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Archive for February, 2013

I did lots of solid note-taking at Uttoxeter for two days last week.  The advance warning I’d had of an obstacle in the form of a launch at the Town Hall for an acoustic festival turned out to be overstated, as it had had to be curtailed to a daytime event mainly for the benefit of local media reps.  It so happens that David, the general manager at Uttoxeter racecourse, is very keen on this festival (which is held on the racecourse), and he looked in and found me at work.  I could have stayed at the Town Hall researching all day but for having made another appointment in the afternoon in the belief that I wouldn’t be able to carry on while the launch was being prepared.  (My alternative entertainment entailed scrambling over fences and crossing under a dual carriageway via some tunnels that were not meant for above-average height pedestrians.  I’d better not say any more.   At least there were no extreme mud patches.)

My ignorance about modern music is such that I thought “acoustic” meant it’d all be electric guitars, which was 100% wrong.  I learned that apart from having a big shebang at the racecourse with big names that you have to pay to see, there will also be free entertainment in the town’s Market Square.  It all sounded like harmless fun, and I gather the noise levels and durations are agreed between David, the organisers and the locals in advance so they can prepare accordingly and fit themselves and the local livestock with earplugs.  Which leads me on to the first of afew plugs I’m going to give this week;  http://www.acousticfestival.co.uk/

It was interesting to meet the festival people.  I’m grateful for the advice from the lady who had been asked to produce a book of Welsh fiddle tunes by the top music publishers Schott.  It’s going to come out quite soon.  http://www.sianfiddle.co.uk/

I’ve said before how much there is still to do on Uttoxeter fact-finding.  I booked another two-day visit there, but that’s about six weeks ahead due to work constraints and other domestic things. Before then I’m going there by train for a day trip one Saturday to keep up the research momentum without taking time off work.  It will mean getting up very early, though.  Fingers crossed that we’ve finished with the snow, floods and tempests for this winter.

In other news, as the newsreaders say when they have only two or three minutes to go, I’ve been asked if I’d mind being contacted by a social media company that’s working with one of “my” courses in case they can glean any ideas from my knowledge of it.  I’ll be glad to help.

And finally … last year I corresponded with and met the co-author of a book being prepared on racecourse architecture around the world who wanted some information about one of the old Brighton grandstands.  I hear the book is going to be published at the end of March.  I’d like one, despite the price.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Racecourse-Architecture-Paul-Roberts/dp/092649483X

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I am pleased to report that I am now a guest blogger on the website of the National Horse Racing Museum.   One of my posts from October appears on the blog page at http://blog.nhrm.co.uk/  Can a serialisation in The Times and negotiating the sale of the film rights be far away?  Yes, they can, a very long way away.  Nevertheless it’s nice to have a chance to appear in front of a wider audience.

If any of the museum website’s visitors have followed the link here, welcome to my Pooterish story of spare-time racing history research.

In the last two weeks I have written up the extensive notes of my last trip to Uttoxeter.  My next visit there is a relatively brief one next weekend.   I hope to have a day in the Town Hall looking at more of their old records but I gather they have to prepare for an acoustic festival (the mind boggles, and I imagine the eardrums would too).  Because of this they may not be able to accommodate me for as much of the day as I’d prefer.  Fortunately there are one or two alternative things to do I have in mind.

I could do with a fair few more 3-4 day spells there, but I can’t spare that much time off from work.  Choosing when to go is complicated by the dates and times that assorted venues are open.  One place can accommodate me on Monday and Tuesday.  Another is Tuesday to Thursday only.  Another is weekdays excluding Wednesday … you get my drift.  At least there is still some online research I can do from home.  And in the next month I need to build up the preparation for the ever-nearer Bath talk.

With my interest in the Alfred Day family of Fontwell rekindled by the recent auction of their belongings, I have perhaps belatedly signed up with ancestry.co.uk to see if I can establish the elusive link between the Days and Binda Billsborough.  She was the last inhabitant of their house, living there from around the mid-1940s.  She was described as a cousin but I haven’t been able to join her to the Day family tree yet.  I had nothing about her for about 25 years leading up to the 1937 but thanks to Ancestry I now know she was living in north London as far back as 1931.

I’ve looked through some of the Day family photo albums and found pre-1890 pictures of young Alfred, his wife and daughter Daisy.  One of the successful bidders for the Days’ paintings contacted me to ask for more information about Daisy.  The painting in question was of her as a little girl. It’s very Edwardian-chocolate boxy, but I always thought it really cute.

Last weekend’s Fontwell meeting was abandoned due to waterlogging; thus January passed with no trips to the races.  It’s very rare for me to suffer a blank month.  Perhaps it shows that my priorities are studying Uttoxeter, Bath and the Days – or staying indoors in the warm.

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