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.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

¿Qué gigantes?

¡Válame Dios! —dijo Sancho—. ¿No le dije yo a vuestra merced que mirase bien lo que hacía, que no eran sino molinos de viento, y no lo podía ignorar sino quien llevase otros tales en la cabeza?
                                                                                            Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

I've been trying to find out exactly what climate is and I've failed completely. You'd think with all the stuff and nonsense spouted out it would be easy to say climate is such and such; but no, no-one can come up with an agreed definition. So I haven't a clue what is meant by the term "climate" (and I'm guessing you don't have much idea when it comes down to it). I read that "climate is what you expect; weather is what you get" but that isn't really helpful in tying down a definition, is it? Best I can figure on the matter is that climate is past weather all averaged out (and maybe fiddled with by clever folk with fancy machines) but it's past weather nonetheless, that is to say, climate is history and it's also an artefact, something that only exists because we say it does. (To some poor folk climate has developed almost god-like properties, and it's an angry god too that needs propitiatory sacrifices such as cutting off the electricity to appease it... these people are completely mad it goes without saying.) Now just as history can't be changed, so climate can't be changed; only the weather can change. Now if you've ever read the small print on investment opportunities you'll be aware that past performance is no indicator of future returns. So worrying about climate change and doing something about it is just tilting at windmills ...

These desaforados gigantes are near Thorne between Goole and Doncaster on land, Hatfield Chase, reclaimed from marshes nearly four centuries ago by our friendly Dutchman Cornelius Vermuyden when the climate was cooler than it was yesterday so they say.

Monday, 14 October 2019

The Fair Maid of Goole

I've been though Goole many times by train but never set foot in the place or, to be honest, given it much thought. So what can I tell you about Goole that you don't already know? You'll know that  a Dutchman, one Cornelius Vermuyden,  diverted the river Don (~1629) into a navigable cutting known to this day as the Dutch River which met the Ouse just above the confluence with the Trent. Where the Dutch River met the Ouse up grew or rather developed the village of Goole. (Goole is first mentioned in 1362 as Gulle, a word meaning channel or drain outlet.) The village of Goole was used then for shipping coal from the south Yorkshire coalfields in barges. It developed into a large inland port with the arrival of the Aire and Calder canal. This led to building a town proper, known then as New Goole. The railways arrived in 1848, it's on the Hull to Doncaster line, the motorway, M62, is close by. It now has light industries, Siemens are building a train factory there and the port is thriving and some 18,000 souls inhabit the place.

Now as to landmarks Goole I'm told has a church (below) and two water towers (above) known as Salt and Pepper. There's apparently  a fancy crane or hoist in the docks but I couldn't see that from the train...

... and as our train is departing so we must bid this place adieu...

Sunday, 13 October 2019

The Ouse

So to avoid any confusion this is the Ouse. Not the Great Ouse the we met in King's Lynn, nor yet the Little Ouse not even the Sussex Ouse; just the plain old Yorkshire Ouse that runs down from above the city of York until it reaches the Trent and forms the Humber. Like the Great Ouse, this river brought trade and invaders up into the heart of the country to the ancient trading city of York. It has been estimated that a sailing ship could reach York in a few hours from Hull on an incoming tidal bore known locally as the aegir. In 1066 Harald Sigurdsson, king of Norway, aka Hardrada (the hard ruler) took his Viking fleet of several hundred ships up the Ouse to York in one day and defeated the inhabitants at the Battle of Fulford.
So the river is historically important, less so now that Hull took away York's trade, sea going vessels go no further inland than Goole and Vikings have found oil and gas in the North Sea and have settled down to making detective films instead.
The bridge we are going over is the Ouse rail bridge near Goole for we are on a day trip to Sheffield on an  errand so ridiculously silly that you really wouldn't believe grown up, responsible adults would countenance such behaviour.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Hull Fair Rides Again

Photo by Margot K Juby
It's that time of year again when a car park in west Hull is taken over by the biggest travelling fair in the country. It's the week of Hull Fair again, just as noisy, bright and brash as ever, just as crowded as well. This year more folk than ever have crammed into the place, so many the police had to close the street off at one point last weekend. I don't much like the thing itself but, as Margot reminds me every year when I moan about going, it marks the passing of the seasons, autumn can begin now the Fair is here.

The weekend in black and white is here.

Friday, 11 October 2019

A Big, Beautiful Wall

Before we leave Castle Rising to its slumbers just one last gaze upon the earthwork ramparts that reach 120 feet in places and the ditch that surround the keep and the two external baileys.

Such defences might make you think the place was under threat and was somehow of military importance. It seems, however, the place had no strategic value and was just a vanity project, an expensive, over done hunting lodge. The ramparts were just meant to impress and they still do.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

The Neighbours

Sticking this castle in the Norfolk countryside involved shifting an existing village slightly to the north. The village, known then as Risinga, gets a mention in Domesday as belonging in 1086 to Odo,  half-brother of William the Conqueror and bishop of Bayeux, who, as a cleric, could not shed blood so took to the battlefield wielding a club. There's an old church you can see poking out from behind the trees named after St Lawrence or Laurence if you prefer ( I'm a 'w' Lawrence man myself). St L it was who, it is said, calmly sat up during his martyrdom by grilling, and stated that he was cooked on one side and would they kindly turn him over and cook the other ...

This tree bears a memorial that it was planted by the Princess of Wales on December 28 1865, there's another nearby allegedly planted by her hubby. They must have been bored between Christmas and New Year and popped out for a spot of gardening.
After one thousand years the village of Castle Rising belongs to the Sandringham Estate, yes, that Sandringham which is just up the road, the road where the elderly Queen's consort had his accident earlier this year. And, on the subject of keeping things in the family, the castle, though run by English Heritage, is still owned by a descendant of  the guy who had it built, William d'Aubigny lord Howard of Rising.