Picture of the Day: Down Tools – Swaffam, UK [2017]

I try not to take arty photographs because snobbery. Anyone can point a camera, hold it correctly, frame the view and press the button. They can even apply filters if they want. Its not exactly difficult like smooth shadework, mixing oil colours or sculpting from clay. But every so often I see something that shows Run Down Britain and out comes the David Bailey in me. 

Here we are in Swaffam in Norfolk in 2017. I took this to convert into an amusing post-ironic-postcard to send to an arty friend of mine. It is clear that the vans have not moved in many years. I wonder what the drivers were thinking as they parked them up for the last time.

Picture of the Day: Little Steam Engine, Kirklees Light Railway, Yorkshire [2007]

The Littlest Chuffer

Can you see the little steam engine? Look how shiney its brasses are. Look at the red buffer bar and the green and black livery on the engine. Can you hear the hiss of the steam coming out of the engine?

“All aboard” cries the station master and the carriage doors are closed noisily. Can you hear the carriage doors closing?

Peeeeeep — the station master blows his whistle. Can you hear the whistle blowing? Chuff chuff chuff — that is the sound that little steam engines make. Toot Toot goes the engine’s whistle. De-clack de-clack — is the sound the wheels make as they go along on the track. Can you hear it?

Perhaps, when lock down is over, you might travel to Denby Dale just outside Huddersfield and visit the Kirklees Light Railway and see the little steam engine.

Picture of the Day: Winch – Porth Ysgo, North Wales [2019]

100 years ago the coast around the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales was a hive of industry. Parts of the area was dotted with manganese mines and associated shipping docks and winch houses. It’s hard to imagine what it was like as these days it is an area of serenity and eerie beauty peppered with these industrial remains.

The winch you see in today’s picture would have brought manganse ore from the mines in buckets and then down to the waiting boat below the cliffs behind the photographer. Although the photographer, me, wasn’t born when this was a working winch and when I took the photograph, there was no ship waiting.

The building you can just see to the right was probably the office of the foreman who would have kept an eye on the winch workings incase of a problem. Now abandoned to the elements, spiders and sheep, it’s quite a draughty building now but the view hasn’t changed.

Picture of the Day – Sundial, Farnborough Hall, UK [2017]

Sundial at Farnborough Hall

A great thing to do in the UK when you’re absolutely stinking rich and still living in the massive family home but you don’t want to spend money on maintainence, is to gift the home to the National Trust on the condition that you only open to the public for the minimum amount of days allowed as per conditions agreed. This way you can continue to live in faux luxury and still feel like you’re something special as you pomp your way around the village and talking with a mouth full of plums.

The National Trust own many properties up and down the UK and many are a wealth of fine architecture and landscaping. It’s often interesting to see how, because God made our ancestors poor, we should live in abject poverty and slavery while those born wealthy or who built their empires on the backs of the poor could have massive luxurious manses in remote parts of the country – safe from the possibility of actually seeing the effects of poverty while also stocking the cupboards with the finest crops and meats farmed on your own land by the local poor farmer who was “thankful for being poor God bless ya me lord” if you ever asked him.

In 2017 I was fortunate to visit Farnbourough Hall in Warwickshire on one of its rare opening days and see the living room and grounds of the hall while being watched hawk like by the owners in case I over stepped their boundaries. There’s nothing quite like being made to feel like a shop lifter in someone’s house. Anyway, I did manage to take some lovely photos of the perfectly manicured and maintained gardens that my National Trust membership paid for. But this one was my favourite and makes me thankful to God that I am poor.

Picture of the day – Cleethorpes [2018]

It was a splendid day today in 2018, the sun was out, the sky was blue and Prince Harry was getting married to an American. What more could a British person want?  A trip to the seaside for Fish and Chips you say? Perfect!

