Monday, February 28, 2011

Cuthbert William Neve

This is the last (I'd hate to bore you too much) in this series of old family photos recently discovered amid boxes and trunks belonging to my late aunt.

This man, my grandfather, was born the 3rd of November, 1888 in Maidenhead, Berkshire died in a little place called Hedge End, near Southampton in England on the 6th of December, 1943.  His death quite naturally cut my father's war efforts off short as he was allowed leave to go home at this time.

Until his death he ran a drapery shop in Hedge End, near Southamton, England.  My father took over this shop in an effort to help my grandmother run it profitably but never really took to it and it wasn't long before the shop (below) was up for sale.  This photo was taken some years before this time though for it is my father who stands in the doorway of his father's shop.

I understand the house still stands, though it is no longer a shop.  My aunt has written on the back of my final shot for you today the following, Interior of shop at Hedge End.  Dad seen in mirror taking photo.  By "Dad" we are to understand, of course, Cuthbert, her father, and my grandfather.

Just my little trip down memory lane.  Your comments are welcome; we'll get serious tomorrow!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Phunny photo!

Well, gather round, kiddies, it's time to test your perception and recognition skills in a public forum.

You've all seen the large picture books for children called Where's Waldo haven't you? Here's one that I'll call Where's Rutho.

I promised (threatened?) yesterday I might have some more old scans for you.  Well, everyone can take part in this one—of course it may be slightly easier for those who knew my Aunty Ruth. :-)

This picture, which I've helpfully scanned at a higher resolution for you, has only the following inscription of the back:

"Keswick 1951.  Ruth in the crowd."

If you click on the picture it should open in a new window at a much higher resolution that will make your search so much easier—I don't think!  But I found her; you can, too!

Apart from our beloved Ruth, does anyone recognize anyone else who was there at that convention?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Benjamin James Shenton

A trip over to the hotel to pick up more boxes of old photos and sort through them yielded this picture I don't remember having seen before of my father's mother's father—my great grandfather.

Some of you might enjoy looking at it.  (I put him in his place in our family tree on geni, by the way.)

If you like, I should have a few more to scan for you and posterity. :-)

Benjamin James Shenton was born in Southampton on the 28th of June, 1859 and died in the same place on November 26, 1936 at the good age of 77.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Painting, work, and Roo's saucisson

Wendy's comment yesterday concerning the painting in the Gare de l'Est sparked my interest and I thought I'd try to find out something about it.

Well, it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be (nothing in Wikipedia) but I was finally rewarded with this paragraph found on a site by one Phil Beard (who did an article last year on this station).  He says,

"Gare de l’Est is the only Parisian station to display a painting, a large mural sized work donated by the artist, Albert Herter (1871-1950) entitled Le Départ des poilus, août 1914.  Herter was an American artist, resident in Paris who presented the painting in memory of his own son, a casualty of war.  The painting serves as a solemn reminder of the shock-waves of armed conflict."

So there you have it.  Never having heard of Albert Herter before I was glad to see he has a place in Wikipedia as well as several paintings prominently placed around the world.

We had an Asian boy from Le Mans coming to see us about work today.  Raph and Pascal have already met him and like him a lot so my visit will merely be a formality—albeit a necessary one. :-)

If all goes as planned he will increase our workforce to a total of twelve and will help justify the new offices that are being created in the formerly open area near the entrance to the building.

We decided last year to clean it out and build two new offices and a bigger meeting room, the old one being transformed into a new office for Pascal.  I should take a photo to show you the improvements one day; it's a lot of work!

This afternoon Roo, who takes Fridays off nowadays to tend his garden brought over a saucisson sec that he has successfully made from his pig last month (I did tell you about that, didn't I?)

He was justifiably proud of it as he passed it around for tasting and surprised himself at how "easy" it was to make!

Here, have a slice ...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Back from Mannheim

[This informative post is from Raph who is just returning from a two-day trip to Lugwigshafen (see former post) where he was hosted by our biggest client.)

Hi there,

I'm on the train back to Paris from Mannheim.  The day went well, I was very well received and the IT director showed me around the two different plants (one in Ladenburg, one in Ludwigshafen).

The two towns are facing each other on either side of the Rhine river and should be the same town except that they are in twos different "Lands" (regions).  I felt like the queen of Sheba with Solomon showing me around his place (OK, maybe that's a slight exaggeration!)

I've attached two bird's eye photos of the sites  I visited. The biggest one in Ludwigshafen is one square kilometre (we visited by car, which was nice since it was snowing !).  It has it's own port on the Rhine for receiving raw materials (200 000 tons per year), it's own power plant, petrol station, cafeteria, etc...

This is where the headquarters of the mother company is.  They own 220 companies throughout Europe.  The IT director told me the original family came from Italy in 1823 and set up a chemical factory in Ludwigshafen.  They owned the place until 1977 when they sold out to a well-known chemical company based in Tel Aviv.  As they say, the rest is history.

The second plant in Ladenburg used to be "BK" before they merged (hence the BK in the name).  They do phosphates.  They receive lots of phosphates by boat from Israel then mix them up and make phosphoric acid out of it.  This goes into lots of very different products.

The plants are impressive.  They get raw materials from different mines they own throughout Europe and Israel : in the Negev desert they own one of the world's biggest open potash mines in the world.  They also own mines in Scotland and Barcelona.

Read all about it here (the article mentions our client ! and oh, the town they call Sdom is actually the historic Sodom, on the bank of the Dead Sea).  The plants I visited ship out 100 trucks per day in finished goods, ranging from phosphate based food additives to fertilizers to gypsum based polymers used for dental fillings.

