Friday, 31 May 2019

All mod cons ...

Cor there's posh! Most Hull folk still have to wander down to the corner pump with a bucket ... Cottingham houses have their own private wells.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Gin School

I don't know how these things work; I'm talking about fashions. Now a few years ago you couldn't give gin away, it was mother's ruin, the tipple of the well-oiled sot. From the 1920's through prohibition, to the end of the fifties, if Hollywood is to be believed, anyone who was anyone was fuelled by lashings of gin disguised as a dry Martini.  I must admit that on a hot afternoon a large G & T with ice (and a slice of lemon if you really must) can be a delight,  though by the end of the last century it was really not the drink of choice for the young get up and go types (like what I wasn't). A couple of centuries back, though, it was the patriotic duty of every loyal Englishman to drink pints of gin daily (Think Hogarth Gin Lane, "drunk for threepence, dead drunk for sixpence" ) and none of that nasty French brandy, thank you very much. So it should come as no real surprise that gin is now flavour of the month again or should I say flavours of the month since the plain old juniper berry infused distilled liquor is just a bit passé. Now the thing is 'artisan gin'  made and sold at great expense with any flavour you can pop into the still. Can I tempt you to a rhubarb gin? No? How about plum and vanilla? or strawberry and cream? perhaps a herbal rosemary and thyme would appeal? Cheese and onion, anyone?
Here some enterprising soul is clearly trying to catch the wave in full flood and you can make your very own little bottle of gin to take away and cherish ...cheaper by far to buy a bottle or three or four but then you won't be learning anything.

Oh look we are rapidly approaching World Gin Day ... Saturday 8thof June 2019.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Green and Blue

I've mentioned before that Cottingham has a fair few splendid trees so I thought I'd post some again because they are still splendid and other things goings-on in the world are somewhat less interesting. This grand old specimen you've seen before but that was in its winter attire; it's a near neighbour of that red beech I posted the other day.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Sweet Williams

Picture by Margot K Juby

Round the corner from the Duke of Cumberland sits this quietly unassuming public house named officially as the  King William the Fourth; a mouthful for anyone so known universally as the King Billy. Now I've only just found that the William referred to here was the fourth, no-body remembers Billy IV. Everyone knows Will I (the Conqueror or Billy the Bastard, 1066 and all that, a good thing), Willy II (aka Rufus, died (murdered?) while hunting in the New Forest) and then our Glorious King William the Third ( the King Billy; the great deliverer, who gave us our freedom, religion and laws) but William the Fourth who he, when all the dust is settled? As Margot succinctly put it  "He's the Gordon Brown of Kings"; poor sod, forgotten by all save the sots of Cottingham. 

... and the fading flowers are, of course, Sweet Williams, not, as some north of the imaginary border, call them Stinking Billies (ragwort actually) and besides the Stinking Billy in that case was William, Duke of Cumberland (Butcher Cumberland to some who knew him well enough to suffer) and, as I say, he lives round the corner.

William is such a sweet name, dontcha think?

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Fill Your Boots

The news earlier this year that the town centre was to lose a pair of Boots1 (here on Prospect Street and later on Whitefriargate, yes poor old Whitefriargate is to lose yet another store!) was tempered somewhat by the announcement that a brand new, size 16, mega Boots was to arrive in St Stephens. The new store duly opened a few days ago with "huge queues" (who queues for the opening of a new chemists shop? Do they pay them like opera claqueuers to wait from dawn with bated breath for the doors to open? Do they put off buying their Germaloids until the big day? Just what is it that makes these people tick?). So ... anyway, in this town,  the score is two lost and one found ...

1 Boots, or Boots Alliance, formerly a large and well liked UK pharmacy and retail company bought by Swiss private equity and later sold to Walgreens of the USA. Now just another retailer with too many stores and not enough customers. And, after some atrociously poor customer service, at another Boots, I never go in this place ... I'm sure they miss me.

