A post which was prompted by a question asked by a listener on Scala Radio last week – ‘When is all safely gathered in?’ In other words ‘when is the harvest complete?’. We weren’t in the car long enough to hear all the answers suggested by other listeners but I know there isn’t a set day when all the farmers can lock up their combined harvesters for another year, put their feet up and enjoy a well-earned rest after all their hard work. No doubt the finishing date of the harvest depends very much on the type of crop, weather conditions and geographical location.
It’s our church Harvest Festival this Sunday and we will be following the practice of recent years of not offering gifts of fresh, home grown produce, but instead, providing non perishable items which in turn will be donated to the local YMCA food bank. This has significance in more ways than one; firstly, that most people in the congregation no longer grow their own fruit and vegetables, and secondly, the ever-growing need for food banks in 2019. This is a commendable idea but I do miss the sight and smell of all the potatoes, carrots, greens and apples which greeted us in earlier years.
Of course some things will never change as no harvest service is complete without the obligatory ‘We plough the fields…’ or ‘Come ye thankful people come…’!
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.
The third and final postcard of this trio from Beamish.
Beamish is home to several electric trams which run on a mile and a half circuit around the site. The museum contains modes of transport in all shapes and sizes. Not only is this of interest to transport enthusiasts but forms a much-welcomed way of moving around the site, for visitors and staff, all included in the entrance fee.
Dipping into the file of photos from our recent visit to Beamish again, this time looking at some of the many buildings on site. Most of these have been re-located, (or translocated is the word used on the Beamish website) stone by stone, brick by brick, from outlying towns and villages and now form an important part of the structure and layout of the museum.The town area, officially opened in 1985, depicts a typical street scene of around 1913.Ravensworth Terrace is a row of terraced houses, presented as the premises and living areas of various professionals, e.g. a music teacher, dentist and solicitor.The school opened on site in 1992. The building originally stood in East Stanley, It was donated by Durham County Council. No they are not IPads on the desks! Who remembers a Stephens Ink thermometer from school days?
The relocation of Pit Hill Chapel was completed in 1990. Originally opened in the 1850s, it first stood not far from its present site, having been built in what would eventually become Beamish village. It houses a fine replica of a double-lensed acetylene gas powered magic lantern as the chapel would have been used for various community activities.
As brass band enthusiasts we had to visit the Hetton Silver Band Hall which was opened in 2013.
As one of the more recent ‘translocations’ we felt it need to weather a bit as the brickwork looked new and pristine as did the surrounding block paving. However, it represents the role of numerous colliery bands in the area. The hall had been used by the Hetton Silver Band, founded in 1887, and the band donated the hall to the museum after they merged with Broughtons Band of South Hetton to form the Durham Miners’ Association Band. It is still used for performances at the museum.
St Helen’s Church was relocated from its original site in Eston, North Yorkshire where it had existed since around 1100. It opened at the Beamish site in November 2015.
We recently spent an enjoyable day at the Beamish Museum https://www.beamish.org.uk/ ‘The Living Museum of the North’. It is a vast site and includes relocated buildings making up a small town, pit village, colliery, farm, railway station and much more, all connected by a tramway and other forms of period transport. What really brings it to life is the small army of staff and volunteers who clearly enjoy living out the lives of the characters they depict. It was school-trip season but that didn’t detract and it was good to see young people engaging with all that was on offer.
I am sure we will return on the annual pass offer (pay once and return as often as you like in the next twelve months). Hopefully one or two more blogs to follow shortly but in the meantime here are a few ‘Beamish People’. I couldn’t resist a bit of post shutter editing as these seemed to cry out for some monochrome treatment. I hope you agree.
The second day of our recent mini-break was spent at Grange-over-Sands.
We last visited Grange-over-Sands about 15 years ago and as expected, nothing has changed and we were pleased about that. The town has a sort of timeless charm and doesn’t need to change. That of course is spoken as a tourist; residents may or may not agree.
The only thing that should change is the name, Grange-over-Sands. It is a big misnomer and some have suggested it should change its name to Grange-over-Grass. Apparently the “over-Sands” suffix was added to Grange in the late 19th or early 20th century by the local vicar who was fed up with his post going to Grange in Borrowdale near Keswick. Since then, the river Kent has changed its course and the water (Morecambe Bay) and the sand is now a fair distance away. Instead of ‘Where’s Wally?’ it’s ‘Where’s the sand?’
