Culture Thoughts Travels

Merry May Day

Unlike many parts of the World, the UK (United Kingdom explained) does not have a public holiday on 1st May. We have the first Monday in May as a Bank Holiday.

A Bank Holiday in the UK comes from a time when banks were shut and thus no trading could take place, and today we have eight such days although Northern Ireland has ten. Most notable dates of Bank Holidays are, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Good Friday.
So today is May Day, and in my home town, The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, we have Merry May Day celebrations, with the town full of singing, dancing, food stalls and people.
Merry May Day Street Performers
Merry May Day Street Performers
The town is alive with families having a nice warm summery day out.
Merry May Day Families in Kingston town
Merry May Day Families in Kingston town
Not only are there human families enjoying the glorious weather.
Family of ducks
Family of ducks
Geese and family
Geese and family

Bank Holidays have become family days, where people get together, but not for me, I have work to do, because some who know me say that every day is a Bank Holiday for me.

Merry May Day Families Kingston
Merry May Day Families Kingston
Culture Rotary Club KOT Thoughts Travels

Fireworks in Kingston upon Thames 2012

Every year on 5th November, to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, of as it is also known, Bonfire Night, the British people burn rubbish piled high, and on top of the bonfire, we will have a Guy, or a mannequin or dummy, which is the representation of Guy Fawkes.

During the evening when we light the bonfire we will let of lots of fireworks.
It is also tradition that the children will take the “Guy” into the streets, and ask passers-bye “A penny for the Guy“. As a boy, I would collect enough pennies to buy the fireworks for the night, and have great joy in firstly building the “Guy”, and then seeing him burn on the bonfire.
In 1605, a number of conspirators planned to assassinate the then King, James 1, to restore a Catholic monarch to the throne by blowing-up the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster.
The Gunpowder plot was discovered, and the conspirators arrested. And, it is this that the British celebrate.
Due to health and safety, the population no-longer having gardens capable of having a bonfire, individual households or small groups getting together is now a rare occurrence to have a bonfire, but in Kingston upon Thames, the Rotary Club and Roundtable, get together and organise a large firework display. Along with the local radio station, Radio Jackie, who provide the commutation and music, the local Royal Borough also support the venture.
Amodest entrance fee is charged, and the many hundreds of people enjoy a superb evening of fireworks, and much money is raised to help the local community.
I have produced a small video of the evening, I hope you enjoy it.

Hawthorn Hedge under attack

Outside our apartment in Norbiton Hall, we have gardens, with trees, bushes and shrubs, flowers and lawns, making it a pleasant place to live.

Around the grounds we also have hedge rows mostly of hawthorn, and as long as it is cut and trimmed adds something to the ambience of the properties.
Hawthorn Hedge covered with web
Hawthorn Hedge covered with web

But, in the last couple of days, the hawthorne hedge has come under attack, from a hoard of black caterpillars.

They seem to have covered the hawthorn hedge with a thick covering of silky web, and beneath, the leaves are being eaten, leaving bare stalks.
Hawthorn Hedge under attack
Hawthorn Hedge under attack
Hawthorn Hedge caterpillar
Hawthorn Hedge caterpillar
Hawthorn Hedge cluster of caterpillars
Hawthorn Hedge cluster of caterpillars
What are these caterpillars?
What do they become?
Will the hawthorn hedge die?
Anyone any ideas please? Please leave a comment posting.
Rotary Club KOT

Adult Achievement Awards 2012

I recently was present at the Kingston upon Thames, Rotary Club’s Adult Achievement Awards, held once a year in the Royal Borough of Kingston’s Guild Hall.

It is so humbling to listen to some of the stories, of those who had experienced difficulties in their life, yet overcame them to attain further education to better themselves.

Here is a small video made from the photographs I took of the evening.

Adult Achiever Awards 2012 from Phillip Holt on Vimeo.

Presentations were given by the Deputy Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston, Barry O’Mahony, Club President Anne McCormack and Rotarian Peter Gray.

A Big Thank You

I hope I have said thank you for wishing me a Happy Birthday, but is good just to say “Thank You” for no reason, just perhaps for being a friend, just perhaps just being there, just perhaps just knowing you.

