1 EAGLETON NOTES: February 2020



Thursday 27 February 2020

Childhood 'Transportation'.

Now that I've found out where the 'create new post' button has been repositioned to I shall create a new post.

I recently posted about my first 'proper' means of transport and some people mentioned their childhood tricycles and so on. I'd quite forgotten about my childhood trikes etc. Searching through my Dad's photos I've found two. The first photo is of a very young me on my little three wheel tricycle. I seem to recall that it was red and green. What has struck me more than anything is how similar my grandson at 2 is to me at, I suppose about 3. We have the same sort of laugh with the eyes partially closed and a similar shape of face.

A little later on I had a red pedal car. This is me sitting on the bonnet with Keith (who Keith was I cannot recall but he wasn't on of the neighbouring children with whom I grew up).

After that I had Triang Tricycle. It had a bin on the back. It was red and cream. I can't find a photo so I have borrowed one from Google. Oddly I can't find a red and cream one. Red ones and cream ones but no hybrids.
Image result for triang 1950s tricycle with breadbin

Thank you for awakening my memories.

Saturday 22 February 2020

Snail Mail

I write a lot of letters and send a lot of birthday and Christmas cards. I like the handwritten word. 

I tend to decorate my envelopes too.
One of my oldest and dearest friends died last year. She had moved to Canada when she was in her early 20s and we had corresponded ever since. I have hundreds of letters from her. There are doubtless some emails also buried somewhere in amongst all the other thousands of personal emails I've sent and received over the years. When she died I was asked to do a eulogy. To jog my memory back 50 or so years I started re-reading the letters. Obviously I only scanned most of them but it was a very comforting few days that I spent with them in front of me.

I also have all the correspondence with my Mum (a wonderful letter writer) when I moved to Lewis in the '70s. The letters I wrote were returned to me when she and Dad gave up their home to go and live with my brother. I'd kept all hers so it was good to have the 'whole picture'.
My brother and I communicate frequently by post.

In 2019 I wrote 290 missives ranging from 10 page letters, to 2 page note-cards: mostly the latter. Then there were all the birthday, get-well, sympathy and Christmas cards: probably totalling nearly a couple of hundred.

So I probably buy around 450 to 500 postage stamps a year. Apart from Christmas cards and some birthday cards to people in the UK all my stamps are First Class or abroad - usually New Zealand or USA. 

This country has an excellent postal service provided by the Royal Mail. Mail is delivered 6 days a week to the door of almost every address in the country at a single uniform rate regardless of location. So a letter posted on the Isle of Wight will be delivered First Class to me on the Isle of Lewis 560 miles (900k)  away in a straight line (764 miles by road) usually the next day for the sum of 70p. It costs the same for me to post a letter to Stornoway 7 miles away. I may be wrong but I don't think anywhere else in the world provides such a universal one-price service regardless of price.

One problem facing the royal mail is the fact that the lucrative low cost services are provided in the cities by competitors who only provide services within relatively small lucrative catchment areas eg within central London. This leaves the Royal Mail providing the high cost services at a price they must also charge in the lucrative areas.

On 23 March Royal Mail will increase their prices yet again. A First Class 20g letter will go up from 70p to 76p a rise of over 8%. 

As we send fewer and fewer letters because we use electronic means of communication for personal and business and as prices increase and contribute to the declining use my question is simply "How much longer will we have a universal letter postal service." If we don't use it we'll lose it.

Monday 17 February 2020

Personal Transportation: My First Bike

When I passed the 11+ in 1955, my parents bought me a Triumph Palm Beach bike (bicycle frame number 71512TH) with Sturmey Archer 3-speed gears and Dynohub lights. It was the bees knees. I cycled the (almost) three miles to and from school in all weathers on it until I left school. The most miles I did on it in one day was to North Wales and back. I clocked on the little clicking mileometer 98.4 miles. I can always remember the figure because it is the 'normal' Fahrenheit temperature of the human body. When I arrived home I only had to ride around the block to make it 100 miles but I was just too tired. 

I've been trying to find one of my own photos of the bike but I've not yet been successful. So here are two from Google. The first shows the Dynohub on the front wheel but not the saddlebag nor the white-sidewalled tyres which were standard on the new one. The second picture shows the latter two but not the Dynohub.

What was your first 'proper' form of personal transportation?

Thursday 13 February 2020

Stormy Weather

Given the paucity of my posts over the last few years I don't suppose many noticed that I've not even been commenting for over a week. I was happily beavering away last Thursday when yet another suspected bout of urosepsis hit me. Thanks to the usual exceedingly prompt hospital treatment, within a couple of hours I was on pretty strong IV antibiotics and some days later I was back catching up with real life. Having just about caught up I'm back in Blogland. Hopefully I'll get some blogs read this evening.

In 2005 we had a storm. It was before named storms (which started in 2015 with Storm Aileen). The storm of 11–12 January, 2005, affecting northern Scotland, had a particularly severe impact in the Outer Hebrides, particularly The Uists, resulting in widespread damage to property and infrastructure, and in the loss of five lives. Through the night, the severe storm moved over Northern Scotland before eventually starting to ease off. The remote North Rona in the Western Isles recorded a mean wind speed of 100mph with gusts over 115mph. with a top gust of 134mph which made it a Category 3 Hurricane. In addition to the physical impact on the coast, there was widespread marine flooding. 

Somewhere around 2am I lost my conservatory. I ceased worrying and went to bed and slept through the rest of it. The conservatory wasn't small at 6m x 2.5m. By the morning it had all but disappeared. 

Last week we had Storm Ciara wreaking havoc throughout the British Isles. Well, up to a point.  We on Lewis were not affected apart from some ferry cancellations. Perhaps we are just better prepared. Our winds apparently got to nearly 60mph but didn't get as strong as in Storm Brendan in January. 

Storm Brendan didn't do much damage up here either although the winds were fierce - gusting 80mph. and they they did result in a lot of transport disruption and the closing for 5 successive high tides of The Braighe which isolates the peninsula on which I live as well as many of the causeways which join other islands.

Sunday 2 February 2020


Today is the 2nd February 2020. I noticed when I was writing a letter this morning that the date is 02/02/2020. That makes it a palindrome ie word, phrase or sentence or series of numbers which reads the same backwards or forwards. But then you know that. Sorry. I've just realised that I might seem patronising. Apologies if I did.  In fact it's even palindromic to our friends in North America. What made you do that I wonder? Perversity? A desire to be different? Who cares. It is what it is. It occurred to me that palindromic dates don't happen very often. The next one would have to be 12/12/2121 I think. Unless anyone can tell me differently. After that I'd have to use my noddle and it's a Sunday. I don't work on Sunday. Well not apart from gardening, housework, washing and ironing. As my Dad used to say "The better the day the better the deed."

By the way the spider's web is not palindromic even if it were perfectly symmetrical: which it is not.