Diary of a (Retired) Musician.
We spent over 50 years playing the clarinet & saxophone (semi-pro for 30 of them, then professionally for the next 20-odd). During that time, many interesting things have been seen, & experienced, that are nothing to do with music. So on this page will be recorded odd things that appealed to me. A few of them are Old Memories that have simply ‘popped up’. Many of them are simply long, boring commentaries on places we have visited in the last few years; although Diary 55 is, I think you’ll agree, fairly exceptional! Just click on the thumbnail (or, latterly, the link) to see the page.
This ‘Diary of a Nobody’ will soon be re-distributed on the main index page of this site. The index page currently has about 34 links to sub-pages, while this single sub-page connects to over seventy sub-sub-pages. This is terribly lopsided & needs to be sorted out… 8^) Note dated 19th March 2015.
29th January 2015. 72. A slight change of plan: 5 Watts by crystal on 7 MHz.
23rd January 2015. 71. The variable frequency oscillator goes into its box, and, amazingly, works well!
19th January 2015. 70. Can we repair our Indesit WIXL 123 washing machine & stop its flashing lights?
3rd January 2015 (Diary 68). Starting to build a small low power Morse code transmitter.
2nd January 2015 (Diary 67). The irritations of making up passwords for the Internet.
66: The Miracle of Wireless Telephony.
28th December 2014. Tinkering around with an old valve (tube), some drain-pipe & wire, & short wave radio.
65: See what happens when you go to a COIN FAIR?
14th December 2014. After a long interval, a new page about coin tokens in Birmingham, 1811-1812. Very boring, I promise you!
63. Erecting a Palram ‘Harmony’ 6 x 4 Greenhouse.
31st March 2014. At last a small greenhouse is ours! These images made during the erection of it might prove useful to other purchasers?
62. CASH, SOLO and TOAD.
24th January 2014. Three useful mnemonics or acronyms I learned nearly 60 years ago, and used today to make the taper shown above.
61. A voice from Space, 22nd May 1991.
The voice of Helen Sharman, recorded on the above date, from the Russian MIR space station, via Amateur Radio.
60. Listen to that Shooting Star!
Sometime in the 1960s, I was certain that I heard a shooting star. This has proved to be correct after all these years.
59. The Hacksaw: its inherent Futility?
November 2013. Short musings in finding a 35 year old hacksaw has, somehow, worn out.
58. A walk round Edgbaston Reservoir, Birmingham, in
September 2013, with additional shots in February 2014.
8th September 2013. Includes shots of Tolkien’s ‘Two Towers’. The reservoir was low, but three supplementary images
taken 9th February 2014 show it filled, and the overflow in action.
57. Entomologising again, tardily.
Caterpillars, moths, butterflies & so forth, up to July 2013, following a long gap in this Diary!
56. Modern, Ancient, and Very Ancient History.
In December 2012, short visits to Letocetum, Bath and Stonhenge.
55. Black Panthers near Doncaster.
October 25th 2012. About 11:30 am, as a passenger in a car leaving the M18 to join the northbound A1(M), I saw two black panthers. Honest!
54. Moseley Old Hall and other places – into Autumn.
October and November 2012. Staying relatively near home at the moment, and revisiting some local open spaces.
53. Out and about in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, and again Wales.
August & September 2012. A Peacock Butterfly; two Saxon Churches; Brecon Cathedral and Tretower Manor House!
52. In England and Wales...
An underground passage in Derbyshire; the Earlswood Lakes, a vintage motor bus and Aberystwyth – not to mention the Vale of Rheidol Railway.
51. Two days in July 2012, quite far apart geographically.
A canal aqueduct in Warwickshire, an old bridge & an even older Priory Church on the Scottish border – plus a little bit of Hadrian’s Wall.
50. Two coins of King Victor Emanuel II.
In September 2012 – we return to the local coin, banknote & antiquities fair in search of more ad hoc history…
49. Titford Pools & Canal Branch.
August 2012 – a short walk along a branch canal in the Black Country.
48. Come to that, what’s in a Postage Stamp?
Having an enjoyable few hours with coins of Napoleon III prompted us to look at our accumulation of Imperial Russian postage stamps.
47. What’s in a Coin?
A casual visit to a coin, bank-note & antiquities fair got our imagination going. Q: What price History? A: Very reasonable indeed!
46. Two Birmingham Localities, June 2012.
A quick call to Kings Norton Local Nature Reserve, and a surprise on our re-visit to Sarehole Mill, ‘Ted Sandyman’s Mill’ of Tolkien fame!
45. More Meanderings in the West Midlands.
April, May & June 2012 were again variable as regards weather, but a few visits to places of interest were made.
44. A Small Miscellany from Several Places.
Spring 2012 was very variable in weather – a heat wave in March, followed by dull & damp conditions. But we still got out a few times!
