Re-Opening Plans are Afoot...

We are currently looking at plans to reopen. As a charity, reliant on income from admissions, it has been a difficult few months. We have missed two periods when we receive quite a few visitors - Easter and May half term. Although we have accessed the Govt's furlough scheme and the small business grant, deferred HMRC payments and have rates relief for this year, things are tough. So we are keen to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Government guidance is currently suggesting 4th July, but this is not definate. However, we need to start planning and working towards an opening date - the 4th July is the earliest date that we can go for.
Of course, reopening will not be straight forward. We sit within the English Heritage managed site of Carlisle Castle and need to work with them to ensure that visitors receive the same message from both organisations. There are open spaces on-site, but we have a small building. We need to reassure visitors that we have their safety at heart befor…

Is it Wednesday?

I don't know about anyone else but my week seems to be turning into one long series of days. There is no definative weekend, no start of the week and therefore no end either. The only activity that helps me identify where I am in this onslaught of days, is my weekly wednesday visit to Sainsbury's and my thursday team catch-up followed by the weekly on-line Veteran's hub gathering. I do have other activity scheduled throughout the week, mostly virtual catchup with friends or work related meetings. And this evening is one of those catchup friends meetings - the first between the three of us. The glass of wine is ready.
These lovely ladies have become firm friends, strengthened by our connection through the Historical Association. All three of us sat on the Primary committee of the HA, which Bev now chairs. We all have a strong love of history and are passionate about sharing this love. Both Sue and Bev are university lecturers who teach on the Primary Education course at thei…

Operation Dynamo - the 80th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk

In 2017, the film director Christopher Nolan released his film Dunkirk. As the Telegraph on-line said it was‘a retelling of the Allied evacuation of occupied France in 1940, is a work of heart-hammering intensity and grandeur that demands to be seen on the best and biggest screen within reach.’ At the Museum, we always watch with interest when films like this are released. No more so than a movie about Dunkirk, as it involved three battalions of the Border Regiment. This blog post is taken from an article I wrote as part of the response to the film. Imagine the surprise when we received a letter at the Museum from a Border Regiment Dunkirk veteran. He was complaining about the Daily Telegraph review of the film which described the situation on the Mole as 'chaos.' Serving with the 5th Battalion, he was adament that although the situation felt chaotic it had some sort of order to it. After 77 years, he was annoyed that the circumstances he found himself in in 1940 were being de…

Sorting out Family Photographs

One of the things I have started to tackle is sorting out our enormous quantity of photographs that we have accumulated over the years. One of those lockdown tasks that seem to be taking longer than I had first anticipated. But what a treasure trove this is turning out to be! A real trip down memory lane.
I have attached some to today's blog post. A lovely studio photo taken with my sister. I remember the trouser suits that we are wearing in the picture. They were orange with an orange patterned waistcoat. Very 1970s and I remember I thought it was fabulous. The chubby baby photo, where I had obviously decided shoes were not the way forward. A fabulous photo with me and a wee Naomi - is there a similarity between the two babies, mother and daughter? What fun I have been having looking at these over the last week.
The great piles of photos have brought back some wonderful memories. Holidays past, various photos of the family, our girls weekends away, the extension on our old house,WW…

Saturday Night IN

Another lockdown weekend. What to do? Meal out? Trip to the cinema? A virtual catch-up with friends? Such a dilemma, but despite the choice I would always opt for a friends on-line chat.
Back in April, I mentioned on this blog that we had set up an online evening Saturday Night In for a group of female friends. We had recently returned from our annual Girls on Tour weekend at the beginning of March and although we are in contact via WhatsApp, we thought it would be a great idea to establish a Saturday night drink and chat. What initially started as an opportunity to check-in with friends has now become a regular opportunity to meet up which we can all dip in and out of. 
I have to confess, most of us turn up with an alcoholic beverage (or two!). It's the nearest we can get to recreating a visit to a wine bar. We check everyone is okay, find out what people have been up to, share stories and forthcoming plans - just as if we were on a night out together. There can be anything from 12…

The enigmatic Lawrence of Arabia

The one thing about being furloughed is that I get the opportunity to access talks and workshops on-line. Last week it was Florence Nightingale but this week my friday lunchtime was shared with one T.E. Lawrence.
A great discussion between staff from the National Army Museum and Dr Rob Johnson, who has recently published a book on Lawrence, I thought would be an interesting subject to listen into. And I wasn't disappointed. I had done a little bit of research into Lawrence when I was at University so I thought it would be good to refresh my memory and learn something new. A well-known historical figure, who was characterised by Peter O'Toole in the David Lean film Lawrence of Arabia. 'Big screen romanticism' as it was described by Dr Johnson. And he is probably right.
I wanted to be prepared so turned up to the virtual talk with a brew and my copy of Jeremy Wilson's biography on Lawrence. Why? Well not sure really, but gave me confidence that I knew a little about hi…

The Quintinshill Rail Disaster of 1915

Over the last two days, I have volunteered to help write social media posts connected to the little-known train crash that happened in 1915, at Quintinshill. On a Saturday in May, just outside Gretna, the quietness of the local countryside was shattered by a major rail accident. In total, five trains were involved with approximately 230 people killed and 246 injured, the biggest loss of life in a rail accident in British history. The resulting fire burnt for over 24 hours. Once extinguished, 82 bodies were unrecognisable and 50 people were never traced at all. You may wonder why this post is focussing on this particular event. Today is the 105th anniversary of the rail crash. This tragic piece of history was kept fairly low-key at the time, after all the nation was at war and many men were losing their lives on the battlefield. The morale of the general public was important to the Government and an incident like this, on home soil, would not be good news.The sadness of the Quintinshill…