Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Harewood House in an Ancient Landscape

Here in the UK, early May hosts a Bank Holiday and this Bank Holiday Monday, we decided to go and visit Harewood House, just north of Leeds in sunny Yorkshire. I absolutely abhor sitting in Bank Holiday traffic, so we set off at the crack of dawn (well 9 am anyway) and got there just after opening.
Harewood House
Readers will know I like to visit country houses because it's my history as an Englishman, it's part of my national heritage. Despite Harewood only being just over an hour away, I've never visited but passed it many times.

Despite its grandeur, it's a relatively junior house to some of its brothers and sisters being an 18th century addition to a very ancient landscape where 4000 years ago, we know people lived on this land.

Restored Chippendale State bed
After William the Conqueror turned up uninvited in 1066, the three Saxon Chieftains, owners of the land at Harewood, the wonderfully named Tor, Sprot and Grim forfeited their land because they didn't support William and the land passed to the Norman noblemen.
One side of the gallery. The red window drapes (in the distance) are made of wood
A castle was built on the land but by the mid 1650s it had become ruined and uninhabitable. Gowthorpe Estate and the Harewood estate was next to one another so the Lascelles family bought it all, the Gowthorpe Hall was pulled down and in 1771, Harewood House was built in its stead and it has dominated the landscape ever since..
A Macaw in the bird garden

The Lascelles were a French family and there is a town of Laselle in Normandy from whence they came. The past can't be changed, but the wealth of the family then came from slavery and its associated trades. The landscape is by Capability Brown and among others, Chippendale and Adam effectively created Harewood and today houses the biggest single collection of Chippendale furniture.
A range in the below stairs kitchen
From the first Earl of Harewood in the 1700s to the present Earl, David, three hundred years of history lies in the house. Today, the house is in trust and has museum status which allows it to get grants for conservation work. The family in the past had lost so much in paying death duties, but that will not happen any more. Although the Lascelles family live on the estate farm now, they still take a big part in the trust, the house is now preserved for generations to come. The Dowager Duchess lives in a rented apartment in the hosue.

The house has a massive parkland and estate, a bird garden for visitors, a cafe and access to the whole house, upstairs with their wonderful state rooms, downstairs and gardens are open most of the summer months. Volunteer guides are on hand to explain the history and we found them warm, welcoming and knowledgeable.
Just one angle of a beautiful landscape
Disabled access is very good although it is a little hilly between the house and the bird garden. The cost is okay, average for this type of attraction and two for one entrance deals can be found all over the place to reduce costs. Parking is expertly managed and a two minute walk to the house.

The weather was wonderful, particularly after we'd had a wash out on the Sunday and the traffic was manageable. A great day out.

Chat soon


Friday, 10 April 2015

Out with the Old, in with the New

I hope you had a great Easter break? I had the Bank Holidays and weekend off and the weather was sort of okay, at least it was dry. A 21st birthday party and other social events kept us busy and chilled out and the weather has miraculously decided to get better here. This post Easter week has been pleasant and warm - so much so that smog is a problem in the south UK with industrial pollutants from Europe, domestic road pollution and Saharan desert sand being deposited upon us, it makes for difficult breathing for some. 

A break down this weekend coming will see fresher conditions, little in the way of pollution and some rain.

Richie Benaud, OBE
I was sorry to hear of the death of Australian Richie Benaud today. He was 84 and had been suffering from skin cancer, something he had campaigned to protect people against for years. This man was a blast from my past and was the voice of cricket on UK television for many years on BBC and then Channel 4. His melodious gentle Aussie accent was coloured by a dry wit and long periods of silence from the commentary box as he left the viewers to enjoy the game and the atmosphere without lots of forced waffle and drivel. His co-commentator for many years was Yorkshireman, the late Jim Laker, himself a spinner (for England) and still holder of the record for taking 19 wickets in a single test match.

Richie Benaud had credibility too. He captained Australia to three Ashes test series wins and took nearly 250 test wickets as a spinner. His honesty meant that the listener could enjoy the game knowing that he praised good cricket from whatever team and criticised it by equal measure without fear or favour.

For him the score book is complete and the pavilion doors close for the last time.