43. The Stourbridge Railcar & Canal.
The return to Stourbridge, specifically to travel on the Railcar from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town; plus a few shots of the canal basin.
42. ‘Brindley Place’ Then and Now; & the Netherton Tunnel.
Also in February, we dug out some shots of the Birmingham – Worcester canal in the centre of Brum which we took 40 years ago, and try to match them up with their appearance today. Plus a walk through the Netherton Tunnel (Dudley) in ~1972.
41. Ramblings in the West Midlands.
Slightly late in February 2012 we manage to get out and pay brief visits to Kenilworth Castle, and also travel by train to Earlswood & Stourbridge Junction. Can we stand the excitement?
40. Ramblings ‘Up North’ & Locally.
We’re still slaving over the PC on our major discographical project – which meant that a cold and dull day in early February 2012 was not the ideal time to fare forth with our cardboard pinhole camera; but the desperate need for fresh air & reality prevailed…
39. Two local nature reserves.
Two days of slogging in front of the PC was preceded, then followed, by visits to two more nature reserves of the BBCWT (Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust). One is an old one, one is very new. Why not check them both out by clicking on the little picture?
38. Grove Park, Harborne, Birmingham.
After slogging in front of the PC all morning, a short 45 minute wander around a local park seemed a good idea, especially is it was a fine day. Also, I had promised a friend who used to live near here many years ago, some photos of it – so here they are, Chas!
37. Two short walks in & around Birmingham.
Almost no people appear in our ‘Diary’ shots. We’re not sure why that is. I suppose the countryside needs to be peaceful or something like that. However, we intrude into the above image in order to give scale to the river by which we are standing. What river? Click the image for elucidation!
36. A Miscellany of Photos. for 2011.
I think we are slowing down or something. The last pictorial item in this diary is No. 34 above, and is dated 3rd January 2011. It is now November 2nd, and no more have been added. What does it mean? Click the picture above to find out.
35. Family shop in Snow Hill,
My father (unlike me!) was a successful businessman. Here is a photo. of one of his shops, and some memories of it.
34. The Clent Hills; but
Popping out for a walk up one of the Clent Hills to work up an appetite for breakfast; but most of this page is about a visit on 2nd January 2011 to Croome Park, near Pershore, Worcestershire; a major restoration project by the National Trust.
33. Ironbridge, plus a flying visit to Wroxeter.
Several visits would be necessary to take in this World Heritage Site, famous for its industrial development. This was our first one, but we couldn’t resist going a few miles further on to see the Roman remains at Wroxeter, a few miles further north.
32. Kingswood Canal Junction.
A few shots of Kingswood, near Lapworth, where the Stratford-on-Avon and Grand Union canals are linked.
31. Catching Up – A Miscellany…
A number of visits to places
that might be of interest. King’s Norton canal junction; Wightwick
Chedworth Roman Villa; Kinver Edge, plus a couple of butterflies.
30. What is it like underneath Spaghetti Junction?
When undergoing the appalling tedium
of going north (or south) on the M6 through the
So have I, especially when trying to join (or leave) the M6 at this Junction 6. Click on the above thumbnail to see what it’s like underneath.
29. Monkwood Bird & Butterfly Reserve – early July 2010.
A much delayed follow-up to our two visits in February and May 2008 – see 17 above. It was excellent to see a butterfly reserve
going full tilt as it were; the weather was sunny and at least 7 species were on the wing, some in abundance.
28. Diary Resumption – Canal, Tardebigge.
After a long period without much in the way of travel, walking and enjoying the outdoors, we have begun again in June 2010.
A few shots along the
27. The Harlequin Ladybird is Here To Stay…
A couple of years ago, somebody drew my vapid attention to the advent of the Harlequin Ladybird in this country. About 18 months ago
I thought I saw one in southern Oxfordshire, and a couple of weeks ago another in my house. Today I saw many of them!
26. The Great 1mm Pencil Lead Mystery.
Why can’t we easily get 1mm leads for our propelling pencils any more? Including some pencils only a few years old?
Also, how success was finally attained with the kind help
of a sympathetic correspondent from
25. Butterflies: Two New Species in the Poor Year 2008.
After our débâcle – or fiasco, whichever you prefer 8^) – in searching for the Wood White butterfly (see 17 above), is there anything that can be salvaged from this deplorable year? Well, we did manage to photograph two species new to our camera during 2008…
24. A short walk in the
Here we go again, a year later! These few photos. were taken on Boxing Day (26th December), when we ventured forth for some fresh air. The air was very fresh indeed – we had not taken our gloves, and wished we had!
23. A short walk on the Lickey Hills, December 2007.
What better way is there for a Brummie, of ‘Blowing away the cobwebs’ after Christmas 2007, by going for a bracing walk on the nearby Lickeys? Even if we do end up in a city centre pub. listening to Jazz!
