Sunday, 30 September 2007

Thanks for my award, Sweet Irene

I very much appreciate this award that Sweet Irene has given me today. Thanks Sweet Irene!

Friday, 28 September 2007


I am going to write this now to be topical and add pictures when I get some at a later date.(I've done it. Just click on enlarger to see Minster in distance and also windmill ruins) Or just google some pictures of Beverley East Yorkshire, to get the idea. Frances(Carpet Full of Holes)is doing an autobiog and was born in Beverley which is a town very near to where I live. As she was probably very small when she was there and can't remember what it was like I thought I would fill her in on a few details.

Beverley is an old East Yorkshire market town with a large Minster. A bit like York, but on a smaller scale. We often go walking the dogs on Beverley Westwood which is a oak tree surrounded pasture with views of Beverley and the Minster nestling in the valley. It is a picture-postcard perfect English country town with many old medieval buildings, a market place (where on occasions Morris Dancers can be seen plying their trade, seem to have a good time, like their beer, I think the dancing is just an excuse) cobbled streets, medieval arches to drive through and many Olde English pubs, called things like 'The Rose and Crown' and 'The White Hart'.

There is one of the most atmospheric pubs I have ever been in here called Nellies. It is called Nellies because orginally it used to be Nelly's front room and she brewed her own beer and bustled about in her skirts as she used to pour the foaming brew out of a jug for the visiting yeomanry. The mirrors are so old they are black and the walls are nicotine stained brown, and the floors are flag stones, but no longer have straw on them. The building is so old that the outside walls are bowed and I often point them out to my kids as we go past and they marvel that the building is still standing.

I got married here at the Registry Office and had the reception in a hotel next to the Registry Office called The Lairgate. My son Jack was born in a cottage hospital overlooking the Westwood, and I once had a job cleaning some of the huge Edwardian villas surrounding it. Shockingly dirty, some of them, but the upper classes don't usually bother about that sort of thing, it is usually the lower orders who are rather cleaner.

The Westwood is hilly and has woods and an old quarry which is now overgrown. If I were to meet my maker tomorrow I want a bench here near the wood overlooking the Minster with 'Beverley' on it as a memorial. Though obviously they would need to put a few more details on it or people would think it had just been left by the Council. Jack tested his toddler legs on its inclines. There are lots of bullocks ambling about and stopping the traffic like they own the place. On Bonfire night there are fireworks here and it is super scary as, it being open countryside, it is pitch black so it is a military operation getting the kids back to the car among the crowds and heaven help you if you were to let go of one of their hands. Also a racecourse which has a kite festival and where you can buy kites which actually fly.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Working in Factories

This is not meant to be a very good photo, just a piece of documentary evidence which I took while I was picking up my mobile phone from being fixed, of the back of the factory which I worked in when I first moved to Hull. It was Ross's then, but now it is something else, and seems to be manned by a lot of Poles who have come to this city.
I used to work the night shift, from 6 to 6 and use to have a scooter which I used to whizz across the flyover from where I took the picture.
I quite enjoyed doing this, when I used to put burgers into boxes. It is mindless therapeutic activity, rather like twiddling with worry beads, but is obviously rather more productive than fiddling with beads. I used to like working on the end of the line, and I can make a mean cardboard box. You take a flat piece of cardboard and by means of various dextrous movements transform it into a box. My technique was so fast that the box, to an observer, must have looked like a blur of arms and cardboard, rather in the manner of a magic trick, cardboard and then box in the twinkling of an eye. You had to be quick as the line moved on its inexorable progress, and that rather concentrated the mind, as if you didn't there would be a ever-increasing pile of Ross Beef Burger boxes on the floor.
Inspite of this, some of it was a little boring and you used to live for the tea breaks, of which you had three, of twenty minutes duration. Of course, everyone smoked and drank very sugary tea and had greasy fryups. With jobs like this you need to have something to look forward to. It is a little easier to keep up the healthy regime when your job is a little more intrinsically satisfying. That's why I get a little peeved at the politicans in Westminster for their smoking ban and telling other people, in other circumstances, what to do.
From this job I imbibed an extensive knowledge of early nineties pop music as the radio was always on. I particularly remember Seal and Billy Ray Cyrus, whom all the girls used to love. I remember Norma who spent all her money on the best cosmetic and toileties and who used to feed her dogs potatoes (along with proper food, not quite an RSPCA case) and I hope they are all right.
They used to make Linda McCartney vegetarian foods. I used to watch as an alternate lines bins of meat for the meat pies, and bins of soya for the vegetarian pies were lined up. I thought then that the lads were a little casual in their lining up of the bins. Sure enough, a few years later a vegetarian person complained when he found he was tucking into a meat pie, and they got into a whole lot of trouble. I think there was a court case.
I finished the job just as the sun rose in the morning and came streaming through the windows. It was the best feeling in the world. Then home to bed, which was the best sleep I had ever had.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Eccentric Gardens

