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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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…..