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War Memorial, Aberdeen

Aberdeen’s main War Memorial is located at the end wall of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums. I believe Aberdeen’s Roll of Honour is housed inside the museum.

The Memorial comprises the wall and a stone lion. The wall is inscribed, “MCMXIV – MCMXIX, To Our Glorious Dead, MCMXXXIX – MCMXLV.”

Unfortunately in August last year there were refurbishment works going on.

Wider view. Refurbishment works in evidence:-

War Memorial Aberdeen

Closer view:-

Aberdeen War Memorial

The Glorious Thing by Christine Orr

Merchiston Publishing, 2013, 235 p, plus i p Acknowledgements, iii p iv p Introduction by Yvonne mcCleery, iii p Afterword by Alistair McCleery, ii p About the author, ii p Discussion Questions. First published 1919.

The Glorious Thing cover

This novel is set on the Home Front during the Great War. David Grant has been invalided out of the Army and has returned home to Castlerig near Edinburgh to convalesce and build himself up. His path crosses with that of the Sutherland sisters, Effie, Nannie, Marion and Jullie.

Marion is unobtrusive and divides men into Bounders (too objectionable,) Selfish Lumps (too absorbed in their conversation to thank you when you passed them tea,) Silly Asses (attempting either to be funny or, worse, sentimental,) Nice Boys (foolish beyond expression) and Dear Old Things (usually friends of Uncle Alexander.) Only her brother Pat was an exception and she realises David Grant too doesn’t fit any of the bills.

Nothing very out of the ordinary occurs in the book: it is a quiet examination of ordinary lives carried on in uncommon circumstances. As soon as David encounters Marion it is obvious where the story will lead but there are complications along the way. “There is nothing more bitter than to have the sweetness of a friendship turned sour by a few interfering words, or the jests of thoughtless outsiders.” However, David’s early thought that “Life is a thing too glorious to be enjoyed” is not borne out except in the circumstances of Nannie’s fiancé’s death in the war and her subsequent attempt to find solace via spiritualism.

This sits somewhat at odds with David’s musings on “the artistic temperament” which he conceives “is a real and wonderful thing; nothing less than the power to understand and love the eternal beauty of the world.” Of course, it is; but the eternal beauty of the world can be an elusive thing to grasp.

The blurb describes Orr as a true hidden gem on the Scottish literary scene. Hidden certainly. I had never heard of her until a recent (though well pre-lockdown) visit to the Scottish Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh; an institution dedicated mainly to Burns, Scott and Stevenson but on one of whose walls was a description of Orr’s career – enough to spur me on to seek her writings out. Unfortunately most are long out of print; and scarce.

Despite being set during the Great War, The Glorious Thing still has a kind of Victorian sensibility – much like the Findlater sisters’ Crossriggs, but better written, and underneath it all, with the prevalence of women in the narrative, a sense of the changes the war wrought.

Pedant’s corner:- Minnie Grant says, ‘Aren’t I swanky?’ (The Scottish form is ‘Amn’t I?) Chambers’ (Chambers’s.) “‘I wonder what be thinks of us’” (what he thinks,) a missing comma before or after a piece of direct speech (a few times,) shrunk (shrank.) “All telegrams do not bring bad news.” (Not true; some telegrams did. What Orr meant was, “Not all telegrams bring bad news,) a speech which was carried over into the next paragraph had an end quotation mark before the paragraph break, “hearts tae break and nine tae sell” (“hearts tae break and none tae sell” makes more sense,) appall (appal.)

1900s Town, Beamish

The 1900s Town at Beamish Open Air Museum is probably the most popular attraction in the vast grounds. It was certainly crowded. The queue for the sweetshop spilled outside onto the pavement. (We did queue up though.)

This old car was in the 1900s Town Garage which is described as a Stables:-

Old Car in Garage, 1900s Town, Beamish

In the same garage there was a very unusual delivery bike. I assume it’s called a Penny-four-farthings:-

A Penny-four-farthings, 1900s Town, Beamish

The “town” had a small park at the top of which was a War Memorial in the form of a large artillery piece:-

Artillery Piece as War Memorial, 1900s Town, Beamish

The dedication on the plaque reads, “This gun was placed in Redman Park as a memorial to the men who died in the war to end all wars 1914-1918. Unveiled by Lt Col R R Humphrys. (Hoodge Day MCMLXXXVIII.)” Would that be Hooge Day?

