Sunday, 25 September 2011

Fireworks and Street Lights

We'd been saying for weeks that we'd like to go to see the fireworks on a Friday night in Blackpool.

For three weeks they have been holding heats of a World Championship. This weekend saw the last of the the heats and the fireworks were created and displayed by an Australian team.

The North Pier was usd as a base which meant that you could watch from anywhere between the Central Pier and North Promenade stretching off towards Gynn Square. We found a spot between the North Pier and the Metropole Hotel and, along with a few thousand others enjoyed a spectacular display.

The finale was absolutely brilliant. A section of sky above the pier was just totally criss-crossed with white streaks as a score of bursting lights overlaid each other.

We had parked the car behind the old Post Office and set off to walk back up Birley Street with its new light and sound system.

Now why would a street need a sound and light system, I hear you say. Indeed I do know someone who lives in a flat above one of the many shops and he absolutely hates it...

But the effect of these massive archway gantries with their projection systems floating circular designs of colour up and down the street is spectacular.

Birley Street comes out onto Abingdon Street, opposite the Yorkshire Bank on the corner of St John's Square.

Which open space we see in this view, looking back down towards the coast. Blackpool Tower's new light show is currently confined to the tower top but is very good, ever-changing colours and swirling designs. The legs of the Tower are still being painted but apparently the light show will extend up and down them once the work is complete. I suspect it will be worth waiting for.

Also we can see the dome of the Winter Gardens. This hasn't been seen at night for many years, but the recent refurbishment opened up the ceiling of the foyer so you can look up to the dome and it means that at night the light escapes that way and it looks wonderful!

A new Pizza Express has opened on the site of the Next shop on the corner - we had our tea there at the beginning of the night and weren't disappointed.

Now, though, we have to cope with several thousand people returning to cars and dealing with Blackpool's one-way system, which funnels everywhere in the town centre to a very limited number of exit routes! An hour after setting off, we managed to escape the town centre to drop David and Miss Jeannie off at home!

Large versions of the photos can be found with many more in the Blackpool at Night set at my Flickr account.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Tigger R.I.P.

A sad week. On Monday after a period of looking and acting a bit off Tigger, our female cat seemed to be having problems standing up.

We took her into the vet and they kept her overnight on a drip and for blood tests.

I had to go to Newcastle for 3 days but in one of those did it happen for a reason things I started off with a cold on the first night and shrugged it off for a day but then was feeling absolutely wretched on the second night and when I woke up on Thursday morning. So I came home on an early train and Fran said the vet wanted to see us that night.

Tigger still hadn't eaten and although she had fluids from the drip she was very poorly. The blood tests showed her liver was the problem and if she wouldn't eat she was not going to improve.

The vet felt she may eat at home, but wanted her back in the morning for more medication. We took her home but she was in a state. Normally after a trip to the vets she can't wait to get out of the travel cage, but she would not budge out of it, nor would she eat or drink or do anything other than a faint acknowledgement that she was back with us.

Jess, her brother, took one look and sniff and ran.

Taking her out of the cage was a shock. Her feet folded under her and she struggled to rise, only to crawl straight back into the cage.

In the morning the options were to try a feeding tube for a couple of days but then if she didn't eat after that, there would be nothing else to try and it sounded intrusive and we felt after so long that we didn't want to put her through forced feeding.

So yesterday was a very sad day and we are worried about Jess who, unlike Tigger, has never since a kitten particularly sought out our company except for food and a bedtime stroke, but who loved to cuddle up with her for hours. He's now trying to find hiding places where she hasn't been and we just need to give him time and hope he grieves and then comes round.

We'll miss our Tiggie-poos, she was a beautiful and loving cat right from being a kitten in 2002.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sand Yacht Racing at St Annes

I've got up to September 1982 in my scanning of my old black and white negatives.

This week I came across a number of photos that I took for an article for Lancashire Magazine in 1982 of the sand yachts on the beach at St Annes on Sea.

This is a huge expanse of sand, open to the Irish Sea although the tide here never comes close to the edge of the beach.

As such this is a very windy place! There are huge sand hills here, dunes that are held back by star grass - at one time there was a local law that families had to plant so much star grass every year to keep the sand from swamping the villages along the coast. Even now you regularly find huge piles of sand as far back from the "front" as the main road from Lytham towards Blackpool and Starr Gate.

This wind is what makes the sport of sand yachting possible.

In the September of 1982, there was a brand spanking new Coastguard Station on the front at St Annes and it's from around here that the sand yachts congregated and went off on their zig-zag courses out on the flat sands.

The Fylde International Sand Yacht Club was formed in 1951 and hosted several large national and international competitions at St Annes.

In 1953 Richard Denning and a number of friends broke the British and World speed records here on the beach in their yacht Coronation Mk II. Unconfirmed speeds of over 70mph had been achieved - and here I'm looking back at my notes of 1982.

However thare has been no sand yachting at St Annes since a blanket ban in 2002 after a racing yacht struck a member of the public, killing her as she walked with her two sons in 1982. The pilot of the sand yacht was cleared of manslaughter but the ban has been in place ever since.

