Online Probate Application: A Slow, Flawed System.

Back in 2017, when my wife Kate died, I went through probate for the first time. It was a complex and extended process I navigated only with some difficulty. So, following my mother’s death in January 2022, I was delighted to learn that a far simpler online system had been introduced. There seemed no obstacle … Continue reading Online Probate Application: A Slow, Flawed System.

South West Coast Path: Marazion to Helford

By mid-June of 2022 we were already back in Cornwall, having completed St Ives to Marazion only three months beforehand. We devoted our week to the Lizard Peninsula, restarting at Marazion, continuing down the western side and rounding Lizard Point before ascending the eastern side to reach the Helford Estuary. Our base was a small … Continue reading South West Coast Path: Marazion to Helford

North Downs Way: Borough Green and Wrotham to Cuxton

Six weeks after reaching Wrotham, we were back at Borough Green Station, ready to walk the eleven miles or so to Cuxton. We had travelled via Clapham Junction and London Victoria, catching the Ramsgate train, which reached Cuxton shortly after 10AM. It was a Saturday in mid-May and perfect for walking. There were blue skies … Continue reading North Downs Way: Borough Green and Wrotham to Cuxton

North Downs Way: Dunton Green to Borough Green and Wrotham

It wasn’t until early April that we managed to resume the North Downs Way. The Guide had suggested that the previous leg, starting in Oxted, should conclude in Otford. But we had fallen slightly short, finishing instead at Dunton Green. It now proposed that the subsequent stage should stretch all the way from Otford to … Continue reading North Downs Way: Dunton Green to Borough Green and Wrotham

South West Coast Path: St Ives to Marazion

Almost six months after our last visit – when we walked from Holywell Bay to St Ives – we found ourselves back on the train down to Cornwall. It was late March: we had timed this trip to help us get ‘walking fit’ for our impending Channel Islands holiday. This time our destination and base … Continue reading South West Coast Path: St Ives to Marazion

Channel Island Hopping, HF Holidays, April 2022

Towards the end of October 2019 we booked onto HF Holidays’ Channel Islands walking tour, scheduled for April 2020. Then Covid arrived and our holiday was postponed for two years in succession. So, as the date of the 2022 trip approached, we couldn’t quite believe it would go ahead. It was quite a shock to … Continue reading Channel Island Hopping, HF Holidays, April 2022

The Legacy of Samuel Dracup: Samuel Dracup and Sons

This family history post explores how, after the death of pioneer Jacquard loom maker Samuel Dracup, three subsequent generations of his male descendants continued to manufacture them in Great Horton near Bradford, West Yorkshire. It builds upon part of a previous post, in which I described how Samuel converted himself from a traditional joiner and … Continue reading The Legacy of Samuel Dracup: Samuel Dracup and Sons

Saying Farewell to Mum

Maureen Dracup, my mother, died on 14 January 2022. She was ninety-one and succumbed to dementia. My brother and I finally managed to extract her from hospital in the autumn of 2021, by which point she required palliative care, but could at least spend her last days at home. She had been taken in after … Continue reading Saying Farewell to Mum

The Explosive Misfortunes of Emily Dracup

This Dracup family history post records the mostly unfortunate life experiences of Emily Dracup (1857-1919), my first cousin, three times removed. From a very early age she earned her living as a piano teacher, managing to avoid throughout her life the unremitting toil of service or manual labour.  But she seems never to have performed … Continue reading The Explosive Misfortunes of Emily Dracup

North Downs Way: Oxted to Dunton Green

We resumed the North Downs Way towards the end of October, travelling to Oxted on the East Grinstead train from Clapham Junction, where we met Jacqui. On our way we breakfasted on coffee and pastries bought from the platform cafe. This leg crosses the Surrey-Kent border. The official guide suggests one finishes at Otford but, … Continue reading North Downs Way: Oxted to Dunton Green

The Picaresque Life of John Leslie Dracup

Every family tree contains broken links – people who aren’t yet reliably connected to any particular branch - and the Dracup family tree is no exception. This may often be because a child was born out of wedlock, or simply because records are missing, or as yet unpublished. I find the records pertaining to Dracups … Continue reading The Picaresque Life of John Leslie Dracup

