Monday, 11 November 2019

Poppycock or false memory day

How can children remember something that happened before they or in many cases even their parents were born or someone they never met? Indeed why  should they even bother? Who benefits from all this? The dead? Long past caring.  The living, then? How? The land fit for heroes threw them on to the jobless scrap heap but every November out came  the bloody poppies and British Bloody Legion with their bloody flags, their bloody medals and their damn bloody marches.
It has become a routine that is only done because it has always been done. This year the PM put his wreath upside down! (titter ye not!) The other guy who wants to be PM turns up even though he has voted against every British military intervention there has been and has fraternized with just about every 'enemy' while he has been an MP, at least he didn't bow his head only because he's too damned ignorant. No-one dare say "Let us stop this nonsense now and get on with our lives". 
As a child I was told that on Remembrance Day we remember those who died in the War. The War then was the Great War, WW1. Now the War is WW2 though that too is fading, Korea (where was that now?), Falklands (oh yeah dimly recall), Afghanistan, Northern Ireland (maybe not so much NI as that wasn't officially a war and besides half the enemy were in the pay of the secret service), any patch of a scrubby useless middle eastern shithole that the British Army has been sent to and come home again having achieved precisely zip and at such a cost ... Ah yes I was told and you tell your children still they must remember these 'sacrifices' and show their respects. What for?
Now memory is as you know a pretty untrustworthy thing at the best of times but if you are going to tell your children stories what do you expect to happen? I was told by my mother that her father's brother joined up at the start of the war; both brothers enlisted together, leaving their jobs in the steel works, joined the Gordon Highlanders (the kilts were a thing back then). Poor old great uncle Thomas however died in the war, I was told, and grandpa married his brother's bereaved fiancée. That's a nice story with such a romantic ending... Or so I was told ... Hmm today I find, thanks to computers and internets that never forget, Great Uncle Tom actually lived to over 70 and died in 1959 and worked in a pawnbroker's shop and was in the Northumberland Fusiliers. Grandpa Joe, was living in a different town to his brother, was actually in the Gordon Highlanders in France from 1915 onwards (I guess something had to be true) and when I knew him as a chain smoking (Capstan full strength or Willy Woodbines) old man he cursed the British Bloody Legion whenever he could, he'd no time for poppies or poppycock. He never, ever mentioned (maybe he forgot) being injured in 1916 but computers and internets they never forget ...
There I've done with my bit of remembering. Now what? Hmm?

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Honey Fungus (I think)

On Snuff Mill Lane the other day large numbers of these pretty brown critters had sprung up alongside a blackthorn and ivy hedge. I think it's honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) a destroyer of broadleaf trees, particularly fruit trees. I'm told they are edible but somehow I don't think I'll try. I recall the saying that everything is edible at least once. Did I mention there were large numbers of them?

Friday, 8 November 2019

Pier review

Bridlington pier attracts all sorts who bring along all the right gear to catch either the light or the odd passing codling or flounder ... I have a tripod, I just can't be bothered to traipse around with it.

These guys are not allowed to fish off here during the summer in case a passing tourist (there are still a few who pass) might be harmed by seeing grown folk waste their time in the pursuit of the big 'un. There must be some hidden thing I'm not getting, each one finds their own way through that gap twixt cradle and grave.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Old Warty

Avid followers of my dreary tales will know of my pumpkin cultivation (if that is the word, they just romped along all by themselves) and will, no doubt, love to know that the only one that grew anything like a pumpkin ended up as all good gourds do: top sliced off, gutted and crudely hacked about in some really messy ritual. (I don't like Hallowe'en but making a mess still appeals) But then what do you do with the damn thing? Being a novice at this game I put old warty face on the garden gates' spikes  for any passing wildlife to enjoy; plus I'm sure he'll annoy the neighbours (who do things neat and tidy in the garden). He sits there still, a girning, toothy memorial to the sunshine of the summer of '19.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

"Looks like an accident in the cutlery drawer"

Over last weekend and to the annoyance of many gridlocked motorists Castle Street was blocked off and the new footbridge (which we last saw parked up in preparation in a car park a few weeks ago) was shuffled into position in a faultless manner and much quicker than expected. The road was reopened fifteen hours earlier than forecast to much rejoicing. The bridge is only the small matter of thirty odd years late (who's counting?) ... and it won't be fit for pedestrians until spring.

The title was Margot's comment upon first seeing this. "Like the dish ran away with the spoon?" said I. Still you don't have to look at it when you're on it.

