Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Miss Franny's Fabulous Fridge Magnets

The last time I showed some of Miss Franny's fridge magnet collection was way back in July. This time I show some of the UK places commemorated on the bits of plastic that disguise our fridge.

This one covers the entire county of Somerset and was bought this year when we spent a long weekend with friends near Wells.

Whilst I'm not going to put up photos of every place mentioned on it - actually there are some places we haven't been yet on it - I'll cover the top right and the one below it. We've been to Cheddar lots of times taking photos of the same unchanging scene every time. The thing that changes is the style of cars in the car parks, so... guess the year!

Weston-Super-Mare was a regular holiday destination place during my early teens. We first went in 1967 but it's a while since we stayed there. I think the last time I visited was in June 2004 whilst on the road for work and whilst it was a June evening, it was cold and dull so that I remember the weather more than the town.

This one is for a very specific place. The British Museum in London is a fascinating place to wander round and anyone with an interest in history and cultures will find time going very fast indeed when you are in there.

I remember it with the open courtyard, but for quite a while now it has been roofed with glass. This looks even more spectacular from outside provided you can view it from a vantage point such as the 17th floor of the Centre Point building.

The King Arthur magnet could have come from any corner of England, or from the centre of it. So many places claim to be the site of his birth, his battles, his city of Camelot...

I even wrote my own version a few years ago which is available for Kindle e-readers.

The fridge magnet came from Tintagel in Cornwall, where the famous castle remains are a few hundred years after the historical Arthur was supposed to have lived. Tintagel features in my book as the home of Merlin.

A 3D sculpted fridge magnet from the Prince Regent's opulent and exotic Royal Pavilion at Brighton. A real mix of styles it comes across as an Indian palace from outside and a Chinese one inside. Well worth a visit.

My photo was taken one night whilst I was travelling for work and due to run a workshop at Brighton University the following morning.

The Polperro fridge magnet shows the entire county of Cornwall and therefore makes finding Polperro quite hard unless you already know where it is!

It's one of my favourite places in the whole of England and despite the fact that it seldom changes, my camera always gets a thorough work-out when I'm there!

A look at foreign parts in the next article about Miss Franny's Fabulous Fridge Magnets!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Creeping Bentgrass in Charnock Richard

On Saturday night we played at the Football Club in Charnock Richard. This was for a charity night organised by Jack Gerrard, who for many years has organised the Steam Fairs at Heskin Hall.

The night included a fish and chips supper provided by a van. The lady was already there getting prepared when we arrived and it turned out she had a very early start the following morning. I hope we got everybody out to pick up their suppers in time for her to get home and to have a few hours in bed!

The raffle was a jolly affair too with two of the tables enjoying a healthy competition to see which could win the most prizes. Miss Franny and Miss Jeannie also had some success!

We unveiled our version of Procul Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale which gained us a huge roar of appreciation and we got many compliments at the end of the night which was very nice. A great audience throughout the night!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Darwen Gig

Last Saturday saw Creeping Bentgrass out at a church hall in Darwen, where we played for a Harvest celebration.

One of those nights where the audience could be seen - and heard - enjoying themselves! People were singing along, clapping, dancing and nodding their heads in time with the music and they were very generous with their applause. A raffle and tombola helped the night along and there was a rather excellent supper served as well.

We got some good rapport going with the audience as I called out the raffle numbers and the time went all too quickly. I always love it when the organiser of an event says "Oh, everyone stayed a lot longer than I expected them to...!"

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Kodak Instamatic

My first introduction to photography came with a VP Twin - a small plastic camera sold by Woolworths until 1959 that took 127 roll film. They were messy to load were roll films - especially for a five-year-old. So a few years later I got a Christmas present of Kodak's brilliant new invention: the Instamatic.

The Instamatic 50 was launched in 1963 in the UK and was the first ever Instamatic camera taking Kodak's new format 126 film which came in a plastic cartridge that you just dropped into the back of the camera without having to be careful in case you got the film fogged by light. (In America the Instamatic 100 was the first model.) Controls were kept to a minimum. Top left is a metal bar that presses to take a picture. On the front is a sliding bar for taking pictures in bright sunshine or an overcast day. The setting for an overcast day could be used for flash photography - this requiring a separate flashgun that took little blue bulbs full of magnesium wire that when triggered exploded with a bright light that burned so hot the glass bulb melted and bubbled.