Ernest Dracup: The Singing Sergeant Major

This Dracup family history explores the life and times of Ernest Dracup (1854-1931) and his immediate family. Born in Lincolnshire, he joined the Royal Marine Artillery at the age of 18, rising steadily through the NCO ranks. Then, for a further six years, he served as sergeant major in two Royal Artillery volunteer corps, in … Continue reading Ernest Dracup: The Singing Sergeant Major

Confessions of a Scavenger

So I've had these Padouk boards for about thirty years now. I've used a few of them for fingerboards. I have about fifteen left. I found them in a skip in Manchester. I couldn't believe it. WTF? I picked up as many as I could carry. There were loads more that I had to leave … Continue reading Confessions of a Scavenger

South West Coast Path: Holywell Bay to St. Ives

We returned to Cornwall towards the end of September 2021. The omens weren’t good, as I’d been struggling with a prolonged (but thankfully rare) bout of exercise-induced asthma. Unfortunately this didn’t respond brilliantly to extended mask-wearing or GWR’s aircon. We’d opted to base ourselves in St Ives, at the end of the section we planned … Continue reading South West Coast Path: Holywell Bay to St. Ives

North Downs Way: Merstham to Oxted

We completed this 8-mile leg on August Bank Holiday Monday, meeting Jacqui at Clapham Junction where she was already breakfasting on a bacon roll. We bought pastries which we saved for the Merstham train. Leaving Merstham Station half an hour later, we quickly found our way back to Quality Street, which was named after J … Continue reading North Downs Way: Merstham to Oxted

Thames Path: Newbridge to Oxford

We returned to the Thames Path just two months after completing the Lechlade to Newbridge leg. This time we based ourselves in Oxford, travelling there on Wednesday and back home on Saturday. We devoted Thursday to the Path and Friday to Oxford. This leg, from Newbridge to Oxford, is 14 miles long. That’s close to … Continue reading Thames Path: Newbridge to Oxford

North Downs Way: Westhumble to Merstham

. Only three weeks after completing Shalford to Westhumble, we were back at Box Hill and Westhumble Station to start the next 10-mile leg to Merstham. We arrived by the same route, changing at Wimbledon on to the SWR Dorking service, arriving soon after nine in the morning. . Morning Light rain was falling as … Continue reading North Downs Way: Westhumble to Merstham

Thames Path: Lechlade to Newbridge

. In June 2021, after almost 18 months away, we finally managed to renew our acquaintance with the Thames Path. Back in January 2020 we had completed the second leg, from Cricklade to Lechlade, though with a substantial diversion to avoid flooding. On that occasion we were celebrating Tracy’s 50th. This time round we had … Continue reading Thames Path: Lechlade to Newbridge

North Downs Way: Shalford to Westhumble

. The second stage of the North Downs Way is roughly 13 miles. We began with the intention of completing the stage in one go, but gave ourselves the option of finishing early at Gomshall and completing the walk at a later date. In the event, this is what happened. We walked from Shalford to … Continue reading North Downs Way: Shalford to Westhumble

South West Coast Path: Port Isaac to Holywell Bay

. Covid restrictions meant another eight months had elapsed since we were last able to walk the Coast Path, so this trip was eagerly anticipated. We based ourselves in Padstow this time round, intending to walk at least to Newquay and ideally beyond. We had a full week, from Friday to Friday, though both Fridays … Continue reading South West Coast Path: Port Isaac to Holywell Bay

North Downs Way: Farnham to Shalford

. We decided to adopt the North Downs Way as a walking project in winter 2020. Given lockdown conditions, we knew it might be some time before we could return to the South West Coast Path, or even to the farther reaches of the Thames Path. But the earlier stages of the North Downs Way … Continue reading North Downs Way: Farnham to Shalford

Escaping our Bereavement Comfort Zones

' This post encapsulates my further understanding and experience of bereavement, acquired since the third anniversary of Kate’s death. Three Years Bereaved (July 2020) explored my downward spiral into poor mental health, provoked by my father’s death so soon after Kate’s, which somehow extended and amplified my grief beyond my capacity to endure it. I … Continue reading Escaping our Bereavement Comfort Zones

George Franklin Dracup: Observer, Royal Flying Corps

. This is the story of just one of the Dracups who laid down their lives during the First World War. Canadian George Franklin Dracup was a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He had moved westward from Ontario to the prairies of Saskatchewan at the turn of the Twentieth Century and, after a few … Continue reading George Franklin Dracup: Observer, Royal Flying Corps

