It’s been just over a year since I last published anything. There are two main reasons – work and health (or lack of the latter).

Firstly to Pubs. One I don’t think I’ve mentioned is the Pheasant at Farnham, an old pub in a village that had two others, it didn’t survive, was demolished and made way for a surprisingly large number of housing units.

In Tescoville, the George V survives, in a livery of green that I’ve seen at various pubs which I take to mean some kind of chain, Scottish and Newcastle owned apparently.

The Terriers is now a Vetenarians.

One called the Happy Wanderer isn’t converted to a Tescos, shock horror! Permission refused, surely not because there is an independant (and completely awful, I’ve been in there and can state categorically this is the case) local supermarket opposite?

Somewhere or other in Tescoville I noticed some time ago another pub with what looked very much like the preparations for another Tesco…

Nearer my normal stamping ground the Hope & Anchor was forced to close, despite popularity and protests by the host and customers, and it looks just perfect for a supermarket conversion. No other supermarkets for a fair walk, although it is alongside a parade of other shops, largish building in good state of repair, housing estate with no shops to my knowledge behind it. But no clue as to who might take it over.

There are other pubs that I would count as vunerable – either they are the down-at-heel one in an area that, these days, would be classed as having too many pubs, or ones that are just closed down already and waiting to discover their fate.


This is a wooden carriage of the Metropolitan Railway – on a loader

In August 2008 I made this blog posting about a train on a low loader spotted on the M25. I had spotted another train since, but the photos were too poor to use. Yesterday I was on a rather twisting slip road to join the M25, when a lorry took my notice – or rather its load. I soon realised it was an old-fashioned (that is to say over 100 years old) railway carriage. I was able to get the above shot, but any attempt to get one closer was too hazardous to try, what with the speed, the traffic around me and the complex shape of the slip road. Note the opposing traffic is on the left at this point. All the exterior of the carriage was wooden, and well varnished.

I was able to see that the carriage was marked “Metropolitan Railway”, clearly denoting it as one of the fleet of carriages used on what is now (mostly) the Metropolitan line of the London Underground. This carriage would have dated back to the time when the Metropolitan Railway was an independant company, which had ambitions to have a very fast train line from points North, via a gap in the Chilterns, through London and to a Channel Tunnel. Much of the ambition became the Great Central Railway, with the last-built London terminus at Marylebone.

It’s no wonder the HS2 consortium want to use the same idea. Shame they’re one hundred years too late. The Great Central is defunct, the remains are commuter lines into London from the Chilterns, although Deutsche Bahn owned Chiltern Railways have pushed faster trains to Birmingham. £50bn to save 20 minutes or so London – Birmingham? If they really want to increase capacity, why not restore four-track running through the stations on the Chiltern line? I thought they were when the line was closed for a whole week or so a couple of years ago, but no, just some kind of minor realignment.

The Black Dog, Ashford Common

September 15, 2013

On one of my regular journeys towards Tescoville,, I passed “The Black Dog”, which had been closed now for some time. And yes, the all-too-familar blue
boardings around the pub tells me that another Tesco express or local is being created.

The Black Dog survived for some time on being close to Kempton Park, a horse racing venue, and claimed to be last pub en-route from the M25 – trueish – there was/is a closer pub to the race course, but not if you take the first entrance to the racecourse on that route.

The Black Dog is on a junction of a lesser and a major road, and at the end of an arcade of mixed shops. There isn’t another supermarket in that parade, although there are shops that probably sell groceries. The competition is likely to be from a couple of petrol stations – BP with their M&S mini-store a couple of junctions further up, and a closer, smaller petrol chain with a smaller grocery section. Closer to Kempton Park is a big Tesco supermarket and a small M&S Simply Food.

Parking and road access may be more difficult for Tesco here. Being a dual carriageway main road, those heading away from Kempton Park have to get into the filtered turn-right lane – not the easiest in existance.

There isn’t an obvious candidate shop for closure when Tesco opens, unlike the Budgens when Mini Sainsbury’s opened on the ‘Green Man’ site, or the doomed looking Costcutter almost next-door to the now being built Tesco in Tescoville.

So yet again I ask – why is it always Tesco?

I’ve made a number of comments about the ‘George V’. In recent days it’s had a repaint job, new signs – plural, there was one plus an empty signpost before – and even some decking added. The repaint job looked odd – all the woodwork in lightish brown, but then I saw another pub in my travels today done in exactly the same way, so this appears to be a corporate new look.

I’ll try and get a photo and put in here.

I don’t know how much the interior has changed, but it seems that this pub has remained open throughout this promised refurbishment, so I cannot imagine it’s too startling a change.

But this pub is still standing. My travels today took me past the site of ‘George and Dragon’, now completely demolished, and going to be the site of nine homes.

