Back in 1999, Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 and I went to visit her granddad who lived in Scarborough. I think I’d never been to Scarborough before, let alone it’s Fair although we may have got the train there once before a few years previous, I can’t remember. I do have some vague memories of catching a train somewhere but that may have just been Wakefield.
Anyway, on this particular occasion we drove. As I hadn’t driven a car since 1995 (which felt like an aeon previous then) and, I think then, we didn’t own one so we may have hired one. Added to this, being a wary driver, I didn’t really fancy driving on motorways so we drove to Scarborough along A and B class roads instead which was fun, especially as we got to see parts of the UK we’d never seen before and that I’ve completely forgotten about since.
I think it took us 6 hours. Stan, Mrs Gnomepants v1.0’s grandfather, pissed himself at the totally unnecessary drive and route we had taken to visit him. A standard Motorway drive would have taken just under 3 hours.
This was the noughties. At that time there was no cheap satnavs, no smart phones and no Google Maps instead we used old fashioned AA roadmaps (dated 1992) and vague directions printed out from the pirated copy of the fledgeling Microsoft Routemap we had on floppy disk.
One place we drove through was Sledmere in East Riding of Yorkshire. I was so taken by this monument I stopped the car to take this photo with my newly acquired fancy Canon wind up camera with electronic zoomy lens. I later added it to my now defunct Haunted Inns of Great Britain website along with pictures of the Three Mariners in Scarborough.
The monument is a replica Eleanor Cross and you can read more about it here:
The Red Lion in Hunningham near Leamington Spa was once one of mine and the missis’ go to places to take visitors. They used to have these really cool comic book pages stuck to the wall in proto-hipster fashion and a slightly traditional menu. Then the frightful types swamped the town in their Audi people carriers with their children Flegm and Calendula , we moved and the pub became one of those places that serve plates with teaspoons of mushed up food topped with parsley for £50 a pop.
Before that though, and possibly one of the last times we visited the place, we had a visit from my old pal Nick (now playing a grumpy political commentator/photographer/artist in the Scottish play) and we took him to admire the proto-hipsterishness. While there, we noticed there was a model of a tractor by the nearby river and it became the perfect photo opportunity. Surprisingly, I can’t remember the visit ever being in January and looking at the trees and stuff, I think the date on the picture is wrong.
Every so often I’ll see a cartoon or infographic I like and I’ll save it. I used to save them to use as teaching tools when I taught apprentices about social media and the internet. I guess old habits die hard.
I probably saw this on Reddit in 2020 though it may have been Twitter.
Some of the coldest winters I’ve experienced were during my time in Brierley. Sure, they weren’t a bad a when I lived in Patterdale Road in Liverpool — as in no ice on the INSIDE of the windows or frozen toilets — but still cold.
I think, at the time, I wrote about how beautiful the snow was but I have no idea on which platform or incarnation of the Existential Compost I wrote about it on. However, you can still see these, and other pictures relating to the dreadful snowbound week I had here – https://stegzy.co.uk/2010/01/10/
Long term readers may remember that at sometime in the past I worked at the University of Liverpool. At that time we had a functioning society and government, social media was in its infancy and we had no idea that Zuckerberg was constructing the tools for the demise of democracy. In those heady halcyon days, then as now, we often struggled for content despite our shiney new multimedia devices and I would often randomly snap pictures with my Sony Ericsson K750i. Many of these pictures are now deleted but a few remain. Today’s picture is one such image. Sixteen years is a long time and much has changed since the photo was taken. Here is the latest view. Trust me…it is the same place…
There are many things I won’t do like stick my fingers in the electric socket, swim with radioactive sharks, walk down Granby Street naked or jump off a bridge with nothing but knicker elastic around my ankle. Indeed, there are many foolish things I have done that I won’t ever do again like fall off a waterfall in Wales , ignore a chest pain or abseil down a concrete wall in Port Erin at the age of 10.
Of course, I will look on with admiration as other braver folks than I do things that I wouldn’t. And this is what I did on this day in 2008 when Mrs Gnomepants V2.0 abseiled down Arundel Castle for shits and giggles.
If you get a magnifying glass you can probably make her out on the tower there.
