Westfield Police House | East Sussex | People | Places | West Sussex | Transport | Brighton | Police history | History | The Old Police Cells Museum

After a recent conversation with a friend, during which she said how she and her mum had been looking at her childhood home using the Google street view application, I thought I would have a nose around myself.

I thought I would share some of the memories stirred up by my nosing.

My dad was a policeman and back in the day it was the norm for officers to be moved around every couple of years.

My earliest memories are of us living in Lewes, Sussex. But then we upped sticks and moved to Westfield, where dad became the village bobby.

Obviously our history is relatively recent but during my street view rambling I came across this post http://oldpolicecellsmuseum.org.uk/page_id__377_path__0p303p304p183p209p182p208p207p181p.aspx

This was a police house dating from at least 1922 and was also known as Westfield Police Station, the house where I lived during my pre-teens.

It’s a private house now and, externally at least, seems to have reverted back to its original form.

When I knew it, there was a flat roofed extension to the side, with it’s own entrance but was also linked inside. Dads slippers used to sit, on watch,by that adjoining door, waiting for him to come off duty when they would be replaced by a pair of black boots. That is unless Honey, our Corgi, hadn’t stolen away with one of the slippers to her bed in the kitchen. There she used to lick the insides until nice and slimy. Whoe betide anyone foolish enough to put their hand in to try and retrieve the hapless slipper. Corgi’s have sharp teeth.

This was the police station from which my dad worked. There was just room enough inside for a large desk and chair. I remember there being several shelves of files and log books and a cupboard in which dad used to put his police bike and also kept the hand-cranked siren.

Also on the shelves was a mysterious grey electrical box, like a loudspeaker. It had a single control which turned it on and controlled the volume. Every so often dad would turn it on and it would emit a slow steady tick. On occasions the ticking would be replaced by a warbling tone. I subsequently found out that this was part of the national air raid siren system which would be implemented during a nuclear attack. This was my dad’s role if the “four minute warning” was sounded. He would receive a signal through the mysterious box, drag the siren out of the cupboard and crank it up to warn the village of its imminent demise.

What the villagers would have done we can only surmise.

I am pretty sure there would have been a few saying “What the fuck’s that? ”

My years here were quite enlightening. The garden behind the house was over 100 feet long, long enough for me to practice beach casting. I had been given a fishing rod for my ninth birthday.

Slowly over time dad turned our back garden into a smallholding.

Starting with the fruit he planted blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes. We had brambles growing down the side of the plot so always had a plentiful supply of blackberries. We also had a couple of apple trees. Mum turned all that lovely fruit into jams, pies and crumbles, my favourite.

On the veggie front, Dad planted runner and broad beans, potatoes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, curly kale, sweetcorn and artichokes.

Then there were the chickens. First we had a half dozen or so running around in a large pen. This was soon supplemented by a hen house to protect them from the foxes.

As the supply of eggs grew so did the number of chooks.  Dad even experimented for a while with  battery hens.

Needless to say we kids had plenty to eat and we were encouraged to join in with looking after the chooks, collecting eggs, harvesting fruit and veg and helping in the kitchen.

Our collection of birds increased when dad acquired six geese. Initially they were allowed to roam on the lawn, free effortless grass cutting.
With such close proximity to the house the birds were treated like pets and were given names. Charlie was the gander and the members of his harem were Ethel, Gerty, Snowy and two others whose names escape me.

However,  anyone who knows geese also knows that what goes in is matched by lots of goose poo. Well the geese were soon relegated to their own personal pound at the bottom of the garden. We would occasionally collect goose eggs and everyone took it in turns to have one of those treasures.

It was inevitable, but one Christmas it was decided that we would have goose. Well Ethel was volunteered, executed, plucked drawn and duly cooked. All was fine until Mum sat down to her plated meal, whereupon she wailed “I can’t eat Ethel”.

From that point on we had five pet geese. Sadly that number dropped to four when Snowy became broody and was sitting on her egg(s), wouldn’t eat and died.

