Castle Coop News

Stop Press! Read about all sorts of sleepy village news from Barbecues and Clear-up Parties to a Police Chase down The Street!

Changes in the Weather

Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Castle Coop News, Editing images | 0 comments

Changes in the Weather




Changes in the Weather

or… Lord and Lady Eftie Nudge take the Bentley out for a spin on an English summer’s day without reckoning on image editing .



Motoring in the Bentley1

Motoring in the Bentley2

Motoring in the Bentley 3

Motoring in the Bentley 4

Motoring in the Bentley 6

Motoring in the Bentley7

Motoring in the Bentley 001

Motoring in the Bentley 6

Motoring in the Bentley 4

Motoring in the Bentley 3

Motoring in the Bentley2

Motoring in the Bentley1a


How to control the British Weather in 4 easy steps using image editing:

Using an online photo application which offers some basic editing tools for free such as PicMonkey  (PicasaCanva and Paint are other popular editing programs.)  to choose your desired weather conditions is much more fun than relying on the Met. Office.

Online editing programs make adding all sorts of changes to photographs and pictures to an image very straightforward. Set out below  is a list of the steps I took (using Picmonkey) to give Lady Nudge some authentic UK rain to drive through.

Step 1.

With PicMonkey’s home page on the screen, click on the Edit command to upload an image to edit.

Screenshot step 01

Step 2:

When your image has uploaded, click on the ‘Texture’ icon on the left-hand side of the picture:

Texture 1

Step 3:

Once you’re inside Textures,  click on the ‘Water’ box

Screenshot Water



Step 4:

and then choose and apply whichever effect you like the look of.  By playing around with the ‘Saturation ‘ and ‘Fade’ levels as well as the ‘Blend Mode ‘, you can try out different all sorts of different rainy weather looks in no time at all.

Rain icon




 Be sure to save the newly edited image under a different name from that of the original; this ensures you keep the original image safely.


Having made the intrepid Lady Nudge drive the Bentley through a torrential downpour, I thought I’d throw some summer snow at her and Lord Eftie by clicking first on the apple icon  and then on the ‘Winterland’ box .

Screenshot Winterland


Even without snowchains on, the Bentley seems to be coping pretty well…

Motoring in the Bentley snow 06

Yours, hoping there won’t be a cloud in the sky tomorrow,

LLH signature


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The Magna Carta Castle on the banks of our Canal

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Celebrations in Castle Coop! | 0 comments

The Magna Carta Castle on the banks of our Canal





The Castle on the banks of our Canal


Castle Coop is getting ready to celebrate the signing of the Magna Carta by Bad King John, 800 years ago in 1215. A great deal of partying is to take place over the bank holiday weekend at the castle to which our village owes its name.

Odiham which is our nearest village with shops is holding a festive weekend to mark the foundation stone of the modern democratic state. An awful lot of effort has gone into its organisation – it has even got its own web-site:


Obeying instructions

Flags over Odiham


The Agent & I have unearthed our flags from the garage ready to hang up tomorrow


& after de-cobwebbing them so they’ll look smart enough to celebrate “Magna Carta, Justice and Liberty“, I decided to ride my bike down the canal to pay a quick visit to King John’s castle before all the crowds arrive tomorrow.


The Castle:

King John's Castle

The castle’s not exactly a des res any longer :


King John's Castle 2

but they certainly believed in building good thick walls back in medieval times.

King John's Castle (wall cross section)

All action in 1215…


Apparently King John stayed in Odiham Castle on his way to sign the Magna Carta ‘under duress’ at Runneymede. He looks pretty benign in this official picture below but I bet he was in a filthy temper.

King John


800 years ago, the canal must have been heaving with King John’s entourage and tomorrow this spot will be swarming with merry-makers… just now however, there’s no-one about and it’s simply beautiful.

