Thursday, 29 November 2007

A Palatial Pub

Today, after I had done my shopping, in the interests of anthropological research I thought I would stop at a pub on the way home to take some pics, and, of course, to enable me to do that I had to buy a pint as well.

This is a pub in quite a rough industrial area, but it is a nice piece of architecture (like 'The Tower') as it is a Victorian Hotel dating from when Hull was in its prime during the industrial revolution. That sign on the window says 'B&B (Bed and Breakfast) £15, and I doubt whether you'd get board as cheap as that anywhere in the country. Inside was a talking parrot and various locals, and huge chandeliers and swags. I suppose it is quite a dodgy activity doing this, being woman on her own in such an area, but I never felt alarmed; indeed, I seemed to fit in quite well. The pub smelt of smoke (somebody's breaking the smoking ban) and there were a couple of eccentric old ladies who kept departing to the ladies for a quick fag. I sat in a corner out the way taking these pics and suddenly the air turned blue. As I left the barman said "Ay, you shouldn't be talking like that, there's ladies present" and the bloke who was using the colourful language said to me "Well, sorry about that, it's the first time I ever swore".

Odessa come to 'ull

Today I went into Hull again to do my Xmas shopping as I don't have the use of the car during the day and there is only so much I can carry, so it is taking quite a few trips.
I saw this motorhome today called 'Odessa' and I like all the Texan wildlife on the back. It is probably called that because it speaks of frontiership and exploring the great outdoors, as you should be doing in a motorhome.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Mushroom City

Talking about cities, on a dog walk today I saw these mushrooms, proliferating round here because of the damp. At a distance they looked like a skyscraper city scape with architecture of different heights. They have mushoomed into this colony because of the favourable environment there, as cities tend to do anywhere that is favourable to supporting life.

New York

I went into Hull for a bit of Xmas shopping yesterday, and on the way back took a few pics. I like the name of this nightclub, 'New York'. You can tell from the skyline that it's nothing like New York round there, but it is hopeful, fantasist, and positive. People making the best of their circumstances.

It's like I've noticed the pubs get more palatial in inverse relation to their surrounding environment.
First pic, this building used to be a nightclub called 'The Tower' and there used to be a well-known Hull expression 'Let's go to The Tower for an hour' which referred to people repairing to this establishment en masse when they had finished drinking in the pubs on a night out. Who says they can't versify in 'ull !

Two Things Challenge Forsaken/Foundling

I was walking the dogs today and found this hedge, leafless and forsaken in the winter.

However, on closer inspection I found in it's branches a little round baby holly berry, nestling in the leaves as though they were blankets.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

A real fire

It's getting cold here now, and one of the nice things about winter is the contrast between the cold outside and, hopefully, the warmth inside. Because we live in an old house we still have open fire places and we make use of them during the winter. The kids like sitting round the fire and looking into it, and there is nothing like a flickering flame to get your imagination working. Beats sitting round the TV, though arguably as John Lennon said, that is your modern fire, with the flickering images of it's own, though there the imagining has already been done for you.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Thrift Shops

This is the charity shop I use all the time. That water bowl is the very bowl that my dogs take refreshment from in the hot weather.
I used to get most of the stocking fillers and some Christmas presents from this shop until my kids got older and a bit wise to it. They were excellent stocking fillers, being an interesting and quirky assortment, just right for providing that ephemeral impact on Christmas Day. However, some seriously good and treasured presents were obtained from this shop, like a whole stack of
back copies of the Beano for £1.
It is also a good source of cheap, frivolous and spangly shoes for Eleanor, all obtained from under £3, so she can go tripping up and down the street with her friends. I also get music CDs from here for 50p, which is virtually like having your own CD library, and which I listen to while washing up, and this has given me much of my musical education.
It has recently come under new management and I notice that the ladies drive a hard bargain, which is fair enough as they are raising money for charity and these nice things are being got for a steal. These ladies could probably manage perfectly well bartering in any market anywhere in the world that you could care to mention. I notice that they don't put prices on some of the things and seem to make it up as they go along! They also have noticed that I buy a lot of shoes there and will make a point of keeping shoes for me that they think will suit in the back and bringing them out when I come in. Of course, I always buy whatever they offer because I am a bit soft like that!
I sometimes buy clothes from shops like this, or have in the past, but only from the thrift shops in the more upmarket areas because they get the best clothes donated there. Excuse me, but I do have a bit of class!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Two Things Challenge - Brash and Luster