On the side of the camera was a lever for winding on the film. Unlike a roll film camera, where it was possible to be over-enthusiastic and wind the entire film by mistake, the camera used holes in the film to tell when enough film had been wound on and it then cocked the shutter and locked the lever so no film was wasted. Also the little triangle is the lever for opening the back of the camera for loading and unloading film cartridges. So a few photos from my Instamatic...

The very first photo I took with the camera some time in 1964 was this waterfall near Gisburn which was in Yorkshire at the time. In 1974 they decided it would be in Lancashire where it has been ever since, but I expect that a mini War of the Roses was in the offing at the time...

Every photo on that very first film had an interesting green stripe flanked by pink stripes either side, running horizontally along the bottom of the photo. It was probably caused by a bit of dust scratching the film...

Carnarvon Castle. It took many months to take a full film of 12 or 20 photos, mainly because it cost money to have them developed and printed. "That's enough now - save your film for something else..." The colour photos on this entry were taken on Kodachrome film which was a colour transparency (slides) film and the cost of the film included processing. The film cartridge came with an envelope for sending the exposed cartridge to Kodak's laboratories in Hemel Hempstead where it was processed, cut and the square images mounted in cardboard slide mounts printed with the month and year (sometimes so faint as to be invisible) and each slide numbered.

Also in Wales, these are the Swallow Falls at Betys-y-Coed. Taken in 1966 by my brother Frank (who would have taken any of these photos featuring me) it has the distinction of being the last photograph ever taken of me wearing short trousers. I was not allowed to wear long trousers until I was 13, whether for being dressed up or for everyday use. At 12 I was allowed a pair of jeans for play, but they were definitely not allowed for such formal things as meeting relatives or being taken to the shops etc.

Again courtesy of Frank here I am, aged 12 on holiday in Weston-Super-Mare, with a plastic battery-operated boat, knees that speak of having just been on the beach and foot stopping my football from rolling away. My mobile phone and tablet must have been in my pocket or held by Frank...

Blackpool, possibly during a day trip to see the Illuminations but it is possible this was an overnight or several nighter. It was September 1966 and I was 12½ here and starting to get to that awkward stage - "playing" was starting to come second to eyeing up the opposite sex.

The following year we were in Cheddar Gorge. You could probably take exactly the same photograph today - but it wouldn't have all those gorgeous 1960s cars in it!

Christmas dinner at my Grandma and Grandad Burke's house. Pictured L-R are half of Gt Auntie Elsie, my Grandma's sister, Gt-Gt Auntie Florrie, Gt Uncle Percy (Elsie's husband), Gt Grandma Brierley (mother to my Grandma Annie and Auntie Elsie) and Gt Auntie Cissie who was my Grandad's sister and called Mary really but she hated being called Mary as most people in Lancashire rhymed it with furry and she was always known as Cissie.

I have two abiding memories of Auntie Cissie from my younger days. One: that she had a tiny terraced house in Castleton, Rochdale that had an outdoor privy with a long drop to an open sewer 40 feet below. I was always petrified of falling down it and even getting to the privy meant pushing my way through tall stalks of what would have been magnificent rhubarb. Again at that age when it grows to above your head, you tend to remember it rather differently! Two: I loved tinned salmon (still do) but Auntie Cissie would never take the bones out, she believed they were good for you and just mashed them up so that you suddenly bit on a vertebrae or, worse, pierced the roof of your mouth with the pointy end of a fish rib... Ah the good old days...

They also brought out black and white film for the Instamatic and I got interested in developing and printing my own photos, which was both fun and very rewarding. The go-karts are at Heysham Head near Morecambe, a sort of fun park-cum-holiday park now long gone.

Margate, either 1966 or 67 I think. I wasn't as good at the time at labelling photos... We used to stay in a hotel in Cliftonville which had a half-sized snooker table in the lounge. Although perhaps my best memory of Margate has something to do with it being the place where I got my first brief cuddle with a young lady... Rosemary of Welwyn Garden City... Never to be seen again...

Also never to be seen again are the station buildings at Milnrow Railway Station. Once a stop on the line from Rochdale to Manchester Victoria it is now a tram halt with the platforms decorated so I am told by simple shelters. I remember it with a ticket master, station master and waiting rooms that would have roaring warm fires in winter. Progress...

