Saturday 30 July 2011

Dear World ... looking at you from the Shuttle Atlantis ...

“The Blue Marble” photo of 
earth taken from Apollo 17 (1972)
Around the world in 60 minutes ... this BBC2 documentary of the Shuttle Atlantis on its last journey 50 years after man blasted into space ....lift off ... the sky goes blue, blue, blue.... black – leaving earth as this jewelled sparkle below.

Gull had done her post – then hey presto in the evening .. BBC2 had this programme following one 90 minute orbit of the earth – the astronauts will see 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets as they travel 220 miles above us.  This film shows us a world that usually is only seen through their eyes.

Presented by Kevin Fong, a doctor who has trained with NASA for the past 15 years, with insights from British astronaut Piers Sellers (specialising in climate and environmental science), who describes what it’s like to live, work and walk in space.

Atlantis hurtles towards the International Space Station (ISS) with its next contingent of scientifically trained astronauts – the ISS members have not seen anyone else from earth for a month.  Atlantis also brings replenishment food and water ...

Laser projected from the
Royal Observatory in Greenwich
marking the Prime Meridian
There are 16 nations involved with the ISS – a truly cosmopolitan mix of peoples – who are collaborating together ... whose basic purpose is to understand the earth below, see what nature and humans are doing to it, while conducting short and long term experiments ...

... micro-gravity means that fairly complex protein structures can be created more quickly, which helps with the testing of drugs and speeds up the process of research into various diseases.

Their starting point for this documentary is the same as those navigators of yore – the Greenwich Prime Meridian 0° – the Greenwich Observatory long acknowledged to hold the most accurate measurements available for the suns, stars and moon – so vital to navigators.

Rock outcrop in Iceland, a visible
surface feature of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge,
the Easternmost edge of the North 
American plate. It is a popular destination
for tourists in Iceland.
The first port of call for our crew was Iceland which sits atop the Mid Atlantic Ridge – the tectonic plates that are pushing the Atlantic Ocean apart by 0.003mm per year (about the growth of a fingernail) – now monitored by the passing satellites.

Fifteen minutes later the next ‘stop’ is South America and the Amazon Rainforest – 1.5 billion acres of land teeming with species of plants and animals, as well as operating as one of the lungs of the earth – absorbing the carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen: helping to keep the planet and climate in balance.

Limb view, of the Earth's atmosphere.
Colours roughly denote the layers
of the atmosphere.
(Sunset from the Space Station)
It’s only from space that you get to see just how delicate that balance really is ... the very thin onion skin of atmosphere surrounding this great ball of rock protecting life on earth as we know it.

We now, through the satellites circling the earth, have the ability to see the man-made scars and record those changes ...  the deforestation has slowed significantly, but still too much is being cut down – 447 acres every orbit.

Next port of call is Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela – the worst storm spot on the planet  ... the satellites now track the birth of storms so warnings can be given  ... there are 1,800 storms every 90 minute orbit of the space station ... this monitoring of the weather systems has saved countless lives – whereas in our living memory the storms could be devastating.

Our orbit takes us next to Texas where more land is farmed than anywhere else on earth – there are 16m cattle and the enormous herds can only be managed by helicopter ... 49,657 cattle are slaughtered for food in every 90 minutes orbit.

The Las Vegas Valley; From top left to
bottom right: Las Vegas Strip (Paradise,
Nevada and Winchester, Nevada),
Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson
A few minutes to the west lies Las Vegas – which breaks all the rules of where to build a city ... slap bang in the middle of a desert on a road to nowhere.  Las Vegas is akin to a space station .. everything has to be shipped in ...

... every ounce of flour, every biscuit, each slice of bacon ... and 69,437,500 litres of water is used every 90 minute orbit, which is the equivalent of 2,778 articulated water trucks – at vast expense.

Las Vegas is also the fattest place in America – two thirds of the populace is over weight .. and the population has almost doubled in the last twenty years ... this trend we’re seeing all around the world – by 2050 there will be nine billion people (now we have +/- six billion).

Our resources are going to be stretched to the limit ... producing, distributing and ensuring everyone has enough.  If we’re going to address that challenge ... we need to find a balance ... to look at our personal freedoms and choices we value around our food and lifestyles, with our responsibilities to live within our environmental and evolutionary limits ...