Transferring from Virgin Media to Zen Internet: A Cautionary Tale

. According to Ofcom, ‘It’s never been simpler to switch your broadband’. But, for an unfortunate minority, the process is still mired in complexity, confusion and delay. I endured almost five weeks without broadband, at a time when Covid lockdown restrictions made me even more than normally dependent on what has become an essential service. … Continue reading Transferring from Virgin Media to Zen Internet: A Cautionary Tale

George Henry Dracup (1926-2018)

This is the life story of my father, George Henry Dracup. It was quite an ordinary life, given the tumultuous times through which he lived, and he was a very ordinary man. But this is an obituary of sorts, celebrating the small contribution he made to humanity. . Antecedents George was a great-grandson of Eli … Continue reading George Henry Dracup (1926-2018)

Idiot Wind: A screeching U-turn on relationships under COVID-19 (Updated December 2020)

Regular readers find in me a relentless critic of this Government’s efforts to control Covid-19, because of its scant regard for the inviolability of human relationships. I do not find it acceptable to restrict non-cohabiting couples from pursuing their relationships, even in extremis, because that is a flagrant abuse of human rights. Back in June, … Continue reading Idiot Wind: A screeching U-turn on relationships under COVID-19 (Updated December 2020)

South West Coast Path: Bude to Port Isaac

. We were last on the Coast Path in March 2020, just prior to lockdown, when we walked from Clovelly to Bude. This trip also felt as though it had been completed just in time. We were fortunate to catch Summer’s last hurrah - and more stringent lockdown restrictions seemed imminent. Cornwall was busy with … Continue reading South West Coast Path: Bude to Port Isaac

It’s an ill wind…

(Sorry, but this wasn't the end, merely a brief period of respite from Government Covidiocy. For the next episode in this sorry saga, read: Idiot Wind: A screeching U-turn on relationships under COVID-19, published in October 2020 with an update in December 2020.) …that blows nobody any good. I hope this post will mark the … Continue reading It’s an ill wind…

Support Bubbles and Extended Households: A Dog’s Breakfast?

For what is (hopefully) the final part of this campaign, read It's an ill wind..., which described the English Government's low-key statement, on 9 September 2020, that 'established relationships' would henceforth be exempted from social distancing. . Two months ago I condemned the UK’s failure to introduce household bubbles to reunite non-cohabiting couples. This post … Continue reading Support Bubbles and Extended Households: A Dog’s Breakfast?

Three Years Bereaved

Kate would have been 59 on 4 July 2020 and the third anniversary of her death falls on 13 July, just nine days later. It feels timely to reflect on my bereavement again; something I last attempted more than two years ago. So much has happened between then and now – some amazing; much dreadful … Continue reading Three Years Bereaved

George Enoch Dracup (1869-1946), Master Mariner

. Three years ago I published the sad story of Derek Dracup, a young submariner who perished in 1944, aboard the ill-fated HMS Stratagem. Derek was almost certainly drawn to the sea by his grandfather – George Enoch Dracup – who must have told the young boy many tales of his life as a ship’s … Continue reading George Enoch Dracup (1869-1946), Master Mariner

Household Bubbles: Another COVID-19 failure by the UK Government?

A sequel to this post, describing the development of support bubbles and extended households up to August 2020 is here. . This post discusses the continuing failure to introduce household bubbles as part of the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. It condemns the Government’s: Discrimination against non-cohabiting couples, unfairly prohibiting their intimacy during the COVID-19 … Continue reading Household Bubbles: Another COVID-19 failure by the UK Government?

South West Coast Path: Clovelly to Bude

. Our previous segment of the Coast Path – from Barnstaple to Clovelly – had been completed back in June 2019 so, by March 2020, this next visit was more than overdue. We only just managed to squeeze it in before the Coronavirus clampdown on non-essential travel. That will delay our next trip too. If … Continue reading South West Coast Path: Clovelly to Bude

Thames Path: Cricklade to Lechlade, January 2020

Five months on from our first engagement with the Thames Path – completing the trek from the source to Cricklade – we decided it was high time to undertake the second leg, taking us from Cricklade to Lechlade. We were killing two birds with one stone since it was also my companion Tracy's 50th birthday, … Continue reading Thames Path: Cricklade to Lechlade, January 2020

