Digging up the past

My sister recently saw a familiar name on the wall of a church in Wells.

As I inherited all my father’s work on our family tree I thought I would look into this and see who these people were.

A search for the name William Provis Wickham brought up a result in the “A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland“. Although this is a very old book and the font is hard to read, remarkably Google’s book scanning project not only had scanned this obscure book, it also performed good enough OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to index the name of my relative.

From here it was a case of reading and re-reading the genealogical relationship in the book to determine how exactly the Rev fitted in to our own history.

He was a vicar at Shepton Mallet, and lived in a rather nice house called Charlton House (https://houseandheritage.org/2016/07/16/charlton-house/)

His son was called  Reverend William Provis Trelawney Wickham M.A. , also vicar of Shepton Mallet, gave his name to these Almshouses there:

I found later he’s also mentioned in the “The Gentleman’s Magazine” of 1843 in the “Clergy, Deceased” category.

The name of this honoured gentleman was very familiar to me, as to my sisters as my father had his portrait up in our sitting room for as long as I remember. It now hangs in Chiswick at my brothers:

Why there’s a reddish background I have no idea!

William Provis Wickham is my 2nd cousin 5 times removed. I’ll have to see if it’s possible to trace any living direct descendents.

Storage Shed Construction

After looking at prices and reviews for off-the shelf storage sheds I decided I would build one from scratch to replace one my Dad built about 15 years ago

Old shed
The existing shed – storm Eunice tore off the tarp that was covering the roof.

The design is purely for storage but it also needs to be reasonably secure as it will be sited in a remote location.

  • Overall size: 2.4m wide by 4.8m long.
  • Flat roof for ease of construction
  • Garage size & style doors to allow plenty of light when open and ease of access for large objects
  • Optional roof light panel
  • No concrete or bricks to be used.
  • Be able to withstand weather for at least 10 years without maintainance

I decided to use fence post spikes and fence posts for the main corners. The fence post spikes will go easily into the earth and the 100mm square fence posts will provide a heavy duty frame. All outward facing timber to be tanellised (weather-treated). The entire building will be raised from the ground to help prevent damp and rot.

I will then create a frame for the floor and another frame for the roof using strong C24 timber.

A double door will be created from the wood being used for the walls

For the roof I plan to use box section metal sheet, along with a single clear roof panel made of fibreglass.


Frames are constructed from treated 45mmx145mm C24 graded timber. These come in 4800mm lengths so I decided to use this as the overall length of the shed. They can be cut in half to provide a width of 2.4 metres.

To provide a solid floor I’ve set 4 intermediate joists, and for the roof frame 2 intermediate joists (as it does not need to be as strong). Floor span calculator

Because the roof frame will be on a slope, the floor frame needs to be slightly narrower than the roof one. With a 12 degree slope, I calculated the floor frame should be 2350 wide.

The walls will be constructed of planks of treated timber, 22mm x 150mm x 2400mm. No windows were considered as a security measure. I’ve added a roll of “Building Paper” to the shopping list which should make it more watertight and damp resistent.

With 2400mm length the planks will fit onto to 100mm posts perfectly. If they need additional bracing this can be added inside using simple 2×3 studding.


I considered a number of options but decided on box section painted steel sheeting to give strength and long lasting weather protection. The supplier has an option to add a membrane to the underside of the sheets which will absorb condensation which I think is a sensible precaution. I decided to add a single 1 metre wide clear roof panel to provide additional light in the shed. As this is a potential weak spot, some kind of secondary security system may be needed underneath it.


Next steps: Order materials and start the build!

Fast Mule Race, July 4 1925

Aside from ancestors, I’ve never heard of anyone with exactly the same name as me.

Thanks to the Hancock-Henderson Quill, a US local newspaper first registered in 1879, I’ve now found another. Here’s the entry from the Stronghurst Graphic: July 2, 1925

ALL SET FOR THE BIG PICNIC: Representatives of both the Henderson County and Des Moines County Farm Bureaus are busy putting the final touches on the big picnic to be held July 4th at the Burlington Fair Grounds.  A fine lot of prizes has been arranged for the drawing contest. Numbers covering the drawing were mailed to all members in both counties…A big picnic dinner at noon will be one of the most enjoyable features of the day while the Oakville Ladies’ Band will fill in the musical part of the program.  The address by W. F. Schilling, Pres. Twin City Milk Producers Association of St. Paul, Minn. promises to be a real worthwhile occasion…Following this, the balance of the afternoon will be devoted to sports and baseball.  A feature will be the fast mule race, the mules being ridden by Chas. Bond, Secretary of the Greater Burlington Association; Rex Wickham, County Agent in Des Moines County; and Ernest Walker, Farm Advisor of Henderson County…

No further information is available at the moment so I’ve yet to find out who was the winner of the ‘fast mule race’ but one can only hope the result was favourable.

