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…

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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…

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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!

Hartlepool Dockfest Day 2

Ok, this is a slightly late post, rather shutting the stable door after the man dressed up as a horse has bolted.

I didn’t stay long on the 2nd day. I ‘d pretty much seen everything I’d needed to see, and most of the stuff going on was a repeat of the first day. Still, I stayed for a couple of hours, snapping away as usual…

After I’d taken these photographs of the 2009 Hartlepool Beauty Pageant (giggle), I moved slightly to my left, and took photos of the juggler, whose name escapes me now (Defying Gravity, perhaps?).

Well, that’s what is says on that sail thing anyway. Unfortunately, that particular act only gripped me for the same amount of time as it took for me to focus the camera lens and take about 3 shots.

Off we went for a walk over to the food tent. Once again, they’d been cooking something with fish in, but they were about to demonstrate the “smoothie bikes”. A clever conception. Strap a blender to the back of a normal bike. Stick a dynamo to the back wheel, and connect the dynamo to the blender. You can then pedal your way to a healthy, if slighty disgusting looking drink! Of course, the slight drawback is that you have to get someone to hold the lid on the blender whilst you pedal like fuck, mashing the fruit into oblivion.

I was hoping, at the end of the demonstration, the ‘chef’ would remove the lid and say “Smoothie Smoke, don’t breathe this!” Unfortunately, there was no smoke and so, no hilarious end to the demonstration.

We left the tent in time to see an amusing spectacle. Apparently, we’ve “grown out” of hanging monkeys here, instead, in the 21st century, we prefer to hang dogs…

Well OK, hang a bloke in a dog suit. This particular character was Barry The Beagle from Real Radio. And, apparently, he wasn’t any worse off for his ordeal…

I was hungry, and thirsty by this point, so it was time to refuel from one of the eatery vans dotted around. After having a (rather disappointing) tray of curry and chips the previous day, I decided to have a jacket potato, with a choice of topping. Naturally, I went for the chicken curry. This set me back £3.50 but I must admit it was one of the nicest things I’ve ever had from a mobile eatery establishment.

So, at this point Andrew decided he could hold off no more, and headed off to the sweetie stall. You see, placed right in the middle of the main area was a tent selling sweets, sort of a pick ‘n’ mix, but in a tent. While I waited, Andrew chose come confectionery. I asked him the price it came to.

£5.30

I thought he was joking, but clearly wasn’t. Five pounds, thirty pence. I almost fell backwards off the chair I wasn’t sitting on at the time.

At this point, there wasn’t anything else going on. Everyone was getting prepared for the big show in the main tent. This was of aboslutely no interest to me, so I phoned Daddykins to pick me up. This was one of the very rare occasions where he hadn’t had a drink on a Sunday. The phone call was interrupted by some people on stilts. I would class that as being one of the more peculiar moments of the two days.

So, as I disappeared off into the distance, Andrew stayed down to watch whatever was going on in the main tent. I got home, and laid on the couch whilst watching Wimbledon. Predictably, I drifted off on the couch, only to be awoken at approximately 5:30 by a thunderstorm. Wooo. I was hoping it would blow over by the time I’d planned to set off for the night’s festivities, which I’d planned to set off for at 6:30.

Thankfully it did, but I decided not to take my chances walking over, and instead got the bus down. Turned out, it would have been quicker for me to actually walk than to get the sodding bus.

By the time I got there, the queue was about half a mile long. Joy. Thankfully, Andrew had got there early, and was about 6ft away from the entrance. I “tagged alongside”. We were guaranteed awesome seats, and we got those. Second row, just left of centre.

In fact, I can be clearly seen in this picture. Obviously, it’s not my photo, so there’s only a link. Just look for a huge slaphead on the right hand side.

Unlike the music night, I was overjoyed with the three acts that performed on the main stage that night. The host himself was awesome, very quick witted. After some heckler shouted out something random, he replied with “Shall we get you some crayons? Do you want the blue ones because they taste like the sky?” Oh, man, I really did think I was going to fall off the chair at that point.

Sean Lock was predictably brilliant. I did get photos. Obviously, you weren’t supposed to take cameras in, but nobody said anything about cameraphones. Sadly, the images are currently “locked” into my phone, as I have no way to transfer them over. I’ve lost everything to do with my phone’s data transfer abilities. Whoops.

So, anyway, another brilliant night took place, and I can personally hail the 2009 Hartlepool CockDockfest an absolute success.

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

York City are magic! Magic!!

