Monday, 31 October 2011

Jubilee Gardens, The Gynn, Blackpool

Late on Sunday afternoon the storm clouds broke for a moment and the sun actually came out. I pushed my way through the throngs of people staring and pointing at it, wondering what it was...

I went down to the Gynn on the seafront to think about some photos I need to take for a project. The Jubilee Gardens just to the north of the Gynn have been there for a long time, but have only been called the Jubilee Gardens since the Queen's Jubilee a few years ago. It previously was known as the Sunken Gardens.

There's a new toilet block and sub station that does just that - blocks the view of the garden's entrance.

I fancied a shot with the iron name plate in it but with my back to the building I was still far too close. I could only get this shot by putting the camera on a tripod, setting the self-timer and then hoisting the tripod up in the air so the camera was around 15 feet off the ground. I knew it would take more than one shot before I got it right but was quite gratified to be able to report that this is shot No.2!

Large version of the photo: from Flickr

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Glasson Dock

Back in 1982 a regular ride out was to the tiny port of Glasson Dock.

Getting up the River Lune to the docks at Lancaster was extremely difficult due to the low water in the river. A dock had been built at Sunderland Point on the north side of the river in the early 1700s, but it was decided that a dock should be built on the opposite bank at Glasson.

A pier was built in 1782, but the wall bulged so badly that it had to be rebuilt a year later at which time a second wall was built so that gates could be fitted to retain enough water at high tide to float up to 25 ships within the sea dock.

The sea lock was only opened for 45 minutes up to high tide and from that point ships had only about an hour to clear the river before the water drained so low by the tide that they would be in danger of bottoming.

When the Lancaster canal was built a branch was constructed to join with the sea dock via another set of locks. These were wide enough to let small ships through from the sea onto the canal to transport goods north or south along the canal.

The tiny watchman's building with its lookout tower was built in 1836. A large marina - the canal basin - is large enough to moor over 200 boats.

In the 1980s there was almost always at least one large ship in the sea dock. Coal is exported from here and incoming goods include fertilizer and animal feed.

A swing bridge over the canal between the sea dock and canal basin opens at set times for ships or boats to pass into the lock between the two, allowing mainly small masted pleasure craft to reach the sea from the marina. At these times cars have to take a circuitous route through the village to reach the road bridge on the landward side of the marina.

A closer look at the watchman's hut and the capstan linked to the "sea lock" gates - they actually lead onto the River Lune as has previously been mentioned.

There used to be a floating cafe-cum-restaurant moored on the seaward side of the marina. Named the Ba-Ba-Gee, you could eat with your feet at, or just below, water level and look out the windows at swans who would peck the glass, looking for titbits.

Large versions of the photos: buildings behind the canal lock, capstan, pier, ship, watchman's hut

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Little Lights Relief

Whilst Blackpool Illuminations are shining out a mile and a bit away from my house, I'm also being reminded of the display from 1982 which has been going through the scanner recently.

Blackpool changes so rapidly that 30 years is enough for some of the photos to be totally unrecogniseable to visitors and residents of today.

This first shot was taken just south of the Star Inn at the bottom end of the Pleasure Beach. No Ocean Boulevard with its string of shops and kiosks blocking the view of the Pleasure Beach's Log Flume.

And if there were no Ocean Boulevard today the Log Flume is no longer there to be seen... Also no longer to be found are some large tableaux which used to be found at South Shore as well as the Bispham cliffs. Some can be glimpsed in the distance on the far left hand side of the photo.

This one is from a little further north. We are just south of Watson Road for this one.

The familiar blue and red structure of the Big One roller coaster is many years off yet. On the corner of Watson Road the Space Tower takes riders up and around as it spirals up to the top, spins for a couple of revolutions and comes back down again.

Below it is a camera obscura. The bright archway welcomes visitors to Blackpool and the Pleasure Beach. From this point on a busy night cars will take a couple of hours at least to reach the end of the illuminations at Bispham!

By putting the camera on a tripod and leaving the shutter open whilst the Space Tower went up and came down, the lights on the outside of the ride's disc corkscrew up and then cross their own path as the ride comes down.

This must have been a very calm night without any wind as the shutter had to stay open for around three minutes to take this!

And I finish for this time with a much-loved display of clowns. Alternate displays juggled balls and tossed them over the roadway or squirted each other with water pistols - with rows of light representing the water.

There's just another two and a half weeks to go before this year's display turns off until the end of next August.

Return to Blackpool Illuminations Index Page

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Blue Postcards

Miss Franny and I had a ride out to GB Antiques at Lancaster this afternoon and wandered round in search of old postcards.

I was really in search of old Blackpool postcards and whilst there were a few they were not as old as I was looking for and I came home without any.

But I wasn't totally empty handed. I found a couple of old cards that took my fancy and there was a distinct colour bias about them!

This is The Chine at Seaton in Devon. The black and white photograph has been coloured with a touch of the old blue. But not the old red, green, yellow or brown that might have added a certain something... Rather strange!

Even the artist seemed to have been somewhat frustrated and has decided arbitrarily (writing that seemed a good idea until I realised I had no idea how to spell it...) to colour a lady's dress the same colour as the sky and sea. Hope she doesn't fall in - she'd be instantly lost!

The other postcard I bought has a humourous nature and again the black and white photograph has been given a spot of colour from the same tin as the Seaton postcard.