The Canal:

Cycling back home down the canal path,

canal path


I passed a swan family with 5 cygnets and loads of ducks and moorhens

Drakes on the canal

& then I saw a brown splodge among the grasses on the far bank

The far side of the Canal


which when I looked carefully, I saw was a deer with big eyes and tiny antlers. We both stayed still looking at each other for a long time.






yours thinking that although I’m sure the festive weekend will be amazing, I like our canal best just as it is right now this evening,


LLH signature

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#Friday Fitness: the Russian Twist

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Castle Coop News, Health & Fitness Efforts | 0 comments

#Friday Fitness: the Russian Twist

#Friday Fitness: the Russian Twist


In today’s fitness class held as usual in Castle Coop’s Village Hall, our  instructor took us through the Russian Twist which is meant to be a simply excellent exercise for strong abs.

Strong abs? Hurrah! I can’t wait – who doesn’t want ‘strong abs’?



Source: fitnessblender



  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt.
  • Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight, but don’t let it curve.
  • Place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands one on top of the other. Your hands should be level with the bottom of your ribcage.
  • Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the left. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center and rotate to the right. This completes one rep.
  • Do 16 full rotations.

To make this exercise more challenging, hold a medicine ball or a dumbbell in your hands with your elbows slightly bent. You can also make the move more advanced by lifting your feet three or four inches off the floor. Conversely, if you have a compromised or injured lower back, this exercise is not recommended for you.

Source: Popsugar fitness


It looks & sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?

Straightforward???  Well – try having a go at it & see if you agree with me…

The Russian Twist


All I can say is:

16 full rotations…? Ho ho ho!


IMO that’s anatomically completely impossible. Just look at the state I’m in – and that was after only 6 full rotations.

& N.B.  what does Popsugar Fitness mean about not swinging the arms? Mine were both tightly wound up to my sides…



Yours feeling like a coiled spring,

LLH signature




If you would like to become a virtual member of our Castle Coop fitness classes, do sign up in the comment box below – we should all be delighted to welcome you.

So as you know what we are doing, so far we have practiced:

The Lunge

The Toe-touch

The Squat

The Press-up

Our class is held at 10.30am in the Village Hall – we all drink coffee together after the class and eat Brownies kindly cooked by Lady Sebright. They are delicious and immediately undo all the good work of our class.

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#Friday Fitness: The Lunge

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Castle Coop News, Health & Fitness Efforts | 2 comments

#Friday Fitness: The Lunge


Today, our class in the village hall was concentrating on:

#Friday Fitness: The Lunge


Health and fitness experts all seem to agree that as an exercise The Lunge is worth its weight in gold.


The Lunge is an excellent lower body exercise, one of the few lower body exercises that will bring you to muscle failure and truly help you get your gluts, hamstrings and quads into shape quickly and effectively. The Lunge is also convenient since you can do it anywhere, anytime. Work this exercise into your training program for a mega-effective way to shape, tone and strengthen your lower body.


How to do the Perfect Lunge:

Source: The Chalkboard 
(with instructional illustrations by Liberty Hen)
Stand with your feet shoulder’s width apart, spine long and straight, shoulders back, gaze forward.
The Lunge Step 1
Step forward with one leg into a wide stance) about one leg’s distance between feet) while maintaining spine alignment.
The Lunge Step 2
Lower your hips until both knees are bent at approximately a 90 degree angle. Your front knee should not extend over your ankle, and your back knee should hover above the ground. Keep your weight in your heels as you push back up to starting position. Repeat on both sides.
The Lunge  step 3
Now I understand why fitness experts tend to talk about ‘The Lunge’ in the singular tense…
The Lunge step 4
Don’t you think it would be a brilliant idea if all lunging instructions came with a government health warning (in capital letters)?
Yours trying to decide whether I should wait for The Agent to rescue me or just fall over,
LLH signature



If you would like to become a virtual member of our Castle Coop fitness classes, do sign up in the comment box below – we should all be delighted to welcome you.