What did Easter mean for you? Did you celebrate it in a religious context or with traditional pagan rites such as buying  Easter eggs and suchlike? Perhaps you mixed the two. I missed the funeral of a good friend recently through no fault of my own which I regret, but I have happy memories of him which will always be around.  I would have liked to celebrate his life and what he gave to people. In the same way that I guess most religions celebrate the life of Christ and give thanks for the sacrifice he gave for us and his rising so that we may live again. 

I know of one religion that sees this as a sad mournful occasion with grey and dark overtones. What a pity. Spiritualism has so much connection to religion although seemingly at a distance for some sometimes. Some who follow my faith don't like to associate themselves with God or religion at all, yet believe in Angels (as I do) who of course are messenger of guess who? God. Nothing is perfect I have learned.

I don't like the orthodox church particularly but it gives people faith and comfort - good for them. I guess I have seen too much hypocrisy to impress me any more. I still have both my Methodist and then my later Church of England christening, but these in my view have now lapsed as I have left their ways behind. God is here, in my heart, God is all around us, I don't have to go to church to believe in the divine. I am a good person, do good things; I think I'm a good citizen, I care for others, I'm even philanthropic now and then where I can afford it. I love my partner, my children and our family. I pray - to the God I understand and love.

Importantly, I respect others love for their religion even though some of them are a little at odds with modern living. Religion has damaged me in some ways and recovering is hard but with the love and support of my partner and family, my live is becoming more fulfilled spiritually.  There is life after religion!

Chat soon


Monday, 30 March 2015

To Turn a Phrase

Regular readers know I like words, and whilst I don't use them very well, the phrases we use on a day to day basis fascinate me. In the car the other day my partner and I were discussing using 'Shank's Pony' which in my parlance is walking. But what an odd phrase, nonetheless, research show this to be a Scottish original phrase relating to a certain Shank's Nag, in other words, a useless animal so much so - you would have to walk. Who or what Shanks was, the reading doesn't reveal, but its a lovely phrase. 

Another favourite of my partner is 'Casey's Court' - meaning a sense of chaos or disorganisation. Although I am struggling to find a definitive answer to this one - it does appear to be a relatively recent phrase perhaps named after an old UK music hall 'crazy' act, created by a William Murray which involved lots of children. 

'Bob's your uncle' is another common one I use, but this one sadly is less clear still. It is said however that a famous politician Arthur Balfour got a job, not on merit but because the boss was his uncle (Lord Salisbury aka Robert Cecil). So there you have it - Bob's your uncle.

Although I am an East Yorkshire lad, I've always been in and around Hull both for leisure and mostly work. My father's family come from there so there is a bit of an affinity I guess. The language and the way it's used is a bit lazy and uncomfortable listening sometimes.  There are however some local phrases which I've discussed before ('snicket' - back tenfoot, etc) but here's another one for you: if you feel warm, here you might say you were "maftin'." Now I'm not sure whether or not that's spelt correctly. It appears in the slang dictionaries but as yet, it appears not to be included in mainstream dictionaries. 

One of Hull's many old town narrow cobbled streets or 'staithes' leading mainly to the river Hull

A phrase used for many years, particularly on the coast is when someone is described as a 'comfort'. I had no idea what that meant until a colleague once told me that it describes a visitor to the place - "I've come for t'day," (spoken with a thick Yorkshire accent)!

I love the word 'nunty.' Its something dull, unfashionable, out of date.  If something is sticky or tacky or even muddy, it's described here as 'clarty.' This time the dictionary tells us that the good old Scottish and us northerners use it as meaning dirty or filthy.

The final one for now I use is 'nithered' and that aptly describes a symptom caused, for example by the current weather - feeling very cold! The Collins English Dictionary is yet to field that one!

Enjoy the week, stay warm. Easter is coming!

Chat soon


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Father and Son Stroll

My son John and I went for a walk in Hull's old town on his return home for a visit on Friday. It was a nice blustery day and still cool in the late March air. We like bimbling around, looking at the architecture and chatting. We visited the new foot bridge over the River Hull which connects east to west and the view up river looks like this:

The Arctic Corsair, now a museum
The Arctic Corsair was built in 1960 in Beverley in East Yorkshire, once a prolific shipyard and is the last surviving Hull sidewinder deep-sea trawler. Although she has been a museum since 1999, she saw action in the 1970s in the so called cod war and in 1973, broke the world record for catching cod and haddock in the White Sea. 