... we simply cannot continue eating the way we eat now, as we do in the UK and the USA (let alone elsewhere) ... unhappily this change in our thinking is not apparent yet.  I also thought that we should think about not condoning this type of lifestyle ... by not visiting resorts (places), where resources are used willy-nilly.

Postage stamp, New Zealand,
1933. Public health has been
promoted - and depicted -
in a wide variety of ways.
It’s a big change that humans need to address.  I have to say this part of the film revolted me ... humans looked selfish ... overeating: which leads to huge medical bills, over-stretched resources being utilised for ‘just pleasure’ ...

... the space station astronauts realise how precious our bodies are – they exercise for 2 hours every day to maintain optimum fitness and health – their food is surprisingly cosmopolitan ... but there are no hamburgers adding to the two million consumed across the world in just one orbit

They need to work together as a team ... or as a tiny community – they need to get along and appreciate each other’s personal differences, as well as the cultural and social aspects of other nations.

The next hop, skip and jump takes this ‘zig-zagging orbital tour’ to the Hawaii islands .. not to look at the tourist beaches thronged by the most isolated population on earth ... but for the enormous rubbish dumps floating in the Pacific Ocean.

Plastic does not break down ... everything we have created is constantly reduced into smaller and smaller pieces ... until the microscopic plastic pellets get into the food chain – where ultimately they mimic hormones.

40,000 tonnes of plastic is made every day – the majority of which will be thrown away.  Some natural species’ lives will be disrupted for ever ... however the greatest irony is that perhaps nature could be just as capable of dealing with our waste problems ...

The salps – shoals of bizarre gelatinous like creatures – live off phytoplanktons, which like to eat CO2 and could be our protection against global warming ... the carbon is locked away by the salps, and on decomposition sinks to the bottom of the sea.  Whereas a tree locks up carbon for 100 – 200 years ...

Our next stop is South Korea – the technical capital of the world (in the 1960s the national wealth was on a par with Afghanistan – now it is the 13th richest country in the world); the key to this growth has been the silicon chip.

Teheranno – “Silicon Valley
Boulevard”, Seoul,
South Korea.
We in the west watch baseball games, tennis or football matches sitting in a stadium – here the Koreans have computer games ...  and after often having spent hours in the arcades, that line the streets of towns, they stream into their local stadia to watch a computer game – it is their spectator sport!  $12 m worldwide will have been spent on computer games during just one orbit.

However South Korea is a minnow compared to its vast neighbour – China.  Fifty years ago it had a rural economy based on farming life with an average $20 wage and a life expectancy of about 40 years.

Now China leads the way as the manufacturing nation – one quarter of everything produced on earth is made in China.  The wealth of the nation has increased 100 fold .... but it needs limitless energy to satisfy the world’s demands for its goods and services.

Topography of China
China is the world’s largest polluter, with many areas covered in a constant haze of air pollution ... every which way we know how to harness the world’s resources is being applied here on an epic scale ...

... the UK and America’s 40 year old clean air policy is plain to see from our orbiting ISS ... China understands the environmental pressures and is trying everything to find a balance.

Despite this - renewable energies (sunlight, wind, rain, tides and thermal heat) cannot supply sufficient power to keep up with demand – China have invested $48 billion in renewable energy, becoming the world’s leading investor ... but still needed to burn 600,000 tonnes of coal in the 90 minute orbit.

Cherrapunji high in the Himalayan foothills, records the most rainfall in a year (12 metres) – in fact it can rain all year round - while 81.6 trillion litres of water will fall as rain onto our planet in one ninety minute orbit ...

Aral Sea – 1999 and 2008
... then travelling west to Kazakhstan – the Aral Sea ... shows the huge scar of toxic waters of what was once the largest fresh water lake on the earth – before it was drained for cotton and rice fields along its two major tributaries ... there’s a project in place to turn back the clock so it can fill again.

Over time toxic waters and plants can be renewed – as has happened at Chernobyl .. and as I previously mentioned here in my Eden Project and Iron Curtain posts.

During every orbit though 34 sq kilometres of land will become desert ... the landscape is changing in our quest for fresh water.

The last stop is Ethiopia where it is thought that 160,000 years ago the origin of modern man began to emerge ...another place of great change ... which through the dynamic landscape of faulting, earthquakes and volcanic activity a natural world was allowed to flourish into which humans first settled and began to evolve.