I went to sign on today. I notice Scamp is not barking anymore when I leave him outside so he must be getting used to the experience.

On the way there I took the opportunity to take some pictures of eccentric gardens of which there are many round here, as I know Frances likes gardens, and I think these are great. When I used to walk about with my kids when they were younger they used to like things like this and there was always something to talk about. People have put a lot of effort into these and they added a bit of fun and interest to my walk.

First pic, they seem to like horses. Note the street sign saying Horseman Drive, the little horse and carriage with a person in it behind the gate. Nice touch also are the wagon wheels next to the wall and if you look closely you will see horses on top of the garage.

Second pic, a gnome garden with a rude gnome at the front, and a lit pool with a fountain.

A lot of people seem to have got in the back of their minds an 'Englishman's home is his castle' and there are lot of lions on gateposts rather in the manner of lions at the entrance to stately home but third pic is a bit different, with two Buddhas at the entrance. Peace and harmony to be found at that house, then!

Fourth pic, you would need plenty of trips to the garden centre to recreate this effect, but I like it. What with all the topiary and animals it has rather a storybook, Alice in Wonderland feel to it.

Fifth pic, they like owls and they don't give two hoots what anybody thinks. A commendable attitude and one that is quite prevalent on the streets of Hull.

Monday, 24 September 2007


This is the playground that my kids grew up in. To the left is the boating lake where we went fishing in in August.
When Tessa was young she used to make a beeline for this lake as she likes swimming (the retriever in her)from the other end of the park, hurdling the mini cattle grid put in place to prevent dogs entering, with us in hot pursuit. Amid a flurry of feathers and quacking and me trying to tempt her out of the lake with whatever was to hand (rustling a crisp packet) a small crowd used to gather and the parkie used abandon his tea and come out of his hut to tell me off.
Actually this is the second playground, the safety conscious one with the bark chippings in case you fall. Notice half a climbing frame as somebody at the council got the measurements wrong and they couldn't fit it all in. The old one was on concrete and had huge tall slides (and I couldn't look when they were at the top) the sort that people used to grease and you used to slide off the end, and those round wooden roundabouts that used to go really fast so that the kids were kept in place by g-forces. Also monkey bars that only the best kids used to manage and I had to carry my kids on my shoulders while they pretended to do it, to recreate the effect. Similarly swings which always seem to threaten to go right round when you went really high. This playground is a lot safer, though probably less exciting.
Hull City Council always do a good playground(when they get the measurements right)and there is a pirate ship complete with rope swing hammock inside. Great for hiding in when my kids and mates played hide and seek, though not as good a hiding place as crouching behind the blue bin and not as good as going round and round the parkie's hut while the seeker follows you ad infinitum. Instead of a roundabout is a treadmill running roundabout where you run and stay in the same place while the wheel goes round. Also twizzle sticks that I used to turn round while the kids used to sit on the base asking them questions like an interrogation('Do you clean your teeth? Are you going to eat all your dinner?) and if they got them wrong used to turn it faster, which they seemed to like.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Jack's Cartoon


Sweet Irene said that Jack might be a good cartoonist on the evidence of his homework diary and I think he is. Here is a comic that Jack made some time ago. It has been stuck to the freezer with a fridge magnet for some time so has
attracted some stains, mainly from Jack himself on his frequent forays to the fridge.

