Saturday, 28 November 2015

A year to the day brings about another end

It is  exactly a year to the day that I started this blog and this will be my last post. It is time to move on. Our first year living in Beeston has been eventual and life changing in unexpected ways, which we have come to terms with, but it has changed our priorities.

Beeston is a great place to live and we instantly felt at home. Susan first lived in the town whilst a student at Nottingham University in the late-sixties and we have been weekly visitors since 1996. I resolved a couple of years ago to give up being on any committees or too closely involved with any group. At seventy-one and after fifty-five years of being a community and Labour Party activist, I feel no need to apologise for deciding to take a back seat.

The truth is I have a memoir of sorts I want to give more time to. I have been thinking about it since a family conversation over Christmas 2010, which led me to join the WEA Beeston Writing Class at the beginning of 2011 and this, in turn, led me to discovering the pleasure which comes from writing fiction - very different to my published writing since the 1970s, all of which has been about local history, politics and localism.

It was my lifelong commitment to localism (and the idea of taking a photograph every day for a year of life in Lenton Recreation Ground) which prompted my first blog,, which I began at the beginning of 2007, encouraged by my friend Rosie, who started blogging in 2005 (and has a very successful blog called 'Corners of my mind'). I 'retired' parkviews when I started this blog. Parkviews was about Lenton, where we lived for thirty-five years until we moved to Beeston.

This blog will stay in situ, along with parkviews and a couple of other little blogs I started for some reason or another, including one about growing up in Wembley.

I also have other passions I want to enjoy more (maps and gardening for example), so something has to go. Life is time limited and I want to have as few commitments as possible and, as much as I have enjoyed doing Beestonweek, the blog is a commitment.

To my few regular visitors, I say thank you for reading me. I may share some of my fiction, even my memoir. Right now, I wish you a lovely Christmas break and a 2016 you would wish for yourself.

Robert Howard

Saturday, 21 November 2015

One mad moment led to this...

It is three weeks to the day since my last post and this is partly to blame. It was my own silly fault. I made creme brulee for friends and I was not sure whether the sugar I placed on top had melted and turned into a golden sugary crust. It had! It was a week before I took myself off to the doctors to see the practice nurse. The good news was that I had done all the right things, but since the burn blister had broken, it needed dressing. Three times since last Monday and back again on Monday.

It is a long time since I have put an index finger out of action. Thinking about, never before, so my contribution around the house has been limited of late. The nurse thinks another fortnight yet.

Everyone who sees it wants to know what I did and only the nurse tried to stifle a laugh. No one else did. It is fitting punishment for my own stupidity. Looking at the pic, I know it could have been far worse, and just for the record, I ate the meaty creme brulee.

My poorly finger did lead to me and Susan belatedly discovering the Friday morning Country Market held in the Methodist Church on Wollaton Road, just a minute's walk from Beeston High Road. You can't miss it. They place this large banner outside, but be warned they have usually sold out of cakes and pies by 11.30am.

Looking at this pic you can understand why. Having bought cake and shortbread there on the last two Fridays I know how good the food is. We also bought jams. The prices are so good that I may well buy more cakes from them and bake fewer myself.

They call themselves The Nottingham Country Market and once upon a time they were based in the YMCA on Shakespeare Street in Nottingham city centre. They are 'a non-profit making co-operative specialising in hand-made crafts, ho,me-grown plants, vegetable and flowers, preserves... savouries, cakes and cookies and homemade bread'. There is a website at

They also serve tea and cake, although as we left the church, we saw someone we know who told us he came from Sneinton regularly to buy food and that their tea and toast was a real treat. We haven't tried it yet, but we will before Christmas.

Time for Tea on Wilkinson Street has become one the places we visit most weeks of late. I sometimes have Emma's bread & butter pudding with a generous portion of custard on top. Truly delicious. Even better is her poached eggs on toast. She does them properly and is as good s Bennett's in Derby, plus the added bonus that the eggs are from her own (licensed) hens and the eggs are fresh every day. 

