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?
[Cross posted from Livejournal with some editing and adjustments to text]
Ever so the romantic, to celebrate our third wedding anniversary, I took my dear wife to the East Coast the other weekend. The British seaside has a magnetic appeal no matter what time of year you visit. Bleak, grey sands lapped by a cold grey sea set against the crumbling facade of decaying Victoriana.
However, while the golden heyday of the British Seaside is still in living memory and some areas having received European regeneration money, the decay of neglect has been spreading deeper because of cash strapped council cuts. It is sad, like the passing or deterioration of an old friend, the end of a cultural pillar, but still there is a fondness for the seaside. Indeed, while some places like Scarborough, Brighton and Blackpool still remain popular, others like Bridlington, Cleethorpes, Margate and Weston-Super-Mare show the cracks and devastation of a lack of investment. I’ve visited most of the British coast now I’m in adulthood, enjoying all that the little towns and villages have to offer while observing with an educated eye, the places once popular with the masses, the places once money making engines, now clinging on with Damoclean effort.
Of course it’s not just the big towns that appeal to me, the smaller lesser known towns that started to form their own resorts only for them to falter with the arrival of mass international transport also appeal. As it is, I’ve always wanted to visit the Humber Coast, so with places still left to visit running out and the cost of getting to the Isle of Wight more expensive than staying two nights there, I thought a trip to the Bridlington area was in order.
Our journey began with a trip to Hornsea. Despite the cold, it was quite busy for a half-term and the promenade was quite busy. Even the fish and chip restaurant we stopped at for lunch appeared to have been busy with grandparents treating their visiting grandchildren to a half-term treat.
Hornsea is a nice quiet little town. Some of the once proud guest houses have been converted into old peoples homes but there are also lots of lovely houses there and well maintained public areas too. I was further overjoyed to see a Cooplands still functioning in the town too, indeed, I was able to convince the wife to treat me to a post-lunch Yorkshire delicacy, a Curd Tart, from there.
After lunch and a walk around Hornsea, we scooted up the coast towards Bridlington. Bridlington is kind of like a mini-Scarborough. It consists of two bays, North and South separated by the old port with an even older town slightly out of the main centre. The north side of the harbour town towards the Pavillion peters out into amusement arcades and fairgrounds, most of which, being out of season, were closed. Meanwhile, the southside, toward the former spa, beholds guesthouses (former and existing), fish and chip shops and the main residential areas.
There had been some regeneration of the south side. Lots of glass and concrete with shared spaces for vehicles and pedestrians. I couldn’t help thinking that whoever on the council agreed to the “Glass and Concrete” mix obviously hadn’t thought of vandals and the longevity of such materials. I can’t see this lasting as long as the structures they replaced.
The next day, we headed up the coast to Filey. Filey is a lot smaller than Bridlington but more grand. Georgian terraces atop the steep terraced cliff gardens leading down to the promenade where hotels, both newly refurbished and in the process of refurbishment, indicate a prospective gentrification of the area. Again, the front seems to have received a large sum of European grant money and no doubt a great deal of the residents that live there were so thankful for this they voted to leave the EU.
Still, that money brought lovely gardens and statues.
Further into the excursion, we headed south again, this time for Flamborough Head for lunch. Such a beautiful place.
We stopped briefly at Sewerby Hall for a post lunch exploration where there were exhibitions on Amy Johnson and Bridlington’s past. One part of the Bridlington exhibition allowed visitors to add their own postcard to the display.
We then headed further south again, past Hornsea towards Withernsea and Spurn Head. Withernsea is a lot more run down than Hornsea and it looks like it is getting the last of the European regeneration money as work still appeared to be going on. A once grand pier head is all that remains of Withernsea pier and this stands proud like an erection at a nudist camp. There was an amusement arcade, sadly closed for the winter season, and a lighthouse in the town centre which made for distinctive landmarks.
Hoardings decorated with old pictures of the area hid municipal works from the general public and showed what Withernsea once looked like. If Bridlington was a budget Scarborough, Withernsea was once a kind of budget Bridlington. However, it looks like a stray Hull bound bomb during World War II took out a fair bit of the grand livery and the town never really recovered.
Finally we ended our day trip at Spurn Head by driving through the Quatermass II like gas interchange at Easington. “Police” cars disguised as security guards buzzed our little car as it travelled along the PUBLIC highway through the interchange. No doubt high powered antenna and listening devices were pointed at us hoping to determine whether we were a threat to the public and several sinister government databases were also searched to ensure we were not ne’er-do-wells. But the reward was a lovely sunset at Spurn though sadly not to right to the end as that involved a three mile walk and we needed to be back in Bridlington for dinner.
Picture if you will a pub in Liverpool about 4 weeks ago.
**wibbly visual effect used to signify reflection on past events**
Stegzy:- You’re on holiday next month. I’m on holiday next month…let’s go camping!