So as you know what we are doing, so far we have practiced:

The Russian Twist

The Toe-touch

The Squat

The Press-up

Our class is held at 10.30am in the Village Hall – we all drink coffee together after the class and eat Brownies kindly cooked by Lady Sebright. They are delicious and immediately undo all the good work of our class.

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A wreath for the Gravenstafel Ridge Memorial

Posted by on Apr 26, 2015 in Castle Coop News, World War 1 Centenary | 2 comments

A wreath for the Gravenstafel Ridge Memorial




A wreath for the Gravenstafel Ridge Memorial:


Clive Bowery from the DLI Association laid a wreath to honour all the young men

who fought at the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge 100 years ago.

Gravenstafel memorial












We thought of those who were wounded or taken prisoner on April 26th 1915,


in remembrance wreathfrom DLI Assoc

and we remembered those who were killed.



“Remembered with Honour”:

One of the thousands (54,399) of names carved on the Menin Gate, which commemorates those fallen men whose graves are unknown, is that of poor Bob H.

Menin Gate Memorial












He died aged 21, almost immediately on reaching the trenches. He was his parents’ only child.

Commemorated in perpetuity 1


Yours ever,

The Agent signature

WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent has just returned from a trip to Ypres where he has been researching WLS’s WW1 experiences and is helping to co-ordinate Castle Coop’s WW1 Commemorations.


Stop Press:

This message has been posted in the Telegraph Announcements:

In grateful memory of A Company (Captain F G Harvey) and the gallant teachers, graduates and students of Bede College, Durham who gave their lives for King and Empire when the company was overrun during a desperate last ditch stand to hold the forward point of the line at Boetleer Farm, St Julien, 2nd Ypres, 100 years ago today. Remembering also those take prisoner and held first as POWs at Lager II, Munster and later as forced labour in the Silesian mines, 1915-1918, including Private Frank Orr. ‘Faithful’.

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An Anniversary, April 25th 1915 – 2015

Posted by on Apr 25, 2015 in Castle Coop News, World War 1 Centenary | 2 comments

An Anniversary, April 25th 1915 – 2015



An Anniversary, April 25th 1915 – 2015

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge, April 25th 1915.

The College of St. Hild and St. Bede, Durham University is holding a Ceremony of Sounding Retreat at the college War Memorial to commemorate the occasion.

Bede War memorial enlarged









The War Memorial at St Hild and St Bede College, Durham University.

At the War Memorial today, everyone will be thinking of the young student teachers who posed so confidently for their freshman photograph in the autumn of 1912. They were looking forward to 2 interesting years at Durham University in which they would be taught the skills needed to pursue a fulfilling career in teaching, their chosen profession:

Bede College Freshmen 1912 (titled)


Throughout 1913 and most of 1914, these Bede boys filled their days with study and all those college activities – journalism, music drama and sport – which make up student life.  They were at the Army Training Camp in Conway, North Wales posing for photographs with pipes and bottles of beer when they heard that the outbreak of WW1 was imminent on August 3rd 1914.

WW1 army training camp group. 1914


They spent their last night in their college after rushing back to Durham to be formally mobilised on August 4th 1914 before being sent to the east coast near Whitburn, to guard against invasion.

They formed part of A Company, of the 8th DLI and afer eight months of coastal duty and training  and they all jumped onto the ‘Berlin Express’  at Newcastle station, joking ‘Bede v. the Kaiser’!


Less than 2 years after their freshers’ photograph was taken, these ‘Bede boys’, most of whom had never been further afield from Durham than Conway and the east coast, found themselves being rushed to the front line near Ypres just hours after the first poison gas attack of the War. Their orders were to try to hold a four mile gap in the Allies’ defences.

They were teachers, not soldiers, they were all full of life and none of them was older than 21.

Sitting on those red London buses singing and cheering, with brand new wills in their pockets and dressings and iodine to treat the wounds they would sustain in their field packs, they were enroute to the guns on the front line. Among them were:


WLS as a freshman


Tutty freshers' photo














& Bob H

Bob H 1
















An invitation:

The college kindly sent me an invitation to attend The Ceremony of Sounding Retreat.

