As castles go, Hadleigh Castle isn't quite Framlingham or Pembroke ... these are ruins that really have been knocked about a bit (or more accurately the land is prone to subsidence, so bits keep tumbling down) ... but don't look down on this corner of Essex, 'cos Hadleigh is OK. OK!
I went for a stroll there today with my old mate Martin Plaut - he's taken the black-and-white photos and given his blessing to a couple being posted here. Thank you maestro!
Hadleigh Castle goes back to 1215 - though the bits still (sort of) standing date from 150 years later. Just about as soon as it was built, stuff started dropping off. But there's enough there - particularly one largely complete drum tower - to give it a touch of majesty. Edward III was, apparently, so fond of the place he often stayed here ... hence his nickname, TOKIE, The Only King In Essex.
Just a five minute wander away is Hadleigh Farm, the Salvation Army's first farm colony, set up in the 1890s to give some of those who they were trying to help a break from the squalor of London's slums. It's still an educational farm, with tea rooms attached - and still run by the Sally Army.
And at the end of our walk from Benfleet via the castle, there's the seafood stalls and buzz of Leigh-on-Sea, still pulling in the punters. The tide was out when we were there ... allowing me to take one of my better photographic efforts, don't you think?
Another of the tenuous links with the days when the End End was a Jewish enclave is about to be lost. S. Reiss (it's pronounced Rees) is just about the last Jewish-run business left at the heart of what was once the Jewish East End. It's an old-fashioned men's outfitters on Whitechapel High Street, near the junction with Goulston Street where - until not all that long ago - another old East End institution, Tubby Isaacs' seafood stall, had its pitch.
I got a shock when I saw the 'closing down' posters today as I passed by. I popped in and had a brief chat with Stuart behind the counter. Yes, he said, it's still a Jewish-run concern. No, it's not moving. It's shutting down altogether at the end of September.
I'm tempted to buy a memento - not sure what. Perhaps a trilby, which somehow seems to be a suitable purchase from the last Jewish menswear shop in this part of the city. The trilby I discover got its name from George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby - which featured a heroine so named. In the initial stage production, a narrow brimmed hat of this sort was worn - and the term stuck.
If I get one, I'll be sure to post a photo!
Huddersfield Town's first ever match in the Premier League.
Yes, that's FIRST EVER. And their first in the top flight of English football for fully forty-five years. Trust me, I've been counting ...
We were playing at Crystal Palace. There were about 3,000 Town fans, all simply euphoric to see their team in the top tier. "We are Premier League, we are Premier League", they chanted.
By the end of the game, the chant had changed to: "We're leading the League, we're leading the League, Huddersfield Town, we're leading the League." Not just bravado. We really are the Premier League leaders.
We won a tremendous victory against Crystal Place, 3-0. And at the time of writing, we are clear at the top of the League. Alright, only one game played - but still, nowhere better to be at any time in the season than top.
The Town team took a bow at the end in front of the joyous visiting supporters - they deserved it!
And greatly to their credit a few Palace fans - seeing my son and I walk away from the ground in our blue-and-white striped shirts - congratulated us on a match well won.
I'm not at the Bucket List stage of life just yet, but if I was, seeing Town top of the Premier League would deliver a very hefty tick.
And let me share the sweetest of football songs, sung today (repeatedly) as it is at every Town game:
There’s a team that is dear to its followers,
They play in the bright blue and white,
They’re a team of renown, they’re the pride of the town,
And the game of football is their delight,
So all the while upon the field of play,
Thousands gladly cheer them on their way,
Often you can hear them say,
Who can beat the Town today?
Then the bells will ring so merrily,
Every goal will be a memory,
So Town play up and bring the cup,
Back to Huddersfield.
The main square in Carmarthen has a war memorial. Nothing unusual about that. Except it's a tribute to the local dead of the Boer War - and distinctly grander than the tablets on the front of the nearby Assembly Rooms listing the fallen in the First and Second World Wars.
The those world war memorials I mentioned - see if you can spot the difference:
'For King and Empire' became, just a generation later, 'For King and Country', as Britain slowly moved out of the age of Empire.
On the top photo you can see to the right of the war memorial a board with a raised metal plaque - now this is interesting. A celebration of Gwynfor Evans's by-election victory in Carmarthen in 1966 - the first Westminster seat won by Plaid Cymru. It was one of the most sensational by-election wins - a solid Labour majority overturned, and a seminal moment in the rise of Welsh nationalism.
And as you look carefully, it's clear that the plaque depicts a joyous crowd greeting the by-election victor in the very square where it's now located. A winning touch!
Temperance and Billiards ... they don't feel a natural match, do they? Billiards suggests bottles of ale, overflowing ashtrays and an ample measure of the dissolute. I came across this wonderful sign on Battersea Rise in south London, just off Clapham Common, Not a billiard hall any more, of course. Not temperance either. It's a pub.
But it's a splendid building, an unlikely survival. And, I discover, a remnant of what was once a nationwide movement to break the link between billiards and beer.
The Temperance Billiard Hall Company - no, I am not making this up - was set up in Lancashire in 1906. Its aim was to provide a salubrious location for the hugely popular pastime of billiards way from the corrupting influence of alcohol and the licensed trade.
An architect, Norman Evans, designed a dozen or more of these halls in the years before the First World War. There's one in Fulham which is listed; it's also now a pub, cheekily called The Temperance. But as you can see this Battersea Rise billiards hall also has a touch of style about it, with almost an oriental ambience to its tiled frontage complete with cupola. I'm not sure, but I'd guess it's one of Evans's.
As late as 1958, this was one of more than twenty temperance billiard halls in London. P.J. Kavanagh, indeed, wrote a poem entitled 'The Temperance Billiard Hall' - thugh sadly I can't find the text online.
A brave attempt at social improvement - snookered by the popular appetite for something a bit stronger than sasparilla.
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