Saturday, 25 May 2019


I suppose that at my age I should have grown out of imagining a blue liquorice allsort whenever I see this blue flowered bush. But there you go I lack will power. For long enough I called it the liquorice allsort plant but now I know it as Ceanothus, some call it the Californian Lilac (but never in my hearing). Wikipedia, that ever reliable fount of information, tells that, in far away foreign parts, the plant is sometimes known as New Jersey Tea as the leaves were used to substitute for tea during the time of bloody fratricidal civil warfare now known as the American Revolution (actually I know it as the American War of  Independence (starring Mel Gibson), when did it become the American Revolution? And why wasn't I told?). No doubt a consequence of imbibing all that ersatz brew is that 'blue' now has the opposite political connotation in the US of A to here in the land of dopey Tories. And finally, speaking of Tories and the blues;  to lose two Prime Ministers looks a lot like carelessness. 

Hurray , hurray the end of May,
All our troubles have gone away!

Friday, 24 May 2019

The Duke of Cumberland

Margot was saying, just the other day, that the sign on the Duke of Cumberland in Cottingham was looking a bit faded and unreadable. Well that is no longer the case with this fine sign letting the world know what's what. A few other things like a new doorway and a fresh coat of paint, have seen the old place transformed after a brief closure. The place is due to re-open today with new management, (actually old management returning) so good luck to them.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Thursday's Crow

When that I was and a little tiny boy, back in the day, crows, by which I mean carrion crows, did not much venture into towns, least not the towns I lived in. You'd see rooks aplenty, with their bare faces and triangular beaks and noisy rookeries, but a big old black crow was a rare sight and they were shy scaredy beasts. Now it's the other way round; the rooks have become almost entirely rural (OK Cottingham village has one or two but you get my drift) while the town centre and suburbs (there's a pair nesting in next door's tree) are pretty good places to see these fine snappers-up of unconsidered trifles, hobbing and bobbing as if they owned the world which they may well do.  

Ok it's another crow, could have been worse I haven't posted the maritime museum for a while.

Later today I shall be going to vote in the EU Parliamentary elections but as the results won't be known until Sunday, lest the UK result influence the rest of the EU (fat chance!) I'll post about that later if at all ...

The weekend in black and white is fast approaching.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Look what they done to my seat, Ma ...

In the hot sunny months of summer (it's been known to be hot and sunny here, on occasions) I used to rest up and park my posterior on the wall in the cool, verdant shade of this old willow tree and spend a few minutes watching the world go by ... now there's not one but two service boxes (suitably daubed by the numpty of the week) right where I want to be and the poor old tree has had a shocking haircut. Was it something I said?

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

A Useless Passion

Deep in the depths of Whitefriargate surrounded on all sides by empty shops and the all pervading absurdity that is the city of culture what else but a coffee shop should spring up to lighten the way for the passing caffeine addicts that have taken over and destroyed our fair town with their zomby like behaviour and aggressive antisocial attitudes. They choose to wreck their lives on this substance and expect us to pick up the pieces as they huddle in doorways with eyes sunk into their befuddled heads waiting for the next fix ..... oops wrong drug, wrong rant... erm; where was I? Oh yes, if you're allergic to ontological puns avert your eyes. 

Monday, 20 May 2019

... the vengeance of eternal fire.

If I were you tell that this was the site of a former synagogue that was bombed in the war then rebuilt then made into a night club and then that became the Club Heaven and Hell you might not be totally surprised.You might also be at ease with the place closing down a few years ago and standing empty since then. This is after all the city of inertia... But if I was to add that there were 'plans' to convert this space into a 135 bed boutique hotel you'd be amazed at the startlingly original idea; "why has no-body thought of doing this before?" you might exclaim, if exclaiming was your thing... The local paper ran a piece just last year announcing the placing of no less than a poster detailing the immanent arrival of a new hotel.... such was the excitement! You should know, though, that as far as I can find the 'plans' were submitted in 2013 and approved, then withdrawn, the last thing I can find is a discharge of conditions in May 2016 and I'm pretty sure permissions expire after three years... does any of this sound familiar?
I've shown this place before getting on for nine years ago and in that time it seems that the only thing that has happened is flesh suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (which can also be the fate of buildings left empty for so many years, just sayin' is all ...)