I thought I’d start off with a Lee and Herring quote, as I don’t think there’s enough of them in this blog. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if that one was my first one. Anyway, it does have some relevance, as I have spent the day in York. Needles toupé I took my camera.

Several days ago, Coatesy made a reappearance on the scene, it was a nice surprise to see him on Messenger. It was the first time I’d heard from him properly since February 12th, after a trip somewhere got abandoned at the last minute.

We got talking (unsurprisingly), and arranged a meet-up and a trip out, to York. This sounded cool. I’d never actually been to York since I was a kid. In fact, I remember getting some type of colouring in / crayon set from there the last time I was there. And Treasure Hunt was still on telly.

Er, anyway. The trip was arranged. I was to meet him at his flat on Saturday Morning at approximately 8:30AM. I awoke at 6AM. After spending the last two days awaiting a text saying that he wouldn’t be able to make it, I was surprised to find my phone void of texts. Awesome!

Anyhoo. I set off, along the moderately short walk from Mercuyvapour Towers to Coatesy’s abode. It was a lovely morning, if a little chilly. In fact, I turned back because I thought it’d be cold enough to require a jumper.

This apparel change, unfortunately made me three minutes late for the festivities, and I arrived on his doorstep at 8:33. He was ready to go, and after picking up a Wispa and a foreign bottle of Dr. Pepper (which smelled oddly of cheese) from the local shop, we headed off towards the train station.

I was surprised to see that the station at Hartlepol has been slightly revamped since my last trip on an English train six months ago. Yes, it’s all been redesigned, and it really doesn’t look right. The platform is still a pigeon and chav infested mess, however.

I am happy to report, however, is that one of the possible reasons that the station hasn’t been done up yet, is because the fares are so damn cheap. £9.60 retun to York. Bimler.

We sat on the platform, awaiting the train which would take us the first part of our journey, from Hartlepool to Thornaby. It’s a journey of approximately six metres. In fact, it hardly felt worth sitting down for it.

My memories of Thornaby station aren’t good. I simply remember a vast expanse of urine soaked tarmac and bricked flower beds which uncomfortably acted as the only decent and non-vandalised piece of seating. I’m happy to report that this is no longer the case. There is a station building, ticket office, proper seating, and even destination boards saying when the next trains are due. These weren’t there last time!

Coatesy informed me of some of the things he’s been getting up to recently, including meeting Ricky Tomlinson, and getting his autograph. Unfrotunately, he didn’t get the pleasure of meeting Duncan Norvelle who was also appearing with Ricky Tomlinson. According to Wikipedia, Duncan Norvelle now lives in Darfield, a place which I have visited, and had a very nice bag of chips at. You may also notice that I didn’t complete that post about Barnsley. Oops.

Er, anyway. Back onto the present day, and back to the trip to York. After a few minutes loitering around the Thornaby platform, the second train showed up. A big, purple, comfortable looking train, manufactured by Siemens.

We picked two of the only seats available, sat facing some odd couple. It was not possible to look forward without staring them in the eye. I think I know every detail about the train carpet, walls, seat design, yet I wouldn’t be able to pick the guy who was sat in front of me for the hour-long journey from a police lineup.

The journey passed pretty quickly, thanks to the playing of the golf game on my mobile with Coatesy, and also the reintroduction of posting stuff to my twitter account.

We arrived at the station, just before 11. The first thing I noticed was… OLD STREETLIGHTS. Oh, man. I was in my element. More on those later, as I’m sure you’ll all be gripped in hearing about those.

It was at this point I whipped out of the camera, and began to take photos…

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Yes, I was taking a photo of the streetlight. The Yorkshire wheel is just a bit of an added bonus. Speaking of which, we did go up onto the wheel. And it was great. Whilst up there, Chris rang me to see what I was up to.

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I informed him that the trip had gone ahread, and we were indeed in York.

The ride lasts only 13 minutes (according to their website), so at £6.50 it was a bit expensive, but the views, as you can imagine, are stunning. Should you ever go, we were in car number 22. Just so you know that I have breathed in that very same car… oh, and the air conditioning doesn’t work in it. It’s supposed to be lovely and cool. It was more like an oven. This is one of the reasons I look like a beetroot in the above picture. That, and the fact I may have had the saturation setting up too high on the camera….

So, it was time for a quick look at the railway museum. This place is vast, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t get to see it all during our trip round there.

Now, for all of you going there to see the Flying Scotsman, well, you’ll be a bit disappointed. It’s in bits.

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Of course, if you LIKE to see old steam engines in bits, then I’m sure you’ll be happy with the sight.