Anatomical comparison of the skulls
of a modern human (left) and
Homo neanderthalenss (right).
It is mooted that we are truly a creation from our geologically unstable planet and we need to be prepared for greater change and instability ... are we really nomads at root – have most of our problems arisen by settling down into major population centres ....

... many of which due to climate change will be drowned or will definitely be very less attractive ... one lesson we need to relearn from our ancestors – is the ability to move in order to continue to prosper.

To counter these massive changes we as humans are inflicting on this world we somehow need to adjust our community living – be more compassionate to others ... understand their needs ... we will need to adjust our lives in order to sustain an ever growing population – during our orbit 23,019 children will be born.

Scarlet Macaw, which is indigenous
to the American tropics
The International Space Station has brought nations together and suddenly our perspective on the world has changed forever. We thought we were going to explore the universe, yet the most extraordinary thing we discovered was our own home planet, the Earth.

This unique journey around the weird and wonderful planet of ours that we call home – was put together by the BBC and its collaborative scientists ... and to them I give total credit ...

PS Gull says it’s too long – but bloggeress .. says it needs to be said and  read – as we humans use every part of this earth ... the rest of the flora and fauna has boundaries ...

BBC2 Film and preamble ... I hope when it becomes available you’ll take some time to watch it.

Iron Curtain or Rich Green Wilderness

Some new information that's come to light (2014) from Bish Denham's blog " Random Thoughts" on plastic in the ocean - here's the link .. and the TED talk by Boyan Slat, a Dutch youngster, is amazing - he's pursued his dream through sheer determination, giving up his studies and his social life, crowd sourced ... and is engineering to clean the oceans of plastic ... very well worth watching the 17 minute video. 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday 24 July 2011

Dear World ...

On Beachy Head, the Downs, looking over Eastbourne - wonderful place to soar above

... I have my wires crossed I believe.  I’ve been looking around this thing those humans call the internet – now I am a sea-gull ... the funny thing is they say I’m just a gull ... well my wires are crossed because I think I live in a birdbath.

Tresco, Scilly Isles
I can understand how that human, who gives us fresh water in the bird bath, thinks I have my wires crossed ... I must think a little like her – except she can’t ... as John Masefield so eloquently wrote ..

..  ‘go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky’

She can’t fly, nor soar on the thermals as they brush with the land – my species tell me I can ... but I really feel the need to stay in the small part of Eastbourne where my blogging friend lives – she tells me it’s called that because bourne means small river – and the one coming off the Downs and Beachy Head is the westerly bourne.

The Bourne flowing through
Motcombe Gardens
I am confused and all spring and summer I have been confused ... my species live on the rooves around, they have produced off-spring ... those fledglings are invading my patch ... I am beginning to get worried.

My patch ...  has an elderly neighbour, who likes to feed all wild creatures, but especially us bird ones ... I go and perch on her balcony – but I have to watch my beak, as it hits the window if I’m not careful, as I glide in to land ... and dare I say it “beg” for food.

It is a lot easier getting these humans to feed and water us ... feeding we don’t really need – those beings leave plenty of garbage around and this hand feeding is making me lazy ... but us birds were very grateful for the birdbaths full of water (rather than solid ice) this past winter -  it was a bitterly cold time.

We have funny habits us gulls – the watchful blogger spots these things ... her eyes are open to the most extraordinary of worlds ... have you seen her blog? Oh! of course you have – you’re here.  She’s constantly questioning, looking up and clarifying things ... I have a quiet look sometimes when I can land on a roof and connect to gull-web.

This is like 'my' bird bath!
I haven’t been able to settle all summer – my desire to nest is thwarted by the bird bath being filled with water – doesn’t that blogger realise it’s my desired place for a nest ... it’s concave and just the right size and depth ... I’ve constantly added sticks and grass to it .. but she insists on topping it up with water.

It’s almost too late to nest now, I’ll have to wait til next year ... two of my fledgling relatives have arrived and that is irritating me – new competitors for the food source from my elderly feeder – they can fly away though (they learnt early .. so often those babies pad around at ground level, unable to lift off), they must go and find their own food source – we are scavengers, after all ... and there’s plenty around in human land.

