Friday, 29 June 2012

Friday, June 29th 2012

It may as a big surprise to you to hear me say this, but, perhaps, there is too much sport on TV. Too much if you don’t like sport and too much if you do. I like sport, but I also like to get out and do stuff, thus with the European Championships winding down I may have thought I may leave the sofa once in a while. But as we’re halfway through Wimbledon, apparently. I say apparently as I have not had time to watch any, and there is just one thing worse than listening to tennis on the radio. What could be worse than listening to tennis on the radio where the commentator cannot keep pace with a rally and ends up being several shots behind what is actually happening. No, even worse than that is F1; Grand Prix. Which sounds like the commentator is trapped in a bucket with a thousand angry hornets as the cars whiz by. He could be making it up and sitting on his sofa commentating, but quite frankly, I don’t care.

And then tomorrow Le Tour begins. Now, I love the tour, not for the cycling but for the landscape the race passes through. But, I have no real desire to sit through three weeks of it.

And if that wasn’t enough, come the end of July, the Olympics starts, which, in case you missed it, is being held in London. Have you seen it on TV? It has been mentioned.

60163 "Tornado", The Cathedral Express 26th June 2012 at Dover

Now, I like the Olympics, but the fact we have been unable to get tickets for the cycling and swimming is annoying, but we are going to go to the Paralympics in September. Anyway, some of both Olympics might be on TV. And then the football season starts again; however, we no longer have Sky Sports, and I am already thinking of the books I can read whilst listening to the radio; or maybe we just go out instead. Full stop?

60163 "Tornado", The Cathedral Express 26th June 2012 at Dover

And football: yes, the Euros are still on, we have a final of Spain v Italy to look forward to after Spain beat Portugal by sending them to sleep by playing tippy tappy football for two hours, and Ronaldo deciding he wanted to score the winning penalty begged to take the 5th kick; but by the time his turn came around, Portugal were already out. And he cried. Or it could have been pomade from his hair, running. Italy beat Germany, and it could have been six rather than the single goal victory. But at least it kept us all awake.

Cinderella Beckham will not be going to the Olympic Games ball, or at least to play, as nasty Stuart Pierce (Ugly Sister) won’t pick him. Becks is distraught and told AP so in an expensive exclusive interview.

44932 "The Thanet Belle" at Shepherdswell, June 28th 2012

Anyway, back in the real (non-sporting) world.

Apart from spending Wednesday and Thursday, of course, I spent part of the evening watching football on TV, for details see above. Before hand, on both nights there were steam tours to go out and snap: on Tuesday, I went down to Dover Harbour to snap Tornado as she steamed through after coming through Canterbury on a trip from the west midlands. Anyway, the sunshine that had graced the day, was covered by sea mist, and the light down under the road bridge was very gloomy indeed, but the camera captured the scene well.

44932 "The Thanet Belle" at Shepherdswell, June 28th 2012

On Thursday, Tangmere was due to come through, and so I headed to Shepherdswell after work to see her; I got the times wrong and had just 20 minutes to get from home to the station, about a 20 minute drive away. See the problem?

I arrived with three minutes to spare, but these things are never on time are they? Well, yesterday it was a minute ahead of time, and I just had time to get onto the footbridge, get the cameras out and she was thundering towards us. Only it wasn’t Tangmere; it was a Black 5, still a fine sight at 75mph. I got my shots, and just like that she went under the bridge and into the tunnel beyond and was gone.

Poppies at Kingston

Afterwards my friend and I went hunting for fields of poppies. I had seen a fine looking field from the A2 on Sunday, and so we drove along to Barham, and turned off and headed along the narrow lanes, up through Kingston until we came to a gate in a hedge, and there were poppies.

Lots of poppies.

We snapped them from all angles and with all lenses and then headed back home.

Phew, rock and roll.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Monday 25th June 2012

"This is a healthy dose of reality for most England fans, brought up on the belief that England has always been the ebst as well as inventing the game. But years or under-investment in youth, and over reliance on expensive imports have meant a dearth of talent in the Premier League, and this day had been coming a long time, that most hadn’t seen it coming is a sad indightment on the FA and Premier League. Many of the so-called world’s best, or Golden Generation have had their international careers brought to an inglorious end, and rightly so. Failure of the basics like how to control the ball with one touch or be able to pass to each other being worse offences than tactics or who should or shouldn’t have played. That there are no real replacements in the pipeline means that the day when England might challenge for the World Cup is maybe a generation away, and only then if there is a sea change in attitudes, which lets be honest, isn’t going to happen any day soon."

Not written about last night's game, but words I wrote nearly two years ago after England crashed out of the World Cup to Germany. Sad to say not much has changed in the passing of those 24 months, just a lot of missed chances to make things better.

Or begin to.

