Friday, 31 May 2013

20. Land's End to John O'Groats. Robbie Brough and David Sansom in the Midlands. Where are the Midlands? Charles Tunnicliffe.The poetic Heart of England. SAS. Macclesfield. Maths and Philosophy. .

Cob by local artist 
        Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe in1935
Young Swan 1935, by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe.
Manchester City Galleries.
Ducks by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe, c 1940
The National Library of Wales.
David Sansom and Rob Brough may see swans, ducks and geese beside the canals in the Midlands, where they are en route to John O'Groats on a long walk to raise money, £4,518.75 so far, for charity Emmaus Oxford

So where are these Midlands?. And should they have a singular or plural verb? 

They are marked boldly and nicely in red for us by Wikipedia, but the positive place name needs defining for people not in the know who are rather vague about the subject. 

Even Wikipedia cannot be 100% definitive, as you will see

."The Midlands does not correspond to any current administrative area, and there is therefore no strict definition. However, it is generally considered to include the counties of Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the West Midlands and Worcestershire. Lincolnshire is considered by some part of the Midlands but generally excluded, on account of its extensive coastline."

Lincolnshire's coastline is to the east, and to the west of course the counties are adjoined to Wales, which is not shown on the first map of the Midlands above.

Wikipedia valiantly tries to get to grips with the Midlands and comes out with a delightful vignette:

"Various parts of the Midlands (particularly Warwickshire and Leicestershire) are somewhat poetically referred to as the Heart of England, especially in tourist literature".

In Cornwall, things are somewhat as vague as people who refer to the Midlands. We use  "upcountry" to refer to everywhere that isn't in Cornwall!

David is going to Sandhurst in the autumn and I like the way every time he sees obstacles he describes them as "SAS work," like a true army man in the making. He is thinking of joining the Queen's Royal Lancers or the Parachute Regiment, but I hope he will go for the SAS/Special Air Service. He'd certainly be fit enough.

Robbie on the other hand is going to Manchester University to read Maths and Philosophy, and when I asked him why he had chosen such a combination, he interestingly and intriguingly replied: "For equations you can't solve."

31 May Email from David

"Hi Mary,

So following on from Wednesday there was not much to report of any significance. The weather relentlessly rained and that really took its toll on our spirits. 

Feet soaked. Tent soaked. Roll mats soaked. 

The Bears Paw Inn, High Legh, Cheshire
is on the A50, towards Macclesfield
(Where's the grass verge David?!) 
We pitched up our tent on Wednesday night on the grass verge of the Bears Paw Inn. We didn't have any food as passed no open services so we had to buy the cheapest things on the menu. 

We woke up and navigated our way to Sutton in the same way we've been doing since Shrewsbury (OS maps). 

Whitchurch (A), to Sutton (B). 
The Pennines marked in green are close
We made it to Sutton last night, pitched up, showered and went to sleep. Unfortunately they were economy showers, which dribble out. They are my biggest hate in life. After being in the freezing cold wet and mud for 22 miles, you don't want to be trickled on. Waking up this morning was a great relief as the sun was shining bright and the skies were blue. Tonight we hope to get onto the Pennine Way to start tomorrow. 

Sorry there isn't much detail. There were no real significant events. On Wednesday we lost the foot path and had to do real SAS work by crossing fields. We must have jumped 3 streams and 20 barbed wire fences and 2 railways. 

Pictures to follow.



I am forever waiting for the pictures to follow, including the one I was promised of their "shiny boots", which the boys polished on their break with David's aunt in Shrewsbury. 

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe, RA, OBE, 1901-1979, the well-known wildlife painter, was brought up on a farm on Walker Lane in Sutton. Blogs have oodles of space, so last but absolutely not least I am including some more of his paintings,  which showed he depicted people wondrously as well. The BBC Your Paintings,  in partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation, has a wonderful collection of national art.

 PC 12 by Charles Tunnicliffe, 1935.

Silk Heritage Trust.

Tunnicliffe has painted PC 12 with just the expression you'd expect.
Policemen used to be called PC Plods, but they hardly walk the beat any more. 

Dry Clothes and Rain by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe, "before 1927".
West Park Museum, Macclesfield. Silk Heritage Trust.

This is my favourite. The women, wearing clogs, would have washed by hand, (there were no washing machines or dryers in those days): and are hurrying to get the clothes down from the line. The small basket was for the clothes pegs. You can also see it was windy. The painting is from the Silk Trust and can be seen in Macclesfield, near Sutton, noted for its silk.  People from Macclesfield are called Maxonians.

Sitting Hare by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe. 1937-1938.
West Park Museum, Macclesfield. Silk Heritage Trust.
Magpies Roosting by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe. 
West Park Museum, Macclesfield.  Silk Heritage Trust.
Two Barnacle Geese by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe. 1937-1945. 
It took a long time to complete! 
West Park Museum, Macclesfield.  Silk Heritage Trust.
July Gulls by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe. Manchester City Galleries.
Team of Horses by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe, 1948.
Oriel Ynys 
Môn. The artist painted a series of 12
country scenes for Boots1949 calendar.

These calendar paintings look typical of the ilk:

Tunnicliffe has lost his free rein so to speak, and was obviously

painting to order
Drift of Swine by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe.
Oriel Ynys 
Môn, painted for the same calendar,
'The Countryman Has a Word for It'.
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