Nick:- Yes that sounds like fun.
Stegzy:- Look I’ve put it in my shiny new HTC FLYER on the CALENDAR. AUGUST. 20th
Nick:- Ace! Can’t wait.
**Cue calendar flipping sequence signifying moving forward through time**
So I’m set. Set for a walking and camping trip to North Wales. At the end of August.
**Calendar flipping sequence ceases 24th July**
Stegzy:- Bloody hell. Nick’s a bit keen. He’s been texting me all week asking about what we will be doing during our holiday in August.
Zoefruitcake:- Maybe he is excited.
Stegzy:- Hmm…this text is worrying. It seems to hint that there may be an issue with the month…..
Oh cocking hell!
So I called him. Was he winding me up? No. He wasn’t. While talking I made up a list of items to chuck into the car for an impromptu camping trip. Problem was…I didn’t have a tent anymore. Well I did. Just it was in Yorkshire. With the wife. Fortunately everything else, the table, the chair, the stoves, pans and ancillary camping equipment were safely in a pre-packed crate in Zoe’s Craft Hut. The tent….that was in Yorkshire.
As you can see from the screenshots, this was about half past six on the Sunday evening. A call to Clair received the thumbs up for a tent collection while Nick booked the camp site and prepared for a late night visit from me.
I sped up the M69 and M1 to Yorkshire and collected the tent then after a quick bite to eat and a catch-up, I sped along the M62 to Crosby near Liverpool arriving at an ungodly hour of 1am.
Further to my last entry here I have managed to obtain a short contract of work. Hurrah! You might say. You might even assume that I am pleased. However, I’m not.
Four years ago I moved from Liverpool to Yorkshire. It was a necessary move and it held the prospect of stabilizing my three year old marriage which was facing difficulty. The job I left in Liverpool was well paid. £23k helpdesk technician. A job I wasn’t 100% happy in even though I had held the post since 2001. Prior to that I worked in a poorly paid civil servant post where my ambitions for career development were not being met.
At the time, there were few people with IT qualifications on the jobs market. I embraced the emerging technology with gusto and found I had a seemingly natural ability to grasp the complexities of computer software and hardware and share my knowledge with others. It was easy in those days to get into IT roles. Hence being able to get the well paid helpdesk job.
Of course, not having anything much in the way of IT qualifications at a time when a growing number of people with IT qualifications were emerging onto the jobs market meant that well paid helpdesk jobs were few and far between. Indeed, when the move to Yorkshire became reality the only jobs recruitment agencies offered me were call centre orientated and the only job I could get on my own initiative was a very low paid one in IT at a sixth form college.
By this time I had become disillusioned with my career in IT. It seemed that all I did was wipe the bottoms of better paid people who, it appeared, should really have known better.
I sat in the office one day and contemplated my career. Which direction was I taking? I never really wanted to work in IT. I had just fallen into the career. All the jobs I saw that I could do required a degree and my lack of which seemed to be going against me. Thus, the sensible thing to do, it seemed, was to start again from scratch, get myself a degree in an area I was interested in and try, at the age of 36, to carve a new career for myself.
And so that is what I did. Only the problem was when I graduated this year, the journalism, writing and media world was completely and radically different to the world I was tempted into by poor careers advice and traditional thinking. Competition for graduate employment these days is high regardless of which subject you study. Attempting to break into a new industry as a mature student was never going to be easy and only made even more difficult by an unpredictable recession.
So back to the gist. Why am I unpleased about my new job? Simply put I have fallen back into the career I had so desperately attempted to escape. The shackles of experience heavy around my neck. Even though the position is only for four months and I have only been working there a week I already feel resentment and anger with the job, the world and especially myself for being so desperate for work that I would prostitute myself back into my old industry sector, sullying my CV with even more IT related work instead of riding the storm and attempting to pepper my CV with experience relevant to the industry I want to enter.
I must tell myself that the job is only until either something better comes along , until the contract ends naturally or until depression hits. I must tell myself that I don’t have to put the job on my CV. I must tell myself that I can still do voluntary work to gain relevant experience. I must tell myself that I am not too old, that the employers looking at my application forms, covering letters and CVs are not thinking “We want someone younger” because, as we all know, that is illegal these days. I must tell myself that no matter what, I can convert the distaste for my current employment into energies better used in searching for and applying for jobs that I would prefer. Or maybe I should just stop trying to fool myself, bury myself into my work and accept that I am the exception to the “as you get older your salary increases” rule. Accept dissatisfaction and consider those people who are unable to get work themselves because of various circumstances, personal and external.
Answers to comments to this post through LJ may be delayed.
It was such a lovely day today I thought I’d nip out for a walk in the delightful countryside that South Yorkshire has to offer. My destination of choice was the delightful Langsett Reservoir near Barnsley/Sheffield.
