - 1918 133049 7691 6% World War Two 1939 - 1945 179615 5930 3% Northern Ireland 1969 - 2008 665 52 8% Falklands Conflict 1982 258 22 9% Bosnia 72 2 3% Afghanistan 2001 - 2014 395 14 4% Iraq 2003 - 2008 179 8 4%
It needs to be remembered that I only cover Great Britain so I only have the records for these and some totals will change as and when I find out where some are buried.
Raised without Gift Aid: £68,089.29
Raised with Gift Aid: £69,471.04
Mileage so far : 25,455.79
Mileage in 2016: 6813.83 at an average of 6 mph
Where I've been in 2016
Since starting phase 2 on 2nd Jan 2015
I hope you have had a very good Christmas and New Year!
I would like to say thank you to my Sister and her family that put up with us staying with them over the Christmas period. I am still unable to acess my garage to put the scooter and trailer away so that I can use my flat. Tomorrow I will try again to get the abandonded car removed, if they don't then I think drastic action may be needed...
I have been out and about still doing my bit and tracking down memorials and graves over the Christmas period and unsurprisingly I'm finding complete churches/chapels unrecorded. On the note of chapels, there are an aweful lot in Wales :)
It has also been nice to see some familiar landmarks and friends whilst I've been home. One of the things I do on a personal basis is photograph Lifeboat Memorials, this started because of this window in what is now my local church...
On the 23rd April 1947 The Mumbles Lifeboat "Edward Prince of Wales" launched to SS Santampa that had run aground of Sker Point, Porthcawl. All the crew lost their lives. A memorial window and stone was placed in All Saints Church, Oystermouth.
Decembers Mileage: 648.32
Years Mileage: 6813.83
Mileage to Date: 25455.79
Amount Raised: £69,655.62
A very short update, I'll be pretty much offline until the start of January having a bit, not much, of a rest with the puss cats.
Anyway, have a Happy Christmas and Merry New Year and thank you for helping, caring and spoiling the three of us, have a good one ;)
Mark, Smudge and Missy
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