Dable Stuff

A series of incidents involving the Dables and their associates

Nov 2013 – Mar 2014

Posted by dablefamily on March 17, 2014

Here’s a bunch of photos I took on phone between Nov 2013, a shopping trip to Brum, and Mar 2014, Miles 16th birthday. Also in there is skiing in the French Pyrenees, A Christmas trip into London, Christmas dinner, and some walks on the Malvern Hills.

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The day before the big day

Posted by dablefamily on August 12, 2013

The day before the wedding, Fri 26 Jul, many of Antonia’s family arrived at Yew Tree House to gather and help out. There are some pictures here. Many, many thanks to Fiona and Kane for preparing the spread for the choir on the morning of the wedding, and getting it to the church too so that the choir could enjoy some drinks and bitings after performing.

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Goodrich Castle, Cordi’s 12th birthday, and Aussies at New Road

Posted by dablefamily on July 7, 2013

Been oh so busy lately, so apologies for the lack of posts. Here’s a new photo album on google, with pictures of walks on the Hills, Cordi’s 12th Birthday outing to West Mids Safari Park, the new Clearview fire in the front room, and the Aussie touring side at New Road in the final tour fixture before the first test at Trent Bridge.

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On the hills

Posted by dablefamily on January 27, 2013

When we walk on the hills, it’s usually the Malvern Hills. But this afternoon the sunny mild weather encouraged us to pop down to Cheltenham where we rounded up our old friend Vron, as well as Julian and Anya for a walk on the hills round Cheltenham. Here’s pics of Vron and Antonia, Anya & Julian, and everybody.

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Snow in Hanley Swan

Posted by dablefamily on January 21, 2013

After an initial blanket of snow we’ve had intermittent light snow falls. There was still enough for Cordi and Grace from next door to build a snowman.

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Edmund is 18 !

Posted by dablefamily on January 20, 2013

Yesterday, Sat 19 Jan, was Edmund’s 18th birthday. We celebrated with a cooked breakfast and some presents, some of them even mathematical presents. Then went into Worcester for lunch at Pizza Express. And then we went to the cinema to see The Impossible. But there are more festivities for friends and family to come…

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Posted by dablefamily on April 23, 2012

A few weeks back Miles went over to Toledo to stay with his Spanish exchange student Javier. Now Javier is with us in Hanley Swan, and is getting his first taste of English life. Here are some links to pictures of a day trip to Oxford, a walk up the Worcestershire Beacon, a cooked breakfast with HP sauce, and roast dinner. We forced Javier to drink tea – he seemed to like it!  And he went for a drive round the hills.

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B&B bookings web site

Posted by dablefamily on April 20, 2012

The online B&B booking site is taking shape – thanks to Antonia’s efforts, and the very cool eviivo system…

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Posted by dablefamily on February 20, 2012

We had a lovely time in Mayrhofen last week, staying at the Hotel St Georg, and skiing on the slopes round the Zillertal – the Ziller Valley. Edmund and Miles both enjoyed a week of boarding rather than skiiing, and hooked up Nick and Chloe, who were also staying at the St Georg. We hardly saw then during the day on the mountain. The first three days Antonia and I were in lessons with Klaus, an excellent instructor from Skishule Mayrhofen 3000. Out of season Klaus is a dairy farmer. During the season he teaches skiing. Miles and Edmund had excellent boarding lessons from the same ski school. Unfortunately Cordi wasn’t so lucky. She was with the grumpy Charlie, also from Skishule Mayrhofen 3000. On Tues Cordi got lost when skiing with Charlie’s group. Did Charlie bother to call anyone to say he’d lost Cordi ? No !  We only found out when a kindly lady, who’d found Cordi sobbing at a lift, had called Antonia.