It's called 'Iceman, The Beginning' so presumably is part of a trilogy, like 'Lord of The Rings'. The name and the skyscraper, and action at the top of tall buildings would suggest that it has been heavily influenced by cartoons such as Batman and Spider man. Though Iceman is obviously a cooler figure entirely. Also perhaps 'King Kong' as that first building has a touch of the Empire State Building about it.

I like Jack's cool Svengali figure with the pink jumpsuit, shades and trendy combed back hairstyle. Jack has drawn his hair being blown back by the wind as he is pushed from the skyscraper by his robot (whom he wants to go and rob a bank for him) and clutching his shades like he doesn't want to lose them. This also reminds me a bit of 'Carry On Screaming' (a comedy)which Jack has also seen, where people are dunked in fluid (like the little man is at the beginning of the cartoon) and turned into Frankenstein beasts to do their master's bidding. Like Frankenstein this robot has rebelled and turned on his master.

Like Spiderman, who travels about on spider's webs, Iceman appears to travel about on a substance which pertains to his name, namely an iceslide which has obviously appeared from nowhere, and which Iceman uses to save jumpsuit man. Robot goes 'Huh!', a bit of dialogue which Jack has probably got from his reading of the Beano, and which people don't say in real life. Jack seems to have got a bit fed up at this point because the action moves on very quickly, in contrast to the complex allusions and dialogue of the comic's beginnings, during which the robot is comprehensively trashed and the world is saved. It's not too frightening as all the pictures are very cutesy, as indeed are all Jack's cartoon pictures.

I like the back of the comic, which says 'Tree House Comics Inc', so obviously Jack fancies himself as a bit of a cartoonist, and is thinking of setting up his own company.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

St Stephen's Shopping Centre

This is a new shopping centre in Hull, which has cost twenty million. It has effected our lives this week as my me, my Mum, Dad and Jack went round it today and we are looking after Alex tomorrow while his Mum goes round because he doesn't behave very well in shopping centres.

Fifth pic, a huge imposing cliff of a building, which reminds me of what Philip Larkin said about Hull Royal Infirmary, which is a similar building -

'That is what it means
This clean-sliced cliff, a struggle to transcend
The thought of dying'
There are huge glass windows, pillars and a cathedral-like interior. It is also called St Stephen 's, after the saint,like a church. First pic shows something of the scale of the thing with the dummies in the window being lifesize and the huge posters of giants, gods of consumerism, with the 'Must Have', bestriding the world like a colossus.

Perhaps shopping is the new religion because everyone flooded through the doors on Thursday when it opened, apparently the population of Withersea. Anyway, there is something profoundly reassuring about shopping in these buildings as everything is clean (look at the shining white polished marble floors) light,open and ordered and everything is a straightforward transaction - you pay your money and come away with something nice. Everyone knows its not that simple in the real world.

Alex's Mum Libby will be going to find some new smart suits for her work, and will hope that the shops rival the ones in Leeds. Alex himself has just got a picture of his printed as a star letter in the national 'Spongebob Squarepants magazine' so we went into WH Smith to check it out. Jack hung around the £40 games in the hope that his Grandma would buy him one, but seemed satisfied with his £15 Sims II game.