Chick and egg on nest
Before I go and tell you about my other wildlife neighbours in this small percentile of the urbanised Downland – I have been watching this blogger recently ... she’s been up that Down a lot more often ... spending more time with her mother, who I hear from my relatives up the hill is not at all well.

I soar above keeping an eye on this daughter ... and making sure she looks after herself by not getting too sad for a life well-lived ...  ‘my’ wildlife friends down here keep her amused – I’ll start with the foxes ... there’s a few round here – but 3 visit the garden –  one stands on his hindlegs and drinks from our larger birdbath – the cheat of it ... but another one is even more audacious ... it jumps up on to it to drink – foxes are too clever by far.

Red Fox
Us birds make so much noise ... we wail and squawk at all hours of day and night ... heaven knows we must keep everyone awake ... but I don’t know why them humans complain ... because those blackbirds start singing before dawn – they must have sixth sense to know dawn is coming ... they don’t have those time things that humans look at.

A thief!
My blogger friend loves the blackbird sound ... our noise resonates with the tennis fans – but that’s all – otherwise we’re nuisance birds ... we do thieve I’m afraid.  Then there’s all those jackdaws ... my friend says she’s never seen them before – in her youth .. they weren’t garden birds; magpies too – as many as five or so ...

... the robins, house sparrows, wrens and tits hide from the jackdaws and magpies ... she calls them ‘her thugs’ ... they did manage to kill a pigeon the other day ... and certainly I’ve seen some of my sorts’ eggs on the ground.

Red Legs
I’ve heard her say that I puddle ... I don’t!  Ah..... she’s referring to some odd habits she’s seen me do with my web feet – funny having web feet when I live on the land.  My feet sure are big ... I love puddles – when there’s lots of rain or melting snow ... I stand on the grass and ‘march on the spot’ ... I do this when it’s so cold ... I thought I was fooling her – but no ... she found out my trick ... it’s to bring the worms to the surface ... she thinks I’m doing my warming up exercises!  She’s a funny old thing ... lots of ideas though.

So that’s my life here with this Blogger person ... I try and look after her, taking her mind off things,  by keeping her amused with my antics – swooping in to land ... paddling around the lawn ... building my nest –I think she gets a little cross about that as she has to extract all my nesting materials and it’s a bit gungy ...

... but I love the fresh water and like all the other birds I dip my beak in and take a big swig, raise my head (rather haughtily – as I know others can’t interrupt me in my imbibing) and slowly let the nectar of fresh clean water trickle down to quench my thirst.

So that’s it for now everyone when the wildlife changes I’ll be back to let you know – mind you she does that pretty well too ...  my twin has arrived and we’re both paddling in our baths ... we do splash quite a lot of water out.

Collared Dove
We all get along really by minding our own business – the pigeons and collared doves, the squirrels .. the magpies and jackdaws can fight .. usually for supremacy .. and I just muscle my way in ... I know my rights – she doesn’t though .. do wish she’d realise my desire for a dry nest and not a wet bath.

That’s all folks ... my first article for this blogging lady – I’m not sure she’ll allow me another wildlife chatter .. but I am keeping an eye on her ... cheers for now from this Herring Gull to give me my other name ... I must like herrings then – she hasn’t told me that!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday 18 July 2011

The Journey of Life and Death ....

Seal of the London Necropolis &
National Mausoleum Company.
Its Latin text translates to 
"A good life and a peaceful death".

... and if I threw in our old neighbourhood, a Member of Parliament, the railways, a necropolis, a golf ball or two – we could be in for an interesting ride.

This post is really something I never thought I’d write, as I had absolutely no idea about this facet of the west Surrey heartland and I just had to laugh at the incongruity of it all.

As I write the British Open Golf Championship is being played at a very wet and windy seaside links course at Sandwich in the garden county of Kent – visitors being brought down by a special direct train from London.

Sandwich, Kent: Links Golf Course - 2011 c/o The Open
Times have changed dramatically in the past 170 years – the railways have really opened up the heartland of England ... before that the ride by horse, carriage or navigable water was slow and dangerous.

The railways gave us freight, markets, termini, junctions, tourism and holidays by the sea ... and commuting – people started to travel to jobs in the towns and cities.