The weekend in Black and White is here.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Waste for Energy

As the train draws into Sheffield station you cannot but be a bit overawed by the outsized industrial plant with attendant chimney right in the heart of town. What do they make here I wondered, what new industrial delight has Sheffield brought forth?
But then a few days later and after a very small amount of searching I find this is no more than a commercial trash incinerator/power plant/community heating concern. That must be nice for the neighbours, I thought, what kind of idiot place would build that in its centre? Then I remembered that the small town of Hull has just built a very similar place also in the heart of town though that heart is somewhat more sclerotic and rotten. That place too will be bringing in other people's trash to turn into electricity though at what a price. Didn't we used to burn cheap, local coal and make sparks cheaply that way? Now we burn anything but coal and that is considered fine and proper (but it's damned expensive; not to say stupid), ah but the greenie bumpykins are happier; they are never happy as such just less unhappy. Maybe we could burn them and increase the sum of human happiness ...
I was going to look up a load of stuff about this place but it's an incinerator and frankly it bores me rigid but fortunately I find someone has already written a piece a few years back so you can (should you want on a slow rainy day) go look at this and I can just go think of something nice like blowing up Parliament with gunpowder ... drat it's no longer sitting.

Monday, 4 November 2019

And quiet flows the Don

Here's the river we've been trailing all the way up to Sheffield. The Don was once a jet-black flowing cess pit of pollution but since the 1970s it's been cleaned up and now salmon and other fishes spawn and thrive in its rushing waters.That's a nice little success story that's no-body shouts about for some odd reason.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Masbrough and Millmoor: nothing to see here ...

As our train slowly drags its weary way up the Don valley we pass through what was once the dark Satanic mills country of south Yorkshire; a place of coal mines, iron works and heavy engineering that once led the world but is now a land  struggling to find a use for itself. I doubt Sir Walter Scott ever ventured up here to find romantic inspiration for his twaddle tales of derring-do ... So here in Rotherham, a place that has know better times, is Masbrough or Masborough (depending on who is doing the spelling, I favour leaving out the 'o'; I don't pronounce it so it's not there ... it is said that Middlesbrough, a town near to where I was born, is so because the Town Clerk couldn't spell ... But I'm digressing again)  where was I? oh yes, Masbrough, a suburb of Rotherham just across the river, comes to us as a passing, fleeting view of an old unwanted station. This was once the main station for Rotherham, from the 1840s until the mid 1980s.  All we have now is an unused platform and some railway buildings which I read are now a restaurant but it was once a thriving, busy station, you can read more here. The station's last use was for 'football specials' which leads us neatly onto the next picture ...

This is a really bad picture of  Millmoor football stadium once home to various Rotherham football clubs over the years until Rotherham United were thrown out for not paying the rent a few years ago. The place, I read, is the home of Westfield United of The Bud Evans BD U18 Division 5 which is quite possibly the least exciting piece of information I've ever found out in my entire life... a paper ran a piece on the place should you need cheering up ...

Saturday, 2 November 2019


At fifty or so miles an hour this is about as much of Conisbrough as I manged to spot from the train on our way to Sheffield the other day. Still it's enough, I think. I've been trying to find out something about this place and well, here goes. The castle, you've noticed the castle I take it, big old Norman keep, recently reroofed and famed as the inspirational source for Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. He called the place Coningsburgh so no-one would know ... I admit I've never read the book, (who reads that stuff these days?) but as a child I was suitable appalled by Roger Moore's acting in the TV series ... 
Erm what else? Oh yes; Kilner jars originated here but went bust way back in 1937. There was an Earth Centre I recall it was some sort millennium thing (there was a great madness about the land at that time) consisting of a big hole in the ground or former colliery or former glass works (Kilner's Works? I dont know or care much. It's all a bad memory best forgotten)  into which money (>£41 million!! as I say madness was stalking the country) was poured à la Maynard Keynes. It had an ecological theme that, quite naturally, failed to appeal and no-one could be bothered to visit so it went bust and is now a housing estate I hear. There's also Archers Way which once had another, sillier name but you can search for that yourself. 
I'm sure Conisbrough is a nice place. It certainly has a very long history, the Old English Cyningesburh was recorded back in 1000, and if I had the time and inclination I could tell more ... it's just that we went through at fifty miles an hour and it's gone now...

Friday, 1 November 2019

A River Runs Through It

The theme for the City Daily Photo's start of the month shindig is 'brown'. Since there runs a big streak of glorious brown stuff right through the heart of town what else could I post other than another view of the river. As ever it's a symphony of browns. The river is empty now and rarely used, you know it's bad when they decide to turn the old dry docks on the right into a heritage feature; mind you I said they should do that years ago ...

