Aerial view of the riverThe Ditton Corner plot from the airFen Ditton - an aerial view

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Hello! Weve moved house

All Done Bar the Snagging

We’re home! After eight months of building works we finally moved in to our house in Fen Ditton. And after another six months we’ve nearly finished... The move was well worth the wait.

Our new home is on the banks of the River Cam, a couple of miles outside Cambridge. The house takes its name - Ditton Corner - from the bend in the river that is a staging post in the bumps rowing races that take place each year.


The old house was pretty radically rebuilt. A lot of structural steel went into reducing its earthquake vulnerability and we thought floors and a roof might be useful. We put a big rooflight in the centre of the house and built a lot more toilets (well you can never have too many, can you?) in a couple of new extension pieces.

We liked the way the work was going so much that we decided to move in while they were still working. The yummy taste of plaster dust still lingers in our memories.


Finally we got the best part of the summer in our new house and garden, got in a few peals of croquet and had a great garden party for the bumps. Now we are staking our claim against squirrels, owls, foxes, swans and other wildlife that like this spot too. But not as much as us.

House under construction 27 May 2000 

House under reconstruction


Who's driving that digger?

Who's driving that digger?   And is she insured?


Home Front

Fishing on the riverbank

Etienne teaches Henry and Alfred to harvest the natural resources at the end of the garden.

Fee Fi Fo Fum

Fee Fi Fo Fum - Uncle Nick's gang takes us onto the Giant's chair on a mud-splattered adventure trail.  Next stop - the rope bridge across the icy stream...


Posing in Puy St. Vincent

Posing in Puy St. Vincent

Family goes downhill
Must be skiied to be believed

We celebrated the Millennium in typical Rock Road style - with a street party. Then, noticing that planes were not dropping out of the skies, we took off for Turin. Then to Puy St. Vincent in the French Alps, for a spot of apres-ski.

After a few decent sessions, it was kindly pointed out that we had to earn our Gluhwein by entertaining the locals in traditional fashion: it transpired that this involved strapping fibreglass planks to our feet and sliding backwards down a mountain. The reverse descent was not in fact obligatory, but much appreciated by onlookers nonetheless. Andrew achieved a spectacular face plant on video while going for the ski jump. Alice and Henry redeemed the family honour by covering themselves in starry snowflakes at ski school.



Ouch - Hair braided at Strawberry Fair

Ouch. Alice (9) having her hair braided at Strawberry Fair. It didn’t survive the school rules - but it was pretty while it lasted.

Monopolised.  Henry (6) develops a fascination for board games and hotels on Mayfair.

Monopolised. Henry (6) develops a fascination for board games and hotels on Mayfair.


Snapshots of several short breaks that formed our holidays this year.

Alice & Henry in medieval hall.

Room at the Inn? Alice and Henry tuck up in the medieval New Inn at Peasenhall, Suffolk - rented for an autumn weekend from the Landmark Trust.

Alice & Kriszta in Helsinki.

Alice goes boating with Kriszta, our Hungarian au pair, on a trip to Helsinki.


Refuelling in a French pavement cafe...

Refuelling in a French pavement cafe...


..after a gruelling day of Parisian sightseeing with the Grandjean family.

..after a gruelling day of Parisian sightseeing with the Grandjean family

Disaster Reports


40 ft Ash tree falls and trashes the shed, flattens the croquet gear and bends the flagpole

40 ft Ash tree falls and trashes the shed, flattens the croquet gear and bends the flagpole


Wind storm wreaks destruction

Disaster number one struck when winter gales blew down one of the tallest trees onto a shed. The shed contained Andrew’s precious croquet set, but rapid deployment of Search and Rescue teams, sniffer dogs etc., failed to retrieve it. After years of catastrophe modelling, this was the wind storm’s revenge.





Squirrel Eats Mouse

Sooty tree-rodent causes chaos in house

Disaster number two occurred when a pair of squirrels came down the chimney in the same gales. The sooty pair cavorted around the house being pursued by Consuelo the au-pair. Vases and china were smashed and decor blackened before one of them was evicted.

prefers Apple

The second squirrel went into hiding. It was finally discovered a couple of days later when Helen’s computer cables were chewed through, including the mouse mat and the connections to her Apple Macintosh. Phone cables were severed but we failed to tempt him with our live high voltage. Squirrel Nutkin was given his own internut account and returned to his tree.


Business Section


New Ventures in RMS

In May, RMS approved the business plan for Andrew’s new Internet venture - putting information products online and joining it with a data exchange for e-commerce.


For the rest of the year this meant a hectic program of software builds and web design. It also entailed the recruitment of an editorial team of professional journalists.

