Tuesday, 25 August 2009

ABC Wednesday - F

F is for Fountain Fun

How irresistible is a fountain on a hot day. Escaping from the mad touristy centre of Colmar in France, here, on the outskirts, people were relaxing and having fun.

Of course some fountains are more impressive than others. These were supposed to be shooting up in the air but it was found that they did not cope too well with the wind, so were turned down. Who would expect wind in a town that is surrounded on three sides by the sea, obviously not the architects. No skateboarders weaving in and out of these although I have seen them attempt the various tricks on the seats and stairs round the corner. The odd Labrador finds the water quite refreshing. These fountains are outside Emlyn Hughes House which is named after the late, great Liverpool FC footballer who was a son of the town. (His statue is also in this photo but it is not too clear against the trees). The locals however call it Crazy Horse Corner because Crazy Horse was his nickname, and who can resist a bit of alliteration.

The first time I saw these turned on I thought there was a flood not realising they were supposed to be fountains.

In mitigation I was sat in the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel (picture courtesy of Barrow Day By Day) on one of those nice high bar chairs, having a beer and looking out of the window. This is a Grade 2 listed building built in 1871 when the town was rapidly expanding and known as the 'Chicago of the North'. It has just been given a £2M refurbishment after some years of decline. It also used to have some nice trees in front but the council in their wisdom felled them, for traffic safety reasons, although they had stood there for years with no problem. Famous people who have stayed there include Charlie Chaplin and Cary Grant, who in there time had a lot of fans and D H Lawrence who wrote lots of fiction but also some non fiction on Freudian psychoanalysis. I wonder if he came with his wife Frieda. He also wrote poetry, mainly about nature, but also some concerning fish such as the one verse which is 'Little Fish' which I had to quote because it also has the word fun in it.

The tiny fish enjoy themselves
in the sea.
Quick little splinters of life,
their little lives are fun to them
in the sea.

Follow the link to ABC Wednesday which will be full of more Fs

Monday, 24 August 2009

Meandering in the Midlands

Update: The man who knows calls me foolish this car is of course a Buick Straight 8

A very relaxing wedding celebration at the weekend. Here is the old Dodge car that transported the bridge and groom. It was in immaculate condition and had those bonnie and clyde type running boards. We followed it most of the way from Worcester because we had no idea where we were going. "The Cottage in the Woods" was the destination, however the Dodge was built for the wide open spaces and long roads, so it took a slightly different route into the venue than the twisty lane we followed.
The bride and groom with the view over the valley from this Malvern hill. After afternoon tea with lovely buttered scones, cream and jam we were heading for the party night.
On the Pride of the Midlands. Doesn't look as though it would hold 83 people, but it did with ease, on both the upper and lower decks.
Set sail down the River Severn. This spire dominates the skyline but the church it was attached to, St Andrews, no longer exists as it was demolished in 1949. Known locally as the Glover's Needle (Worcester was at one time a major glove making centre).
Worcester Cathedral & Bridge
As we sailed under the bridges the lights were coming on as the sun was setting. We floated down the river and the swans paddled along beside us. The sun set without a glow but along the riverside were dots of fires. The people sitting by the fires flashed their torches and shouted hellos as they sat taking in the summer night on the banking. The music played on, and eventually under the stary sky at midnight we returned and docked.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

ABC Wednesday - E

E is for Excitement

My fellow fans at the Northern Rail Cup in July which was played in Blackpool. This was the first final Barrow Raiders had got to since October 1st 1983, back in the days when clubs had straightforward, no nonsense names, such as Barrow Rugby League club. By the fickle finger of fate we were playing the same opponents in July as we had in 1983 when we won the Lancashire Cup. You can see everyone is making the most of the day, especially the supermen. This is before the match started so the enthusiasm, exhilaration and enjoyment were only just starting however things did not end well and Widnes were the eventual winners. Guess we will have to wait until next time, I hope it is not another 26 years.