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The Tradesman's Entrance

This post is just an excuse to show again a favourite tree in Cottingham. (It's been seven or more years so you won't remember.) It sits at the junction of Snuff Mill Lane and Newgate Street in the grounds of what is now a care home but originally must have belonged to someone with higher than average income shall we say. It's splendid all year round but in spring the red leaves are just superb.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Lost Flip Flop

Another demonstration of the versatility of the Land Rover, stick a wooden hut on the back and hey presto (does any one say that any more?) instant coffee shop. Not that it sells instant coffee or anything like that; well, it might, I don't drink coffee so I wouldn't know ...  It's posted here because I just liked the name. 

There is a web thingy to go with, it's here

Friday, 17 May 2019

The Old Grey Mare

What can I say about this pub that's right outside the entrance to the university? Well first off, when I came to Hull it was not a pub at all but a hotel, the Newland Park Hotel, indeed I spent one night there before being interviewed for a job at the Uni. There was bar then, the size of a small front parlour with three or four armchairs, all very cosy. Margot informs me that members of staff at the Uni would go there to hide from students ... Now the bar or bars extend across the whole ground floor.
Anyway I got the job and worked there (if that is the word) for a few months. One morning on my way in I witnessed a nasty accident on Cottingham Road close by this spot, a young woman was hit by a speeding van ... all very nasty. 
So then some years later I read a really badly written book by Peter James, I think it was called Possession or some such, about well, ghostly possession if you will. Thankfully I've forgotten most of the ridiculous plot, what there was of it, except the part where someone gets run over right outside this building by a speeding lorry if I'm not being too fanciful. 
So nowadays, I'm always very careful when crossing Cottingham Road ...

Here's a quite gratuitous photo of Cottingham Road, looks kind of innocuous don't it?

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Ambitious Plans for Civic Vandalism

A few weeks ago Hull Council announced what it called "ambitious plans" to capitalise on the city's maritime heritage, you know the kind of thing a museum here, a dry dock with an old trawler there so far so yada yada ... the plan was to put in for some cash from the National Lottery heritage funding ... and all seems pretty harmless but then for some godforsaken reason, they propose the ruination of this road by Queen's Gardens, Guildhall Road I believe is its name. Yes this delightful grass verge with its dozens of mature flowering trees and shrubs has somehow caught the eye of developers and so inflamed their ire that it must be ripped up and replaced by a brick paved desert just like the rest of the City of Dull. Quite how this goes with the maritime thing is beyond me ... but this is the one-horse-town that gave permission for the extension to Burnett House so I guess the abomination will get the nod from the asses who decide these things. I can only hope the National Lottery people reject the begging bowl from these idiots.

You think I exaggerate? ... well go feast your eyes on this illustration of  civic vandalism and tell me I'm wrong.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

"Hemos pasado"

Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
                                                 L. Cohen
Close by yesterday's statue of Mankind Under Threat stands this new memorial to those few (very few indeed) who took it upon themselves to go off from Hull to Spain with the International Brigade while that country was tearing itself apart in a bloody civil war. I suppose they thought they were helping in some way, it's difficult to see how.  The slogan on the top is that old cliché of the Left (and other lost causes) "They shall not pass". The plain truth is not only did the buggers pass they hung around for nigh on forty years ...
I'm not sure that this memorial with its Communist era references (I'm seeing a star, a bulging Stakhanovite arm, a hint of a sickle, it could just be me) is really apt given the well documented bloody betrayals and murders of socialists and anarchists by Stalin's Soviets. The plinth with "Freedom" and "Democracy" inscribed  is, unfortunately,  so white as to be illegible in bright sunlight so the names of the few (Was it eight or nine? Who knows? Who at this distance cares much?) who went off to fight Franco cannot be discerned nor can the little etched scenes. Still there's long been a plaque in the Guildhall with the names of those involved should you have any interest ... and now I'm set to wondering did any go off to fight for Franco? And where is their memorial?


Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Under Threat


Ah so there's our old friend Mankind Under Threat squatting in the belated May sunshine all safe and sound now betwixt the City Treasury and the Guildhall. I wondered where he'd gone to. I suppose, technically, he's on public display but so far off any beaten track no visitor to Hull would come across him by accident. Unlike the old place in Queen's Gardens this site is hardly conducive to the contemplation of mankind being under threat. The threat to our friend here is clear: pointlessness and obscurity. He has already become a mere decoration. There are plans to secure this area with gates (the slim to non-existent terrorist threat to Councillors and council staff must be taken seriously ... and a quarter million pounds is the serious money that must be spent to take it seriously). Anyhow once the gates are built our caged friend will be even more secure and even more out of reach.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Bring back the birch

The birch is a pioneering tree, so I'm told, spreading rapidly and colonising clearings and waste lands. It is short lived (if 80-100 years can be called short lived) and makes way for longer lived species such as oak and pine. I don't expect to be around for that development but we plant trees for future generations to enjoy or so they say. There are signs around town telling us "Change is happening"; how true that is.

