New Blog !

13 April 2017

We are off ! Ploughing fresh fields .

New domain – for Tom thornton’s Genealogy Vault
with a subdomain for WordPress
New Blog site –

The Ploughman

All day I follow
watching the swift dark furrow
that curls away from me
and care not for skies or upturned flowers

And at the end of the field
look backward
Ever with discontent
a stone or roots strayed thought
has thwarted the line of that furrow
and urge my horses ‘round again

Sometimes even before the row is finished
I must look backward
To find, when I come to the end
that I have swerved

Unappeased I leave the field
expectant, to return

The horses are very patient
when I tell myself
this time
the ultimate unflawed turning
is before my share
the must give up their rest

Someday, someday, be sure
I shall turn the furrow of all my hopes
but I shall not do it looking backward !


Major Teddy Norton of Morstead & Everest

12th Feb 2017

Major Edward Felix Norton (21 February 1884 – 3 November 1954)

Norton set a record for climbing to extreme altitudes without oxygen—28,126 feet 

When living in Owslebury Bottom after WWII , our journey to or from Winchester passed by and acknowledge the house of Major Norton. The man known to us for his exploits as a mountaineer and being a member of two expeditions on Mount Everest in 1923 & 1924.

1924 Group Photo

His house was almost opposite Morstead Church just before the road forks, left to Longwood & Upham , right over Jackman’s Hill through Owslebury Bottom to Owslebury.


I have just ordered a copy from

Diaries of Edward Norton, James Mallory & Andrew Irvine.

While there are some well known characters and gentry who were at one time residents of Owslebury , I think Major Teddy deserves additional recognition. I wonder where he was buried


Illicit Drug Use – A Tipping Point !

4th Jan 2017

Much news and media coverage has been given over to a disturbing increase in drug related fatalities in BC. Fentanyl being at the center of it. I find it far more disturbing for our already overloaded healthcare facilities and staff now being asked to divert precious resources away from treating genuine illness . Instead they are tasked with giving ICU care to the detritus of society that are playing Russian roulette with chemistry in order to escape reality and their miserable lives. I am told now that their brains are so damaged from the initial drug and its antidote that they will be in care for the rest of their lives. OMG ! What are we doing?

Where are we headed ?
One has to have some empathy with the Philippines with such a large proportion of its population living in poverty with 2 million addicts and growing . History is littered with examples of what happens when a society reaches a tipping point  of intolerance and a revolution erupts, the consequences of which are usually extreme.

So why do so many of our young feel that their lives are empty and meaningless and use poisonous chemicals to escape from their reality, eventually they make it permanent ?.
If one looks around the world into the faces of those in refugee camps who have faced the horrors of war and deprivation, there is hope in their eyes . It’s not so much about the challenges you meet in life but rather how you meet those challenges that makes all the difference . So many of the people that I have met and admire are those that have endured really tough times when young. Hence I am more inclined think that in many cases, both here at home, and in favelas and ghettos of the world one of the biggest problems unfulfilled expectations rather than deprivation. In today’s world of instant communication everywhere we are born into a world where are told everything is available now!  Reality is that few can have it all, or even most of it . But that is what is happening, the few are getting richer and richer or to use an old saying
“The Rich get richer, and it’s the Poor what gets the Blame !”

85% of the Worlds wealth in 3 regions 🙂

If you are not part of the Solution then you are part of the Problem !

The transfer of great wealth from the work of the poor to the industrial , banker or aristocratic society has always stirred the wrath and eventually brought down ancient empires and rulers. Currently we have many wars happening around the world as I see it they are usually triggered by a disparity between the “Haves and the Have Nots” – In the case of The Arab Spring was about the price of bread and grew into much more. But if the Egyptian labourer had been payed enough to buy bread and feed his family then it seems unlikely that The Spring would have blossomed.  Likewise I say that if we were able to design and apply a much fairer redistribution of wealth across the planet versus the present situation where 1% have over 50% of the world’s wealth.  Then the dreams created by the media could perhaps be somewhat better met and the desperation of our youth be calmed toward more rational behaviours. Hence our care facilities may the get back to purpose caring for the sick not the fatally disillusioned !


Seasons Greeting 2016

12th Dec 2016

Our Mum’s birthday today . Born in Bedlinton in 1909 she would have been 107.

Last evening I published my third vBlog of Seasonal Greetings and may have missed a few or there are others that I do not have e-dresses for 🙁 . for those I am posting this where it may be more generally accessible.

Here is the link –

Dian & I wish each and every one a Very Happy Chistmas Tide

Dead Man’s Plack – Harewood Forest Hants

2nd Nov 2016

Deadmans Plack Harewood Forest
Anglo Saxon Kings

This story is over 1000 years old and rarely found in our history books .