And so the sporting weekend, right from 5 on Friday evening, was a build up to the final of the European Quarter Finals; England v Italy. Now, I know you only have my word for this, but my expectations were already low going into the competition; and even after coming top of the group, I did not think we were good enough to beat Italy.

Fields at Westcliffe

But, even I underestimated quite how bad England could get. Of course that depends if you’re a glass half full or half empty kind of person, but every statistic showed England very much second best. After a bright opening 15 minutes, England were chasing shadows for the rest of the game and into extra time. Andy Carroll came on and ran around to little effect; Wayne Rooney just looked uninterested. Again. Ashley Young and James Milner just didn’t show up and were awful. In the end, there has been no real change from the World Cup two years ago, and England lack the basic skills to be able to compete at a major tournament: the ability to pass or receive a ball, being able to keep position for more than 5 seconds. It was soul-destroying stuff in all honesty. And change will only come from a new generation of young players tought to love the ball rather than be frightened of it and need to get rid of it as soon as possible. And that kind of change will take ten to fifteen years at least, and the rest of football will have moved on even further by then.

Quite how it came to this, especially as the Premier League was supposed to make things better, not worse.

The only positive is to lose against Italy on penalties now, rather than be thumped by the Germans (again) in the semi-finals.


Low tide

Other than that, it was a typical June weekend; stormy with heavy rain in parts, and warm enough to sit in the garden of you kept hold of your reading matter. Saturday morning, we met our friends Matt and Darina at Bluebirds for breakfast. They have just given birth to their first child, who is a delight. How odd it is to see them with such a charge. Time moves on and we all get older and take on responsibilities. Their child is just two weeks old, but has a head of hair already, and Darina knows what each cry and whimper means. We had a full English to eat, and time enough to talk and catch up. From our window seat we could see the edge of the cliffs and the light playing over the surface of the Channel. It really is a wonderful spot for breakfast, even better as the breakfast is so good with properly sourced ingredients for maximum flavour.


Sunday the rain did fall. Hour after hour after hour. And our long-planned walk around Blean woods to visit the sites of the last armed uprising in Britain will have to wait another day. The clouds did clear enough to meet Frances and her new partner for a walk round Faversham in-between the showers. We ended up at the creek and went aboard a Thames barge that had been renovated. We went on board, looked round and came off again.

St John's Road

We ended up in the town centre, and watched a Morris team perform a clog dance or three, then as the clouds gathered for more rain we walked back to her house, then left to drive home for dinner and the football. The Creek

Oh yes, the football. One other item from last week, is that I have cancelled our, my, Sky Sports subscription, due to the cost, and I think we could put the money towards something else. We shall see how that decision feels come opening day of the new season, but I think it is right. We shall see.

And one positive item is that we have climbed back on the cross-trainer again, and so the work-outs have restarted. It’s a long road, but the first step is the hardest, and should get easier from now on. So, its good night from me….

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday 22nd June 2012

And so the increasingly long downward slope towards the weekend nears its end.

And this morning came the bad news that my employer will not be going forward to construct a production facility on Sheppy. This had been a huge plus point for us in the area, coming a few years after closing a blade factory on the IoW; but this comes as a reflection on the state of the European economy and the uncertainty that abounds. Inertia by governments over subsidies and policies has resulted in customers opting for safer, tested and trusted turbines.

Oh well.

This week has been great, otherwise, as we went to Folkestone to see Al Murray, the pub landlord, live on stage. Foolishly I had bought tickets right in the middle of the front row, which meant we would be in the firing line once he took the stage. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but as we drove to the show I began to regret it. Once he took to the stage, he shook a few people’s hands, including mine, and he shook hands so enthusiastically that he spilt a pint over us. And then he asked a few of us our names and what we did; once he moved onto Jools he corrected her to say that any woman working in an office is a secretary; I was finishing my pint as he said this, and spurted out beer from my mouth and nose as I laughed.


Apart from that, the football has continued, and been really much better than could be expected. England won their last group game against Ukraine, and so go forward to meet Italy on Sunday in the quarter-finals. Needless to say, despite still being unable to pass to each other, the red tops are now declaring it possible that Engerland can win the whole thing, which, is possible. I mean, Greece won it eight years ago; didn’t mean they were the best team in Europe, just won games. Of course, that’s what it does mean, not about playing the best or prettiest football, just winning games. And as a habit its not a bad one for Engerland to have acquired. How good it is to see an Engerland team playing with both a plan A and a plan B and being able to change between both in the same game.

more insect love

The brief flirting with summer has ended with more wind and rain sweeping across the country today and over the weekend; which does mean our planned trip back to Denge will have to be postponed to another weekend, or maybe to next spring as the season is coming to an end. We have a couple of things planned, but I will keep that under my hat to introduce some mystery into my blogging. At least in the sunshine, our garden is looking glorious with summer colour on show everywhere, and so I will illustrate this blog with some shots taken when the sun did shine.

Pimp my shell

Until next time…….

