Friday, 26 October 2012

Large Format Slides

I recently came across a few boxes of large format colour transparencies, shot on 120 film (6x6cm or 2.25x2.25inches). They were shot on a Mamiya C330 twin lens reflex camera that I bought in the early 1970s mainly to take wedding photos with, that being my job at the time.

But I also shot lots of stock photos for magazines etc. The film I used for colour slides was Ektachrome64, rated at 64 ASA or ISO as we would say now. I used to process this myself using Barfen chemicals, which had to be kept at a constant temperature around 40 degrees centigrade, which was achieved by filling the bath with hot water and floating the tank containing the film...

The slides have not fared well. The containers are not airtight and they are heavily contaminated with 30 years worth of dust. I've removed the worst of it but the photos are still not exactly best quality. Short of spending hours on each, they are going to stay that way I'm afraid!

St Annes Road West, the main shopping street of St Annes on Sea just south of Blackpool. When the Lancashire mill workers flocked to Blackpool, the mill owners took their holidays in St Annes and Lytham. So much more refined you know...

Lytham Windmill in snow. We don't see a lot of snow on the Lancashire coast so shots like these were quite saleable to magazines and I used to make the most of any snowfall we might get, often driving out before the snowploughs had been out.

The impressive front of the Harris Library and Museum in Preston. Shots like this often find themselves on the front covers of local magazines, though on this one I haven't left enough space for text to be added without obscuring the columns.

More to come!

Large versions of the photos: st annes, windmill, harris library

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Caister Roman Fort

Monday 1 October 2012. After leaving Sheringham we drove around the coast back to Great Yarmouth for our final evening before heading back to Blackpool on Tuesday.

On the way out I had taken a wrong turn and ended driving through the town of Caister instead of using the bypass which affords a view of the castle, which we have visited many times, but which closed for the winter season the day before we came down to Norfolk!

I was intrigued to see a brown sign for "Roman Fort" and glimpsed some low walls of a familiar type behind the hedge. So on our way back we passed through the town again and stopped in the lay-by at the side of the site.

The fort was built around 200AD to the Roman standard plan. It defended the huge estuary of four rivers, the Ant, Bure, Yare and Waveney. The land it stood on was a small island at the time to the north of the estuary which covered a large area to the south now covered by land. In fact, now covered by Great Yarmouth...

We are looking at the foundations for one of the gate towers. We are inside the fort and the gate was to the left of the structure with a similar but mirrored tower on the other side. The line of the wall runs off to the right and beyond is a ditch with a deeper ditch which has been filled in and would have been under the modern roadway.

Some of the building foundations from inside the fort. After about 60 years another fort was built on the opposite shore of the estuary at Burgh. This has also been partially excavated and can be visited or seen from the many cruises up the River Yare from Great Yarmouth's dosckside area.

The site is owned or managed by English Heritage and there is a page with a map of the area at the time and a reconstruction of how the fort might have appeared from the air as sketched from an original roman Tigus Moth... Go to the link I have provided then search for "Caister roman fort"

Well, that concludes the entries about this holiday weekend - I'm going to have to go somewhere else now!

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Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Nottiff of Sheringham

Monday 1 October 2012. We have finished journeying up and down the North Norfolk Railway and decided to have a look at what else Sheringham has to offer.

I was a touch surprised to see a pub called the Robin Hood. I didn't actually go in to see whether there was any claim to connection with the famous outlaw of Sherwood Forest, but perhaps it was a drunken mistake as per my title at the top!

The town clock has been built onto a shelter with a sign that says it was once the site of the town's water supply and possibly the stocks and pillory.

By water supply, this means a well. Few town wells were what most people would think of with a handle to winch down a bucket. They were mostly puddles some of which were defined by stone or brickwork but at which you would normally stoop to fill your bucket or whatever you had brought.

Some delivered clear water, others brackish green or brown water with a generous share of pond life. Tadpoles are easy to fish out, microscopic life forms including bacteria are not... The word "possibly" is fun as well isn't it? As in "possibly the site of the stocks and pillory... but possibly not..."

Down the main street towards the seafront, the Lobster seemed to have been in the wars. Covered with bullet holes and a shell hole, it turned out that these had been painted on in honour of a 1940s night!