Back in 2009, I got seriously into geocaching in a big way. It was niche, nerdy and didn’t really have much of a cost other than the travelling around. Perfect for a geek with no money and a car.
Geocaching (see www.geocaching.com), if you didn’t know, is a worldwide game where containers or caches are hidden around the world for people to find, sign or move on. It got very popular in the UK during the noughties and early teenies after The Guardian did an article about how much fun it was to do with kids and spoiled it for everyone.
Geocaches were scored on their difficulty, with 1 being easy peasy and 5 being you need specialist equipment or balls of steel to find it — usually because the cache was hidden on the side of a cliff or on the space station or at the top of a Chilean plateau. You could also get an award for finding one geocache in each category.
At the time I was short of 2, the 4 and the 5. Level 5 geocaches in the UK are not abundant. Health and Safety laws and lack of difficult places to get to see to that, but as luck would have it, one was in the sleepy county of Northamptonshire which seemed to be fairly easily accessible with a bit of bravery — if not with a teaspoon of trespassing. So it made sense to jump in the car and head to Catesby to try and nab it.
The cache was hidden in the old Catesby Tunnel. A Victorian marvel of engineering and once the longest brick lined tunnel in the UK. Northampton was not a great receiver of the railways. Indeed the Tory royalist hotbed was well versed in resisting progress over the centurys and so it is not really surprising to find a great deal of the former railway network in Northamptonshire was ripped up by good old Tory whipping boy Dr Beeching leaving it with as much public transport connectivity as a SCART plug. As a result the line was removed and the tunnel and the viaduct at the other end were left to nature and to return to the landowner.
After scurrying down an old railway embankment, dodging farmers and getting wet from the sodden grass, eventually the portal for the tunnel was reached. The dark insides seemingly swallowing the light less than 5 feet away. It was creepy. It was also disappointingly sealed off by a metal fence.
This meant no getting a level 5 geocache and mega disappointment all round. However it seemed that a previous visitor to the location had some fun though….
A few years after this adventure I moved to Daventry which is about 5 miles away from the tunnel. I often drive past the area on my way into Banbury. But now, the cache is no more. Geocaching got expensive and inaccessible and the tunnel is now part of the Catesby Tunnel Vehicle Testing Facility — https://catesbytunnel.com/
Mrs Gnomepants v2.0 introduced me to a thing where whenever you see an animal in an old film, say older than 20 years, you point out to whoever is listening that the animal is dead now.
“But wait!” you say, “2008 is less than 20 years ago, ipso facto, you may be wrong if you’re about to say the horse in this picture is now the glue on the back of a stamp”. Ah but no. I know more than you….
Along the opposite side of the Lane with No Name to the houses were lovely undeveloped fields. Legend has it that this was the site of the former Brierley Colliery hence why no houses were ever built on it. Other tales and theories include a wealthy farmer buying the land for tuppence hapenny from the mine owners, an ancient covenant linked to Moses and aliens using it as a base to extract liver fat from rotund Yorkshire folk.
Regardless, in the field lived a couple of randy horses. Randy because one of them would be constantly trying to hump the other and would often make the most frightful noises. Today’s picture shows one of the horses.
Sadly, about a year after this photo was taken, some awful types poisoned the horse for some reason (Apparently this is a common thing to occur to horses according to a couple of horse owners I’ve spoken to since). But still, I was fond of the horse as it would often poke its head through the hedge to say hello when I was parking my car.
I thought I’d resurrect this meme I started but didn’t finish last year again. Likelihood is I’ll probably do a few then stop again, but hey, I’m a busy badger these days what with all the zombie killing and space faring I’ve got going on.
Anyway, long term readers (hello if you’re still reading), will remember when I lived in Yorkshire, my house backed onto the fabled Lane-with-No-Name, an access route for brewery wagons making deliveries at the village working men’s club at the end.
As you may remember, the lane often featured in posts due to the hive of activities recorded on hidden CCTV cameras there – well, my webcam at least which I would place in the back bedroom window with motion sensing software recording any and all activity there.
Dodgy types those Yorkshire folks you know. They’d get up to all sorts of mischief all of which would be caught on my camera and discussed on Livejournal. — who could forget the timeless classics of G-the-Human-Dog having a crafty fag and weird badger thing…..
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.