Today I walked my son through Worthing town centre, along the sea front and to the end of the pier, which looked stunning in the sunlight. I was explaining to him the long line of ancestors who came from Worthing and although a 9 month old is only going to babble and yawn at my incomprehensible ramblings it gave me a great sense of peace to introduce him to the past. I supposed that many of them had walked along the same route, some pushing prams like me possibly.
One or two people stand out not for being famous but for having exciting adventures or amazing things happen to them.
James Hutchinson had a boat building yard near the lifeboat house inWorthing and it is said that he built one of the largest yachts to grace Brighton beach for a Captain Thulleson in 1858. The yacht was 32 feet on the keel and 10 feet on the beam. She was said to be much admired by everyone who saw her. How satisfying must that have been to have created something with your own hands that was so well thought of!
There was also Henry Finnis who owned the Running Horse pub – a merchant seaman for 50 years since the age of 12 and worked his way up to the rank of Captain. In the course of his career he sailed around Cape Horn, to Eastern India and to Chile during the mid to late 19th century. How exciting would it have been to have seen those places for the very first time arriving after an immense sea journey? You don’t arrive anywhere these days without having a notion of what it’s going to be like. For the last 30 years of his life he ran the pub and was one of the oldest licensed victuallers inWorthing. He died aged 71 in 1911.
My grandfather was nothing if not an accountant and we are lucky enough to have a couple of cash books of his recording all their expenses from their wedding day up to the birth of their first child…As I am moving home shortly it’s going to be interesting to do a comparison! Here are the 1939 sums…(very faint because they’re in pencil! Sorry.)
And here is a picture of my grandparents on their wedding day (19th August 1939). They first moved into their house on 23rd September 1939.
I did a post not long ago about how there was a distinct lack of creativity in architecture these days – we no longer seem to put in the effort and time to decorate our buildings as used to happen. There are a few very talented people that keep traditional crafts alive but not enough.
My response to the challenge this week is from a trip to India that I did – my first one. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and the colours everywhere. In an abandoned palace in the middle of nowhere there were some amazingly colourful mosaics which caught my eye. The walls were crumbling and there was nobody to prevent rot and destruction setting in but the mosaics still shone…that’s what I call a work of art! Something that can withstand time, the elements and still be inspiring.
There is an air of mystery that surrounds the Azores. When you mention them, people tend to say “Where’s that?” There seems to be an air of mystery around them and once you have been there you kind of hope it stays that way. Often surrounded by mist and rolling waves you can imagine what sailors in ancient times must have thought as they stumbled across them. From the sea they must have looked like unapproachable lumps of black volcanic rock. But for those who persevered, a paradise awaited them.
The Azores archipelago (including the islands of Flores, Corvo, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico, Faial, Santa Maria and São Miguel). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The nine Portuguese islands are located in the middle of the Atlantic ocean between Portugal and America. Discovered during the 15th century, it’s hard to imagine what those first sailors saw. Black cliff faces, the crashing Atlantic seas and untamed vegetation. Even now the vegetation grows so densely that I can’t imagine what it was like if it was untamed – it would have represented a jungle. The first settlers must have had a battle on their hands hacking their way through to create habitable areas to grow crops. On Pico for example (not visited on this trip but have previously seen) the vines grow out of the volcanic rock in very little soil.
Strategically, the islands were a perfect stopping point for sailors and traders travelling between Europe and the New World and the main towns were well defended against pirates. In more recent times the Azores became a lifeline for the Allies in the First World War who used Horta and Ponta Delgada as safe harbours. In World War Two the Azores joined the Allies late in the conflict but built small airstrips on several of the islands for the British and American troops. The Azores proved vital in protecting trans-Atlantic crossings from German U-boats. And although the loss of ships was large the arrival of the airstrips evened out the numbers and then turned those numbers into the Allies’ favour. Post war Santa Maria’s airstrip became a stopping point for transatlantic flights until planes were able to do the journey non stop.
The small and unassuming islands have an incredible history and so few people have heard of them. They don’t lend themselves to being shouted about – they are relaxed, quiet and an explorer’s paradise. The natural beauty is outstanding and you can feel like the first person to discover a crater/lake/rocky inlet. Imagine what those first settlers felt when they saw these things…