Nostalgia Week – Oulton Park Gold Cup

January is a month for looking backwards and forwards, being named after the two-faced god Janus. The three posts published so far in January 2017 have been about looking forward by sharing the elements of Attingham Park which will be the subject of my monthly posts this year. The next group of posts will be about looking back and will be all about nostalgia.

I thought I would bring together some events we have attended and adventures we have had during 2016 which all circled around the idea of nostalgia. They involved vintage teas, old cars, old trains and other such memory-jogging items.

Oulton Park’s Gold Cup is a motor racing event that we have been attending on occasion for decades. We used to travel the one hour or so north from Plealey regularly when our children were little as they soon adopted my love of motor racing and going to see live races at the circuits local to us. We are so lucky as we have 3 circuits within an hour and a half or so travel time from home. We have never stopped attending meetings and now both our children and their spouses go too. A few times a year some of the family try to get together for a motor racing family outing, and the one event that we try never to miss is the Gold Cup at Oulton Park in neighbouring Cheshire.


I used to watch the Gold Cup meeting on TV in the good old days of tiny screens and black and white pictures. I always find it odd watching historic races when I see these beautiful old girls in colour. At that time the meeting was part of the Formula One calendar and I watched my heroes, Stirling Moss, Jacqui Stewart and Graham Hill in their F1 cars.


In 2016 Jude and I with daughter and son-in-law, Jo and Rob went off for the annual pilgrimage to the meeting in July and enjoyed a day of warm bright weather. The racing was equally bright too and the collections of vintage and veteran cars in the infield was so impressive and brought back so many memories. In the last two years our annual visit has added poignancy and deeper meaning as we attend partly to help remember one of our best friends, Tony who sadly died in August 2015. As well as a close friend he was also our daughter, Jo’s father-in-law and he was a great lover of all things to do with historic racing cars especially those with a great British heritage like Jaguar and Morgan. We have enjoyed the Gold Cup with Tony and his wife, Jean along with Jo and Rob prior to August 2015 so we now treat our day out to the event as a special tribute and memorial to him. It is a way of remembering Tony and the great times we had together.


We spent a lot of time calling out extremely excitedly, “We used to have a car like that!!!!” Since we got our first car back in the early 1970’s, we have had many sporty cars especially those classified as “hot hatches” which were basically small road cars made to look like race cars and engines hotted up to increase their performance. We were little racers! Here are a few of the cars we spotted at Oulton Park which we had also owned and driven.

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The paddock is open to everyone throughout the Gold Cup weekend celebrations and everyone can get up close and personal with the cars, mechanics and drivers. Everyone is so friendly and enjoy the public looking at their pride and joys. There are some extremely brightly coloured vehicles there which makes for a very colourful paddock.

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Some of these old cars are beautiful in their line, and the shape of their bodywork rather than their colour-shape combination. This first car has a totally silvery, polished metalwork body which reflected the world all around it, the movement and colours of other cars and spectators. It had amazing lines within its design.

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This little white race car appeared out of its transporter like a space ship emerging from the mother ship.

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So, a great time was had by all and we are already looking forward excitedly to the 2017 Gold Cup at Oulton Park, but we had another day of old racing cars planned for the early autumn, the unbelievable festival of speedy cars and motorbikes, “The Goodwood Revival”.

Jude enjoys our race days as much as the rest of us but if the sun comes out she likes a little snooze too! Taking her photo when she is asleep isn’t always a good move!! But I am always forgiven with a smile!

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Tree of Remembrance

In the words of the children’s song, “If you go down to the woods today are in for a big surprise!” proved to be true this week when we went for a walk around the National Trust property, Attingham Park.

And we were! I shall share these few moments with you when we felt very emotional by this surprise awaiting us. The gardening staff had created a “remembrance tree” by decorating, very tastefully, an old gnarled apple tree in the orchard abutting the old walled garden. It was a very special, personal way for the current team of gardeners and volunteers to remember the gardeners who worked at Attingham Park walled garden when war broke out and sadly never returned.

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The National Memorial Arboretum Part Two

We return in this second post about the National Memorial Arboretum where we left off.

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This was a quiet place, full of bird song and the quiet voices of the visitors deeply affected by the sense of the place.

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Seats to sit upon

to sit and think

to sit and to remember

lost ones.

Share now a few images of the place to show its variety, its beauty and its sadness.

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We walked slowly up a gentle sloping path giving us a spiral route to the “Armed Services Memorial” with a solemn “wall of names”. The sculptural pieces here were astonishing, powerful and thought provoking.

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Below, the sculpted hand indicates the place where a shaft of sunlight pierces two slits in two walls. They line up on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year the time when the First World War ended. It is the time the nation remembers each year the members of the armed forces lost serving their country.