Jack likes it and said 'Great, it's a Mall' because it's like an American shopping mall and according to him everthing is bigger and better in America.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

The Common

Here are some pics of the Common. You are not strictly allowed to use it as it is supposed to be private land but everybody does, after all it is a Common, and somewhere along the line was Common Land (you can still see the furrows made by the medieval farming) until some greedy person sold it off, so our mass trespass is some sort of political statement against greedy capitalism and right for people to have green spaces. First and third pics(enlarge to see) school kids using it to go home and the horses. Second pic, you usually find this all over, if somebody has fenced off some land, someone will have kindly removed one of the railings so you can squeeze through.
During the summer a lot of the school kids walk back on it and it can be quite idyllic, when the may comes out on the bushes and with kids collecting frogs surrounded by carpets of buttercups. The horses seem to know when the schools finish because they are usually at the fence waiting for people to give them carrots. You've got to be careful with the horses as they have gone to the wild and will suddenly start galloping about in a herd. At times like this it is best to hide in one of the thickets pictured. Once the two dogs and I spent quite some time in a thicket while the horses thundered past, though Scamp will daringly run up to the odd horse, bark at it, and then run off again like the wind. They will also follow you if you've got a bag, because they think it's food. This happened to me when I felt breathing down my neck and turned to see a large horse eying my bag. Quite often you can see the big kids running away from the horses, and once I carried a young girl on my back across a bog because I had my wellies on because we were fleeing the horses, and had banded together for safety in numbers, as it were. I think the kids have worked out that if you work both your arms in a windmill motion it will scare them off, and you see this particular technique used quite often.
Once a horse got across a bit of fence and ended up in the playground and they have also been seen grazing on the roundabout.
The thickets are quite interesting as they have bit of wood lying about in some sort of pattern, and remind me of that film 'The Blair Witch Project', where objects are left lying about in the spooky woods, possibly by a witch. You will see this in the fifth picture. Who left them there?

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Awarding awards

I will award these to the people whose blogs I always read and were created by Frances (Carpet Full of Holes).

This is quite difficult awarding these awards as it is very difficult to choose who gets what as each person's blog is a blog masterclass in its own way on its own subjects. However, it's a bit of a cop out to award everybody everything so -
Intellectually stimulating - Sweet Irene (who is a great thinker and even got me onto a Dutch website looking at Van Gogh pictures once. Through her I found out about Jung.)
Intellectually stimulating - Rima (found out all sort of things I never knew about art - some great pictures)
Apple for Teacher - Frances (great blog, Frances)
Apple for Teacher - Debi (amazing photos, very clever and imaginative captions)
Apple for Teacher - Bobbie (you can see where Debi got it from)
Intellectually stimulating - Laurie (want to know about the Russia and the plight of the Finns, or being watched by KGB agents?)


Here are my awards from Frances and Bobbie which I have successfully got onto my blog. Now they are safely here I will work out how to move them onto my title page.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Crime and Punishment

Here is another entry to 'Two Things Challenge'.
Eleanor has just started playing in a girls' football team and the other day I took Scamp along to watch.

Scamp does have a problem with stealing balls, and will regularly steal other dogs' balls (of course I always go and retrieve them). He does also sometimes try to run into a football game at the park and steal the ball, but I notice he chooses his targets very carefully, never the fully grown mens' games, only the little boys'.

I shouldn't really have taken him as I think he was frustrated at watching the ball pass to and fro in front of him for 45mins, so near yet so tantalisingly out of reach. He was also disconcerted at everybody jumping up and cheering as people scored a goal. I often try and see things from a dog's point of view and if you didn't understand the rules of football you would wonder why all of a sudden everyone jumped up and started cheering for, as you saw it, no reason. Anyway, he did pull from my grasp and run onto the pitch and hold up the game, alarming the girls. (This was not as bad as the time Tess ambled into a playgroup to find Eleanor). This was the second time he had done this as the previous Saturday I had just taken Eleanor and hadn't stayed, had let him off his lead on the way back home and he had run back to find Eleanor and invaded the pitch in the process. As you can see from the letter home he has been banned from going to further matches (No.6), in capitals to underline the seriousness of the matter.