Monday, 18 June 2012

Monday 18th June 2012

We started the weekend with the countdown to the latest England game at the European Championship, which from now on I will refer to further as the ‘Euros.’ The Euros are different to the soon to collapse European Currency which is being kept on life support by the wise economic plan of ‘printing more money.’

But, I digress.

I went into the Euros having very low expectations for England, and the draw with France proved just one thing; that the manager knows his tactics, when he knows his team is not as good as the opposition, defend in depth and with discipline. Against Sweden, England had Andy Carrol playing up front, and he did score a fine headed goal. But other than that, the first half was pretty even, and then in the second half, England just left their concentration in the dressing room and were soon 2-1 down thanks to two particular pieces of dreadful defending. And then, Theo came on, swung his boot and scored a fluked deflected goal, and finally Danny Welbeck scored a stunning winner with the sole of his boot to win the game for England. For each goal I said the same thing: “Where did that come from?” as I could not see England scoring. Shows what I know.

Greater Butterfly Orchid, Platanthera chlorantha, Denge Woods, Bonsai Bank

So, instead of watching the final part of BBC4’s story of punk, we taped it to watch another day. Ah yes, punk. As it was 35 years since ‘God Save the Queen’ did, or did not hit number 1, what better time to reflect on what punk left us. And it was fun I have to say. Late, middle aged men, and women, talking about events that few attended, but many claimed to have been there. Events that few outside their circle felt and yet did change the way the record industry operated. How to form a band when you couldn’t play; how to release your own records and get someone else to sell then in a shop and sing about your, and the audience’s situation rather than about ‘love.

’ Thankfully, much film has survived, and it was good to see how punk began with its roots in the pub rock scene, how little difference there was from the raw R&B of Dr Feelgood to the anger of the Pistols. The only complaint was the rush through the second part which went from the first Damned, and punk, release to the end of the Pistols in 78. So much happened, and changed, that I feel some more could be said. But then the last part showed what happened after punk; post punk. And once again it was glorious stuff; Wire, Magazine, PIL, etc. What to do with Friday nights from now on? Oh year, football. At least for two more weeks…….

Lady Orchid, Orchis purpurea, Bonsai Bank, Denge Woods

Saturday morning, after a lazy breakfast of two pots of coffee and two huge croissants. Dunked into the coffee of course. And then we went out looking for trains.


We headed to Chartham to see a railrour pass through. Yes, more trains. This time it was not a steam tour, but two class 20s. Class 20s are nicknamed wardrobes for their boxiness, and it is well earned; but then it was the first time a tour hauled by them had been into Kent. So, there we both were along with three other photographers waiting on a bridge in a rainstorm. Well, it rained a bit, but the clouds were waiting to deposit more on us later.

Whitchurch to Canterbury Railtour June 16th 2012br />
After the 20 minute wait, the tour passed in what, 20 seconds? And then we got back into the car and headed to the woods. Denge Woods.

We were off to hunt for an even rarer butterfly than we saw last week. The Duke of Burgundy Fritillary is a tiny but incredibly rare UK butterfly, and is found in two locations deep in Denge Wood. I got directions to one of them, and so on Saturday afternoon we parked beside a very minor b road and after unpacking the camera, we set off along a track into the trees.

Gymnadenia conopsea - Chalk Fragrant-orchid

Sadly, the wind was blowing, and blowing hard enough to make the trees deep in the woods sway. And so the chances of seeing any butterflies would be remote, let alone see the DoB. However, once we got along the track, the floor of the woods were covered in orchids. There is nothing quite like an orchid, and to see so many is wonderful. The closer we looked, the more different varieties we saw. I guess it was six or seven, and I snapped at least four of them, if not five: Common Spotted, Lady, Greater Butterfly and a few Chalk Fragrant Orchids were scene. I know there were Pyramidal, and some white ones that may be another species again.

Wild Foxglove

We had got soaked walking along the path, but soon enough the sun came out and we dried off, and the sun shone down through the canopy of leaves. It was wonderful. I know that’s a word I use often, but something as simple of that can be enjoyable.

It was nearly six by the time we got home, time enough to make dinner and sit down to watch the football; the final round of group games in each group now take place at the same time thus freeing up two hours of each evening!

Sunday morning, and Jools had to go to Folkestone to take part in a charity run in aid of cancer research. I took her and two of her friends in the car, dropped them off and then headed up on the downs to look down over the Channel Tunnel and maybe see some more orchids and maybe an adder.

However, before then there was the mystery of the bird.

Or was it a mouse?

Well, we woke up to see the kittens looking at the cooker. So, they had brought in something and it had escaped, but what to do? Wait. I heard scratching, and a pointed nose with whiskers was looking for a way out via the back grille of the cooker.A mouse then?

Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

A few moments later it made a dash; it was a rat. And pissed off, squeaking for all its might. It ran back to the cooker. Ten minutes later, lots more squeaking from the utility room, and upon investigating I see two fascinated cats looking at a rat, on its back lets jumping and squeaking. I looked for a towel to throw over it, but it ran back to the cooker.

In the end, Jools left the back door open and it ran out; followed by Scully. We didn't see it again, but there was some intestine left by the dining room table later.

Bee Orchid

After parking the car and walking along the path, I saw more orchids. Not next to the path, but down on steep escarpments falling away down to the tunnel below. I saw several Been Orchids, and so I had to snap them, and climbed down a few metres, got onto my belly and took my shots. And it was worth it; by, was it worth it! I walked further round and saw more Pyramidals and Common Spotted, but what really took my eye was the view. I watched as the shadows from the clouds ran across the land and up to me, trains came and went to France below, and traffic roared up and down the motorway and into the tunnels into Round Hill. I sat down and watched the scene below for a while, until I saw a Eurostar come heading into view in the far distance, and then get ever closer before disappearing into the tunnel way below me.

Channel Tunnel

I went back to the car and went into the centre of town to wait for Jools and her friends to finish the run. And then we headed back to Dover and then to home.

We had decided to go back to Denge in the afternoon, but as it would have taken four hours out of the day, and so we chose to relax, and I spent the afternoon listening to Danny Baker and editing photographs; not a bad idea.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Wednesday 13th June 2012

And so we were home. Thursday morning we went shopping and Jools went to collect the cats. Soon enough things were back to normal in the house; although as before the cats were a little bit clingy after their stay in the country. Friday saw the start of the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine; but in a break with tradition, a reality check has swept over the nations, and up to Monday of this week I had seen just the three cars with flags of St George (made in China) flapping from their windows. Apparently, this has not gone down well with the players, who after their battling draw with France on Monday ‘proved the doubters wrong’ apparently. Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia) But I’m getting ahead of myself here, we have the weekend to deal with….. Saturday morning was bright and so after looking at some friends photos, I thought we should try to find some rare butterflies. Heath Fritillaries could be found in East Blean Woods near Canterbury. And so we set off in the car to look for ‘a butterfly’. We found the wood after consulting with a very large scale map, and after parking set out for a walk. The recent heavy rain had left the ground waterlogged, and we picked our way along the paths, following a route sign decorated with a butterfly. We couldn’t go wrong, could we? Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia) After over an hours walking, we had seen zero butterflies, not that it was unpleasant; the wood had a different feel than Kings Wood, as clearly much fewer folks come here. So the paths were overgrown, and the wood thicker. After a while we made our way back to the car, and we noticed some insect life in the bushes around the car park. Jools noticed a huge dragonfly, which we both snapped. We were still snapping away when another car pulled out and two photographers got out and we swapped bug news. He told us that the best spot for the Fritillaries was just 50 yards away and so we went off to investigate. Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia) At first we saw nothing, then, a flash of orange and there on a leaf, sunning itself was one. All around the foliage the ground had been flattened I guess by other photographers coming here, but the butterflies did not seem to mind, and we saw a few others, and we snapped them from all angles before we decided we had got enough. The Fritillaries are found in only a few locations, so we were very lucky to have seen and snapped them. However, I had an even rarer one in mind now, The Duke of Burgundy. This is only found in one place, deep in Denge Woods, and after consulting our map we set off.

Broad Bodied Chaser (female)

The wood must have been four times the size of East Blean, and the realisation struck that we could be walking around it for hours with no luck. So, we decided to head home for lunch and do some internet searches and come back another day.

We headed home for some creamy garlic cheese on crackers and a glass of beer. What could be better? An evening of football of course.

On Sunday we laid in bed until the cats suggested we might like to get up and feed them. On the last day of our holiday we were due to go to London to see the new film by Ridley Scott; I won’t call it an Alien prequel, but you know that’s how it was being billed. As the IMAX cinema is right beside Waterloo station, we thought we would take the normal train up to London and save some money rather than take the high speed service. It took an hour and 50 minutes to get to London, compared to 67 minutes on the high speed; but somehow took two hours to return, and the going was tortuous I have to say, when all we wanted to do was get back home.

Waterloo East

But between then was the film, which looked wonderful, and the film itself was stunning, in places. Sigh. Expectations must have been so high, that most have been something between slightly and greatly disappointed. I think it was worth going, it looked great in IMAX for sure.

And that was our week off; a trip to Yorkshire, a rare butterfly and a film sequel 33 years in the making. All in all not bad.

One other thing I have done this week is to cancel my Facebook account. This has come after some serious misgivings I have had for some time. After returning from holiday in Germany, the advertising down the side of the FB page were either in German or for businesses in Germany. And FB is collecting this data all the time, and in their terms of use they can use it however they want.

I also have found myself sending birthday greetings to people I have not met since 1982 or even earlier. Is this really how I want to spend my spare time? Would my life be any less if I decided not to do this stuff and lose contact with the contacts and friends I have met up with on FB in the past 5 years?

