The latest Hartlepool fire

It seems that every week, something in our “wonderful little fishing village” spontaneously combusts, meaning that a plume of smoke can be seen for miles around, and we get a few minutes of notoriety on the local telly.

A few days ago, this indeed happened, but it was over the other side of the town, and I didn’t find out about it until it was much too late. Thankfully, Andy the Iridium Fan caught what just happened to be my favourite image of everything ever…

Yes, it’s a ruined Philips Streetfighter! Well, I say ruined, would you believe, after all that, it still actually worked? Even the photocell functioned correctly! As much as I hate them, this has got to say something about their build quality. Oh, and you can click the image if you want to see the large version.

And, it would appear that my upload speed at home has been upgraded from 768k to 2Mb. Can someone hand me a tissue?

Internet is up…

Like a phoenix rising from the flames of abject failure, I’m happy to report that my internet connection came up shortly after I’d posted the previous posting. Something that happened BEFORE the internet failure was a trip to Newcastle. I totally forgot it happened before the internet failure, meaning that all of the witty introductions for this post I’d thought of, are completely ruined. Fucksticks.

Last Monday, I’d offered to ‘rip’ some records Andy the Iridium fan, (who, I’ll refer to as ATIF, as usual… it’s easier to type), so on Monday evening, he came, clutching a bag of vinyl, all comprising of LP’s from Knotty Ash’s favourite funnyman, a certain Dr. Kenneth Arthur Dodd.

I was totally unaware that the comedian had released so many LPs, and only being familiar with his track “Happiness”, I was even more surprised to find that most of his tracks appeared to be depressing ballads that would make Roadiohead sound like a Black Lace record played at twice the speed. ATIF even went through the records, and also couldn’t come up with a happy track! It really did surprise me.

I was off work for the Tuesday, so plans were made to do something with the next day. Newcastle seemed like the perfect place. I’ve been to Newcastle quite a few times, but have never taken my Canon. I’ve also never been over the lower deck of the high Level Bridge, and I’ve never walked over the Tyne Bridge. 3 things had to be accomplished.

After converting some of the LPs to a digital format, ATIF left, and we planned to meet up at 9:30 at the station. Hartlepool’s station has sort-of went through a bit of a rebirth over the last few years, mainly thanks to the tall ships, however, it’s still a place I don’t like spending too much time on my own in. I arrived a little early, at 9:22. At least half an hour later, I was still wating outside. Thankfully, he arrived in time for the 10:02 train!

On the way into Newcastle, I started ‘Endomondo’ – an app/website that records your GPS location, then publishes it to their website. Here’s a view of what it recorded…

5070000377_382a625860_o

The starting point is in the very bottom left (I was in the train at this point, probably should have waited until I got off), and the ending point is “outside the law courts” in the middle-right of the photo. I had to stop it then, because it didn’t occur to me just how much the afore-mentioned GPS app drained the battery.

However, it gave me enough information to track the journey. Unfortunately, the old record shop I’d visited a couple of years ago was no more. this was probably the most devastating part of the trip. Admittedly, I didn’t expect it to be there, but I’d have loved to have spent an hour flicking through its stock. A sign of the times, I suppose. There is a large square at the “2” marker on the above map. This was when we began to look for the entrace to Eldon Square, as ATIF needed to drain the main vein. We didn’t find one, as can be seen in the screenshot, we just sort of walked around it. Eventually, we gave up, and ended up in a branch of McDonalds pretty much where we started.

The next stop, and the first time for me to break out the camera happened by chance. I realised we were on the same road as the “High Level” Bridge. It’s two bridges on top of one another, for those who don’t know. Train tracks on top, road underneath. Also featured in “Get Carter”. I always wondered how you got onto the lower road deck. Was there a tunnel taking you to it? Seriously, not even Google Streetview could answer this question. Thankfully, my own photography can, and even though I took this on my mobile, it answers the question comprehensively…

5070046987_b76e77c2cd_o

At the end of the bridge were three things. Someone had apparently finished off a bottle of cheap vodka and tabs. Could this be someone’s last goodbye? Wait, it’s Tesco vodka. Probably not.