Southern Yorkshire Dales (HF Holidays, New Year 2020)

Following our second HF guided walking holiday in October 2019, three of our number became members of the HF co-operative. And the two of us booked two further holidays with them, the first being a four-day festive guided walking holiday in the Southern Yorkshire Dales, from 30 December 2019 to 3 January 2020. (An equivalent … Continue reading Southern Yorkshire Dales (HF Holidays, New Year 2020)

The Other Zillah Dracup (1830-1885)

My post about the first wave of Dracup emigrants to the United States featured Zillah Fieldhouse, nee Dracup (b.1828) who followed the Mormon Trail from Bradford to Utah in 1866. She was descended from Nathaniel Dracup’s oldest son, John (1752-1824), her parents being Nathan (1802-1870) and Betty Dracup, nee Bottomley (b.1802). But she had a … Continue reading The Other Zillah Dracup (1830-1885)

Western Yorkshire Dales, HF Holidays, October 2019

.  In October 2019 four of the six bereaved friends who had, six months earlier, ventured on a 4-day HF guided walking holiday in Northern Snowdonia, repeated the experience, this time in the Western Yorkshire Dales. On this occasion the booking went without a hitch. We successfully reserved four separate rooms at Thorns Hall in … Continue reading Western Yorkshire Dales, HF Holidays, October 2019

Arthur Herbert Dracup (1862-), Career Criminal

. This is the colourful story of Arthur Herbert Dracup, also known as Herbert Dracup, who acquired an intimate and extended knowledge of prisons and penal servitude during the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras. His birth is veiled in some mystery. We know that an Arthur Herbert Dracup was born in Bradford in the … Continue reading Arthur Herbert Dracup (1862-), Career Criminal

Dancing Partners

.  As our partners trace their graceful arabesques above They pause; stoop down to guide our own more rustic figure And thus we weave the skeins of new-found love. . Emerging from our past lives’ wreckage, our fondest dreams stove In; what should we do but grow love from grief? How else endure As our … Continue reading Dancing Partners

Abraham Dracup, Clogger, and the Dracup Clogging Dynasty

  This is the story of Abraham Dracup (1805-72), an ordinary working man whose otherwise very ordinary life was marked by three life-changing experiences. It describes the rise and fall of a small dynasty of Bradford cloggers, headed by Abraham and encompassing his brothers, sons and nephews. Abraham was a contemporary of his slightly older … Continue reading Abraham Dracup, Clogger, and the Dracup Clogging Dynasty

The Double Tragedy of Amos and Richard Dracup

This post tells the desperately sad story of father Amos Dracup (1818-1869) and son Richard Dracup (1854-1871) who both lived in Great Horton, Bradford and whose untimely deaths – within two years of each other - were causally connected. Amos was born in 1818, the fourth child and first son of Richard Dracup senior (1788-1853) … Continue reading The Double Tragedy of Amos and Richard Dracup

Thames Path: Source to Cricklade, August 2019

. We have decided to walk the 184 miles of the Thames Path, alongside our parallel and much longer project: the South-West Coast Path. Our journey began on a cloudy August morning, travelling by train and tube into Paddington to catch the 12:45 GWR departure for Swansea - and alighting at Swindon less than an hour … Continue reading Thames Path: Source to Cricklade, August 2019

South-West Coast Path: Barnstaple to Clovelly

We returned to the Coast Path towards the end of June 2019, intending to walk from Barnstaple to Westward Ho! - and potentially beyond. We had also returned to our customary pattern with a four-night Monday to Friday, schedule. On the way down on Monday – departing out of Paddington and arriving via the Tarka … Continue reading South-West Coast Path: Barnstaple to Clovelly

South-West Coast Path: Ilfracombe to Barnstaple

. In March 2019, some six months after the last foreshortened leg, I judged myself healthy enough to resume our journey round the South-West Coast Path. This expedition spanned Friday to Tuesday rather than our more customary Monday to Friday routine. We took the usual route down, though this time arriving at Exeter St Davids … Continue reading South-West Coast Path: Ilfracombe to Barnstaple

South-West Coast Path: Combe Martin to Ilfracombe

  This ill-fated expedition took place in September 2018. Our original plan had been to walk through to Woolacombe, but the programme was curtailed following the sudden death of my father. My own poor physical condition also prevented progress beyond Ilfracombe: I was struggling with depression-induced fatigue. A GP appointment was completed in time for … Continue reading South-West Coast Path: Combe Martin to Ilfracombe

