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.

Picture of the Day – Abandoned Farmhouse – Langsett [2010]

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. 

Picture of the Day: Bluebells, Berrignton Hall, Leominster [2016]

bluebells by a wall
Bluebells make smells

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 — 

Mrs Gnomepants in a wig
Mrs Gnomepants v2.0 in a wig

Picture of the Day: Aigburth Station – Liverpool [Year unknown]

Aigburth Station

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. 

Here is what it looks like today

© Alexandra Lanes

Picture of the Day: Load of Old Rhubarb – Brierley [2008]

Old Rhubarb

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. 

Picture of the Day: Ice Cream Parlour – Dewsbury [2008]

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…..

Piggy wiggy

Picture of the Day – ICU, Anglesey [2011]

I see you!

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.

Feeling hungry now…..

Picture of the Day – No longer standing, Green Lane, Liverpool L18 [2013]

Birch House – Liverpool L18

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.

Picture of the Day – Desk of Hidden Objects, Brierley, South Yorkshire [2008]

Can you see the paperclip?

Randomly admist the photographs I often come across pictures of workspaces. It was often a meme on social media to upload a picture of your workspace for followers to see. In 2008 I was a full-time student, so this was my workspace in the back bedroom in my house in Brierley near Barnsley in South Yorkshire.

Today’s picture is also like one of those hidden object games which were popular around that time. How many objects can you see? Can you find the floppy disc? Can you see the Flexicurve? How about the USB vacuum cleaner?