Another goosy memory was having to put them to bed at night. This became my job whenever Dad was on nights. Have you ever tried herding geese? Also can you imagine a skinny 10 or 11 year old having to face down an angry gander. A gander that has reared up to his full height, wings spread to their full six foot span and with his neck fully extended, hissing like a nest of vipers. Then in the morning letting them out again. Charlie, the gander, used launch himself out as soon as the door opened wings spread, honking for all he was worth, quickly joined by the girls all joining in the chorus.

Fond memories now but not considered a high point by me at the time. But I learnt about gardening, keeping chickens and that getting food on the table isn’t always pleasant or easy. I don’t recall ever being bored, there was always something to do.

Now I am in my sixties I do hanker after those quieter more genteel times. But now I have arrived in the new century I sure would miss the technology. If only the pace of life would slow down. I guess that is what retirement is for.

If only the rest of the world would slow down too.

Ex Communication

I have just had one of those life enhancing moments in time, a long phone conversation with the BT customer support call centre.

Now, I’m not about to launch into one of those “kept me waiting for ages, … overseas call centre, …. couldn’t understand me, …. couldn’t understand a word they were saying” wrants.

In fact my call was answered after only a few minutes, not bad.

The call was answered by a delightful Asian lady and we understood each other perfectly at an English language level.

The issue I have is that the technicalities of the call were resolved, but the resolution was wholly unnecessary.

Let me explain.

For the last many years, maybe  twenty, my email provider has been Which, the consumer watchdog. They were our original Internet service provider. Many years ago I switched to BT as my isp but kept the Which e-mail ID.

All was fine until a couple of years ago I had to change the e-mail settings. Nothing too complex, just the POP settings for the outgoing smtp server. Instead of mail.which. net I had to use mail.btinternet. com

Along with this I had to provide my BT id and password.

Once again all was fine until yesterday.

The first I knew that there was a problem was when my wife uttered the words “I can’t send emails ”

I did all the usual things…

Asked her what she had changed.

Checked her Ipad, I have an immense distrust of those devices. But that is a whole new blog page. The message she was getting indicated a problem with the mail server password.

Tried sending a test email from my Android phone. Same response. Password needed for the outgoing mail server.

Same thing with my laptop and so on.

I tried editing and confirming the password on each of the devices, no joy.

I also thinking I was being smart, tried to check my btinternet email. Perhaps they had sent a message to me.

At this point I began to get an inkling of what the problem might be. On attempting to log in I received a message telling me my email had been deactivated on the 20th September and that it would be permanently deleted if I didn’t request reactivation “in days”. Nope, that isn’t a typing error. They didn’t stipulate any number of days.

After a failed attempt at reactivating the email account I had to resort to the phone which brings me to here.

The pleasant lady asked me all the usual security questions.

I explained my problem.

She explained that as I wasn’t using BTs email that she couldn’t help me.

I re-explained the problem emphasising the error messages requiring the BT mail server password.

I was put on hold, having to suffer awful music of dubious sound quality through my low spec handset.

On her return she offered to reset the password for my defunct BT email and walked me through logging in. The result was just the same. I was presented with the same error message.

Once again she informed me it was down to my usage of a non BT email tool.

When I pointed out that users of Outlook would experience the same issues she put me on hold again.

On her return I was informed that since my BT email was permanently deleted I would need to set up a new one.

That once I had the new ID I could try sending emails again.

I agreed to give this a try but protested that this was unacceptable. An arbitrary action by BT was going to cause me to have to update all our devices.

So, she walked me through the new ID procedure.  Once completed the system informs me that it could take up to thirty minutes for the ID to become active.

We agree that she will call me back tomorrow at the same time to see how I got on. Her parting words to me were that I should phone Which to determine if anything had changed at their end.

The good news is that within minutes of setting up the new ID I was sending emails.

The net of this is that BT broadband is set up such that you get full use of their service as long as you keep your email ID active even if you don’t use it for emails.

The question I have to ask tomorrow is

“How long before this happens again? “

View From The Conservatory

For several weeks now I haven’t posted any “views”. Due in part to the demolition and rebuild of our conservatory. The process of this resurrection is something that I have been boring you with for seven weeks or more.

So today I thought it is time I reinstated my “View from the conservatory” posts, triggered by the view across our neighbours back gardens and specifically the dew laden cobwebs.

