Cemeteries and some woodland – April 2021

A ninety minute circular walk starting from the Gladstone pub on the Gyratory, about 5km. Beware – you may need to slide under a gate in the cemetery north of Bear Road, but its a big gap (G on the map).

Walk up the Woodvale entrance road to just past the offices where you ascend the steps on the left to enter the Extra-mural cemetery through a gate in the wall. The Council have recently been mowing paths to increase accessibility, so seek the one which is about 45 degrees north of the route parallel to the east-west wall, and go down, being careful not to slip on wet grass or, worse, mossy horizontal gravestones. At the bottom you will be on a rough road, follow it ever eastward looking for what I call Monument Valley MV on the map, I did toy with Death Valley but it seemed a little direct).

Looking south across Monument Valley to the boundary wall of the Extra-Mural Cemetery

As you look east there is a delightful grassy South facing slope often full of flowers.

Looking north up the grassy slope

A path runs eastwards at its base – take it to the end of the extra-mural. You enter Woodvale through a wide hole in the North-South wall.

Take the sometimes slippery path diagonally up to your left. This will lead you to the best place to enjoy the sun, and there is a bench or two as well. Moving ever east your way will be blocked by rose beds, but there are gaps at the left end, around a bench and onto the grassy surrounds of a mausoleum once dedicated to The Marquess of Bristol (who lived part-time in Sussex Square from 1828 until his death in 1859). He did occupy his mausoleum for a few years until his family took his remains to the family estate in Suffolk. It was he who gave the land for Woodvale cemetery to the town in 1857.

Continue east, either along the drive, or across the grass and pass north and east of the memorial areas under the trees, until you reach the gate where the road leaves the cemetery. Take care crossing the road and enter the somewhat bleaker City Cemetery and make your way to the NW corner where you will find a row of war gravestones marking burials of WW1 German soldiers who died of flu whilst prisoners of war in Brighton. Elsewhere in this cemetery there are many war graves, but presumably it was deemed better to bury the enemy away from the ‘our boys’.

One German was carrying his photograph when captured, and here it is;

Joseph Schonwetter, 32 years old, 3rd Bavarian Regiment, died 3rd Nov 1918

You could consider going over the wall to access the lane if you don’t want to go under the gate further east (G on the map) – but the gate might be open if the maintenance team are around. If you decide to try the gate then head south and east around the house and the adjacent Jewish cemetery. (Sometimes there are unrepaired holes in the fence which give access to the Jewish cemetery where this walk goes soon.) I suggest walking to the very NE corner to gain a view over the flint wall and across the Lewes Rd valley to the wood south of Wildpark. This corner has been used to store the XS spoil that accumulates when digging and filling graves so a higher viewing point is often available.

You could hop over here and follow the road away to the left!

Make your way to the gate and pass through/under. You are now in the Jewish cemetery, where graves are placed much closer together. The track leads past a monument to remember the dead of the Holocaust (H on the map).

Leave the cemetery and look across the road, you will find a sign for a footpath passing behind the houses opposite and heading east again. Take it, after a while it opens out onto a grassy space and you will find a track crossing the grass and plunging into the wood, down a steep slope. You need to go down and then west along the woodland strip, passing entrances to a big badger sett (BS on the map).

and a rather interesting tree that has swallowed a steel handrail

Eventually you will encounter a flight of steps, go up them to the road and go south to find Bevendean Road, head south towards Bear Road. You will pass a lot of newish houses on the right all exhibiting external cladding to protect thick layers of insulation, hopefully making these easy to heat homes.

On the left you will pass all that remains of the old Infectious Diseases hospital (IH on the map) – just the gates and one gatehouse. It was in this hospital that the Brighton victims of the last outbreak of smallpox in Britain either recovered or died in 1950.

Continue to Bear Road and re-enter the cemetery by a pedestrian gate just a few yards up to your left. Turn right and follow the grassy track downhill staying a few yards from the boundary wall. You will pass a rather delightful carved gravestone in the form of a Celtic cross

As the trees approach the wall seek a path through them to the south. With luck and perseverance you will find a huge granite monument to the man who was in charge of building the London to Brighton railway, and the slightly later London Road viaduct, John Urpeth Rastrick (R on the map).

