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.

Haircuts and polishing turds

Well, there’s three days off work, which have disappeared quicker than the analogy I originally thought of when I started typing this sentence. It’s actually been a good few days off.

Firstly, it’s not been wasted, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, the bad things include being incinerated to a crisp. You’d have thought that I’d have built up some immunity to the sun as a child, seeing as I was only ever allowed to “play out” until 6PM, before my mother appeared at the door, screaming my name at the top of her lungs, ordering me to come in. Hence Chad’s recent comment-posing name of “6-O Clock Curfew”.

Don’t worry, it took me a while to work it out too!

Er, anyway. Back to what has been going on recently.

Monday, unfortunately was a day that can just be scrubbed off the calendar altogether. After finishing a nightshift, I decided to just stay in bed until about 8PM. I don’t like doing that, but sometimes it’s necessary to get a few good hours of sleep inside of me. Therefore, the day was entirely wasted. Unless you count sleep, in that case, it was pretty much perfect.

So, Tuesday was the day when I began to get things done. The weather was ideal. Daddykins left Mercuryvapour Towers at approximately 11, in order to get the car MOT’d. I was kicking things around the house, when I decided that the grass out of the front needs mowing. It had been a couple of weeks since I’d done it. In fact, I blogged about it in here, thanks to the fact the mower shedded two blades.

Surely, the same thing couldn’t happen again.

After completing the majority of the garden, I ran over a piece of innocent looking grass…

“BANG! BRAAAAAAAAA!”

Sigh. Another blade gone. I can only apologise for this piece of deja-vu, but… I replaced the blade, and once again began to cut the grass.

“BANG! BRAAAAAAAAA!”

Christ almighty. Two blades, shattered in less than 15 seconds. Only this time, this came from a different piece of grass. Four blades in 2 mowings. I’m beginning to think our mower is fucked.

During my time shredding turf, I took a look at the front piece of the garden. There is a small portion at the top of the garden which normally “houses” daffodils in the spring, but the rest of the year, it’s a weed trap. Now, I’ve been paying more attention to this bit of the garden than what I’ve let on, and had recently de-weeded it, meaning it actually looked just like a bare piece of land.

Daddykins was home by this point, and helped remove some freshly sprouted weeds. Mostly dandelions, thanks to the state it was in last year. At this point, I said something in jest, about going to Focus and getting some plants. I also wanted to get my hair cut. The two things weren’t connected, but what was left of my hair, was a mess.

Daddykins drove me to the barbers. Turns out the temperature on the long gravel driveway of Mercuryvapour Towers was 29 degrees. It wasn’t until I sat in the barbers chair that I realised just how much sun I’d caught. As the lovely lady combed my hair, it felt like 10,000 white-hot needles were beng scraped across my scalp. Oh yes, I was sunburned, and sunburned good. Bugger.

I left the barbers, devoid of hair, and returned back to the car.

“So, do you want to go to Focus, then?”

After realising that I’d known nothing about gardening, I suddenly wondered if this was a good idea after all. I decided against it, but seeing as Focus was on the way home anyway, we decided to call in. A lighter wallet, 6 fuschia plants and a marigold plant later, we returned home. Whilst Daddykins cooked some eggs for the “Twat Cup” taking place later that evening, I went out of the front, and planted the afore mentioned plants.

The Twat Cup itself, went off without much of an incident, except I was almost “accused” of cheating at dominoes, because I didn’t let the other player pick first after it was my “shuffle”. Tsk. I explained that it was the first time I’d literally versed anyone at dominoes that wasn’t over the internet, and wasn’t aware of the finer, physical rules of the game, but was totally aware now, should I ever verse another human being at the afore-mentioned bar game. It’s unlikely, but it may happen. Remember, kids! After you shuffle, allow the other player to pick their dominoes first! Trust me, it’ll save you earache in the future. Honestly.

Chris was missing for the Twat Cup, so when I returned home I texted him to see where he was. Unfortunately, I don’t have my phone to hand, so can’t tell you exactly how the conversation went, and thanks to winning £15 and having plenty of free whisky, I was slightly the worse for wear.

So, off went Tuesday, and onto Wednesday. I awoke, in a funny position on the sofa, early enough to consider a trip to the flea market. After it was apparent that the quality of the previous nights’ ale had resorted my anus to the role of “shite fountain”, I was hesitant. Considering the sun was, once again cracking the pavements, I deicded to head off in the general direction of the flea market. It was, unfortunately, pathetic.