I met about 20 or 30 people today who probably will remember me better than I will remember them.  Most of them seemed to have heard about me/us from somewhere.  Being in the same hotel as Mr. M who I saw at breakfast, but our paths didn't cross for the rest of the day.  I also saw Dr. S who is the head of the mother company in Germany and who still hopes to get Mona
[our software] one day.

I had meetings all day with different people : first the technical low level transport guys, then in the afternoon the whole SAP team of developers.

I think you could excuse me for using the somewhat popular adjective "gob-smacked" to describe their state after I'd finished presenting Mona.

It's sort of the "nuclear-battleship versus small swift pleasure boat" situation. Their SAP system handles 16 languages with multi-site redundancy, Oracle transaction logs replicating over 4 GB fibre optic lines, 1500 users connected over 26 countries — but our system gets the job done nicer and quicker when you don't need this kind of intergalactic superstructure.

Anyhow, we'll see how everything shakes down.  For now we impressed them enough to trust our system to stay where it is and integrate with theirs, but there are opportunities open later for putting our software in other places.

The integration itself is no small matter (couple months work at least) and show they have confidence in us and our system. The next step is to come back up here end of march with "a developer" and kick off the project by getting into the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts (XML-RPC between Java and .Net, should prove fun !).

Looks like I'm arriving at Paris soon.  I'd better sign off ; see you all soon.

Lots of love,


Mail trays now available!

I have had installed, on your left at the top of the last few stairs going to the offices (just past the broom cupboard) six clear plastic vertical trays for the reception of family mail.

For too long family mail has gathered behind Becky's desk in what was  affectionately known as the "family tray" though, in practice, mail was simply left there to rot until it was outdated enough to justify throwing it into the bin.

That epoch is all over!  Rejoice with your new acquisition!

These trays are now marked:

"R&C" (short for Raph and Camille)

"D&S" (short for Dad and Mum)

"J&D" (short for Roo and Bah's mother)

"NEWS" (short for nothing at all, but will serve to hold family newsletters, Peter Hoovers, and such like)

"C&C" (short for Kripper and Klow)

And the sixth tray has been left intentionally blank; it will be marked at such a moment as inspiration decides.

So you are all now encouraged to "check your mail" by yourself, without having to push that heavy door open and without having to come into the office area and without even having to turn on your computer.  Checking one's mail has now taken on a brand new (old-fashioned) meaning!

Have fun, but leave others' mail alone.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Raph is off today for a couple days in Germany -- to see the parent company of one of our biggest customers here.  They can't stop making new acquisitions and the net result for us is, more work.

(Already last year we had to hire two more developers and this year we're hiring again; next week one more boy from Le Mans and right after, another programmer.  Lord help us not to grow too fast!)

Yesterday Raph wrote us this and Becky thought it might be interesting enough to share with all of you.

"This is where I'll be off to tomorrow : Ludwigshafen, birthplace of Helmut Kohl and site to the world's biggest chemical plant (BASF, with a plant spreading over 10 km² and employing 35.000 people !).  The company I'm visiting is also a big chemical industry : BK Giulini (Anti-Germ's mother company).  Read all about it and more here :"

Happy reading!

Here's a shot from him on the way...

Paris, Gare de l'Est

 Left: the TGV, Right: the ICE that will take him to Mannheim, Germany

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Number eight

Just a little note, for those of you who may be interested, that Roo noticed we'd got our eighth little lamb of the season this morning!

Still no up-to-date photos but, after all, don't all lambs look alike?

Today we heard details of Eva's coming visit which provided great joy to all: she's bought her ticket to get to Le Mans on Thursday, the third of March.  Right in the middle of her visit (which is planned for March 3-14) we've also heard that Bas is coming on down for a week!

We haven't seen him for a little while and we're all looking forward to that, too!

Books: as I sometimes do, I want to introduce you to a fascinating book I finished reading last month and passed on to Raph.  Now he's finished it and it's in Claire's queue of to-reads.

It is a reprint of a 1927 publication that raised a lot of interest in its day and was reprinted several times in the thirties and forties before fading out.

The author, John Dunne (read about him here, if you care to) was an early aeronautical engineer and aircraft designer who became very interested in, amongst other things, our concept of time.

He developed his theories through painstaking experiments with himself and others in the realm of dreams and concluded surprising things in the realm of time, dreams, prophecy, and the existence of a soul!

A good read, if you are that way inclined.

I have since acquired his other major work (much harder to get hold of nowadays, though) where he outlines the basis of his theory, which he calls serialism.  This book (which I'm just starting today) is called The Serial Universe and this is what it looks like.

If anyone reading this has already delved into this author, I'd appreciate hearing your reactions to his ideas.

Friday, February 18, 2011


The past week we have been mercilessly getting rid of our junk storage that has taken over fifty square metres of our room over the years.

The last time we used any of this stuff was during our open house display six or seven years ago when we had a whole row of old computers fired up for inspection.  With the very first Macintosh Apple and IBM's going back to the early 80s we had enough to construct our own musée de l'informatique but never got around to it.

Now we need to space to build a four new offices and everything has got to go.

Raph was feeling a little sad as he said goodbye to some of his earlier equipment.  We got a skip delivered and started to fill it up.  Here's a shot he took as the skip started to fill!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How many this year?

Hi all,

Yet another lamb this morning... number 7!!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Number six!

"I got a few pictures this morning, along with some of the new number 6, fresh and wet from this morning!"


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Email just received from Jonathan:

"By the way, we just got our fifth lamb this morning. A brown one. :)