1900s Town, Beamish, War Memorial Inscription

We didn’t seem to take as many photos in the town as I’d have wished. So many of the exhibits were crammed with people.

This was the bakery. Lovely windows. We would have bought something from it but the queues again were huge – even bigger than for the sweetshop.

Beamish, Edwardian  windows,

More Beamish

One of the exhibits at Beamish is an old colliery and a terrace of Miner’s cottages. This photograph of the colliery complex was taken from the ring road round the museum.

Colliery from Road, Beamish

A line of old prams at the bottom of a large grassed area. They were waiting to take part in a procession. See below.

Old Prams, Beamish

Beamish holds special events throughout the year. The day we were there they had a Miners’ Gala parade.

Procession, Beamish

Miner’s Banner, Gala Parade, Beamish. Gypsy caravan behind. Banner reads, “National Union of Mineworkers, Durham Area, Leasington Lodge,” and below, “Health is Strength.”

Miner's Banner, Gala Parade, Beamish

Video of Miners’ Gala Procession:-

Video of Miners' Gala Procession, Beamish

1940s Farm, Beamish Open Air Museum

One of the most memory provoking stops we made at Beamish was at the 1940s farm.

Farm Terrace:-

Farm terrace, Beamish, County Durham

Just along the way is this pillbox made from a boiler and which was actually used by the Home Guard near Durham:-

Beamish, Pillbox Made From a Boiler

The Art Deco style “sunburst” gate on the terrace is mirrored at the back entrance:-

1930s gate, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

Across the road from the farmhouse there was a barn which had been converted into an eatery called British Kitchen. The menu had wartime “delicacies” such as Woolton Pie, which we passed on. I had a Black Market Bacon Stottie as I recall and the good lady a vegetarian pasty. See sample menu (not exactly the one we chose from) here.

Inside the farmhouse there was an Art Deco rug:-

Art Deco Rug, 1940s Farm, Beamish

The farmhouse’s interior reminded me of visiting older people’s houses when I was young.

A 1930s mirror:-

1930s fireplace, Beamish, County Durham

And chairs:-

1930s chairs, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

Horse at 1940s Farm, complete with “land girl” (and modern visitors):-

Horse at 1940s Farm, Beamish

Outhouse with “Do Your Bit” slogan on old machine inside it:-

1940s Farm Outhouse, Beamish

Another outhouse, with chimney:-

Beamish, 1940s Farm Outhouse with Chimney

Car with blackout headlamps – and haywain behind:-

Car with Blackout Headlamps, 1940s Farm, Beamish

A luxuriating pig (destined for the Black Market Bacon?):-

Pig at 1940s Farm, Beamish

1820s Wagonway and Pockersley Hall, Beamish

Puffing Billy and train:-

Puffing Billy and train, Beamish, County Durham

Puffing Billy, old steam locomotive at 1820s wagonway, Beamish:-

Puffing Billy, Beamish

Puffing Billy and carriages video:-

1820s Wagonway, Beamish

Video of Puffing Billy on the move:-

Puffing Billy, Beamish, on the Move

The Steam elephant – in engine shed at 1820s wagonway:-

The Steam Elephant

Thatched Cottage:-

Thatched Cottage from 1820s Wagonway, Beamish

Thatched Cottage and steam from Puffing Billy, Pockersley Hall in background:-

thatched cottage, Beamish from waggonway

Wooden structure at end of wagonway. Old winding gear?

Wooden Structure

Church and Pockersley Hall from wagonway:-

Beamish, Church + from waggonway

Pockersley Hall from approach road:-

Pockersley Hall from road, Beamish, folk museum, County Durham

Pockersley Hall and garden:-

Pockersley Hall, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

Weathercock at the tram/bus halt for 1820s wagonway and Pockersley Hall:-

Weathercock on Engine Shed, Beamish

Transport at Beamish Open Air Museum

On our trip to Northeast England last year we took the opportunity to visit Beamish Open Air Museum, a place I’d always wanted to see since first I heard about it. It didn’t disappoint. It’s a wonderful nostalgia fest for those of a certain age.