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Something will turn up

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." 
                                                                                                                     Charles Dickens

There is a saying that any noun can be verbed and vice versa: the technical term for this trickery is anthimeria; it is one of the useful features of the English language. However turning an adjective into a noun, well, it just sticks in the craw .... "Find your extraordinary"  is the dumb, illiterate slogan of the University of Hull1. With such a stupid motto it comes as little surprise that the English course at this establishment has slipped down to 75th in subject ranking. This is a sorry fall indeed for a department that was once one of the leading English departments in the country (well it was when Margot got her First there, way back when we were all a lot younger). It should also not surprise anyone that the university's overall ranking is 81st though this is a rise of 13 places from last year (source The complete university guide : the Guardian has the place ranked 106!). The university has already had to make £15 million cutbacks and now announces a further £25 million. Clearly all that building of student residential accommodation was not cheap (I've seen a figure of £28.5 million for one block alone; though the loss of a cricket pitch is beyond calculation...) and a new sports centre didn't exactly come free (£17 million) and there's the undisclosed costs of sponsoring the UK's Olympic Team (Team GB) (Why on earth? Just why? Bonkers!) which leads to the Vice Chancellor saying the “plummeting league table results are “untenable””  (really?) and things will get worse before they improve (if they ever do). 
Now it really should not have come as such a surprise that the expansion of this place was a bubble that could not grow forever; that massive expenditure might not bring in the revenue expected. The university, along with many others, has overestimated revenue: in short the result, as Micawber could have told them, is misery ... and cuts (approaching 10% of spending)  to staff and courses will only reduce teaching quality, feeding back to lower student intake and so on ... The intention is to have a smaller but better University; well smaller is easily done; better is much harder to achieve and does not automatically follow cutbacks.
I find it extraordinary (that much abused adjective again) that anyone would choose to come to this place let alone pay at least £9,250 per year in tuition fees plus living costs and leave with debts of £40,000 for a piece of paper that says you have met the academic approval of the University of Hull (whoop! whoop!). So let me tell you that, extraordinarily, 16,000 students are enrolled here. I wish them well.

1I wonder if the U of H knew, I'm sure it did due diligence (didn't it?), that "Find your extraordinary" is the title of one of those odd books designed to spur entrepreneurs onto bigger and better things. It has the subtitle "Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms" (no really it does!)... You'd think entrepreneurs would not have time to read such tosh but then again business folk have put the U of H in its present parlous position so maybe it's required reading. You can find this essential guide on Amazon and suchlike places and no, I'm not putting up a link, go find you own extraordinary

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Dialogue of the deaf

On Monday this week our House of Commons huffed and puffed and denied the Government's motion to have an election on December 12. On Tuesday, the very next day, our House of Commons met and over a period of several hours, with votes to see if amendments could be put forward (passed),  said amendments (to let 16 year olds and EU nationals vote in the election!!!???) then rightly rejected by Mr Deputy Speaker, then finally and solemnly passed a bill by an overwhelming majority to allow an election on ... December 12. 
So the great conversation will begin, or rather the uncivil shouting match will continue, with neither side listening to the other, cue much media bias, expect revelations about the PM's private life, about the Labour leader's senility, how the NHS will be sold to the USA, how Labour will turn the UK into Venezuela ...  all very nice and all no doubt true. But there is really only one issue: Leaving the god forsaken European Union as soon as possible or letting the possibility of leaving slide into the mire of Labour and Liberal Democrat betrayal. So, though I cannot possibly vote Conservative myself, I hope for a thumping great Tory landslide, a clear majority to get the UK out once and for all. Vote Boris!

I have shown these two distant friends before here and here.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Monday, 28 October 2019

An old wife's tale

 "Tid, Mid, Misere; Carlin, Palm, Pace-Egg Day"