The day was a blustery and warm, people were enjoying the waves by the south pier although
there did not seem to be many on the big wheel maybe it was too exposed or everyone
was at on the Pleasure Beach perhaps having more Excitement riding the Pepsi Max Big One

But wouldn't it be more exciting if we saw Elvis, doesn't the National Enquirer keep spotting him in supermarkets. Here fans have Embellished their beach hut with an image of him at his prime.
Other beach huts are a little more Elaborate
These huts were near Hopeman in north east Scotland where one of the most exposed links golf course nestles next on the sea cliffs. The green on Clashash Cove is 150 feet below the 12th tee. It may be advisable to have to keep your wits about you when walking by this cove, a golf ball might be flying in your direction, and perhaps embedding itself in your skull, which would be extremely uncomfortable.

For an eclectic mix of the letter E exit to the ABC Wednesday meme

Monday, 17 August 2009

Japanese Literature Challenge

I've joined Dolce Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge Number 3 which is to read one book of Japanese origin within the time period July 30 to January 30 2010 and post a review. I don't normally join reading challenges because I have the attention span of a gnat and the mood of the moment tends to guide my reading choices, but this challenge seems like an attainable and fun one, even for me.

Japan and its culture is fascinating but most of the literature I have read in the past has been poetry. By coincidence I did read Haruki Murakami's 'Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World", and posted a short review in January. I enjoyed this so may choose one of his other novels but Dolce Bellazza has provided a temping list of books, who knows I may read more than one.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Fantasy, Wolves and Art

I love books but I also love the whole tactile and visual book experience, so a local exhibition of the book cover artist Geoff Taylor's work was of interest. This was a display covering 30 years of his work and also cases of the books, a considerable number of which had the original, acrylic paintings on display. He specialises in fantasy and science fiction and has designed for some of the big names in this genre. It was interesting compare the two mediums and to appreciate how the artist works within the restrictions. The huge paintings and the small covers. Taylor trained as a graphic designer but midway through his degree course realised that he might have preferred fine art but by that time it was too late to change. (By such decisions sometimes the courses of lives are made).

The amount of detail in the original paintings was phenomenal, but he also has the imagination to create and bring the author's other worlds into reality. Fantasy art can all too easily be cliched and flat but Taylor's seem to really live and have texture and movement. To see examples of his work go to his website here

Browsing the books I realised that I had one of his first commissions which he was given in 1976 which was Philip K Dick's 'Counter-Clock World'

As was the case in those days the cover was uncredited. Its years since I read this book but basically it is about a society experiencing something called the Hobart Phase where people age backwards (the old born) gradually getting younger and entering the womb. A dead religious leader about to be reborn, hence the cover design, and throw in an evil Library and away goes the plot. That's all I can hazily remember.

Coming out of the exhibition, apart from the prints, they also had some signed bookmarks for sale, and I do like a bookmark. While I was trying to decide which to get I noticed there were also postcards. Geoff Taylor also paints animals, and it would appear from the exhibition these are generally of those types beloved by myth makers as symbols - the deer, wolves and owls. One of the cards was 'The Last Wolf'.

This is the local legend that the last wolf in England was killed in the Middle Ages on Humphrey Head, a promontory on the north shores of Morecambe Bay. My grandmother's family farmed in the area, so maybe this is why she owned the book I inherited called 'The Last Wolf', published, and written, in the Victorian times by Mrs Jerome Mercier. It has some nice black and white plates and sketches of the area.

It is written as a medieval romance with a poem at the back which describes the legend in verse form. The chase of the wolf, which must have had superhuman, or should I say, super wolf, stamina, covers a huge area, but it all ends badly for the wolf, however true love is found by the human protagonists. For a description of the full story, and other wolves go here

So now my Grandmother's book has a picture it was lacking, a wolf against the backdrop of Morecambe Bay.

Thusslow they strain o'er Humphrey's Height,
When low! a chasm appears,
That dips in darkness to the sight,
And fills the heart with fears.