5059481354_9475444712_o

The second was the sad sight of an abandoned “Golden Tee 2005” arcade machine, in an old taxi office…

5058871217_7334cae44b_o

Admittedly, I’ve not actually played that particular game, but I’ve heard that the Golden Tee series is really popular.

Next stop was Tyne Bridge. Although I’ve been over it many times in a car, I’d never actually walked across it, something that only occured to me whilst actually walking over the structure itself. For those unlucky enough to check the flickr profile, you’ll note I took loads of photos up here, but only a handful turned out to be any good. I showed Chris this one the other night, he ended up with vertigo from it.
Apparently, that must be one of the things I’m immune to!

5059548862_70985f2462_o

We walked around for a bit – stopping off at a shop for some refreshments. I was delighted to find a paper shop within shadow of the Tyne Bridge that sold refreshments at a reasonable price. Bottles of cherry tango for a cut-down price, and Walkers “Max” for a reasonable price. YES.

Off to dinner we went, sat on a stone bench outside the law courts. ATIF single-handedly rose the share price of Greggs by 1.7%, and came out with a bag of food that would put me on a good day to shame (Admittedly, I stopped going to Greggs when their prices rose every time I went in there). while I munched my crisps, and Mr. Iridium Fan devoured half the stock of the afore-mentioned bakery. We were joined by a “special” guest… Limpy the Pigeon.

5059612162_e5cc7bee4c_o

This was, as you guessed, a pigeon, whose left leg had became totally mangled in “something”. It apparently had no movement in the limb, and would attempt to walk on it, with very little success. It’s one of those “HAHAHAaaaaaawwwwww” moments. It’s probably dead now.

An update on my Steam purchases

Wow, I never thought, that at any point, I’d turn part of this site into some type of games review. I’ve never had time for them. I’d buy the odd game, and then never play it. I still have games I bought years ago, still wrapped in their plastic. Armed and Dangerous, anyone? I have that. On my shelf, still sealed.

Since my discovery of Steam a while ago, I’ve purchased many games. Quite a few of them cheap “indie” games, but a couple of full-price ones too.

You may remember my post a few months ago regarding my recent purchases from the afore-mentioned software distribution site… well, there’s been more since then.

Altitude – £3.49

I’d previously downloaded the demo, but didn’t rate it, probbaly because you couldn’t do much. Back then, it just looked like a cartoony shoot-em-up involving planes, with a bit of a dodgy control system.

Football was on the television the other day, and I needed something interesting to do. There was a “free weekend” of Altitude, where you got the full game for a weekend. It’s not a powerful game, so I was able to install it on my laptop. Even better was the fact it actually supported the Xbox 360 controller, meaning that my previous worries about the control system were solved.

I played through the training levels, and found myself actually enjoying the game. I connected online for the first time, and found myself enjoying the game even more. The more I played, the more I killed and unlocked new planes. A small sense of achievement was… erm, achieved, each time a plane fell out of the sky thanks to my gunfire.

Longevity is a bit of a question with this one, though. Will I still play it in a months time?

Just Cause 2 – £18.44 (inc. DLC)

No multiplayer in this one, but as a question of longevity… why, yes, I’ll still be playing it in a month. I’ll probably still play it in a year. It’s one of the best games I’ve played.

There’s no point going into the storyline. I could do, but I’d be here for literally minutes. The storyline, to me anyway is… blow shit up and kill the guys in uniform. And there’s a lot of shit to blow up. This game is absolutely massive. For some reason, it was half-price on Steam, and I really shouldn’t have bbought it. The demo ran awfully on my machine. It wasn’t until I’d clicked the “purchase” button that I realised how bad it run. Despite uttering “fuckshitpiss” for the entire length of the download process, I ran the game and found that yes, it also ran awfully. 30 seconds later, after adjusting the graphics settings accordingly, I had a working game!

This one suited mouse/keyboard controls, so I was able to get into it pretty quickly.

I’ve never experienced a time-eating game, but a few weeks ago, while Daddykins was away, I literally lost an entire day. The house was empty, so I didn’t bother getting dressed. I sat in my computer chair, naked, at approximately 8AM. Next time I looked at the clock, it was 4PM, and I was still naked. None of you needed to know that, I just thought I’d add the “cannot be unseen” element to this post.