There is a mile-long promenade but this is not a typical seaside resort promenade. This one is totally traffic-free and instead of shops and amusement arcades there are views across the bay on one side and informal gardens lovingly tended by local volunteers on the other side. We ‘Nordic-walked’ the whole length from the station and back with the gardens on one side and views over the bay to the other side.
The station building was designed mid-1860s and was tastefully restored to its former glory in the late 1990s. It is a delightful building. The light and shade through the glass canopy created this fascinating effect on the platform.
The train was about to leave for Manchester Airport, calling at such places as Carnforth, Lancaster, Preston, Wigan, Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly, all a far cry from sleepy little Grange.
Oh dear what can the matter be…?
What was the problem in the toilets which required hazard warning signs and hard hats? Clearly much more than just a dripping tap!
We have just returned home from a few days in the Carnforth area of Lancashire. Mid-way between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, it gave us an ideal opportunity to revisit some old haunts and discover some new ones. Having seen many photographs of the Ribblehead Viaduct I thought this was a good chance to have a shot at it. I had always imagined it to be in a very remote area and assumed photographers had yomped miles across moorland and bogs, carrying heavy photographic equipment, in order to get the perfect shot. Surely we would be the only people around for miles. How wrong could I be. The reality is that the viaduct is just off the B6255 between Ingleton and Hawes, complete with layby parking, tea stall and a good path to the viaduct and beyond. Another example of reality not quite living up to expectations. We just managed to get one of the remaining parking spots.
Even though not as quiet as we had expected we enjoyed the visit and marvelled at the skill of the engineers and workforce who built it back in the 1870s. 2500 workers were needed and most lived in temporary camps around the project. No CDM Regulations, no Health and Safety at Work legislation so it is no surprise that well over 100 workers lost their lives during the construction of this part of the railway line between Settle and Carlisle. It must have been very bleak during the winter months.
I really am disillusioned now! Mini buses and cars parked beneath it!
The viaduct is still in use and we saw several trains while we were there.
So much for yomping with heavy cameras! A few steps from the road with a mobile phone.
The weather was brighter when we returned home and this is the view from the other side.
A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of attending the Whit Marches in the Tameside, Oldham and Saddleworth area in North West England. These are a series of brass band competitions held in 22 towns and villages on the edge of the Pennines and date back to the 1870s. Whit Friday has traditionally been a holiday in the area. On the Friday morning the traditional church Whit Walks take place and in the evening each village holds its own brass band contest. Well over 100 bands from all over the country tour the area in coaches, visiting as many contests as they can. The bands include all levels from Championship level, including National Champions Foden’s, to school and youth bands. This year there were also bands from Canada, Iceland, Sweden and Switzerland.
At each venue each band performs two pieces – a march performed on the move, where they may be awarded marks for deportment, and a set piece performed on a temporary band stand. The adjudicators are concealed in a caravan or nearby room, awarding marks without knowing the bands’ identities.
The Whit Friday contests are a favourite event in the brass band calendar and attract thousands of people. They are often described as ‘the greatest free show on earth!’
We have been out and about this week taking a few mid-May landscapes. I only tell you this so that I can use the expression ‘mid-May landscapes’.
I first heard the description over 30 years ago, when a colleague, who was also interested in photography, told me he would be taking his mid-May landscapes the following week. Ron’s birthday was in the middle of May and each year, without fail, he would book the whole week off work. This was partly to celebrate his birthday but mainly to capture his mid-May landscapes.
Each day of that week Ron would load his car with his camera gear and set off in a different direction, towards the open countryside, sometimes with a destination in mind, but more often than not, just follow his instinct, the light, the dramatic sky or whatever else caught his eye. He would drive down roads and lanes he had never explored before and thoroughly enjoy his week of self-indulgence.
I hadn’t heard the expression until I met Ron but I immediately realised that it meant the time of the year when the leaves are new, fresh and vibrant; when the grass is lush; when the whole of nature buzzes with life and energy and the light often has a special quality about it. I thought perhaps it was a well-known term used by photographers and artist which had somehow passed me by.
That was back in pre-internet days but the term stuck with me and several years later I consulted Professor Google expecting to find a long list of famous artists or photographers who had used the description, but nothing. Perhaps it was an expression Ron had made up, or had once heard and it stuck with him just as it stuck with me and perhaps after today, with you too.