I have 14 days before my account disappears completely, but as each day passes I find myself missing it less and less. Actually finding the account cancellation page proved to be tricky; maybe I inputted the wrong words in the search box, maybe not. I sense they don’t ever want you to leave. But, I filled in the deletion box, clicked OK and….

A Google search did not find my FB account, so I guess it must have gone. And this becomes permanent in about 12 days time. I will miss many of the friends I have on there, but in truth I did not really interact with many of them, most I have not ‘spoken’ to in the last three months; heck, year probably. If any of my old FB friends read this, as you can see, it wasn’t personal, I just though, meh.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Friday 8th June 2012

Wednesday 6th June 2012

We woke up at dawn, or rather I did. I went downstairs, made a pot of coffee and turned on the radio to hear Radio 4 come on air. What followed was the shipping forecast; which was wonderfully detailed, but more so than I thought; as well as the main forecast there was the inshore waters forecast and the weather stations to go through too. Whilst I listened, I played clock patience, which for the first time I got out with the king being the last card turned over. Outside the fog swirled round the cottage, the farm cat was meowing again outside the door. The weather swung it; we would go home. The main reason was that the next two days gales and heavy rain was expected, and it would have meant either sitting inside or driving around in the rain. So, we packed up the car and at seven headed off into the mist for the long drive south.

The fog did clear by the time we got to York, and we did have second thoughts, but we pressed on and soon were speeding onto the A1.

The plan was to head south and to see how the weather would hold up and maybe stop off at Stamford after all. Not a bad plan, I think.

All Saints Road and Sheep Market, Stamford, Lincolnshire

In the end we got into Stamford just after nine, and after finding a place to park on the side of a side road, we set off to explore the town, which I could at least four church spires dominating the skyline. The town is uniformly built of sand-coloured stone; maybe sandstone? And is glorious. At some point in the past it was clearly a very rich town and liked to spend money on its buildings. Or rather the great and good did. Great and good? OK, rich.

Stamford, Lincolnshire

After entering and snapping at the first church, we headed up a side road and opposite a fine looking art-deco cinema was a medieval hospital, which is still open, although closed for visitors at half nine in the morning.

By now the sun was out and it was a glorious spring morning; we walked past a café and I thought a coffee would be a good idea. A brief look at the menu and scrambled egg and fresh salmon leapt off the page. So, we had (another) unplanned second breakfast, which was very nice indeed.


And back outside for a tour of two more churches before a look at my watch signalled that we should get back to the car and head south. The traffic never got to be a problem, and a listen to the travel news on the radio showed that there was no problems on the A14 and M11 and so we headed to Cambridge and then south again towards London and the M25.

The sun shone, we carried on driving at 70mph,and there was no hold-ups; we crossed over the Thames and into Kent and then back on the road home. We only stopped to buy some milk, and so just about three in the afternoon we arrived outside the house and the holiday was over.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Thursday 7th June 2012

Yorkshire June 2012

And so, Thursday evening rolled round.

It was holiday time.

However, things had not gone well that morning. We thought that rounding up the cats and taking them to the cattery would speed things up ands enable us to get away nice and early on Friday morning.

The cats had other ideas. When we go up Molly and scully were in, Mulder was not. I took Jools to work, came back and just Molly was in. It seems that Scully had worked out how to open the catflap even when it was locked. I waited for a while but decided to head to work and we would have to sort it out in the evening.

When we got back in the evening we had Molly and Mulder but no Scully. We did not know what to do. And then the flap went and Scully announced her appearance; we grabbed her and the other two, and packed them into the car and off to the cat hotel in the country.

After dinner we packed and got ready for our weekend; or operation avoid diamond jubilee as it should be known. Not that I have anything against her Maj, but the BBC and all other channels have been ramming it down our throats, and that was before the whole bloody weekend had begun.

Friday 1st June.

Up at five and the car packed, we headed off back up the M2 under the Thames and up the M11 to Cambridge, where we stopped for breakfast. And onwards and northwards and up the A1. Our plan to stop at Stamford and pause for photographs was put abandoned as the skies darkened and the rain fell. We pressed on through Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire and into Yorkshire.

And idea formed in my mind to go to Leeds. I thought it would be good to visit the Royal Armouries. We headed into LS1 along the old M1, headed into the city centre and found somewhere to park in a huge multi-story car park. Outside, it had almost stopped raining, but not quite. So we hurried across the square between huge modern buildings and through the sliding doors of another faceless building. But inside it has all the fiendish machines and methods man has dreamt of to deal with other men.