You can also get mods for it, apparently.

I’ve just realised I’ve not described the gameplay at all in these few paragraphs. never mind, eh?

Chime – £3.99

Literally, a new release, coming out on September 6th, I bought this, oddly without downloading any demo, or knowing anything about the game, except the fact I knew I would like it. My instinct was spot on, I love it.

Gameplay is hard to describe without referring to Tetris, and a little-known arcade game called “Block Hole”, released by Konami in 1989. The premise of *that* game was to make quadrangles of any size – partial shapes would fall down, and you’d fill them in to make quadrangles.

Chime is similar in that you have to make quadrangles, enough to fill a large grid the size of the screen. Each piece you lay is 5 grid blocks in size. Make a quadrangle over some of the squares, those grid blocks are filled in. Ultimately, create a quadrangle on each block of the grid, you complete the level.

Obviously, it’s not as simple as that. You have 6 tracks of different tempo to choose from, each with its unique speed, grid shape, and block shape. Certain elements are controlled by a visible white bar that sweeps across the grid.

As I mentioned, each block is 5 grid sizes in length. If you complete a quadrangle, you get a certain amount of time to add pieces to it, building your score. After that time, if you fail to add to the quadrangle, you score the points, and you can’t add any more blocks to those grid locations until the white bar passes over them. You then get a limited amount of passes of the white bar before you lose your multiplier bonuses, and the pieces disappear.

Thankfully, the white bar also does good. If you have an active quadrangle, you will get an extra sample of music, adding to whichever track you’re playing. Sometimes this is a good thing, fitting in perfectly, but sometimes, it can sound like, as someone else described it, “a baby hitting a keyboard”.

Some of the music is pretty awesome. Now, I know that coming from me, that’s a bad sign, but I really mean it. Tracks are included by some well known artists, such as Moby, Philip Glass, and one of the guys from Orbital, Paul Hartnoll. The latter is my personal favourite track.

A lot of you will remember the “bonus” track featured in the PC version… “Still Alive” by Jonathan Coulton. I’m a bit amazed to notice that my version of Audiosurf also came with this track, which I’ve only just noticed a few seconds ago. Anyway, you should remember this was the end music in the original Portal. I’m shit at that game, so I’ll probably never complete it.

If I’ve not explained any of the above very well, then tough. Buy it. It’s simple to get into, and infuringatingly difficult to master, and some of your money will go to childrens charities. 5% of it… which works out at.. 20p?

Actually, speaking of Portal…

Portal – £0.00

Well, I got it free, and got up to level 15, then found it too hard. Still, I can listen to the important part of the soundtrack in two other games, so there’s no incentive to complete it.

What’s that dripping sound?

Why, yes, it sounds like my masculinity draining away, as I admit that for the past two days, I’ve made an effort to walk several miles, just to take pictures of some flowers. No, really.

OK, I suppose there’s a bit of a reason behind it. They’re not just any old flowers. these are sunflowers, and for the second year in a row, a small portion of Hartlepool has been dedicated to growing these. Last year, I didn’t know where they were located, so I never got a chance to photograph them. This year though, I recognised the location from other photos, and was able to photograph them.

Both days, I recorded the journey via tweet. N particular reason, other than it felt pretty lonely walking up there on my own, especially when it was still relatively dark.

It took almost an hour to reach the field. On my way, I found a golfball. I was so happy, I tweeted about it.

Just found a golfball. Dog could have weed on it but never mind 5:52 AM Sep 3rd via txt

It was found some considerable distance from the nearest golf course. In fact, according to Google Maps, it was roughly 433 yards away from the golf course. So, someone’s either got a massively errant swing, or it was deposited there by some other means. Either way, it ended up in my back pocket. I pick pennies off the street too, scruff that I am.

Er, anyway. I made the twisty-turny journey up Worset Lane towards the field, only managing to twist my ankle once on the failing road surface. That’s a bit of a record for me.

After walking past the pile of decaying shit, which I described back in June….