Eric had replaced his 50p CDs with another load of cheap, shitty DVDs. I ended up spending one, whole British pound on a “Best of T’Pau” CD. This was a CD I’d owned back in the early 1990s, but got destroyed in what I would claim was the worst week of my life, back in summer 1995.

Either way, I have a copy of it again. And, you’ll have to thank Chad once again for my T’pau interest. If he hadn’t had sold me this cassette tape back in 1988/1989, I’d have less of a knowledge of Carol Decker and the rest of the band, and their overly distorted percussion.

So, I returned home from the flea market. I decided to go out the front and begin documenting the life of my plants, whic were only planted yesterday. This involved some pretty graphic closeups…

Whilst taking photos, I returned to the alley, to view my images. It was the only place dark enough to be able to see the camera screen. I happened to look down the gravel driveway. At the end of it was a figure, clad in a high-viz vest, bicycle and camera. It could only be one person. Yes, it was Andy The Iridium Fan. I wanved, making him aware of my presence, and he cycled up the gravel driveway, and explained his prescence. Apparently, there wasn’t an actual reason, except for getting his picture taken on the “windowcam”.

Considering both of us had the rest of the day free, there was a little discussion on where to go, or what to do. I think I mentioned Durham, before quickly putting that idea on the back burner, seeing as that the only things burning would be me, on the bus to Durham. After the trip with Chris, earlier on in the year, I decided that public transport wouldn’t be the best idea, considering I’d be cooking all of the way there.

Andrew did mention the “Then and Now” exhibition on at the art gallery in Church Square, taken by Mail photographer Tom Collins. He had visited it at the weekend, and said it was great. And, considering I love stuff like that, I decided that this was the best idea ever. And for the paltry price of 50p, you could get to the top of Christchurch’s tower too. Something that I’d seen hundreds of pictures of, but never had any to climb up and call my own…

It’s around now that the photoblog starts, so for all of you who have scrolled this far, you’ll get your first pictures.

After paying your 50p, you can escalate the stairs that takes you up to the clock tower. After many dodgy experiences with climbing monuments, such as the Arc D’ Triomphe, the Scott Monument and more recently, York Minster, I was happy to find that the staircase was perfectly acceptable. You can even stop off on the way and take photos….


When you reach the top, it’s entirely different to what I thought it would be like. After seeing the few hundred pictures on sites such as flickr taken from the top of it, actually going up there and taking your own personal view of the location adds a hell of a lot to it. Since I was a kid, the Transporter Bridge is one of those things I’ve always wondered if it was visible from Hartlepool. I have never received any photographic evidence to say whether this was the case, until today….

Click the image, as you might have to zoom in a little to view it!

I’ve noticed, on flickr, that there’s normally only a couple of photos taken from Christchurch. Here’s approximately 56… http://www.flickr.com/photos/mercuryvapour/archives/date-taken/2009/06/24/

Day two…

The day was Tuesday, and I was awoken by the sound of the building site directly outside of the hotel. it was 7:30. I was less than pleased. Still, it gave me the chance to view exactly what the place looked like in the daytime.

Well, apart from the mass of mud and machinery, it’s not too bad. the River Spree is the stretch of water in the background, and the row of cafes and bars behind it were where most of our Euros went. I’ll mention more about these as the days go on, as we didn’t venture down this way on the first couple of days.

At approximately 10:30, it was time to find breakfast. Not easy in a place you dont know too well. The plan was to head northerly up Friedrichstrasse (the long street the hotel sat on), and hope we come across some kind of shop.

Within seconds, my dream came true. There was an indian no more than 100 yards from the hotel. I almost dropped to my knees in floods of happiness. Even better, we found what looked like an Irish bar too. So, that was the night sorted, and my food sorted for the week. Grub at the indian, along to the Irish bar to drink. Hurrah!

We kept walking, and eventually came across a little internet cafe, though I decided not to use the internet. Chris and Jonathan, however, opted for a sarnie and a cuppa, and I enjoyed a bottle of coke I’d bought earlier on, though it does taste different over there.

So, the sarnies were eaten, and we carry on with our exploration of the city. At this point, there was no particular plan to the journey, so we picked a direction, and continued walking. According to Google Earth, we were heading along Oranienburger Strasse. This seemed to be the old part of East Berlin, with many old tall buildings. Clearly, it was my first chance to appear in a photo in Berlin….

As we didn’t have a clue where we were, and found these posters rather odd, we reached a landmark (a railway bridge) and headed back. We noticed that street also had a lot of nice looking bars and eateries on there too, so we decided we’d also visit there later too.