Today I have to say thank you to my very good friend Jill Lawday, a fellow trainer whom I have known for many years.

She had been in town, my town of Kingston upon Thames, and we spent some time together, talking about old times, the future, having a meal, me being a tour guide, and it was Jill’s idea that we should have breakfast at Frank B’s Diner in the Bentall Center of Kingston as a birthday treat.

Jill Lawday and Phillip Holt

Jill Lawday and Phillip Holt
Birthday Breakfast in Frank B’s Diner

Thank you Jill, it was great, even though I needed a nap when I got home.

Oh Jill, watch the video I took off Kingston upon Thames, by clicking here Relax with views from the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.


see It is a small world

Books Thoughts

I am still learning more on history

In the past I have had to admit that there is much missing from my knowledge, my history.

I realised how much is missing from my family history, when after getting together recently with my daughter Vanessa in Southampton, and I was relating what knowledge I had to her, how little I really did know. I had heard stories from my father and mother, uncles and aunties, but this information was limited and nothing had been written down, and now knowing what I do know now about human memory systems, there was much missing.

Visiting so many countries, and listening to their understanding of their history, I realise that it differs from my understanding of the same history from a British point of view. My experience of talking to Gianni Golfera’s Grandfather as a WWII Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (SM.79) bomber pilot and his recollections of fighting the British Hurricane fighter planes, gave a different point of view to my reading of British history of that time.

Having an inquiring mind, trying to understand the background of information, and often asking “why“, I sometimes need and search for information, for example, looking at the history of the WWII British fight plane, the Hurricane and its’ connect to Kingston upon Thames where I have a home.

Part of my research has been through reading, thank goodness I know PhotoReading, part of my research through talking to people, and part of research has been through visiting museums and actual sites the history took place.

My recent interest has taken me to Bletchley Park, north of London, home of and historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer, Colosus. This led me to reading many books on the history of Bletchley Park, and to a book by R.V. Jones called Most Secret War. Reading this book led me to wanting to find more about the history of the Cabinet War Rooms, Britain’s secret underground shelter for the War Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff, in Central London.

A tour guide at Bletchley Park when informing us of the work initially undertaken by Polish scientists on the secret encoding of the messages by the Germans and the Enigma Machines, was that once a year a special visit was taken by Polish nationals to the park, and that their guides tell a different story than he does.

Now I have found so much more insight into my own and others history, that I have had to completely rewrite some my understanding of my knowledge, also reaffirming my realisation that we are only told by higher authorities and others what they want us to know.

I also realise that I should have asked my relatives who are now no longer with us more about their history and thus Vanessa’s and mine.

NLP Thoughts

Push Me Pull Me

I recently went for a walk in the wonderful Richmond Park, which is only a small walk from my home in the UK, Norbiton Hall in Kingston upon Thames.

There are some beautiful sights, sounds and smells as you walk in the countryside so near to the heart of London, and it seems strange that in the distance you can see the City of London, the towering office blocks with people crammed into a small area, yet you are with wild animals, fantastic gardens like the Isabella Plantation, and strange sights.

Here is the Push Me, Pull Me animal. It is an animal that sometimes reflects life.

push me pull me Phillip Holt
The Push Me Pull Me Animal 

I have often had clients who have had a relationship problem, and recently it was a couple who from appearances loved each other a lot, but they could not become one, a couple.

They were both giving the right signals to each other, they helped each other through difficulties, but that is where it stayed.

When I listened to their individual stories, I could begin to understand.

The lady was making signals that said to the man, I am available, come and get me, I want you, contact me, help me, and the man responded. She was pulling him towards her.

When the man responded, there was the feedback, I am not available, I am out tonight, etc, from her. She was pushing him away.

Just like the Push Me Pull Me animal, she did not know which direction to go.

Now I could not tell either of them which direction to go. It would be incorrect for me to do so as a Coach. It is a coach’s duty to get the party or parties to come to their own answers, yes to be a guide, but for them to resolve the issues.