Langset near Barnsley in South Yorkshire
The sun was out, the sky was blue. I didn’t have a care and I wasn’t blue. It wasn’t raining. Raining in my heart.
Langsett Reservoir is owned by Yorkshire water and there are many permissive paths. But me not being someone to stick to the boring old main track decided to follow my nose and take a well trod side path to see where it went. And I’m bloody glad that I did.
After crossing a very busy road I was soon walking through a lovely peaceful forest. Not a soul about. Lots of little birdies and squirrels foraging about. Nature can be so inspiring sometimes.
Part of me had decided that I had to do this today because I have gotten a bit fat lately. This is partly down to having a lot of stress from finishing this bloody Media degree of mine.
Another part of me wanted to take photographs because out side the hustle and bustle of urban life, the countryside is the only place left that I feel like I am not intruding or being strange when I brandish my camera.
There was a stream running through the forest. I couldn’t see it because it was hidden under lots of undergrowth but I could hear it. As I rounded a corner I could see a bridge. I crossed this and discovered a lovely peaceful little glade where I could sit for a while and reflect on my future.
After a while some walkers approached from the other direction. We exchanged greetings (why is it that in the countryside people always say “hello” but in cities the same people would just ignore you?) and they told me that they were enjoying their walk especially as they had not seen anyone else all day.
The path split once more. A higher one that crossed the top of a cliff face and a lower one that only went a short distance toward a wall. I took the higher one which led me through another bit of forest and onto a landscape that could have placed me in any of the wooly wild locations in England.
Nothing but trees, rolling hills, sheep and scree. Not a soul around. Perfect for reflection and soul searching.
Stepping over a dead sheep I realised that I was miles away from anywhere. Worse, I had very little battery left in my mobile phone. Fortunately I had thought to check the map before I left just to give me a rough idea of which direction I should head to return to my car. I had been walking by this time, for over an hour.
The sun was beating my face and the path depressingly headed up a very steep hill. Beneath me I could see a river winding its way from the peak district bound for the sea.
At the top of the hill I could see a farm house. I was reluctant to pass through the field of bunny rabbits as it kind of looked like private property. Closer inspection revealed that this was a completely abandoned farm holding. With cattle sheds, sheep dips and live stock holdings. Nobody lived there now except for the many many startled rabbits. Even so, I walked through gingerly for fear of waking a dead farmer zombie or being accosted by some inbred family of mutants bent on making me their father. But in reality I was many miles away from Grimethorpe so this was unlikely to happen.
Once through the farm I headed up the path which in turn headed up the most demonic gradient I’ve seen outside of Scotland. The winding path lead me to a lone standing stone. The view from around there was amazing. I could see the windmills out near Penistone. I could see the hills and forests for miles. I truely was in the middle of nowhere. But what worried me most was the fact that I did not have much battery left in my phone and in the distance, angry black clouds floated in the sky like water filled bin bags.
Wind turbines against the black clouds of doom
I’d just taken this picture of a vividly green tree when the unthinkable happened. My battery died. Miles from anywhere, no phone. No people. “Stuff it!” I thought and I carried on walking.
I wasn’t too worried as I was so chilled out and calm. I also knew that following the path would take me straight back to my car. It took me a good hour further to walk there.
I sat in my car just in time for PM on Radio 4. The roar of civilisation zooming past me in trucks, cars and on motorcycles. Nothing to bring you back to earth than Norbert Dentrassangle hurtling past noisly at 60mph.
A good day. 🙂
Answers to comments to this post through LJ may be delayed.
While rambling through Howell Woods yesterday I mused on how trees are natures factories. This time of year they are beginning their annual processes spurting forth green shoots in preparation for the busy summer months of photosynthesising. Then in October/November they begin cut backs and shed jobs (leaves) before becoming derelict and barren in the dark winter months.
I also mused on the number of very happy squirrels lolloping about in the undergrowth. They seemed so peaceful and happy, probably because they are mostly left undisturbed by man. My detective skills got a touch of virtual WD40 too as I noticed little tell tale signs of badgers. Such a lovely woods. So peaceful.
The woods come under the control of Doncaster Council. Doncaster Council are notorious for being lazy money embezzelling wasters, apparent from the poor state of the signage littered about the woods. Most of this signage looks like it last saw glory days in the early 90’s. The faded and vandalised information posts detail local historical facts. I was unaware that South Kirkby has an iron age hill fort. I knew that Brierley has a stone circle of sorts. It seems this region of South Yorkshire is a veritable mine of ancient historical monuments. Now mostly crumbling away. Uncared for by the governing council bodies and forgotten about by the locals. A shame really.
