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Tuesday, 30 November 2004
Smisby Church

Smisby Church

This is Smisby Church, as seen from Annwell Lane.  The Church is called St James Church, and it is on Chapel Lane.  The St James website even has information about the chiming clock, the bells and (a photo of, but no information on) the organ.

The church site links to a sister website about the village of Smisby, including a photo gallery. Check it out here.  Smisby falls under Ashby-de-la-Zouch with a Leicestershire postcode, but is actually just across the border from Ashby in South Derbyshire. The Derbyshire UK website has a brief historical overview of Smisby. They say:

Smisby is a small village situated in South Derbyshire, close to Ashby de la Zouch and the Derbyshire-Leicestershire boundary, which forms part of the parish boundary. It is an ancient farming settlement probably deriving its name from the Old Norse of ‘Smidesbie’, literally Smith’s Farm, and was also once known as Smithesby, the village of the smiths. The parish includes the hamlets of Annswell and Boundary.

The small village shows many signs of its mediaeval past. In 1068 monks from nearby Repton built a chapel of ease here. In the 14th century, Ann Comyn, a lady of the local manor house (Smisby Manor) had the present church, dedicated to St James, built incorporating the chapel of ease into the south aisle. Her descendants were the Kendalls who in 1660 sold the manor and village to the Crewes of Calke Abbey, who still owned much of the land into the 20th century.

The small church built of grey sandstone contains a mid 14th century alabaster effigy of Joan Comyn as well as monuments to the Kendalls. Oak panelling in the church is said to have come from Ashby Castle.

The present Smisby Manor, now a hotel, dates from around 1500 and is the third building to be built on this site. Nearby is Tornament field, mentioned by Sir Walter Scott in Ivanhoe, and the place where the knights from the nearby castle at Ashby held their jousts. Also of interest is the early 18th century roundhouse or village lockup.

Seventy years ago the village consisted of 6 farms and 20 cottages. Each farm fad tied cottages for it’s labourers and the other cottages were mainly occupied by miners and clay workers. The small farms have gone and the farm buildings turned into residential units. The young population has dwindled resulting in the closure of the village school but Smisby does have a private nursery school, village hall and an inn.

Because of it’s connections with Ivanhoe and the Kendall’s, who have many American descendants, Smisby recieves quite afew tourists. Another attraction is Hannah Bailey birthplace. She and her husband Charles Baker sailed for New Zealand in 1828 as two of the first party of missionaries to work there. They were instrumental in bringing the Maoris to agreement with settlers and are revered by their many descendants.


Posted by bigblue on 30/11/2004 at 12:06 PM
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Field of Hope

Master Park

Here’s another photo of Master Park, taken yesterday afternoon. The three young people (small figures in top right of the picture above) were playing with a toy helicopter, which was an uncontrolled model capable of taking off, flying about 100 metres, and crashing. Here they set the helicopter up for take off:
Master Park

Then it took off and flew three-quarters of the length of the football field. The engine stalled and it fell towards the ground:
Master Park

One of the ‘pilots’ came to retrieve the helicopter and took it back to the others where they started again.
Master Park

It was cold yesterday. The temperature was about 7 degrees at midday when I took these photos. As you can see it was also rather a dull day.

Posted by bigblue on 30/11/2004 at 12:50 AM
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Monday, 29 November 2004
que rappelle la fête de Noël

Christmas Bling

This afternoon I dropped bluemeanie at a party at a friend’s house. The friend’s mother is half Alsatian, as the friend’s maternal grandmother comes from Betchdorf. So, when I fetched bluemeanie I ended up having an animated conversation about Alsace with friend’s mother at the front door. Friend’s father even brought out some of their grey-blue pottery to show me.

In the same street as friend, we came across this house, which is starting to show definite signs of Christmas fever. Well, judging by the giant snowman light in the front garden, some kind of fever. I stopped the car but kept the engine idling. Bluemeanie wound down her window and took the photo. The flash went off, making us feel self-concious about what we were doing. We drove off into the night, laughing, ...

Posted by bigblue on 29/11/2004 at 01:55 AM
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Sunday, 28 November 2004
Théâtre promenade

Under Milkwood

Tonight I went to the Odd Youth Theatre production of Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas. It was the first time I have been to promenade theatre, where the sets are scattered around a hall and the audience (and cast) move around between them. The audience had to stand around or perch on stage items, as no chairs were provided. However we were warned by the director that if we found ourselves in the spotlight we should move aside as it would mean that a member of cast was about to use the stage or prop.  It worked very well, but I would have put the cast in silent shoes because the noise of their moving about all the time was distracting at times.  Accoustics was sometimes an issue.  Sound and language is very important for this play, and I did occassionally miss some of the dialogue.  It would have been a good idea to go to two shows (e.g. Friday and Saturday night) and hang around on different ends of the hall to be able to absorb the action fully.

