A Raft of Apples

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ghostly Greyhound

A ghostly figure emerges from the wall by a Victorian fountain but alas water no longer runs or perhaps it still flows in the world beyond the veil, the man looks straight at us but the dog is more interested in quenching its thirst (or perhaps trying to extricate itself from the wall).  There was plenty of water around when I took the photograph on a grey day but it was all coming from the sky.  The figures were created by John McKenna as part of the Quest art trail project in Whitehaven, Cumbria.  It portrays the ghost of a miner and his whippet but of course I could not resist the alliteration of ghostly greyhound in my title and indeed whippets are descended from the greyhound but are a smaller dog.

The sculpture was installed in 2000 but as can be seen the fountain is dated 1859.  The provision of clean water was part of the Public Health Act of 1848, one effect of which was the appearance of drinking fountains in cities and towns.  Whitehaven originally had six or seven but I think this is the only one that survives.  The first fountain was paid for by the Society of Rechobites, a temperance movement, but this particular one was paid for by the local Water Committee.  The town itself started life as a small fishing village, expanded to a port and with the coming of the Industrial Revolution grew even larger.  One of the movers and shakers of earlier times was Sir John Lowther (1642-1705) who designed the layout of Whitehaven in a grid pattern and it is considered one of the first "post Renaissance planned towns in Britain".  The fountain is located on one of those wide straight street so what else is could it be called but Lowther Street but it was also where Rosina Murray, who lobbied successfully for fountains to be installed, lived.  The fountain features the Lowther coat of arms which was incorporated into Whitehaven's crest,
here seen on the side of the Civic Centre.  A dragon appears on the top of the Lowther coat of arms however the council say their mythical beast is a griffin. The motto is 'Concilio Absit Discordia' - "Let discord be absent from your deliberations"  so no doubt there can be an amicable discussion about the difference between a griffin and a dragon.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at G here



Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Flora and Fells

February, the month when by imperceptible degrees the days start to lengthen and someone, well yes I mean me, is taken by surprise by the time, 5 O'Clock and still light, yay.
The snowdrops are in full flower and the daffodils are long green shoots and just waiting for their moment in the sun.  Now is the time I like to look forward to the year ahead and wonder what new things I will see, what the year's weather will be like and
Small White (Pieris rapae) on buttercups
dream of the warmer days to come when fluttering wings will be in fields and hedgerows landing on flowers and the
ferns will be unfurling. The latter perhaps I'm fonder of in photogenic clumps rather than in whole impenetrable swaths of fell-sides as they can make finding a pathway through rather testing at times.  All this is in the future and at the moment there are chilly winds 
Coniston Old Man
but the only snow we have had this year floated down onto the fells so we had the pretty views without the icy roads.
Swans on Coniston Water
In the first week of February the day that was so still that Coniston Water had not a ripple on it, only the ones made by these swans.  This is also the very last photo taken by my camera for like a boxer with a glass jaw it has taken many knocks and bruises to its body and shrugged them off but did not survive its careless owner putting it in her coat pocket with a bunch of keys and damaging the screen. The finish for this trusty little Panasonic.  (The photograph of the snowdrops at the beginning of the post is the first I've taken with my new camera, it will probably take me the rest of the year to get to grips with it, thank goodness there is always auto).   

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at F here

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


Here I am looking down at the entrance to Enginuity, an interactive science museum where one can try to generate electricity from flowing water, or with some ingenuity tow a locomotive and lots of other hands on scientific experimentation.  A happy hour or two can be spent here whether a child or adult although not everything was working when we were there.  Tucked away in a corner was something that attracted my attention which was a car.
An icon from the 1960s, whether it was racing the Monte Carlo rally, driving down the Turin pedestrian steps in the heist caper film The Italian Job, or just tootling down a London high street.  A classic Mini cut in half to show its side mounted space saving front wheel drive engine which meant packing in more interior room for the size of car.
Or should I say it was cut in 'arf  as its number plate says- 1 ARF.  I wonder where the other 'arf is?

Morris Mini interior 1959" by DeFacto - Licensed CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

This is how I remember sitting in those basic early minis, lots of metal with seats and although it can't be seen in this photo to open the door you had to grab hold of a piece of wire and pull, then there were the windows that slid rather than wind up.  People loved to drive them, especially the Mini Cooper which of course was a lot speedier than this one.  Today by any comparison the BMW built minis are luxurious, but those early minis, designed by Issigonis, still retain their cult status.  

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a drive through the alphabet, this week sojourning at E here

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Duttons and Dogs

Duttons for Buttons in Harrogate and their display window homage to the bicycle and the Tour which was about to race into the town. Kate Davies Designs calls the Dutton shops the spiritual home of the button on her blog here and the place to find that elusive button to make up a set here.  This family business have three haberdashery shops within a small area of Yorkshire, some of their stock can be browsed on-line here but as they have more than 12,000 designs in stock it is the tip of the iceberg.  Watched Pirates of the Caribbean? I'll pay more attention to the buttons rather than Johnny Depp next time as I read on their site that Duttons were the people who supplied the buttons for the costumes.

