The American Connection

A client of mine asked this week if I could resolve an IT issue at his property. Now this is not unusual as I tend to fix minor issues for people all the time. The location was quite hard to find as you can’t see it from the country lanes but was surprisingly close to where I live being all of 23 minutes drive away. The property was however a little different to the normal houses I attend as it is part of a manor house.

General Robert E. Lee
General Robert E. Lee

 In the parish of Alveley, Shropshire stands Coton Hall Manor. Now this alone sounds fairly grand and I wouldn’t have looked up the history if I hadn’t had a difficult time locating it on Google Maps. What surprised me was that it has an American connection to a famous family. May be the family name of de la lee rings a bell with anyone in the USA, especially from the South. It was in fact General Robert E. Lee’s ancestral family home. The family has connections with the land dating back almost 1000 years although the current manor only dates back 200 years the original manor went by the same name.

There is a 13th century chapel on the grounds, one of the few remaining buildings that General Robert E. Lee’s ancestors would recognise today and a secret underground tunnel (now blocked off for safety) that runs from the two storey cellar to Alveley village two miles away.

In a twist General Robert E. Lee’s father fought the British in the American War of Independence against the Soldiers of the Shropshire wiping out most of the British regiment in 1777 in the Battle of Saratoga.

Now I don’t know a great deal about General Robert E. Lee but I have read he was an American hero to some and a traitor to others due to his allegiance to the Confederate army but is now perceived as an American Hero to most being pardoned of any wrongs committed by ex-president Jimmy Carter. I’m sure someone will correct me if this is incorrect.

Coton Hall Manor, Shropshire
Coton Hall Manor, Shropshire

Coton Hall Manor has long since passed ownership from the Lee family in 1821 but the existing family has visited the manor in recent years according to reports.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to tour the manor being privately owned and as my client resides in the extension of the manor known as the Bishops tower but you can view images on the internet of the interior of the manor or visit Alveley parish church for remnants of monuments to the Lee family.

It’s interesting though that the local history of a small village in Shropshire had such an impact in American history.




APEMAN 4K Ultra HD Action Camera

I recently purchased the APEMAN 4k Ultra HD Action Camera to use while hiking but thought I would test it out as a dash cam first. The quality doesn’t reflect well in this video due to the restriction on my editing software but I assure you it is very good.

The Apeman comes in a semi hard case with all the attachments you need to attach to a trekking pole, bag, dashboard etc with Velcro, sticky pads, clips and brackets. It comes with different cases which can attach to tripods including a waterproof case if you like to film underwater. It comes with two batteries lasting around 60 minutes each if you use the 4k Ultra HD or 120 minutes each on 1080p.

The downside to this camera is the audio quality. It’s not great but if you are like me this wont deter you too much as I intend to use it with a music score. The Apeman so far proves to capture great images with its  170 degree wide-angle lens. You can use the WiFi to control it from your mobile as well.

It retails at £160.00 but currently reduced to £80 on Amazon. Lucky me, I had a £50 voucher from the Three store to reduce the price further. Apart from sound it is a good option if you don’t want to shell out for a Go Pro Hero.

I thought it would be a great share if anyone is looking for an affordable action camera without the cost of a Go Pro Hero.

The brink of an abyss

It was a normal day of mundane chores and I had been going through the weekly shopping routine when my phone rang. It was Kate. “Hi, are you okay” I said.

Shock quickly gripped me and a stunned look shrouded my face. Cold panic ensued freezing me to the spot.

“I need to talk to you. Something has happened”. Her voice was serious yet showed a hint of apprehension.

“Okay, what is it”? She had my attention.

“I can’t tell you over the phone. Just come home as soon as you can”. And with that the call ended.

I finished my shopping but with a constant nagging sense of dread in the back of my mind that was about to be revealed like a Jack-in-the-box.

I got home and then Kate looked at me. “I’m pregnant”!

That was the Mike Tyson knock out punch. Shock quickly gripped me and a stunned look shrouded my face. Cold panic ensued, freezing me to the spot. I had metaphorically, had an out of body experience. Then when the realisation took back control returning me back from the brink of an abyss I smiled at her and we hugged.

“Christ…four kids and two adults in a three bedroom house. It’s going to be crowded; things need doing, DIY, getting baby stuff, and baby proofing the house”. I was in overdrive.

Television is for entertainment, keep your hands in your pockets…

Several weeks later and I’m still reeling from the news. We decided to tell the children. My daughters were on board with the news straight away. My son however, being the youngest at first rejected the idea. “Why did you tell me now” he protested.

“Well when did you want us to tell you”? I said

With all seriousness he responded “Not for a few years at least”!

I couldn’t help but try to hold in my laughter. “I think you would notice by then”.

“How long have you known”? he quizzed.

“Oh, for a few weeks but we don’t tell anybody until 12 weeks” Kate said

“Oh no”! he cried “You knew and you didn’t tell me”? he cried even more contradicting his earlier statement “You lied to me”!

My eldest daughter interjected “Think of the baby as a gift from God”.

“Well, God can have his gift right back, I don’t want it!”. He curled up in a foetal position, his hand shielding his face and wept.

He cried and protested for about two hours, which I guessed would be his reaction. His fear of not being the baby of the family and he said he wouldn’t be loved as much anymore. It was upsetting to watch him going through all the emotions and to come to grips with the news that in his eyes had “ruined his life”. But we reassured him and now he can’t wait to tell everybody he’s going to be a big brother. My agreement with him is that anytime he feels left out, feeling sad or unloved in any way, he can come to us and we will be there. It seemed a turning point for him. He wants to be part of the whole process now.

I guess without the crying my initial reaction was a similar version of his; shock and awe. A child has no previous experience of handling this and either he was going to implode or explode as his mind tried to rationalise the concept of a new baby in the family.

As I recall we are still at a stage of “ooo, that’s nice news” later the “oh what a lovely baby” before we get to a later stage of everyone sending us glares of contempt at us in a shop because we have the uncontrollable screaming baby throwing a screaming fit. As Jeff Goldblum said “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming”. For now we will enjoy the “ooo, that’s nice news” stage and roll with the punches as they come.

So I’ve got busy times ahead of me. Financially, I will just need to be a bit more thrifty. The news is still fresh and planning needs to be a fun part of the experience. The hospital class Kate as a geriatric mum to be. Something she doesn’t like. She’s 41 and there are risks in “older” women having children. I’m hoping everything goes smoothly and as one person has said to me. “Television is for entertainment, keep your hands in your pockets from now on”. Damn right!