Super farmy     12 June 2010 04:01:01  via txt  

… it was still there, the smell less pungent, however. Maybe because it was still early.

I was happy to find that the field was “welcoming”, as in, it wasn’t gated off, or anything like that. In fact, they encouraged you to ‘appreciate’ them, complete with A4 laminated sheets, explaining what they were being grown for.


They were certainly appreciated. Not just by me, there was some red van driver who happened to be going along the road. I heard him suddenly stop, and put the van in reverse, just to take some photos on his mobile of the field, and the sun coming up over it. I’m a little bit annoyed with myself, as for this first journey, I didn’t take my main camera thinking it wouldn’t be necessary. This means that this shot really isn’t as good as it could have been…

One thing that the little Canon is good at, however, is macro shots.

The walk back was all downhill, so thankfully, there were no almost-twisted ankles. On the way back, I found a football. “If found, please return to 7 sumthing”. I did find it, but as there was plenty of streets nearby with a door number of 7, I didn’t return it.

Although not really visible in the photograph, this ball also had other words scrawled on it, such as “Elish”.

“Elish” was a word that appeared to me in the early 90s, and somehow still survives to this day, as a slang word for something good, and is presumably a mis-spelling of the word “hellish”, as the nHartlepool accent is known for dropping its H’s, therefore a localization of words such as “bad”, “sick”, “wicked” meaning something good.

For instance, if some kid came into school with a new item of clothing, the conversation would go…

“Like my new [garment]?”
“Yeah, it’s elish.”

I went earlier today, and the football had vanished, either returned to “7 Sumthing Close”, or picked up by someone else that lives at a number 7. This time, the walk included my good camera. It was the same journey, though this time it seemed more uphill. Maybe because it was a little later in the day, therefore a little warmer. One thing I did notice is that when I walked past that decaying shit pile for the 2nd time, it was a little more fragrant…

Walking past the shit pile. Wretch. 2010-09-04 08:02:58

It took me exactly the length of “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits to walk from the edge of the golf course to the first opening of the sunflower field. I don’t see any reason why that would be relevant to anything, ever, but I thought I’d mention it. The sunlight was much better and brighter than my initial walk the previous day, and in the 48 minutes I spent in that general area, I managed to grab 80-odd photos.


In a rare decision, I won’t post the whole lot of photos on flickr, as not all of them were excellent.

Because it’s late… or early…

I’ve started typing this entry at 05:46 in the morning, so you’ll have to decide where it’s early or late. For me, it’s late, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything reasonable. In fact, the last post was regarding the Tall ships, which have come and gone. In something that’s becoming a bit of a tradition, here’s a partial post I wrote…

The residents of the quaint little fishing village of Hartlepool can breathe a sigh of releif, as the town slowly returns back to normal following the Tall Ships “festival”. Regular viewers will notice the lack of updates regarding this particular event, that’s because, as I mentioned, I was in Employment Palace 3 of the 4 days, meaning I was only able to pick up one of the 4 main days. No fireworks for me!

Still, plans had been made to attend the last day of the tall ships with some work colleagues. Dick Brown, webmaster of the World Wide Wankstain dick-brown.com instantly announced his disgust at attending such event, or rather, announced his disgust at attending an event with work colleagues instead of friends. I was a bit gutted, as I thought we were friends. Clearly not. Never mind, eh?

Four of us agreed to go, and meet up at Jamie S’s house. The other two I shall name as Craig and Gary. After all, that’s their names. Everyone except for Jamie S happened to finish at a silly time in the morning, meaning he could have a sleep in, and we would wander (or drive), bleary eyed towards his house. Gary had to drive from Beiruit Port Clarence, and the plan was for him to park outside of Jamie S’s house.

I went to bed at about 9. At approximately 11, I got a text from Jamie S saying he was dropping out. It could have been predicted, but it meant that Gary had nowhere to park. Bugger.

I was going to go anyway, and had originally planned to get a good vantage point at the Headland. On my way there, I found that part of the fence had been removed, which meant the full dock site was open. I never expected that! For the first time I can remember, you could walk from Northgate to the marina, through the private land of the docks.