On the point of packing in housing, near where I live there was a 4 – 5 bed detached house in moderate size garden – probably 1960s. It was empty for a long time – I don’t know why. Planning permission was obtained to demolish it at put in three 4 – 5 bedroom houses. I see now that number has increased to five houses.

First signs of Autumn?

August 25, 2013

Although I have much to do at the moment, I decided to spend an hour in the garden this afternoon – mainly hacking back the ivy. The orchard is doing well, loads of apples, but it looks as if they will be small this year. Sadly the pear tree has died in recent weeks, no real idea what finally killed it off. I did take a photo or two of the blossems on it in the (latish) Spring.

While I was up in the canopy, I saw that the Discovery apples were ripe – some were being attacked by Wasps.

Apple - variety Discovery

Apple – variety Discovery

Discovery as a variety is early, and a recent, well, discovery, but it’s certainly not an apple to store. A week, basically. But I have a fondness for this, as under the guidance of my father, when I was pre-teenager, it was I who grafted the bud onto an existing tree (which was not the variety it was said to be, or perhaps the original graft failed and it is the rootstock that fruits). It doesn’t do very well as the main tree is dominant, but there are a few fruits every year. So, the first apples from the orchard this year. All four of them.

The other two known variety trees, Adam’s Pearmain and Mutsu, also have lots of smallish fruit on.

A still growing Adam's Pearmain

A still growing Adam’s Pearmain

The Mutsu has a lot of fruit on as well.

The Mutsu has a lot of fruit on as well.

Another sign of Autumn is the first flower of Cyclamen Hederifolium. This again has links to my father. The mother plant was from an original sowing at least forty years ago. Many years ago a slug got to the mother plant, and I cut out all the dead and decaying part of the corm, hoping to save it. I did.

The first flower of Cyclamen Hederifolium

The first flower of Cyclamen Hederifolium

It continues to flower every year, and has many daughter plants. And one of the daughter plants has just opened the first flower of the year.

This photo of the flower is rather bleached out. It happens with both my phone cameras. I had similar problem with a saffron crocus a couple of years ago. No idea why this should be the case, the flower is rather more pink/purple than this photo shows.

I was hoping to put all the corms into a new bowl, but again time just has run away.

A drive in the country

August 24, 2013

I made a visit to my favourate place today, but met with a major disappointment. Someone had decided that the hedgerows alongside some of the single-track roads were overgrown, and took the modern tractor mounted gear to it.

Not the worst section, but where I could stop without blocking traffic to take this picture...

Not the worst section, but where I could stop without blocking traffic to take this picture…

It was difficult to stop, without blocking the road to traffic either behind or oncoming. I’m more used to the game in London, where couriers and delivery vans hold sway, otherwise it’s a game of ‘chicken’, who will give in first and reverse back, or pull over to allow the other to pass. Here in the country, the rules are different. In one case I had to reverse a quarter of a mile…

This was not the worst part – the road was relatively clear of debris here, elsewhere there were still branches, leaves, and loads of hay for some reason strewen across the road. This hadn’t been done today, either, so it’s not a case that someone hadn’t yet got to clear up – they’ve just left it like this. I hoped there wasn’t broken metal mixed in with all the debris to give me a flat tyre.

Now I know the hedgerows have to be kept in order, else they’d block the road, but it seems to me the wrong time of year and very viscous cutters were applied here.

One reason for the drive out was to see if the blackberries in the hedgerows were starting to ripen – I didn’t even stop to search.

The conversion of the ‘Golden Fleece’ to a Tesco Express is now complete.

The now transformed (in many senses) Golden Fleece

The now transformed (in many senses) Golden Fleece

I’ve made mention of ‘The Warren’ and ‘Duke of Wellington’ being converted to Tesco and Sainsbury’s respectively, and that they are at either end of one particular road. If you continue from Tesco to Sainsburys along the same road line (it changes name), at the next junction there is the ‘Windsor Castle’. I have had no reason to go there recently until last week, and I see that it how has ‘Freehold For Sale’ signs. That looks like one that is about to close (if not already closed – hard to tell).

Elsewhere, the conversion of ‘The Terriers’ is about complete, this time to a Vet practice (apparently). Further down that road is ‘The Beech’, which has For Sale signs up.

Meanwhile, in Tescoville, one of the ‘Local’ branches – doesn’t appear to be a conversion in this case – also houses the local sub-Post Office, to my surprise. I suppose no reason why not, but it does show how established these ‘Local’, ‘Metro’ and the like branches of the big chains are becoming. And of course they sell for higher prices than the same thing in the large supermarkets, trading on the convience of being local, but undercutting the previously established corner grocers/mini-marts and the like, either the small chains (Budgens, for example) or independents.

[Blog revised with photo added and text adjusted – took longer to get a photo than I expected]