Sunday, 27 February 2011

Creeping Bentgrass at Catforth, 5 March 2011

I'm told there are still a few tickets left for our show at Catforth Village Hall on Saturday 5 March 2011.

Starting at 7:30pm through until 11:30pm the night is advertised as a "dance nite" and the admission fee of £10 includes a hot pot supper.

More details about the event available by following the link, including contact details of the organisers for tickets etc.

You can find a map here.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Black and White, Sepia and Just a Dab of Dulux on a Postcard

Here's another of the postcards I bought last week at the antiques place.

This was posted from Southend-on-Sea on 21 August 1939 and shows the bright lights of that seaside town before they were extinguished a short while later for the war time blackout.

This started out as an ordinary black and white photograph, taken in daylight. Then the sky area was masked over whilst it was printed, then the mask moved to allow a dark sky to be exposed onto the paper. Before that happened a small disc (possibly a coin on the original enlargement) was placed on the paper which has remained white under it to act as the moon.

Then the finished print was sepia coloured for the brown effect of the sky and foreground detail before certain bits were treated to an artist's touch to add the yellow red and blue highlights. The sea was given a blue wash which proved too tricky to bother about having anything other than blue lights on the pier and seafront to the right of the photo! A clear bit was added for the moon to "reflect upon". A bit of green paint was literally scribbled over the dark garden area to the right of the pier boardwalk and there we have the final result - Valentine's post card G.5936 (this is a real photograph).

It was sent to the Blades family in Retford, Nottingham with the message almost all as one sentence:

Southend. Having the day here today been lovely but had a thunderstorm this afternoon there's Percy and Mrs J. and J here. Cheerio Molly xxx

Saturday, 19 February 2011

On the Wireless...

This morning we were the studio band for Preston FM's Saturday Brunch, a light-hearted music and chat magazine-style radio programme.

We had an absolute ball, the programme had some great guests including Neil Thomson from Blackpool's Grand Theatre and Henry Metcalfe, currently playing Jacob in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Preston's Charter Theatre.

We got to play seven songs with a range of different styles from Gypsy Woman (Country) through Irish (Fields of Athenry) to 60s folk (The Boxer), through the 1950s and 60s with Billy Fury, Buddy Holly and Creedence Clearwater Revival and we finished the show with a rock and roll self-indulgence - Johnny B Goode!

A little added pressure was provided with the presence of the organisers of a local Battle of the Bands! Here were two guys well into their music. Luckily they seemed satisfied with what they saw and heard! Well at least they didn't laugh!

Our thanks to the show's presenter, Mark Howard (runs a marathon during the show to take the mic to different people around the tables) and the really laid-back "techie" Richard, patiently keeping his hand in the air counting down the time until Mark looked up to see it!

We loved it! I keep trying to scrape the smile off my face, but it's stuck...

Friday, 18 February 2011

Irritable? Downright Grumpy Bowel...

It's been something of a trying week...

At some point on Sunday I became aware of a twinge, a soreness low down in the abdomen. Admittedly we had been out for a meal on Saturday night which was mega in proportions and most enjoyable. But the soreness turned to pains and didn't stop.

By Tuesday I was thinking fondly of starting to whimper quietly and got myself down to the doctor who took a sample ("Ooh, your sugar's sky high!") and my temperature ("Oh, look at that! You're quite poorly!") and felt my stomach and abdomen ("Yeowwww!" - no, that was me...)

So my bowel was diagnosed as the culprit and I've been taking some rather sensationally sized pills and capsules since then.

... For your amusement I attach a scan showing my normal-sized capsules for the blood pressure and two of the socking pills they've given me for this... I ask you - does it even look humane?!? The first attempt wasn't too sucessful but at least I've managed to get used to the horrendous size of the tablets and so far the score is - down the gullet: 23 and halfway down the gullet and back to disappear down the sink: 1 - a clear victory I think...

The Ladies-Over-The-Water asked whether the doctor had diagnosed diverticulitis?

I can't recall the Doc saying diverticulitis - I thought she was saying she had to divert her gaze because of how cute I was...? Or was it something about divers being ticklish? No actually I can't remember her saying anything like that - it was more the description than any name and I was somewhat diverted anyway as the prodding really made me wince... I did sort of lock eyes with her in a fixed gaze but then when I started breathing again I was able to look away and begin to hear again. It is definitely not that bad today! But it wasn't that bad the other day until she tried to make her fingers disappear in an abdominal hole of her own making...

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A Line of Curiosities

I'm soon going to have to move onto something else. The black and white negatives I took in 1981 are almost inexhaustible! I'm into October now (but have been for a while) and whilst there's some good memories to be had there, I need to start seeing things in colour again for a bit!

Taken 21 October 1981 - but all still there for the taking in colour - in the Lancashire town of Poulton-le-Fylde, near Blackpool, there is an extraordinary line of old and curious things all with stories to tell of bygone ways of life.