South-West Coast Path: Lynton to Combe Martin

. We undertook the third stage of the South-West Coast Path during the heatwave conditions of late June 2018. On completing this strenuous walk of some 13.3 miles, we were told that the afternoon temperature in Combe Martin had reached 32 degrees in the shade. I find very hot, sunny conditions difficult and had also … Continue reading South-West Coast Path: Lynton to Combe Martin

South West Coast Path: Porlock Weir to Lynmouth

. In Autumn 2017 I began a long-term project to walk the South-West Coast Path end-to-end, starting from Minehead. I plan to take my time, fitting in the different stages as and when other priorities permit. I have already recounted the story of the first stage, from Minehead to Porlock Weir. This short post describes … Continue reading South West Coast Path: Porlock Weir to Lynmouth

Northern Snowdonia, HF Holidays, May 2019

I was one of six friends, all recently bereaved, who in May 2019 shared a four-day walking holiday in Northern Snowdonia. The holiday was organised by HF Holidays. HF (Holiday Fellowship) has an honourable history dating back to 1913, advertising itself as ‘the UK’s only co-operative holiday provider’. Booking the holiday was problematic. An initial … Continue reading Northern Snowdonia, HF Holidays, May 2019

Nonsuch Pantry

.  Nonsuch Place, Ewell Road, Sutton SM3 8AL . Nonsuch Pantry is slightly outside our normal area. We visited on the occasion of the rescheduled Marsden March, which was routed alongside Nonsuch Park. The Pantry is located towards the east of the Park, tucked behind Nonsuch Mansion. It has its own basic website and a … Continue reading Nonsuch Pantry

Lizzie’s Cafe

. 51 Kingston Hill, Kingston upon Thames, KT2 7PS . Situated on Kingston Hill, opposite Kingston Hospital, Lizzie’s is clearly a popular eatery for staff and visitors alike. Although out of reach of the town centre, it is handily placed for those returning from Richmond Park through the Kingston Gate. Opening hours are given as … Continue reading Lizzie’s Cafe

Specialist maths schools, again

.  This post investigates the Government’s latest efforts to establish a national network of university-sponsored specialist mathematics free schools for 16-19 year-olds. It: Recapitulates the difficult history of this policy since it was first announced in 2011 Reviews in more detail developments in the nine months since my last post on this topic Analyses the … Continue reading Specialist maths schools, again

Aspie no more? How has bereavement changed me?

.  When my wife Kate was still alive I published three posts dedicated to exploring whether I might qualify as borderline Aspergers. Kate had become convinced that this explained the difference between her personality and mine – and the difficulty I experienced in understanding and responding to her emotional needs. She read several books on … Continue reading Aspie no more? How has bereavement changed me?

England’s excellence gaps revisited

. This is a revised and updated version of How should England close its excellence gaps? (January 2018) . . This is a significant turning point in the evolution of national education policy. Former Secretary of State Greening published her social mobility plan Unlocking Talent: Fulfilling Potential (December 2017), immediately following the wholesale resignation of … Continue reading England’s excellence gaps revisited

How should England close its excellence gaps?

. First edition: January 2018  . This is an important turning point in the evolution of national education policy. Departing Secretary of State Greening has only just published her social mobility plan Unlocking Talent: Fulfilling Potential (December 2017) It was preceded by the wholesale resignation of the Social Mobility Commission’s Board, protesting at lack of political … Continue reading How should England close its excellence gaps?

Resolution

.  I’ve this unquenchable thirst to slake Must slough off the shrouds of solitude While cautiously inching awake, . My erstwhile love I’ll not forsake, Stranded in desolate quietude, I’ve this unquenchable thirst to slake. . Stay blank fear, do not mistake This tremulous interlude While cautiously inching awake . Resolve the conundrum; so much … Continue reading Resolution

Funchal and East Madeira

.  In November 2017 I travelled for the first time to Madeira for a week’s holiday. This was an experiment on several counts: a first solitary ‘winter getaway’, a first all-inclusive experience and a first encounter with Saga. I wanted to reconnoitre, to see as much as possible of the Island, so getting a sense … Continue reading Funchal and East Madeira