So to the building itself, well, what can I say? It's a bit fancy and somewhat overdressed for the surroundings the now closed M&S to one side and a hideous brick thing (also, as is the style on Whitefriargate, unoccupied) to the other. Nowadays it's a butcher's shop, or rather a purveyor of meats since I doubt any actual butchery takes place there and everything is wrapped in sealed plastic and looks like it came out of a box rather than a grazing animal... A minute's research reveals the place was originally a public house (yes, yet another ornate Victorian boozer) built in 1884 (the boom years for Hull) with alterations to the ground floor which are so dull they need not detain us.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Mea maxima culpa

                           "The Philistines were Wrong: Culture can bring a city back to life"
                                                                                       Richard Morrison, The Times

I noticed how vibrant Whitefriargate had become as I wandered down there on a rainy day last week. It was like the old times, only seen in those black and white films of smiling folk in fifties coats and suits all wearing hats trying not to look at the camera but somehow failing ... and the sun always shining. The sound of thousands of happy shoppers thronging the revitalised stores and small shops near deafened me and I had to struggle through the milling crowds as they ambled slowly along to the rattle of filling tills ... I was wrong, I thought, I lacked faith, with a little bit of imagination, Culture really can bring a city back to life.

And this, this is just fake news, I wouldn't pay it any mind.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Larkin Spectacle

... and speaking of old Pip Larkin, as we were, his statue in Paragon Station has caught the attention of those who would reshape the world they see before them. Maybe he should have gone to Specsavers ...

Friday, 10 May 2019

The large cool store is closed ...

Last Saturday (May 4th) Marks and Spencer on Whitefriargate closed after nearly ninety years of selling "cheap clothes/ Set out in simple sizes plainly/ (Knitwear, Summer Casuals, Hose,/ In Browns and greys, maroons and navy)". Truth is that M&S has been on its way out since well before old Larkin went to the inevitable. There were rumours that the store was somehow bribed not to leave Whitefriargate when St Stephens was built a decade ago. Whatever the truth the customers no longer "leave at dawn low terraced houses/ Timed for factory, yard and site" and haven't done so for generations. I haven't bought anything from M&S this century, certainly no clothing ever. Their food store became pretentious and much parodied (This is not just tosh; this is M&S  tosh ...)
Perhaps, though, it's not too late for a blue plaque commemorating Larkin buying his kecks at Markies ...oh,  and writing "a silly poem about nighties" .

The building with its classical columns and bronzed shop front was designed by Jones & Rigby in 1931~ish when M&S were in competition with Woolworths not only for sales but in shop design. Woolies (always a much cheaper store in price and attitude than M&S) went to that great administrator in the sky eleven years ago during the 2008 evenements. There's a wee Viking boat on the top which I've shown before but a second look won't kill you.

Those who seek more about the architectural history of Marks and Spencer's  stores could do worse than take a peek at this link.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

SOMETHING must be done ... but what?

This collection of 15000 plastic bottles (Tilly the Turtle, the happiest turtle in the world) was on display at the University last year, (Septemberish if I recall rightly and to go with the British Science conference). The message was simple, the seas, beaches and all open spaces are being filled with plastic garbage and, it goes without saying these days, SOMETHING must be done about it. So there's a sweet little "Plastic Pledge" (redolent of the days of temperance when the evil drink was going to ruin civilisation) where folk forswear to use plastic anything (cups, drinking straws (haven't used a straw since I could hold a bottle and drink out of it), shopping bags... well, you get the picture) and if they must then they will reuse it until it turns to dust and then they will recycle (or quite possibly eat) the dust... (Recycling plastic produces microbeads which are quite possibly even more insidious but we don't want to spoil the flow...) You have to admire young folk, so full of enthusiasm, so easily led to despair over their own futures.