Apart from that one low point, we had a great week in Mayrhofen. The ski area is much larger than Alpbach, but it still has plenty of Tirolean charm. To celebrate our appreciation for the Tirol, Antonia and Cordi both got dirndls, and I’ve got some lederhosen. Coming soon to a party near you…

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Eulogy for John Dable

Posted by dablefamily on November 12, 2011

I spent last weekend writing this eulogy for Antonia’s father John. I delivered it at his funeral at St Sebastian’s in Great Gonerby, Grantham on Thursday. Afterwards quite a few of the other mourners offered kind words in response to the eulogy; that they’d been moved by this account of John’s life, that they felt it captured his life and personality, and that they’d been surprised by one or other story contained. Folk asked me to send a copy, so I though I’d just post here for their benefit, and for anyone who couldn’t be there on the day…

Eulogy for John Dable 

John Dable was born into a well to do Nottingham family in Dec 1933. 
John's father John Dable senior had married Winifred, the only daughter 
of John Wood, of Wood's Navy Rum fame. Though his circumstances were 
apparently comfortable, his early life was a struggle. His mother 
Winifred died giving birth to him. His father John was severe or cold 
with his son by turn. John himself said that his father never recovered 
from his mother's death. And in this account from John of the earliest 
part of his life we can already see one of his finest character traits, 
that he saw only the best in people. He didn't seek to condemn his own 
father's hard treatment, only to understand and forgive it. The child is 
the father of the man, and it's a testament to John's character that he 
never allowed those harsh early years to turn him into a harsh person. 
Fortunately for John he had a source of maternal love in his grandmother 
Ethel, who took on much of the work of young John's upbringing and 
spoiled him rotten with bread and dripping sandwiches and occasional 
trips to Fortnum and Masons. 

Another bright spot in those early years often recalled by John was a 
Mediterranean cruise in the summer of 1939. War in Europe was drawing 
closer, and John’s grandfather John Wood had become convinced they were 
all going to be gassed by the Germans. Deciding to seize the day, he 
paid for the whole family to take a Mediterranean cruise on the RMS 
Lancastria, a Cunard White Star Liner sailing from Liverpool. Cunard 
operated a 22 day 22 guinea cruise in those days calling at Gibraltar, 
Tangier, Villefranche and Lisbon. It must have been a happy time for the 
whole family, soaking up the Mediterranean sun and escaping from the 
looming war. Later, in March 1940 that same ship Lancastria carried 
several hundred Jewish refugees from Liverpool to New York. Shortly 
after that, the Lancastria became a troop ship and was sunk in June 1940 
evacuating military and civilians from France. 4000 lives were lost, 
more than Titanic and Lusitania combined. 

John's early school days were in wartime. Children were more independent 
then, and John was walking the two miles to his first school, Whitemoor, 
at the age of 4½ with friends in the summer of 1938. We might think that 
risky by today's standards, but John recalled much of the traffic being 
horse drawn including coal carts, milk carts and brewers drays. He 
remembered much else about wartime schooldays in Nottingham too, 
including the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. John himself wrote... 

“...I was out one day alone, wearing short trousers of course, down at 
our local river in Nottingham paddling up to my knees with a jam-jar and 
fishing net attempting to catch some minnows or … sticklebacks. Close by 
[there were] ... tall cube-like brick and concrete tanktraps, and ... a 
semi-derelict old watermill. I do recall it was a brilliantly sunny day, 
and as I wasn't at school or at church it must have been a Saturday. The 
air-raid siren sounded suggesting a raid was about to happen. This 
didn't seem to worry me unduly, I had witnessed daylight raids in the 
open on several occasions. I know it might sound somewhat potty but in 
those days it was only the night raids I worried about. Also the chance 
I might get caught by a warden or policeman without my gasmask was 
pretty remote in that part of my local area. I only carried a gasmask in 
its case when going to school,or going elsewhere with my family. The 
raid began and I could see the usual cottonwool-like puffs in the sky 
indicating exploded anti-aircraft shells. There was an interwoven mass 
of aircraft contrails too. I forgot about my fishing and watched the 
aerial display instead. Spitfires and ...hurricanes chasing and being 
chased in turn by German fighter aircraft which were there to help 
protect the enemy bombers. The display continued for quite sometime. 
Then I noticed an aircraft apparently in a dive heading right for me. Or 
it seemed like that at the time. At what seemed like the last moment the 
aircraft, with smoke issuing from it, pulled out of the dive and flew by 
me, low enough for me to make out an enemy identification cross on its 
fuselage before it narrowly missed hitting the roof of the old 
watermill. A while later I heard a loud explosion. But I never did find 
out where it crashed. I assume its pilot was killed. He was much too low 
to bailout. Later to avoid trouble I fibbed about going into a street 
shelter somewhere. In those days if I was honest all the time I would 
never have been allowed out on my own ever again. There again I never 
lied about really important matters.” 

