Wednesday 24 March 2010

Garth Hill College, Sandy Lane School, Parking and the old NAGs

I see that the replanting of green screening around Garth Hill College has been taking place. It was a great shame that the mature vegetation had to be cut back to provide for a safe route to the new entrance. The new college though, will be a great asset to the area.

At the Priestwood and Garth Neighbourhood Action Group Meetings (NAGs) we have discussed the dangers of parked cars all along Folders lane up to Bull lane.  Some parents seem to leave the safety of tier children up to others. I have had a car stop in front of me and a child leap out in the “wrong side”. Very nerve wracking.  It also very dangerous when parents park on the bend.

Hopefully the council can come up with a scheme to help make the area safer during the school and college opening and closing hours, once the new College entrance is operational.

The police say that there have been reports from Wick Hill College car park attendants that parents from Garth Hill School and Sandy Lane School keep trying to use the car park at the start and end of the school day. This car park is only for students and the bus from Bracknell & Wokingham College. Some of the car park attendants have been verbally abused by parents. If you are picking your child up from the above schools, you can use Braybrooke Park or Albert Road car parks. There are also reports about some parents stopping on the yellow zigzag lines outside Meadow Vale School. PCSOs have been outside the school as often as possible to stop this happening.
It is good to note, from the above police report, that overall crime was down by 31.2 per cent compared with the same three months in 2008.

Parking as always is a problem everywhere. Of the 291 Priestwood  and Garth residents who responded to the neighbourhood survey on five aspects of life in Bracknell Forest which most needed improvement, parking came in at 43% behind Police on the Streets at 50%, the level of speeding at 39%,  Litter at 39%, and Anti-social Behaviour at 36%.

On a more positive note; on the five aspects of life in Bracknell Forest people in Priestwood and Garth  liked best: Parks and Open Spaces (54%), Access to Nature (42%), Health Services (38%), Sports and Leisure Facilities (29%), Cultural Facilities (26%).

Sunday 21 March 2010

Lights out?

I see from the BBC website that that Caerphilly council has agreed to turn off lights along non-residential roads between midnight and 0530 GMT.
Apparently there will first be health and safety assessments on certain routes.  "Significant savings" are to be gained according to the council there. Councillors backed the policy after considering the findings of a consultation with residents.

One wonders how they control the system, and what the wiring systems are. I would have thought that one has to look at the whole life energy cost of a scheme. The BBC site also reports on Coventry and a switch to dim lighting. Part of a £64 million package it seems.

The New Scientist had an article about this a while back. This states that street lamps account for 2 per cent of UK electricity consumption. What percentage of that 2% could be saved? Westminster City Council has been trialling the LeafNut system as a part of its SMART Lights project. It believes that it can save up to £46 per street light per year with the system, reducing CO2 emissions by 100kg per street light per year. There is more about this on the New Electronics website.

I wonder what the potential for this is in Bracknell/Bracknell Forest? It would be interesting to find out how the systems are set up. I suspect that there will be several, given the history of the town and surrounds.
Any more would have to involve public consultation. I can see all sorts of worries about crime in the dark, and accidents.

Friday 12 March 2010

Farewell to My Father

There is just so much that I want to put in my eulogy to my farther on Friday (now today) as I write. I just don't know what to leave out. He was such a clever man, and lost so much when he got Alzheimer's. now we have lost him.

Aubrey, until recently, attended the services at Holy Trinity Church, I wish to thank all those who so welcomed him to this church. He had a great fondness for church music, and he was a choir boy in his youth.

Aubrey Finch, an only child, spent the first years of his life in Brixham, Devon.
His Father was a Merchant Navy Captain, who during the Second World War was based at Plymouth, Devon. Aubrey was evacuated to Cornwall during a part of the war with his mother’s relatives, but he still remembered the bombs dropping on Plymouth.