I had a friend John, who was married, and unfortunately there was a medical problem with the wife, which meant she lost her womanhood. The psychological problems that caused her, meant that she had to lay blame for her loss, and in her mind it was the husband, who had no responsibility for what happened.

The wife hated the husband for what had happened to her, and yet she could not let him go, there was a love hate relationship with her. He stood by her until he became ill, he did not know what to do, should he continue in the marriage or divorce for the sake of both their sanities.

She did not know if she loved or hated the husband, he did not know whether to end the relationship or continue. Push Me, Pull Me.

Sometimes it is good just to talk the issues through with a coach or councilor, or to talk honestly with each other, to tell ones feelings thoughts, not to be a Push Me Pull Me, leaving the other partner not knowing what direction the other wants to go.

In NLP there are techniques to coach people through the Push Me Pull Me situation. Perhaps the best one Perceptual Positions. Seeing the situation from others point of view.

If the Push Me Pull Me is not resolved there will be conflict, and that leads to misunderstanding, mistrust and unhappiness.

Firstly, try talking.

Thoughts Travels

Fags End

In recent years, the UK as with other countries, have introduced strict no smoking laws.

Gone are the days when I sat in a restaurant, and a nearby smokers smoke drifted across my face.

Gone are the days I went into a bar and came out after an evening enjoying myself with colleagues or friends with my clothes smelling of cigarette smoke.

Gone are the days I walked down the railway platform following a smoker, my air space full of cigarette smoke, whilst the smoker was in fresh air.

Don’t take me wrong, I am not against smokers. As a reformed heavy smoker myself, I know the joy of a cigarette. Thirty years ago I gave up, but I still hunger for that same satisfaction on occasions.

The UK law restricts smoking in any public building or work space. This has resulted in workers having to stand outside the offices if they want to smoke, no matter what the weather is.

Next to my home, Norbiton Hall in Kingston upon Thames, is an office block called Clarendon House, home to many small companies whose employees must follow the law on smoking.

Clarendon House Norbiton Kingston
Clarendon House Norbiton Kingston

On the glass front entrance door can be found a notice:-


No Smoking Clarendon House
No Smoking Clarendon House

So what do the employees do? Go into the grounds of Norbiton Hall, and smoke there.

Smoker from Clarendon House
Smoker from Clarendon House

No problem, it is in the open, and some nicely maintained gardens.

But, why do they have to drop the FAG ENDS, the stubs, on the floor, stamping them out, and leaving them for other people to clear up.

Fag ends left by Clarendon House occupants in Norbiton Hall
Fag ends left by Clarendon House occupants in Norbiton Hall

I have a good mind to sweep them up and post them through the Clarendon House letter box.

I’m becoming a grumpy old man.

Culture Thoughts Travels

Norbiton Hall, Kingston upon Thames

Ten years ago, we gave up living on a boat, our Dicken’s Class 50′ ocean going vessel named Mr Toots, (click to see), and swapped her, with a friend Richard Morris, for our flat. Where are you now Richard?

I have often wondered where the name of the estate with 192 flats, Norbiton Hall came from. Here is what I have found out.Norbiton Hall aerial viewNorbiton Hall aerial view

The first clue obviously is that the estate is in the village or district of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, (Click to view film), called Norbiton, south west of London, and within the M25 motorway.

Another clue is a blue plaque on the outer wall of the flats which says:-

Plaque of Norbiton Hall
Plaque of Norbiton Hall


I decided to research in the library and museum. What was here before these flats?

The first records I found for Norbiton was for 1174 when Henry II bestowed the Manor of North Barton to the Knights of Anjou. The word Barton I suspect being derived from the Saxon word “beartun”, meaning to store grain.

Lovekyn  plaque
Lovekyn Chapel

In 1309 Edward Lovekyn founded Lovekyn Chapel, still standing and in use opposite the end of Old London Road, and standing in the grounds of Tiffins Grammar School, at the start of London Road. It is said that most of the lands in the area belonged to Lovekyn at that time.

The plaque on the wall of the chapel says :-

Lovekyn Chapel plaque

“The Lovekyn Chapel founded 1309 by Edward Lovekyn bailiff and member of the butchers’ company of Kingston: rebuilt and re-endowed 1352 by John Lovekyn stock-fishmonger and Alderman and four times Lord Mayor of London: confiscated to the Crown 1535 granted to the Kingston Grammar School 1561 by Queen Elizabeth.”