Then there is O'liva on Beeston High Road. Last week we tried his almond tarts and Italian gelato vanilla custard ice cream, which comes from Soho in London. I went back and bought some of the tarts to take with us to a friend in Banburyshire. I bought a main course (a sausage loaf) from Jo at the Local Not Global Deli on Chilwell Road, as well some of her small cheeses. It was our friend's 79th birthday and she should have come to Beeston, but a poorly knee prevented her from driving, so we took lunch to her instead. Thanks to Jo, Marco and Nottingham Country Market, it really was a feast and a half, with all of us having seconds.

Marco at O'liva, like Sergio at The White Lion, has added a small gallery to his eating area. The paintings in this view are all by the artist Christine Dilks.

This leads me nicely onto Chilwell's Creative Corner, which is having a makeover of sorts.

The Mish Mash Gallery has morphed into 'One Off' and swopped premises with the adjoining florist. One Off can be fairly described as tardis like. Looks small on the outside, but crams a whole lot of original art into a small space. Next door is the Fusion Café, which I still think sells the best black coffee (my Mocha crown in recent weeks has passed from Mason & Mason to O'liva, but the former still wins when it comes to chocolate cake).

I have included this character before, when she was visiting Tesco a couple of months ago. Now she is back home, waving to passers-by on Chilwell Road, encouraging them to visit Stash

A little further away, but still worth seeking out is 'Glorious homes' on the north side of Station Road in Sandiacre between the River Erewash and the Erewash Canal. Loads to look at (and buy) if you are doing things to your home or need to find a special gift. We spent a good hour there and came away happy.

I posted my first blog here exactly fifty-one weeks ago, so next week will be my first anniversary. With luck, my finger may be naked again by then.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Unworldy folk you can see in Beeston this week

Sitting at a window seat in the Metro Café on Beeston High Road, either a person who has had to wait a little too long for his or her coffee, or an early arrival waiting to celebrate Halloween. I suspect it's the latter.

There was a dog too, looking a little grumpy if you ask me. All he wanted was a walk and a biscuit and, instead, he ends up dead and in a café window. Full marks to Metro. I wonder how many have walked passed and not noticed this enterprising nod.

Beeston Nursery near the railway station also caught my attention with these figures against their front fence. Very PC in more ways than one. Only one woman in red, everyone else is in blue. Is this a hidden message of some sort?

Finally, a poster from a enjoyable temporary exhibition, Alan Kitching and Monotype, in the Bonington Gallery at Nottingham-Trent University's city centre campus which, unfortunately ended yesterday. Two walls of the Gallery were full of posters, including this one, 'Carfree, Carefree' by Abram Games, dated 1967. I asked permission to take this photograph of the poster.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A Beeston (housing) elephant in the room

Earlier this year I drew attention to a growing problem in Beeston (click here to read post from February 2015). See also page about student accommodation in right-hand column. The increasing number of rented houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). Then it was a Labour led Broxtowe Borough Council showing no interest. Now it's a Conservative led Broxtowe Borough Council showing no interest.

The BBC's online magazine has just run a story about HMOs in Blackpool (click here to read). It makes grim reading whilst making the point that Blackpool is one of the better councils when it comes to enforcement, which suggests that where councils, like Broxtowe, are lax when it comes to regulating private rented housing, the lives and wellbeing of tenants is at risk. This is happening, right now, in Beeston. Of course I cannot prove this claim on my part, but it is an educated guess I would like to see put to the test by the systematic inspection and registration of every privately rented property in the borough.

All I want is that every private landlord is subject to the same regulations and control as housing associations and local authorities. I suspect that many private landlords would close up at the first opportunity.

It is an issue I know something about. I was a supported housing manager from 1985 until I retired in 2006. For a good few years I was on the board of Nottingham Hostels Liaison Group (HLG). Housing really is the elephant in the room politicians are happy to ignore (nearby Nottingham City Council is a notable exception).

As a owner occupier, I have to pay for all my own maintenance and have to pay VAT in the process, whereas private landlords can reclaim the VAT if they are VAT registered and set the cost of all the work they do on their property against profits, so that they pay less tax (perhaps no tax) — something else I cannot do as a owner occupier.

