We discovered Filey, a gem of a town on the Yorkshire coast, about 15 years ago and have returned several times since then. Living just about as far from the coast as possible in the UK we need an occasional fix of ‘vitamin sea’ and a week in or around Filey dispenses the required dose. We particularly enjoy walking on the long beach with its clean, firm sand. It has become our ‘standard’ for beaches and wherever we go around the world, the beach is judged on our ‘Filey scale’. It was after one such walk that we sat enjoying a coffee when this elderly couple arrived and stood there, presumably reminiscing, for quite a while. This could well be the resulting postcard to a son or daughter…
Make way for sweet May flowers. April has started true to form with showers most days this week. Rain, but not as much as in Seathwaite, Lake District. That is the wettest place in England and receives between two and three metres of rainfall each year. I took this photograph a while ago near Hawkshead, 30 miles or so from Seathwaite. The National Trust had thoughtfully provided umbrellas for visitors walking the short distance from the car park and ticket office to the entrance to Hill Top Farm. Short, but long enough to get drenched if caught in a Cumbrian shower.
It was a dull day but then the rain stopped and the sun made a brief appearance. Brief, and barely long enough to highlight the colour and shapes of these umbrellas for a quick photograph. It could almost be an art installation at the Tate; or being even more fanciful, perhaps it’s the parking area for those dropping into a meeting of the Mary Poppins Appreciation Society.
Do any get stolen or are they dutifully returned after each use? Is it someone’s job to count these at the end of the day? (not as easy as it sounds – try it if you have nothing better to do!
Not only is Burton on Trent the brewing capital of the UK, but it is also the home of Marmite, which has been produced in the town for well over 100 years. Marmite is a by-product of the brewing process and is made from the excess yeast produced during brewing.
Those of you who don’t live in Burton on Trent can be forgiven for thinking that this is an April Fool joke. Why? Because while other towns and cities have statues of kings, queens, prime ministers, politicians, military heroes, writers, artists, sports personalities and entertainers, we have a sculpture of a Marmite jar! (Actually we do have other statues, etc. and these may be covered in future posts).
So, well established facts or April Fool fiction?
• Marmite is good for you. It is gluten free and contains high levels of vitamin B3, folic acid and thiamine • Countless Burton babies have been weaned on Marmite on toast without any (known) ill effects. • There is a sculpture in Burton in the shape of a jar of Marmite • The sculpture is called Monumite • It incorporates some digital technology and visitors can download information from it onto their mobile phones via Bluetooth. • Recent scientific studies have discovered that ‘love it or hate it’ all depends on your genes. The Marmite Gene Project reports that ‘whether you fall into the loathe it or love it category all depends on your genes. The ‘Marmite Gene Project’ shows that people are born biologically more likely to be either lovers or haters of Marmite thanks to 15 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s or genetic markers, in lay terms) linked to their taste preference’.
Local anglers, when fishing in our nearby canals and River Trent, usually have nothing more than a fisherman’s stool or folding picnic chair and very occasionally a windshield, umbrella or small tent. Compare that with this fishing ’temple’, yes that’s the official description, in the grounds of Calwich Estate, Ellastone, on the River Dove which forms the county boundary between Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
During a walk in the area, we were fortunate enough to in be able to look inside and see the large fireplace. We could imagine the log fire burning there, warming the guests as they sat around the large wooden dining table enjoying a fine meal, possibly freshly caught trout, prepared for them by the servants from the house. In addition to the river at the front there is a fishing lake at the rear of the building.
Even more interesting to we music lovers was that the composer Handel was one of the abbey’s frequent guests and it has been suggested that his visits here may have inspired some of his most important works such as ‘Messiah’ and ‘The Water Music’.
Handel’s most famous work is arguably The Messiah, and many believe he had the inspiration and ideas whilst here in the summer of 1741 and when he returned to London he put it all on paper in 24 days beginning on 24th August. Hallelujah!
A recent postcard – from last week actually. We decided to spend a couple of nights away, one in Chester and one in Southport. For a long time we had wanted to see Antony Gormley’s iron men on the beach at Crosby, a few miles south of Southport. A little bit of research to pinpoint the location informed us that they are actually called ‘Another Place’. We followed the first brown tourist attraction board to ‘Antony Gormley’s Another Place’ but ended up in a fairly deserted area which just didn’t seem right. There were no further directions, no sign of iron, or real men on a beach, and the water nearby was a lake, not the sea. It was cold, windy and showery; not the sort of weather for exploring unknown territory looking for iron men so we drove away. However, just down the road we saw a local resident repairing his car.
‘Excuse me’, Sue, obviously keen to use the correct title, asked with a big friendly smile on her face, ‘Could you direct us to Another Place please?’ There was a long silence, a puzzled look on the man’s face and definitely no return of the smile. After a long pause he queried, ‘You want me to direct you to another place?’ ‘Yes, it can’t be far from here’ After another lengthy pause he suddenly said ‘Oh, you mean the iron men on the beach!’, and proceeded to direct us to the very place we had just left. We gave it another go, still no iron men but this time another couple in search of them. They had just enquired at a nearby building and had been advised to go to Hall Road car park. We decided to forget it for that day, check in at the hotel and ask there. They also recommended Hall Road car park. We decided we would call on the way home the next day. We found Hall Road very easily and the car park overlooked the first few of the 100 iron men. At least the tide was out and we could see the men, spread out over a large area. It was still cold and windy but we walked on the beach for about 30 minutes, just enough time to take a few photographs.
In the ‘About’ page I suggest that the mobile phone, and its ability to send emails, pictures and texts, must accept some responsibility for the demise of the postcard. If that is so, then it must be even more accountable for the gradual disappearance of the good old phone box. These bright red icons of Britain are disappearing in large numbers. In my childhood these were the only way to make a phone call. Few families had a phone at home but one of these boxes was never far away. Now, and understandably, people prefer to carry a mobile, complete with all the contact numbers and a whole range of other information and capabilities they could ever wish for.
Many people in picturesque villages have been saddened by threats to remove their phone box, even though they probably didn’t use it. The phone box was part of the overall scene. However, rather than the boxes being removed, some people and parish councils are now ‘adopting’ an old red phone box and they are now being used to house ATM machines or defibrillators, mini art galleries, libraries or book exchange stations.
The good thing about digital photography is that it gives a record of exactly when the photo was taken and I was surprised to see that I took the one above at Sandringham Estate way back in July 2005. This must have been the time when more and more people were owning mobile phones and consequently turning their backs (as in the photograph) on the traditional phone box. You can imagine this couple had just purchased their first mobile and were enjoying the novelty of ringing family and friends from a holiday or day out.
‘March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb’. Weather lore goes back centuries and even today many of these sayings have some degree of accuracy. The trouble with March is that it doesn’t follow the transition from lion to lamb, or winter to spring, in a gradual, measured way. Each of its 31 days could be a fraction of a degree warmer, and the wind that little bit calmer, perhaps with a slightly more noticeable change on 21st as a token gesture to mark the first day of spring. But no, March keeps us guessing. A few days of fine weather followed by days of cold wind, frost, and, like today, a sprinkling of snow. If she’s feeling particularity mischievous, March will give all those things, and more, in a single hour.
Charles Dickens describes it particularly well in his quote on the back of today’s postcard.