There is mentioned that in 1532 a certain Mr Erasmus Ford who owned the land, complained bitterly to King Henry VIII, as some of King’s men had cut down 35 prime elms, it is presupposed to help built Hampton Court, which is not far away from Norbiton and Kingston, up the River Thames.

The Evelyn family in 1588 used the property to store and make gunpowder.

What building existed then could not be found, but there is reference of a building in 1631 as being newly built in brick and had 13 hearths. There is mention of the Jenkinson family owning Norbiton Hall in 1681 when major renovation and alteration was undertaken, saying that 43 persons could be comfortable sat for diner.

There were two large estates in the area, the one I researched Norbiton Hall, and the other which should not be confused with the Hall, which was Norbiton House or Place, the two estates divided by the London Road. Both areas prior to the 19th century being primarily agricultural land.

Norbiton Hall‘s grounds were to the north of London Road, the road was said prior to adoption by the local authority a difficult place to negotiate, as carts would become stuck for hours from the resultant mud and ruts after rain.

Norbiton House or Place was to the south of London Road, bordered by Cambridge Road and Coombe Road. The house and grounds were palatial, with the owner a rich merchant, a Mr Pallmer, trading in the West Indies, spending most of his money on the estate, eventually becoming bankrupt. He would open the grounds for the public to enjoy at weekends. The house was of more grandeur than the buildings at Norbiton Hall, having 23 hearths.

Old Norbiton Hall
Old Norbiton Hall
Old Norbiton Hall
Old Norbiton Hall

Opposite Norbiton Hall is St Peters Church, which was built in 1842 by Gilbert Scott in the Norman Style.

It was at this time that big changes started to occur in the area. By 1838 the Enclosure Commissioners alloted land from Norbiton Hall for development, and with the introduction of the railway line to Kingston and Maldon, the Norbiton Hall estate was split into two and got smaller. By 1873 there was only 12 acres left, and in 1882-4 the then owner drove a road though the estate calling it Birkenhead Avenue, named after the families favourite town. Land was sold in small plots to build houses adjoining the new Avenue.

In 1829 the estate was purchased by Mary, Countess of Liverpool, and her cousin Robert Jenkinson who was Lieutenant of Dover Castle, a well to do man, and was known as the squire. He died in the mid 1850s. The Countess died 1846. Lord Liverpool who died a year before the purchase was Prime Minister for 15 years, and was responsible for the erection of Kingston Bridge, the first stone being laid 1825 and opened 1828, replacing an earlier bridge which was documented crossing the Thames since 1219.

Norbiton Hall was acquired from John Guy 1864 by William Hardman, for 8000 guineas, he was to become Mayor of Kingston, magistrate and recorder, and was knighted in 1885. As a justice he had rooms in the hall which he used to hear cases against local villains on a daily basis.

In 1884 Norbiton Hall was advertised for sale with 4 servants bedrooms, 5 best bedrooms, dressing and bathroom, drawing dining morning and billiard room, library breakfast room. But the grounds were only 2 acres left and sold in lots.

A Mr E J Cave lived in the house for an annual rent of £200, and in 1884 brought the house for £3500, but it went into a long decline.

In 1933 a planning application was submitted for the land to be to become a dog racing track but was rejected by council, and subsequently by the government on appeal. Soon after the hall was demolished to make way for the 192 to flats as we see them today.

Old Norbiton Hall

The back of Norbiton Hall, in Birkenhead Avenue.

Front of Norbiton Hall
Front of Norbiton Hall


Same position about 1925 with post box and tram lines

Norbiton Hall c. 1930 Norbiton Hall c. 1930

Old Photographs Copyright R.H.Byran
Reproduced with permission and fee from
Kingston Museum April 2007

See a film of Kingston upon Thames taken on a sunny day in April 2007, click here.

See Pictures of the London Road flooded in July 2007, click here.

See aerial view of Norbiton Hall, click

See Cycling Improvements in London Road, Kingston