Cobweb & Spider
Cobweb & Spider

It is that time of the year when the big fat “orb ?” spiders string their webs across every conceivable object.


A fine display of natures jewellery and as autumn progresses I am sure we will get many more such delays.

Conservatory Re-Build – Furniture

No further progress towards completion as yet. However, we are making as much use as we can. We have sat outside on the decking when ever the sun shines. There is still a lot of heat in the sun but the ambient temperature drops rapidly at the first hint of a cloud. This just drives us inside to sit in our new warm, draught free environment.

Inside just became a whole lot more comfortable as, yesterday, our new furniture arrived courtesy of The Fir Trade Furniture Company.

A year ago we visited their stand at the Garden Show, Stansted Park. Tried their seats and found them to be really comfortable. This year we revisited their stand, retried the seats and were really taken with their level of comfort and with the sturdiness of design. Managing Director Hugh Ross, following my enquiry about the strength of the seats due to the unusual leg angles, and my concerns about the seats ability to withstand my weight, did no more than turn one of the seats upside down. Then he proceeded to show me the large steel bolts securing the legs to the base of the seat and the additional wooden inserts used to strengthen the whole structure.

Knowing we were about to embark on the demolition and rebuild of our conservatory we decided, that once we knew exactly how much space we would have, we would visit the show rooms in Salisbury.

And so we duly visited their showrooms late in August where we remade our acquaintance with Hugh after quite the most horrendous journey . Torrential rain all the way with almost zero visibility on the M27 due to the spray. In a country that is known for rain you would think that our road builders would use quick draining surface as is the case on some of the autoroutes in France.

Anyway, back on topic, we were welcomed with coffee and biscuits and tried nearly all the seats in all styles but were drawn back to the Semarang set. Orders were placed, fabrics and patterns chosen, deposit paid and we were advised that the lead time to delivery would be four to six weeks.

A call from Hugh advised that our order was ready for delivery, unfortunately minus the foot stool, Friday was agreed and the new furniture arrived delivered by Igor, the Italian.

Semarang furniture set - The Fair Trade Furniture Company
Semarang furniture set – The Fair Trade Furniture Company

Our original order was for the two chairs, a foot stool and the “gin & tonic” table. As you can see in the photo, the chairs are lop-sided, left and right-handed. The low side provides easy access to the drinks on the table while the high side provides support for when ones chosen anaesthetic, be it G & T or some other suitable beverage, kicks in.

On Thursday morning we decided to add the lamp to our order. After several missed calls in both directions we eventually linked up and the lamp was added to our delivery for Friday.

The previous photo shows the lamp on but it really comes into its own at night-time, providing a cosier level of lighting and the reflections in the glass and tiled floor are really quite effective.

Semarang furniture set - The Fair Trade Furniture Company
Semarang furniture set – The Fair Trade Furniture Company

I would like to say that our dealings with this company have been superb. Everyone that we have spoken to has been really friendly and their response to our last-minute addition of the lamp to our order has been first class.

Conservatory Rebuild – Days 35 thru 37

Not much happening since Saturday. Craig and Connor arrived mid afternoon with a barrow load of ready mixed cement and set about laying the final steps and reinstating the side access slabs. Since then the weather has been atrocious with heavy tropical style rainstorms. Yesterday, the final slabs were laid. However, the heavens opened and to quote the song “Down came the rain”. The side access has always turned into a water chute during stormy weather, so much so that we have considered making into a water feature. Yesterday was no exception.

Conservatory - Side access slabs and some erosion from the water that fell from the sky
Conservatory – Side access slabs and some erosion from the water that fell from the sky

There was so much rain water and the cement was so fresh that the last paver laid has shifted. The guys will have to come back and re-lay it, when we have a dry day. Then they can also grout the slabs on the steps.

Also putting in an appearance yesterday was Angus.

Conservatory - Door stay fitted.
Conservatory – Door stay fitted.

He arrived and fitted the “stay” for the utility room door as well as making good the soffit that had been cut away to make the connection between the bungalow and the new conservatory.

We are creeping towards completion.

