On this day in 2016, Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 and I went for a succulent Chinese meal at the Dynasty in Long Buckby, Northamptonshire. At the end of the meal, they bring your bill with some fortune cookies. Which is nice. However, as Mrs Gnomepants v2.0 is allergic to dairy and fortune cookies contain milk I ended up with two.
Then there was this one time when we went to the annual medieaval fayre thing they have at Tewkesbury and we were wandering about looking at the various stalls and things. Then Zoe cries “Aww look at the ferrets” so we went to the ferret stall where Zoe paid to go and handle the ferrets.
It was so cute. I took photos and a film.
But then typically we were photobombed by flouncy flowery ponce interior designer Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen. The ferret is the one in Zoe’s hands, the flamboyant Jason King impressionist behind her is Bowen.
Sometimes I like to turn my pictures into little videos. I’ve been doing this since about 2008 when I learned how to do it while doing a degree in Television Production. At least it makes me feel like it was worthwhile eh?
Anyway, here is a collection of photos taken today in 2014 at the Steam Fair in Bloxham. Although I go to a lot of steam fairs I do not own an anorak nor do I enjoy flasks of weak lemon drink.
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.
I love these things. Whenever I go to a steam fair or county show, I look out for them so I can film them. There will come a time when these things will fall silent for the last time and I fear generations to come might not care to preserve them as well as people today.
Like most people who own cameras these days, sometimes you take a photo that makes you feel like one of them high-brow artist type photographers. You just want to get it framed or put on display in a gallery. Instead you put it on your social sites or have it as your wallpaper on your phone, tablet or computer.
Of course you could go the full gamut and grow the Van Dyke beard, wear rose tinted spectacles ironically and wear a beret with your trouser legs at half mast while prancing around like a ninny. But you would need a voluputous naked lady to stand in shot in silhouette.
This is the sunset over Medulin bay in Croatia which I took on my holiday there today in 2017. Such a lovely place Croatia.
When I was a little boy I was fascinated by lighthouses and all I wanted to be “when I grew up” was a lighthouse keeper. Growing a bushy beard, wearing a white sweater, smoking a pipe and telling outlandish tales about hidden treasure and sea monsters to passing groups of four children or more with their dog. Sadly the vast majority of lighthouses in the UK were undergoing an automation process so lighthouse keeping was, it seemed was a dying vocation.
When I was about 10 I went on a holiday to my favourite part of Wales. On this particular visit my parents took me up to see the view over Bardsey Sound and the lighthouse on Bardsey Island from Mynnedd Mawr. It was there that we came across this curious little hut, inside of which was a man, with a powerful telescope and radio equipment.
The man explained to me that he was a Coastguard lookout and his job was to lookout for ships in distress and report on wind and sea conditions. This, I decided immediately, was what I wanted to do for a job when I grew up. Sit in a cabin and look out to sea all day while telling tales of seafaring, pirates and giant squid to passing groups of four or more children with their dogs.
Sadly these days coastguard lookouts are as rare as dodo sausages and, as government funding decreases and technology improves, coastguard lookout has become a job similar to coal miner, fax machine sales man or VHS librarian — virtually non-existent. Indeed, when a few years later I would talk to school careers advisors about a job in the coastguard they would often counter with — “Sorry I don’t have a card for that career” or “You’ll have to ask at the library” or “But you can’t swim very well” or “Have you considered a YTS (low paid apprenticeship) at the local Ford factory?” and instead I became an unemployed multiskilled generalist.
Fortunately the little hut is still there and every year when I go back to this part of Wales I like to visit. Of course the man is probably long dead and his little hut is stripped of telescope and radio equipment, replaced instead by displays of local history, wildlife and birds. But I still think about how, for that brief moment in my life, I knew what I wanted to do in adulthood. I look out to sea and try to spot a ship in distress. But of course boats don’t tend to travel through that stretch of water as much now and you get put on a list when you’re a male and talk to children….
It seems six years ago I was all inclusive in Majorca supping mojitos by the pool in the evenings.
What wouldn’t I give to be doing that today?
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?
Believe it or not, there is a man standing in this picture. It may look like a harmless artistic photograph of a grassy bank with a metal pipe sticking out of it but if you look….really closely…you’ll see….there is a man dressed as a World War II German soldier. Can you see him now?
This was taken in 2011 when Zoe and I visited the Great Central Railway’s World War 2 Weekend which, until this year, has happened annually. Volunteers, reenactors and enthusiasts recreate the Second World War at the stations along the heritage line there. Each station dressed as different stages – Evacuation Britain, Allied Camp at Normandy, Battle ground and Occupied France. Its such an educational, enjoyable and fun visual experience and comes wholly recommended.