One thing that became clear, however, is that we were not going to make it far in the blistering heat. Seemed that every few minutes, we were stopping off for drinks, which were small and ludicrously expensive.

I think that bottle of water cost me 2 euros. Bah.

They say that mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. But only Englishmen go out in the midday sun, walk into a random chemist and buy a bottle of suncream for €13.50… which is exactly what I did. Or rather, Chris went in and bought it for me. I gave him a tenner. My jaw *dropped* when he came out asking for more money. Still, at least it was a worthy purchase.

On the previous night, I failed to mention that after we arrived, we had a very short walk around outside the hotel, and noticed that during the day, there were bus tours which took you round Berlin. This was going to be our next activity.

The bus trip cost €20, which seemed like a lot, but the ticket lasted for the full day, which meant we could get off at any of the stops, and look around. The guide was provided by a pair of headphones mounted in the seat, and a button on the seat itself where you could choose the language. Amusingly, the only place we stopped off was the main train station, or the Hauptbahnhoff. At least I think that’s how you spell it. The main reason we stopped off, however, is that I’d noticed some sand sculptures, which seemed interesting.

As can clearly be seen by that, I didn’t take my main camera on this trip, instead I opted for my camcorder. Disastrously, the battery didn’t last more than 20 minutes of filming, as I kept forgetting to turn it off. Therefore, it was up to my trusty cameraphone to catch most of the photos. Due to the fact the headphones attached to my seat were broken, I don’t really have much of an idea what I was taking photos of, though there were some impressive buildings, such as this brick towerblock.

896586297_00b12f8d93_o

So, with the trip completed, we had a little more idea of what was on offer, and the best places to see. And, the fact they were all pretty much in the vacinity of the hotel.

We decided to complete our full day in the land of Sauerkraut by getting ready and going out for something proper to eat. And where did we go? Well, would you believe it, we ended up in the indian. Hurrah! Now, something I was surprised about was that the majority of the food places have most of their seating outside. This was certainly a new experience for me. So, we were sat down, in wicker chairs, under large parasols advertising some kind of German Pilsner. We ordered food, and didn’t have to wait too long for it to arrive. While we were eating, a red squirrel scurried across the floor next to us. That was odd. Not only was this the first time I’d seen a squirrel close up, it was a red one too. These are rare as fook here in England, so it was a nice and welcome surprise.

The food was magnificent. Large portions, good rice, nice soft naan breads. It was better than most places at home, and it wasn’t too spicy.

After the food was pouched, it was time to go out and experience some German beer. Of course, we couldn’t resist a stroll into the Irish bar, seeing as it was only a few metres away from the indian. Strangely enough, drink-wise, this happened to be the low point of the trip. I got a pint of Fosters (well, 500ml of Fosters) which was warm, and tasted like a mixture of cider and wine, and Chris and Jonathan got a pint of Newky Brown, which tasted equally as bad. After 1 drink, we simply couldn’t stay there any more.

We returned down the same route we’d taken on the morning, in order to check some of the bars they had on offer… we found this little place with a courtyard. It was rather empty, and rather nice. Pils flowed like water, despite it being expensive. I think it was €4 for 500ml…

Suddenly, the poster I was leaning against in the earlier picture made perfect sense – we were walking down the red light district. It’s funny how the majority of them asked if we wanted a good time in perfect English, as if they could tell just by looking at us. We refused, and kept walking to the final bar of the evening. a mock American diner… now, I’m sure if any of us at this point had actually been sober, we’d have enjoyed it, but all the barman (who wasn’t German either) wanted to talk about was football. Ergh.

What I remember more than anything about this place was the “bar” itself. It was apparently made from some kind of translucent resin, with fluorescent tubes underneath it. The heat from the tubes, combined with the years of drinks spilled on it, caused your arms, glass and everything that touched it, to stick to the bar.

None of us fancied a conversation about football, so we made our excuses and left. Quickly. We, once again, had to head through the red light district on the way back to the hotel.

Something which I failed to mention is that whilst at the train station, Chris bought two 1 litre cans of lager, one of which he gave me. I enjoyed immensely. I attempted to go to sleep, listening to a radio station on my mobile – BRF 91.4 . The first song I heard was Mike Oldfield’s “Shadow On The Wall”. I’d never heard this played on the radio before. I was delighted.

After listening to some classic songs, I rolled over, and went to sleep. Day 3 was only a few hours away.