The monument is said to be in the form of a railway turntable, its certainly as wide as one, but rather higher. Keep heading south to an east-west road with some interesting monuments on the north side, and some catacombs behind them. Take the road west (downhill) and you will soon pass the chapel attributed to Amon Henry Wilds, but as he never designed another building in the Gothic style perhaps not his? You can exit the Extra Mural down this same road, coming out past our Mortuary and passing between two blocks of student housing onto the gyratory. Good beer available at the Gladstone.

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A new (to me) sewing technique.

many years ago, when British Home Stores was a busy business keen to sell us clothes of quality, I bough a pair of cotton trousers. Over a decade later a fall from a bicycle created a permanent hole in one trouser knee (and a temporary one in my knee), so I cut off the legs (trousers) and made shorts. After a few more years they were getting a little tatty so I wore them when house painting. Over several more years they became paint spattered and wore through one one half of the seat revealing a little too much me.

Of course such a long and personal association made them treasured shorts so I was thinking of a big patch. A little internet searching found sites offering ideas of ‘visible mending’ – making a feature of the stitching. This appealed to me, and the photo below is the first bit of Sashiko repair I have tried. I know I can do better and I have found another pair of battered trousers to experiment on.

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Home grown and cooked bragging!

August already, and the wet weather has caused lots of growth – so we have to eat it! So, at the risk of being predictable here are pictures of meals largely made up of our own produce.

Runner beans from the front garden with Charlotte potatoes boiled, bashed and roasted with olive oil and salt, our courgettes cooked with lots of garlic. But the steak is bought in.

There were more potatoes and runners coming, so they appeared on the menu again a few days later. Courgettes rarely turn up in small numbers, so even more to eat.

Courgette flan with homegrown tomato decoration, a potato and bean salad, and purple sprouting broccoli leaves (from the freezer).

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Greenhouse full of chard, so bake a pie

Last years chard plants seem to enjoy the greenhouse, each plant is producing huge leaves.

And there was a packet of way past sell-by filo pastry in the freezer, plus lots of last years broad beans. So a quick trip to the Co-op for feta and build a pie, six buttered filo sheets in a laminate, cook and de-skin the beans, cook and squeeze dry the chopped chard and assemble the mixed filling on half of the filo, fold over the other half and press the edges. Bake for a while (about 20 mins at Gas 6), and here it is:

A third each for dinner, this third will be our lunch later.
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Building a new Bear

Many years ago the city of Berlin launched a bid for the Summer 2000 Olympic games. As part of the promotional materials they designed and distributed a glorious yellow t-shirt with teddy bear features on it. I am a fan of teddy bears and so obtained one, and wore it to rags.

Recently I discovered the front of that t-shirt (above). I had put it aside with the intention of getting another made. Two days ago I used a black permanent marker pen to draw eye, and acrylic Paynes Grey (no black) for the nose and mouth design and drew one out on a clear part of the t-shirt. later I washed it thoroughly and dried it. The experiment was good, so now I need a new plain deep yellow large t-shirt – and then the bear will be back!

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Reinforcing the seafront

On a sunny day back in November I went to the seafront and was attracted to the noise of a big green machine surmounted by a giant drill. I took the picture below whilst I watched. After a while the sound and fury began to pall and I headed to the shingle for some hard walking exercise. On my return I saw one of the drill operators and asked him about the task.

He said it was an ongoing programme, they do a bit each year, and it involves drilling and inserting hollow steel bars at 90cm intervals 1.3m into the existing face. Once placed, a liquid cement grout is pumped into the hollow bar until it flows out around the bar, thus ensuring it is fixed in place.

The bars are then cut to a suitable length (9 or 10 cm) and temporary wooden shuttering fixed in front of the old wall so that 11cm of new concrete can be poured in, giving another 100 years of secure wall. He was an enthusiast for the work and I’m glad I met him.

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A Bit more Binding

Every time I look at the bookshelves I find more books needing some TLC. Decided to read the Sussex bits in Daniel Defoe’s ‘A Complete Tour of the . . . ‘, only to find the glue holding the penguin paperback together had turned to a gritty dust, cracking out loose pages every time I turned the page. Decided on a compromise re-bind, relying mainly on new glue, but inserting some hemp twine into grooves cut across the spine to improve the glue area, and gluing open weave fabric across the spine and about 2cm projecting back and front. This cloth and the ends of the hemp strings will be glued into the new hard covers. So what does it look like?