Invitation to Bede ceremony for 100th Anniversary


However, I cannot go.  I am in Ypres with the Chairman of the Village Hall. We are spending  the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge on the battlefield.

Yours ever,

The Agent signature

WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent has just returned from a trip to Ypres where he has been researching WLS’s WW1 experiences and is helping to co-ordinate Castle Coop’s WW1 Commemorations.






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Off to the Trenches

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 in Castle Coop News, World War 1 Centenary | 0 comments

Off to the Trenches






Off to the Trenches

 April 22nd 1915, 

‘Nothing of any importance occurred this day’.

(Source: War Diary, National Archive)

Unfortunately this statement wasn’t accurate.

The first gas attack of WW1

On the afternoon of April 22nd at around 5.00pm, the Germans unleashed the first poison (cholorine) gas attack on trenches north of Ypres.. At around 5.00 pm , French sentries in Ypres noticed a yellow-green cloud moving towards them – a gas delivered from pressurised cylinders dug into the German front line between Steenstraat and Langemarck. They thought that it was a smokescreen to disguise the movement forwards of German troops. As such, all troops in the area were ordered to the firing line of their trench – right in the path of the chlorine. Its impact was immediate and devastating. It caused immediate asphyxiation and 6,000 casualties. Despite the Canadians heroically trying to hold out against the enemy, the gas attack opened a four mile hole in the allied defences and created an opportunity for the Germans to advance into the strategically important Ypres salient. 

Reinforcements were needed immediately.

(Source: The Northern Echo)


April 23rd 1915

War Diaries National Archive. April 23rd:

11am: Orders received  from Brigade HQ to prepare to move forward at once to the fighting line

1.45pm: The Bn. concentrated just north of CASSEL and proceeded by march route to RIVELD.

                From here orders were received to proceed at once to STEENVOORDE.

                Large numbers of French troops were seen here proceeding north in lorries.

5pm:      The Bn. left in two parties in motor buses for POPERINGHE and onwards to VLAMERTINGHE.

                Here the Bn. went into billets at the W end of the town.

                The following information was received at VLAMERTINGHE.

11pm:    The French had been attacked by the Germans with poisonous gas and the former had given way.

               The Canadians had filled the gap and were winning back the lost ground.

               Very heavy artillery fire could be heard and YPRES was reported to be heavily bombarded.

As April 23rd dawned, the 8th [Battalion DLI] received its emergency call-up.

With the noise of the distant guns getting louder, the Durhams marched to Steenvoorde, where they gathered in a field, were issued with dressings and phials of iodine to treat the injuries they were going to sustain, and those who had not yet done so were ordered to make a will. Then a fleet of red Lond double-decker buses carried them towards the guns.

The moon shone down on a strange scene for us –  a faint mist covered the ground. Our buses swayed and bumped along the uneven pave. The men were in excellent spirits, and sang and cheered like boys out for a school treat. – Capt. Harvey.

(Source: The Northern Echo)


Saturday 24th April:

On April 24th, the red London buses dropped off the Bede boys who had been trained as teachers rather than soldiers, near Ypres. They marched through the devastated town, its buildings collapsing into the streets and its roads blocked with dead bodies.. German missiles were flying overhead, and gassed and injured Canadian soldiers were flooding into the town from the opposite direction. Then it started to rain heavily, soaking their greatcoats.

Leaving Ypres, the 8th Battalion marched through the night towards the front, the noise getting louder, the very lights getting brighter and the stream of casualties turning into a torrent.

Just before dawn on April 25th, the 8th DLI stopped at Boetleer’s Farm at the top of Gravenstafel Ridge. Two companies, the Bede boys in A and the Durham Pals in D were selected to walk down the ridge, picking their way past dead bodies, to the partially – flooded trenches. The shattered Canadians in the trenches were delighted to see them and showed them how to wet a cloth and place it over the face to protect from gas.