And I'll finish with a photo that I can date to the exact day. The Avro Vulcan at the very first Woodford Air Show, 29 June 1968. The photo shows just how close the public were allowed to get to aircraft.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

1970s-80s - People In Blackpool, Part 3

Another selection of Blackpool folk and visitors enjoying Blackpool in the days before mobile phones.

We are back to good old black and white photos for today and again it will include a mix of topics, though quite a few will feature the Pleasure Beach. We'll kick off with one of the attendants on the North Pier talking to two ladies sunning themselves on the side benches. One of them at least is riveted by what he is saying and his job at this time (in the early 1980s) allows him to enjoy smoking his briar pipe whilst working.

The sound of a fairground organ, squeals of children and the hum of many people squeezing past one another along the pathways of the Pleasure Beach. The carousel of gallopers was a feature of the Pleasure Beach south of Watson Road for a few years from the late 1970s.

There's a couple of photos this time in response to requests. The first request was for any shots I might have of the Steeplechase ride in action.

These two photos were taken in 1982. The vast majority of my photos from this year were taken in black and white. I could process the films myself whereas colour films had to be taken to a chemist or photographic shop for developing and printing (D&P as it was known). This cost a considerable amount of money and it was far cheaper to put black plastic sheets over the bathroom window and process my own black and white films. Photography is free now, once you have bought the camera or phone. It was once quite an expensive hobby.

The other request was for any shots of Blackpool's donkeys and their operators. I don't have many of these I'm afraid. But this was one that I took off the deck of Central Pier. The tide was still on its way out and very little of the beach has been uncovered as yet. The structure at the top centre is one of the legs supporting the old lifeboat house. The sand still wet and dark to the seaward side of the walking donkeys.

The sea was so close to the beach in fact that people were playing in it at the side of the pier's arcade. These four young girls were shrieking and splashing away at each other and having a great time.

The Rock Shoppe. Rock was such a large part of going to the seaside when I was small. It was almost unthinkable not to have a stick of it. I remember going at least once during a week's holiday to watch it being made, though this seems to be a Great Yarmouth more than a Blackpool memory for me. We lived in Rochdale at the time and Blackpool was a fairly regular (if not as often as I'd like) trip whilst Great Yarmouth was a car-testing long run to a place where locals spoke with a strange accent.

As a boy it was fascinating to watch the letters being formed and then the rock being stretched until the massive column, too large to hug, was stretched to the thickness of a stick of rock, snipped into the right length by one of the rollers who used their whole forearms to roll the rock so that it kept its round shape and didn't flatten whilst it cooled.

The forecourt of the Hounds Hill Shopping Centre became a favourite spot for buskers in its early days. Here Dorothy Perkins occupies the spot currently taken by the Disney Store. The glass-roofed forecourt was free of stalls and units at that point.

And on the same day, these were to be found at the entrance to Hounds Hill from Adelaide Street. They were quite good - a trio playing folk instrumentals with guitar, accordion and a dulcimer.

Return to Miscellaneous Blackpool Index Page

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Falmouth At Last

Friday 18 September 2015. After yesterday's wrong turning I made sure I knew which direction to take and we set off for Falmouth for the second time, arriving there for the first time! This is the first reason for my title "Falmouth At Last". The second reason is that our visit to Falmouth comes on our last full day in Cornwall.

We parked up a horrendously steep hill and walked down to the shopping streets, knees complaining loudly at the stress. "This will be fun to walk back up later!" went through my mind...

We had a coffee in a cafe near the main pier but they had no toilets and I was advised to go round to the ones on the pier just round the corner. Doing this and in some haste, I burst in upon the scene of a drugs transaction... Being in no position to retire gracefully and come back later, I ignored them in all but every single sense apart from sight... The seller nipped off smartly but the buyer went straight into one of the stalls to get his fix. I made sure I was well out of the way before he came out!

This is Fish Strand Quay where, on 4 November 1805, Lt. John Richards Lapenotiere, Captain of HM Schooner Pickle arrived with the news of the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, tempered by the news of the death of Lord Nelson. He reached London in 38 hours to report to the Admiralty, the journey by coach usually taking a week.