Hall of Steel

In all honesty, despite having worked with bombs and weapons for 15 years in the RAF, I am not in love with weapons; I know what they can do to other people, and I am appalled at the brutality that man can invent. No, I wanted to visit the Armouries because of the architecture. And its centrepiece was something called the Tower of Steel. A tower surrounded by a stairway, and inside thousands of weapons arranged in fantastic patterns. It is horribly glorious. Jools had been looking on the web and found a bead shop about a mile away; shall we try to find it? Yes we shall. With the phone leading the way we headed towards the centre of the city by going over a fine bridge over the Calder. Leaving me at the city’s civic church, Jools pressed on to find the shop. I went inside the church.

And what a church it was; despite being only Victorian, it is full of design and wonder, and clearly the parishioners and wardens are very proud of their building. I was shown round by Ann, the warden on duty, and she showed me the delights of the building, and told me to quickly snap the lady’s chapel as a service was about to take place. I went into the café for a coffee while I waited for Jools to come back. I remembered in the depth of my memory of the last time I visited the city, and the wonders I saw. Maybe we should go exploring…..

Leeds Kirkgate Market

Jools came back and told me a wonderful arcade she had seen; and I remembered the wonderful indoor market. We set off into the city…..

Near the outdoor market, we came across a barbers; I needed a trim, and checking that I didn’t need an appointment the middle eastern buy snipped away at my hair, and soon enough I felt half a stone lighter and much cooler.

We went into the indoor market, marvelling at its structure; it is a rival of Leadenhall Market in London, but this is still a vibrant, working market, packed with stalls, shops and people. Lots of people. We decided to back later for provisions for our week in the wilds of Yorkshire.

We found two fine Victorian shopping arcades, which we photographed its fine designs and roof. It was fantastic, it really was. And on top of this we had seen the roof of a large circular building, which we knew we had to go and investigate. The building was The Corn Exchange; and in the 21st century it housed shops and fine eateries. We were transfixed by the wonderful roof, supported, apparently, by itself. Whilst in the open basement, a fine looking restaurant could be seen. We were hungry, so we went down nad ended up having a salad and a beer.

Piazza by Anthony, Corn Exchange, Leeds

Calling back at the market we bought some fruit and salad stuff and then headed back over the river to the car. I guessed that we had about an hour to travel to go past York and then onto Pickering. Thankfully to accompany us on our trip was Mark Kermode giving us his very own personal review of the new film by Ridley Scott, Prometheus, which we are going to London to see in IMAX on the 10th.

We reached Pickering at just gone four, and it is about 15 minutes to the cottage, first up the main road to Whitby and then turning off and heading down into a valley and up the other side to Levisham. After unpacking and having a brew; we headed over the neighbouring pub for dinner and a couple of pints of local ale.

It was the end of a wonderfully long but full day.

Saturday 2nd June 2012.

We awoke nice and early, but lay in bed listening to the birds singing outside. Such is a simple pleasure for those on holiday. We got up, had breakfast and headed to Pickering as we had a train to catch. Leaving from Pickering heading along long valleys is the North Yorkshire Moors railway, and we wanted to beat the crowds to head to Whitby. We managed to get into town in time, find a place to park the car, buy our tockets and get a seat with 5 minutes to spare. Right on time, the vintage class 24 diesel locomotive took us out of the station. It is s fine line, with wonderful views up the valley sides. The trains stop at a few stations, including Gothland, which has been used as the station in TV series ‘Heartbeat’ and also is the station at Hogsmead in the Harry Potter films. As you can imagine it is quite a tourist destination, so we stayed on the train.


We had to change at Grosmont, and wait for the next train to take us to the seaside. We had a bacon butty in the station buffet and watched the steam locomotives moving around the station. It was a fine way to spend the morning. At ten past eleven we caught the train to the coast, and on to Whitby. After the fine weekend we had last weekend, it has been a very great shock to have temperatures hovering around the ten degree mark, and as I have brought no coat or jumper, it means I am quite cold. It was too cold to head up to the Abbey, or go along the beach, so we headed into a chippy to have lunch whilst the light drizzle swept around the town.

We had cod and chips, fresh from the fryer and the fish was wonderfully white showing how fresh it was. Its why there are so many fish and chip shops in the town. We walked around the town and visited a couple of churches, inside one was an arts and crafts fair, and I managed to buy a vinyl record; I always find something worth buying. Hmmmmmm. It was so cold, there was little else to do that head back to the station, via a pub for a pint, to catch the two o’clock train back to Pickering. The train pulled in and there was a scramble for seats, and once again the engine’s whistle sounded, and we headed back out of the town and back onto the moors.

75029 "The Green Knight"

Back in Pickering, we buy some more provisions and then headed back to the cottage for tea and for me to watch the last England game before the European Championships begin on June the 8th. It was a dull game and I barely kept awake. Other football news over the past few days is earth-shattering stuff for Norwich fans; Paul Lambert has resigned as Norwich manager and has been appointed boss of Aston Villa. And on top of that, Grant Holt has stated he also wants to leave as well. Who knows what all this is going to mean…….

Sunday 3rd June 2012.