I sometimes think folk invent things behind my back, while I'm not looking new traditions spring up, fully formed, that I'd never ever heard of. So imagine my suspicions when after looking up what the devil a Carlin Pea might be, and why this unbecoming little shop should proclaim itself to be the home thereof, a whole new-to-me north-of-England 'tradition' appeared out of the virtual mist. 
The short version is that Newcastle-upon-Tyne (a city someways to the north of Hull, inhabited by amiable troll like folk who grunt to each other in a dialect (known for no good reason as Geordie) so impenetrable that outsiders grimace and ask for translators to help with normal intercourse... but I digress... ) was under siege by some Scottish army or other (there were so many back in the day, the day being 1644 and the war being the Civil War ), the populace were all dropping off with hunger when a ship from Norway (of all places!) or was it France? (seems more likely given the politics of the time) came up the bonny Tyne laden with dried, black peas and saved the day and lifted the siege (I assume the Geordies didn't share their good fortune with the Scots). Now all this happened on the fifth Sunday in Lent, known, apparently (well I didn't know) as Carlin Sunday. Hence Carlin peas, hence a 'tradition' in the North-East of England of eating these peas on the fifth Sunday of Lent. Now, I was brought up in the NE of E and spent my first eighteen years there, you'd think this nonsense might have passed by me at some time, but nope ... this is all news to me. Not that a meal of softened black quasi-mushy peas gently sautéed in butter or dripping or what have you has much appeal, but it would have been nice to have been offered ...
Which is all well and good but leaves unanswered, why Carlin Sunday? I mean 'Carlin' is old Norse for an old woman, or a crone, (it's French for a pug but that is by the by) ... Old Wife's Sunday seems a bit far fetched.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Yet More Driffield Amusements

Driffield, let's be honest, is not a big place. A visitor would be stretched to say it had more than one street, named rather sweetly as Middle Street. Now Middle Street is not to be mocked; it is long enough to have two halves: Middle Street North and Middle Street South. But the visitor need not worry about such quaintness, Driff has one street and most everything is on it. So let us just say that we are at the southern end of the strip and here's the Butcher's Dog, which I assume is a public house of some sort. I post only because I think the sign writing is superb ... I don't go in pubs these days, haven't for years. I'm told that now you can't smoke in them they reek of farts, sweat and stale beer ... delightful!
But what is that piano keyboard peeking out on the left? Why it's nothing less than a singing barber ...

Now this has three of my pet hates all in one window: Hallowe'en (boring commercialised Yankee reimport of a Scottish export), the Beatles (vastly overrated crud) and Elvis (just plain emetic yuck from the get go!). So well done  them! Barbers, with or without singers,  I also haven't been in since even longer than pubs. 

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Mortimer's Warehouses

Mortimer's warehouses close by the canal and Riverhead in Driffield are no more; well the buildings are still there but the business has moved on and up to an out of town industrial estate. The which is good news for the company and will be a relief regarding traffic but left a bit of a headache: what to do with Grade 2 listed buildings? From what I can glean money has arrived in the form of a National Lottery grant to make some form of heritage centre. Well good luck with that and so long as that familiar old sign stays I'll be happy.

I've no idea who JG was.

The Weekend in Black and White is here.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Almost Moorhens

Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) are very common birds on waterways in these parts. This one is a juvenile as it lacks the bright red beak with a yellow tip and the bluish tinge to the plumage. Normally they run away at the first sign of my camera but this couple on the banks of the Driffield canal seemed not to mind.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Driffield Navigation

It is said that you cannot step into the same river twice but that doesn't stop you trying to photograph it. So, pace Heraclitus, here is the Driffield canal (or navigation, if you please) once again and it looks just the same as it ever did, nothing much seems to have changed in the fifty odd years since I first came here (well I've changed obviously, but this is just a virtual scrapbook not a philosophical treatise). Appearances can be deceptive, however, and some nearby things have changed and maybe I'll come to that another day. Meanwhile the old cranes are still there waiting for their close-ups ...

and there's a delightful little seat should it all be too much and you need to rest a while and maybe ponder Wittgenstein's word games and how you really can dip your toes in the same river twice; just mind the ducks ...

Tuesday, 22 October 2019


Now the griffin, as you know, mated for life and when its partner died it would continue its life alone. The medieval church took this well known fact and used the griffin as an emblem against remarriage. But you cannot stand too strongly against such an issue that affected so many, especially with mortality rates being what they were and marriage back then being a simple vow with or without an exchange of a 'wed' or gift (hence wedding) ... and with or without a witness since the only witness needed was God himself ... taking place just about anywhere; in a field, on the road, in a pub, church doorways were popular (added a spice of spirituality, no doubt) ... all of which might go to explain how this rather cute little griffin is well hidden, out of sight, tucked away, up on the roof and round the back of All Saints' church in Driffield.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Driffield Amusements

Driffield once had a proper post office in a fine old building, now it's gone ... actually been gone for ten years or so but I only photographed it the other day, I like my urban decay to mature a bit...

& next door, the amusement arcade, is coming along just fine.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Please wait ... six months.