Presumably one of those really important matters was the anti aircraft 
shell incident. Again, in John's words... 

“I did get into trouble once at least when I swapped the rudder from a 
German aircraft for a live anti-aircraft shell. Someone, I know not who, 
told a policeman. Rightly so looking back at the incident. We were going 
to explode it. Remotely of course. Away from other people. Luckily for 
us the authorities turned up in force putting an end to our game. I 
think I can still feel the chastisement I got after a wigging from our 
local police sergeant. I found it difficult to sit down properly for 
days, and my ears felt as if they were both on fire as well. After that 
I was mighty careful what I swapped for shrapnel.” 

In these schoolboy adventures we can see another aspect of John's 
character illuminated: he was a bold and adventurous spirit. Later on, 
as a young man that boldness showed itself in his sporting pursuits. 

As the war ended John was ready for senior school, and his grandfather 
John Wood offered to the pay the fees for a place at Nottingham Boys 
High. Unfortunately John's father was opposed, and while battle raged 
over his education his grammar school places at the Boys High and 
Mundella were lost. John ended up at one of Nottingham's new technical 
schools. He was never happy there, so it was a relief when he went on to 
Nottingham School of Art. 

Back in the 1950s this country still had conscription, so John did his 
two years national service in the RAF, where he enjoyed mixed fortunes. 
He was lucky enough to get posted to one of the RAF's most sort after 
stations: Cyprus – plenty of sunny beaches and retsina ! But his luck 
turned when he found himself in the same squadron as Jimmy Tarbuck, a 
colleague John remembered as particularly exasperating. 

After national service John returned to Nottingham to make his own way 
in life. The Woods Navy Rum fortune had been invested in property and 
coal mines around the county; on his grandfather's death a part of that 
fortune was made over to John to give him a start in life. He pursued a 
range of exciting hobbies: skiing, flying, climbing and caving. We 
shouldn't be surprised that John continued his interest in aviation 
after RAF service, he was a distant relative of Captain Albert Ball, the 
highest scoring fighter ace on the British side during the First World 
War. He acquired a private pilot's license, and later on flew his 
fiancé- Joan- to Paris for dinner. He went climbing and caving around 
Derbyshire and Yorkshire, exploring remote and dangerous underground 
cave systems. And he taught himself to ski, climbing up the slopes with 
skis on his back in the days before ski lifts. As I said a moment ago, 
John was quite an adventurer ! 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a 
fortune must be in want of a wife. And so it proved, when John met his 
future wife Joan Kay-Kreizman at a party organised by young communists 
in Nottingham in 1954. John was never a communist himself, being a Tory 
voter until the rise of another Grantham notable later sent him 
leftwards. But the result of that party was his meeting Joan, falling in 
love with her, and that romantic flight to Paris for dinner. But Joan 
was too smart to be entirely taken in by John's playboy lifestyle, and 
detected a shortfall in educational attainment, something not easily 
overlooked by a lady from a Jewish family background, where scholarly 
achievement is one of the highest virtues. So, before romance could run 
its course, John was required to pass his School Certificate, the 1950s 
predecessor to today's GCSEs. He duly passed, and Joan judged that her 
standards had been met. Engagement, and marriage in Nottingham in March 
1956 followed. 

John and Joan spent the first part of their married life in Mablethorpe, 
before they bought the Old Tavern in Westborough in 1964. They set up 
home with their infant sons, Jeremy & Julian, and soon two further 
additions to the family followed: Antonia and Alexandra. John pursued 
his business interests as an antique dealer, and Joan taught at local 
secondary schools. The children were educated at the local primary 
school in the next village, and when playing they romped happily through 
the countryside surrounding the village. His children remember John as a 
loving and tender father in those days. Childish misdemeanours might be 
corrected with a smack, but the smack was always followed by a hug, to 
let the miscreant know they were still loved. Though maybe I should say 
'almost always followed by a hug', because apparently on the occasion 
that Jeremy set fire to the Old Tavern, John was too busy calling the 
fire brigade out for the follow up hug. Joking aside, here we must pause 
to note another of John's traits: he was a tender and loving father who 
couldn't bear to see distress in his children, or in anyone close to 

