Monday 26 June 2017

Beautiful Britain - The Kelpies, Falkirk

On our way up to Ballater on Royal Deeside, for our recent week's break with mum and dad, we decided to break up our journey with an overnight stop. We plumped for a stay at The Black Bear Premier Inn in Uddingston, just south of Glasgow.

The location was perfect, just off the M74 and well placed for a visit we wanted to sneak it to The Kelpies, which are situated at The Helix just outside of Falkirk.

Visiting The Kelpies was something I recently added to my list of 50 things to do before I'm 60, after seeing a picture of them on a friend's Facebook post a while ago.

Whilst we weren't lucky enough to be blessed with blue sky and sunshine, the weather could have been a lot worse and we did manage to have a good wander around and take some half decent photos.As we couldn't stay very long, still having quite a way to go, we parked in the car park closest to the sculptures, which costs £3 for the day. There is free parking a bit further away and, if we'd had longer, we would have parked here as it looked a really nice walk along the canal.

From first sight The Kelpies are seriously impressive. We love any kind outdoor sculpture anyway and these are just breathtaking.

We approached along the canal path and soon got to appreciate just how vast they actually are. They are huge.
Sadly our photo opportunities were blighted just a little by the cherry picker, which is there currently undertaking a maintenance check and clean up, but this didn't really detract from the experience.
We walked all the way round and photographed from almost every possible angle, with a few selfies thrown in for good measure ...

... and a picture of Martin giving one a good rub on the nose 😘
There was just time for a quick pit stop in the cafe before we had to be on our way.

There was a map in the visitor centre showing all of the other local attractions around Falkirk and it is definitely somewhere that we will try and get back to. We'd particularly like to see The Falkirk Wheel.
I'm so glad to have got to have completed another of my 50 things to do before I'm 60. The Kelpies are definitely worth a visit if you're up that way.

Monday 19 June 2017

Beautiful Britain - Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Corndavon Cottage
Hi there everyone

We are just back from a fab week's break in the very lovely Royal Deeside, making a revisit to Garnshiel Cottages, with us staying back in Corndavon and mum and dad ensconced in Morven.

We had a crazy busy week, got out and about loads and saw some amazing sights, so I have plenty to tell you about over the next few weeks.

Apologies to those of you who will have seen most of these pictures on Facebook over the course of last week, but I thought I'd start with a bit of a snapshot, so here it is from start to finish ... a week of selfies and smart phone pictures.

We had a stop off at The Kelpies on the way up ...
There was plenty of Geocaching ...
... and even more sightseeing, with plenty of beautiful spots and loads of castles ...
The Burn O'Vat
Braemar Castle
The Linn O'Dee
Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle
Crathes Castle
Drum Castle Rose Garden
Craigevar Castle

Craigevar Castle
Loch Muick

Loch Muick
With one last stop off at the lovely Rosslyn Chapel on the way home ...
Rosslyn Chapel
What a week we had. We all had a fabulous time but came home absolutely shattered.

If you want to see more of our trip than a few selfies then please keep reading over the next few weeks, where I have plenty more to share 😉

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Will Sidney's War - December 1918 - Re-engagement

The WW1 Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, just after Will headed for home on his one month's re-engagement leave, having been in hospital in Italy for nearly six months.

It was quite an eventful leave for Will with him and Ethel getting married on 28 November.

With The Armistice signalling the end of the war you would be forgiven for thinking that would be the end of Will's WW1 journey, but that is not quite the case.

Whilst the last entry in Will's 1918 diary is dated 30 October, there are some notes at the beginning of his 1919 diary, which give an idea of what happened to Will at the end of his month's leave.

  • Arrived Southampton - 20.12.18
  • Left - 20.12.18
  • Arrived Cherbourg - 22nd
  • Left - 22nd
  • Rough journey across. Wondering whether all is well with Darling Ethel. God bless her.
  • Sent her 6 or 7 letters.
  • Landed @ Arquata @ 11pm 26.12.18
  • Sent a card to Ethel
  • Writ to Ethel - a letter with cards.
  • Saw the MO on the next morning. Marked a medical B. Got put to. Sent a letter to Ethel telling her the good news. Writ to Ma, let know very cold, not got water bottle (God bless her (haha)). Can't help but smile.
  • Went into hospital 51B Section. Writ to Ethel - 28.12.18
  • Went from there to Genoa - 29.12.18
  • Writ to Ethel from Genoa.
  • Went from Genoa 51A to France. Started @ 7.30 30.12.18.
  • Landed @ Marseille @ 7.30. Stayed on the train till 1.30. Whilst on the train I writ to Darling Ethel. How pleased she will be to think I am so near home. 
  • Left Marseille @ 11.30 for Le Havre.
  • Landed @ 4pm New Year's Eve in the 57 General Station @ Marseille & New Year's Day.
So, at the end of his one month's re-engagement leave, Will was sent back to Italy, landing at Arquata on 26 December, from where he sent this card, depicting the camp at Arquata, to Ethel. 

29 December of 1918 finds Will back in Italy and back in the familiar surroundings of the 51st Stationary Hospital. His Casualty Record shows him as being admitted with an 'old GSW', which research tells us is shorthand for an 'old gun shot wound'. This is really interesting as, whilst we know Will has suffered with problems to his neck and shoulder, at no point have we seen any other mention of him having been injured in this way.
Will sees out the rest of 1918 in the 57th Stationary Hospital in Marseille. I will let you know what happens in 1919 in my next post.

Monday 5 June 2017

Will Sidney's War - November 1918 - The Armistice & A Wedding

Whilst there are no entries in Will's war diaries for November in 1918, we have had a hunt through Will's official war records and can see, from his Active Service, Casualty Form, that following his release from hospital in October, on 14 November 1918 he was granted one month's re-engagement leave.
In terms of the war November 1918 was a very significant month, with the Armistice being signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiegne in France.

This must be one of the last postcards that Will sent to Ethel before heading for home to take up his leave.
Will writes on the back of the postcard as it being ...
"Where the English entered just before the Armistice was signed."
November 1918 was also a very significant month for Will and Ethel.

After 4 years of war, 3 overseas postings, 6 months in hospital and lots of letters and postcards Will and Ethel finally tied the knot, in Doncaster, on 28 November 1918.

They were married at Christ Church, the very same church where our story started, where Tom Sidney, Will's father, had been encouraged to take on the role of Verger, by his brother-in-law, William Preston. The Marriage Certificate still shows him holding this position at the time of the wedding.
Details of the wedding were announced in the local paper, though Will is referred to as William Burton Sidney, rather that William Preston Sidney.
From the description of the bride's attire and the fact that Peggy, Martin's mum, used to have a larger framed version of this photograph hanging on the wall at home, we are confident that this is their official wedding photograph.
So, this wedding really is the culmination of a romance that spanned the course of WW1. What's next for Will and Ethel? What happens at the end of Will's month of re-engagement leave? I promise to let you know in my next post.