Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Heron Theatre
The Heron Theatre is easy to find for if one turns off the main road into the village of Beetham in Cumbria it is the first building seen by the roadside with its distinctive flying heron sculpture.  The building dates from the 18th Century when it was a two room Grammar School but today it is a 80 seat theatre putting on music, film and of course theatre.  This rustic space is in contrast to the rather more avant-garde outline of
Contact Theatre
the Contract Theatre in Manchester.  The stacks and chimneys assist with the buildings natural ventilation.  This has been home to various theatre companies but in 1999 it became a national arts organisation with a 300 seat theatre and a 70 seat studio in the turret.  Part of the University of Manchester it is run by young people (13+) together with the staff who put on a variety of performing arts programmes thorughout the year.  No matter the how big or small the venue neither would be anything without the actors
Still Drawing a Crowd
   and here is the statue of Lawrence Olivier (1907-1989) as Hamlet outside the National Theatre in London which was erected on the centenary of his birth in 2007.  As in life, in death he had drawn a small crowd around him.  I could not resist snapping them as they investigated and discussed what the statue was.  The lone Japanese tourist in the distance is concentrating on the National Theatre building itself where Olivier was its first artistic director in 1963.  The main stage seating 1100 and modelled on the ancient Greek theatre at Epidauris is named after him   He was so prolific on stage and screen that he gets two wikipeadia page entries but here is the one for his his credits.  I don't think he ever stopped working (until the grim reaper intervened) either as an actor or director.

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

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


Dancing Sailors
Ahoy there its time for dancing sailors high in the sky.  The crew are flying past at the Haverigg Kite Festival and required quite a bit a skill both to get them in formation for their hornpipe but also to get them aloft in very little wind.
There was still plenty of kite flying and routines to enjoy but some of the larger pieces such as this seahorse remained resolutely earth bound on a still August day.

One could sail up the coast from Port Haverigg and come across some sailors forever on land near Whitehaven harbour.
Sailors Under the Gazebo
Created by John McKenna as part of the port's 'Quest' project these two are simply called "Sailors Waiting for Crew Work".  Happily to add to the 'S' count for this ABC Wednesday post there is also some scaffolding ready for the roofers in the background. Apart from its Georgian harbour one of Whitehaven's other claims to fame is of the attempt by the USS Ranger commander, John Paul Jones, to set fire to the hundreds of ships anchored in the port in 1778. Alas for him the row in small boats against the tide for 3 hours, the wind, a mutinous crew and the lure of the local pub for the sailors this was not a success.  The full story can be found here  The Quest project produced other sculptures around the town by John McKenna including one of John Paul Jones in action and spiking the guns at Half-moon Battery here.

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

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Reduce Refuse

Taking Refuge
A small group takes refuge from the summer sun under a tree and lick their cooling ice cream cornets, the ultimate in litter free treats.  The council worker alights from a refuse truck on his journey past York Minster (just visible on the left) and the Church of St Michael le Belfrey to check the litter bins in an area where happily  not a scrap of rubbish can be seen.
To continue the theme nearer to my home here is a mural with a message as imagined by one of the local schools, Greengate Infants and Junior School -  'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle', a good motto to promote. The school formed a partnership with the construction company building a care home for older people on the same street and there are a number of murals around the building on different subjects painted on the site fencing.  Who knows the other ones might come in handy for another letter of ABC Wednesday!
Lastly we take a trip to a recycling area taken a few days after last Christmas when the bottle banks were already full and the excess was starting to line up in front.  A journey to the bottle bank has almost become part of the Christmas tradition and by the time the recycling guys go back to work there will certainly be a whole lot more as the population takes the message "eat, drink and be merry" to heart.  

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

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Queens

A liner floats in the sky above a building in Birkenhead which stands on the junction of two roads
and is named after the Queens who are the Cunard liners.  These are not their modern cruise ships whose design looks like a human container ship but the iconic lines of the Queens from the 1930s who vied with other vessels to make the fastest crossing of the Atlantic from Southampton to New York.
The building is a pub and hotel owned by Admiral Taverns (continuing the nautical theme).  I'm assuming the name is related to the fact that Cunard headquarters were originally in Liverpool and their beautiful old building forms one of the 'Three Graces' on the city's waterfront.  The Queens however is tucked away on the other side of the Mersey by Birkenhead Park. In the early afternoon on an April day the area seemed quite deserted, maybe the chill and grey skies had something to do with it.

To make up for the lack of activity on the photograph here is an interior shot of the Queen Mary (the first of the Queens), being fitted out on Clydeside in Art Deco style in about 1935.  (The photographer is Yevonde Middleton (Madam Yevonde) a pioneer of colour photographer)
The joiners are busy behind the bar.  The two 'customers' may have a long wait for any liquid refreshment.

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