And so that is what we did. You can read about it all here

For other seaside related photographs consider the BesideTheSeaside group on Reddit [https://www.reddit.com/r/besidetheseaside]

Picture of the Day: Royal Oak – Langstone [2008]

As a child I was gifted the book Haunted Inns by Marc Alexander (1973) which is a kind of gazetteer of reputedly haunted inns around the UK. Indeed, during the early days of the internet (you know, when it was fun and not full of fascism and capitalism) I had a site on Geocities called Haunted Inns of Great Britain which,was mostly comprised of photographs I’d taken when, having a car, I was out and about exploring the UK as a young adult and, at the time, often had me being interviewed by local journalists.

Although I didnt manage to visit all the inns mentioned in the book at the time, I have, whenever possible, tried to complete the collection over the years, often when in the area or by accident. Handily, a great deal of the inns in the book are in the midlands near where I live now so you never know, I might just take up the hobby again.

In 2008, during a visit to Hayling Island near Portsmouth, I saw this pub at Langstone which is near to the causeway to the island and thought that it looked idylic and quaint. It wasn’t until I got back home that I realised it was a Haunted Inn mentioned in the book. How fortuitous!

The ghost, if you can call it that, is the sound of a chair being dragged across a flagstone floor. Not exactly Amityville Horror or Ju-On but sufficient to be recorded in Alexander’s book.

Incidently I am now also posting Picture of the Day posts to Pillowfort (let me know if you would like an invite to join the site) and Livejournal.

Picture of the Day: Ty Coch (Red House) – Nefyn [2004]

Ty Coch – Morfa Nefyn

One of my favourite walks starts by parking in the National Trust Car Park on Lon Golff in Morfa Nefyn and, depending on the tide, walking along the beach toward the distant Porth Dinllaen then, after a bite to eat and a pint at Ty Coch (http://www.tycoch.co.uk/), a leisurly stroll up the cliff road and through the golf course back to the car park. Or, if the tide is in on arrival, the reverse.

Ty Coch and the houses in Porth Dinllaen are only accessible via the beach or via the restricted delivery road through the golf course. It is one of those “secret” pubs in North Wales that everyone seems to knows about. It’s really popular on hot sunny days, especially with families (mostly because of the beach/pub combination) and boat owners (the natural harbour there attracting the wealthy).

Ty Coch has been a place I’ve always tried to visit when I’m in the area. It is a unique place steeped in history and natural beauty (a short walk around the headland often results in seal sightings). Its really handy for mid-walk refreshments and, at one point, it did live music of an evening in the pokey little bar area. I often think about whether there are other places like it in the UK – regularly cut off by the tide and only accessible via foot or sea. I’m sure there are. Do you know of anywhere like it?

Picture of the Day: Uncle Nat’s Cottage – Rhiw [2004]

Uncle Nat’s Cottage

When I was a young badger, my Uncle had a lovely cottage in Wales that my dad would help do up in return for being able to spend occasional weekends and holidays there. Slap bang in the middle of acres and acres of grazing land on the side of a mountain in most rural, rugged North Wales.

The cottage was accessible by either a long walk up a very steep hill (rhiw in Welsh means steep) or a short scary trip up a muddy track in an old decrepit Land Rover. It had a coal fire (unusual to someone from suburban pre-millenial Liverpool), a lot of spiders and an upstairs accessible only via a ladder (a crog loft).

As my Aunt got older she became concerned about being stuck up the mountain without access to medical emergency services and encouraged my uncle to sell the place, which he did shortly after I started secondary school. Still, happy times were had and memories were made.

In 2004, Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 and I revisited the area with my parents to see how the place had changed. The Land Rover having been long turned into a tin of beans and chancing a bit of trespass, we walked up the newly lain CONCRETE roadway up to the cottage. It had been completely renovated and was looking well loved by the new owners.

I’ve been a few times since and it now seems that it is no longer a holiday home but an actual home for someone remote working – I bet they have better internet than I do.

How it looked during an earlier visit in 1999

Picture of the Day: Give Us a Kiss [2006]

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.