I have long been of the view that housing and homelessness is the biggest issue facing our country. It is a issue I will return to, but for now all I ask is that you take a few minutes to read / watch the BBC news report.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Beeston Companion tweaked — now with pics

I have tweaked my Beeston Companion map so that copies can be taken to Italy (I will post a link when I have one). I have added a few photographs. Usual thing, click on the map and it should enlarge.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Little Beeston things

Seen on a side entrance in the centre of Beeston. How can it not bring a smile to your face. 

For the past couple of weeks I have been peeling windfalls from our three apple trees. If I don't collect them up daily, they soon go over and the freezer compartment on our fridge is close to bursting with frozen cooked apples (and plums from a month ago). Walking around Beeston, I have lost count of the number of apple trees I have seen laden with unpicked fruit. In the end, because of maggots, I end up throwing away half the apples I peel, but the delicious taste of home-cooked apples makes the effort all worth while.

Last Saturday (10 October) marked a big change in my life. From the age of sixteen in 1960, I have always been doing something; holding down a voluntary post of some kind and organising events or campaigns of some kind. Last year I gave up committees and in the past couple of months I have attended two committees as an observer of sorts. Both occasions further convinced me that I made the right decision last year when I reached seventy.

Now, back to last Saturday, when I took the lead in organising a 'historyfest' at Nottingham Central Library on Angel Row in Nottingham City Centre. Click here to see a report on the Our Nottinghamshire website. I had already made up mind that it was going to be the last thing I will ever organise. From now on I will just be a helper, supporting friends and groups I like as and when I please. After fifty-six years of continuous voluntary activity I have had enough.

I began the summer being told I had 'established fibrosis of the lungs', which cannot be treated. After lots of tests and hospital visits it got a name: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and I also learnt that, at some point, I will need open heart surgery because I have a dicky heart, but just to complicate things, the symptoms for both conditions are as good as identical.

Yet, despite, all this, I have had a great summer and feel, physically and mentally, better now than I have for a long time. I am doing what I have been told, avoiding crowds and I am about to abandon buses for the winter, since I am told my immune system is weak and just catching a cold or the flu can be life threatening. This kind of diagnosis is hard to take in, even less believe, but I have to believe it — I owe it to my family and those who love me.

Throughout my life I have been blessed in so many ways, even though to an outside observer, this may seem strange. Perhaps this winter I will finally begin writing a memoir of sorts for my grandchildren, if the maps and stories I want to write to do not get in the way.

Last Sunday morning I was out delivering for the Labour Party, walking up and down Beeston front paths, looking at the everyday, like those apple trees I mentioned earlier. It really was a pleasure and over the next two weeks I can look forward to a string of friends and family visiting, some staying, for a number of reasons. Life in my 'little Beeston' is never dull. The world really does come to me.

A PS...

Two of the local history groups which took part in the Historyfest  on 10 October were from Beeston and Toton:

Gill Morral and Carole White were wearing two hats - Friends of Toton Fields and Beeston & District LHS. Their display was very impressive and Gill has offered to take me on a personal guided tour of Toton. I hope to take her offer up before too long and, when I do, I will share my visit on this blog.

In 2012, Carrina Harrison and Graham Hopscroft came along on the day and were squeezed into corner. Then the Canalside Heritage Trust based at Beeston Lock was weeks old. Now they are a Lottery funded heritage project which may well be open this time next year and they had a very different story to tell at this year's fair. Before I got my diagnosis, they are a group I would have liked to help, but now I will cheer them on from the sidelines instead.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Nottingham council housing gets its own history with the publication of Homes and Places

I bought Homes and Places from the Five Leaves Bookshop stall at the Angel Row Historyfest on Saturday. It is a history of Nottingham council housing.

By chance I have a photograph of Matt on the Five Leaves Bookshop stall selling me Homes and Places, along with Ten Poems about Nottingham, which has also just been published.

Now, where was I? Ah yes. I have just finished reading Homes and Places and happen to know Chris Matthews and Dan Lucas, who were closely involved in writing and publishing the book. It is such a work of reference, that I will have to create myself an index and chronology. 