Currently a three month trial of sand yachting is coming to a close with close scrutiny on public safety and the effects on local and visiting wild life, particularly the various bird populations.

Large verions of the photos: racing yachts, coastguard station, lone yacht, stationary yachts

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Legend of the Dun Cow's Rib

In Whittingham near Preston is an old farmhouse with a rather strange object over the door.

It is the decaying remains of a cow's rib bone.

The legend that goes with it states that in the 17th century there was a great drought. So that neighbours would not die from lack of water, a farmer sent his great dun cow to roam about so that villagers could milk her at will.

However the local witch milked her into a sieve, which never filled up and so the cow was milked to death. It's likely isn't it? You can see just how it must have happened...!

Anyway, the cow's rib was taken and mounted over the door of the farm and if ever owners were tempted to throw it away, they were plagued by poltergeist activity until the rib was reinstated over the doorway.

Here's a photo from 1982, there was a bit more rib still in existence then, but still far less than the the brackets were made for!

Strangely the legend doesn't name the witch. The famous witch around the villages in this part of Lancashire was Meg Shelton, whose grave can be seen to this day, covered by an enormous stone to stop her rising from the grave.

That... will be for another day!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Club and Pub Weekend

Creeping Bentgrass were out and about this weekend.

We started on Friday night at the Longshaw Sports & Social Club in Blackburn. This was a charity night in aid of the Mayor's charities.

An upstairs function room, a stage and some rather hot stage lights! The crowd set the standard for the weekend, crowding onto the dance floor early on in the proceedings!

Then on Saturday night we played for a 70th birthday party (that's two of those in a week!) out at the Chetham Arms, Chapeltown. Again the guests made a beeline for the dance floor early in the night and a good time was had by all.

Our appreciation and thanks to those who booked us, particularly for the very kind compliments and feedback and today has been a nice, relaxing day which didn't start until long after normal get-up time...!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Photography in the Lakes

Now I can't remember the exact date, but this is the tale of a day in the Lake District in August 1982.

This particular day started up at Penrith where we visited the castle. I was freelancing photos to magazines at the time.

This was before the days of expensive colour appearing in magazines and freelancing meant shooting black and white film then printing up 10x8 inch prints and sending them off in batches after very very careful analysis of the type of shots magazines used - eg mainly portrait or landscape, with or without people, what was the main content topic etc. No good trying to be different and expecting editors to say "Blimey - why haven't we tried this before?!?"

Anyway this was published a few times, mainly in a magazine called Lakescene - What to do in Lakeland who published it twice with a couple of years in between. Wandering around the castle in the photo and very chuffed at being published in a magazine are Miss Franny and Gill, our daughter and my Mum and Dad.

From Penrith we drove to Eamont Bridge where there are a couple of large henge earthworks and then down Ullswater, stopping wherever I saw a chance for a saleable photo.

We doubled back up to Keswick after Ullswater to have a look at Derwent Water, arriving at the same time as two coach-loads the vast majority of whom, to my relief, boarded a couple of waiting boats and got out of our way! Lakescene liked to show photos of people enjoying the Lakes in traditional ways which meant I had a better chance of a sale if they were dressed for hiking not riding round in luxury coaches!

Ah... that's better! This is the Friar's Crag walk. It gives some lovely views of the lake and was a favourite walk of poet, artist and social reformer, John Ruskin, to whom there is a chunk of Lakeland stone set upright and carved with a few details.

My photo of the memorial has been published a few times also - nothing remarkable about it other than it's relevance for any article about Ruskin or this bit of Cumbria!

From Keswick we set off towards home, but stopped for a short diversion to Elterwater, a peaceful somewhat quieter and less visited lake than some of the others so that I could take photos, not only of the lake, but of the waterfall that can be found a few minutes walk away.

This is Skelwith Force, the word "force" being the local term for a waterfall. It's not a huge drop but a fair amount of water pours over the edge and it's well worth a visit. The amount of water makes it very noisy and some people when they hear it on the approach assume it's going to be much bigger than it really is. Wear some good shoes, this isn't the place to go in flip-flops...

The day yielded a good crop of photos that got published at one time or another, though it took some of them several years to achieve it! Once I started working in Education it didn't leave me much time for blacking out the bathroom and getting the photo enlarger out so my freelancing came to a stop at that point. However a cheque for one photo came through the post one day in the 1990s - some ten years after I had sent it off to a magazine! I'd never even seen it published as payment always followed a couple of months after the publication!

Large versions of the photos: Penrith Castle, coaches, hikers, Elterwater, Skelwith Force

Also here's a link to the set of all my Lake District photos so you can see others from the day and other visits if you so desire!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Fabulous Time at the Party

What a wonderful fabulous time we had last night!

We were out at Garstang Golf Club for a 70th birthday party, playing a country and western set before the guests had a meal and then playing for dancing later on.

The lady wife of the birthday boy had done a lot of preparation for the event - there were games, competitions and a lot of fun and once the meal was over the dance floor filled up and we had a ball.

It's always very nice when bar staff tell us we are the best band they've ever heard and I have to say, the bar staff last night showed some excellent taste...

Huge thank yous to all concerned!

Check out the Creeping Bentgrass YouTube channel for samples of our work!

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