So, after another quick look round, we headed out of the museum and down the road towards York Mister. It was one of the reasons I wanted to go to York. Last time I was there, I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it, but I still remember shots of it burning down on the news.

Before we went there, we stopped off for some food. I opted for a pair of sausage rolls, whilst Mr. Coates disappeared up the road for a Subway. We walked along to a shady little square situated at the end of The Shambles to consume our food products.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a market. Now, these things normally mean one of two things… records and lots of cheap fruit. You’ll have to work out for yourself which one of those I’m more interested in. I didn’t really come to buy records, and even though I found a stall that sold records, I couldn’t really buy any. It was still early in the day, and although I was sorely tempted to buy one, I held off the temptation. After all, lugging records around on a day out really isn’t something worth doing.

Next stop was York Minster. This place is immense in every sense of the world. One thing I found really interesting was a “busker”, for want of a better word, sat outside, playing something called an autoharp.

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I see that the guy is called Paul Jennison (or at least that’s the names on the CDs he is selling) but unfortunately, Mr. Jennison doesn’t have much of a web prescense, unless I’m just searching for the wrong things.

Onto the Minster itself, then. As I said before, this is one of those places that is just immense.

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Remember my rant about Notre Dame being handed over to the gawking tourists, with camera flashes going off every six seconds? Well, I am happy to report that this place has got it right… You have to “buy” the ability to take photos. This means that your average Little Miss Snapalot will think twice about leaving her camera with full flash on, because you have to pay for the privelege! An awesome idea.

The full price for everything (that includes, photo rights, entrance to the tower, entrance to the lower levels) costs something like £9. Now, because there was a private wedding going on (seriously, a wedding in York Minster? How much money do these people have?), we got a discount, so the cost was £7.50. Unfortunately, we were unable to gatecrash the wedding, but I’m sure that Husband and Wife will have a happy three months together before it all ends up getting shat up the wall. Not that I’m cynical about marriage, or anything.

Our first stop was the tower. We thought it was probably best to get the excersise out of the way first of all. There’s a narrow 275-step climb up to the top of the tower. It’s the first time I’ve ever visited a church and had a health and safety warning, and been asked to declare that I didn’t have a list of diseases longer than my arm…

This now ranks third in the “most steps I’ve climbed in one go”. The top three looks as follows…

1. April 14th 2007 – Scott Monument, Edinburgh… 287 steps
2. July 17th 2008 – Arc De Triomphe, Paris… 284 steps
3. September 27th 2008 – York Minster… 275 steps

The walkway for the Minster is almost as thin as the Scott Monument, but not quite. You do also get the chance half way up for a nice view…

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This was, however, only 108 steps into the journey. There was still a hundred and a bit to go. No mater how much I liked the view right there, it could only get better the more we got up. And if I’d have just stood there taking photos on a very narrow gangway, I’d have held everyone up.

Another very narrow corridor and set of stairs later, we arrived at the roof, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the views were absolutely stunning…

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I mean, have YOU ever seen a CCTV camera that size before? I couldn’t BELIEVE it.

After eight minutes on the roof, we were ushered back down by a woman who seemed eager to get everyone down as quickly as possible. It became quite clear why. By the time we’d got downstairs, the queue was pretty much round the block. Talk about good timing, we only had to wait a few minutes, whereas the people in the queue… well, they’re probably stil there now…

We took a further look around the Minster, including taking in all of the sights of the underground section. This was a particularly interesting section, as you get to see all of the medieval / Roman stuff. It was amazing how it was preserved.

After that, we took one last walk around the minster itself before leaving it and heading towards the arrays if shops. At this point, I was gasping for a drink. The climb up and down those narrow stairs certainly took its toll on my body’s fluid reserves, and before I knew it, I was in a little paper shop buying a nice bottle of Ribena. This is one particular drink I have started to like again, despite not drinking it for approximately 10 years.

At this point, we decided to have a look at the boat trips. There’s a nice boat trip which takes you all they way up the river Ouse to the Tate + Lyle factory, and all the way back round again. When we got there, it was quite clear that the nice weather had influenced the entire population of Yorkshire to come out and have exactly the same idea as us – the queue was about half a mile long. It became apparent that we weren’t going to get on the next boat trip, and we wouldn’t have time to get on the one after that, so we just headed back to the station in order to get the next train. Unfortunately, Coatesy had to attend his place of Employment on the night.