Unfortunately, this rural idyll couldn't last forever. By the mid 1970s 
John's business fortunes had taken a turn for the worse. He and Joan 
were forced to sell the Old Tavern and downsize to Arnold Avenue in 
Gonerby Hill Foot, Grantham. A new phase of the family's life started 
with the children moving on to Grantham's secondary schools. 
Fortunately, Joan had prevailed on John to give up expensive and risky 
pastimes like flying and caving. Now he spent his spare time on 
archaeology and arts and crafts. His interest in Roman Britain paid off 
spectacularly in 1977 when he found the largest cache of Roman coins yet 
discovered in this country – 500 silver coins in total. John attributed 
the find to guidance from the spirit of a Roman Centurion by the name of 
Quintus. He was keen on painting and sculpture too. One particular 
piece, a font with boy holding grapes was weathered in the garden for a 
few years and then presented as a medieval artefact to an expert from 
the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge as a jest. The carving was so well 
executed that this expert believed it to be an original piece. It can 
still be seen today, misattributed, in the Fitzwilliam. This last brings 
us to another important facet of John's make up: he had a great sense of 
mischief. His eyes would twinkle as he told a joke or spun out a 
humorous yarn. And he could take a joke in good part too. 

John and Joan were very proud of their four children as, in turn, they 
each went off to university and became graduates. That educational 
success was testament to their free thinking intellectual household. But 
in the midst of that parental success John had to face the hardest blow 
of his adult life. Joan died suddenly after a brief illness at the early 
age of 55. Her passing was a great loss to all the family. John had 
loved her dearly through all the ups and downs of married life. John's 
immense love for Joan, and his enduring loyalty to her were perhaps his 
greatest achievements. 

After Joan's passing, and with the children having left home, John lived 
quietly and modestly. Kipling enjoins us to treat success and failure 
both as imposters. The younger John had enjoyed money while he had it. 
The older John didn't let the lack of means stand in the way of enjoying 
life. This is the part of his life when I first knew John. I remember 
how much he enjoyed the company of younger adults, especially those with 
a taste for eating and drinking well ! I know he enjoyed many happy 
moments in the beer gardens of Oxfordshire, soaking up the local ale and 
spinning out a tale about his travels around Britain as an antique 
dealer. Certainly I enjoyed listening to those stories. But the 
important point to remember is that of John's humility and serenity in 
the face of his varying fortunes. He'd had money, and he'd mixed with 
some very grand types in his days as an antiques dealer. He'd lost 
money, and he always mixed well with folk from all types of background. 
None of it turned his head. He wasn't a vain man. He always approached 
life with a generosity of spirit. He always had time to share with the 
ever growing ranks of his children, grand children and great grand 
children, and he always had a kind word of reassurance, encouragement or 
congratulation for them. 

John was a spiritual man – he always looked beyond the temporal world. 
He may have been born into an Anglican family, but he went on to engage 
with some alternative belief systems as a young man. Whether he was 
accepting treasure hunting guidance from a long dead Roman Centurion, or 
recounting how he felt Joan's presence in the house after her passing, 
he always accepted the supernatural as real. Later on he embraced his 
Jewish heritage. Although he never formally converted to Judaism, he 
learned Hebrew prayers and participated in Jewish religious festivals. 
As usual, he was instantly at ease and instantly accepted in the Jewish 

John was a very fortunate man in many ways. He was assured of the love 
and regard of his children, just as they had been assured of his love 
when growing up. John was impecunious for many years; his children 
looked after him with cars, computers, a new kitchens, gas heaters, even 
socks and gloves ! But of all the gifts one can give, time is the most 
valuable. So special mention must go to Alex, who as close friend and 
confidant offered boundless practical and emotional support in John’s 
final years. We are all immeasurably grateful for her huge commitment of 
time and energy. A final testament to John’s regard for his children can 
be found in two things that have only emerged in recent days. A month 
ago John phoned round his children and let them know that he had paid 
off his mortgage. He did not wish to burden them with any debt. John had 
also been saving quietly for a number of years to cover his own funeral 
expenses. We are all immensely proud of John for the foresight and 
consideration he showed in this. 

John Dable led a rich and varied life. His charm, wit and humility 
touched all he met. We mourn his passing. We celebrate his life. And we 
take heart from knowing that "The souls of the righteous are in the 
hands of God, there no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the 
foolish they seem to have died, and their departure was thought to be an 
affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they 
are at peace. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great 
good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself. Their 
reward is with the Lord, the most High takes care of them." 

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