The only indication that the woods were there was a tiny little damaged brown sign on Common Road gesturing that I cut across fields rather than take the purpose built access road. Potholes and tractor damaged hedges illustrate the need for more money and affection from governing bodies. Indeed the car park had seen better days too. Resembling a litter strewn crater, the car park is obviously a favourite night time haunt of local youths complete with burnt remnants (possibly of vehicles) and broken glass.
Sawn and naturally fallen trees indicated that some forestry had gone on at some point. Though it was possible that the sawn trees were just kids messing about with stolen chainsaws. Furthermore, there was indication that the area is used for other purposes. Yesterday’s picture showed the “Archery Area” warning, but I also witnessed signs telling the casual visitor that the discharging of firearms was forbidden. Probably ignored judging by the tell tale dimples in the sad and sorry metallic sign. Likewise, the sign forbidding the use of off road motorcycles was similarly ignored by the helmetless youth who noisily sped past it bound for his one day fatal date with a head on collision.
But beyond the shabbiness the woods were tranquil. The woods were haunting. The woods teemed with wildlife and promise of better days. Maybe this is the wood’s winter. It certainly looks like it once had a burgeoning spring and a busy summer visitor wise. But I hope it survives it’s current winter of mismanagement.
It’s kicking off in the Lane with no name (Lwnn). For those who don’t remember the Lane with no name is the lane that runs along the back of Gnomepants manor and connects the other 4 houses to the outside world without having to use the front steps which nobody uses which are steep. In times past it was also used as access for brewery vehicles to the Village Club but they don’t use it any more as they have better vehicles these days.
So last night I donned my tartan pyjamas, picked up teddy and hopped into bed at a respectable hour as opposed to “ungodly o clock because Warcraft is addictive”. The reason behind the early night will become clear after the weekend (because I like to add a dash of mystery to my entries these days). Anyway, I had but just nodded off, the opening credits for the nights dreamingses were starting and went something like this:-
Stegzy Gnomepants Subconscious presents
A Stegzy Gnomepants Dream
Dreamed in GlorioustechnicolourAvril Lavigne
and The Tight fitting cat suited lesbian vampiresses with comedy inflatable breasts
Steamy Sex Orgies on Underground Trains Vs the Binbaggers and that woman with the green poison VIII
In soft focus
Avril Lavigne – Ooh Thelma Blair, Liv Tyler and Hayden Panettiere come and help me rub this olive oil into my pert nipples while I do rude things to Kirsten Dunst with this cucumber. You fuckin bastard I fuckin hate you you fucking cunty bastard sweary sweary bum bum
Shouty Man on street out side – You fucking bitch I fucking hate you I’m going to smack you yadda yadda yadda shouty shouty shouty
Back to real life with a start
At this point I woke up. Very annoyed. I mean just what rude things did she mean? What a point to start and end a dream! Vexxed and annoyance levels heightened by the fact that my bedside alarm clock revealed I had but been asleep for 20 minutes, I looked toward the window in response to the shouty man on the street outside who was still shouting, wtf was going on?
Shouty Man on street out side – I’m fucking gonna slap you just fuck off fucking fuck fuck fuck slap hurt bitch arrgh toilet roll fucking pot noodle Shouty Woman – Just fuck off you fucker
By the window Mrs Gnomepants was peeping out down onto the street with all the subtlety of a flamboyance of flamingoes in a blizzard. I shuffled grumpily toward the window listening intently. There on the street was a car, the doors wide open and a rather shouty shouty man shouting at some woman, getting rather rough and slapping her about a bit. Obviously drunk (the police in South Yorkshire don’t give two flying fucks about rural drink driving so it is rife) the man was seriously and scarily shouting at everyone in the street that he had roused from their slumber, who had obviously also started to peep out of their bedroom windows, instructing them to “FOKIN MIND YO’ ORN FOKIN BIZNIS”. At which point I shrugged and thought well fuck it then, and climbed back into bed.
Mrs Gnomepants called the police. Not to inform them of my disinterest in local drunks fighting it out on the street, but because she was concerned that a woman had been assaulted (Believe me the woman was giving that bloke a better slapping than he was giving) and that there was a drunk driver on the street and could the police come. Shouty man and Shouty woman went separate ways, shouty woman headed towards Grimethorpe still shouting at shouty man even though shouty man had driven off noisily (and dangerously) toward Pontefract Road.
As I desperately tried to get back to the sticky girl on girl action in Dream Theatre, I could hear Mr Shouty Man squeeling about further up the road and Mrs Shouty Woman screeching like a banshee in the other direction.
Honestly, it’s people like that that give booze a bad name.
Eventually I nodded off:-
Avril Lavigne – (Licking buttercream off her fingers while zipping up the all in one tight fitting pvc catsuit over her rather curiously large voluminous comedy inflatable breasts) Right then Drew, Lets get him Drew Barrymore – (Brandishing a rather large hypodermic syringe filled with green liquid) Ok but don’t forget to bring those bin bags