Thursday, 14 July 2011

More Matters Of The Roadside

The latest curiosities to make me throw the bike down on the roadside and snap away happily, the back wheel spinning, are as follows:

The Old Postbox

I see lots of these as I travel around and I have it on good authority that this is one of the oldest. It bears the cipher VR so it dates from the reign of Queen Victoria. As it stands outside The Old Vicarage in Grantchester it's probably where the poet Rupert Brooke posted letters when he lodged there. You can become quite addicted to checking out the royal ciphers to date the boxes. 

The Village Pump

Before the advent of piped water in our homes people (usually the womenfolk) had to collect the family's  water from a communal village pump. It was where they exchanged information about the goings-on in the village. Somewhere "village gossip" picked up a bad name but it is really what glues society together. When there was illness in my own family we made no effort to tell people about it, but word spread throughout the community and all sorts of folk arrived at our door to ask if they could help. And very glad we were to see them. Without gossip we are doomed to a very lonely and soulless existence.

A Good Year For The Daisies

I couldn't resist another photo of the Ox-Eye Daisies which have been blooming so magnificently on every roadside and field margin this summer.

The Threshing Barn

Up until the middle of the nineteenth century grain was threshed (that is the grain was separated from the straw and chaff) by hand. A team of two men would open up the sheaves of wheat or barley on the threshing floor and beat it with flails. It was slow and arduous work but provided employment during the winter months. The large doors, which at harvest time had been used by the carts bringing in the sheaves, would be closed, but a gap below the doors allowed a draught to blow through to aid the winnowing process. A board was placed across the bottom of the doorway to hold the threshed grain, this was known as the "thresh-hold".  (Just in case you ever wondered about the origin of that word.)

Milk From Bulls

Take care.


  1. Great set of really interesting photos. My DH is a great one for taking photos of pillar boxes, phone boxes and milestones. We walked miles on a recent stay in Lancashire to photograph an Edward VIII letterbox - scarce as hen's teeth so even I took a photo of that.

  2. Another history lesson that you won't find in any of our schoolbooks here, but well worth reading! It's funny how the post box you took a picture of shows up in a couple of games the girls and I play (usually set in England)! They are depicted just like your picture. Great stories, wonderful pictures, John.

  3. I think I would have left my bike with wheels spinning for all these pics but especially the old mailbox - last year my sister and her husband were in the UK on holidays - they hired bikes at Cambridge and rode to Grantchester - on the way they stopped near a meadow and sent me a text message saying how much they loved this beautiful area.

  4. Lovely photos. I agree about it being a good year for ox eye daisies - I have never seen so many.

  5. Rowan: Never spotted an EVIIIR postbox, that's something special.
    Liz: Glad you enjoyed your lessons today! Were you always paying full attention in school though?
    Dianne: The route your sister followed was probably the exact reverse of my Dad's route to town which I described in an earlier post.
    Weaverperson: Glad to hear the daisies are oop north too.

  6. Its a great year for the Oxeye Daisy John and thats the best photo I have seen of them. Great.
    Not seen a VR post box for a while now. They wouldn't understand them in Peterborough.

  7. Ha! I never knew where the word threshold came from! Thank you. The photos are just stunning, but that milking bull...that's priceless.

    BTW my word verification is blethr. Really. That's good.

  8. Didn't the Empire reach as far as Peterborough, Roy?
    Someone else must like the idea of Bull's milk; the dairy's been gone for many a year but the sign still gets a lick of paint from time to time, Sue.

  9. "Thresh-hold"--never questioned the meaning. I love the history of words and phrases. If I had to choose a favorite among these photos it might be the threshing barn--or the daisies--or the red post box......


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