The companion cat was a popular choice for last week's ABC Wednesday contributors so of course we can't leave out the companion for this week's letter and
this 'cute as a button' little dog being taken for a walk along the Millom Embankment with the Lakeland fells in the distance.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at D here

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


Before the Great War cinemas were being built at an ever increasing number and opening at a rate of about 60 a month, this is one such cinema and stands on the corner of Grosvenor Street and Oxford Road in Manchester.  It takes part of its name from its location, The Grosvenor Picture Palace, although today it is now a Sports Pub called The Footage with two big screens for the sports enthusiast.  Designed by Percy Hothersall in 1913 its green and cream faïence tiles are striking.  You will observe the two sides are different
the longer one being located along Oxford Road, I rather like the stained glass circular windows.  It must have looked like an entrance to another world when it was all lit up for its opening in 1915 with the historical drama Jane Shore starring Blanche Forsythe.  Hothersall designed at least two other cinemas locally, one which does not survive, and the other, a 'supercinema' of 2,324 seats The Piccadilly Picture Theatre only the façade survives and it is now a retailing outlet, one the residents is Co-operative Food which also moved into an old cinema premises further north in 
Carnforth.  Once again only the façade survives but this has a bit of cinema history in that it stands near Carnforth station where the filming of David Lean's Brief Encounters took place in the 1945 and it stood in for 'Kent'. (Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations)  Locals were used as extras so I imagine when it was screened in Carnforth the interest was not only in the film's story. I have in the past asked what the cinema was called but nobody ever seemed to know but thanks to the Cinema Treasures site I eventually discovered it was built some time pre 1923 as the Kinema (Frith postcard image here) and later renamed The Roxy it closed in the 1960s.  In those early days it was one of the James Brennan's portfolio of cinemas and theatres who was sometimes called the 'cinema king' because of the number he owned  in this corner of north west of England including
my local, also called the Roxy (a lot of his cinemas were called The Roxy). Here is a postcard image from possibly the 1950s and in this case the cinema survives (but not the Rose Garden) although the art deco interior has been split horizontally with the cinema now living on what used to be the balcony.  This is not my nearest cinema which is a rather unadventurous multiplex but it is my cinema of choice for its atmosphere and large screen, it celebrated its 75th birthday in 2012.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at C here

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Benthall Edge Woods

A few days before I took this photograph the cricked back I'd had for months had suddenly and unexpectedly shuffled everything back into place like a row of dominoes and I felt like bounding up these steps in celebration.  Needless to say I didn't make it to a bound but walked sedately up through Benthall Edge Woods.  Many paths converge here and it is a popular woodland walk so the steps both protect the woodland environment and the walker from sliding on muddy slopes
I have been told there are 469 steps in total but didn't count them.
Despite plenty of signposts (none of which were the one we were looking for) we managed to miss part of the purpose of the walk which took in the remains of the industrial revolution, an old quarry and lime kilns
Somehow ending up out of the woods amongst baby bovines
Coming down through the woods and dropping onto the route of the Shropshire Way on the way back
where we eventually saw one lime kiln just off the Severn Way footpath but there was some construction work going on so sadly we couldn't approach, however the late summer woodland greenery more than made up for the disappointment.  This part of the Severn Way long distance footpath runs along an old disused railway line
which no doubt would be marked on this information board of the area that was being drilled into place by the side of the car park on our return.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at B here

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Abbey to Abbey

Near the Severn river in peaceful surrounding stands Buildwas Abbey, although its past was not always as serene as it looks because it is near the border of Wales and battles between the Welsh princes and the English took place in this area.  One incident was the kidnapping of the abbot in 1406, although perhaps an abbot should be wary here for one was murdered by a monk.
The abbey was founded in the 12th Century as a Savignac order which within a few decades merged with the Cistercians.  When I wandered around the grounds at Buildwas I did not realise there was a connection with the abbey of my home town, for it was a group of monks from Furness Abbey that were sent here to establish Buildwas Abbey.
Furness Abbey also lies in peaceful surroundings (here seen in the Autumn light which highlights its beautiful sandstone). It too was in a border country only this time it was the Scots that were likely to raid and it too would fall into ruin with the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII,
The architectural details are more ornate at Furness Abbey but it was one of the richest abbeys in the land and also built some time earlier, so perhaps more influenced by Norman or Romanesque architecture whereas  
Buildwas was showing the development of a distinctive Early English style.  Like Furness the Buildwas stone is interesting for it is of different shades and alters with the light.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, which has reached its 16th birthday and this  this week is starting all over again at A here.