We went to Bridlington the other day. It was closed. Hibernating until well into next year, waiting for those glorious post-Brexit days, Armageddon, who knows? Anyway it was shut...

The Yorkshire Belle was where she always is, still going strong after taking folk on trips round the bay and sometimes further for must be over seventy years now. I know she had a refit in Hull recently and clearly needs to rest up.

The Gansey Girl statue and the ferris wheel were just made to go together so  ...

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Snooker Loopy

If you like seeing grown men putting their brightly coloured balls on a table and hitting them into pockets with the end of stick then snooker is your game of choice. If, like me, you think that when you've seen one game of snooker you've seen them all then maybe you should give this exhibition of geriatric ball potters a miss.
Snooker enjoyed a revival from its sleazy, smoke filled room, sign-of-a-misspent-youth decline back in the late 60s/70s simply because the one of the two TV companies available back then (the BBC) had introduced colour TV broadcasting and needed a program with coloured things in it. It was called "Pot Black" as I recall and led to one commentator making the memorable sentence " For those of you who are watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green". They certainly don't do TV like they used to.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Found in Sheffield

Eventually we got on our tram and headed out towards Halfway. I never did find out out where Halfway was or indeed where it is halfway to as we got off well before then and went about our errand which as I've mentioned was just a tad silly. We were here to pick up and transport back this fellow ...

He's over six feet tall, has a limited vocabulary and even more limited movement. Margot has had a crush on him ever since she saw him lurking in Asda nearly ten years ago. Fortunately he squats down to under four foot and fitted into bin bags and, with a woolly hat for head protection, few people dared say anything to us as we carried him onto the tram back to the station. If you ever find yourself in need of a way of disposing a torso wrap it in bin bags put on a silly hat over the top and carry it through town, no-one will stop you ... well at least not in Sheffield.

We'd just missed a train so had to wait nearly an hour which gave me the opportunity for another view of Sheaf Square all lit up. Nice one Sheffield.

As for our friend he lurks in the front room serving no purpose at all other than to advertise Margot's excellent book. Go out and buy it now or I'll set the big fella on you.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Lost in Sheffield

So we arrived in Sheffield and we needed to find the trams, we had directions to "cross over the track and catch a 'Blue Line' tram to Halfway" but directions are only as good as the folk that follow them so we boldly headed to the way out as per the station signs thinking we'd find the trams there. Well, we didn't; we did find this fine city square, Sheaf Square named after the now buried river Sheaf from whence derives the name Sheffield.  The main feature is this impressive water fall over stainless steel (they couldn't use any other metal in this steel town could they?) called The Cutting Edge.

Another thing that impressed us was that the place has hills, I mean Hull hasn't even got a bumpy road to call a hill but this place rises up around you on all sides, very nice, well different, wouldn't like to ride a bike around here but nice nonetheless... Anyway, compounding our error we thought we'd cross this road and head to the bus station, surely the trams would be there ...

Even as we walked I had a feeling this wasn't right ...

No trams here just buses in a bus station who would have thought of that ... so turn about and head back to the station and notice the fine carvings over the entrance ...

Back in the station I noticed a very small sign with the word "trams" next to it and an arrow ... seems you get to the trams by going out what appears to be the back door of the station...

This tale has gone on too long so I'll finish it tomorrow when things take a slightly silly turn.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Things ancient and modern

Here you might be surprised the ancient or rather slightly older thing is Doncaster's station not the gothic church that would like to dominate the skyline of this ancient town. The station was built in 1848, some five years later the 12th century church of St George burnt down completely and had to be rebuilt by, well who else could do the job, none other than our old friend Sir George Gilbert Scott. I'm told that the bill for rebuilding came to £43,126 4shillings and 5 pence and even Queen Victoria raided her piggy bank and gave £100. It's Grade1 listed and has interesting things in it you would love if you could see 'em (try here).

A new shopping centre/bus station/railway interchange thing has sprung up since I was last in these parts. I think it's called Frenchgate, something like that, anyway new to me.

Doncaster station is still as busy as I remember it. This is where the suits get off, taking their loud conversations with them, and head for the mainline London train ...

Now Doncaster or Donny as the train conductors and locals call it is only here because the Romans needed a place to cross the river Don and move on up North to York and civilisation. They fortified the place and, because they knew no better, they named it Danum, the natives called it Don - ceaster, the roman fort on the river Don, sensible eh?. Not wishing to flow against the tide of history this is us doing just that crossing the Don and moving on ... next stop Sheffield which is also on the river Don but named after a different river altogether.