The book contains a full-colour map from 1932 showing the extent of Nottingham's council housing at the time and next Tuesday, by chance, I am hoping to see the map when I visit the Special Collections Library at Kings Meadow with the WEA Beeston mapping class I am a member of. I did not expect to have Homes and Places with me.

I look forward to reading extracts on the Municipal Dreams blog/website (which posted a contribution in May 2014 by City Councillor Alex Ball about the city's first council housing and is my favourite website). 

Also congratulations to Chris on the book's layout. I love the white space and a gutter which didn't break whilst I read the book (a real failing with many books today!).

Homes and Places has seven chapters which chart the history of council housing in Nottingham, beginning with 'The Old Problem' and ending with 'To Build Again 2005–2015'. From what knowledge I have of council housing (I was a regional and national supported housing officer with a housing association for twenty years) and from my twenty-two years working as Reviews Editor for Local History Magazine, I know a good local history when I read one and, I promise you, this is good!

I have led a few walks around Lenton looking at public and charitable housing and on my old Parkviews blog, I document several of Chris Matthews's TravelRight walks around Aspley, Bilborough, the Broxtowe and Strelley estates (both in the city — not the Borough of Broxtowe). No person in Nottingham is better qualified than Chris to have written this history, and with Dan backing him, the result is an exceptional local history, for that is what it is — local history.

Homes and Places offers a great focus for further research and, perhaps, the creation of a local history group devoted to promoting the Nottingham's great garden city heritage (which I hope will cover the conurbation, as Beeston Fields, where I live, is very much in the Nottingham style in terms of layout and architecture).

Council housing needs its champions and in Chris and Dan Nottingham has two champions it can be proud of. You have to believe to write local history like Homes and Places.

In a couple of weeks I will read it again and see what sticks in my head when read a second time.

Truly wonderful stuff which swells the heart and puffs out the chest.

I plan to write a longer post about the book and council housing sometime in the next few weeks. Right now I simply want to draw attention to Homes and Places. At £9.99 from Five leaves Bookshop in the city centre, it is a bargain, worth its weight in gold. 

Five Leaves is the best bookshop we have in the conurbation and it deserves our support. To access the bookshop at 14A Long Row, opposite the City Centre Tourist Information Office, you need to walk down the narrow passage leading to the Coral betting shop (there is a sign pointing the way to Five Leaves, but smokers can block it from view). I will also do a post about Five Leave, so watch this space...


From the back of our Lenton home on Devonshire Promenade, where we lived for thirty-five years, until we moved to Beeston last November, you could see the New Lenton high-rise flats. The photograph below is from 2008 and I have never used it before. It does not do Lenton's five high-rise tower blocks justice, for they were coloured pink by the setting sun, but you can glimpse every tower and I have to admit to being sad that four have been demolished, with the final tower (Newgate Court) about to go. I understand why. I believe they were a great achievement and were loved by many until their very end. Other high-rise flats were not so lucky and with good reason.

Susan grew up in a council house in Tipton, in the heart of the Black Country, and my parents lived in a council flat in Eastbourne until they died a few years ago. My aunt and uncle in Harlow, both Labour Party councillors, never bought their council house because they opposed the sale of council houses, so I am sure you can understand why I welcome Homes and Places with a passion, added to which we now lived in a former Beeston Fields council house.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

A Beeston miscellany of sorts

 Seen on the boot of a VW in Beeston. Very timely.

A view of the trees in Broadgate Recreation Ground which line its border along Humber Road. You have to be in the park to really appreciate this wonderful line of trees. 

I took these two pics of duvets outside Beeston's Linen Box shop on 15 September, about the time the students were due back. I thought the shop was very enterprising and I just hope enough students arrived without duvets for them to sell out. 

Hallam's garden centre on Beeston High Road is very different out back. I would love there to be a large botanical garden in the town or close by. Birmingham and Kew have them and there is, of course. the Eden Project. I would settle for something simple. Perhaps we could turn the High Road into a long atrium and use the heat from the shops to grow exotic plants along its length?

