Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Made in Sway

Hey, this was not really a Victor moment but I did get quite annoyed at the health and safety implications when I first saw this sign. It is new and stating the bleeding obvious! Yep It's water and the ducks and swans were quite happy with it as their habitat of choice. We are all 90% water, it needs qualifying; -Deep water! Smelly water! Radioactive Water! Salt Water! Water to walk on! Wet Water! Sticky Water! Drinking Water! Bottled Water! Heavy Water! Sparkling Water! What's wrong with our water? I'm going to filter everything from now on!

Check out Lyn here assembling her Ikea shelf.......There is hope for us all...

I recently came across this old New Forest map that includes some of the areas around Sway as they were. It really is quite interesting.
I've received quite a few defamatory comments about the infamous 'Sway Treacle Mines'. As far as I can make out there seems to be some doubt about the existence of the 'mines'. I'm quite concerned that so many people can doubt the truth of such a claim. The seed of doubt has even spread to my local watering hole where I am now met with glib remarks such as "Twaddle....Mines twern't at Setthorns anyhow, they were in the caves behind Sway Docks!" This is usually followed by shrieks of mirth and merriment from the surrounding entourage and further cravings for treacles sandwiches. However, joking aside, it has occurred to me that even these spurious remarks may indeed, have some truth.Many myths and legends are expanded with the 'telling' through many generations Perhaps there were caves? And perhaps they were behind Sway docks?It could be argued that now the location of the caves is known then perhaps the location of the so-called docks is nearby. The shot to the left is coming down to the lake from the northern shores near the treacle mines.
Could it be possible that in the past, Wooton stream was actually a river?Could the original course of this river have run up around Yew Tree bottom and into Longslade bottom? If this was the case then Longslade would have made a magnificent harbour area and would probably had docks at some stage. Admittedly this would have been before the treacle mines, -but you must agree, - it is possible. If this was the case then the course of Avon water would've run right past the sight of the treacle mines. The docks may have been cut out directly behind the caves to make them harder to find.
Even in Elizabethan times it was rumoured that the Queen had ordered certain sites (docks) 'to be made ready' for the building of ships to defend the realm against the forthcoming Armada. The location of these sights was kept secret , nothing was recorded for fear of Spanish spy's. In fact, the threat of espionage was so great that even Elizabeth herself was never told of the locations!
If you take Bucklers Hard and it's shipbuilding as an example, it is easy to see how inland shipbuilding came about. Bucklers Hard was probably a later version of Sway docks. After all the forest's trees were sought after for this purpose. Sway would've been an ideal location.
Another peculiar thing is Sway Tower which is a well known landmark and point of reference but how many people would've ever questioned the wisdom of building a lighthouse inland. I know that it doesn't look like a lighthouse but that was because of the planning delays (yes, even in those days)! It was originally conceived in 1586 but nobody was prepared to allow such a 'Monstrosity' to be built in Sway and the whole project was shelved. Of course, when it was built the waters had receded and Mr Peterson took the credit.
There is is even an obscure reference to the possibility of 'Shipbuilding in Sway' in JAY's nautical almanac. The almanac mentions a warship named 'Hinclelslea' making way down the Avon water in 1588 to defeat the approaching Armada.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Sway Towers over the World

My Victor Meldrew moment today! That annoying advert currently running on UK TV which tag lines the phrase 'Wake up Happy!'( It's an online Hotel booking chain) Please leave him alone, whats he done that the others didn't have a hand in, I refer to Bashful, Doc, Dopey Grumpy, Sleepy & Sneezy...Leave Happy Alone!!
Lets start again... Today I'm still in love with Sway, after yesterday my faith has been renewed in this beautiful forest village. Lyn and I live just a few miles away from it and it has a very famous claim to fame in these modern times. I am referring to Sway Tower, the tallest non re-in forced concrete structure in the world, it is 220ft tall.
Locally it has been claimed as the eighth wonder of the world. It can only be Sway Tower. Rumour has it that the architect of the tower had gained his experience building over 50 churches, and he is certainly responsible for one of the finest Renaissance Cathedrals in Europe, St Paul's in London. Sir Christopher Wren was born in 1632 and was originally an astronomer. Of course many people are aware that Sway Tower was actually built by Mr Peterson between 1879 and 1885. There were actually two towers built, the smallest is here on the right.
There are many legends about the 220ft high tower and the most well known says that Peterson had the tower built as a tomb in which he would be buried, some say at the top and others say at the bottom. Not so well known is the story of Mr Peterson's assistant, a certain Sir Christopher Wren ( mathematicians please note he would have been a sprightly 247 years young at this time!) Legend has it that Peterson consulted Wren on numerous occasions during the tower building using the services of a medium! Without his help Peterson's Tower would probably have fallen years ago because the foundations were amended by Wren when he found them unsuitable for supporting the structure. Who Knows? Perhaps the dome at the top of the tower is a hint from the mysterious architect?
I just think that Peterson's idea for this folly, building it with walls over 2 feet thick out of concrete in the 1880's is the mark of an innovator who deserves recognition for all the tall concrete structures that have followed. He may have been a little eccentric and devout but it's people like Peterson who pushed out human boundaries. When Sway Tower was completed in 1885 it was the tallest concrete structure in the world! It still remains the tallest un re-inforced concrete structure in the world today. Built 126 years ago and it's still standing !