The anchor, now a home for roosting pigeons
The next stop was the Wilberforce House and Museum which had some new exhibits. We also had an average sandwich and a slightly less than average cuppa at a local cafe.

Then a quick look in Hepworth's Arcade in the old town at some vinyl records before home for a cuppa, the first time John has visited my new home.

Hepworth's Arcade with its lovely vaulted glass roof
Dinsdale's Joke shop, it was old when I was a kid
The kitchen I decorated with Linda is finished bar putting a shelf up and we did rather a good job, me being a first time wallpaperer! The bedrooms next, mostly painting this time but some papering is still required - I'm an expert now! 

I was very disturbed to watch the news about the Germanwings plane and the reason for its demise. This will worry a lot of people who are nervous about flying. My thoughts and prayers are with the deceased, their families and friends and the rescuers who have the thankless task of recovery.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Decorated Man

We've just returned from hospital today and following excellent and rapid treatment on the NHS, a lump in my partner's breast has proved nothing and she's been given the all clear. An end to a stressful time assisted by positive thinking and reassurance from the spirit world.

I've never decorated in my life to be honest. I've slapped a bit of paint about now and then, nothing too artistic and I wouldn't describe that as decorating as such.

However I now have the distinction, being a late fifty something year old Yorkshire man to have hung my first roll of wallpaper. Hold the front page! In my temporary new home, we needed to paper the kitchen. It is anaglypta so no pattern so it was not too dificult to put on the wall, the bubbles were a bit of a bugger, but they went up after some practice and cutting round the light switches and windows was tricky, but it got done and looks pretty decent. Thank you Linda for teaching and being patient.

My mother was a very good decorator , she doesn't do it now and my uncle Les is an exceptional decorator so I have seen it done before and I guess it helped. There's a bit more papering to do and this time with a pattern of sorts and plenty of emulsion to slop about so I'll be happy with that.

My grandfather, my mother's dad who is long deceased, a Londoner and a First World War veteran used to sing for me when I was a child the following song "When Father Papered the Parlour," and here is the chorus:

When Father papered the parlour
You couldn't see Pa for paste
Dabbing it here and dabbing it there
There was paste and paper everywhere
Mother was stuck to the ceiling
And the kids were stuck to the floor
You never saw such a bloomin' family
So stuck up before

Penned in 1911, you have to hear it to appreciate it.

We've been to the cinema recently to see the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the sequel and for a change, the sequel is as good as the original. British film at its very very best. It also shows what a wonderful rich cultural country India is.

Take care

Chat soon


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Paper Man

I am lucky I guess that when I go to the local BBC radio station to do the Sunday paper review,  am allowed to indulge myself with the range of stories I can choose in the many national Sunday papers. It's not a daunting task, you dont even have to have a great knowledge of the subject matter, although it helps to have a point of view - it's just like having a friendly chat with a mate.

The stories I chose were not from the depressing political and Middle Eastern scenarios that are playing large at the moment - I have to consider the interests of a wide more local audience. These are the stories I chose:

The Observer - Here comes the Brits: New acting talent gets its chance in Game of Thrones. 
This is the story of new talent being given a chance alongside established actors in this HBO series.

Sunday Mirror - 8M A&E patients ought to have seen a GP.
A self explanatory story.

Sunday Express - UK is set to spend more on [foreign] aid than our armed forces.

Sunday Telegraph  - Our heroines of the Afghan battlefield.
Following on from the award of the VC, this highlights two females, one a soldier and one an airwoman who have displayed extraordinary courage in the face of enemy fire.

Sunday Times - Menopause costs women jobs, warns jobs tzar.

Sunday People - Spock star Nimoy to be laid to rest in LA

Hope you have a great week

Chat soon

Ta ra

Saturday, 28 February 2015

A Few Weeks Short of a Year

I feel like a young person who's taken a year put of education to see the world, have new experiences, broaden the mind and generally grow up and find ones self.

Just a few weeks to the year since my last blog and the year out has seen many changes, both in me and life in general. Following my separation in December 2013, that process of formal separation in almost complete although for bizarre pension rules reasons, I can't get divorced for the next 5 years or so.

This doesn't stop life from moving on again at last after a hiatus in many of my activities including this blog, I am marching forward again.

I have a new partner, Linda to whom I am tremendously grateful for her support and love - she's the most generous, big hearted person in the world and we are very happy.