Then the Canadians left, leaving the Durhams – who had never fired a shot in anger – beside the gap in the lines through which the Germans were about to flood.

(Sources: The Northern Echo & Harry Moses)



                All the morning the Bn. stood by ready to turn out.

                The heavy artillery fire continued.

6.30pm:  The Bn. turned out and proceeded east through YPRES to the fighting line where it went into action.

                Casualties of the fighting were:                 OFFICERS                                             OTHER RANKS



                                                                KILLED                                   8                                                              81

                                                                WOUNDED                         9                                                              153

                                                                MISSING                              2                                                              340


                                                                TOTAL                                   19                                                           574

(Source: War Diaries National Archive)


Yours ever,
The Agent signature
WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent has just returned from a trip to Ypres where he has been researching WLS’s WW1 experiences and is helping to co-ordinate Castle Coop’s WW1 Commemorations.


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April 21st and 22nd, 1915

Posted by on Apr 22, 2015 in Castle Coop News, World War 1 Centenary | 0 comments

April 21st and 22nd, 1915





April 21st 1915




Day spent in inspections and issuing stores.

A telegram was received from HM The King.

War Diary April 21 1915 (arrow)

The numbers arriving at STE Marie CAPPEL were:

Officers                29

Other ranks        1001

April 21st & 22nd War Diary

(Source: War Diary National Archive)

It was usual for  novice soldiers to be introduced slowly to the horrors of the trenches. The plan was for the Bede boys in A Company, 8th Battalion DLI to do more training before being placed in a quiet area on the front with more experienced troops to break them in.

Ste. Marie Cappel – a  first hand account of April 21st :

In an account later published in book form, H. W. Tustin recorded his memories of the 21st April, a shortened extract of which I reproduce below:

A hen fluttering down from its perch on to my face aroused me…The stench of a sodden pigsty steamed up through the loose boards of the soiled hay which made our common bed.

It was not a sweet billet this; but neither the hens above nor the pigs below had disturbed us..We had passed the night oblivious of the fitful glare and rumble of distant gunfire – careless even of the tearing reverberation of bombs dropped near us during this, our second night in France – for we were dog-tired, and, being Tommies of a Northern Territorial regiment, had learned to make the most of the little rest allowed.

We were still drowsy on that cold Wednesday morning of 21 April 1915 ..but … we stirred ourselves into activity. One or two hardy warriors bathed in the duck pond near at hand and emerged declaring themselves much refreshed…

The morning was occupied in routine work and wearisome inspections and parades, and then in the afternoon, we were free to explore the village of Sainte-Marie-Cappel, which lay within half a mile of our farm.

The peace of this hamlet fell upon us like a benediction…The war seemed far, far away. Yet as the children played there came, rising and falling on the breeze, the sinister jarring and rumbling of the guns.

Credits: Richard Corr and

April 22nd 1915:

Nothing of any importance occurred this day.

All arms were tested with ball ammunition.

(Source: War Diary, National Archive)

Yours ever,

The Agent signature

WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent has just returned from a trip to Ypres where he has been researching WLS’s WW1 experiences and is helping to co-ordinate Castle Coop’s WW1 Commemorations.

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April 1915 – 100 years ago…

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Castle Coop News, World War 1 Centenary | 2 comments

April 1915 – 100 years ago…


 April 1915 – 100 years ago…



On Saturday, the military historian, Harry Moses gave an illuminating lecture entitled, ‘Bede Spirit – 8DLI’ in the Durham Light Infantry Museum.


Harry Moses










Harry Moses immediately prior to giving his lecture 18/04/15


Harry Moses has been researching and writing about the WW1 experiences of the men who belonged to the DLI since the 1980s. In particular he has tried to piece together what happened in April 1915 when the students from Bede College who had joined up as Territorial soldiers, were suddenly rushed from their duties guarding the coastal defences to fight on the front line in Belgium.


