Back at the turn of the century, Mrs Gnomepants V1.0 landed a sweet gig working as part of a millenium fund funded project to do with artistic green spaces. The culmination of which was a topiary garden known as The Peace Garden. Her job was to show people around the garden and tell them the purpose of the project. (See https://www.landscapeprojects.co.uk/copy-of-hulme-park for how it should look)
The garden is topiaried yew bushes laid out to spell the names of wild flowers. The main idea is that the bushes would grow out and tall, forming a maze. At the time, like the economy, it looked promising and sustainable, however, as this photo doesn’t show clearly enough, time and people are the enemies of all things green.
When I took this photo, nearly 14 years had passed since the garden was first planted up and you can almost see how some of the bushes have been removed or damage irrepairably. What you can’t see is there was also a lot of litter and discarded bottles around and behind me someone had damaged the board describing what the garden was and its purpose.
Much like the Millenium Waste Paper Baskets, the Millenium Benches and the Millenium Dome, the Calderstones Park Peace Garden shows how when governments give people money to spend on “what they like” without proper scrutiny, sustainability plans and forward thinking, things can seem a little wasteful nearly twenty years later.
Some people like trains, some people like football, some people like to collect little thimbles with pictures of penises on them. Not me. I try not to be anoraky about things. But if I was to decide to put on an anorak, it would be a motorway service station one.
Forton is my second favourite motorway services in the UK, the first being Tebay which is 37 miles further north. In 2013 I made several stops there as my work at the time had me attending regular meetings nearby. The tower was once the restaurant of the services but was eventually closed on Health & Safety grounds due to the lack of emergency escape. It has a really good loo and also has a Burger King, a Greggs and an M&S shop.
I fondly refer to it as Fortran 90 services as a kind of nerdy “in joke” from my IT support days that would take too long to write out and explain here. But if you didn’t know, Fortran 90 was a computer programming language. Hilarious eh?
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…..
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.
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.
The hangers at Cardington were built to house the great airships which would have revolutionised air travel. However, airships were filled with explosive hydrogen gas and several airships exploded resulting in airships as a form of mass transport being akin to walking down the motorway.
The sheds, I believe, are currently on the English Heritage At Risk register. This doesn’t mean that they are inappropriate towards children, but more that they are at risk of falling down. I also understand that one of the airsheds is currently home to HAV1, a project aiming to redevelop and restart airship transport using modern materials and science.
I’ve often seen the airsheds from the road connecting the M1 to Bedford but today I got really close. It is, of course, illegal and very difficult to take photographs while driving, so instead I tried to imitate the quality of doing so from a stationary car. Honest.
In the wooly wilds of North Wales, there is a place dear to me. A peaceful place. A place where magic awaits. A serene place where the only loud noise is the occasional jet fighter from Valley flying over head or the farmer making bales of hay.
This place is nearly unpronounceable at a campsite at the base of the large mountain. I won’t tell you where it is exactly, but regular readers will know. I don’t want the area spoilt by coach loads of people seeking peace and serenity.
Lovely isn’t it?
This is the spot. Miles from anywhere. Peaceful. Quiet. No people to bother you.
In my minds eye it is always this glorious too. Skies as blue as language in a working mans club. Grass as green as my old Hyundai Coupe. A climate as warm as toast. Beautiful. Quiet.
Why this particular view? Well during the day the sea looks so calm and serene there. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may witness the clouds rolling in off the sea like something from an eerie movie. Shrouding everything yet still allowing parts of the landscape to peek out like cheeky little kittens.
A bit like this
But I know. I know from bitter personal experience. This place can be cold, wet and stormy. But it doesn’t stop me from remembering it as a warm welcoming place.
It is no wonder that this area is steeped in mythology and wonder. This is where Arthur had his Camelot. Nothing to do with Glastonbury or Cornwall. This is the land of the dragon. Where the isle of Avalon lies over the treacherous waters. Where few come. Where fewer remain.
Those that do, and stay the night, are treated to a display of stars bright. Of distant light from the Pembrokeshire coast cast from lighthouses across the bay. Shooting stars, dolphins basking in the light of the setting sun. All this. With naught but peace and quiet.
It is where I want to be scattered should I be cremated. It is where I would like to spend my last waking moments on the Earth.
No mobile phone signal. Nothing. Just peace and quiet.
After having carefully planned my working week to coincide with a visit to the North West to make it easier to travel to Wales, I set off from Liverpool on Thursday morning bound for Pistyll near Caernarfon to begin the third phase of the walk around the coast of Wales.
At this pace, I suspect I will have completed the walk some time in my late 80s. Probably on a mobility shopper.
Regular readers will recall that last year we ended our walk at Porth Towyn having set off from Porth Oer. Because we were starting further up the coast, it made sense to change our usual campsite to a new….untested one.
The camp site was very clean and peaceful with fantastic views across towards Nefyn (our goal for the Friday) to the South west and towards Nant Gwrtheyrn to the North East with St George’s Channel to the north.
However as we had arrived earlier than expected we decided that, though too late to start our walk properly, we could start a bit of next year’s planned walk.
This took us towards Nant Gwrtheyrn, though we did not reach there until later in the weekend. Instead we were treated to a lovely bog blocking our path, sheep, second homes and a quaint little church, St Buenos.
On the Friday, we awoke to a lovely rainbow across the bay. Little or no rain during the night but plenty of snoring from me.
This year we began where we left off and made our way across the once more sunny cliffs and dips leading towards Porth Dinllaen. Glorious views. Glorious weather.
Four hours of walking later we crossed Nefyn Golf course and reached Porth Dinllaen.