The other day the Scottish Government (that is what it calls itself)  introduced plans for a 20p a bottle refund scheme and it can only be a matter of time before the UK Government does likewise. They have after all to be seen to be doing SOMETHING even if that SOMETHING is horribly expensive and quite insignificant compared to local council's own bin collection and recycling schemes. A scheme to reduce single use plastic bags by charging did reduce them considerably but now so-called "bags-for-life" which cost more and are supposed to be re-used are becoming as big as problem as before as folk, being folk, just forget to re-use them. 
So, then, I think everyone is agreed we must do SOMETHING ... now, moving onto the next item on the agenda ...

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Déjà vu in black and white

Surely, says meself to meself, I've shown a barge going up the river before and to be sure this very selfsame little boat, sorry ship, Swinderby, was posted way back when life was all so simple. And as is the way of things when you poke at them I find yet another barge doing the upstream adventure. In my defence I like the clouds and the mud in this picture ... and it was taken sometime back and if I don't post it now I never will.

I know it's only Wednesday but The Weekend in Black and White is here.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

You are HSBC.

Ironically this corporate BS from HSBC (stuffed with idiotic clichés from the dark days of the City of Culture) is no more than seventy yards from the branch it closed down just a couple of years ago; and it is  not even in Hull ... and it's oh so tasteful; diving off the Humber Bridge has become a way out of Hull for a few desperate folks lately.
Similar diversions from the criminal nature of HSBC are being pasted all over the country with equally emetic, gobshite being proclaimed. They are said to be too big to fail and might be too big to jail but do we really have to put up with this patronising garbage? Can we not have a little truth? Maybe something like ...
More than just the local bank ... you are the rancid stench something far, far bigger. You are the go-to guys for the drug cartels, terrorists, murderers and embezzlers. You're not an island, you conspire globally in Ponzis, rigging markets, tax evasion, fraud, foreign exchange manipulation "violated every goddamn law in the book". You are HSBC.

(The "violated every goddamn law ..." quote is from Jack Blum, attorney and former Senate investigator.)

Friday, 3 May 2019

Democracy in action

Voting yesterday for two local county councillors and two parish councillors. We get to do this every three or four years I'm not sure which. It really makes very little difference which monkey sits on the Council; I think the old Athenian sortition or selection by lot would do as well but in these enlightened times we must have universal suffrage so voting it is ... The result? Well, for the very few that care, the Tories won  (they always do) but Labour were wiped out completely for the first time ever (serves them right). 
In three weeks time we go at it again, this time for the European Parliament. You'll recall the result of the referendum on this tedious EU issue so the prospect voting for something the majority do not want to even be in has brought out the "Brexit Party" once again to "put the fear of God" into the mired political status quo. (I shall vote for them, there is no logical reason not to). Let the good times roll ... sorry, I meant to say let the people decide ...

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Burnt 'umber

"This must be Thursday.  I never could get the hang of Thursdays."
                                      Douglas Adams  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Now here's an odd thing to do with memory and and all that jazz. I clearly remember coming home from school at lunchtime and listening to the Hitchhiker's Guide on the radio at home with my mother. But as it was first aired in 1978 and I was 21 and living in the Big Smoke by then this could not possibly have happened... I much prefer the memory to the fact ...

Wednesday, 1 May 2019


Lunaria annua
Being the sort of gardener that likes to let things sort themselves out, (no point in fooling with Nature because, as someone once said, Nature cannot be fooled) I find a lot of these nice purple flowers cropping up in all sorts of places at this time of year. The well tempered cultivator might well call them weeds but I call them welcome additions to my small patch of land. You might not recognise the flowers but I'm pretty sure you'll have seen the transparent seed heads in floral displays. There's also a white variety and even a pinkish one but today, being the first of the month, is all about purple.

Honesty is the English name for this plant but other cultures have a more mercenary name, money plant, silver dollars, Judas coins and (my  favourite) La monnaie du pape being just a few choice alternatives. Botanists call it Lunaria annua despite it being a biennial ... whatever its name if you just leave it alone it'll settle in nicely, my kind of plant.

And honesty being best policy means that I must own that Margot Juby took these pictures.