Friday, 18 November 2016

It’s been a funny day...

The Better Half (TBH) has for some time been meaning to find out more about her grandfather who died during the First World War. TBH’s family understood that he was in what was then known as Mesopotamia when he died and a few years ago we went to the WWI museum in Kansas City, where despite it being the USA’s national WWI museum, we found a fair amount of information on his British regiment. There, we discovered that his regiment had been captured at Kut, which is not too far from Baghdad in the country now known as Iraq. For some reason, apart from Lawrence of Arabia which was made into a rather over simplified and dramatised movie, the war in the Middle East is largely forgotten. In our search for more information, a couple of summers ago, we went to the War Museum in London. There we were disappointed to find the same attitude to this important part of the war and only a tiny part of the exhibits were from that theatre of the war. I do understand that the losses on the Western front were so massive that it is hard to comprehend, but a lot of British troops, not necessarily from Great Britain were lost in those Eastern campaigns too. Since our visit in the museum in Kansas, TBH has been quietly chipping away at the research using the Internet to find out more.

Because her grandfather was in The Royal Gloucester regiment, she has been meaning to go to their museum for some while now to see what they know. This is down by the Quays in Gloucester and not too far away from our home.

 We finally decided that today was the day.

When we arrived in Gloucester we had great difficulty finding somewhere to park and the Quays car park was so busy they had people in high viz jackets controlling the cars which was unusual and we finally found a space on floor 4, which is not usually available to the public. The lift we got into with five other people started flashing the ‘overloaded’ warning, despite claiming to be able to hold 13 people. A couple who were last in reluctantly got out and the lift was able to descend. On the shopping level, the place was heaving and as we left the shopping mall, we discovered that there was a Christmas Market with stalls and wooden huts all around the docks. This accounted for the huge crowds we had been encountering and the lack of parking.

A part of the Christmas Market

This unusual cafe claims it can be hired for weddings and such like.
Following the maps, which to their credit, Gloucester council had placed all around the Quay area we were able to find the approximate location of the museum, but the maps were somewhat misleading and it took a little more exploration and intuition to actually find the entrance to the museum. Having circled the building, we found the front entrance was in full view most of the way we had come and facing us.
The museum building in full view
 We may have noticed it if we had not been concentrating on looking for signposts and maps. The museum was quite small but covered the various Gloucester Regiment’s activities from its year of formation to date.
One of the services provided by the museum is to help find information about relatives who have served in the regiment. This incurs a small fee and TBH found the right person to talk to who did a quick search for her grandfather’s records.

 At this point, it came on to rain.

That simple statement in no way expresses what actually happened. Noah would have been unsurprised by the deluge that came on, but we were all absolutely astounded.

It rained so hard that the steps we had walked down a few minutes before to get to the entrance, turned into a waterfall and anything not fixed down was swept around by the gusting wind or floated off as the water poured down into the dock. Hail formed a snowdrift against a nearby wall and the roof of the museum started to leak so badly water began to pour all over the stands in the front of the gift shop.
It is not easy to see through the wet glass and of course my camera auto-focused on the raindrops and I was not going outside for a better shot, but the steps are pouring water like an ornamental waterfall in  the gardens of a stately home

This lid off a rubbish bin was floating along on the flood, but did not quite get swept into the dock
Fortunately it did not last very long and the rest of the museum remained watertight, but it was fearful whilst it lasted.
A concerted effort by the staff soon cleared away the wet displays and mopped up the wet floor and business got back to usual and TBH was able to arrange for the museum to do a search for her grandfather’s military records, which will be sent to our home in due course.
We then toured the museum, which has a number of interesting interactive displays, and after seeing all the exhibits headed for an as yet unspecified venue for lunch.

No it is not Hagrid, just someone on stilts as a part of the 'fun' for the Christmas shoppers
Since Gloucester was heaving with all the Christmas Market shoppers, we decided to go out of town as soon as we could and look for somewhere that would not be so busy. After some discussion and a look at a nearby garden centre, we decided to go to a much nicer garden centre called Highfield that we often use when in the area because the food is good. We found the place considerably less crowded than Gloucester and we were able to get a really nice carvery meal. After eating we took a short look around the garden part of the garden centre and bought a small shrub for the front garden and then headed home. We have a problem with the local foxes who seem to treat our front garden as a public toilet and we would like to discourage them. The shrub we bought has some rather spiny holly-like leaves and it will be planted in the centre of a group of medium sized boulders which we hope will outfox the foxes and force them to find somewhere else for their business.
After the rain had stopped the sun came out and, although puddles everywhere, the journey home through the Gloucestershire countryside was really nice and autumnal.

 All in all, a strange day.


  1. That's quite a history that TBH's grandad has. We have no idea, do we, the wartime hardships (at home and worldwide) that our ancestors went through. Just reading through one of my moms old diaries - 1944, the year I was born - describes just a little of the horrors of the buzz bombs and nightly air raid sirens etc., they lived through. I do hope that TBH finds all the info she she writing a book about him? And I do hope your newly acquired shrub has the desired effect on the foxes....ouch!

  2. I loved your description of the rain. Would that it would happen here! Barry has been making inquiries about his grandfather with our cousin Walter. His dearest wish would be to go to France and see all the history there -- but I'm not up for an Atlantic crossing, never mind the Channel too. I could use a Star Trek transporter and that would be great. I think the writing bug has bitten again,finally. Not sure how long it will last, but with no Bible Studies to prepare for (it's Thanksgiving this week), I 'm striking while the iron is hot, so to speak.