My spiritual life in terms of practising overtly has been on hold, but I am now attending a regular spiritual circle again, (not run by me) and finding myself reconnecting with my practises.

The year has seen a lovely holiday in Cyprus, the first time I have ever been and it won't be the last time I go either which was a much needed break.
Aphrodite's rock in Cyprus, her alleged birthplace, although disputed by other places

The people and the country are beautiful with millennia of documented and archaeological history to feast upon and of course, the sun has got a little bit to do with it too! 

Another long weekend in Harrogate in North Yorkshie recently was an extraordinary journey in so many ways and I'm going to write about that, so important was it - watch out for that one.

My lady Linda had a calf muscle tear which was fairly debilitating in the last summer and I moved in to look after her and I've been here ever since and plans to secure our future together are well under way. Marvellous how it all comes together but as you know, nothing is a coincidence, it all happens for a reason. She's fine now and as I write this, she's having a reflexology therapy which she loves and dreamy music is filtering through from the other room!

I still haven't got very good access to the Internet, so this blog is being written in the morning whilst the dongle is still working and getting a signal and that's simply because my computer has no wi-fi access - I'll need a new one shortly I think. I've taken lots of pictures this year and I'm starting to put a few on here again. I miss that. I have a tablet now though and as far as I can tell, I can write on my blog from there using wi-fi. Technological wizard that I am - NOT!

I have moved away from the East Riding of Yorkshire and am now in the City of Hull just four miles from my old home although the countryside is literally just down the road. It's certainly different living in a town, noisier, more untidy, busier, more people, more cars but there are advantages too: access to facilities, less feeling isolated and a walk away from work.

Chat soon

Ta ra

Monday, 31 March 2014

It's What's in your Soul that Counts

I’ve been fortunate to have had a week off work taking a break. The weather has been reasonably kind for the time of year and it’s been nice to see the daffodils out and spring manifesting itself in so many ways not least of which people starting to feel better.

I’ve been helping a friend decorate her flat. Now I am not a decorator. Never have been, but I can slosh some paint around and I am an average DIY-er so I can put things on walls and a proud moment came after I laid a vinyl floor and it looked spot on. I took a bit of a methodical approach to this never-before-done task and it turned out well. My knees however did suffer!

However after three solid days, I’d had enough. I paid a visit to York with my friend Linda and went to Hornsea, just on the East Yorkshire coast to the Freeport, a small shopping centre on the site of the former Hornsea Pottery site.

I have achieved some good things this week and that includes spending a small budget on a new set of clothes. 

On Saturday night I went to see medium Derek Acorah do a demonstration at the beautiful small Plowright Theatre in Scunthorpe which is in Northern Lincolnshire, a town famous for its steelworks and less famous for its football team.

My followers will know I am a psychic medium of small skill however, seeing someone with big skill is always interesting. Mr Acorah is a fairly ordinary bloke. A family man with a background as a professional footballer a few years ago, he has had a rocky ride professionally as a medium because of his association with a television programme doing psychic investigations. I think, not to put too fine a point on it, lost his way a little from an outsider’s perspective and perhaps his reputation among some suffered as a result.

However, above all, Derek is just a decent, hard-working, nice man who is now going back to what he does best, plying his trade doing public demonstrations to small audiences (the Plowright has about 500 seats) as a very good journeyman medium. My assessment of the demonstration is that he gave audience members a lot of evidence about them that he could not have possibly guessed through cold reading, cheating or any other method and this came through having been delivered with compassion to those he gave readings for along with is gentle humour, occasionally laughing at himself.

I have been to many mediumship demonstrations over the years and I have never had a message from spirit publicly. Frankly, there are more people that need compassion and hope and their faith restored than I.

None the less, it made me think about my faith again as experiences often lead me to do. I don’t think my faith can be found with a label or readily pulled off the shelf. I guess that my idea of a divine being is unlike most people, other than a few Spiritualists perhaps because the thing is, it’s personal to me, to my personality, my experiences and how I can cope with the logical side of modern day life and living as well as the less tangible but equally as powerful spiritual way of life.

The problem in the UK however is that the current Government doesn’t want too many people thinking for themselves and esoteric subjects are becoming isolated and frowned upon. EU legislation states apparently that mediums and psychics must always tell their client or audience that their work is for entertainment purposes only. My insurers tell me that this is what I have to do when I work.