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Another Phegnominal Tale

Today I had another weird moment, it was really a League of Gentlemen Royston Vasey Moment when I spotted a sign about gravel, not just any gravel; Local gravel....! It appears that we now have to fear gravel rustling! The sign clearly reads ' Local Gravel for Local People'. I'm really not sure that all my gravel is entirely local, shock horror, I may be harbouring foreign gravel! How about you ? Is this an offense? How can I tell where the Gravel has come from? It's all very worrying.
I haven't posted for a few days now but I think I can be absolved after my shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) experience. Yep, Lyn cooked Pancakes, take a look at the two vids at the end of this post.
The mysteries of the universe are unfolding before me and questions are being asked.The interesting ones are the more challenging, historical questions. Who were the Treacle thieves of Sway? Who pulled the plug out of Longslade lake? Invariably, whilst struggling to find the answers to these questions I have uncovered more hidden treasures.
On Sunday whilst exploring the inner sanctum of Wilverly Inclosure I happened to come across another 'cave'.My immediate reaction was to check for the Illustrious 'treacldii sugaraldii' (treacle plant), but it soon became evident that this cave had a different occupier.
The cave was neatly hidden beneath a large oak and it's two foot entrance was obscured by brushwood. Unfortunately I was not able to squeeze into this entrance but I could see that there were other entrances within the small cave. The most peculiar thing was the abundance of footprints around the entrance. These were not animal prints as you would expect but small child prints.
This fascinating find could give some credibility to another little known Forest legend. The original Forest dwellers were thought to have been 'little people' , in fact many real Foresters are still convinced of their existence.
Names such as 'Pixie Field' and 'Pixie Mead' were quite common around the area a hundred years ago. Odder than that was the large barrow on Beaulieu Common which was locally known as 'Pixie's Cave' , a place feared by many local inhabitants.
There are many rumours about these' little people', a lot of which are conflicting. I gather that they are shy, timid people. They range in height from 12 - 18 inches but their most phegnomenal attribute is their incredible lifespan which is usually around 400 years!
The 'little people ' are hard working , earthy characters who worship only mother nature herself. Being strict vegetarians , they love and care for all animals.
They are mainly active during the twilight hours and are easily recognised by their bright red caps. These caps form an intricate part of their uniform and require regular grooming. Their physiology is similar to ours but for certain differences, they have greater speed and strength. This is probably why they have always eluded capture by us mere mortals!
The best time to 'capture' one of the 'little people' is after a nights entertaining. This is when they are most vulnerable, if there is one thing that they love, it's a good party. The demon drink plays a large part in their lives, along with their well known love of 'pipe smoking'.
Always remember that our failure to capture these sprites of the earth has caused us to immortalize them in a more concrete fashion. How many people do you know with Gnomes in their gardens? Fishing Gnomes, pipe smoking Gnomes, or even drinking Gnomes?
I believe that the best way to catch one of 'little people' is by gate crashing one of their parties. New Forest Gnomes are reported to be very hospitable. I know where to look and I know when to look. Their impish ways and my curiosity should make an entertaining tale. Oh,to be in England when the sun shines again! Who needs Leprechauns anyway?
I'm off down the road for a Guinness now! Check out these Pics here ......

This is Lyn and Me drinking Guiness.... in the.... Guiness factory at St James's Gate, Dublin......sheer Guiness genius.......I told her it was a new Irish craft shop! And it was, they stamped your hand after every drink! Happy St Patricks day to everyone.