I have a story about him as a child, in the sail loft at Brixham, which is above the now amusement arcade in the town. In a loft owned by his grandfather, his uncle would lay sails out there for cutting, marking out the lines with chalk. The child Aubrey would draw railway lines on the sail, using similar chalk, and walk around the tracks with bits of sail constructing equipment, making his imaginary trains run. In later life he wondered if there were some ships out there will odd looking sails, where perhaps his uncle cut down the wrong lines.

This fascination with rail and the mechanics was taken further when we lived in Gutersloh, Germany, and Prestwood, Buckinghamshire where “I?”, “he?” had an “OO/HO” gauge railway.

As a youth Aubrey studied in the evenings at Plymouth Technological College.
After working long days as a mechanical engineer, he attended evening classes. He went on to gain the National Certificate (Higher Grade) in Mechanical Engineering at Cornwall Technical College. At home we have several books that were awarded to him as prizes for his outstanding work at college, especially in the area of heat engines.
Myself and Diane visited one of his great pals Irven Nute at a nursing home in Cornwall a while back. Irven told me how it was that Aubrey was the only Dockyard Apprentice that was allowed to cut propshafts for ships, due to the precision of his engineering.

Later, I believe partly encouraged by his friend Irving, Aubrey studied meteorology and went on to have a career with The Meteorological Office.

He always had fond memories of working on Radio Sond balloon systems, in Cambourne. I investigated the way that Radio Sond balloons were tracked a while back. I was intrigued to find that they used the now nearly defunct Loran system. The Loran system is one of the Navigational Aids that I wrote interface programs for at Marconi. I was then frequently visiting Plymouth Dockyard to carry out this work. Just a couple of steps behind my farther I suppose.

Going back slightly, to Aubrey’s teens, he & his group of friends formed an amateur band of Rhythms & Blues music – ( 1940s ), which  swept Britain  in the guise of Rock & Roll in the 1950s;  during the 1940s this teenage group swapped  British Big Band records for R & B  ones with their contemporaries in the U.S.A. He later had great enthusiasm for bands such as the Rolling Stones, and The Animas.

Anyway, lurching forward a bit we come to where Aubrey met and married Lucia. My mother tells me of waiting for her suitor to finish work, and come and collect her. She could hear the roar of his motorbike from miles away. She just hoped that her mother would not put two and two together, and realise that her daughter was waiting for this motoring fiend.

Lucia and Aubrey married In February 1954 whilst Aubrey was stationed at R.A.F. St.Eval.  They lived in Cornwall first before Aubrey was posted to Gloucester, Yorkshire, and then back down to St.Eval where I was born in the Officer’s Married Quarters in 1957. I gather that Aubrey was ranting at the inconsiderate Lancaster pilots that were exercising their engines, while his wife was giving birth. Perhaps that is why I feel that there is a certain “something” about the sound of a Merlin Engine?

I have heard that Lucia used to get faintly annoyed by Aubrey visiting the Airman’s or Officer’s mess after work and returning with rude jokes after having few drinks – It seems this stopped after found drink gave him bad head aches – He really was allergic to alcohol. It may also have been the onion sandwiches which he so loved. I think these things perhaps turned him into a fussy eater. Not a bad thing I suppose as these days, we are told to pay great attention to what we eat and drink, and the consequences. Something I must do myself.

In 1958 Aubrey was posted to Germany for 3 years, where Jennie was born in a British Military Hospital in 1959.

In 1961 Aubrey was posted to Buckinghamshire where his children – me and Jennie were able to grow up in a fantastic village community. Aubrey was very active in the Parent Teacher Association also the Village Hall committee.

He was always looking to help other people. Perhaps I should diversify here to his membership of the Institute of Professional Civil Servants. He was very committed to this, and was passionate as any of the greats of other Unions have been in the past about working conditions and pay. As an Air Cadet I went on camp to Topcliff in Yorkshire; one of Aubrey’s earlier postings. I toddled on down to the Met buiding one evening and was welcomed in by the staff. After a bit of discussion it turned out that Aubrey was well known there for the views that he expressed in the IPCS, and they wished that there were more like him. Again as in Plymouth dockyard I had that feeling that I was one or two steps behind.