This is a gross insult and a slap in the face to me personally as it attacks my faith by minimising it and implying it that it is a sham to titillate audiences with. This upsets me deeply.

Of course there have been mediums and psychics who have been fraudulent and taking advantage of unsuspecting and vulnerable people. This is a despicable act and the law can deal with such people. Yes, the public deserve protection. However, the idea that what I believe in in my heart is just entertainment is abominable. The high churches across the globe despise psychics and mediums for their faith and beliefs. Why because it challenges that with which the grater populous of the world has been controlled and brainwashed with for years.

Now let me say before you storm off in high dudgeon, that I wholly respect an individual’s belief system no matter what that may be. You have one, good for you. If you have faith, then join the club, so have I. What upsets me is the establishment belief system that impresses itself upon people and uses legislation to tell people what they can or can’t believe in and this of course cuts across a whole swathe of beliefs, faiths, religions, cults etc.

For now what I would say without prolonging the argument is believe in what you believe in, have faith because to have faith and belief is the future, but leave others to believe in what they want to believe in. Some faiths damage people, that’s what they set out to do, others do damage unwittingly and indirectly as this blog will reveal in due course, but what’s important is how you feel, how you conduct yourself in society and what lies within your heart and soul.

So, on a lighter note, enjoy your week, look forward to spring setting itself in in the weeks to come and make it a positive week too! Smile

Chat soon


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

St Andrew's Dock, Tired and Lonely

Just a few remaining supports from a long derelict jetty, sentinels to times past

I had the opportunity the other weekend while the sun shone to spend some quality time with my middle son John as he comes home to visit now and then. We have a love to chat about eclectic subjects and we have a love of history and photography and what can be done that’s different with this wonderful media.

Son John taking a photo of me taking a photo of him - nicely framed - except someone's stolen the metal frame for scrap!
I’m not arty or anything, but I try not to be a simple snapper either. I suppose I am fortunate to live in a pleasant part of the UK next to the countryside in East Yorkshire and the city/urban life too, so there is a bit of choice and a bit of history to get my teeth into as you have discovered on here if you are a regular reader.

The dock basin, all silted now with the lock head at the top.

Living close to one of the countries busiest and dramatic rivers, the Humber helps to provide decent subjects and there are some disused docks and dock buildings from yesteryear that have not been developed which, for the photographer and the feral pigeon is fine, although I have to say that the more derelict the buildings get that surround the docks the worse it starts to look and does nothing for image of the area either. 

One of the many derelict buildings on St Andrew's Quay, once a home to a proud and busy shipping company (a friend's mother cleaned the boadroom there 50 years ago and grand inside it was!) Modern Hull docks and a ferry in the distance
If my memory serves me right there are eleven dock of various kinds not including dry docks and piers etc., in Hull which are either in use, derelict or filled in but nonetheless are still easily recognisable as docks. Perhaps this is testament to the city of Hull’s place in the import/export trade going back to the 13th century. With Hull being the only port allowed in Yorkshire to import and export legitimate goods, wine and wool became its staple business.

Fisherman's line caught on this pillar
Trade in cloth, lead, iron, tar, fish, whaling etc., meant that the Haven containing riverside wharves (at the confluence of the river Hull and the Humber) was just too small to cope plus of course the tides play havoc with the trade so in 1773 the Dock Company was founded and docks started to be built and the rest as they say, is history.

So the derelict St Andrew’s Dock was the subject of our pictures that day in beautiful sunshine and bitter wind. Opened in 1883, it handled fish and Hessle Road, adjacent to the Dock was renowned for its link to the fishing heritage of the port. It closed in 1975, some of it was filled in and a retail park built upon it and the rest just silted up and the buildings slowly ran to ruin.
In 2013, the charity 'St Andrew's Dock Heritage Park Action Group' (STAND) selected a design for a memorial to the 6,000 Hull trawler-men who lost their lives in the fishing industry, to be sited next to the Humber at the dock entrance and although vitally important, it looks a little lost tucked away between the lock gates and a derelict building. I lost a Great Uncle, Stan, an engineer aboard the Hull trawler Ross Cleveland which sank in 1968, so it does have meaning for me as one part of my family, my father’s side come from the immediate area and had links to the fishing industry.
A great day, enjoy the pics for what they are and enjoy the week ahead.
Chat soon