Today is the day of the great flotilla in London. A thousand small boats will accompany the Queens in her new gilded barge down the Thames. We try to avoid all mention of it by heading out into the June morning.

We drive up onto the moors and then to Goathland to look for a place to snap the steam tains heading along the railway into the village. And then we head to Whitby and along the coast road towards Scarborough. However, the traffic is heavy, and we turn off after spotting a National Trust sign. We end up at place called Ravenscar, which offers fine views along the coast to Robin Hood’s Bay and down to Scarborough in the opposite direction. We walked along the bed of an old railway; and what a fine railway that would be if it were still running today, with fine views over the sea to Robin Hoods Bay. But not anymore, just walkers get to see the view, and explore the old brick and alum works that now lay abandoned next to the line.

After walking for an hour or so, we turn back and end up having tea and a wad in the café that now caters for the walkers and the lost who venture onto the old trackbed. We head back to the main road, and turn up along the road to Whitby, but turn off to take a short cut to the Pickering road. We end up parked up parked up near to Goathland waiting for passing steam trains to pass by. I wanted to get a shot of the 9F steaming by, but after an hour two steam locomotives passed by; but no 9F.


We head to a local bar and end up ordering a roast beef dinner, and follow that up the rhubarb crumble and fresh custard. Needless to say it was rather wonderful. After finishing up we head back down to our vantage point to wait the next trains to pass by; and next up was the 9F, steaming out of Goathland station sending up huge plumes of smoke and steam into the Yorkshire sky.

It was a fine sight, and with that we turned for home. Or the cottage. We turned on the TV to see heavy rain falling down onto the crowds standing beside the River Thames, watching the flotilla passing by. The crowds and Royals look resolute, but it looks a typical British affair; a thousand craft looking like a dozen, and the ran hammering down with the climax, flypast cancelled and fireworks on tower bridge just about lost in the rain.

Monday 4th June 2012

And so, Bank Holiday Monday. And in a break with tradition, the sun was due to shine.

We go up and after a good cup of coffee we set out in the car to head to the coast once more and make it all the way to Scarborough this time. We stopped off that The Hole of Horcum, to get views over the top of the moors, but the clouds grew thick and the colours were muted. We goon to the main coast road and then head down the road, twisting and turning stuck behind a train of lorries struggling with the steep hills and sharp bends.


Once in Scarborough, we drive to the town centre, find a place to park and set out to explore the town. And at once the heavens opened and so we seek shelter in a café, and have a huge cup of coffee and a Panini.

And once the rain had stopped we set off in search of the footprints of Michael Portillo. Again. As he has been to Scarborough, he visited the Grand hotel, and it was a place I wanted to see. Down an alleyway, and a square opened out, and there it was, just perched on the edge of the cliff. We would have gone inside, but we had just eaten and it was too early for a beer, so we walked along the cliffs to the Spa.


We had to dodge another shower, but it passed quickly, but found the spa, which from a distance looked wonderfully ornate, up close had the charm of a railway station.

Oh well.

We walked along the prom to where the ‘golden mile’ began. The sun shone and the sky and castle on the headland above was reflected in the wet sand. As it was still early, crowds were light, but even still we thought we would head up the narrow lanes to the church which sheltered just below the castle battlements.

Thankfully, the climb was worth it, and we were greeted warmly once again by a warden. Once I had snapped it, we headed down to the harbour and then along the crowded prom, and up the cliffs via a funicular railway. We went inside the hotel, but found it to be looking quite down at heel, but still looking glamorous from a distance, like a 50s film star.

We headed back to the car, via a little café in an alleyway, and I had a scone with all the cream and jam trimmings, and Jools had a slice of lemon meringue pie.

And so we headed back to the car and then back along the coast road to Whitby and back over the moors to the cottage. We spent the final couple of hours of the afternoon sitting on Levisham station waiting for steam trains to pass so we could photograph them, and inbetween eating ice creams.

Not a bad day all in all.

Tuesday 5th June 2012

So, why are we here in Yorkshire this week? Well, it is because at the national Railway Museum the is/was an event called Railfest. Once a decade a collection/selection of locomotives and rolling stock are gathered in one place and folks come to look at them.

And I had purchased very expensive photographer’s tickets which enabled me and other likewise freaky train-obsessed photographers the chance to get in before the public and snap to our heart’s delight.

And that is why the alarm went off at five in the morning, and after a cuppa a bowl of cereal we set off for York, some 25 miles away. As soon as we left the village, a doe jumped out of the hedgerow and seeing us in the car sprung back into the undergrowth. And all along the road to York we saw all kinds of wildlife not used to seeing cars so early in the morning.

We found a place to park in the city centre, and I walked to the rail museum, and I guess I was about tenth in the queue to get in at seven. In the morning. Those of us waiting, chatted about what we would see, and what we would not. And at five to seven, we were given our wristband and allowed to go in.