The stocks were a cheap method of punishment where miscreants and law breakers were pinioned by the legs on market days where they could be pelted with rotten vegetables (or rocks, depending on how vindictive you were feeling).

At least in the stocks you could defend your face with your arms. The pillory, which pinioned arms and head was a much harsher punishment, not in itself but in the damage caused by missiles!

The market cross behind the stocks is set on a Jacobean pillar mounted upon steps.

The stone table affair behind the market cross is the "fish-stones", where bartering for goods took place.

Behind those is a whipping post where people were publicly flogged. We talk of poverty these days forgetting that people throughout history in this country knew that if a harvest failed then they were likely to starve to death. Stealing food was a serious crime in such times. People were as likely to be deported to Australia or hanged as they were to be flogged for stealing a loaf of bread. Deportation meant being chained in a crowded ship's hold for months on end, sitting, sleeping in your own and everyone else's filth and amongst those who had died on the way. Happy times...

Luckily for the crims, Human Rights ensures that these days it's only the innocent who have to suffer...

In 1981 the village centre was still open to traffic. This road was later returned to a cobbled surface and pedestrianised. Once we get some sunshine again I will go and retake these in colour!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Lincoln at Night

On Tuesday night I arrived in Lincoln, prior to running some Project Management training at the university. After checking into the hotel I needed to stretch my legs and found a large shopping mall opposite the hotel.

Whilst most of the shops were already closed and others were in the midst of closing, I did see this excellent view of the cathedral from a bridge over a river, which I later found to be the River Witham.

I'd left the camera in the hotel and mentally kicked myself. Dodging into a Costa, I decided during the course of a small latte that it was too good a view not to record and after the coffee walked back to the hotel, returning with the camera.

The superb dark blue sky had gone black of course by the time I got back, but even so, it was worth the taking I think! I hope you agree!

Large version of the photo: Lincoln cathedral

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Star Wars - The Weather Strikes Back

Saturday 10 October 1981. Blackpool was experiencing some rather heavy gales. And that means hefty! Mostly when the weather forecasters say "There will be 70mph winds" Blackpool folks say "Yeah? So...?"

The second (now the 5th) Star Wars episode - The Empire Strikes Back - had just been released and the Illuminations featured a fabulous full-sized X-Wing fighter along with a fairly decent R2D2 and a downright dubious C3PO!

The wind had broken the fighter craft in two and had also torn a laser gun from one of the wings.

Because the film had just been released this was newsworthy stuff. There would be no daily papers the following day as it was Sunday and so, like the prepared boy scout that I never was, I found the number of the news desk at the News of the World and told them what had happened and that I'd got some pictures if they wanted to buy them.

I could sense a definite interest and as the chap was about to tell me the local address to take the film I heard a commotion in the background and then he said in a shocked, excited voice "Sorry lad, we've got our front page spread now - a bomb's gone off..." The phone immediately went down.

The IRA had exploded a bomb in Ebury Bridge Road next to Chelsea Barracks. Two people died and 39 others were injured. I may have been the first person outside London to hear of it.

Large versions of the photos: top photo, bottom photo

There are also two more photos of this event at Flickr.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Pleasure Beach at Night

Taken during October 1981 here are a few photos of Blackpool Pleasure Beach at night.

This shows one of the very early rides of the Pleasure Beach and certainly the oldest still in existence, the Hiram Maxim Flying Machine.

Maxim was interested in flight which was in its infancy at the time and he built several of these machines which must have given thousands of people their first experience of what it must be like to fly in an aeroplane. As it spins, centrifugal force lifts the gondolas outwards from the base.

It has recently been announced that the Magic Mountain ride is to be demolished to make space for a more modern attraction. A fairy grotto dark ride, it was built on the southern half of the Pleasure Beach at a time when this space was reserved for children's rides.

I rode this myself as a young child in the 1950s and used to love watching the "robot", an animated mannekin figure that "played" an organ console at the front of the ride. It's visible on the photo but you'll see it better on the full sized photo at Flickr - see links below. The ride dates from 1934 but sadly 76 years is all it will get.

And from the older rides to one that was bang up to date when the photo was taken. The Revolution was Britain's first looping roller coaster. It was (and is) a short track. Riders climb to the starting point on a level with the top of the loop and the ride goes down a dip, around the loop and up the other side then repeats the journey backwards. In order to have the power to climb as high as the starting point there is a catapult mechanism at either end to give it a boost.

Large versions of the photos: Flying Machine, Magic Mountain, Revolution

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Garstang Festival 2011

This year we have been booked for 3 days at the Garstang Arts & Music Festival.

You'll be able to see us on Saturday 20 August, Saturday 27 August and Bank Holiday Monday 29 August. For a preview of what you can expect here's a video of two old geezers playing Concrete and Clay at the 2010 festival!

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