At first glance though it did seem particularly appropriate that the pub was on the corner of Gun Street!

Joyful West's Seafood Bar stands on the other corner. Now I have never been a fan of seafood I'm afraid. Raised some 50 miles from the coast in Rochdale, seafood was not a family staple foodstuff in the 1950s and 60s of my childhood. Fish came from the chippy and was cod, hake or haddock and if we ate fish in a "posh" restaurant it would be plaice. Salmon came from a tin and I never even tasted tuna until I was 30. Shrimps, prawns and most definitely things like mussels, crab, lobster, oysters, squid, and scallops mostly remain (the exception is prawns) if not downright poison at least under the mental heading of probably-tastes-so-putrid-I'd-puke!

At the end of the street right on the seafront is The Two Lifeboats pub. The beach is one of those where tons of huge rocks have been spilled to protect the coastal area from the sea. Practical and comparatively cheap I suppose, but looks bloody awful. But it seems to be getting increasingly common more's the pity. Perhaps they will look ok in a few thousand years when the rocks have worn smooth by the sea?

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Saturday, 13 October 2012

Have you ever....

I always appreciate it when someone starts to "follow" my blog and a very warm welcome to Dorothy who added herself recently.

It's nice to reciprocate and see whether followers have a blog of their own and yes she has, but not a regular updater are you Dorothy? Not to worry - that pumpkin pie looked a bit of alright and I also found this list.

It looks a bit American, given some of the entries on the list but the idea is to see how many of these you have done! Those you have, you make bold and those you haven't you leave alone. I'm going to be complicated and use italics for some I've gone close to! So...

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band - a few in my time...
4. Visited Hawaii and danced on a lava cliff with the roar of the Pacific below - it's not enough just to have visited Hawaii???
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland - Florida and Paris
8. Climbed a mountain - to be honest, I was in motorised transport...
9. Held a praying mantis - you must be joking!!! Yuck!
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning - not quite as much an achievement this one...!
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - not for a very long time, I hasten to assure my employer!
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb - ah... Lambie was the "pet" of Jackie when we were 17. We went round one week and it had been eaten...
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (lunar)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language - perhaps the natives in Germany, Spain and Italy might not agree. The most humiliating comeback from a waiter was "Which language are you trying to speak?" delivered in faultless English...
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - comes with age perhaps. I don't need as much to be satisfied these days. I've more age than I need to be satisfied too, come to think of it...
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David - I've seen the replacement at Florence. The original one now is in a museum and we didn't go in.
41. Sung karaoke - yeuch no! But playing my own accompaniment yes!
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted - a pen, not paints but twice!
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - the top was shut but we got to the second platform
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving - cor I'm not doing so well for a while huh?
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check - another achievement!
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - blame someone else though. I was the one screaming on the back...
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican - drove past it on a coach...?
82. Bought a brand new car - an ex-demo model
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper - several times, not for court appearances either!
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year's Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury - Never got on a case but wasted several days in a small room with lots of other people...
91. Met someone famous - lots in fact :-)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby - well Miss Franny had one... I can't bear children...
95. Seen the Alamo in person - the John Wayne film...?
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone - ooh this is an old list!
99. Been stung by a bee

Your turn! Enjoy!!!

Merlin's Cave

Tintagel is now forever linked with the legend of King Arthur. In the stories it is to the castle on top of the cliff that Merlin smuggles King Uther, disguised as the husband of Igraine so that Arthur can be conceived. And it is from here that the infant Arthur is delivered into Merlin's hands to be brought up away from the court, unknowing of his parentage until Uther's death is near.

So in 1987 when we visited I had to see the place.

The part of the legend that places these events at Tintagel Castle ignores the fact that at the time of Arthur (if he indeed ever existed) was the early 6th century. No Norman castle existed at the time because the Normans would not invade for another 500 years.

Anyway, the legend is now deep rooted. So in September 1987 when I was writing my own fantasy novel about Arthur, King And King To Be, (UK link / America/Canada link) I knew I had to include Tintagel.

There is a cave called Merlin's Cave here. On the opposite side of the bay to the castle. It fit my story better to use the smaller of the two caves shown above, just to the left of the water line.