We found Falmouth a little strange. I don't know what I had been expecting or whether we just stayed in the wrong bit, but the riverside was quite built up and there were numerous little harbours and jetties to be found by walking between buildings from the street to the river. You couldn't walk all the way along a river path but kept having to come back to the street, along for a few buildings and then down again.

A ship's figurehead in the alley at the side of The Wheelhouse pub. It is well known for its seafood apparently. We both hate the stuff so we avoided it! Fish I don't mind and prawns providing they are already in their pink state and don't need any bits removing before eating, but things that live in shells I definitely do not want to pass my lips! So oysters, mussels, cockles, winkles, and things like crabs and lobster - you can keep them!

One of the alleys we went down led to a car park and another to this view of a couple of pilot boats. One was moored up but the other had been out on a job, helping a boat or ship in or out of the estuary and was coming slowly back into harbour.

The Harbour Master's Office is the stone building in the centre of the photo. As with Plymouth we found plenty of public houses dotted liberally around the waterfront. From the left there is The Stable (in the singular - I would have expected "The Stables"), The Quayside Inn" and on the right we'll have a closer look in the next photo.

There is actually two pubs here next door to each other. In the two-storey building is The Shipwrights and next door with three storeys, The Chainlocker which opened its doors to Falmouth's thirsty folk and visitors in 1660. It is Falmouth's second oldest pub (after The Seven Stars) missing out on first place by mere weeks.

Falmouth gave us some great views but in bits, rather than being able to walk alongside the river uninterrupted. We also found and looked round a few fascinating antiques shops, stopping short in one as a large dog bounded in through the open door and squeezed past me to get behind the counter. Its owner came in a second later and said, "Don't mind him - he comes here for biscuits!" Sure enough the owner of the shop brought out a packet and gave the dog a couple upon which it allowed him to pat it for a second or two then it was off and out the door, followed rapidly by its owner.

"He comes in for two biscuits and knows that once he's had those there won't be any more until tomorrow!" said the shop owner cheerfully. We had dinner near the main pier in a tea room. I had a milk shake, but sadly most of these have some sort of thickening these days and you need suction like a Dyson vacuum cleaner to get the stuff up the straw. Besides if you eat thickening, what do you suppose that does to you in the end... Milk, Crusha strawberry syrup and a small blob of ice cream and I'm happy. Straining at a drinking straw full of pig fat like swamp muck and I'm not...

The hill to the car park was every bit as exciting to climb as I had thought it might be. Thigh muscles screaming we got to the car and left for the return journey to Newquay.

Having parked the car back at the B&B, we walked down into the town and around the beaches. I decided to have a go at sketching Towan Beach which has an island with an art gallery, joined to the mainland with a short suspension bridge. Fran left me for a look round the shops whilst I sat, huddled in the wind on a balcony overlooking the beach, totally on my own. No one else was braving the wind except the seagulls, one of which landed near me and eyed me hopefully.

About 45 minutes later my phone went. I had moved from where Fran left me and the balcony I was sitting on (and that far-too-optimistic seagull was still standing on) was halfway down the cliff, reached via some narrow steps and then a ramp. I had more or less finished apart from working over some bits to darken them and we made our way back to The Griffin pub for a drink before repeating the success of the first night's helping of steak in ale pie.

The barman was passing our table and did a double take at the sketch that I was finishing off. "Have you drawn that?" he asked... Then he had to nip back off behind the bar as a stag party came in. Miss Franny was not amused at the groom-to-be's trousers being yanked to his ankles and for a moment I had a flashback to my father's frantic efforts to hush my mother in the 1960s as she would get incensed because one of a gang of teddy boys had said "bloody" and she would screech in a loud voice, "I'll tell him about his language in a minute!", no doubt raising visions in Dad's head of him having to step into insurmountable odds to protect her.

They were loud but they weren't all that bad and the only other incident was an almost full pint knocked over which they all roared their amusement at. We went into the dining room for our meal, leaving them behind. The steak in ale pie was just as large as it had been at the start of the week...

And that brings us to the end of this holiday. Unless we decide to nip off for another short break, the next trip will have to wait until 2016. And then we will be in the company of the EGGs. Son-in-law Edward, daughter Gillian and our darling granddaughter Grace. And may well meet up with someone with the initials MM...

Post Script

Phew! This post marks one thousand, five hundred posts on the blog! PARTY!!!

Cornwall Holiday Index