A very rare beast which I intend to write about in a future blog quite soon. A YourBus X36 — a missed opportunity by YourBus to get ahead of the game. Come back next week and I will tell you more. Enough to know that Susan and I came back from the QMC on it, with just the driver and one of his colleagues for company, non-stop all the way to Wollaton Road.

The City Council's subsidised L10 LocalLink bus did a lot better, as everyone waiting at the stop when we got off the X36 boarded the L10.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Beeston Oxfam venues map and a ride into the past

It's been two weeks since my last post because we went away for a week to Lowestoft in Suffolk. I was claiming a 70th birthday present from last year, which my daughter organised — a visit to the East Anglia Museum of Transport, so that I could ride on one of these...

... a old London trolleybus, aI almost certainly travelled on this actual trolleybus as a child and a teenager. I was seventeen when trolleybuses disappeared from Wembley, by which time I was travelling to work on a 662 six days a week in Harlesden. In fact, inside, beside the bench seat, the route information panel was for a 662. 

Every year, on the last Saturday in September, the Museum stays open until 10pm, so that visitors can ride on trolleybuses in the dark. Our grown-up grand-daughters (aged 27 and 24) clearly enjoyed riding on trolleybuses and the occasional tram for hours and we had several trips on this particular trolleybus during the day.

I am a great fan of trolleybuses and feel blessed to have grown up using them every week. The ride in 2015 was as smooth and quiet as in the 1940s, 50s and early-60s, before they disappeared from London's streets for ever. We rode on trolleybuses from Derby, Newcastle and Bournemouth as well. 

Our afternoon and evening at the Museum was the highlight of a very enjoyable holiday staying in Lowestoft — a place we will go to again, so that we can explore the town and its nearby neighbour, Great Yarmouth, more closely. Both are 'working' seaside towns and I enjoyed both far more than our visits to Cromer and, even, Southwold, where we holidayed for a few years until it was 'discovered' and it became too expensive.

Back home I have been putting the final touches to plans for the last Angel Row HistoryFest I am organising with Nottingham Local Studies Library, which takes place this coming Saturday (10 October) in the exhibition area on the 1st floor of Nottingham Central Library from 11am until 3pm.

Today I quickly produced a map for The Beestonian to help publicise the Beeston (music) Oxfam on Saturday 17 October. It shows all fifteen Oxfam venues:

Usual rule applies. Click on the map to enlarge.

There is plenty to write about once I get back into the swing of things and this coming Saturday marks a big milestone for me. I gave up on committees when I reached 70 last year and now just help, even if means I attend the occasional meeting. At 71 I have stopped organising things. I can do my maps, write and blog at my pace and help folks in ways I enjoy. No longer do I feel driven to do something because I believe I should.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Broadgate welcome

Just found out that Judy Sleath, the Chair of Beeston & District Society, has pulled off the near impossible with help from Simon at Pixels & Graphics on Chilwell Road and Steph at Beeston BID. 

At 10pm last night  (Thursday) Judy asked me if I could do a 'student' version of my Beeston Pubs & Cafes Map for first thing this morning so that they could be printed today (Friday) and distributed tomorrow (Saturday). Just heard that 3,000 have been printed and will go to students in the Broadgate flats.
A White Lion regular.

Hopefully, a few of you living in Broadgate will find your way to this old fart's blog. If you are one of them, welcome. I hope you enjoy your time at university and living in Broadgate, which is on the wrong side of Tottlebrook to be in Beeston (and the Borough of Broxtowe). It is actually in Lenton (and the City of Nottingham), but even old Lentonians like me have always accepted that Broadgate and Lenton Abbey look to Beeston when it comes to shopping and going to the pub.
D'Oliva's a great place for lunch.

Beeston is a remarkable place by any measure. My wife Susan first came to Chilwell and Beeston as a history & archaeology student in 1969 and lodged in Chilwell vicarage for two years before spending her final year in Florrie Boot Hall.

I met Susan in Birmingham when I was a very young Birmingham city councillor and she was a very young museum curator. It was love at second sight and we were setting up home together a fortnight later and I have been an incurable romantic ever since (!).
Table 8 on Wollaton Road another lunchtime haunt.