The search for the Scarlett Pimpernel goes on unabated and needless to say we are still minus the radiator for the living space, which in turn is preventing the last strip of skirting from being fitted. The bi-fold doors are still missing their magnetic catch, as well as the last bit of rubber seal and the hidey / slidey door furniture is still to be fitted.

We also have some issues with the final finish of some of the plasterwork around the perimeter ceiling but these are all minor items and shouldn’t take long to sort out.

No, the big issue, and the worst irritant is the missing radiator !!

My Prostate and Me – Part 10,

So at the end of my last post I had just escaped from the QA following my Brachytherapy procedure. This was to be a temporary escape as I had to present myself back at the hospital for a CAT scan.

So the following Monday I dutifully presented myself for scrutiny. Unfortunately it was organised chaos due to a lack of availability of notes. This is not the first time that my notes have not been available although it is more usual for them to not be available for an appointment that has been set up for weeks.

I did press the radiographer as to why it was necessary for my notes to be available when they knew that the scan was to confirm placement of the radioactive seeds in my prostate. I said that I assumed they knew where the prostate was and therefore where to target the scan.

She, very patiently, explained to me that having a scan 3 days after brachytherapy was not normal procedure. The norm is to have an MRI after about a month, so they needed to know if there were any other issues that they needed to be aware of. They did their best to find my notes, even going up to the ward to search on the assumption that they, my notes, were “in transit” due to the weekend.

My consultant must have foreseen this as he had provided me with an extension number on which he could be contacted, even though he was in surgery. I passed this number over to the radiographer and after a short chat with my consultant we were good to go.

So after nearly two hours pfaffing around I had my ten minutes of scanning and we were out of the hospital. Of course there is then a period of trepidation, waiting to hear if I was going to have to go back in for more seeds. As time passed I relaxed, no news is good news after all.

A month after the procedure I had the MRI. This was a much quicker visit than my previous MRI. I guess because this time they were only interested in checking the prostate itself and the immediate surrounding area.

Once again, there is that trepidatious period of time where you wait for the bad news phone call. And, once again, as time passed I relaxed.

The next check point in all this was to be a visit to the consultant preceded by a visit to the vampire clinic.

Which brings us up to date.

Last week I gave the blood sample required to check my PSA levels and yesterday I visited my consultant. After all the pleasantries, how is your bladder, how are your bowels, etc. etc. we eventually got round to the important business i.e. talking about my PSA.

Brilliant news !!

Prior to the brachytherapy my PSA was up at just over 13. Now my PSA reads just over 1. Which, in the words of my consultant means that the seeds are doing their job. My next check point will be in six months when I will have another blood test and another consult.

My thanks to Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, the three fates (Moirai) for watching over me. I think they were watching over me last December when my operation was cancelled due to a lack of hospital beds. When I think about all the possibilities I am so, so glad that I have taken this path. 

See you all in six months !!!

Conservatory Rebuild – Day 34

Day 34 and a bonus day. We had 3 tradesmen working today which was a pleasant surprise since this is Saturday.

Richard, the painter, turned up to add a second coat to the walls and perimeter ceiling and to put a finish coat to the hidey / slidey door. He was also able to put a top coat on the pre-finished skirting boards.

George, plastics and glass, arrived to put the finishing touches to the partition wall glazing. He also installed finishing trim along the top edge of the perimeter ceiling as well as the interior trims to hide the last pieces of the roof framing metalwork.

Conservatory - Partition wall glazing fitted and trimmed
Conservatory – Partition wall glazing fitted and trimmed

The partition wall glazing is also double glazed !!! Unexpected, but this will help keep the washing machine noise out of the living space.

Conservatory – Apex and tie-bar trimming is now fitted

Externally he has now finished off the guttering …

Conservatory - New guttering and existing house guttering are now finished.
Conservatory – New guttering and existing house guttering are now finished.

Looks much better than the temporary fix ….

Conservatory - Wall art ? Box gutter and house guttering. Temporary solution.
Conservatory – Wall art ? Box gutter and house guttering. Temporary solution.

The ever-present Craig, master of all trades was here to build the steps leading to the utility room door and provide the alternative access to the decking.

Conservatory - Steps to utility room door and alternative access to the decking.
Conservatory – Steps to utility room door and alternative access to the decking.