This also works for 'Initiation/Termination' as Scamp's first football match was also his last.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Continental Hull

I think I should get a job with Hull tourist board because these are genuine pics of Hull which I took the other day which make it look like a sophisticated continental city, with a cafe pavement culture, no less. I was going to call this post 'Day Trip to Bruges, Venice of the North' and pass these pics off as pictures of the continent, and pretend I had been on a 'Dutch Dash' as their are very good links on the ferries here, and I think they would pass muster, but I don't want to add to all the misinformation on the Web. Also I realised that there was a large 'HULL' on that flowerbed.

First pic, cobbled streets of Old Town. One of the reasons a lot of people think Hull is a unattractive city is that it was heavily bombed in the War and a lot of lovely old buildings were lost and replaced by drab functional fifties buildings.

Second pic, cafe pavement society. They keep trying to do this all over, leaving tables outside pubs and restaurants, and sometimes the British weather isn't up to it, but it was today.

Third pic, Hull Marina, lots of yachts, lots of money, could be Cannes.

Fourth pic, we are here quite often as there is a Gamestation Shop on that corner where we get Jack's playstation games. Also building to the left is where we got our wedding rings. Fifth pic, you can't fault this city's municipal gardening and on a summer's day this grass is covered by people lying on it.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

An English Brown Moth

I am writing this post because I like reading Debi Cates 'A Photo a Day' who has some amazing photos of exotic Texas wildlife. Debi has had photos of caterpillars that have the markings of tigers, and bright and exotic moths with the marking of orchids and the other day, I kid you not, a moth that looked like the snow queen, with coat, gloves and ermine ruff.
I thought I would try some of my own, and took a pic of this moth on the landing. The pic is a little shady but moths need to camouflage and much of this island is indeed at times a little shady, hence its brown colour. These are the only sorts of moths round here, I haven't seen any others, but you sometimes get huge spiders, in fact we only had two this morning in the bath. The camouflage is very effective because as you can see when I took it outside and put it down you can't see it at all.
How could you describe this moth? To me it looks like someone wearing a brown mac and head scarf, maybe in the Utiliterian forties, maybe with gravy browning in lieu of tights, perhaps carrying in a brown paper bag, queuing for rationed food in the drizzle. We also have Cabbage White Butterflies, which are a similarly exotic species.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Victorian Hull

Today Scamp and I walked into town to buy Eleanor's birthday presents from Argos and as I had my camera with me I took some pics.
When I go into the centre of Hull I am always reminded that Hull was once a great port in the nineteenth century, and everywhere you look there is evidence of this.
First pic, City Hall with banners commemorating the bicentary of William Wilberforce, who was from Hull and instrumental in abolishing slavery. Towering plinth with Queen Victoria perched on high, from when Britain ruled the waves, and is that Neptune with some sort of trident at the base?
Second pic, entrance to Pearson Park. When Hull was wealthy the Victorians built a great many parks with ornate villas surrounding them, and here is one of them. The arch is decorated in a suitably nautical theme.
Interesting Pearson Park because Philip Larkin (one of England's foremost poets)lived in this villa and this is where he wrote 'High Windows', and you can see why. I think he lived in a flat on the top floor and which looked down on Pearson Park.(Fifth pic). In the poem he talks about looking at the lovers sitting on the grass in the park below and later,
Rather than words comes the thought of high windows
The sun comprehending glass
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless
If I won the lottery fourth pic is where I would want to live. It's called 'The Avenues' and the villas are glorious. This is where the middle classes lived, but surrounding it are the artisan terraces which, although on a humble scale, are similarly elegant. Fancy being so full of yourself that you built an ornate fountain just because you could with (what looks like) mermaids playing sea shells and swans holding up bowl of the fountain.
Who says Hull is a gritty drab city? Certainly not me.