For two years Susan walked to and from the University through Beeston to her digs in Chilwell vicarage. Work took her (and me) to Mansfield, then in 1975 we found our way to Lenton because, by then, I was a national officer for a well known charity and wanted to be near a mainline railway station.

It was not until 1996 that we started to come to Beeston every week, so when we finally decided to downsize from Lenton in 2013, it was going to be either Chilwell or Beeston. in the end, being within a few minutes walk of Beeston shops won out over being close to the tram.
The new home in town for coffee lovers who like variety.

The Broadgate flats, in terms of location, have to be close to the best in Nottingham - as I hope my pocket map demonstrates. You are less then five minutes away from some of the best pubs and cafés you will ever visit. One thing is for sure, you will remember these times.

Right now, if you have got this far, welcome to Beeston, I wish you well. See you about.

Robert Howard, beestonweek blogger.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Electrifying railways – Forward with Labour – inspired by Lilian

Back in the days when I was a Labour Party agent for local elections and then a councillor in Birmingham and Nottingham, I always used 'campaign' postcards. They were cheap and easy to produce in the days when colour was an impossible luxury. I could easily print fifty or two hundred at home for a specific street or event.
I got the idea from poll-cards. Once upon a time, these were not produced and distributed by local councils. You had to do your own if you wanted them. Party members would come together in Labour halls and clubs and use marked electoral rolls to write names and addresses onto poll-cards by hand. They were social occasions, when Party members got to know one another better over cake and refreshments. I remember writing up poll-cards (and 'Reading pads' for election day) with a big smile on my face.

People would take them into the polling station to use when marking their ballot papers (back then, just the names of the candidates were listed on the ballot paper. Descriptions and party logos were added in the 1970s if I remember correctly). As they left the polling station, they would hand the card to the Labour Party person standing there. The cards were then collected and taken back to the committee room. It was a quick and efficient way of working and a sign of good organisation.
In the mid-1980s, my Susan computerised the process and in all the elections I was the Party Agent for in the then Portland ward in Nottingham I continued to produce poll-cards. I still would. Anyway, it wasn't much of a leap to turn poll-cards into campaign postcards and I have been thinking about how the idea could still be used.

Well, today I got my answer, thanks to a snippet I heard on BBC East Midlands Today's lunchtime news about how Lilian Greenwood, now the Labour Party's Shadow Minister of Transport, was challenging the Conservatives to explain why they were not going ahead with railway electrification and the government minister responding said something like 'It will go ahead, it's just on pause',

'Pause' sums up almost perfectly what has happened to Britain under the Conservatives. Life has been on pause for most of us, and for a good few going backwards! None of it necessary and, ever since it was introduced as the answer to the economic crisis created by the banks and corporate capitalism, I have opposed 'austerity' as a policy. 
Giving banks trillions was a big big mistake. The money should have gone to investing in housing, transport and many other things we needed (and still need), so I am delighted to hear the Labour Party now saying these things.

At the beginning of the Labour Party Leadership contest Susan and I were with Andy Burnham. He was our choice in 2010, but we drifted away from him in the absence of his offering little that was new. In the end we both voted for Jeremy Corbyn and I was very pleased when Andy Burnham and Lilian Greenwood joined Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet. It is going to be hard for the next four years, but I really do believe it is possible to win in 2020, despite the Parliamentary boundary changes and the mountain Labour has to climb in Scotland.
From the news item about Lilian and railway electrification has come these four 'campaign postcards' 2015 style in this post. I think postcards could be used in Beeston and Broxtowe for local Labour campaigns. One final point, the reverse side can be used for punchy text and the name of the local area they are being delivered in.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Heritage Open Day at the Pearson Centre

I spent this morning at the Pearson Centre, where local groups with stands were taking part in the Beeston Heritage Open Days weekend. I went along to help Judy, the Chairman of Beeston & District Civic Society, but in the end she had plenty of helpers, so I was able to wander off and look at the other stalls and chat with folk. It was all very enjoyable and I took a few photographs. Because I am a 'happy snapper', I do end up with duds and this morning was no different. This time it was Trent & Peak Archaeology and the Boys Brigade who I didn't manage to take decent photographs of. The good news is that I got enough to share here.

