The Return of Ranty McRantface

[Note: those not interested in naval stuff, or in a good old-fashioned rant, can look away now, watch repeats of The West Wing or Jeremy Kyle on daytime TV, and come back next week instead. On the other hand, if you’re not interested in naval stuff or good old-fashioned rants, what the heck are you doing here […]

Amsterdam Good Time, Part 2

Conferences are often opportunities to meet old friends and make new ones, and that was certainly true of last weekend’s conference in Amsterdam to mark the 350th anniversary of the Dutch attack on the Medway. I caught up with several people I hadn’t seen for ages, finally met some of my Dutch Twitter followers in […]

Amsterdam Good Time, Part 1

And so it continued. Not content with fireworks, rowing contests, schoolchildren’s chain-making competitions, and exhibitions galore, it was finally time for the historians to have their four-penn’orth about the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway, which was why I spent last weekend in Amsterdam, attending a conference jointly organised by the Naval Dockyards Society […]

Medway 350, Day 3

(With an affectionate nod toward Samuel Pepys, esquire, sometime Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board, sometime Secretary to the Admiralty, sometime President of the Royal Society, sometime Master of Trinity House, sometime serial bonker)   Up betimes, and to ye dockyard at Chatham, where I enquired where I might find Pett. ‘No pets […]

Medway 350, Day 2

Over breakfast in my hotel, there was barely audible and intermittent talk to the effect that something vaguely political seemed to have happened overnight. Obviously, I paid no heed to this, as whatever it was, it was clearly completely insignificant compared with the important business of the day, i.e. checking out Chatham Historic Dockyard’s temporary […]

And So It Begins

It’s a little known fact that ‘June’ is derived from a Latin word which means ‘don’t even think of trying to cram anything else into your diary’. That’s certainly the case for me this month, as I embark on the exciting round of events to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Dutch attack on the […]

The Ghosts of Swarbacks Minn

My fourth and final post about the naval heritage I visited during our recent holiday in Shetland… By complete coincidence (honest!), our rented cottage looked out directly over Busta Voe, at the head of the Swarbacks Minn anchorage. During World War I, this was the base of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, responsible for enforcing the […]

The Shetland Bus

Perhaps the most moving naval memorial in Shetland can be found on the harbour front in Scalloway, the archipelago’s one-time capital. This is to the unbelievably brave young Norwegians who lost their lives while operating the ‘Shetland bus’, the covert ‘shuttle service’ of fishing craft and, later, submarine chasers, which operated between Shetland and Norway […]

The Submarine and the Bus Stop

Number two in my short series of posts based on last week’s holiday in Shetland… Unst is an absolute must for visitors. As Britain’s most northerly inhabited island, it racks up the superlatives literally every few hundred yards, the further north you go – the most northerly roads, the most northerly shop (splendidly named ‘The […]

The Hollanders’ Graves

Last week, we had a terrific holiday in the sun-drenched beach resorts of… Shetland. OK, it’s a fair cop, the temperatures never reached double figures in the week we were there, and were driven down further by the constant northerly wind (reaching gale force at times, e.g. on our return ferry voyage to Aberdeen). But […]