Begirt with rock on every side,
It slopes in shade away:
But at its base may be espied
Against the light of day

To this black hole the quarry draws,
Now racked with sore distress,
While hard behind, with out-stretched jaws
The yelling bloodhounds press

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

ABC Wednesday - D

D is for Daisies, Devils, Downs and Damsons

Oh, I Don't think I have anything for D, was the first thought that came into my mind. So I dashed out into the rain and take a picture of Daises. An exuberant plant, difficult to keep in check, but requires no looking after whatsoever. I always associate these with high summer. Ha, summer, did that happen some time in June this year? Perhaps if I head south and over the channel it is happening there. I hope so for in a few weeks that's where I'm going and there will be lots of Dolmens. (Possibly D is sorted for the next round). Nil desperandum . This gives me my next D which is,

slightly further south and east a bit, on the top of the Le Grand Ballon is a monument to the Diables Bleus (blue devils), mountain troops active in World War 1.
The Devil has a lot of things named after him all over the world, he is a busy person. There are numerous Devil's Bridges although I have only come across one Devil's Ladder (in Ireland). My local one is the Devil's Chair, a rocky outcrop. What is the one called near where you live?
Here is the Devil's Kneading Trough (foreground)

which is part of the North Downs in Kent.
Where Dun coloured cows roam
Tolsford Hill
and it is known as the Garden of England. (I was there in August last year and there was some the wonderfully tasty fruit being sold from the front gates of houses).

There used to be Damson orchards all over England but like the apple orchards they have greatly declined in number. These were just growing by the field margins in Kent.
We have orchards nearby in the Lyth Valley but the Westmorland Damson is smaller and sharper than their southern cousins. Damson Day is celebrated there in April when the pretty white blossom appears. Anything you can make with damsons is on sale - jam, wine, tarts, cakes... and perhaps some of the Mason's Arms, Strawberry Bank Damson beer. Which is a very nice Drink.

Dash over to Mrs Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday for a diversity of Ds

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Prince Run In the Points

Sunday's local celebration of cricket that is the Jimmy Hull Trophy knock out. A short form of cricket which is 7 players a team and limited runs per player. The teams, as in the best of traditions, are from the local pubs. Here is my local the Prince of Wales, having reached the semi finals, fielding and the Old Kings Head trying to make a decent score. Black Combe, cloud coming in, is in the background.
The latest recruit to play for the Prince getting the score running in the right direction.
The score board ticking nicely away, while the crowd took full advantage of the bar and barbecue. The Prince win but the team to be met in the final is the favorite to win - The Blacksmiths Arms. Some good bowling and the Prince had 77 to beat, a gettable target.
4 runs to go and 5 wickets down. End result 81 for 5. Hurray. Much celebration, and the trophy won. Linda will enjoy polishing it to gleam in the trophy cupboard. It does however have a cricket ball shaped dent in it which it gained on this day. Everyone agreed this adds a touch of authenticity to the trophy.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

ABC Wednesday - C

C is for Canal Boats

Today C is in Wales on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Built between 1797 and 1812 to provide a link to the Bristol Channel and carried coal, iron, lime and agricultural products. After its decline and fall into disuse it was restored and reopened in the 1970s as a recreational waterway.
What is nicer than messing about in boats and chugging along a canal
or laying up by the towpath to take advantage of the local pubs. The canal boats are all different colours and some are individual

such as this mining mole. I wonder if this is owned by an ex coal miner.

Of course you can also glide along in a Canoe, on the Brecon and Abergaveny Canal but take care not to capsize
as the water is a rather cloudy, murky brown. A mouthful would perhaps not be refreshing. Although
mother mallard and her offspring probably find all sorts of delicious things to eat.

Curious to see more? Come on over to Mrs Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday to see everyones interpretations of the letter C

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Boats That Have Seen Better Days

Roa Island

Gently rotting away. I think it needs rather a lot of TLC.

Upside down on the channel at the bottom of the Slag Bank
A lost little boat. Reminds me of the one Emily Dickinson wrote about:

Twas such a little - little boat
That toddled down the bay!
Twas such a gallant - gallant sea
That beckoned it away!

Twas such a greedy, greedy wave
That licked it from the coast -
Nor ever guessed the stately sails
My little craft was lost