60163 Tornado

It became clear there were no rules and we could climb onto the tracks and get really close to the locomotives. Trains from all eras; dating back to the mid-19th century and right up to the latest high speed trains. And all there for us to photograph and pour over. As there were less than 400of us, it didn’t get too crowded, and it really was enjoyable. But, still, the cost of the ticket was eye-watering, but as a once in a decade event it was a good thing to do.

1472/4472/502/103/60103 A3 'Flying Scotsman'

I headed to York Railway station to grab a second breakfast and a huge cup of coffee, I took my food and drink to a table that overlooked the grand, curving platform and roof of the station. It was rather nice I have to say. And then at half nice, after Jools had come and joined me, we went down to platform 5 to see a newly named locomotive arrive. It had been named at Railfest on Friday after the battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and I had been told of its arrival hauling its first passenger train whilst waiting in the queue that morning.

We walked back to the car and drove out of city before traffic got heavy and were soon zooming through the Yorkshire landscape heading back towards the moors. Except we had another plan. And that plan involved a large house and some photographs.

Castle Howard is famous for being where two adaptations of Brideshead Revisited were filmed, and the house is spectacular and set in glorious landscaped grounds. I have always wanted to visit it, and as we would arrive soon after opening we thought it would be a great way to spend the rest of the day.

Castle Howard

We pulled up and found that at £13 for entry to the house and gardens wasn’t bad, and we went in. Well, it was worth going, the grounds had few folks in, and I snapped away at the house, and foral gardens with fountain. We headed to the lake which was line with huge rhododendron bushes, all of which were in bloom. We must have spent an hour visiting each of them, snapping and smelling rhe blooms.

And above us the skies darkened, and it looked like the rain forecast was about to fall. We went into the house and did the tour, but photography was allowed and I filled my boots with lots of shots, many of which came out well. Words fail me how grand the grand hall was, all painted arches and columns.

Wonderful stuff.

Anyway, it was now lunchtime and thoughts turned to food, and instead of being ripped off inside the house, we decided to leave and see where the road would take us. We ended up in a country pub and ordered some bar snacks; a baguette for me and a burger for Jools and it ended up being enough for a main meal. I washed mine down with ale brewed at the pub, and very good it was too.

And with tired feet and heads, we decided to head back to the cottage to chillax and for me to review the shots I had taken. And so the day passed into evening, as we tried to avoid all mention of the words ‘jubilee’ and ‘diamond’. I think we did it. However, news reports still taking place outside Buck House took place with a veil of rain in the background.

So it goes, so it goes.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Thursday 31st May 2012

Thankfully, the sunny weather continued into the new week. Although sitting inside a non-air-conditioned office, looking at the sun beating down outside is never easy. So, to make the most of the sun, we decided to head back up the Elham Valley in the evening to snap the orchids again. This is because last week the spears were not quite out, so a return visit was required, as we’re not going to be around for the next week!

So, after work, I head to B&Q to pick Jools up, we feed the cats then go to pick up Gary from his gaff and head off towards Folkestone. The light wasn’t perfect, the radio was burbling about heavy thunder showers in the north of the county, and certainly the skies looked anything but blue; but in the end it did not rain at all, and we had sunshine for most of the evening.

Finding the meadow was now easy as it was the third time we had been here; and after parking the car we headed up the down towards where we hoped the orchids would be.

At first we saw nothing, but then hints of pinks and purples could be seen, and in time we could see there were dozens of Monkey Orchids, all looking wonderfully delicate. We spread out to snap them. After a while I went to inspect the next field as we had been told there would be Musk Orchids growing there. Although there was none of those, there were dozens, if not hundreds of Monkeys all over the hill. I snapped more and more. Until, and lets just whisper this, there was no point in snapping any more as I had nearly 300 shots of just orchids.

Monkey Orchid, Orchis simia

We headed back home to look at our shots and for Gary and I, to edit them and upload to Flickr.

The next morning I got to work from home as we had a heating engineer coming round to certify the system for the year; I got up as normal and was walking down the stairs when the next thing I knew was that I was flying through the air, then landing on my arse and bouncing down every step until I got to ground level. I got up and waiting for the pain to travel to my brain.

It took some time.

By gosh that smarted. Just sitting down was painful, and my half-hearted intentions to go back on the cross-trainer were out of the window. I now had a fair sized bruise, and its done no good for my bad back either.

And that really is about it for this week. Well, apart from the great cat roundup this morning. We are going away in the morning, and rather leave getting them to the cattery until the last minute, we thought we would do it a day early. Only the cats are way too clever.

Jools got up and Molly and Scully were in. We set the flap up so only cats could get in. Or so we thought. I took Jools to work, came back fully intent on getting the mogs to Denton. And I could find just Molly. Bugger.

I made a cup of tea and waited. And waited. In the end I had to go to work and we hoped to round them up in the evening.