In this case "small" is relative! The cave is huge! I've heard lots of reports over the years that this was in danger of collapse. In fact it does collapse in the book!

So I'm not sure if you can still go into the cave or not. In the book it's an entrance to the fairyland of Merlin and his elven daughter, Merienne.

In 1987 you could walk right through almost to the other side of the cliff. Perhaps you could walk through at low tide. When I visited the sea was already coming in from what was the rear of the cave for me. But what an atmosphere to the place! It inspired chapter four of my book.

I did not try to put a castle into Tintagel's part of my story though. There has been evidence found of a very early Christian settlement on the site, so I used that instead. And that's the end of any spoilers!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

King And King To Be - Free Promotion


King And King To Be will be on a FREE promotion Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 12-14 October 2012. You can download it for free during these three days. (Based on Pacific Standard Time so may be a few hours delay in UK of both start and end)

Product Description:

Britain in the Dark Ages. But a Britain that has been forgotten by history. A Britain where elves, fairies and goblins still reside, feared and mistrusted by Men.

As a dark force threatens to conquer the kingdoms of Men they turn to the elves and a wizard for help. Together they seek for the one person who could save the Britain of the sixth century. A man called Arthur. A man who was born and lives in the twentieth century...

A startling first novel by J D Burke combines fantasy with half-familiar legend and a hero who struggles to accept the fate that he once thought was either a story or that belonged to someone else.

Don't miss out! Download it from Amazon to a Kindle near you! Can also be read on a PC, laptop, tablet or other device - see Amazon for details.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

North Norfolk Railway

Monday 1 October. We'd seen aeroplanes, we'd seen trolleybuses. We had even seen trams. So in the midst of the Norfolk Broads, what form of transport have we still to see? Right! Steam trains!

We drove to Sheringham along the Norfolk coast and by the time we got to the lovely little station we were a bit late to catch the train we wanted to catch. However by lucky chance they had been having a small technical hitch and we arrived in time to dash onto the train literally seconds before it went!

We wandered through a couple of carriages and came to an old one with compartments and a corridor - very Harry Potter! We settled ourselves down and waited patiently for the witch with the sweets trolley. When she came she looked just like a male ticket inspector who, when asked where the chocolate frogs were, obviously thought he had misheard and ignored the question altogether... Not an HP fan then...

This was another place where the area's retired folks were having the time of their lives! Why are they all in Norfolk, these places? Pensioners really have it made down there! I think I'm going to have to move there. They were driving steam trains for Heaven's sake!!! One was selling souvenir booklets and popped his head into our compartment every ten minutes to say "Have I seen you before?" On receiving the nod, he'd say cheerfully, "Ah well, I'll leave you alone next time then!" Ten minutes later he'd pop his head round the door and say "Have I seen you before?"

The track runs ten miles from Sheringham to Holt with a stop at Weybourne along the way. At either end the locomotive has to be decoupled and then runs to some points and then trundles past the train of coaches to couple onto the other end to draw the train back again.

At these points we all jump off and take lots of photos of superheated water shooting out of safety valves and generally get in each other's way before jumping back onto the train once the locomotive is ready.

A group of children dressed as wartime refugees with little square boxes for a gas mask have got off at Holt and lined up. The teacher is dividing them up into three groups. "In line I want you to count to three," he says. Dutifully the first child shouts "One!", the second shouts "Two!", the third shouts "Three!" and the fourth shouts "One!" to start the sequence again. By the time it gets to child twenty the system has fallen down and another teacher is saying crossly to him "You haven't the foggiest idea of what you are supposed to be doing have you?" Upon which he turns a bewildered face to his equally bewildered neighbours who all shrug their shoulders and look mutinous along with him.

It takes around 40 minutes to do the ten miles and switch the locomotive to the other end so a full return journey takes an hour and a half. Back at Sheringham we get off the train and decide to go and find something to eat in the town. Sheringham looks extremely pretty so we decide that we will have another ride on the train (as our ticket lasts all day) and then will have a walk through the town later in the day.

We find a cafe at the end of the street and have a toastie and a coke (the drink that is... I was never a one for chemical pleasures... I did get confused once and snort a line of Pepsi...)