Cabin fever

The ensuing sales campaign, meeting clients and exploring product priorities has been gruelling. Andrew has made 10 trips to the United States this calendar year.


RMS continues to grow rapidly - this year it achieved a record turnover of double the level it was three years ago when the merger occurred. It hasn’t all been hard work though. The company has embarked on an equally frenetic program of team building events, including rock climbing, kayaking, flame grilling and other management trials by ordeal to weed out the fainthearted.

RMS Trials by Ordeal

Coburn Climbing

Rock climbing at Planet Granite - with trusted work colleagues holding the other end of the rope (hopefully).

Cooking masterclass at the Culinary Academy of California

Cooking masterclass at the Culinary Academy of California

Sea kayaking in Monterrey bay

Sea kayaking in Monterrey bay among the sea otters, seals and other wet mammals.

RMS Trials by Fun

Tall Ships and RiskCentric Team

Tall ships race in Bermuda, with Lee the editor and Sam the Veep of Bizdev (as we call him).

RMS Team with Honda Pilots

Team building with rally driving of dune buggies across the fields of Surrey.

Doing the Hurricane Rap

Doing the hurricane rap - Off-site strategy meeting with added song-writing exercises.

CAR Bulletin

TLAs Rule OOK?

Due to a new EU Standardisation Policy Initiative, research project proposals are now being rejected if they are not equipped with silly names.  Helen obligingly plunged into the alphabet soup this year - the AIRinSTRUCT project was polished off, but there remains the fearsome NAVAIR beast to slay, and newly-hatched DEMULOG to nurture.

She pursued her quest through the capital cities of Europe, picking up inspiration while the crew went boating.

CAR Projects

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A Scandinavian suggestion:
Lämpökatto esilämmittää auringon lämmöllä ja katon lämpöhäviöillä tuloilman.


CAR Gathering

CAR Shareholders 13 years on.

Shareholders in CAR carouse on, into their thirteenth year.


History of Ditton Corner

Bumps and Carnage’ - watching the rowing races at our garden-warming party

Bumps and Carnage’ - watching the rowing races at our garden-warming party

Ditton Corner - staging post in Cam rowing races

Bumps and Carnage occurs twice a year on the river Cam. Ditton Corner is a key vantage point.

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As old as the Fens
Fen Ditton has ancient roots

The chalk ridge overlooking the river where Ditton Corner stands is the oldest inhabited part of the parish. References to "Dittone" (the Village on the Ditch) date back to 950 A.D., showing its strategic position at the north end of Fleam Dyke.

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This earthwork dates from the seventh century wars between the kingdoms of Mercia and East Anglia.

River traffic

Fen Ditton church occupies the commanding position overlooking the Cam. From here in medieval times, wharves stretched along the river to north and south. This is close to the navigable limit of the Cam, where goods were unloaded for the Stourbridge Fair, held every September - which at its heyday was described by Defoe as the biggest in the world.

...Ditton girls are mean and dirty,
And there’s none in Harston under thirty.
...Things happen that you won’t believe
in Madingley on Christmas eve...

Poem to Grantchester
Rupert Brooke, First World War Poet
Berlin, May 1912

By the end of the 19th century, Fen Ditton was famous for social gatherings and the bumps - although Rupert Brooke obviously had a lower opinion of the inhabitants.

Duke of Edinburgh vsits Ditton Corner in 1994

Royal visit to Ditton Corner for previous owners, 1994

Next Chapter

We are privileged to inherit the long history of this place, and hope to be part of the next chapter...

The four-day rowing races between the colleges known as ‘Bumps and Carnage’, have been held twice a year since 1827. Boats try to catch and hit or ‘bump’, the boat ahead. About a third of the way down the course is the bend of Ditton Corner where the well-coxed crew can catch their quarry by cutting inside. The ‘May’ bumps, occur in June, naturally.

Wonderful boating weather

Ditton Corner is a good vantage point to watch the races. Photographs and sketches of the event from the turn of the century show that the present garden of the house at Ditton Corner was a popular perch. Jesus College may have carried out the terracing of the garden to provide viewing platforms. There were timber grandstands built, bands that played and an industry of on-course bookmakers.

Still Partying

The social style may not be quite as splendid, but today’s races are still exciting. This year we had 170 guests to watch the event from the gardens of Ditton Corner - the house was unfinished, so it sufficed as a garden-warming party. The last day of the bumps coincided with Alice’s birthday, so the kids bobbed for apples and did a play, while the adults sipped wine and listened for the cannon to signal the next race.

Ditton Grandstand 1910

Ditton Corner bumps 8 June 1910
Rupert Brooke’s generation on the river bank

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Ditton Corner bumps 17 June 2000
Rupert Everett’s generation on the river bank

Cheshire Cat Productions 2000