Tucked away in what remains of an ancient forest in the Test Valley near Andover, is stone obelisk commemorating a  treacherous affair and a murder in 925 AD. I want to bring this to light because few people know if the legendary event or that the place was marked in this splendid way in recent times ( 1835 ).

I have fond recollection of lovely walks in this forest with my children in Autumn when the leaves are heaped deep on the forest floor and the kids tumbling through them..


 Deadman’s Plack a memorial to Anglo Saxon tales of murder and deceit.

One of the later Saxon kings, Edgar, is remembered in Harewood Forest, close to the village of Longparish in Hampshire, by a monument called Deadman’s Plack.
The monument itself is a C19th cross was erected in 1825 by Lieutenant Colonel William Iremonger whose wish it was to commemorate an event that supposedly took place in Harewood Forest in 963 AD.
The inscription on the cross tells of a betrayal and two murders but the story that led to the erection of the cross is a much more detailed and sordid one.


Deadmans Plack Harewood Forest


Edgar a king weakened by the charms of a pretty woman

Edgar was a womaniser and many tales tell of his amorous encounters with women, including a nun, by whom he had a child. When St Dunstan heard of this affair he admonished the king and made him take a vow of repentence. Edgar alledgedly set aside his crown and fasted for several years.
Edgar had already been married twice when rumour of the Duke of Devonshire’s daughter Elfrida reached his ears. Was she as beautiful and charming as described? Edgar was keen to find out and sent his Earldorman, Ethelwold to find out and return her to court, if the rumours were true.
Ethelwold did indeed find her to be charming and promptly married her himself and settled down for a life in Devon, sending back word to the king that the woman was unattractive and therefore not to be brought before the king.
Edgar however heard that Ethelwold had married a beautiful lady and ordered them both to appear before him, a frightened Ethelwold begged his wife to appear unattractive before the king but she had other plans. Elfrida dressed finely and set out to look as alluring as possible before the king.


The Weathered Inscription
The Weathered Inscription


The king will have his revenge
Edgar’s anger at the duplicity of his earldorman resulted in the latter being drawn into Harewood Forest under the pretext of a hunting party and there Edgar murdered him with a javelin.
The duplicitous Elfrida
Elfrida must have given tacit consent to the murder of her husband as she quickly marries the king but her scheming nature does not end there. When Edgar died in AD 975 she had her step-son Edward murdered at Corfe Castle so that her own son Ethelred could become king.
She must have grown tired of her deceitful and murderous ways for she retired from the world to found the nunnery at Wherwell, where she clothed herself in hair cloth and slept upon the open ground, undertaking every kind of penance, in order to expiate her crimes.

Thus the monument of Deadman’s Plack stands to remind us all of the events that took place over 950 years ago

Without the monument probably few of us would know of the stories that surrounded one of the Saxon kings.

What was reign of King Edgar like?

He was the younger son of Edmund I and King of all England from AD 959. Known as King Edgar the Peaceful.  He strove to unite the English and the Danes and by a show of strength both on land and at sea, persuaded the northern kings to submit to his lordship. He made St Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury and Dunstan became the king’s personal adviser. The reign seems to have been a peaceful and prosperous one and under him the English church was nurtured and thrived. It seems his weakness for women was the fault that drew him towards murder, if of course the tales are true?


The New Minster Charter Winchester, showing King Edgar holding aloft the charter in the presence of the Virgin Mary, St Peter, Christ and angels
The New Minster Charter Winchester, showing King Edgar holding aloft the charter in the presence of the Virgin Mary, St Peter, Christ and angels

Here is a link to one account :

I hope if you live in Hampshire or near this site you will enjoy a walk there.


A Grand Day Out & A Train Robbery

19th Aug 2016

Bowmont Gang !

My step son and his family from Southport UK were joined by their aunty Sarah from Wisconsin and presented an opportunity for a Grand Day Out .

Nearby Port Albernie is home to two unique attractions , one being the National Historic Site – Mc Lean;s Mill –   which can be reached via a 1/2 hour Steam Train ride on No7 . Also close by at Sproat Lake is the present home of The Mars Water Bomber owned and operated by Coulson Flying Tankers –

Here is link to my record of the adventure – the kids loved it 🙂


Closure – Kate

15 th July 2016

The Plaque says it all . Amen !

The Gathering to whet the bench, a dedication to my sister Kate took place  earlier this month  on 10th July.

I have just received some pictures from Dave H which I thought I would share with those not able to be there or visit the spot in person.

Dave & Jacquie H.


Overlooking the Sailing club and Tennis courts to Okanagan Lake, Penticton , BC



Kate in Haida Gwaii

Canada Day- 1st. July 2016

Google map view – Sky-As Island is the larger one of the two shown here just off the beach near the Haida Heritage Centre.