I liked the transport exhibits – which are functional. Beamish occupies a large area. You could walk round it but it would take you a while.

Trams and a bus:-

Trams and Bus at Beamish

More trams:-

More Beamish Trams

A Porto tram (not on duty that day):-

Porto Tram at Beamish

Tram/bus stop:-

A Tram/Bus Stop at Beamish

The weathervane on the stop is tram shaped:-

Weathercock on Bus/Tram Stop Beamish

Railway Locomotive and Carriages:-

Railway Locomotive and Carriages, Beamish

Dipwood Halt, A small scale railway halt:-

Dipwood Halt, Beamish

Turntable at Dipwood Halt:-

Turntable, Dipwood Halt, Beamish

Courtyard, The Winter Palace, St Petersburg

Winter Palace Gates. Famously “stormed” in the October Revolution of 1917. Except the film Eisenstein made of it rather overplayed things. There was very little resistance:-

Winter Palace Gates, St Petersburg

Behind the gates lies a courtyard where there is one of the entrances to the Hermitage Museum:-

Winter Palace from Courtyard, St Petersburg

Queue for entry to Hermitage Museum:-

Winter Palace Courtyard Trees, St Petersburg

Part of Winter Palace, St Petersburg

Winter Palace, St Petersburg, from Courtyard

Trees in courtyard:-

Ciurtyard, Winter Palace, St Petersburg

St Petersburg, Winter Palace

Looking back to gates:-

Trees in Courtyard, Winter Palace, St Petersburg

St Petersburg (i)

This was the big one. I had been to St Petersburg before – when it was Leningrad, on a school cruise back in the heyday of the Soviet Union when we were shown the bullet holes on buildings’ walls still left over from the siege of the city during the Great Patriotic War (as World War 2 is called in those parts) – but my wife hadn’t, and with her interest in Russian history it was a place she had always wanted to see and was the reason we chose to go on this cruise at all.

The city straddles the River Neva (and a bit beyond) which therefore appears in many of our photographs. It is also home to some magnificent architecture, beautiful palaces from the time of the Tsars (in stark contrast to the conditions in which ordinary folk lived, sometimes ten or more to a room in pre-revolutionary days.)

The Winter Palace, St Petersburg, from across River Neva:-

The Winter Palace, St Petersburg

The Winter Palace is part of the famous Hermitage Museum another part of which – along with a couple of ferries – is seen below:-

The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Other buildings on River Neva frontage-

Frontage, River Neva, St Petersburg

I got a closer view of the Naval Academy:-

Naval Academy, St Petersburg

The Peter and Paul Fortress, lies on an island:-

Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg

Closer view seen through rainy coach windows:-

St Petersburg, Peter and Paul Fortress

I couldn’t get far enough back to get all of this building in. In St Petersburg terms it’s fairly unremarkable:-

A Building in St Petersburg

A gilded tower in the city centre. (Note saltire flag in blue on white – St Andrew is Russia’s patron saint as well as Scotland’s, besides other countries.)

A Gilded Tower, St Petersburg

Riverfront builidings and St Isaac’s Cathedral beyond:-

St Isaac's Cathedral,St Petersburg from Across River Neva

Concorde at the National Museum of Flight

The main attraction at the National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, East Lothian is a real Concorde. It’s housed in a hangar more less all to itself.


Concorde Nose

Engines and fuselage:-

Concorde Engines + Fuselage

Tail (I forget now which aircraft’s front portion is in the background here):-

Concorde Tail

Mach and altitude indicators:-

Concorde Mach and Height Indicators

External temperature and speed indicators:-

Concorde Temp and mph Indicators

One of Concorde’s engines:-

Concorde Engine

Interior looking forward:-

Concorde Interior

Interior looking aft. It’s pretty cramped looking:-

Concorde Interior


Concorde Cockpit

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