As far as London was concerned the railways offered more – a way to live in the country: to ‘de-populate’ London – and, more importantly at the time, - a final solution to the problem of London’s dead.

Brookwood Cemetery
London’s population had risen from just under one million people in 1801 to almost two and a half million in 1851 ... cholera, smallpox, measles and typhoid were rife: what to do with the dead?

It was proposed to purchase an area of ground so distant as to be beyond any possible future extension of the Capital by using the emerging technology of mechanised land transport to construct a befitting gathering place for the metropolitan mortality of a mighty nation. 

Little did they know that within 100 years the area was on the outskirts of greater London, and by 2011 definitely within it ... times they have changed.

The place purchased was Woking Common, approximately 23 miles west of London known today as Brookwood Cemetery (Heathrow Airport is 15 miles west of London).  We lived just to the north and would occasionally shop in the village, there was a good baker’s I recollect; nearby was a golf course, Worplesdon, where we learnt to play. 

Country Lane and Hump Back Bridge
Occasionally we would play the left-right-straight-on game – our mother would take us out in the car ... to get us out of the house and change our tune! ...  we would each select whether we should go right, left or straight at each junction ... being kids we had no idea where we’d end up. 

There were plenty of small country lanes with bridges and tunnels to navigate and amuse us for a while ... including the route to Guildford, the county town, where we shopped on special occasions and I took my driving test a ‘few’ years ago!

We live and learn – but I had no idea I’d be writing about The London Necropolis Company – the organisation formed to run and administer the cemetery, as well as the spur railway line.

The 1800s really were the era of the ‘scientist’ – engineers, cartographers, naturalists, explorers, printers and publishers – so many new trades, new data to be recorded and noted.

An LSWR M7 class locomotive of
 the type used on the London
Necropolis Railway in its last
decade of operations 1930-40s
One of these – George Bradshaw (1801 – 1853), a cartographer, printer and publisher, specialised in railway timetables at a time when ‘time’ wasn’t yet standardised, and when there were so many railway companies any cohesion for travel or freight was nigh impossible.  Bradshaw changed that .... the Bradshaw Timetables came into existence.

I suspect his name would be lost in the milieu of those times, but with our propensity today for history, Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook has enabled them to be brought back to life through his journeys across the length and breadth of Britain.

The only known complete set of Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook has been leant, by Robert Humm and Co, Transport Bookshop, to Michael Portillo, a former Member of Parliament turned historian and presenter – for his BBC series entitled “Great British Railway Journeys”. 

Bradshaw died of cholera while in Norway, which I’m sure curtailed further publications of the Handbook during his lifetime.  It would make a fascinating read before all the history of the last two or three hundred years gets lost in the mists of time, or buried under layers of concrete or tarmac – so I hope it gets republished.

The journey I caught the tail end of ... was the Brighton to London one before its continuation through East Anglia on to the ancient port of Kings Lynn in Norfolk.  This was one of the railway lines where those first commuters could travel into London ... and in this instance to Waterloo Station.

Waterloo is where the fun starts – our childhood London terminus – we would travel from Woking to have a beef burger at Burger King (one of the first fast food chains to get to the UK) and to see some comic films at the station cinema (Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Tom and Jerry etc) ... exciting times!

Then we’d get on the train and go home again!!  Well it kept us amused – going out was a real treat .. and beef burgers were – well ‘luxurious deliciousness’ to us kids!!

First Class entrance to the London
Necropolis Railway at Waterloo; the
ornate gates were originally made
for The Great Exhibition (1851). 
I’m sure like most children we’d have been thrilled to know The London Necropolis Railway had, at Waterloo Station, its own entrances for the first class, second class or third class dead ... the mourners too had their own class of ticket ... think of the ghoulish games we could have played.

If we could have seen that logo – I’d have had nightmares for many a long night ... for those of you who are crime or mystery authors ... you may find some interesting information here that you could draw on for your characters or scenes ...

So this was our neck of the woods as we grew up – in the lee of the largest cemetery in the world, with its own specially commissioned railway line ... under or over which we regularly passed on our way to play golf – two clubs were in close proximity to the railway line ...

Third class coffin ticket, issued
between April–September 1925 
... those savvy leisure golfers learnt fast .. and used to ‘jump’ the Necropolis train for a cheap trip into the nether regions of the country to play at one of the local courses, before catching the last ride back ...

