Bye-bye Steetley, part 1

I know I’ve left it a bit late, seeing as there’s less than 12 hours, before this local landmark gets blown up, but I am indeed sad to see the old thing go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Those of you not from Hartlepool won’t know this place, unless you’ve came into Hartlepool from the north. It’s the big huge chimney that stood next to the tran track, and was surrounded by rubble. After the entire site being a death trap for many years, at 11AM tomorrow, the chimney stack will be demolished. the rest of the site, which has also been flattened over the last few months, will then be covered with crushed stone and a housing estate built on top of it. A sad, undignified end to something which was, for my entire life, such a prominent part of it. For those of you who know Mercuryvapour Towers, you’ll know that the chimney is visible from the front window, which means I saw it at least once a day for my entire 32.5 years of existence (minus holidays and foggy days, naturally).

The question that I keep asking myself is, am I sad to see it go? Some days I’d look out and think “I really wish they’d get rid of that eyesore”, next day I’ll look out and think “I’ll miss it when it’s gone. The end of an era”. Its purpose was to extract magnesia from seawater.

Steetley has had many names over the years. Some readers may remember it as the Pallister works, others simply as “Redland Magnesia”, which was one of the last companies to own it before it closed. I’m pretty sure most of the local area knows of at least one person who worked there.

There are three things that were certain in nearby West View – death, taxes, and the fact that Steetley would kick out its unmistakable stench as soon as your mam put the washing out. The smell was an ungodly mix of chlorine and rotten eggs, and if the wind was coming in off the sea, the entire estate spent the next half-hour gagging. The afore-mentioned Washing would also need to be done again too, as there would be little yellow spots all over it.

Steetley also featured in the very first time I borrowed a camcorder, was Wayne’s. Some of you may, or may not mention Wayne. He was someone who I went to school with for a bit, was really good friends with up until about 2000, and then almost completely disappeared off the face of the planet. Past mentions of him on here, feature a recording of his mam asking Wayne… “Is he still an alco?” More on that, in another post.

Anyway, the very first camcorder I ever borrowed was his. He had an interest in lasers, and we both lived a mile from Steetley, albeit at different angles. One night, he left his camcorder over here, and we talked over ye olde CB radio while he shone the laser pointer onto Steetley to see if I could see it, or if the camcorder would pick it up. The answer was a resounding no. I don’t know why either of us thought it’s be possible to see a dot the size of a pinhead on a structure 1 mile away. Still, I got to use his camcorder for a bit, and yes, I still have the tape I made somewhere. I doubt he still has his copy. In fact I don’t even think he remembers who I am.

The fact that Steetley was also visible from so far away was also another “attraction” for me. As a kid, I made a couple of trips to Roseberry Topping. I always wanted to know if Steetley was visible from there. Unfortunately, each of the days we’d chosen were no good for viewing. It wasn’t until April last year that I confirmed with my own eyes and camera that it was visible – a distance of exactly 14.67 miles.

I had plenty more memories going around in my head, but it’s approaching 2AM. I’m going to get some shots in the morning before it goes…
I have a million other memories and photos to go through,

Hart Lodge

A little bit of local news for those of you who care, but Hart Lodge, known to the locals (well me, anyway) as “The Old Folks’ home” on Jones Road, is currently being pulled down.

I wouldn’t say it’s a pretty exciting landmark or anything, as it was a dull example of late 60s / early 70s functional architecture, but for me, it’ll always remain one of my childhood playgrounds. Even more so when they built the car park.

I’ll be adding some more pictures of my own to that same page throughout the day…

I feel the earth move, under my feet…

Apparently, there’s been an earthquake between Newcastle and York. I didn’t feel a thing, and Ilive pretty much between the two…

Sky News have reported it now, claiming it was inNorth Yorkshire. I am happy to report, however, that it didn’t disturb my dart watching / beer drinking. I’ll keep updating, but it apparently is all over.

Now the BBC are all over Twitter, asking if anyone wants to talk to the radio in the morning. No.

Although I could say that it knocked the froth off my beer, and Gary Anderson missed a double because of it.

Welcome to the readers of CycleChat also!

Her’e a link to Sky News with the story…

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Article/201009115879004 (Uh, would have helped if I’d actually made it a link)

UPDATE: It is now RAINING in Hartlepool, and my feet are cold. Everything’s back to normal, then. I’ll let this post rot.

UPDATE 2: Would have helped if I’d closed my tags properly too. What an arsehole I am.

2010… what a pile of… boring (Part 2)

Okay, it’s mid-way through December when I’m typing this. We’ve had snow, but it’s all-but melted now,. I’m munching on Roast Beef Monster Munch (85g packets from Home Bargains – 39p each. Awesome), and I’m almost ready to go to bed. You may remember in the previous post, it was… erm, June.

JULY 2010

Mercuryvapour Towers was greeted by another new visitor, a rather frosty one at that. Our old chest freezer, which we’d had for roughly 20 years, was showing signs of giving up the ghost. It leaked terribly, and always had a coating of mould on it, thanks to the seals perishing, and the hinges snapping. They were held on by a small piece of trouser belt.

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This month, for some reason, saw me doing day shifts, meaning I actually got to see some daylight. Unfortunately, the daylight also brought with it stupidly heavy rain, with rain showers almost as heavy as the August 2003 deluge. I can’t remember the exact date, but it was a Tuesday, as Daddykins bought us both a Blossom Garden Special. I also had a loan of ATIF’s zoom lens for a few days. Shiny.

AUGUST 2010

A month of fun and frolics, and by that, I mean that the Tall Ships visited Hartlepool. It was a busy month for me when it comes to photos, with the tall ships, a night-time visit to Hart with ATIF, and the last ever performance of Accidents By Design, at the Seaton Carew Cricket Club.