I am choosing this photo of a balloon for Brash and Luster, because I bought it today for Holly's birthday and I noticed how shiny (luster) it was. Below it are similarly shiny items bought from a Card and Present Shop near our house, by Eleanor and Holly, who are it's most faithful customers. They LOVE these pink and shiny objects, and to them, the shop is a never ending box of delights. Perhaps 'brash' is too strong a word for these ojets d'art, but they are quite showy, and just the sort of thing little girls love!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Maintenance Monday - Piles of Books

Again, I am worried about the cheating issue, as it wasn't actually me who did this maintenance job. Actually, it was my husband, who had the day off work, and was generally carrying on about how the house is a mess so did some ostentatious tidying jobs of his own. Here is his bedside. You may think it looks a mess, but this actually after the tidying up!
We are all great readers in this house so the piles of books mount up. This was a Leaning Tower of Pisa pile of books until it was tidied today. Notice how my husband tucks his Landrover magazine up in bed with him.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Exam Art

As an invigilator I am supposed to stop this sort of thing, that is, doodling on the numbers which identify the different exam desks, and I certainly have. However, the other day I saw a boy do the first pic, Mr Cool Rabbit, out of his number M11. I sternly reprimanded him, but quite liked the mini artistic rebellion against exam conformity. It shows a bit of life in the kids. Obviously, this is not very good art or well drawn, so it is right up my street, and so I decided to do a few more.
The third (OK, I know)needs a bit of explanation, as it is a picture of a person looking at some rocks near where we live in Yorkshire called Brimham Rocks. Here the rocks are piled precariously on top of each other like these ones, and may be due to the actions of a meteorite, or volcanic activity. A Rocket lollipop is a lollipop shaped like a rocket which you may happen to be eating in a playground if the ice-cream van comes.

Thursday, 15 November 2007


Thought I'd better add a bit of documentary evidence here. It's a shame I don't still have the very official invigilator's badge, which was really the best part of the job. I used to go to pick the kids up with it on and people used to look at me like I had been chairing very important meetings.
I have been doing this job for quite a long time, during the exam season. It involves making sure the kids don't cheat during exams. As my husband said tonight, it allows me to exercise all my major life skills, that is, standing still and not talking to anybody (that's how they talk round here). Sometimes you do have to do a bit of talking, but that is thankfully, rare, and sometimes you have to hand out paper. As the retired gentleman said to me the other day when there was a bit of a spurt on with the paper handing out at his end of the sports hall 'This is getting too exciting. I can't handle this'. Sometimes the kids are really thick and they put their hands up and ask you the answer to the exam questions!
Once it happened to somebody I know during a Spanish exam. She asked the lady the answer to a question and the lady said 'Sorry, I don't speak Spanish' and this girl said 'Well, that's no good, is it'!
You've got to make sure the kids don't cheat by watching them, and stopping them smirking at each other and other inappropriate behaviour. You can tell the rebellious ones by their gait as soon as they enter the room and you keep a close eye on them. Sometimes the kids are quite funny. Once the Senior Invigilator was watching a boy getting a small piece of paper out of his shirt pocket on a number of occasions and studying it closely. Remembering all his invigilator training he went to the boy and demanded to see the paper, which was totally blank! Quite good the Senior Invigilator, Brian Spratt. An ex-PE teacher with a big handlebar moustache. Good asides. 'Would make a good barmaid' was one today.
Definitely a little bit of dumbing down is going on here as sometimes I look at some of the exam papers, and think they are a lot easier than the ones I took. Today I saw a paper asking for the three stages of giving birth, I ask you! I think it was Home Economics. Sometimes I seriously think I could sit some of these papers without any prior knowledge and get a good grade.
You've got to watch out for the new technology such as i-pods, and apparently now there are tiny ear pieces you can put in your ear that are powered by radio waves, so that some genius outside can give you the answers, though why you would need something like this with 'Basic Food Technology' is a moot point.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Hedgehog Lady

I first met hedghog lady, whose real name is Lesley, today while invigilating. She rushed in late and explained it was because she couldn't find one just before she was ready to go out, but eventually found him curled up in a bag of bedding. We got talking about animals, and also about the small animals hotel, which is run near here and near to her house, and where we leave the guinea pigs when we go on holiday. We also got talking about what used to be a fish and chip shop at the top of our street, and, coincidence, the son of the fishshop owner, William was also inviligating today.

After the session she invited me back to her house for a coffee. I admit that I was a bit put out by this as, after a boring sesh, I was desparate to read the paper. However I got on my bike and found her house.

She showed me me the hedgehog in question who was still asleep in the bedding and picked him up like in the pic. After a while I asked whether he was still asleep as he was very still but she said no, he had woken up but they are quite strange creatures, who, however, can certainly put a bit of speed on when they want to. I asked whether he was a bit prickly and she said he could be when he wanted but to feel him as he was very warm, as indeed he was. She also had a number of hedgehogs in little runs in her house, which was a nice thing to do as she obviously didn't have much money and the vets fees mount up. Apparently she has been rescuing hedgehogs who have been hurt by strimmers (grass cutting machines) and who have damage to their limbs.