Now would be a good time to mention that his old job involved the manufacture of many things including streetlights, and he could confirm that the Thorn Beta 79 ceased manufacture only a few months ago. Shame. It seemed odd that we were having a conversation about streetlights.

Oh, and I also think that now would be a good idea to copy and paste some links to the streetlight photos I mentioned umpteen paragraphs ago.

To start us off, here’s an example of an extremely rare Thorn Beta 9, gear-in-head…

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I think it’s probably the only one I’ve seen in my entire life, so that was a nice surprise. I originally got the name of this lantern completey wrong. Bah!

Secondly, there’s this one…

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It’s been identified as a “Thorn Grenville” floodlight. Oddly, if you google that, the only thing that comes up (apart from something about family names) is the reply to my request for identification in the StreetlightingUK group.

After heading back to the station, we nipped into WH Smiths. I was still dying of thirst, mainly because my clothing apparel consisted of black items, and considering this was one of the nicest days of the year, I was sweating buckets. I picked up a bottle of water, Coatesy picked up a paper.

We sat on the platform and watched a train undergo some emergency maintainence. Apparently, one of the doors had jammed, so I whiled away the few minutes watching them trying to fix the doors. I never found out of they managed it because our train arrived shortly after. Again, it was very similar to the one we’d got down there. Nice and comfortable.

After a short while, we were back in Thornaby. Now, it said that the 16:37 train to Carlisle (via Hartlepool) was cancelled, but the following screen said it was still running… how odd. Luckily, the ticket office was still open, so we thought it would be best to check. Coatesy volunteered to ask, and I wasn’t going to argue with that

Now, the oddest thing happened in the queue in front of us. Apparently, some old woman had just got a free ride from Northallerton to Thornaby, as nobody had came around to sell her a ticket. Fair enough, you might think. She’d just walk away with a couple of extra quid in her pocket… no.

She was demanding that she should be charged for this journey. The guy behind the counter looked about as confused as I did. Huh? She’s just got something for nothing because someone clearly wasn’t doing their job correctly, and she feels like she should be the one to cough up?

Eventually, the guy printed her a ticket out, she paid for it…

Guy: “Shall I just bin this?”
Her: “Well, it’s no use to me now, is it?”

Miserable old goat. I bet she’s the type of person that leaves your average customer service rep with a nervous tick.

However, there was still the matter of the cancelled train. Was it cancelled or not? After Ms Moneybags fucked off, it was Coatesy’s turn in the queue. The guy explained that they were testing out a new system, and the train WAS running. Hang on, surely if you’re testing out a new system, the information you give out on it should be ACCURATE? Otherwise, what’s the point of actually redoing the system?

At 16:37 and 2 seconds, the train pulled into the station, We boarded, and took the short journey from Thornaby to Hartlepool, taking in the wonderful sights such as the abandoned Cerebos factory and the various waste disposal sites. During this journey, I attempted to get Daddykins to pick me up from the station. He was cooking the tea, so he suggested I get a taxi and he’d pay for it. Awesome.

Coatesy and I went our separate ways, and I becan the mammoth task of uploading all of the photos, and eventually typing this blog.

All in all, an excellent day, and it has became apparent that if I am going to use this camera properly, I’ll need more than just a 2Gb memory card… all of the photos here!

Yesterday turned out great

My word. Considering I was claiming it was going to be a shit day, it actually went really good.

No sooner had I pressed “Send” on my previous post, Daddykins awoke, and came downstairs. Before I even had a chance to plead with him to take me somewhere, his first words uttered to me were “Get your shoes on”…

“…why? Where are we going?” I replied. It seemed a bit of an odd statement considering he’d only been awake a few minutes.

“Don’t know yet” was his reply.

I was shocked, and delighted. Me and Daddykins were going on a proper day out for the first time since at least 1997. Sure, we’d been places before, but not for a proper Father/son type thing. There had always been “complications”. OK, I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t got the new car, but I’ll not use that as an excuse. I’m sure my dad took me out because he loved me… yes, that must be the reason.

Needless to say, I took my camera. My dad must have had some idea where we were going, as we headed in the direction of the North Yorkshire Moors. Well, when I general, I mean DIRECTLY, even taking the necessary shortcuts Daddykins had picked up during his many years working around that area.

This narrowed it down to a few places… three, in fact. Whitby, Grosmont, or Goathland, the real-life village which is the setting for Heartbeat’s “Aidensfield”. Whitby was quickly ruled out, which is just as well, as it’s expensive, probably crowded, and there’s nowhere to park easily. I remember this from when we used to go to days out to Whitby as a child. We (being me, my mother, nanna, and any other freinds/relatives who tagged along) would get dropped off, then my dad used to disappear somwehre with the car, sometimes taking half an hour to return, after parking it in some obscure back lane for free.