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We also deadified another mouse.

Not much else happened.

SEPTEMBER 2010

New stuff dominated September. And sunflowers. After finally giving up on my ancient phone, I went out and got myself a HTC Desire. It is still a shiny piece of kit. I also talked extensively about my purchases on Steam. It seems strange, but I started getting into gaming in a big way. Sucky weather and pure laziness meant that very little happened in this month. even the photo archive dried up after the well-documented sunflower walks.

Mercuryvapour Towers received a new heating system late-on in the month, and although we were without hot water for a day and a bit, it was a small price to pay for the warmth that we’d experience during the coming months…

OCTOBER 2010

Unfortunately, Employment Palace took quite a hold on me in this month, so I didn’t really accomplish anything. I missed a bus, that’s about it. There was the trip to Newcastle with ATIF, where I managed to take some 300 photos.

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… not all of them great.

NOVEMBER 2010

Something happened in this month, which normally doesn’t happen. It snowed, and plenty of it too. In fact, it would appear that every photo I’ve taken since then has resulted in a “snow” tag being added to it. Some other stuff did happen, I started 15 days off work, interupted by a night with the people from work for a few hours of bowling… I won’t bother linking to an individual photo, instead the flickr set is, erm.. there.

DECEMBER 2010

Special! Advent Calander's

I’m sat here, flipping my way wearily though a spindle of CDRs, for no reason other than I don’t know where to start with this particular month. It just passed me by. I had a lot of time off work, thanks to leftover holidays (and my first full day of sickness since 2008, bloody chest), but thanks to the snow which dominated the month, saw me hardly leaving the house. I’m too old to enjoy the snow now!

Though, saying that, I’m not tired of taking pictures of it – each time the sky clouded over, I was rushing around with the camera, taking as many shots as I could. One of them even ended up in the Dec 30th edition of the Hartlepool Mail. Cor, I quite clearly rule!

So, erm. That’s it, except for the bits I’ve missed out. 2010 in a nutshell. I can assure you it’s not really been as dull as I’ve made out on here…. actually, that’s a lie, it really, really has.

2011 hopefully will be different, I’m going to try and do stuff worth blogging about more often. which means I’ll be wasting more time sat in front of the PC, which, in itself is counter-productive to doing stuff worth blogging about… ah, it’s a vicious circle.

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?

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!

Hartlepool Tall Ships…

For those of you who followed twitter/facebook/flickr, you’ll have seen I attended the tall ships buildup today. It’s not even officially started, yet the jovialities have already started. There are a few things which became quite clearly appearent, which may help you, should you visit. I type the following in a clearly vain attempt to help anyone before they attend…

Firstly, and most importantly…

1) Wear good footwear. Seriously. None of this sandal / high heel shit. Big, thick trainers are the order of the day. The “village” is set on derelict dock area, meaning that there is not a smooth surface in sight. I’m suffering at the moment because I wore “normal” shoes, as in, not trainers (no, not high heels either.. someone is bound to comment on that) but didn’t realise just how bad the ground was.
It is a “working surface”. Thousands of cars were parked there once. It’s a mixutre of dolomite and broken tarmac. You probably weren’t allowed in there without a hard hat until today.

2) Asda is open normally. It is 0.45 miles from the entrance to the “village”. If you’re talking the family, do one of two things. Take them there first of all, get as much packed lunch material as you can possibly carry, and use that. Should they stop you carrying bags of shopping onto the site, a McDonalds is close, along with a Burger King and a Pizza Hut. Promise the kids one of those. I normally wouldn’t notice this, but thought I’d better mention it when I noticed one place was charging £6.50 for a portion of noodles.

3. Bikes. I saw many people taking their family on a “bike ride” around the area. Look, just don’t. It’s too crowded. You’re going to hit more people than you avoid. Little Jimmy will complain that the ground is too uneven, and before you know it, he’s fallen off his bike, and you’re rubbing Savlon into his badly scratched knee, whilst hoards of confused tourists question why you brought the bike in the first place. Andy the Iridium fan left his bike parked up, and explored the site on foot. Ten million bonus points instantly earned.

4. Umbrella. The site is huge, and there’s not much cover. It is Hartlepool, and something interesting is happening. It’s going to piss down.

5. Asthma / other respirotary diseases. If it fails to rain, the uneven dolomite / tarmac surface turns into a dust bowl the second a breeze hits it, so beware. But, we have the Headland carnival on Saturday, so we’re practically guaranteed a thunderstorm. Wear a mask, just in case. You can pretend you’re in Japan, and purchase some ridiculously priced noodles!

6. Alcohol. There is beer onsite. You can’t take your own in, whcih means it’s probably very expensive.

7. Bikes. Seriously. I’m not going to be there, but I’ll be hoping for an accidental shower of tyre-puncturing needles.

8. Shoes. Please take my earlier advice seriously. Failing that, I’ll be happy to book an appointment with anyone willing to suck the liquid out of the blisters I’ve accumulated from “normal footwear”

9. Food. Seriously, Supernoodles are 50p a pack, if that? You could buy those, a dish, and a fucking kettle for £6.50

I’m a bit gutted I’m going to miss the majority of it, especially after the temporary bombshell “Employment Palace” dumped on me earlier in the week. It’ll be interesting to see the legacy it leaves, unfortunately, I have a feeling it won’t be very much… seriously though, I’ve been a little tongue-in-cheek, but I’m serious. Your feet will hurt, everything is expensive (despite shops nearby), it’s a bit dusty, and bike riders will struggle.

And I can’t go. Grrrrr.