Bede Spirit



On August 3rd 1914, WLS, Tutty & Bob H, together with their fellow studentswere at Conway Army Training  Camp when they heard that war was imminent. Hurriedly the Territorial recruits packed up the camp and returned to Durham.


They clattered home in a train, arriving at Durham station at 1.00 a.m. and marching down to the Market Place where tables had been set out with a meal for them (their officers were refreshed in the Rose & Crown Inn in Silver Street). They spent a last night in their college before being formally mobilised the following day, and sent to the east coast near Whitburn to guard against invasion. (Source: The Northern Echo “When the Bede boys took on the Kaiser”)


  • 4 August – Gathered in the Market Place; no orders were received during the day so men were allowed home with orders to report as early as possible the following morning; mobilisation orders were received at 7pm
  • Battalion strength was 29 officers and 996 other ranks

What did the battalion do at the start of the war?

  • 5 August – 8DLI moved to the Sunderland area for coastal defence duty
  • 19 August – Moved to training Camp at RavensworthCastle

D/DLI 2/8/60(71) Soldiers of the 8th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, constructing a trench, 1914  (Picture credit: Durham at War/ Durham County Record Office)

8th DLI constructing a trench









  • Moved to billets at Gateshead prior to the end of 1914; undertook further training and remained there until April 1915

(Source: Durham at War)

The ‘Bede boys’ were in A Company of the 8th DLI & were under the command of Captain Frank Harvey. Although amongst themselves, they called him  ‘Captain Cardboard’, they held him in great affection and respect. After 8 months of coastal duty and training, the 8th Battalion were suddenly rushed to Newcastle so as to be ready to be sent off to France. WLS, Tutty & Bob H were about to take active part in fighting a global war in which more than million combatants & 7 million civilians died.

War Diaries from  April 1915 -100 years ago:

The War Diaries from the National Archives give an account of the days of April 1915 which immediately followed.

War Diary 17th April extract



17th April 1915

At 3.35pm on 17th April 1915, all horses and vehicles plus 3 officers and circa 80 – 90 other ranks entrained at the FORTH CATTLE DOCK NEWCASTLE for Southampton en route for Le Havre.

This was the advance party.

Major JH Smeddle was the senior officer in this group.

18th April 1915

 Final stores were drawn from ordnance.

 19th April 1915 – 8th DLI leave England for France:

The Battalion proceeded from billets at GATESHEAD and entrained in two parties at the CENTRAL STATION NEWCASTLE as follows:

C & D Cos. Under Captain Bradford entrained at 10am

A&B Cos. Under Lt. Colonel Turnbull entrained at 11am for Folkestone where they entrained on one of the Cross Channel mail boats.

Folkestone was left at 11.30pm on a clear fine night.

BOULOGNE was reached at 1am on the 20th April:

Officers                26

Other ranks        921

1.30am BOULOGNE:

Marched from landing place to a rest camp at OSTROHVE

12 noon:

The Bn. left the rest camp for the PONT-DES-BRIQUES station to entrain for the front. Distance marched about 3 miles


The train arrived from LE HAVRE with Major Smeddle and the transport. The Bn. left on one train for St OMER. Here orders were received to proceed by train to CASSEL which was reached about 7pm. After detraining the Bn. marched to billets about STE. MARIE CAPPEL. There was some delay in finding the billets in the dark as they were much scattered.

(Source: War Diary – National Archives’ reference WO 95/2841/1)

War Diary 17th April

Arrival – exactly 100 years ago today:

& so in early in April the 8th DLI received orders to join the British Expeditionary Force. The days that followed were full of final preparations and farewells. On April 17th the transport and machine-gun detachment departed via Southampton en route for Le Havre, and two days later, the 8th Battalion crossed by the shorter route, Folkestone-Boulogne.  On April 19th, patriotic crowds crowded into Newcastle Central Station to line the platforms. They watched as nearly  1,000 Tommies poured into railway carriages whose sides were graffitied in chalk with the legends – ‘Berlin Express‘, ‘Up the Bede‘ & ‘Bede v. the Kaiser‘  -and they waved the youngs lads off on their journey to the front line.

