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Train Spotter

I was clearing out the bedroom getting it ready to decorate when I unearthed my old train set. This was given to me as a christening present so, like me, it is getting on a bit but, unlike me, it is beautifully preserved!

There are a few references to the set, a Triang Railways RS 29, on the internet, mainly on auction sites (it’s worth under ¬£100). Made in the mid-sixties as a starter set it served me well for many years and is now being kept ready to hand on to the first grandchild. No pressure boys!

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Reading Abbey, Heritage Open Days 2014

Once a year places of historic interest that wouldn’t normaly be open to the public throw open their doors for Heritage Open Days. I read somewhere that these places are obliged to do so annually as part of the conditions of government/lottery funding, although I can’t find any evidence to back that statement up. Either way it is great as you get to visit places that would otherwise not be accessible.

Reading Abbey is a great example of this. Closed four years ago when it became too dangerous to allow public access this is now the only way you get to visit. Actually this was a lot more than simply a tour of the abbey as this encompassed the whole of the Reading abbey quarter, something that I didn’t even know existed until our guide, Matthew Williams, manager of the Reading Museum, took us round.

You wouldn’t know it from looking at what is left of the abbey but it covered a huge area and cost a fortune when it was built in 1121. Much of it is now under other more modern buildings, such as the prison, also a listed building. It also shaped the layout of the rest of the town too as London Street was built as a new road leading to the abbey with Broad Street and Friar Street being added at the same time.

The tour also touched on the difficulties of managing the upkeep of the ruins and the surrounding area. For example the wall that runs around St Laurence Church has been in a poor state for as long as I can remember. In fact Matthew told us that the scaffolding holding up the wall has been there for forty years and should also be listed! The issue in this case is not simply one of money but of conflicting priorities. The wall is being forced back by trees that are planted close to it but the trees also have a preservation order and in law have the same status as the wall. Simply put you cannot make a change to one that will affect the other. Classic Catch 22.

With Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries Reading abbey was hard hit and much of the stone was sold off leaving only a few buildings intact. Now the abbey is in a poor state and the flint walls that once would have been lined with limestone are now crumbling. With the help of lottery funding the grounds could be reopened to the public in four to five years time, so dig deep! In the interim the intention is to add much more information around the town signposting the areas of significance. This should also tie into the opening of the prison site, the use of which is still being decided. Before that is done I am hoping that we can get to see inside it as is because it is said to be like you see in the TV show Porridge. Maybe that’s a tour for next year’s heritage open days…

Bluebear is the god

Bluebear is the god

Over the years I have spent many hours watching my kids take part in various extra curricular activities. This has included standing on the side of a football pitch on a cold Sunday morning watching a herd of eight year olds chase a ball, seated in an airless theatre as the local amateur dramatic society over acted some play and sat on many a hard church seating while a guitar orchestra played.

Last night we spent several nervous hours watching the finals of the National University eSports League (NUEL) League of Legends (LoL) Summer Championships in which my youngest son and his University of Birmingham team were playing. This, at least, was one I could watch from the comfort of my own sofa!

The final was being live streamed on Twitch and there was commentary too. I couldn’t work out who was the obligatory ex-pro and who was the summariser but given that’s how it is in all other sports I am assuming that this followed the same formula. However, I could work out how our son was doing as he is called MTBluebear in game.

It was for us what it must be like for parents of footballers as they play their first televised match as we squealed “oh that’s Mat that’s just had a double kill!”.

It is always interesting to see your children through the eyes of others and last night was a real eye opener. I’m not sure that I would ever describe Mat as “cocky” but that is how he was described at one point! Reading the Twitch chat session was also interesting. Most of it was unintelligible but there was a long period where the participants were playing “If Bluebear was a X he’d be called Y” which I was quite touched by. Unfortunately you don’t seem to be able to replay the chat logs on Twitch so that’s lost foreverUPDATE they have been retained by a friend of Mat and so they are reproduced below at the bottom of the page. This chat also elicited the comment “Bluebear is the god” which I am taking as being a good thing, although you can’t be too sure these days with the current predilection for reversing meanings of words.

As any parent you want your offspring to have whatever they want so we were really disappointed for Mat when Birmingham were beaten by the bastards at Cambridge. Mat was more sanguine about it vowing to go one better in the main league this season and we’ll be watching when he does.

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Balbiin: If Bluebear stuck things together, he'd be Gluebear
Gmanel1t3: if bluebear wore a kippah he'd be jewbear
Tripledan: If he really liked honey he'd be Poohbear
Natoniann: If Bluebear was a ghost, he'd be Boobear.
Gmanel1t3: if he was bronze he would be noobbear
Selfishmexy: and if he was *** he'd be poobear
Tripledan: If he went on your feet he'd be Shoebear
Balbiin: If he was at a sporting event, he'd be Woohbear
Dars02: if he was a cow he'd be bluecow
Sammychowchow: If he played Volleyball, he would be Volibear
Gmanel1t3: if he was a toilet he'd be loobear
Sammychowchow: if you were a bear, you would be YouBear
Gmanel1t3: if he was a cow he'd be moobear