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…..
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.
Taken to document possibly one of the proudest moments of my life, today’s picture shows how a GCSE in Physics, a bit of string, some baking trays and a slow leaking radiator valve can all be combined to prevent a fuse box from shorting out and causing a disaster.
Having been notified that there was water dribbling from the upstairs bathroom, down the kitchen wall and into the meter cupboard, investigations revealed that the valve from the recently removed radiator had burst due to age and was issuing water at a very slow rate but sufficient enough to be problematic.
Application of a spanner reduced the leak to a slight dribble but the resulting issuance was in that awful hinterland of too much and too little. Then the long dead Mr O’Malley’s tobacco stained voice echoed in my head and said – “Capillary Attraction”.
A visit to the shed to collect some string and grabbing a handful of containers later, I had fashioned a rudimentary collection device which stopped the flow downstairs until such a time as the emergency plumber could attend.
I still remember his face when he saw what I had done and if you look up the word Impressed in a Pictionary, you’ll see that same face.
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?
Taken 14 years ago to the day, a photograph of this unknown bridge in an unknown location. Where is it? What was I doing there? Why did I take the photograph? I know I took it with my Sony Ericsson K750i but there is no geodata or further information other than the date stamp in the corner of the photograph.
A brief glance at my diary notes from around that time reveals I was in the Runcorn area doing some legal house moving stuff. So I can only assume that the truck we can see had something on the front but I was too slow to get my camera phone ready. Either way, as the bridge is mostly concrete I must assume that it was taken in Runcorn which, being a New Town, is mostly made of concrete. Don’t believe me? Ask Eileen Bilton….
In 2012 I was living in a flat on the outskirts of lovely Leamington Spa, a picturesque Georgian town with lots of history and a grid system, with the then nearly-Mrs-Gnomepants V2.0 . The flat was a post war construct but had some modern trimmings such as central heating.
The thing with houses and flats is you get used to the sounds they make the longer you live in them. Sometimes these noises can be unique – particular to a location, a room or a function. The way a door closes. The way the water runs through the pipes. The way the floorboard creaks. How the neighbours sound. Each noise distinctive to the occupant. Sometimes subtly, other times in-your-face-obvious. The flat in Leamington Spa was no exception.
A particular sound that could be heard in the Leamington Spa flat was an almost imperceptable sigh from the attic when the heating switched from timed hot water only to hotwater and heating. It was like an asthmatic squirrel living in the attic. I could often hear it and know, safely, that the heating had come on gone off. Others might not have heard it though and would often think of my central heating predictions as some element of my weirdness.
So when the sigh ceased and the radiators started to glow red. I knew there was something up. Taking to the loft via a rickety ladder I was able to determine that the mysterious sigh used to come from the motor in the switch valve which had failed and was forcing the hot water into the heating system.
As handy as I am, I donned my flat cap, put a rolled up cigarette on my bottom lip and stood at the bottom of the ladder sighing, tutting and generally looking quizical. Then, after three mugs of tea (extra strong), several looks through the Sun newspaper (upon which I had drawn phalluses and spectacles on people in the photographs) and an impromptu 3 hour trip to the corner shop for some vital parts, I nipped up the ladder and took this photograph.
I then explained the problem to the Then-soon-to-be-Mrs-Gnomepants v2.0, pointed out that there was not much call for that kind of thing these days, sucked air through my teeth and said “It’s gonna cost ya”. The photograph was then sent on to a more experienced central heating engineer/plumber who, having been pleased to see such good investigative work and standing round, had the failed unit replaced in a fraction of the time and only one cup of tea.
Today’s picture was taken in 2014 during a visit to Great Yarmouth. It depicts a fine example of the Millenial Waste Paper Basket Scheme of the late 1990s. Since then, I have endevoured to document these post industrial premillenial relics of well spent public funds during my travels around the UK.
Set up as part of Tony Blair’s New Labour’s Millenial celebrations schemes, those that gave us excellent value for money public investments such as the Millenium Dome, the Millenial Waste Paper Basket scheme was a joint enterprise between artisian metal workers, bearded artists and sandaled environmentalists. The baskets were sited in various locations – mostly parks, elevated places and coastal regions – with the intention to encourage the public to throw away their waste food wrappers in handy recepticals which would then be ritually set on fire.
I believe the intention was to have them ignited on regular occasions but, due to reallocation of funding to support the post 9/11 Iraq war and ultimately withdrawal of funding by the Conservatives in 2010, they have mostly remained dormant since their last ignition during the 2012 Olympic Games.
As you can see from this picture, there is not much waste paper in the basket as the local seagulls frequently steal the chip wrappers to line their nests but also, it was taken in 2014, nearly two years after its last ignition. These days, the waste paper baskets have mostly fallen into a state of disrepair and some, if not many, have been demolished, their original purpose often forgotten. However some have been inventively redesigned and reallocated into things as diverse as street food vendors and luxury accomodation.