At Folkestone the  Bede boys joined a troopship & having reached Boulogne, were loaded into ‘horse trucks’ which ‘rattled through the French countryside  & arrived at Cassel, about 12 miles west of Ypres…’ 

(Sources: Harry Moses & The Northern Echo)

Thus, WLS, Tutty & Bob H arrived just behind the front line trenches exactly 100 years ago today.

Yours ever,

The Agent signature

WW1 Centenary Information Correspondent: The Agent has just returned from a trip to Ypres where he has been researching WLS’s WW1 experiences and is helping to co-ordinate Castle Coop’s WW1 Commemorations.

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Taking a Punt & Wielding an Oar for Women!

Posted by on Apr 11, 2015 in Castle Coop News | 2 comments

Taking a Punt & Wielding an Oar for Women!


Taking a Punt & Wielding an Oar for Women!



Will you be taking a punt on the Grand National? Despite my historic lack of success with Euromillions, The Agent has just left to go to the Bookies & place our bets. It’s so exciting! He is going to back Lord Windermere:

Lord Windermere


but I’m gunning for Rocky Creek.

Rocky Creek




The Boat Race – an historic first!

There’s the Oxford & Cambridge  Boat Race to come as well this afternoon! I’ve used the singular rather carelessly as this year will be the first time that the Women’s Boats are racing each other on the same stretch of river as the Men’s & so there will be 2 races today. Clare Balding has decided to commentate for the Boat Race rather than the Grand National so as to wave the flag for the women. Yay!

Women's Boat Race

According to Anna Watkins (Cantab) who won a gold medal (sculling) in the London 2012 Olympics , women’s phenomenal success in the Olympics plus funding with commercial clout (Newton Investment Management/ BNY Mellon) has enabled the women’s squad to finally break free from hanging on the coat-tails of the men’s squad.

Equality at last:

Helena Morrissey, CEO Newton Investment Management & a former Cambridge cox, calls today’s Boat Race, ‘A milestone for equality’, and writes:

“…only 5 years ago, the Women’s Boat Race had no financial support, & the athletes had to cover the high costs of participation. Today, men & women receive equal sponsorship, a breakthrough for diversity in sport that we believe is the start of putting men’s & women’s sport on an equal footing…”


Elite men & women university rowers are now really being given the same racing opportunities; given that equal opportunities are meant to be a given, it’s a change that has been a shamefully long time coming. It makes me so cross that women have had to deal with all this discrimination rubbish and in this case, right up until today!



Yours applauding this recognition for women athletes and keeping my fingers crossed for Rocky Creek!

LLH signature




Henmanship rating: Placing a bet on the Grand National: 7

Losing the bet : 2

Watching the Boat Race on TV: 4


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Perfect Happiness!

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in The International Friday Night Foyle's War Club | 2 comments

Perfect Happiness!




Perfect Happiness!


In the nick of time, my faithful correspondent, Digby D, has very kindly saved me from my post-holiday-blues, by alerting me to Vanity Fair’s May ’15 Proust Questionnaire.


Back of the Net:

Please see in the screen shot below,  Ms. Bergen’s answer to Question no. 1. which I think scores a perfect 10.  I am pretty sure the entire International Friday Night Foyle’s War Club would agree with the general sentiment.

perfect happiness
























Yours, absolutely delighted to find that Ms. Bergen is a kindred spirit,

LLH signature




Henmanship rating: Watching Foyle’s War in bed: 8


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Back to the Drawing Board!

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015 in Castle Coop News | 2 comments

Back to the Drawing Board!









Back to the Drawing Board!


I have been practicing my parallel turns like mad since the Graf ‘s Masterclass.