So, Grosmont, or Goathland. I was indeed correct. Daddykins took one look at the parking situation in Grosmont, and thought “sod that”… I didn’t quite work out why, either the car park was full, or it was too expensive. Either way, we kept going, along the same road, through Grosmont, and onto Goathland. As we approached the centre of the village, our path was blocked by a policeman. Daddykins rolled the window down (or rather, pressed the button that brings the window down). and asked him what was going on…

“Oh, they’re just shooting a scene”, he replied. “Won’t take long… they’re averaging about 3 minutes per take”. Woooo! They were filming, there and then. I could hardly believe my luck. Daddykins got chatting to the copper.

“So, where’ve you came from?” The copper asked, to start conversation.
“Hartlepool… West View”, daddykins replied, quite correctly.
“Ohhh, West view Road?”, the copper replied.

Turns out that the guy’s grandparents lived on West View Road, near the Brus, and he used to eat in the (now demolished) Brus Cafe. What are the chances of that happening? It’s not quite as amazing as the time I stayed in a hotel on the Isle of Wight, and the owner knowing Eric Wilkie who used to drink in the Queens, and a good friend of mine and especially my dad. Even Coatesy knew him. Eric, you may remember, is whose front room I spewed up in on the Millenium night.

Er, anyway, I’ve swayed way off topic there. Back to Goathland. The take eventually finished, and we were free to go on our way, to the car park. It cost £2 to park up for the full day, which I consider entirely reasonable, though in previous visits, we parked for free on the edges of the road, but these are all now yellow-lined. Bugger. Either way, we parked up, and headed for the site of the filming…

Here’s one of the takes…

After I took this photo, I was told by some anonymous woman in a Hi-Vis jacket that I couldn’t take photos while they were recording. That, to me, doesn’t make much sense. 1) my camera is silent when taking photos, 2) I was in a public place.

I’ve always wondered how the law stands on such matters. I must admit, I was 100% compliant with her request – personally I just enjoyed watching the recording, and was happy in the knowledge that between takes, I could photograph what I wanted, most of it appearing very similar to what I could have shot during the takes – same people, same equipment, slightly different stance, maybe. It’s all a bit academic anyway, as I only took 6 photos while watching the filming. Ah well.

That was an added bonus to the day I wasn’t expecting in the first place.

We spent a big portion of the day at the train station, as they have steam trains there, and Daddykins loves them. As expected, the whole place is kept in a retro style, with old fashioned advertising placards dotted around.

The first thing we did when we got there was get some refreshments. Daddykins can’t function without his morning cup of coffee, and considering we’d went straight out, he never had chance to have it. I was surprised he’d went as long as he did without collapsing into a caffiene-deficiency related coma. Either way, we watched a total of 3 trains come in and out…

… each of them looking like that one. It’s a shame there’s only a few of these things running anymore, as they’re certainly impressive. And huge. And noisy.

During the wait between the trans approaching, we went for a walk up the side of the hill, which formed the valley that the station was in. Before you leave the station, however, was this gate…

Penalty for leaving the gate open, £2. I’m sure that this sign was added when two pounds was actually a lot of money, and actually a bit of a deterrent. Never mind though, as everyone who went through it did indeed close the gate. It wasn’t a hard walk, and the view for reaching the top was stunning

There was no mobile phone signal, however, even at the top of the big hill, which I was a little surprised about. I wasn’t planning to call anyone, it was merely an observation.

After we watched the trains, it was time to take a last walk around the village, and take in the scenery.Something which is clear with this place is that they will never need anyone to mow the lawns, as there’s sheep everywhere…

I thought it was great personally. Although this was a novelty for me, being an outsider, I could imagine that the residents would get really rather sick of their fluffy white prescense…

As this point, I went into Ye Olde Gift shoppe, and bought Daddykins a little momento of the day, as a thanks for the day out – another model car for his collection. 20 years ago, the roles would have been reversed – he’d have been the one buying ME the toy car, but he collects them. And he has a lot of them.

On the way back, I took more photos, and finally managed to get a decent shot of Roseberry Topping

And that was pretty much it. On the way home we went to the chippy, only to find that it was completely packed. Therefore, the day was completed with a trip to the Brus Chippy. The chips were very nice, if a little expensive, and a little unforgiving with the portions.

The full set of photos can be viewed here.