Wife of Aubrey Lucia was busy in Prestwood,and  also an active member on a number of local committees. This she managed as well a being an excellent home-maker. At this stage in our lives holidays were usually camping ones. On these camping trips Aubrey would take us on some very interesting short cuts. This usually involved finding the few bits of nearly impenetrable Jungle in the UK. I think here again I was just that step behind Aubrey – In later years I would lead expeditions to places, and worry people by taking them “interesting” routes. The other step behind was the drive that he had to get involved in things. I am sure that I am still several steps behind him in what I can do at the council as a Councillor, and what I could do as a school governor.

In 1971 Aubrey took a voluntary posting to Bahrain in The Gulf without family for a few months. It was very strange living without a father for a while.

In 1972 Aubrey was posted to Bracknell Meteorological Office where he went from Weather Forecasting to Computer Programming at the age of 45.

At the time that Aubrey was converting to computing from forecasting, I was at Bracknell College learning about computers, as ever following a step or two behind.

In December 1986 Aubrey retired. He was happy with this for a while, and then he stared to get restless, and annoy my mother with asking what he should be doing next. At this time I had a computer company that was attempting to break into the travel business. He helped me by taking on various computer projects for myself and my business partner Tom Conlon. I thought maybe at this point I had caught up with my farther, but no, he eventually had enough of this work stuff, and wanted to get on with the things that really fascinated him. He designed a large Garage for Tom, drawing on his experience of building a garage and extension at Prestwood, and the garage he designed for me at my first house in Harmanswater. Aubrey went on to rebuild a 1930’s Douglas motorbike, and constructing some of the parts himself. His interest in anything mechanical was part of his being until the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Aubrey had time for Holidays with Lucia to many Mediterranean countries, Tenerife & Egypt – both of them being interested in archaeological sites & museums.

In his retirement he had much time for his granddaughter Rebecca being as protective of her as his own daughter. Becky when little, would ride around on his back.
Aubrey sometime made up names, and played with words – Ramble our rough Collie became Bingo Bongo (perhaps a reference to a dog from his childhood). When we were children I remember him saying we were going to “high wick pick wick” – Jennie thought he said we were going for a “pick nick”, and there were floods of tears when we arrived at High Wycombe to go shopping.

He very much valued his visit to David & Margaret Wilkins, neighbours whom he used to go to for an hour or so each week. David & Aubrey in the past used to frequent Auto-jumbles, travelling long distances sometimes because of their combined interest in them.
Sadly Alan Bell, a friend from the past, passed away a few years ago – He also valued the weekly visits from Alan. He will be buried not far from his old pal.

Aubrey will be remembered for his listening to highbrow music, rhythm & blues, and his large collection of CDs, tapes, also records he collected in his youth; With the onset of dementia he said he felt sad when he listened to any of them but never-the-less says he liked to listen to them.

Aubrey - A man of many hobbies, interests, and helping other people out.

Photography – developing & printing
Playing the guitar – he got very sad that he forgot how to due to dementia
Aubrey Loved to potter about in the garden and got very frustrated when he hit limits, both physically and mentally.

In the past Aubrey’s capacity for knowledge on most subjects has been exceptional; over the years he was able to turn his hand to anything from mechanical, architectural drawings, house extension – design & building. He installed every piece of central heating in the Bracknell house (with Lucia’s help), and fitted the house throughout with double glazed windows (with a bit of my help), and repaired all domestic appliances.

I am not sure of his views on life and death – I remember him telling us that we could just dump his body in a black sack, and let the bin men take it, he wouldn’t need it any more.

I said before, that Aubrey was always at least one step ahead of me. He is still one step ahead of me – It is a path I might fear to tread, but as my father, Aubrey has trodden it I am sure that it will be the right one. And there will still be still one more step to take to catch up.