I had to abbreviate the title to make any kind of success of painting the spine!
You can see the strings, carefully unwound an fanned out, helping to hold the re-glued book into its new cover.

I also have an early graphic novel called Gods’ Man, and told in woodcuts. It was missing the printed spine, but still has the pleasingly decorated hard covers, so the task was to renew the spine. Easy enough to fit a new book cloth spine, after sewing in two tapes to bring sewn book and its covers firmly together. Picked a novel (and only partially successful) way of getting the title onto the spine. I traced the lettering from the cover and used that as a guide to cut the letters out of the book cloth, backing it with thin card, and covering all the new cloth with layers of the Japanese bamboo paper to push it towards the gold colour of the boards. It looks better on the shelf than it did, and there is a legible title.

Last challenge (for the time being) was to turn a pile of double sided photocopies into a bound book. I’ve had a long-term interest in low tech building. Some years ago I found a great book in the library of what was then Brighton Polytechnic. Long out of print I borrowed it to copy, keeping it in a cardboard folder. I wanted to make it book enough to go on the shelves, but not demanding of materials or my time – so a simple hard cover was needed, with built-in book cloth hinges to link the opening parts to the rigid sewn part. It will make sense when you see the pictures – I hope.

Built a bit like a photograph album, the spine is stitched through all the pages
The cloth ‘hinges’ on front and back covers allow the book to open easily

If you have been, thanks for reading this far.

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Book repair in Lockdown

My copy of Mrs Brassey’s ‘A Voyage in the Sunbeam’ was never in good condition. The cloth spine had become detached from the hard covers and much of the stitching had rotted and broken. Buoyed on by images of an old school friend’s book re-binding I determined to have a go. On his advice I bought a large sheet of handmade Japanese bamboo paper to repair tears in the pages. This paper weighs just 4 grams per square metre – normal copier paper is 20 times heavier! Being this thin it is hardly visible and does not add to the bulk of the repaired book. But it is a bugger to handle! A small piece can disappear. Just the slightest breeze, from turning round or picking up a paste pot, can send it into the air. And being nearly transparent it is hard to find again. It cannot be pasted, the lightest of brush strokes turns it into mush. You have to paste the torn paper and carefully put the repair piece onto it.

You can see that many of the individual bundles of folded sheets have become unstitched. In many cases the outermost folded sheet of each signature (that’s what each bundle is called) has become two separate pieces, worn away on the fold. Strong thin paper can repair this damage.

All the signatures had to be unstitched and then the whole sewn back together, then new book cloth had to replace the spine, carefully glued between the existing cloth and the boards of the hard covers. I could then glue the delicate and torn printed spine back onto my new one. I wish I’d photographed more of the repair process, but perhaps you are pleased I did not.

and here is the finished product. Even the new book cloth is almost the same colour.
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Refurbing planet Earth and capturing the Earth Moon relationship

My planet has suffered in more than a decade of English weather so I brought it indoors to the dining room Magrathea for a repair and repaint. The repair was needed because something, perhaps a playful fox, started the planet rolling and it tumbled down two stone steps causing a gash in Asia bigger than that meteorite strike in the Russian forests.

Repainted planet

The moon still hangs happily from the hornbeam tree at the end of the garden, about 60 feet away, the right relationship for these sizes of planet and satellite. Unlike the real moon, mine has a fine growth of algae which I rather like.

My Moon and its algae.

And now the best shot – the distant moon seen from high orbit over the Earth:

For the picture Jackie held a small LED torch beam onto the moon.
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Two moons, just four centuries and a day apart.

A friend and excellent photographer, Strat, put a photo of a 4 day old moon on Facebook and it reminded me of a drawing from 1609 in a book called Moon by friend Alexandra and her co-author Robert Massey. What caught my attention in the drawing was the way the observer interpreted his peering through a telescope to make out shapes and patterns on the surface. The curious elbow and spot elements struck me as very unlikely, but I can almost see them in Strat’s photograph.

Use the slider to move from one image to the other, sorry I failed to get them in identical orientations. Thomas Harriot did the drawing.

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