The band was Dressed to Kill and so was I. Tribute acts were and are still a surprisingly popular thing. Indeed, I have a fondness for acts like the Kiss tribute act Dressed to Kill such as Polka Floyd, Beatallica, Iron Horse and Hayseed Dixie. In fact Zoe and I recently went to see Yes tribute act Yes Please in the centre of cultural excellence that is Witney.
Of course photos don’t really do the band’s talents justice and you don’t tend to go and see a band just for the visuals (Roger Waters aside). However, in 2006, camera phones were still a little bit of a novelty and, as much as I hate to be THAT PERSON these days, I stand guilty of taking terrible photographs of the band during their performance using my camera phone.
Why I couldn’t just stand there and enjoy the show without using my phone to spoil the view of those behind me I have no idea.
Ten years ago, I went on a long walk to clear my mind and have an adventure. I took my Walkman/Creative Jukebox MP3 player, my denim jacket and a packet of crisps.
Intending on only being a couple of hours, I went on a long 4 hour walk through the rugged Yorkshire countryside (which you can read about in more detail here. It was on that journey that I discovered an abandoned farmhouse which was alive with rabbits, sheep skeletons and lots and lots of rabbit poo. Did the rabbits eat the sheep? Did the rabbits build the farm house? Who knows?
Eitherway, I like this photo as it is very stark but it could do with a looming angry cloud in the sky instead. Especially as, when I eventually arrived back at my car, the heavens opened and it did not stop raining until the next morning.
One of my most favourite flowers is the pansy. They’re so vivid in colour and they really brighten up a garden. Our garden in Leamington Spa was big but lacked any colour apart from green. So, while Mrs Gnomepants was away from the house, I nipped out to Homebase and bought a shed load of pansies and other flowering plants and popped them in plant pots, hanging baskets and in beds. Eventually they bloomed and made the beautiful colour display you can see in the collage above
Bluebells are always pretty but their beauty and vividness are never truely captured by cameras. With the COVID-19 thing, we thought we’d miss this years bluebells but we managed to see some in a wooded area on our recent government approved exercise hour.
Today’s picture took me awhile to work out where it was taken. It seems it was taken at Berrington Hall near Leominster in Herefordshire near to where Zoe and I stayed when she went to a talk by Phil Rickman. As was this picture —
Some years ago I was given a collection of photographs from my Aunt Joyce who died when I was about 11 or 12. They had come to me after her husband, my Uncle Harry, had died.
I must have scanned some of them into my photo library today in 2012 for some reason. One of the pictures was a large format picture of Aigburth Station taken sometime in what seems to be the 1960s. I’ve no idea why Aunt Joyce had a picture of Aigburth Station or why it was passed on to me.
I love growing rhubarb me. I’m not overly keen on eating it, though I will, but I love growing it.
My grandfather had a fine crop of rhubarb behind his greenhouse. My dad would often relate how he would have to go out with a bucket after the milkman’s horse so he could collect the manure for the rhubarb. He prefered custard though.
Today’s picture shows a crop grown from a head provided by old friend Carole. It has fired the rhubarb growing urge once more and, once I have a job, an income and allowed to go out, I intend to get a new head of rhubarb for our tiny garden.
May. Such a lovely time of year. The sun comes out, the birds make a lot of noise and cravings for ice cream start to develop and, in normal circumstances, a trip to the local ice cream parlour would be in order.
In 2008, a favourite of mine was Charlotte’s in Dewsbury (http://www.charlottesjerseyicecream.co.uk/). A fine example of farming diversification where instead of opening a farm shop selling over priced “fancy” goods disguised as “locally sourced” produce, the farmer followed the passion for ice cream and grew a business empire.
Now I have relocated to Northamptonshire where there are a number of farm based ice creameries, none are as splendid as Charlottes although local producer Gallones (https://gallonesicecream.co.uk/) have made a good line of ice cream parlours in the region and their ice cream is delicious too, but they don’t have the animals to gawp at…..
One of my many obsessions is with seafood dishes, especially Seafood Mornay.
The best seafood mornay I’ve ever had was Roger’s Seafood Mornay from the former Pen Bryn Bach restaurant near Aberdaron in North Wales. The second best seafood mornay was also Roger’s Seafood Mornay. In third place was the seafood mornay I made for a dinner party back in 2003. All others are just pretenders to the throne.
Sadly when I visited the Lobster Pot near Cemaes Bay in Anglesey in 2011, I found that they didnt do a Seafood Mornay. What they did though was a delicious surf and turf with half a lobster skillfully balanced ontop of grass fed beef steak (How they get the steak to eat grass is beyond me, surely it would be better to get the cow to eat the grass?) and doused in enough garlic butter to both thin and clog the arteries at the same time.
Today’s picture depicts the delicious dish itself.
Taken to document possibly one of the proudest moments of my life, today’s picture shows how a GCSE in Physics, a bit of string, some baking trays and a slow leaking radiator valve can all be combined to prevent a fuse box from shorting out and causing a disaster.
Having been notified that there was water dribbling from the upstairs bathroom, down the kitchen wall and into the meter cupboard, investigations revealed that the valve from the recently removed radiator had burst due to age and was issuing water at a very slow rate but sufficient enough to be problematic.
Application of a spanner reduced the leak to a slight dribble but the resulting issuance was in that awful hinterland of too much and too little. Then the long dead Mr O’Malley’s tobacco stained voice echoed in my head and said – “Capillary Attraction”.
A visit to the shed to collect some string and grabbing a handful of containers later, I had fashioned a rudimentary collection device which stopped the flow downstairs until such a time as the emergency plumber could attend.
I still remember his face when he saw what I had done and if you look up the word Impressed in a Pictionary, you’ll see that same face.
In my youth I regularly visited the gentleperson’s establishment of Bishop Eton Parish Centre, known locally as Birch House, a church club. At the time, it seemed like the centre of the universe. Cheap beer, cheap cigarettes, quirky vending machine in the entrance and two hi-reward fruit machines. It also boasted a friendly hostess and a bloody handy lock in.
Lock-ins, for those not in the know, are when an establishment continues to entertain selected patrons after the doors have closed and alcohol sales are required by law to cease due to the time of day or night. Of course, once the doors are closed and the curtains are drawn, there’s no telling what goes on in there. Drinking mostly. Occasionally until 4am.
As well as a patron, I was also a member of staff and frequently had to facilitate the lock-in despite having a job to go to in the morning. However, in those days the clock was weird and 4am was just a time on the clock while sleep was something that happened for six hours between eyes shut and 7am in the morning. Being a member of staff I was also fortunate enough to be able to monitor the usage of the fruit machines and determine when it would pay out, which it often did, in my favour.
The club was owned by the local parish church and used for functions and meetings of local groups including a group of professional males who followed a sinister type of catholic free-masonry, a Women’s Institute knock-off, a couple of local self-build groups, the youth club (complete with a local weirdo who liked to stare at the girls) and a weird and secretive “invite only” quiz league. It really was a happening place.
Sadly, land values around the area rose and the thought of a quick cash injection for the church became too much for the clergy. As a result, in the early noughties, the club closed its doors for the last time. The building, a graded listed building, was earmarked for “redevelopment to luxury accommodation”, which meant falling into disrepair, catching fire and it and the ground eventually being bulldozed and turned into a gated community of several houses.
Thankfully, the name, if not the memories, lives on in the street name – Birch House Close. Bless.