During the previous night we had espied a strange structure out in the bay. It looked like a drilling platform and part of me was concerned that the greedy oil people had set their eyes on a protected area of outstanding natural beauty.
Fortunately, this was not the case. The platform was actually for the construction of a new RNLI Lifeboat launch slipway. So it wasn’t too bad.
The construction site had an interesting staircase winding its way down the cliff side allowing access to the official coastal path bringing us out at the lovely Ty Coch Inn where we ended our second day’s walk with a delicious and rewarding pint before heading back to the campsite.
After a rather sleepless night for Nick (my snoring again!) who ended up sleeping in his car, it was agreed that completing the short trail up to the campsite would be sufficient for this years walk.
Before that we needed sustenance in the form of a hearty breakfast. On the inbound trip, I espied a brown sign directing the visitor to a place called Nant Gwrtheyrn which had a cafe.
Nant Gwrtheyrn is an old village built for quarry workers in the 1800s. If you were to follow the link above you will be able to read the history. The landscape there is a bizarre mix of post industrial archaeology and nature. There’s a church there, a cafe and a collection of stone cottages available for rent by holiday makers.
However, the cafe didn’t open for breakfast so we scuttled back to Nefyn and the continuation of our walk.
The short trail continuation took us from where we left off the day before and along a winding cliff top pathway. Again, plenty of luxury cliff top homes for the wealthy and privileged. Glorious views.
It’s places like this that make you realise that no matter how hard the average Jo works, they will never attain a picturesque view (like that in the panoramic picture below) without luck, windfall or skulduggery.
The path turned in land and took us through the village where we had earlier eaten our hearty breakfast before heading up a very steep looking hill.
Eventually the path turned into something resembling Borneo. Overgrown gorse bushes, brambles and scratchy things took their toll on our bare shins, bitey creepies made a meal on our blood, and burny heaty hot sun scorched our flesh from on high. Yet, after three hours of walking, we reached the campsite and the starting point for our continuing adventure next year.
Following the mad tour of the east coast of Devon we decided to take a trip inland. Our guide books told us of the wonders of Cornwall and our brief trip across the Taymar on Tuesday showed us that Cornwall was closer than we thought.
But where to go were either of us hadn’t been before? Our first thought was “Oooh where does FJ Warren live? She’s Cornish. But the thought of a another long drive was not appealing. Instead we peeked at the maps and guidebooks and settled on Launceston.
According to the guidebooks, Launceston was the ancient Cornish capital. It had a castle, a steam train and other interesting things like cider farms on route. So it seemed like the natural choice. So once more across the Taymar we went noting for the second time that week that people are charged to leave Cornwall and not go in.
Launceston is…boring. Tatty around the edges. Pretty. But boring. After a brief 10 minute walk it appeared we had done Launceston. So we tootled up to the castle to have mooch there. But at £7 each to go and look around some crumbling ruins we thought £14 would be better spent on cake or fun. So way ahead of planned schedule we buggered off back to the car and went to see where else we could get to.
The Bodmin Moor of my childhood was not the Bodmin Moor of my middle age. Either there has been a new road built across the moor in the 30 or so years since my last visit or my dad took us across Bodmin Moor along some weird unmarked B road. So much so, by the time we had reached Bodmin I was like “Oh, we’re here already”.
Bodmin was interesting. Well what we saw through the car windows. But with only shops and more money wanting to be spent we thought another stop mooching round a provincial town was not on the cards. So when the only place to park for free was up a side street alongside Bodmin General, part of the Bodmin Steam Railway, we thought “But a steam train ride might be fun!”
So that’s what we did. We bought 2 tickets to Boscarne and boarded the chuffing chuffer.
It was fun!
Badger enjoyed it too!
When we returned we stopped for a cream tea.
Full of cake and after a bit of geocaching, we hopped back into the car and headed toward Polperro via Lostwithiel. Lostwithiel is described as the Medieval Capital of Cornwall. Again, it was quaint, children were playing in the river and shops seemed open.
One thing we had noticed during our time in the Southwest was that everyone seemed to be so miserable. Shop keepers and ice cream van men were no exception. I can only imagine that the misery was down to the lack of boobs on display. Cornwall needs more boobs. Or cake. Or maybe just a tickle.
Anyway, before misery got a grip, we headed off again, this time to Polperro. My nan and granddad visited Polperro when they were alive. I remember leafing through their photograph album at the pretty houses and narrow streets. Indeed it was. Narrow, quaint, overpriced and packed with tourists. Having been fleeced £4 for parking we wandered into the village to try and find somewhere to eat. We were a bit early and all the restaurants seemed to do nice fish dishes. Sadly none were open until half an hour after our parking expired and I didn’t feel like paying a further £4-£8 just to stuff my face. Our minds were made up by the time we had reached the quayside that we would head off to Looe and see if there was any other nice places to eat instead.
But before we could turn round and make our way back, a woman offered us a boat ride along the coast. How could we refuse?
So that’s what we did.
On our return we made our way back through the tourists to the car and drove off to Looe. Looe reminded me of Skegness without the wind amusement arcades or Victoriana. It was heaving with tourists of the lower orders. Police men, our first since leaving the midlands, were talking to shouty drunk youths. Haggard teen mothers were dragging their screeching urchins. Young girls with more tattoos and piercings than a freak show jostled with loud shouty short haired scallies for chips from the harbour chippy. But our guidebooks insisted that there was good eating to be had somewhere in Looe.
And yes. They were right. We stopped for dinner at the Smuggler’s Cot in Looe where I had the biggest Lemon Sole (and bones) I’ve ever seen. It was delicious! Meanwhile Zoe struggled with her mammoth 20oz D cut rump steak. She assured me that was delicious too.