Scope for improvement TAH


yours wondering if maybe a beach holiday would be a good idea for next year,

LLH signature




Henmanship rating: regularly falling down : 2


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The Parallel Turn

Posted by on Apr 1, 2015 in Castle Coop News | 4 comments

The Parallel Turn

The Parallel Turn

Lady Egality and I are determined to crack the ‘Parallel Turn’ this week on the slopes. Before we went off to Gatwick, we consulted the internet for advice. Just look at Wikipedia’s explanation :

The parallel turn relies on two dynamics: turning the ski up on its edge and bending it at its center to create an arc.

The skier initiates the turn by moving their knees laterally in the direction of the desired turn. The motion of knees is translated through the calf to the high cuffs on the ski boots, through the boots to the bindings, and then to the skis. This causes the skis to rotate up on their edges, with the skier’s weight and the force they put upon them bending the skis at their center into the arc that turns them. To stop the turn the knee is rotated back to the neutral position. 

Can you believe this stuff ? I know it’s written in English but I don’t understand a word of it & look, there’s more…

While both skis take part, in practice the ski on the outside of the turn is dominant… The skier pressures the front of their skis to keep the fore-and-aft center of gravity of the skier’s mass over their toes. (Source: Wikipedia)  

Are you any the wiser about how to do a parallel turn? Neither Lady E nor I were so the Graf, who has skied all his life and who is our Team Leader, kindly volunteered to try and show us how to do them. He says they’re perfectly easy as long as you concentrate a bit.


The Parallel Turn (as demonstrated by The Graf)

ski sunday turns TAH

































Yours thinking the Graf should be on Ski Sunday,

LLH signature




Henmanship rating: watching a friend ski with elegance: 10



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Skiing in a White-out!

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in Castle Coop News | 2 comments

Skiing in a  White-out!




Skiing in a White-out!


Yesterday we were skiing in a massive white-out. In the cloud, we missed the intended blue run (Route A) down from the top of the Saulire peak.

Map showing where we went wrong:

Route map from Saulire

We found ourselves unable to see a thing on red Route B – the cloud was so thick, even a double- decker bus would have been invisible. As none of us could make out any of the piste markers lining the routes, we didn’t know where we were skiing or even whether we were skiing up, down or standing still. It was a very disorientating, peculiar experience. Lady Egality felt terribly sick and I kept falling over; one time it took me about 15 minutes to get up, find all my bits and bobs lying scattered in the snow and get myself sorted ready to go again. In the gaps between my falls, we inched along with absolutely no faith that we were going in the right direction. As you might suppose, morale was not particularly high.


Luckily, Sir Plym came to the rescue with the hip flask and hurrah! – eventually we all made it down in one piece.


On reaching the sanctuary of the Biollay chairlift, we jumped on so that it could whisk us asap up to a little mountain restaurant. There we each had a restorative mug of hot chocolate to make us all feel back in a holiday mood and then I had another one (out of greed rather than need).


Biollay chairlift in a white-out TAH

Yours very relieved to be able to see more than 5 yards ahead again,

LLH signature





Henmanship rating: skiing in a whiteout: 3

drinking hot chocolate in a mountain restaurant: 7


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Guess what!

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Castle Coop News | 2 comments

Guess what!


Guess what!


Here is a photograph of blue skies and gorgeous snow. It was taken in the Courcheval ski area of the 3 valleys in France :



skiers in the 3 valleys



It is such a beautiful scene isn’t it?  Or perhaps you are thinking, “Liberty Hen, this is a very pretty picture of some skiers coming down a piste, but so what?

Are you thinking that?


Please look a bit harder… can you see anything special? Do you recognise anyone ?

No? Here is a clue…



A Clue:

Castle Coop skiers in the 3 valleys


Can you believe it –  we’re in The 3 Valleys for a whole week! Hurrah! Hurray! Yay!


Castle Coop skiers CR















Yours, clutching my lift pass,

LLH signature




Henmanship rating: going on holiday with one’s friends & neighbours 10




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