We are still awaiting the radiator for the living space. It transpires that despite our choosing the radiator 2 – 3 weeks ago, it isn’t a stock item but is only available by special order. Has it been ordered ? You guess.

So the project is almost complete. Just the steps and the side access paving to be made good. The radiator and skirting to be fitted in the living space, door furniture to be fitted to the hidey /slidey door and then there are a couple of niggley items to do with the finish of the plaster work.

It seems to have been a long journey.

Conservatory Rebuild – Day 33

Today was a smiley day. Lots of progress, both inside and out.

Outside first, the decking has been completed . . .

Conservatory - We have decking, we have steps.
Conservatory – We have decking, we have steps.

and we have steps.

Conservatory - We have decking, access from the utility room end. we just have to have the steps built to join with this.
Conservatory – We have decking, access from the utility room end. we just have to have the steps built to join with this.

Edges have been faced off so we shouldn’t lose any grandchildren underneath. Once the utility room steps are built we will have access to the decking from each end.

Conservatory - Another decking view
Conservatory – Another decking view

As a precursor to the inside works, we now have a tumble dryer vent installed.

Conservatory - Tumble dryer vent installed.
Conservatory – Tumble dryer vent installed.

And so to why this is a smiley day… after six weeks without a washing machine on hand, we finally have a fully functional utility room.

Conservatory - Big smile on Gerrys face. We now have a functioning utility room.
Conservatory – Big smile on Gerry’s face. We now have a functioning utility room.

So, a nice new work top and cupboards. Machines lifted in, from their temporary home in the garage, and plumbed in. This moment has been a long time coming and, to Gerry, is probably more important than actually finishing the whole project. Friends and family have stepped forward and offered laundry facilities but it is something that Gerry has found particularly trying.

Had the plumbers turned to earlier we could have made temporary use of our machines while other works were proceeding. But hey, water under the bridge and all that.

Conservatory - Hidey / Slidey (Pocket Door) can be closed now.
Conservatory – Hidey / Slidey (Pocket Door) can be closed now.

With the completion of the tiling, the hidey / slidey door can be closed. Still has to have the door furniture fitted. And there is another smiley moment. Although I tried to get the furniture from our local DIY stores, both B & Q and Wickes failed to come up with the goods.

So I had to resort to the interweb. And what a service I received. I placed the order on Thursday afternoon and the door furniture arrived, by FedEx, by noon the following day.

Also, almost completed was the skirting boards ….

Conservatory - Skirting boards installed.
Conservatory – Skirting boards installed.

I say “almost completed” as the final piece of skirting cannot be installed until the plumber comes and installs the radiator. Getting a plumber here for any great period of time has been a major trial. So much so that the plumbers are now referred to as “The Scarlett Pimpernel”.

“They seek him here, They seek him there, They seek that elusive plumber everywhere”

Our particular pimpernel is more elusive than Sir Percy Blakeney, hero of the Baroness Orczy novel. The installation of the radiator is the last major item for the inside and is a major frustration for all parties involved in this project.

Conservatory Rebuild – Day 32

Work is proceeding at quite a good pace now and this was one of those days when the changes are significant and obvious.

The tiling in the utility room is complete and what a difference it has made. Still to be given a final clean and buff but the transition is fantastic.

Conservatory - Utility room tiling has been laid and grouted
Conservatory – Utility room tiling has been laid and grouted

Still have the work top, cupboard and skirting boards to be fitted but it’s looking good.

Outside is probably where the biggest transition has taken place. The decking guy, Paul, arrived this morning and look what a difference one guy can make.

Conservatory - Decking viewed from side access.
Conservatory – Decking viewed from side access.

Hand rail posts are in, just the spindles and rails to be installed. That’s a job tomorrow.

Conservatory – Decking viewed from garden

The deck looks to be quite robust. Come the full effects of global warming, when the oceans rise and the A3(M) becomes a canal, I’ll have somewhere to moor a boat.

Back to reality, still to be built are the steps down from the decking, leading to the patio, and the surrounds to be faced off so that the grandchildren can’t hide underneath.

All in all a good days work.

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