Sky-As Island Haida Gwaii BC Canada


Looking at Sky-As Island – Queen Charlotte Islands

from the Reserve

Many of you will know Dave and Jacquie Hambidge , what you probably don’t know is this story . Jacquie Smith , as she was when we both lived in Barton Stacey in Hampshire during the 1960’s . Jacquie worked at the village Post Office right across from our house . Almost next door to the shop was Pitt Trailers factory where my Dad and her Dad worked as carpenter and welder . Along comes a boy who was good looking , bold , cheeky and likeable who was so dazzled by the girl behind the Post Office counter that although he did not smoke he bought packets of cigarettes so that he could gaze upon her beauty . They later married of course, and she became Mrs. Jacquie Hambidge and was whisked off to far flung BC Canada . I knew Dave only briefly when we both worked at Pitts .

Our paths have crossed many times after I also immigrated to BC Canada in 1967 and where Dave and Jacquie became close friends of my sister Kate and husband Jacques .

Dave and Jacquie now are retired living in Winchester UK.  They recently visited us here in Parksville as part of a 50th year anniversary tour of friends , people and places they enjoyed during their time in Canada. One of the first places Dave worked was in the logging camp off the BC coast in the Queen Charlotte Islands or Haida Gwaii , which they again visited as part of their recent tour.

Kate had frequently voiced a desire to visit the “Charlottes” – Well now she has , thanks the thoughtfulness of Dave . Dave took with him on his visit a picture of Kate which he set on a cedar board under a protective covering . This he placed on the beach at the reserve looking out the small island named “Sky-As”.

Kate at Peace

Thank you David !

On this coming Sunday there will also be a gathering on Vancouver Hill , Penticton overlooking the tennis courts on Okanagan Lake where Kate so much enjoyed playing her favoured sport . Kate’s memorial bench will be whetted in the company of her many friends .

A Pretty Girl – Ultrasonics – A Watermark

11th May 2016

Winchester Cathedral

Watermarked image on handmade paper at Laverstoke Mill 1960’s

This is a watermarked image given to me in 1991, but the story behind this goes back to 1963 .

At this time I was working as a draftsman for Pitt Trailers Barton Stacey when I first saw this beautiful girl the had just joined the company . I don’t recall our first date but we shared many walks along the lanes of the village and later married.
My career path lead me to working at Plessy’s a secret research establishment near Romsey – Roke Manor where such things as Hawkeye the tennis adjudication system and EPL’s Goal Line tech was developed . I was then working on ECM’s ( Electronic Counter Measures aka Jammers ) along with Ultrasound Fetal detection and using ultrasonics for micro machining ceramic components and welding fine electrical wire connections.

Back to the pretty girl ; I was introduced to her large family of Coopers, the youngest of which, Hilda , Lived in Freefolk , had two young daughters Alison and Susan who we often baby sat . Hilda’s husband Chas. Mitchell was the general manager of Laverstoke Mill that produced watermarked Banknote paper. He and I got on very well and discussed many things including his business.

At this time Laverstoke Mill produced the watermarking moulds for the bank note paper used around the world . This is a precise, time consuming process and hence very expensive . My work with ultrasonic welding seemed to offer a less costly option which I shared with Chas at that time . I do not know if he implemented this or not as for bank security reasons their work was very secret .

Move on now to 1991,  I am living in Canada with a picture framing business specialising in conservation work . I read reports from England that many of UK’s fine handmade paper mills are closing and thinking that Laverstoke could soon follow I contacted Chas, by then then retired, and asked if any images were available . True to his nature he sent me the above image along with a set of his own watermarked stationary which I duly conservation framed between glass .

Updated May 19th

My research has taken on a life of its own. Having contacted and been given help  from Jean Stirk and Peter Bower I have found info at which suggests that this image is a comemorative of Her Majesty the Queen distributing “Maundy Money ” at Winchester Cathedral Christmas 1979 and may have be created from a pen and ink drawing of the cathedral by Reg Walters dated 1979 also in the archive .

There is a strong correlation here :

with this information about Winchester Cathedral and the Portal family:

“And another unidentified one, the excellent memorial to the Portal family, with portraits of the two most illustrious members in stone, and a full sized angel with uplifted wings, long hair and a symbolist face of art nouveau date. The arresting picture is completed with good drapery, clinging on the body, swirling round the feet.”

Laverstoke Mill 2016

Laverstoke Mill is now the home of Bombay Gin and thus far I have not been able to find out much about the last days of this historic handmade paper facility or its skilled staff.  Should any readers have information to share in particular about the artists who created these beautiful works of art please contact me .

Here are links to related documents and materials :

Hand Made Paper :

Watermarking :


Ultrasonic Welding

Laverstoke Mill History:,d.cGc

Portal History :