A railway journey I never expected to post about ... our history is peppered with interesting fragments of life that can resurface many years later ... who would have thought a necropolis would tie in so well with the railways, golf, a Member of Parliament and us ... I enjoyed this ride into and out of the past ...

Dear Mr Postman – my mother has a cold-infection, but she is comfortable and we patiently spend time with her ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday 9 July 2011

Thought about 2036? – Wimbledon has ...

Lawn tennis, 1887. 
A print from the Library of Congress, Washington

Whoever would have thought that a patch of manicured green grass would evoke great minds to inspire the game of lawn tennis?  Those men of passion with their imagination gave rise to ideas where that creativity could flourish into the brand that we know today as Wimbledon.

Two centuries ago when the English were getting everywhere – and frankly I can say thank goodness for their intrepidness ... because we all speak English - exported our culture and entertainment too ... yes as time has gone on we’ve sat back and let everyone else beat us at our own games – oh well we enjoy the participation and hope!

Walter Clopton Wingfield on a
Hungarian stamp (credited
as the co-inventor of lawn tennis)
Times were changing in the late 1800s – people were becoming richer and could thus try new things, they could experiment and see where their talents lay, or just enjoy a little more entertainment.  Finally too the young people of both sexes could mix freely on the tennis courts without fear of scandal.

Marketing played a part – the game was first introduced to the public through the use of a complete kit – a box containing a net, racquets and a small rubber ball ...promoted by Slazengers, the present day ball suppliers.

The early adopters of the game realised that London was the place to hold the first championships, so in 1875 these were held in West London at what would become the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, before the move up the road in 1922 to the new bigger premises, today known simply as “Wimbledon”.

In 1884 the Ladies’ Singles was inaugurated, as was the Gentlemen’s Doubles ... overseas champions started to pepper the Winners’ Cups from 1905 ... the site continued to expand to meet the ever growing public demand.

Susanne Lenglen (1899 - 1938)
The Championships were hugely successful and became part of ‘The Season’ with Royalty participating or in attendance ...  the Committee in those early days had a vision having seen how popular the game had become ...  decided some regulations were needed for the Championships.

Early on Wimbledon was to be a grass court championship, with the contestants wearing white clothing (today this is to be predominantly white) – how that clothing has changed from long trousers, ankle covering dresses ... to the short shorts of the 1980s ... to today’s more comfortable shorts, with a designer coat or two thrown in.

In 1909 the Club colours initially were blue, yellow, red and green too similar to those of the Royal Marines .. and so were changed to purple and dark green – now immediately recognisable as Wimbledon colours.

Aorangi Hill when Wimbledon is in full swing
 - commonly known as Murray Mount 2011
courtesy The Writing Nut
The new site’s stadium accommodated 14,000 (what foresight) – King George V opened the modern premises, he was an ardent tennis player, as is his great, great grandson, Prince William, and the Duke’s new wife, Catherine.

Wimbledon continued to thrive with champions coming from all corners of the globe and in 1932 two hundred thousand spectators came through the turnstiles.  Today the attendance is ‘only’ 450,000 – probably due to seating being introduced, and Health and Safety capacity requirements.

After all these years when those first organisers revelled in what they had created ... I think they would be pleased that their vision has been maintained for what is now the premier tennis tournament in the world ...  the period 1877 – 1939 laid the foundations for that future.

During the War sportsmen in North America carried on with their tournaments, whereas here everyone was drafted in to the War effort ... the Championships were curtailed until 1946, and they were lucky to be able to resume as a ‘stick’ of (five) 500 lb bombs dropped on Centre court taking out 1,200 seats.

Aerial view of Shannon
The Club remained opened, but was requisitioned for a variety of civil defence and military functions ... troops stationed nearby used the main concourse for drilling.  At the ground was a small farmyard with pigs, hens, geese, rabbits etc with allotments scattered around.

After the war all hands were on deck to clear the damage and in 1946 the Championships resumed.  The overseas players returned ... the Americans dropping down at Shannon Airport in Ireland to refuel ... where the players picked up butter, cheese and necessary luxuries – on ration to the rest of Britain.

Rare Rump Steak
Jack Kramer (1921 – 2009) brought with him ... two steaks for each day of the two tournaments ... Queens and Wimbledon!  He said they helped him keep physically strong and mentally fit – he won that year.

