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Archive for July, 2014

I was back in Uttoxeter last week, going to the races there for the first time since last June. The afternoon prior to that I did a seven mile walk around the outskirts of the town, using a leaflet published by the Town Council. Perhaps it was an old one, for although the directions were very good a lot of the time, at others they were lacking, out of date or ambiguous enough to make it challenging. By which I mean passing through farms with broken or obstructed stiles, stepping over an electrified fence and finding a way through apparently-impassable greenery before scrambling up a slope and squeezing through a gap in a fence to reach a landmark stone bridge. Approaching that bridge there was no visible footpath, yet the leaflet’s directions at that point could not be misinterpreted. Back home, I see that the most detailed online Ordnance Survey map shows no path the way I went, contradicting the directions. Happily conditions were dry, otherwise I would have become attached to some more Uttoxeter mud, as I related in November 2012.

I’ve also met and obtained new information from a senior racing figure who used to work at Uttoxeter, so I’ve got some more to add to the text that two others have already read through. It was almost inevitable that that would happen.

I’ve been updating the picture list and emailing their owners to find out how much it will cost to publish them, and writing out a timetable that includes a few questions for the racecourse to make decisions about. Their role becomes greater now as I expect them to appoint a printer. I want to issue another draft in a few weeks in order to have a final version for the printer in the early part of September. Any changes after that should only arise from corrections needed to the printer’s proofs.

There’s news from Fontwell about the possibility of a big housing development that would change the character of the area markedly. Someone has used my books to help compile a summarised history of the village in preparation for a fight against the developers.

Finally a quick hello again to the person who set up the blog for me over three years ago, who I was very pleased to see recently for the first time in ages – and in such good form. Neither of us could have anticipated me doing 115 posts. And more to come.

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Badge of honour

My flying visit to Uttoxeter bore fruit in the shape of some corrections and comments from the racecourse manager, and the promise of more to come. After a meeting with him and a couple of colleagues they kindly allowed me to use a room to write up these and other corrections onto my laptop to create a new version of the text. Better still, I was delighted to be given an annual member’s badge, not only for this year, but as long as the current management are in place. Long may that continue!

It was busy in the racecourse enclosures, despite there being four days before the next race meeting. Twenty or more cars and vans were parked there, with caterers and others making preparations for that next meeting. Sprinklers were deployed on long stretches of the track itself, rotating prettily but sometimes watering adjoining tarmac and service roads. This caught out a few drivers delivering goods with their car windows open (it was a warm day) and getting splashed unexpectedly. Later I had time for a quick visit to the pub to meet some supporters, pop into the town and finally walk the course before going home. I’ll be back there in a few weeks to attend a race meeting in person for the first time in over a year, and to get some more feedback.

Since then I’ve been rewriting the sensitive episode prior to circulating it for comments. In the next fortnight I simply must get the pictures sorted out.

I am following the fortunes of a racecourse threatened with closure. For reasons unconnected with research, I’ve made two trips to Frankfurt in the last year. I read that the town’s racecourse is in danger of being closed, although my local source suggests it’s not cut and dried. It’s been there 149 years. Is there some research I could do, I wonder? Not that there’d be a whole book to write about that track. Come to think of it, is there a general history of German racing in any language?

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