When we got back to the station a huge chunk of locomotive called Ayrshire Yeomanry (No.45156 for the enthusiasts) was swapping ends of a single coach which was filled with excited men and somewhat resigned but determined women.

The men had all paid around £400 for a day's footplate experience. Each of them got to drive the locomotive for the full ten mile stretch of track under the close supervision of a Norfolk pensioner who knew what he was doing. And more importantly knew what they might do before they actually did it, so that he could warn them about it before they smashed through the level crossing gates and gouged two deep lines across the main road...

The journey was remarkably similar to the one we did in the morning, but was no less enjoyable for that. We sat in the very same compartment and found a packet of tissues that must have fallen out of my pocket in the morning's excitement. Whilst we had lunch those tissues went on a 20 mile journey without us but now we were happily reunited!

We waved to the old chap in his conservatory at the back of his house, jutting into a garden that bordered the railway line. We watched as the windmill went by on the horizon and at Holt when we got off the train I looked at the small museum and the model railway for ten minutes whilst the locomotive did its swap-ends thing.

Then we sat in our compartment again and watched the crocodile of wartime refugees make their way back to the train. I think most of them had survived the war...

The sweets trolley never came round though...

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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Temple Street Blackpool 1968-2012

Another pairing with photos from 1968.

In 1968 Temple Street ran from Church Street to Victoria Street. On the corner of Church Street was the Stone-Dri Weatherwear shop selling raincoats. Above it was Gilbert Hair Fashions on the first floor with the School of Hair Fashion on the top floor.

Now it's the Pound Store with The Med, Mediterranean Restaurant upstairs. Next door the stately-sounding Stead & Simpson would have hidden their eyes at the sight of what was to come!

Down Temple Street was a carpet shop, the Temple Grill and Restaurant, and J.N. Diggle & Sons' Temple Toys toyshop.

It now looks much less enticing...

The rebuilding of Victoria Street cut off the southern end of Temple Street and it now ends in a small car park, litter and large wheeled waste bins that seem to have been strewn at random.

Looks nice on Victoria Street...

Return to Blackpool Town Index Page

Monday, 8 October 2012

East Anglia Transport Museum

Sunday 30 September 2012. We left the Aviation Museum at lunchtime and headed for... a transport museum!

We have visited the East Anglia Transport Museum several times before at Carlton Colville near Lowestoft and it always delivers a good afternoon.

There are both trolleybuses and trams to ride on and here's one of the trolley buses - a London one, or a Leyland one depending on whether you are talking about the place it worked or the make... Yes, alright, I'm being too clever for my own good... Note the double wheels at the back.

London was well represented as one of its trams was trundling about as well. The other tram shown here is from Amsterdam and had to be slightly modified with a reversible turning pole. The tramway in Amsterdam has loops at either end so the tram poles are fixed and the trams can only be driven from one end. To run this at the museum not only did a reversible pole have to be fitted but a second driving position at the back of the tram!

This is an ex-Derby Sunbeam F4A Roe trolleybus. It was our first ride of the afternoon and once we got off it, it was reversed to a parking position and the London bus took over.

This was taken from the lower deck looking towards the rear of the bus and the entrance and exit platform.

There are a couple of Blackpool trams there as well. One is a Standard tram of which Blackpool still runs at least one as part of its heritage fleet. The other is this one. Although it looks familiar it is fairly rare as it is a Vambac tram. The mechanism was a bit troublesome on these and they had a relatively (for Blackpool: a very!) short life.

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Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum

Sunday 30 September. We drove down to a place called Flixton to an old RAF wartime aerodrome where a collection of aircraft and aircraft parts have been gathered together as a museum of Norfolk's wartime contribution.

On the face of it this place is a retired persons' dream project but they have managed to amass some wonderful machines and create some brilliant displays over the years.

The exhibits are by no means limited to the World Wars either. In fact there are many jet aircraft represented at the museum, many of them displayed outside on grass, but the above photo shows Hangar 1. This is an exciting jumble of aircraft types from all eras. The English Electric Lightning - the "Spitfire of the Sixties" sits next to a Hawker Harrier Jump Jet. Both can be viewed whilst relaxing with a cup of tea in the small cafeteria in the corner of the hangar.

