It was twenty years ago today …


This gallery contains 6 photos.

… Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. Well, much longer than that but, it was twenty years ago today that we moved into our converted farm buildings.  Things have changed since those long ago days but, we remain the same … Continue reading

Rule of three …

There is no direct connection between the image, the music and the poetry other than I became aware of them over the last forty eight hours.  The picture is from a walk to the aptly named Crow Wood near Newbrough on the southern Tyne.  The music was brought to my attention by my eldest son, Patrick – @smallhours2 – it pays to take notice of junior. The poetry is an extract from Norman MacCaig’s Close-ups of Summer – I am slowly working through his entire works. Poetry should not be rushed:

Hens sloven. But the cock
struts by – one can almost see
the tiny set of bagpipes
he’s sure he’s playing

The sun’s the same – pipemajoring
across space, where the invisible judges
sit, wrapped in their knowledge,
taking terrible notes

Above the south Tyne ...

This is all a reward for keeping the mind open to new things.
(click on the image to enlarge)

Heaven’s door …

One of the joys of Golf in the Wild is the unexpected connections I make. A recent exchange with a fellow golfing/motor racing/railway enthusiast (yes, we exist) whose father also worked for ICI, put me in mind of Trafford Park and my Dad, not that he is ever that far from my thoughts. This picture dates from his early career at ICI, just inside the entrance to the works on Westinghouse Road – he is standing far left among his fellow members of the Works Council; sadly none of the names mean anything to me but the location does.
The door to the immediate left of my Dad opened onto a tiled corridor and up the stairs was the cashiers’ office where I collected my first pay packet – I had a string of holiday jobs on site which included internal postman (the best), toilet floor cleaner (the worst), working in the canteen kitchens and serving in the tuck shop. I had grand plans to use the money to buy a go-kart but was actively discouraged from such ‘dangerous’ ideas. Instead, I saved up for a Mini 850 and promptly went ‘racing in the street’ – the world would have been a safer place had I been confined to a track.

Outside the gates the open moorland that was Trafford Park is still visible. A section of the local goods railway ran parallel to the road and terminated near the entrance to ICI – to the end of the 1950s, Westinghouse Road went no further than these gates.  This is an aerial view of the original British Alizarine Co Ltd works taken in 1929, courtesy of Britain from Above (the bottom left of the inserted image marks the location of the gates). The Google Earth view of this area today is utterly changed and ICI gone.


To the rear of the site is the Bridgewater Canal, the first commercial waterway in Britain. On the open moorland opposite the main entrance, men with horse-drawn carts would cut damp dark peat.  Dried and soaked in paraffin, it was sold to the housewives of Lancashire and north Cheshire to light their coal fires which fed the long winter smogs. One such horse-drawn cutter was Piccolo Pete (I had always imagined him a ‘Peat’), a regular visitor to our street and my mother an avid consumer of his wares and philosophy – ‘a very intelligent man’.  He attributed the severe changes in weather patterns to a spate of nuclear tests – I forget if it was getting hotter, colder or wetter. The fear of climate change is nothing new.

Piccolo Pete, the rag ‘n’ bone men, the Corona lorry, the Kleeneze rep, gypsies with pegs, French men with onion strings, the electric milk float and the occasional tramp – once the world came down our street, now they go knocking on heaven’s door.

Rule of thirds …

Photo Challenge – The Rule of Thirds: a literal and almost literary ( :-) ) interpretation, taken by chance, earlier in the week (Thursday).

This door leads into Beaufront Castle grounds from the road between Beaufront Woodhead and Sandhoe – I doubt it has been opened in years.

It was not me
Who carved his name upon this once proud tree

For one thing, I support MUFC, not NUFC :D

Not guilty ...

(click on the image to enlarge)

The turning year …

This post is almost certainly premature, there is plenty of time for more snow, ice and all that winter can bring.  Nevertheless, yesterday (18th February) was significant. For the first time since December the temperatures were high enough for the first ride-out of the year, a thirty five mile round trip taking in Matfen, Ryal, Birtley, Wark, Chipchase, Barrasford and Acomb.  There was no purpose other than the joy of riding and the thrill of threading country lanes with the wind in my face – actually it was quite strong and coming from all directions which can be disconcerting. When I returned, surprise, surprise, I could still feel the ends of my fingers – Spring must be just around the corner! :-)

This is the Scrambler ticking over on the banks of the North Tyne at Wark – Happy Days!

The Scrambler ...

The Scrambler ...

The images were taken with an HTC One M8 Smartphone and processed in Photoshop and OnOne Perfect Photo Suite – click on the images to enlarge.

And here is some unconvincing proof of the change in the seasons – the obligatory snowdrops (not taken on a Smartphone):

More snowdrops ...

Photo Challenge: Symmetry

A short walk from home there is the remains of a kitchen garden which has been in a state of redevelopment for as long as I can remember. We occasionally walk down there to see how things are progressing, or not, as the case may be.  It is a fascinating site with a rabbit warren of tunnels and old hothouses, so much so, that as a listed site, it is hard to imagine how it could ever be developed without compromising the underground structures. I think I would prefer that it stay in a state of arrested decay. The first symmetrical image brings to mind Philip Larkin’s High Windows, except there is little glass to comprehend the sun:

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless

Boarded up ...
This second image is from the same location, below ground level and not so symmetrical:

MJB 1976 ...
(click on the images to enlarge)

Anticyclonic gloom …

According to our local BBC weatherman, Paul Mooney, we are suffering from ‘an anticyclonic gloom – cloud trapped under a high pressure with nowhere to go’.  In short, these are very dull days, none more so than today. This morning found us along the Military Road near Brunton Bank and Wall. In the past I would have left the bulky SLR at home and traveled light but the Fuji X100s is so compact with no lenses to carry/switch and such a delight to handle it would be stupid to leave it behind – it is techno-jewelry.

Inevitably something unexpected always pops up – today it was one proud tree, alone on a hill, not seeing the sun going down; and a gin gang.  With the help of Photoshop and OnOne you could be fooled into thinking the sun was shining – it wasn’t:

Tree on the hill ...Farm buildings ...

(click on the images to enlarge)