All Done Bar the Snagging
Were home! After eight months of building works
we finally moved in to our house in Fen Ditton. And after another six months weve
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
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 reconstruction
Who's driving that digger?
And is she insured?
Etienne teaches Henry and Alfred to
harvest the natural resources at the end of the garden.
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
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. Alice (9) having her hair braided
at Strawberry Fair. It didnt survive the school rules - but it was pretty while it
Monopolised. Henry (6) develops a
fascination for board games and hotels on Mayfair.
several short breaks that formed our holidays this year.
Room at the Inn? Alice and Henry tuck
up in the medieval New Inn at Peasenhall, Suffolk - rented for an autumn weekend from the
Alice goes boating with Kriszta, our
Hungarian au pair, on a trip to Helsinki.
Refuelling in a French pavement cafe...
..after a gruelling day of Parisian
sightseeing with the Grandjean family
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 Andrews 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 storms 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
The second squirrel went into hiding. It was finally discovered a couple of days
later when Helens 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.
New Ventures in RMS
In May, RMS approved the business plan for Andrews new
Internet venture - putting information products online and joining it with a data exchange
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
The ensuing sales campaign, meeting clients and exploring product
priorities has been gruelling. Andrew has made 10 trips to the United States this calendar
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
hasnt 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
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
Sea kayaking in Monterrey bay among the
sea otters, seals and other wet mammals.
RMS Trials by Fun
Tall ships race in Bermuda, with Lee
the editor and Sam the Veep of Bizdev (as we call him).
Team building with rally driving of
dune buggies across the fields of Surrey.
Doing the hurricane rap - Off-site
strategy meeting with added song-writing exercises.
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.
A Scandinavian suggestion:
Lämpökatto esilämmittää auringon lämmöllä ja katon
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
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.
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.
This earthwork dates from the seventh century wars between the kingdoms of
Mercia and East Anglia.
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
...Ditton girls are mean and dirty,
And theres none in Harston under thirty.
...Things happen that you wont 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.
Royal visit to Ditton Corner for
previous owners, 1994
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.
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.
The social style may not be quite as splendid, but todays 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 Alices 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 Corner bumps 8 June 1910
Rupert Brookes generation on the river bank
Ditton Corner bumps 17 June 2000
Rupert Everetts generation on the river bank
Cheshire Cat Productions 2000