Predictably, it was not possible to have four dry days in Hartlepool, and the clouds threatened to spoil the going-away parade…

At approximately 14:35, it began to hoy down. Luckily, some of the tents / stalls had became vacant, meaning that I was just in the right place to take shelter.

It absolutely shat down.

It stopped raining for approximately 10 minutes, before the clouds rolled in again. Thankfully, I made my way out, but then back to the shelter of “my” tent before it started again. Unfortunately, these didn’t…

It’s not really visible, but the t-shirt stand next to where I was stood also sold umbrellas. I’ve got video (which I’m sure I’ll upload somewhere) of this rain shower of the afore mentioned umbrella seller…. “Umbrellas, three pound….. (rain gets heavier)…. Umbrellas, five pound now…” I found it funny anyway. So did quite a few people who had also joined me in the tent.

Eventually the rain stopped, and Gary rang me, asking where I was. I gave him my location, and we met up. He brought one of his dogs along, whose first job to lick me to death. Lucklily, I was able to move out of the way of the muddy paw hug, meaning my white t-shirt was safe.

Obviously, we went to see some of the ships leave. The first was the Christian Radich…

The weather actually began to change. the gloomy skies were, for the first time, being replaced with bright sunshine. Of course, this didn’t last long, and before we knew it, we were once again running for the shelter of the vacant tents. It was at this point I noticed Craig had texted me

…. and, that’s where I left it, suspension fans! You’ll never find what the text contained, or whether Craig made it. Actually, he didn’t. I’ll cut to the end of the day, as it was weeks ago now, but after most of the ships had sailed out of the port, me and Gary headed up to Crimdon for a view up there…

A unique view that will probably never be repeated again.

Right, that’s the end of my Tall Ships coverage. Well, OK, not quite. I’ve got possession of Andy The Iridium Fan’s “Tall Ships” archive. He was lucky enough to be down there all four days, and also get hold of a photography pass, meaning there’s 3,768 photos for me to go through… watch this space.

Photo opportinities have been few and far between, thanks to a few reasons. My complete laziness, “Just Cause 2”, and the weather. I’ve not even been out to get any sunsets recently, though I did attempt a bit of sunset photography with ATIF the other week. Unfortunately, the sunset was an abortion, so we just hung around until it got dark, and tried a bit of long exposure in a field… wait, that sounds wrong… we sat in a field and took photos of each others equipment…. hang on, that sounds worse… look, this is what I mean…

Actually, the rest of the set turned out quite good too, you can have a look here

20th August saw me obtain a few plastic crates from work, in the vain hope of being able to sort something out of my record, CD and tape collection This is something that is ongoing (i.e. not started yet). though one of the crates has already been filled with old videotapes.

The 22nd August saw the end of an era. Yes, it was the last ever gig of “Accidents By Design”. I wouldn’t say I was their only fan, but I’ve been to as many gigs as I could possibly attend, fighting my way through rain, hail and snow. Here’s some video of their last ever gig.

Part 1
Part 2
Part3
Part 4

Parts 1+4 have feedback noise on them, unfortunately, thanks to a dodgy guitar pedal left by a previous band. Had a great day overall, and the sunburn I thought I’d end up getting wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.

Two sets of photos on this one, firstly, mine hosted on flickr, and ATIF’s which are hosted (removed). Despite the lure of cheap beer, with some of the money going to charity, I didn’t touch a drop.

EDIT: Ooooh, seems I missed a couple of things out of this post. Just had a comment from Jamie S, as I failed to mention he actually turned up for Pitch Invasion. I mentioned he didn’t turn up for the Tall Ships, but he broke his 100% record for not turning up to stuff, by er… actually turning up.

The first time he didn’t turn up for something was when we were going to Middlesbrough to see Wheatus. Which, in some type of weird juxtaposition of the present and the past, I received this email from someone who you may remember as “Poolieboydave”…

Alright

Hope your well. Just got back from Leeds festival and finally saw weezer after nine yeas of waiting. Anyway bizarrely they did a cover of wheatus’ teenage dirtbag, which made me think of the poolieboydave drunken msn rant!

Odd how these things crop up! I still check the blog weekly!

Bloody hell, three readers!