Pierce Norton was only 16 at the time of the Great American Horse Race. (Courtesy of Curt Lewis)
Pierce Norton was only 16 at the time of the Great American Horse Race. (Courtesy of Curt Lewis)

You can find out more about Mule Racing at http://www.muleracing.org

Mules are not always the poor relation of horses when it comes to racing. In 1976 a mule won the “Great American Horse Race”, a 3,500 miles marathon starting in New York and then following the Pony Express route to California, beating Icelandic ponies and Arabians. The mule’s name was Leroy.

Wickham is still a name in the area, as this recent article mentions the family, taking part in something called Horse Barrel Racing (sadly not as peculiar as it sounds – see NBHA for details).

Factory Reset Mpow M5 Headset

I recently struggled to re-pair a Bluetooth headset I was using, the “Mpow M5 Pro Bluetooth Headset“, also known as model BH231A and wanted to share the solution.

The Mpow M5 can be factory reset as follows:

  • Turn off by holding down the button on the end of microphone for about 6 seconds – you will hear a “power down” sound.
  • Hold down the button on the end of microphone and the Volume +  button for at least 5 seconds
  • The LED light will start flashing Blue/Red. This indicates it is ready to pair.

Why was this necessary? If the Mpow M5 headset has got paired with some other device that you’ve forgotten about, or you delete it from your device-side, it does not go into pairing mode the usual way, which is holding down the button on the microphone for 10 seconds.

According to instructions, the button – described as the MFB or “Multi Function Button” does a number of things.

FunctionTime HeldLED colour
Power On3-5 secondsBlue
Power OffMore than 5 secondsRed
Pairing Mode6 to 9 secondsRed/Blue Flash
Play/PauseShort press x 1
Mute HeadphoneShort press x 2
Answer CallShort press x 1
Hang up CallShort press x 1
Mute MicrophoneLong press 1-2 seconds

The Mpow M5 headphones are a budget option but the audio quality is good enough for occasional use.

The included stand is heavy so they will not fall over when not in use, and the battery life is good.


I noticed this year that on the HMRC personal tax portal they give you a breakdown of how your tax is spent on various services.

This is offered as raw data but also a pretty graph.

Tax breakdown from HMRC 2018-2019
Tax breakdown from HMRC 2018-2019

They also provide the data for the past 4 years, so I thought it would be interesting to track some of these categories to see how government spending has changed from 2016 to 2019.

how spending has changed 2016-2019
Spending Changes over 2016-2019

The graph line shows it best but in actual fact the changes in percentage are very small. The biggest changes are in Welfare (down) and Business & Industry (up).

If you do a personal tax return, this data is available in the online HMRC tax portal. Sign in, then select Self Assessment and then select ‘find out how your tax is spent’.

Women at the top

Women now lead almost all the political parties in the UK.

There were no women in the Labour leadership election this month. This was won decisively by “bloke’s bloke”, Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour

To be fair to Labour, they have consistently had around 100 female MPs for since 1997.


BREXIT Thoughts

This is why I’ve decided to vote Leave.

I’ve always been pro-Europe. However I think the majority in the UK are not, and the half-in, half-out approach we have now is the problem.

As I don’t think the UK would get fully engaged with the EU and stand as an equal to the major players there, I have now come to the view that Britian would be better off out of the EU. This is sad, as we will undoubtedly miss out on future opportunities. The toe-dipping, special exemptions and policy opt-outs mean we will never be taken seriously in the EU decision making process and our influence to bring about change in the way the EU is governed is tiny.


I don’t believe the in the long term we’ll be much worse off economically. I believe we’ll be worse off as a society if we close our borders and I hope this will not happen. There’s always the option of rejoining. We’ll still be part of Europe.

Google Photos

I submitted a few photos to Google Maps recently and haven’t thought any more about it.

blue houseI was somewhat suprised then when I got a message saying:

Your photos are a big hit!
Your photos helped people over 50,000 times, a new record for you on Google Maps

So which photos were the popular ones?

Was it my stylish photograph of an boldly painted house in Battersea square?

No, sadly not.

In fact it’s a picture of the Asda car park in Clapham junction!

record breaker

Yes, this is the record breaker. A photo of a carpark.


V-Fit Tornado Air Rower Instruction Manual

V-fit Tornado Air Rowing Machine
V-fit Tornado Air Rowing Machine

V-fit Tornado Air Rowing Machine Instructions

These were hard to find on the web, so I put them here for others may find them

Tornado Air Rower Instruction Manual (Assembly & User Manual): V-fit Tornado Air Rower

Control Unit: AIR ROWER EXERCISE MONITOR USER INSTRUCTIONS: V-fit Tornado Air Rower Exercise Monitor Inst

More information on the rower can be found at http://www.benysports.co.uk/v-fit-tornado-air-rowing-machine-160-p.asp