Bluemeanie and Pinkie were narrators.  Spenkers and her family were also at the play tonight, and Alex made an interesting observation. He said that the audience were like cockroaches, moving out of the light and into the dark all evening.

Posted by bigblue on 28/11/2004 at 12:24 AM
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Saturday, 27 November 2004
Hopkin, der grüne Frosch

Hopkin Lost frog

When we (Carles, Ash, Marcus and myself) were on our snowboard trip at Engelberg earlier this year, we stayed in a family and youth hostel. In the hostel was this strange poster which I took a photo of.  I have changed the wording on the poster, to follow the theme of Hopkin Lost frog.

This month 18 people so far have come to my blog searching on the phrase “Hopkin Green Frog” (or similar).  One poor soul used the search-phrase “what is the deal with the hopkin lost frog?”.  In case he or she or someone else comes back with the same question, let me give an explanation (as I understand it).

There are these people who collect “found objects” such as flyers, lost property, etc. They take a photograph of each item they collect and publish it in a magazine and on a website such as this.  One of the things found was a quaint hand-drawn flyer that advertised a lost frog. Presumably it was drawn by a child, called Terry.  From this particular item another web-site was spawned (using it as a meme). 

Go to lost frog and click on each photo to progress to the next one. 

Edit: Well third time lucky, and this image was accepted on Lostfrog (it’s image #83 at the moment). 
News comes that the meme has been unravelled. Terry is a 16 year old with autism, Hopkin is a McDonalds Toy. (I found the link via Boing Boing).

Posted by bigblue on 27/11/2004 at 12:02 AM
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Thursday, 25 November 2004


After all the recent pictures taken from my bedroom window I thought it might be an idea to show one in the opposite direction, as it were.

This photo is taken halfway between Smisby and the Ashby by-pass. In the centre of the photograph is the church. To the left of the church is Smisby Manor.  The church has a clockwork mechanism that sets off a series of chimes on every hour, day or night. During the day you don’t notice the chimes, but at night when it is quiet the sound travels and the chimes are penetrating. I would imagine that it could be quite easy for someone to get into the church at night and break the clockwork mechanism to stop the chiming.

But actually they don’t leave church doors unlocked at night-time any more. Perhaps they never really did.

Posted by bigblue on 25/11/2004 at 08:44 PM
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Wednesday, 24 November 2004
les brumes matinales II


The above photo shows the mist at sunrise this morning, as seen from my bedroom skylight which faces in the direction of Ashby-de-la-Zouch.  It started clearing some time between 10 and 11 am.

In today’s Independent a correspondent writes that in

“the rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman wandered thoughtfully, coughing and hiccoughing, through the streets of Scarborough on his way to the loughs of Ireland”, we have “ough” in nine different renditions.

Posted by bigblue on 24/11/2004 at 10:39 PM
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Tuesday, 23 November 2004
les brumes matinales I

Master Park

Another picture of Master Park, this time in the mist.

This evening about 10 of us met up in Ashby at the Bull’s Head and then headed out to the George and Dragon in Thringstone for a Phillipines buffet meal. After the meal we retired to The Royal in Ashby for a nightcap. The owner’s wife is from the Phillipines and cooked the honours, I assume.  I was fortunate because Martin fetched me at the Bothy and dropped me back at the end of the meeting.  We didn’t spot any large black cats (various sightings reported near Thringstone, North West Leics).

According to the self-named Official Guide,

The Royal Hotel (built as The Hastings Hotel in 1826-7) the old Station building, Ivanhoe Terrace and Rawdon Terrace are all reminders of the days when Ashby was a Spa Town and host to grand concerts and dances in the now demolished Ivanhoe Baths.

It also says that the

Bull’s Head (now also named The Fayre and Firkin) is said to be one of the oldest houses in Ashby, and dates from the 14th century.

All in all it was a good evening, but it is late and time to hit the sack.  Thanks to my Lumie bodyclock from Outside In I will go to sleep quickly and wake up easily tomorrow morning.  I am really chuffed with this product. It’s working unbelievably well and giving me a fantastic little boost in the mornings.  I recommended it to Martin and he has ordered one over the Internet.  It will be interesting to see if he finds it a good product too.  Thanks to flank for originally recommending Outside In to me.

Posted by bigblue on 23/11/2004 at 12:55 PM
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