Sunday, 29 December 2013


Well, here I am again, with yet more partially completed research!

Early on Boxing Day 2013, we made the journey down to South Wales to visit relatives. Before we could begin our trip, however, we had to call into that mecca that is the petrol station for the obligatory petrol, air and water. While the boys were doing this, I popped into the supermarket for that other obligatory offering – whiskey. It was nearly 11 in the morning, and to me the shop seemed rather busy. Are we all so materialistic that we cannot go more than one day without visiting this modern, unappealing building, I wondered.

Well, we had a great time in Wales, apart from frantic ’phone calls from those we’d left behind, telling us that there was a burst water pipe somewhere, so houses, buildings, shops pubs etc. in LE11 and LE12 were without a fresh water supply. So, we told them not to put the heating or hot water on, just in case. When we returned later that night, our water seemed fine and all appeared to be well, although perhaps a tad cold at 10 degrees! 

Then, next day we received news that the obligatory unexpected Christmas visitors were coming on Saturday, so off I trotted in the evening to buy some extra supplies. It was a bit odd: If I’m driving I always go right to the back of the car park, where I have often encountered people having driving lessons, people hanging around, and people looking, well, downright dodgy, and today was no exception. There were people openly handing things over to people who were driving up in their car, pausing to collect said things, before driving off out of the car park, without visiting the store. Blimey! I parked a bit further away than usual and made sure to hurry with my tiny bit of shopping.

I know you’re going to ask me why I was back in that supermarket the next day as well. It upsets me to have to admit that I needed more supplies, as my preference is to buy in all I need to last from me from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, batten down the hatches and only go out to exercise the legs – so to visit a park, or a footpath - but this year, I didn’t manage this! So, back to the supermarket, in the daylight this time, only to find the same thing happening! Ah, but this time I had someone with me who, having better eyesight than me, and being more up-to-date with immediate happenings in Loughborough, was able to reassure me that it was the Severn-Trent water company dishing out bottled water because there were still many houses in Loughborough with a water supply that was not fit for drinking!

Oh goodness me, that’s relief on several fronts: Relief that Tesco’s were not turning a blind eye to drug-dealing, and relief that our own water seemed not to have been affected by the burst water main.

Hmmm, clean water supply? That reminds me, I was going to blog about my partial research into Archdeacon Henry Fearon: Better save that one for another time.

Hope you’ve all had a very merry Christmas, and may I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society meeting

This week I have been to the monthly meeting of the LAHS. I recently joined this society as a friend had recommended it to me, and their programme of talks for this year looked interesting and informative.

So, I duly trotted off to the university campus and hunted around for the James Mason building. This actually turned out to be quite easy to find as there was a group of people loitering outside: For some reason or other (possibly because this was not the regular meeting place) security had not unlocked the doors, so we were unable to get in!

After a number of ’phone calls by a number of group members to a number of university departments, a security van pulled up outside the building and opened the doors for us. Quite glad really as although it has been rather mild weather for the time of year, it was beginning to get a bit nippy, standing around doing nothing!

I was quite intrigued by the topic of the talk: John Bley, distiller and benefactor of East Leake, but thought for a minute we weren’t going to be able to hear it, for there was a problem logging in to the projector. Someone offered to go home and get their projector, but luckily one of the members was able to activate the system and we were away!

Well, Keith Hodgkinson had us enthralled for about an hour-and-a-half as he teased us with tantalising titbits about the life and times of John Bley. Who was his father? Who paid for his apprenticeship to a distillers in London? Why did he never marry? Who taught him to be so savvy with his money and investments?

Some of these questions were answered by a consideration of life as it was in the period of his life, spanning two centuries, from 1674-1731, and what was expected of people. Other questions remain unanswered, queries for another day when more investigative work by the authors can be done, but even then, there will remain some things that will be forever unknown or at best, assumptions.

Keith was a joint author, along with Ian and Rachel Flynn, of a book which showcased the story of John Bley through the masses of the research that they did. Called: John Bley of East Leake and London 1671-1734: distiller and benefactor, the book was published in 2012 by the East Leake and District Local History Society, and is available to purchase from their website.
The ELDLHS also got a heritage lottery grant to renovate John Bley’s tomb which is in St Mary's churchyard, alongside a leaflet about the man. One of the church windows is also dedicated to John Bley and the house he built for his mother is still standing on the main street.
Looking forward to next meeting of the LAHS which is the one that focuses on presentations from members of the group!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Christmas appears to have begun ...

Well today has been an exciting day in Loughborough – and I missed it because I was listening to Hathern Band at the Melton Mowbray Christmas tree service!! Looks like Loughborough was packed with lots of people, lots of rides and lots of fun in the Market Place today, and the wonderful Christmas lights were switched on by the Mayor of Charnwood! And for one day only – there was an ice rink!

Although I missed all of this, I did, however, make it to the Continental market yesterday with stalls ranging from selling soap to handbags, cheese to apricots, paella to galettes! Tried really hard not to spend too much money, but, resistance was futile, as they say! I did take some pictures, but for some unknown reason they are all blurred.

Still, I should be able to catch some of the events, as over the next couple of weeks, there’s plenty more festive fun to be had in town.  Pop over to the Love Loughborough website and look at their calendar, where you can see what's happening. And, of course, the panto starts soon too, in the Town Hall!

On a more historical note, the December meeting of the Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society takes place on Saturday 7th , at the university.

The website of the Leicestershire Industrial History Society has been updated, and there’s an interesting plea for people interested in being interviewed in relation to working lives and wartime memories. I’d encourage everyone to get involved with this: You may think your memories are just your memories but to others they could be fascinating insights to a life in times gone by.

And talking of Christmas trees, the parish church had a fine display of trees decorated by various local organisations, schools and charities etc., some of which are pictured in this week’s Loughborough Echo and will make it to the website soon, I’m sure.

Sorry for the brevity – it’s been another busy week for me.