She lived in a very nice bungalow with a lovely garden which she had obviously made great efforts to hold onto. It had some Pampass grass (which she obviously likes) and was quite impressed by the fact I know about an impressive plant on a verge near to where I live, because I took a picture for this blog, which she has noticed too. Though she says she will pass the on the pink Pampass grass, which apparently her sister-in-law has.

All around the house and sunroom (which caught the light) were a motley collection of rescue cats who were strategically sunning themselves on the exact warmest spots that the sun came through the window. One cat came in mewing and she said "He is very fat, don't look" and he certainly was. Another sleeker brown cat was sunning himself outside on a patio chair. Yet another cat was sunbathing in the sun room on a chair which was the last left over from the suite which she had bought with her ex-husband many years before, but she had cut up and burned all the rest, but she had kept a chair for her cat.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Intricate/Interlace Two Things Challenge

I have just returned from my job as a invigilator, where I am supposed to prevent cheating, and reflected that I have virtually cheated on the Two Things by rehashing some old file photos which I have already used on this blog with similar wording, so I have done another one, taking some pics on my bike ride home!
First pic is the entry a 'Silver Birch'. I remember reading somewhere that they call these trees 'Nature's Lady' because of their delicate trucks and their fine leaves. When you look through the leaves on our tree in the summer the delicacy and intricacy of the leaves, interlaced in a complex pattern, gives them a lace effect, perhaps also hence the name. This one today looks a bit windswept, perhaps like a bride entering a church with her veil blown about on a windy day.
This got me thinking on my ride home that perhaps other trees have an essential character and I took a few more pics to have a bit of fun with this.
Second pic, a young thrusting yuppie executive of a tree, outreaching his peers, ( see the sleek lines) with the sky as the limit.
Third pic, a bohemian tree, obviously seen a lot and lived a bit and an interesting shape.
Fourth pic, some sort of solid wise old tree who has also seen it all and can carry the weight of the smaller younger plants in its branches.
Leylandii, big ugly strong trees, bald and round, that are bought by people to protect their property. A bit anti-social. Nature's bouncers.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Maintenance Monday

I admit that I find these challenges great fun and I notice that Gina has started one called 'Maintenance Monday' on her blog, 'Arizona Mama's Musings'. This is about doing cleaning tasks on a Monday, the ones that never get done. I like her funny description of cleaning an air vent, eventually ending up with step ladders and a toothbrush!
When I was on Frances' blog tonight looking at her pictures of Cyprus she asked whether anyone could see a helicopter. I kept seeing many dark shapes in the sky all over the place until I looked more closely at my computer and noticed it was very smudgy, probably due to excessive Runescape use, pointing out fellow knights and plotting tactics and so on. It doesn't help there are usually chewies and chocolate to hand.
I never clean the computers as I am worried about damaging this very expensive equipment. I haven't really thought about it but I suppose at the back of my mind is the fact that the technology of the computers is so good that this sort of spills over onto the keyboard pads, that they are sort of self-cleaning, or at least made out of a everlastingly clean polymer. However, tonight I interrupted the game to give it a good clean.
Hey Gina, don't worry about your air vents. There looks like there's a fly on my table!

Intricate/Interlace Two Things Challenge

Two pics, well it is a challenge.

First pic taken in 'Little Beruit' in Hull, a rundown area, of a little glass crystal display (intricate) that someone can be bothered to make in between their lace nets, probably to block out the scenes of carnage beyond.

Second pic, our bedroom ceiling which if you enlarge you can see an intricate pattern of cracks caused by the bombing of the Second World War. I thought I would put this in as it is the day after Remembrance Sunday. Sixty years later when we were asleep in bed in all fell down, maybe as a result of the damage made all those years before, like the flapping of a butterfly's wings will eventually cause a hurricane in another part of the world, but on a timescale. You can see my attempts to take the room into lace territory, inspite of the gaping hole in the ceiling. Haven't yet got my husband to fix this properly, also an intricate task. As is apparently shoe-lace tying for my twelve year old son.