Unlike the other, this postcard has been through the post. Sent by "S.H." on 25 September 1905, the message reads:

Dear Minnie don't they look happy by the moonlight your Aunt keeps a bit better. Love to all S.H.

Not Enough Time In Kent

This week I've been travelling about for work. Nothing particularly new in that but I've been to a couple of places I've not been before.

The first one was Rochester in Kent.

This was actually taken in Strood which sits across the River Medway from Rochester and is where my hotel was.

The river was just across from the hotel, with a safe crossing provided - had I had time for a closer look. At the point where I took the photo though I was waiting for a taxi to take me to the University for Creative Arts where I was due to deliver a workshop on Process Review techniques for JISC infoNet.

It was a week of train journeys. Blackpool to Preston, Preston to London Euston, on foot to St Pancras and then St Pancras to Rochester. By the time I got down there is was getting dark but as the taxi took me from the station to my hotel I was pleasantly surprised at the sights of Rochester. A castle, a cathedral, town walls and lots of half-timbered buildings. Unfortunately the taxi kept going and by the time I'd had something to eat, I was too knackered to go back into Rochester for a proper look.

The University the following day had a really nice room that I was using and it led onto a patio area which had this wonderful view. Someone described this area of water as the sea... The other delegates didn't think much of that idea...

Looking another way from the patio was as close as I got to seeing the castle and cathedral!

Having finished the day I got a taxi back to the station, the train coming to the platform just as the taxi drew up. I was gob-smacked that I managed to get on it!

This took me back into London to Waterloo East - a station I never even knew existed! From there I walked to Waterloo which it unsurprisingly joined onto and from there took a train out to Aldershot for the following day's workshop. To anyone from the Provinces it is staggering to think about the number of trains that leave London at the end of the working day. You can hardly walk two paces in a straight line and then you fight your way onto a train which is 12 carriages long and just hope to get a seat.

Then you gleefully play at making people acknowledge you for a while until that gets boring. It is a challenge anyway. And then you watch in amazement as they start to blow their cheeks out and shake their heads the very moment the clock ticks past the moment of departure without the train moving immediately.

Aldershot had another Premier Inn. Same standard, same comfort. I love them but you do wake up, stare at the same painting on the same coloured wall and wonder where on earth you are...

Large versions of the photos: the sea..., castle, train station

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Caption Competition

Massive prizes (any prizes at all) - have been dispensed with for this competition... Add a comment with the picture number and your caption - keep it clean! I reserve the rights to moderate and withold any captions I feel are not in keeping with the nature of the blog. Children read this! No correspondence will be entered into. It's my blog, what I say goes! Apart from all that - have fun!

Pic 1:

Pic 2:

Pic 3:

Pic 4:

Captions will not appear until I have had chance to vet them (see what I did...?) groan...

All photos taken at Blackpool Zoo during September 1982.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Staining Charity Night

Last night saw Creeping Bentgrass on stage at Staining Village Hall.

This was a night we had arranged ourselves and we had invited family, friends and people we have worked with year after year until they too can be classed as friends.

We do one of these every two years or so and they are informal, punctuated by guest appearances and a chance for us to try out new stuff to people we can trust to tell us if they don't work.

After years of having "Abba!" thrown at us we have capitulated and now "Fernando" and "Waterloo" (seen above being road-tested with The Creepettes - or is that the Bentettes?) are added to the repertoire.

We road tested a few last night in fact. The Single Girl, I Can Hear Music, You've Lost That Loving Feeling - the latter after we busked it in response to a request in Chapeltown a few weeks ago!

Then again, Jack who books us every year for his steam fair at Heskin Hall at the beginning of June has been asking for House of the Rising Sun for years. It is a bit of a voice-breaker but we have now come up with a bluesy version which went down a storm last night!

And talking of going down a storm - here was a bit of fun!

I walked off stage to leave David singing a West-End musical song - Love Changes Everything. It raised a few eyebrows but then I walked back on to join him in harmony from the second verse on and if we surprised the audience with a new style of song, then in turn we were blown away by the reception the song got at the end.

Thanks have to go to Miss Franny and Miss Jeannie for arranging raffles, hot pots and to willing helpers, Gill, Chrissie, David and Elaine, Claire, Shelagh, Janet and Doreen who dished out grub, sold raffle tickets, managed to separate people from money for the charities, to Marcus and his friend for arranging and manning the bar, to Shelagh and Peter Cooney for the guest spot, to the Bentettes: Louise, Marion, Janet and Shelagh, and to all of you who came from far and wide. A special mention to Harry and Maureen Whitehouse who had come over from Scarborough for the night. Harry is the head of the Peaksoft recording label and was responsible for convincing us to contribute to a CD of Protest Songs (see here) and he donated a copy for the raffle. Harry is also the man behind and so absolutely a VIP member of the audience!

A quick aside to Billy Fury New Zealand Fan Club Manager Moya Gleave here - Harry did stop a little short of giving me a "big sloppy kiss on the top of my head" but thanks for the thought...!

A huge thank you to all who came to see us - we didn't have much time to talk to anyone but it was great to see you there and we appreciate it so much!

After paying the expenses for the hall, bar and food we made £200 profit which will go to the two charities - a Cat Rescue Centre and Diabetic UK