In 1967 another 11 acres of land was purchased, which was leased to the New Zealand Sports and Social Club ... becoming known as Aorangi Park (Aorangi means ‘Cloud Piercer’ ... cloud in the sky, after the Maori part of Mount Cook), with the only proviso that during the championships the park would be used for car parking facilities.

Mount Cook - Aorangi
Another innovation occurred in 1967, with Richard Attenborough at the helm of BBC2, when a trial tournament was put on which was broadcast in colour – commencing the popularity of colour television to the viewing public. 

Jack Kramer and Dan Maskell were commentators for the BBC at the time.  BBC tv had started broadcasting Wimbledon in 1937 and has the rights until 2014; this year 3D coverage was broadcast for the first time.

In 1981 the New Zealand lease was terminated and the Club, over time, developed the area for its own purposes ... which we see today: Centre Court with its retractable roof (put to good use this year), Court One and new show courts, plenty of tournament and practice courts ...

New Press Centre 2011
c/o The Writing Nut
... to complete this picture the new Millennium building and subsequent developments this century have given the players, spectators, officials and media a better experience ... and have almost imperceptibly fitted seemlessly into the old ...

What does the future hold for what is the premier tennis tournament in the world, the one most coveted by the players to win ... the personalities come and go, and return to sit and watch, to commentate and provide us with the back story ...

... the vision of the brand has been maintained ... a quiet exclusivity – that continues on  ... to remain unique and maintain the intimacy and dignity that is Wimbledon – there are no mascots, cheerleaders or peripheral distractions ... this is solely a tennis championship: there is no need for mass commercial activity, no sponsorship logos ...

... minimal, almost subliminal branding, is allowed ... Rolex official timekeeper since 1978; Slazenger ball suppliers since 1902; Robinson’s barley water – the official still soft drink since 1934 ...

... a Robinson’s representative was present, realised the players desperately needed a drink while they were competing as it was very hot, he obtained glasses, jugs of water, some Robinson’s lemon barley water ... a brand was born.

Branding is important to Wimbledon ... and each label is selected for its exclusivity, elegance, uniqueness, tradition and/or innovation ...

IBM became the official supplier of information technology in 1990 – developing the website for 1996, the real-time immediacy of broadcast relays around the world .... news and multimedia .. blog, video, photos ...
Follow live scores, real-time statistics and comprehensive analytical match play analysis of The Championships, Wimbledon with IBM PointStream – a new way to enhance your Wimbledon on-line experience.
1908 Olympics - Tennis Championships
Next year the Olympics will be held after the tournament at Wimbledon – the 1908 Olympics were held at the Club, before tennis was dropped from the Olympics in 1924 ... to be reinstated in 1988.

Great Britain wasn’t scheduled to put on the Olympics in 1908 – it was due to be held in Naples, Italy – but Mount Vesuvius erupted on 7th April 1906 devastating the city.

"Wimbledon Futures"
Have you ever thought about life in 2036 – so what does the future hold?  Wimbledon have a piece on this: ‘Wimbledon Futures’ ...  what changes will occur for the players, will virtual environments be used as training grounds, what will clothing be made of ... how will it look ... what about the racquets ... and what will our experience be sitting in our armchairs – I hope I’m around and hope my memory holds ... to remember ‘when I wrote about that’!

The Spirit of Wimbledon is its simplicity, elegance, adapting to the times, while maintaining that uniqueness and is remembered for the magic of the Grand Slam fortnight: royal visitors, champions of all sports to be honoured by Wimbledon, memorable days, charities supported ...

View across the grounds
c/o The Writing Nut
.... spectators and ‘The Queue’, players, officials, the ball boys, the groundsmen who maintain and hoover those impeccable courts each night – the whole that is the Wimbledon Championship experience seems secure for the next 25 years.

Tradition in the 21st century needs to be maintained, however there remains an awareness that each year this quintessential English tradition needs to be enhanced and improved, without losing its tradition or history.

Wimbledon Visit with 'The Writing Nut'
"Wimbledon Futures" from the official site
Wimbledon "The Queue" - exhibition
Previous Wimbledon posts:  Do you hit the roof?
         A century of Aces; Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
Dear Mr Postman – we’ve had a quiet week with my mother.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories