Long term readers might remember Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 was a multitalented artist, but if you are new, this will probably be news.
This is the Green Man, taken today in 2007, which Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 sculpted out of clay for our second house, the one in Barnsley. It is a hollow plant pot holder with an entry on the top which you can’t see from this angle. We coated him in yogurt before putting him outside so that the moss would grow over his face.The idea was that he would age through time and become greener and greener with the moss and his ivy hair would add to the effect.
I don’t know what he looks like now but I’m sure he’s doing well.
There was a time when the skyline in Yorkshire was peppered with sights such as this. Pit heads everywhere as industry stripped the seams of coal to power the country and industry. Now, only a few mines remain and most of them are open cast, looking nothing like the one in the photo.
That said, the pit heads of the colliery we see in the picture above were, at the time, not functioning either. Today’s picture, taken in 2010, shows Monkton Colliery Coke Works and the chimney stacks chucking out the smoke show the only evidence what the site was actively producing – coke. Though not the drinking or snorting kind, the kind used in smelting and power generation.
I regularly drove past the coke works when I lived in the area and I still remember the nasty smells and weird yellow tinge everywhere seemed to have. The closer to the stacks you got the yellower and smellier the atmosphere and surroundings. Who knows what it was doing to your lungs?
As seen on this day in 2007. The farm in the middle of the M62. A place so famous, award winning artist John Shuttleworth recorded a song about it.
However, contrary to popular belief, the farmer didn’t refuse to sell or give up the land to make way for the M62, that is a pile of bullocks. Instead it was the geography and contour of the land which saved the farm, Stott Hall Farm, from development.
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.
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.
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…..
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?
[Cross posted from Livejournal with some editing and adjustments to text]
Ever so the romantic, to celebrate our third wedding anniversary, I took my dear wife to the East Coast the other weekend. The British seaside has a magnetic appeal no matter what time of year you visit. Bleak, grey sands lapped by a cold grey sea set against the crumbling facade of decaying Victoriana.
However, while the golden heyday of the British Seaside is still in living memory and some areas having received European regeneration money, the decay of neglect has been spreading deeper because of cash strapped council cuts. It is sad, like the passing or deterioration of an old friend, the end of a cultural pillar, but still there is a fondness for the seaside. Indeed, while some places like Scarborough, Brighton and Blackpool still remain popular, others like Bridlington, Cleethorpes, Margate and Weston-Super-Mare show the cracks and devastation of a lack of investment. I’ve visited most of the British coast now I’m in adulthood, enjoying all that the little towns and villages have to offer while observing with an educated eye, the places once popular with the masses, the places once money making engines, now clinging on with Damoclean effort.
Of course it’s not just the big towns that appeal to me, the smaller lesser known towns that started to form their own resorts only for them to falter with the arrival of mass international transport also appeal. As it is, I’ve always wanted to visit the Humber Coast, so with places still left to visit running out and the cost of getting to the Isle of Wight more expensive than staying two nights there, I thought a trip to the Bridlington area was in order.
Our journey began with a trip to Hornsea. Despite the cold, it was quite busy for a half-term and the promenade was quite busy. Even the fish and chip restaurant we stopped at for lunch appeared to have been busy with grandparents treating their visiting grandchildren to a half-term treat.
Hornsea is a nice quiet little town. Some of the once proud guest houses have been converted into old peoples homes but there are also lots of lovely houses there and well maintained public areas too. I was further overjoyed to see a Cooplands still functioning in the town too, indeed, I was able to convince the wife to treat me to a post-lunch Yorkshire delicacy, a Curd Tart, from there.
After lunch and a walk around Hornsea, we scooted up the coast towards Bridlington. Bridlington is kind of like a mini-Scarborough. It consists of two bays, North and South separated by the old port with an even older town slightly out of the main centre. The north side of the harbour town towards the Pavillion peters out into amusement arcades and fairgrounds, most of which, being out of season, were closed. Meanwhile, the southside, toward the former spa, beholds guesthouses (former and existing), fish and chip shops and the main residential areas.
There had been some regeneration of the south side. Lots of glass and concrete with shared spaces for vehicles and pedestrians. I couldn’t help thinking that whoever on the council agreed to the “Glass and Concrete” mix obviously hadn’t thought of vandals and the longevity of such materials. I can’t see this lasting as long as the structures they replaced.
The next day, we headed up the coast to Filey. Filey is a lot smaller than Bridlington but more grand. Georgian terraces atop the steep terraced cliff gardens leading down to the promenade where hotels, both newly refurbished and in the process of refurbishment, indicate a prospective gentrification of the area. Again, the front seems to have received a large sum of European grant money and no doubt a great deal of the residents that live there were so thankful for this they voted to leave the EU.
Still, that money brought lovely gardens and statues.
Further into the excursion, we headed south again, this time for Flamborough Head for lunch. Such a beautiful place.
We stopped briefly at Sewerby Hall for a post lunch exploration where there were exhibitions on Amy Johnson and Bridlington’s past. One part of the Bridlington exhibition allowed visitors to add their own postcard to the display.
We then headed further south again, past Hornsea towards Withernsea and Spurn Head. Withernsea is a lot more run down than Hornsea and it looks like it is getting the last of the European regeneration money as work still appeared to be going on. A once grand pier head is all that remains of Withernsea pier and this stands proud like an erection at a nudist camp. There was an amusement arcade, sadly closed for the winter season, and a lighthouse in the town centre which made for distinctive landmarks.
Hoardings decorated with old pictures of the area hid municipal works from the general public and showed what Withernsea once looked like. If Bridlington was a budget Scarborough, Withernsea was once a kind of budget Bridlington. However, it looks like a stray Hull bound bomb during World War II took out a fair bit of the grand livery and the town never really recovered.
Finally we ended our day trip at Spurn Head by driving through the Quatermass II like gas interchange at Easington. “Police” cars disguised as security guards buzzed our little car as it travelled along the PUBLIC highway through the interchange. No doubt high powered antenna and listening devices were pointed at us hoping to determine whether we were a threat to the public and several sinister government databases were also searched to ensure we were not ne’er-do-wells. But the reward was a lovely sunset at Spurn though sadly not to right to the end as that involved a three mile walk and we needed to be back in Bridlington for dinner.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner child of the urban zoo or maybe it’s because I’m an impatient fucker but sometimes people that dawdle really get me wound up to the point of rudeness. It takes a lot for me to get wound up so much I actually say something. Classic example is when in a queue in a shop and the person holding up the line (traditionally an old woman or something) is just holding up the line for no practical purpose. Or when after waiting for ages to get served at the bar only for the bar person to answer the telephone and have to spend the next 20 minutes looking for the manageress before getting back to serve me (“Oh I’m sorry, pint of what was it?”)
One of the things I noticed about living in Barnsley (and I’ll probably upset a teaspoon of people with this) was how nobody seems to be in a rush to get anywhere. Ok it’s not like your stereotypical Jamaica where everyone is sat round watching the world go by and generally taking their time. But its not far off it. Sometimes this can be really annoying and detrimental to health.
I used to get half an hour for my lunch. This gave me ample time to nip up to Secret Asda for the cash point or to grab a sandwich and get back to work before I’d taken a huge chunk out of my lunch half hour. One day I made errors. The first being “Should I go into Asda buy myself a sandwich, pay for it on my debit card and then get £10 cash back?”. I’m not fond of paying for things under a fiver on my debit card cos the shop gets charged and they hike their prices up or you have to pay a supplemental charge. So instead I opted for the cash machine.
As I drove into the car park I observed a workman making his way to the cash point so I adjusted my parking destination appropriately and calculated accurately the time it would take me to walk from the car to the cash point (allowing for people coming out of the shop) and coincide with the man finishing with the cash machine. Only I must have miscalculated. I got there and the mucky bugger was still there pressing whatever buttons he could. 5 minutes elapsed and I felt my lunch half hour draining away like the fullers earth of time. He was quite a burly stocky man so I kept my mouth shut incase he lamped me one. But I could feel the words “Are you composing a fucking symphony with all them button presses?” forming on my lips and tongue.
Fortunately he moved away and I noticed on the screen the words “Transaction Cancelled”, either the machine was broke or he was just an airhead. I gave him daggers in the back just to make sure he realised I was not pleased with his time wasting but he must of had hard skin or been totally unaware of other people because he didn’t actually look at me or say “Sorry for being a slow fucker” or owt.
Anyway, I gets me money and scurry into the shop. Grab a sandwich (Wiltshire Ham, Vintage Cheddar and Pickle baguette) and made my way to the check out. I had eaten approximately 8 minutes into my lunch half hour. It was then that I espied the queue. Only one checkout was open (it was a small Asda, kind of like Tesco Local or Jacksons by Sainsbury’s or Spa or Circle K or whatever) and it was manned (or womanned) by the elderly shop assistant. The elderly shop assistant is old. That is why she is elderly. The elderly shop assistant takes about 20 seconds per item to scan them into the barcode reader. Something like this:-
*pick up item*
*look at item*
*look for barcode on item*
*Straighten out item*
*look at item over rim of spectacles*
*hold item up to light*
*squint at item*
*look for barcode scanner*
*look for barcode*
*check item again in light*
*Squint at item again*
*swipe barcode on item past scanner*
*check item on display*
*hold up item to light*
*squint at item a third time*
*place item down*
*pick up other item*
This ritual takes place for everything she puts through. Sometimes she’ll even pick things up she’s already scanned and compare the items raised up to the light and all squinty.
Anyway, she had a queue of 3 people and the three people in front must have been doing their monthly shop cos they had shed loads of stuff. I could feel myself getting more and more wound up. Fortunately the next cashier desk opened up but before I could swap queues 2 people nipped in in front of me. That was fine, I thought, because these people only had a couple of packets of biscuits and some milk between them. But no! How wrong could I be? The first person knew the cashier personally and stood gossiping for 2 minutes while labouring to put a carton of milk into a plastic carrier bag. She then asked for a packet of ciggies. Ciggies need to be got from behind the counter that the elderly shop assistant was on but the other shop assistant stepped down from her chair, walked over and picked up the ciggies. I half let out a sigh of relief when the first customer had gone. All the while I’m watching my original queue dwindle.
By this time I’m twitching, my lunch half hour was draining away to a measly lunch quarter of an hour. The second shop assistant swiped the biscuits and the second customer then asks for a “Lucky Dip”. A Lucky Dip is a method for the government to make a shit load of cash by getting the general public to part voluntarily with their hard earned cash for a string of 6 lottery numbers which, as the lottery numbers are preselected a month in advance, won’t come up as winners, but might just give a false impression of hope. The lottery machine is on the same cash desk as the elderly shop assistant who at that moment is scrutinising a packet of Tampax. So shop assistant number two steps down again. Walks over to elderly shop assistants till, does the lucky dip thing and walks back to her cash desk. The elderly shop assistant then presses her bell.
1st Shop Assistant: Ooh Beryl. What code for these ‘ere? (Holding up a bag of mystery fruit) 2nd Shop Assistant: Oooh I don’t know aren’t they under 14? 1st Shop Assistant: I don’t think so they won’t scan right 2nd Shop Assistant: They never scan right those you know. I’m sure they’re under 14. 1st Shop Assistant: Do you think they’re under 14? I thought they were under 14 but they just won’t scan. Do you have a code for them Beryl.
By this time fiery death rays are leaping from my eyes and cutting down anyone who will look at me with fatal consequences. The man by the apples….dead. The kids pinching chocolate from the gondola end….dead and steaming. The innocent man passing the front of the shop window…..dead. The man in front of me….slightly scarred.
Eventually (probably 20 seconds later though it felt like 20 minutes) Beryl returns to the cashier desk.
2nd Shop Assistant: That’ll be £3.24 2nd customer: Can I have 20 Berkley Mentol too please? stegzy: Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
So Beryl gets down again and gets the cigs from the shelf. Meanwhile I am burning a hole into the back of 2nd customers skull and mentally projecting images of me stamping on his fucking fat face leaving the word “Clarks” impressed across his nose.
Eventually I get served. I part with my cash and have my change counted out to me (twice because “Beryl”, I discovered, has a problem counting). I eventually enjoyed my Lunch 10 minutes.
This whole episode then made me think. Are people actually aware of when people around them are in a rush?