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A massive curving wall has carved into it the names of all armed service personel who have died in service since the end of the Second Wall War. To see all these names together illustrates the futility of war so clearly. Worst of all was the huge area left blank as space for those yet to die. The United Nations should hold their meetings here and every Member of Parliament from every nation should spend some time here at the beginning of every session of their parliament. I wonder if it would make any difference?

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We found smaller memorials which were more specific and sometimes outside the realms of armed conflicts.

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The essential work of the Bevin Boys, the miners who kept the mines open during WW2 was celebrated in these wonderful relief carvings. Powerful just like the Bevin boys themselves.

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Men who lost their lives building the railways in the Far East as prisoners of war were commemorated by a garden of many varieties of Sorbus growing around reconstructed sections of railway lines.

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A few of the gardens help us remember the loss of lives of those serving the nation but not in the armed services. Here we celebrate the bravery of the men of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. A sturdy figure carved from stone reflects the strength of character of these people as he looks over a seaside landscape.

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One of the most incredible memorials was a tribute to the men of the railways.

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We even found a memorial to the soldiers from our home county of Shropshire.

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The Jewish Memorial was a truly beautiful piece of art as well as a moving memorial piece.

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As the light faded over the memorial arboretum the trees tops began to fill with the sounds of starlings settling down to roost. To the birds this garden is a home giving them shelter, food and a place to nest.

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I will leave you with a few deeply moving pictures.

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And finally a picture of the Bazra Wall to illustrate that we never learn. With all the waste of lives over the centuries it still goes on.

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Trees to remember by – The National Memorial Arboretum – Part One

Wendy, one of our allotment friends, told us all about her visit to the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield and she thought we would like to visit too.

I arrived with expectations. I envisioned a collection of trees with large areas given over to formal memorials. These areas I thought would have a cold atmosphere like an empty church and I felt the whole place would possess the deep silence of a “Poppy Day” remembrance ceremony around a village war memorial.

I was so wrong.

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It was an amazing place. But not a place to enjoy as such but a place with an atmosphere that you feel deeply. It was such an emotive and wonderful experience that emotions engulf you. It has a its own special atmosphere, an atmosphere that is hard to describe as the right words are impossible to find.

Close to the chapel near the entrance is a small garden with a beautiful armillary sundial at its centre, while the pillars holding up the covered entrance display a sense of homour in the carvings.

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We explored the site following avenues of acers and cherries leading to small wooded areas and copses mostly of native deciduous trees. A simple arrangement of closely trimmed berberis spheres form the Garden of Innocents.

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As we wander around please join us, as we appreciate the beauty of the trees and the calm of the spaces. There were signs of the recent Remembrance Day Ceremonies throughout the site, some at the base of memorials others blown into hedges and trees.

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Amongst the memorials dedicated to various sections of the armed forces were other memorials or areas of celebration. The photos below are of a golden garden dedicated to couples who had celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversaries. Trees had yellow fruit such as varieties of Malus or golden stems such as the Yellow Ash.

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The next memorial was for Polish servicemen who had lost their lives fighting alongside British armed forces.

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We moved on through woodlands showing autumn colouring interspersed with memorials until we came across a most disturbing area, called “Shot at Dawn”.

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This area was to help us remember the men shot at dawn by their own comrades under orders from commanding officers. We were deeply moved here as the cruelty of man at war and the needless waste of young lives were clearly displayed. How could officers in the First World War believe they had the right to order soldiers to kill their fellow men? The “crime” that these young soldiers were found guilty of was “cowardice” – surely they could be forgiven for fear and for not being willing to kill. The true cowardice here lies with the officers who used their rank and “superiority” to make others kill colleagues. Each post represents a real person and each post holds a small sign. Each post a brother, a son, a father, a best friend ……………..

This was a sad place!

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We left in silence and deep anger to find a way marker close by on a pathway crossing through the arboretum which acted as a reminder that we were in the National Forest.

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This unusual garden was dedicated to members of the Fairground Entertainers hence the horse from a “Gallopers” fairground ride.

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As we turned a corner I stopped in my tracks. We were facing a memorial with the badge I knew so well. As a child I remember seeing it on the front of my father’s army cap. My stomach felt empty and my heart skipped beats. Suddenly it seemed very close to home.

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My father survived the war but its effects could be seen hanging over him, the shaking hands, the sudden bouts of anger, changing temperament, the hatred of loud noise and the dislike of time wasting.

Next was the memorial to the paratroopers, a beautiful sculpture displaying strength and bravery.

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We shall continue our journey around the National Memorial Arboretum in my next post, but please share a few words we wrote as we sat quietly over coffee at lunchtime.

Peaceful place to celebrate waste

Lives wasted in war

Trees peacefully grow in lines 

Celebrating soldiers’ short lives

Trees giving hope for a future