Also in the same hangar is this Spitfire replica. Built for the 1968 motion picture Battle of Britain many of its contemporaries were blown up during filming of German attacks on airfields.

Behind it is the fuselage from a real Spitfire.

There are loads of display cases full of Airfix and Revell plastic kits, beautifully put together and painted. Like I say, what a retirement project! 'I'm not "playing", dear, I'm making this for the museum.' I must start one near Blackpool when I retire...

A Vickers Valetta C2. This aircraft used to be open to the public to look round but no longer apparently. I remember the seats were all facing the rear of the aircraft, which was used to ferry VIP passengers about for the RAF.

And here was a surprise! Little Nellie the autogyro from the Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Whilst I was marvelling at all things aeronautical, Miss Franny was filling bags with books from a massive book sale. I even bought one myself!

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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Old Photographs and a Touch of Glamour

It's been a busy old time! I know you were expecting the next instalment of the long weekend and that will come soon I promise.

This explains some of the stuff I've been spending time on recently. I mentioned a while ago that a new scanner had brought the possibilities of scanning my larger 120 film negatives. These are two and a quarter inches (6cm) square. Therefore they carry the potential for much better quality than 35mm film.

Here's an example of a shot I took in 1979 of country star George Hamilton IV

He was taking part in the annual carnival parade along the Promenade and had to put up with being squashed next to that year's Carnival Queen. I'd have stepped in if he hadn't wanted to...

I also mentioned that I'd been given the loan of some old negatives of Blackpool from 1968 and here's a sample.

The old UCP shop on the site later taken by Clarkes's Shoes and which is now Nando's (see below). UCP was a chain that once sold that most Lancashire of dishes: tripe. It was once a most commonly eaten dish. Indeed it was a fast food that sold in bulk to men coming home from the pub. Its place in that respect would be overtaken by fish and chips.

I have it in mind to take photos from the same viewpoint as these old photographs as much as is possible. The centre of Blackpool changed hugely with the building of the Houndshill shopping mall. Streets disappeared. Others were blocked at one end. The properties along Victoria Street were demolished to make way for brand new shops on both sides of the street that narrowed the street considerably. It became a pedestrianised area.

Also in my scanning I have reached a point where I was heavily involved in the Blackpool & Fylde Photographic Society. I tend not to publish portrait photographs, many of which were taken during the second half of the 1980s. Not that they were all of beautiful girls...

There was murder and mayhem on the night that the local Vikings came to model!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Great Yarmouth Weekend

Last weekend we took a last minute planned long weekend break, staying in Great Yarmouth at the Trotwood Hotel.

This was in a nice spot as you can see from this photo taken from our bedroom window!

Miss Franny has left her job to look after our granddaughter Grace, once Gill goes back to work and decided graciously that I could take her away for the weekend.

The Yarmouth season is just about come to a close, but most things were open over the weekend and there were a few people wandering up and down the prom.

The Winter Gardens was closed - apparently it is in dire need of some fairly serious structural repairs. A great shame and I hope it can be refurbished and reopened.

It's quite a while since we were in Great Yarmouth and there were a few changes we saw. The horse drawn landaus now have their own road which they share with a road train up and down to the Pleasure Beach and back. It's been well done and the landaus now cause considerably fewer problems for traffic and don't have to contend with drivers who are unused to horses. A win-win situation.

The Pleasure Beach was open but not exactly crowded. Their log flume ride sits outside the perimeter wall and north of that there was a new set of kiddies' rides that have taken the place of something I can't remember for certain... putting greens? I'm not sure. Certainly a putting green has disappeared from somewhere!

We ate at The Arches on Regent Road, brilliant staff and good food and we went back there each night. I don't recommend restaurants as a rule but that must say something!

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee were at the Pier Theatre that night. Had it been the following night we might have gone, but having driven around 7 hours from Blackpool (massive hold-up due to an accident west of Norwich) we decided not to bother. It was the last pier show of the season too so we didn't get another chance. But the hotel lounge had excellent large comfy sofas and we settled there with a good book and a drink!

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