We are about to embark on another trip on the English narrow canals, this time from near Audlem to Bugsworth Basin, sometimes known as Buxworth or vice versa.  I once lived over the hill just outside Whaley Bridge and many a bike ride or walk would find us at the basin.  At the time this was a long-standing restoration project with no immediate prospects for completion. Stop locks were in place just beyond the aqueduct and the entire basin dry.  It is a delight to be able to take a boat into this complex interchange which was finally reopened in 2005 on completion of the £1.2M British Waterways project.

I don’t expect Caggy Stevens ever operated on this part of the network but he was one of the last commercial operators on the English canals, a breed of men who had worked their entire lives on the narrow waterways.  I nearly ‘bumped into him’ on the BCN in early April 1978. Suddenly he was there and just as suddenly he was gone – as can be seen from the wake in the first image, he was not hanging about; he had serious work to be done.  It is a pity that no such encounters with the working past will be had on our next trip.

Caggy Caggy

(click on the images to enlarge)

Connection to the Internet will be intermittent at best for the next two weeks so I will not be very active on WordPress.  TTFN.

Look Back in Anger

I had the scanner out for other purposes so I thought I would dig this one out of the analogue archive.  It was taken in the 1970s on the waterfront at Broughty Ferry near Dundee.

The convention for starting a journey in film is to travel from left to right – returning home to base, the cavalry will move from right to left. Adopting a similar principle, I assume the subject of this photograph is looking back in a none too happy frame of mind – hence the title of this post.  Alternatively, he could just be annoyed by the scruffy hippy pointing a twin lens reflex in his direction :-)

Man on the waterfront

(click on the image to enlarge)

Hexham Abbey

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument.  The Abbey dominates the northern side of Hexham, we see it almost everyday and, as locals, take it for granted.  It deserves more of our attention.  There is an earlier post on the same subject but I am looking for an excuse to provide a link to A Day in the Light of Hexham Abbey, a film recently commissioned as part of the Hexham Abbey Project.  This is the view from its southern side but the film captures its real magic:

Hexham Abbey


Play Misty for me

Travel theme: Misty – this photograph is a fairly accurate reflection of how I have been feeling for a few days (see the previous post).  The image was taken last week during a spell of unremittingly bleak weather – it is the view across the fields from our house. Some days we are high enough to sit above any fog that sits in the Tyne Valley, but not this time. Fortunately, both the weather and me have improved enormously:

...there are ethereal sheep

And here is Misty :-)


It all started so well.  The photo-book I ordered for my big sister’s birthday arrived just as we were setting off on a 600 mile round trip to her party.  We arrived in good time for the big event at Waddesdon Manor and the slideshow ran faultlessly until the screensaver kicked-in due to lack of any keyboard depressions – the Rothschilds obviously don’t do PowerPoint.  It was strange because I was mostly surrounded by people I had either never met or had not seen in over thirty years – “should I know you”  is not a good opening gambit.

Then about ten minutes before ‘carriages’ (up t’north, we call it the last bus home) it got stranger still – I took a very unpleasant turn for the worse – not through over-indulgence I hasten to add.  This was the start of something that continued for the next seven hours – I was then semi-comatose for the next twenty-four. My stomach muscles still ache.

Big sister had a great time though which was entirely the point of the exercise.  I take no credit for any of the photos in the slideshow only the many hours spent re-editing in Photoshop CC, OnOne and PowerPoint – a labour of love. The edits were not always strictly necessary, it is just one of my compulsive habits.  I trust Ray Davies, Guy Garvey et al will forgive me for ‘borrowing’ their music – the second track demands a decent sound system to get the full effect of Elbow’s magical production – something else the Rothschilds don’t do.

This is my favourite image from the slideshow – my sister is about three or four years old which makes it 1947-1948. A friend of the family is on the left, my mum is in the centre and my dad to the right is acting-up in front of the camera - it’s not just me, it’s in my genes. I’m Not There – not even thought about at this stage I imagine.

Manchester - 1947 or 48

Act III, Scene 13
Alexandria. CLEOPATRA’s palace.

Come, Let’s have one other gaudy night: call to me
All my sad captains; fill our bowls once more;
Let’s mock the midnight bell.

It is my birth-day: I had thought to have held it poor: but, since my lord
Is Antony again, I will be Cleopatra.


My earliest memory of the north east of England dates from 1963. My parents had booked their first foreign holiday – a week in the Solstrand Hotel at Os on the Hardangerfjord Fjord, Norway. The plan was to sail on Bergen Line’s MS Venus but the ship was out of commission so we were transferred to a flight from Newcastle, Woolsington.  Dad drove us across from Manchester in the sturdy Ford Consul which was stored for the week at a garage somewhere down the Coast Road (A1058).

As we gathered in the old terminal building (still used by the Northumbria Flying School) we were informed that due to the very foggy conditions we were to be transferred by bus back to Speke Airport, Liverpool (since renamed John Lennon) – more or less where we started from.  My first impression of Newcastle was of a dark, dank and inconveniently foggy place. These last three days have been a reminder of how cold air drifting in from the North Sea can effect the inland climate, even as far west as Hexham.

This is what passes for street life in downtown, misty Sandhoe:

Dark, dank and dismalDark, dank and dismalDismal

Despite the delays and the tortuous journey, Norway was magnificent and the sun shone throughout that too short week. I am hoping for a similar happy end to these misty days.

(click on the images to enlarge).


Travel theme: Statues. They are meant to look like a couple of glass plates from the Grand Tour.  Look closely though and the graffiti is distinctly un-nineteenth century.  This statue sits next to Lucca’s Renaissance-era city wall which provides tourists with the perfect circular walk – something I liked to do as kid at Chester and later at Berwick, York and elsewhere. It is difficult to get lost. In terms of scale there is no comparison between Lucca and the English equivalents. Lucca’s walls are on the grand scale – think New York’s High Line, only bigger.

Graffiti gets everywhere but this statue and this area of Lucca seem a holy place for alfresco scribes.  Many appear to be declarations of love and some are not – my Italian is not up to playing the censor but some of the more obvious ‘symbols’ have been erased :/

Statues Graffiti

(click on the images to enlarge)