My life in words and pictures

Well, mainly pictures.

Welcome to Breakfast in America

My photo journal is an eclectic mix of things; there’s no guiding theme or topic. It is whatever happens to catch my attention, what I’ve been thinking, doing, and whatever my current obsessions are. At the moment, they are clearing some of the backlog on my ‘honey-do’ list, backpacking, hammock camping, and, I’m always, taking pictures.

Recent posts

  • My new home

    My new home – 44a St. David’s Road, Portsmouth. Copyright © 2007 Gary Allman, all rights reserved

    I signed the lease today. 44a St. David’s Road, Portsmouth. The top flat will be mine from July 5th. I’m looking forward to getting out of temporary bed & breakfast accommodation and into my own place.

  • Stunned (365:171)

    Black and white picture of Gary Allman sitting in a car in Osbourne Road Southsea.
    Bad news… Copyright © 2007 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    This is what it looks like when the financial rug is unexpectedly pulled out from under you. I’d just found out about the overdraft I never knew I had, and in the process, I discovered that my true financial position had been kept hidden from me for a long time. Apparently, there’s nothing like getting a divorce to bring your financial circumstances into focus.

    I drew some money from the bank and something caught my eye as I collected the receipt. It didn’t fully register until I got outside and checked the mini statement again; I was significantly overdrawn on an account that should have had plenty of money in it. I coped with discovering that the credit cards, which I had been assured were cleared, had not been paid off and had been allowed to max out. This, however, was the final straw. The grand total of our hidden debt is now tens of thousands of pounds.

    It is a nightmare, and shouting at Elaine on the ‘phone didn’t make me feel any better.

    I’d already taken my 365 days picture for the day – or so I thought, but this one taken in the car just after I visited the bank was the one I went with. Afterward, I visited one of my favorite ‘spaces’ to try and get some perspective. Then it was just a matter of trying to get back to normal – having something to eat and returning to my temporary digs near to work in Southampton.

    Update: I subsequently uncovered further financial irregularities, and it took our combined savings, shares, and the sale of the family home a couple of years later to finally clear all the debt off.

  • Hormead Church of England Infant and Junior School

    Great Hormead Church of England School
    Hormead Church of England School

    This was my school from age 4½ to 11.

    When I joined this was the only building – The school was extended in 1964/’65. Originally there was a huge divider that could be pulled across to split the room in two.

    The heating was provided by pot-bellied coal stoves. I still remember the disgusting taste of school milk defrosted for too long by the stoves. I also remember sitting on those steps knitting a jumper for my teddy bear…

  • Saint Nicholas’ Church, Great Hormead

    Saint Nicholas Church, Great Hormead. Copyright © 2007 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    My first visit to my childhood village in around 30 years.

    For some reason, the door was locked. Being an ex-choir boy I remembered alternate ways to get in, and I was surprised to find that they weren’t secured. There were signs of construction, it’ll be interesting to see what they are doing. Maybe the construction was why it was locked. The door was unlocked when we visited in both 2008 and 2014.

    I was not prepared for seeing graves of people I knew, including my Sister’s Godmother. I can’t say how moving it was to just sit and think here.

    Just a few of the departed

    Sheila Scripps was my sister’s Godmother. Her and her husband, Roy, were family friends. I last saw Roy – from a distance – in 2008. I was parked outside St. Nicholas conducting a telephone interview, and he went by, presumably to visit and tend her grave. Roy’s family contacted me sometime in 2009 to find out the fate of my parents. They, of course, were long dead by then.

    Rumor had it that Bertie George was German. He certainly had an accent and was prone to highly comical outbursts and fits of temper. For five years or so he and his wife drove the coaches that took us to school. My memories include pushing the coach across a stubble field when Bertie got it stuck turning it around because our route was blocked by an accident. Another was his yelling at the top of his voice, “Who wrote ‘shit’ on my coach!?” Happy days.

    I walked the three-quarters of a mile to catch the school bus most days for four years with Albert Abrams’ daughter, Elisabeth Abrams. Four years was a long time back then. I’ve no idea of what she did after she left school. I do know that the orchard that was alongside their house is now long gone.

    If my memory is correct, Margaret Cranville was one of my Junior school dinner ladies, and the church organist.

    I was so pleased to be able to ‘phone Ginger from here, and let her hear the church bells. I then took her on a walk down to my Junior school.

  • Hadham Hall School

    I joined the Hadham Hall School in September 1967. The large set of windows on the left belonged to my first classroom. Copyright © 2007 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I’ve not visited my senior school since I left in July 1972

    Needless to say, it’s changed. The school closed on Friday 20 July 1990, just a month short of 17 years ago (post written June 22, 2007). It’s now a very up-market housing development. All of the older buildings seem to have survived pretty well. The same cannot be said for all the more modern purpose-built classroom blocks which have disappeared. Including, according to Google Earth, the large swimming pool, which opened the year I left.

    It was a great environment to grow up in. The Tudor hall and buildings. The walled gardens, the large sports fields, and ponds – a young man’s dream! Because agricultural science was taught there were also a few farming machines around to be admired from afar; only the borders got to play with them.

    Looking back at these pictures, the thing that amazes me the most is how, twice a day, a dozen or more large motor coaches passed through the gatehouse arch with nary a scratch.

    Link: Hadham Hall School History

    Some pictures from my school days

    Form 5T Hadham Hall School, 1972
    Hadham Hall School – Form 5T. Last day of school, July 21st. 1972. Form teacher Jack Doyle – crouching, center. Copyright © 1972 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
    Hadham Hall School – 5T July 1972 – Relaxing after ‘O’ Levels.
    Hadham Hall School, October 1968. From original scanned images provided by Jeremy Andrews. Originator unknown


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