Sunday, 11 November 2007


While walking about with the dog I often take notice of the many place names of houses and often wonder why they have been called that. In doing this I am not being satirical, but merely curious. I like anyone who doesn't mind being a bit different or calling their house something a bit different. The other day I came across one called 'Adenuff' , which needs no explanation, but perhaps is not the most cheerful of housenames. Though I like the use of dialect.
I like this one 'Khyber'. It is reminiscent of the 'Khyber Pass'. I know that this expression is cockney rhyming slang for 'Falling on your Khyber', so perhaps the householder is trying to make a similar dry point about life as the people a bit further up the road. If so, it is appropriate that the butt end letter of the sign has indeed fallen on its khyber, or off it.
Maybe the people in the house have done the equivalent of traversing a rocky hostile terrain to get together, in which case this would make this very romantic. Or maybe they just have warring families. I notice the name has not been bought as a full name but has been made especially from single letters which would seem to imply that the choice of name has some special personal significance.
Maybe the people who live there are old hippies who have been on the hippy trail at some point across the 'Khyber Pass'. In which case I like them even more. Not outside the realms of possibibilty as I know people who have been on the Himalayas on their own personal odyssey. Maybe the last letter missing on the intriguing house name is symbolic of a ramshackle but fascinating interior within.
All interesting, adds to my house names collection and whiles away many a dogwalking hour.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Remembrance Sunday

Though not a traditionalist in many ways I always buy a poppy to remember the fallen. I try to impress on my two kids the sacrifices made by a generation of young men. There is a Common near here with ditches and I try to help them imagine what it must have felt like to be in one of them ready to meet probably fatal enemy fire.
When we went to Scarborough recently I took a picture of a First World War Memorial, which you find all over England, often surrounded, like this one, with wreaths and people.
Once I was on a camping holiday and I remember staying up all night to read Sebastian Faulk's 'Birdsong', which is about the experience in the trenches and remember being a bit chastened the next day. Another good response is, of course, 'Blackadder' (a comedy) which is very moving and has the sergeant reflecting how they are going to get out of it before they go over:'We are going to have to be cleverer than a fox that is a Professor of Cunning at Oxford University'.
Of course, all this was probably a complete waste of young lives, 'lions led by donkeys', as they were. Probably parallels can be drawn with the current war in Iraq. That is why I like the rebellious artistic responses to the War, preultimate among these being Dadaism, which poked fun at the kind of blind obedience to the prevailing bourgoise mentality that led to the deaths of the predominantly working class Pals Battalions. As Wilfred Owen put it, the old lie - Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori . I like this moustache drawn on the Mona Lisa. This healthy disrespect for authority fuelled the artistic movements which led to Postmodernism and ultimately to movements like punk. Although young lives are still being sadly wasted in the armed forces, I would argue that it would be very difficult to find sufficient numbers of young men willing to undertake a similar task on such a scale as the one faced in 1914-18 now, in the West, at least.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Morning Dew

I took this on Sunday while the grass was still shimmering with the morning dew (as usual my camera isn't up to it). Scamp has improved his modelling skills and has stopped directly in between the trees which lends this pic its pleasing symmetry. Behind can be seen an avenue of poplars which makes a majestic runway for himself, and in this photo he strikes a noble pose.

I am moved to a haiku or two.

Lord of All He Surveys

This is my kingdom
A king of infinite space
My morning progress

Mystical morning

Diamonds of dew
Sprent with the lore of druids
Magic in nature
That second one needs a bit of explanation because apparently the word 'druid' means saturated with the dew of knowledge. That first pic shows some 'magic mushrooms' (or quite a close approximation of them, as I think they are a bit smaller) and no, I haven't been eating any! Though I notice there are some people round here who do collect them.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Sparklers Party

Last night was bonfire night so I took some pics of our sparklers party in the back garden. I tried to take some pics of fireworks as we went for a walk round our neighbourhood which is good on bonfire night as nearly everyone has fireworks, but it was very difficult with a rubbish camera with a two seconds delay. I finally gave up and took some pics of street lights (which don't cascade through the sky and tend to stay still) but they still look pretty good, like giant glow worms. Third is a bonfire on the Common (which is pitch black in the middle, away from the street lights) and you can see the shadowy figures of people. Not often you see a fire like this in the pitch black and it is quite a primitive sight, but the Common is a primitive place.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Two Things Challenge - Nature and Civilisation

It's the first pic, but I wanted to get all these other ones in as they are similar and all help to make the same point, and they display some lovely autumn colours. All, apart from the third one (which comes from someone's garden and to get permission to take it I had to do some gesticulating though a window, so I want it to be worth my while!)are taken of shrubs growing against walls. These are free-growing shrubs, which, left to their own devices would go all over the place (as natural things do) but have grow up against the angular shapes of civilisation, or the buildings, and taken on their regular, controlled shapes. I think the tension between the two makes for their effect.

First pic is a cute topiary garden, which encapsulates one way of civilising nature into a formal garden. I've been round Versailles, so I've seen the best of them, but I like this one on our own doorstep.