Apart from helping to move the Civic Society display a few times, I went outside and help Judy improvise a display of bunting tied to a wheelie bin, in the absence of signage by the Library or on Wollaton Road. The sad truth is that not many folk came to the Pearson Centre, even though is a fantastic venue for this kind of thing. I am absolutely sure that next year will be much better.

This is one part of the Civic Society display. I think it would be better on banners with larger text and images, with a table free for information. Trent & Peak Archaeology did this better than anyone else, but my photograph turned out blurred, so I cannot illustrate the point I am making. Having said this, the Civic Society did a fantastic job organising the History Open Days.

I spent some time talking to Iris Martin of the Beeston Camera Club (above) about an impressive display chronicling the coming of the tram to the west side of Nottingham, with lots of fine photographs, from Toton Lane, through Chilwell and Beeston, across to University Boulevard and beyond the QMC. 

Because it has been (and continues to be) a work in progress, photographs are being added to this very special and important collection regularly, so this was the  biggest display yet. The photographs have been taken by Iris and her husband Derek. I really hope that at some point in the near future some outside body with the money and resources talks to them about sponsoring a proper exhibition. Perhaps Nottingham Express Transit (NET) should. A truly wonderful collection of photographs.

Alan Dance (above) was on the Beeston & District Local History Society tables selling his own historical novels. The only two I was aware of until today were Narrow Marsh and Leen Times. Now I know there are others: The Westbrook Affair; Canary Child and The Chilwell Ghost. You can learn more by visiting Alan's website at

In the centre of the large Pearson Centre hall was a working model railway, complete with a small working steam engine. This little boy was able to get this close by standing on a box. It was such a pity that so few children came into the  Centre whilst I was there. The happiness on this little boy's face says it all really.

BeestonWeek has always had a link to the Greening Beeston website and I have seen them at other events. I am full of admiration for what they are trying to do. They were selling yummy cakes and I managed to catch Jill serving a customer. We spoke about working on a map together, something for me to do when I go into hibernation during the cold and cough months. I like their ideas.

I had a lovely long chat with Steve Austin on the Beeston U3A table. He told me they had nearly 500 members (or was it 400?). Whatever the number was, it is truly impressive by any measure. They run lots of groups, including a local history group and a writing group, and it is this 'apartness' which makes me suspicious of them and I wonder in what way the existing local history and writing groups in Beeston were failing, that U3A felt the need to set up its own 'rival' groups?

As a group they have always given me the feeling that I would not be good enough for them. The Green Party has a similar exclusive air about it, despite having such an outgoing and inclusive person in Caroline Lucas as their MP. Steve contradicts all my feelings about U3A and he is a great ambassador for Beeston U3A.

Finally, my last photograph from this morning and if I had taken no other photograph I would be over the moon. Betty Cliffe is long-time Secretary of the Beeston Workers' Educational Association Branch and I have known her for a good few years now. We attended the same WEA writing class in the Beeston Centre for a long time until Susan and I moving house got in the way and, somehow, I have yet to find the time to go back. 

The WEA is more for the likes of me and I have been attending WEA classes on and off since I was a teenager in Wembley. I am going to attend a course about maps this autumn in the Pearson Centre and Susan is going along to a family history course in Beeston Library.

Betty is a great role model and someone I hold in high regard. I always enjoy her company and this photograph is very much the Betty I know. I think her personality shines through and I am very pleased with it. When I think about today in the future I will think about Betty and the little boy so happy to be watching the model train and clapping his hands every time the engine passed by (another photo which was blurred I am sorry to say).

I was going to meet Susan at the Wollaton Road allotments at one o'clock, but the heavens opened and in the thirty seconds it took me to put my waterproof jacket on I got soaked, so instead I went into the Allotments, bought two sausage burgers and took them home — hence my posting these pics so soon.

Today is one of those days I will always remember, when asked the question 'Where were you the day Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader of the Labour Party'. We also have a friend's 70th birthday gathering this evening. Someone I have worked with closely over the years in countless community campaigns during our thirty-five years in Lenton.