Sunday, 26 February 2012

Blists Hill Victorian Town, Iron Bridge and Euchre

Hi-ya readers,
I am slowing acclimating myself to the English culture.  Part of that is saying hi or hello.  Over here they say "hi-ya" or "are you alright?" as the greeting.  Originally I thought cheers was hello but am hearing it used more like thanks, bye or okay.  Oi! is still my favourite but it is more of a yell to get someones attention so it isn't appropriate here.  I still haven't got myself to say hi-ya though.  It just feels strange. 

Gas is now $7.95 per US gallon.  Definitely my "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week".

The Better Halves Club met again last week but we only had three.  One sick child, one "baby brain" forgetfulness episode and a few on vacation ate at our attendance.  We ate at Le Bistrot Pierre (check it out here) which was really good.  Definitely a place I want to bring the family.  I had Brioche Et Champignons (toasted brioche with fricassee of mushroom with crispy Alsace bacon) starter with Beouf Braise (slow-braised beef with green peppercorn and brandy sauce) main.  Very good.  I forget the beer I had but that was good also.

Lori had a thrill this week when Prince Charles visited Rolls.  She saw his helicopter land and was within fifty feet of him.  No pictures though, sorry.  You can read about his visit here.   

After Kalle reminded me about contacting Girls Scouts for her I was able to call the person in charge and find out the details.  They meet every Friday night so Lori and Kalle checked it out.  Kal had a lot of fun and wants to join which is great.  There were about thirty girls there I guess.  They did a paper lantern craft and she saw one of her friends from school which is a bonus.  The only downer for Kalle was that her mom was the only mom that stayed for the session (yes she is getting to that age), the other moms all dropped off and picked up their kids.     

Saturday was supposed to be a sunny day with temps in the mid 50's so we stalked the Freys to a few Ironbridge Gorge sights.  First up was Blists Hill Victorian Town (check it out here).  The town is an open air museums like the ones we saw in Scandinavia.  Some of the equipment was working but most items were display only.  The town folk were quite interesting as they described the "current" conditions to the tourists.

The group heading out.

In the bank.  240 pennies (what Lori is holding in the bag) from the time period equalled 1 pound today.

The first of many interesting sights/signs.  Rabbit in Jelly on the left.  Wonder why that flavor didn't stand the test of time?

A row of businesses.

A kidney bowl of teeth in the dentists office.  Look at the size of the roots on those teeth, that has got to be painful being pulled.

Another funny sign at the general drapers and outfitters.  I was wondering if I would be in the pre or post five class.

Cobbler sewing on a new sole.

Another shot of businesses.

Portrait camera.

Landscape camera.  I would not want to be carrying this around the countryside searching for the perfect backdrop.

Kuk getting educated about the mining foreman's house.  The lady called it the "everything room" meaning you did everything in it.  This was also half of the ground floor.  Upstairs was two bedrooms for the typical seven or eight household members.  The row of houses would share a community wash room, community outhouse and common garden.

The other half of the foreman's ground floor was the Sunday visiting room which was only used to entertain visitors for such functions as weddings, funerals, social calls, etc.  Since this was the foreman's house it was bigger and nicer than other houses of the time. 

Another funny sign.  Thomas Crapper is the plumber who is wrongly credited with inventing the flushing toilet although he did invent some important toilet related improvements.

A beautiful copper rose at the tinsmith's, reminded me of the Copper Country.

One of the few original attractions, this is the mine shaft bucket and related equipment. 

The Gospel Car where Sunday School was taught.

The kids outside the Squatter Cottage.  The "squatters" would have owned this house themselves which was rare for the time (a family living in a mining town and owning their own house).  That is as long as the husband lived.  Once he died the family would be without income and thrown out of the house.  The "town folk" did not say who would own the house afterwards but I am guessing someone like the mine manager would take possession of the house and sell it to the next family.  Not an easy or fair life back then.

Squatters Cottage bedroom.

Squatters cottage "everything" room.  Only two rooms in this place.

The cellar.

The "wallpaper" decoration hanging off of the shelf caught my eye.  Ingenious way to decorate your house.

Beam blowing engines to operate some of the blast furnaces.  The flywheel is 20 feet, 4 inches in diameter.  The middle steam cylinders are 38.75 inches in diameter and the far right blowing cylinders are 78 inches in diameter.

Info on beam blowing engines for the engineers in my audience.

Check out the technical specifications.  54.7 and 82.75 HP for the engines.  Probably very powerful for their day.

The town classroom.

A Steve Frey pic.  Reminded me Roger's mini pig farm.  About time to pick up this year's tenants Rog?

The interesting signs continue.  Cue Seinfeld shrinkage jokes...

This week's Lori Seppanen pic - combo dough and bread ovens pic.