22. “A Band of my Own” – 1987 – 199?
For some years I actually had my own band. Eventually, the demands of getting gigs, ’phoning around, organizing things, carting the P.A. gear about, setting it up & taking it down &c., got the better of me. Now I just work for others who do all that sort of stuff. As for me, I just try to play as best as I can on their gigs.
21. Playing Jazz for Charity, ca. 1965.
20. Two views of Snow Hill Station, ca. 1973.
In early January 2009, we have made speed to fill in the irritating gaps in this Diary, and have used things from the past. And have waxed nostalgic, as you will see if you bother to read this stuff; items 20 – 22… <8^)
A brief excursion to the historic City of Lichfield to visit the cathedral.
18a. The Shed Fights Back!
In May 2008, some problems still remain with utilising The Shed, even though it has been ‘cleared’.
18. Clearing The Shed.
There is a small shed at the top left hand corner of my garden. After moving into this house in September 2007, the task of clearing its contents was finally undertaken on a bright Spring day in late March 2008.
17. The 2008 Quest for Leptidea sinapis.
Why would anybody want to see & photograph this small & generally inconsequential butterfly, the ‘Wood White’? Well, I do; although I can’t exactly tell you why. With any luck, this page will chart the success or failure of this Quest. We’re beginning early in the season!
16. A Day in the Life of a Penny.
This coin, approximately 1,600 years old & yet of no especial value, set in motion a train of thought which I decided to record here. Also, it tells you how you can make very cheap but effective cuff-links. ☺
15. The Rock Men Speak Forwards!
This one is about Flash Gordon, you know - or will do if you are quite old now - about the 3 cinema serials that appeared between 1936 & 1940: and in the last one, Flash Gordon & Co. meet the Rock Men. They speak backwards, so we tried to make them speak forwards… Did we succeed? Just click the picture to find out!
14. 3 old American ‘Stereoscopic views’.
I just found these
‘stereoscopic’ cards, dating from the early 1890s, in an old folder, where they
had been forgotten. One is of cotton pickers in
13. A Nature Ramble in
The 29th August to be exact. We were playing at the Bude Jazz Festival, but just had one session in the evening of Wednesday 29th. Some good friends suggested a walk along the cliff path southward from Bude. These pictures were the result.
12. The Pontcysyllte canal Aqueduct.
A couple of photos. of this superb canal aqueduct, finished in 1805 (I think), which conveys the Shropshire Union Canal over the River Dee valley, a few miles east of Llangollen, Wales.
11. Odd Things.
It’s true that this page already is a repository for ‘odd things’; things not do with 78 rpm records, Jazz &c. But I just read something that struck me as being so remarkable, that it ought to go here, so have started this further sub-section to house it, and any other similar things that may turn up.
§1 The amazing ‘homing instinct’ of an ass. 1816.
§2 An email from me to my ex-wife (2007) concerning financial institutions.
§3 An extract from Cosima Wagner’s diary (1880) concerning the ‘homing instinct’ of a dog.
§4 An extract (1826) from the diary of a Cotswold clergyman, describing a kite-propelled vehicle.
10. The Time of the Heterocera.
After all the butterflies (well, three anyway…), it seemed to be the turn of the moths to present themselves compliantly for photographs. But alas, the shooting of moths is far more difficult! Still, 3 common species are show here.
9. Still More Wildlife…
A further expedition took us
to the Harborne (
8. More Wildlife Photos.
Emboldened by 7 above, I launched out on an alternative career as a photographer of wildlife. Here are shots of the Gatekeeper butterfly, plus the Ivy-leaved Toadflax, the Red Admiral butterfly, and the Woody Nightshade, or Bitter-sweet.
7. Vespula germanica.
An attempt - rather successful for an amateur I thought - at photographing a wasp, which I thought at first was a very big Vespula vulgaris indeed, but which turned out to be Vespula germanica; which are large in any case.
6. The tumble dryer.
Some observations - you may find them too lengthy - on the incipient démise of my 18-year-old tumble dryer, and some of the impressive design features found within, upon partially dismantling it.
5. Trolley ’buses.
last day that trolley ’buses ran in
4. The Brandwood Tunnel.
A very brief description of the southern portal of this canal tunnel.
3. The Pen Room; & Tyria jacobaeae
A short paragraph on how a bicycle ride led me to discover a small but excellent Birmingham Museum, the observation of Ragwort, and the Cinnabar moth.
2. The Lizard.
Reminiscences of lizards many years ago; and more recently, one which lived in my car for about a month, unharmed. And better still, good photographs of the Common Lizard and the Sand Lizard, the only British species, by permission of the photographers. (All 3 thumbnails link to the same page).
Encounters with, and observations of, crows over the years; and some thoughts resulting from these.
Revised 3rd January 2015.
See the latest entry at the top, for the date of the last revision of this page.