This week's Teresa Robinett pic with the horse rocking chair in front.  The woodworkers in back are toasting their sandwiches.  The guy said ten seconds was perfect but ended up burning his sandwich.  I guess he must have held it for 11 seconds.

The woodworker also doubled as the undertaker.  Creepy.

The printer at the printing shop.

This pic reminded me of The Man Show episode where Adam and Jimmy set up a petition booth at a NOW (if I remember correctly) event to "end women's suffraging".  Classic episode for those with that same slightly-off sense of humour I have.  Best part was the lunatically irate man berating Adam and Jimmy for their insulting and demeaning treatment of women.  Second best part was the few women who didn't know what suffrage was so they stopped by the booth and listened to Adam and Jimmy trying to get the women to sign their petition without actually saying what suffrage was.  I thought the show was funny at times, hilarious at times and sometimes just down right wrong.  Lori left the room every time it came on.  I guess it wasn't her cup of tea.

The Steve Frey pic of the week at the butchers.

The Lemmy with the family outside the bicycle shop.  The bike on the right reminded me of the plethora of old bikes we saw in Copenhagen.

Lori violating the "Lorry ban".

This reminded me of the end of action movies where the bad ass good guys come strutting out of the darkness on their way to confronting the soon to be defeated bad guys.  All we are missing is the ultra macho adrenaline pumping music to herald their entrance.

Next up was the Iron Bridge which you can read about here.  It was erected in 1779 and is the world's first cast iron bridge.  It is funny because we have been here long enough that 1779 doesn't feel all that old anymore but it is as old as our country.  My historical perspective has definitely changed (for the better) in the last four months. 

Steve taking his family bridge pic.  You can see the pic here.

Our family bridge pic.

The Iron Bridge.

View of the Severn River from the top of the Iron Bridge.

Walking across the Iron Bridge.

Information board for the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

An interesting tree base.  I may have to buy a tree book if I keep seeing trees like this here.

Jim Seppanen tree pic on a beautiful day.

After the bridge was the Museum of the Gorge (check out the website here).  A small museum with some interesting exhibits.  At the end of the museum was a short film that described all ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums.  The rest of the museums looked interesting so we will have to go back and check them out later.
The first man to swim the English Channel was from the area.

The museum had an interesting exhibit which described the ill effect of the town dumping all their waste (household and industrial) into the gutters.  Short story is the townspeople drank and used polluted water every day which led to the first cholera outbreak in 1831.  Waves of outbreaks followed with the worst ones in 1832 and 1848.  Thousands were killed. 

Fire hydrant circa 1880.

This struck me as funny.  Typical of the roads here; no need to cut down a tree when you can put a roundabout around it.

Saturday ended with a Euchre - socialising party.  We had 13 adults and 4 kids with a mixture of Brits and ex-pats.  We had two Euchre tables with another table in the other room where board games were being played.  Most of the players had not played before but they all picked it up quickly.  Lori and I had a great time mixing with everyone so hopefully everyone else had fun.  Tip of the night from the Irish couple was the west coast of Ireland is a must see.  

My Sarah Anderson guerrilla photography pic.  Hopefully it doesn't offend anyone that I took the pic, my apologies if it does.  Sarah does a blog also which you can read here.  Her and Dave are another couple of ex-pats we enjoy and are few weeks away from welcoming their first child.  Exciting, exciting, exciting! 

What's a Euchre party without the Elliotts?  Love the shirt btw Homey.  I know I will pay for this later but I couldn't resist.  Is the red hearts to much?

Thanks for listening,


  1. Royalty and a beautiful bridge older than our country - quite a week you've had! Loved reading about it.

    We got Kalle's card on Becca's birthday - perfect timing, Becca thought it was so cool that Kalle actually wrote a section just to her!

    1. Thanks. You and Jim probably would have taken WAY to much time admiring the bridge. lol That's awesome about the card, I was wondering when they would get there.

  2. Hi-ya....I wouldn't be able to get used to that either. Sheesh, I'm don't even know if I say Hello to people here. hehe. Kidding. ;)

    You may say my photos are better, but your commentary is hilarious. I LOL at some point in every post.

    1. Hi-ya yourself,
      Not only is the greeting strange to me but they don't say bye-ya. I asked one of the mothers at the school yesterday why they don't say bye-ya and she gave me a blank look because she had never wondered why herself. I keep asking questions like that to the people over here and I keep getting blank looks. I guess Brit culture confuses them as well. (JK to any Brits reading this.) Take care and your potty mouth. ;)

    2. your potty mouth... I meant to say.

  3. Nice blog entry! And you sure are stealth - had no idea you took a photo and I meant to ask you if you were going to document the night with one! Way to go! Thanks again - we had a great time! =)