Sunday, 29 January 2012

Romantic Cup

I hope this overcast Sunday is treating you all well? As is my usual tradition, welcome new follower Andy Hill who says of himself: "Lifetime career in IT, Had Stroke in November 2010, Now disabled." Read his blog here and I am interested that he's had a Reiki treatment and felt some benefit. Welcome sir.

Now for those of you that know nothing about football and there will be many, in England and Wales - the Football Association Cup (FA Cup) is a special time in sport. I'll explain why its special shortly but did you know (Michael Caine impression) that the FA Cup was first played for in 1871/72 season. The Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1 - 0. 

Now the FA Cup is a knock-out competition and pits the giants against the minnows - its an all in competition where all standards of footballing teams from minor leagues and the Premiership come together in sport to put a leather ball in a net. This means of course that like every American has the ability to become President, every club in the country has the ability to get to the cup final and over the years there have been spectacular upsets where giants have been well and truly toppled. 

Yesterday, Crawley Town in the second division and 45 places below their rivals, beat Hull City from the Championship 0-1. This is a great achievement for the Crawley Team when the statistics suggested this should never of happened. What this does is give the team and supporters hope and many will remember that great victory for many years and will be subject of much discussion over a pint. 

Crawley Town will now play in round five against Premiership team Stoke City with the opportunity for a bit of extra income and a chance to topple another giant in football.  

My son Ben is home from University this weekend, celebrating his 21st Birthday a couple of weeks late because on his birthday - he had exams! Lovely to see him and he's got a new pair of glasses and has a Johnny Depp look now. If only he was a few quid behind him.

I went to see the Iron Lady with Meryl Streep playing the eponymous former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher the other night and I'm not sure what I was going to make of it. Politically, I was neutral about it, after all this is a bio-pic about someones life. It was a stunning performance by Streep superbly supported by Jim Broadbent as her husband Dennis. 

This was a film done in flashback and was done sympathetically to someone who appears to have the early signs of dementia.  I have to say that this is highly recommended although it's leaving the cinemas this week, and a supporting cast to die for. Certificated at 12A, don't bring your kids to see this or buy them the DVD - they'll be bored to tears. This isn't the usual review I'd do I guess because it's not a populist film, but Streep is an Oscar contender for this performance.

It's a very grey day today despite some morning sun and a frost last night and it has a distinctly snowy feel about it. 

I hope you have a great week ahead.
Chat soon


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Chūn Jié - Happy (Chinese) New Year

It's about to become the Chinese New Year and celebrations are going on around the world. Known as the Spring Festival - 春節, the Chinese traditionally spend 15 days seeing in their New Year - what a way to celebrate! There are also many many traditional customs that go on and this is wonderful that such a culture exists.

You can read about the variety of tasks undertaken, beliefs as well as cultural and traditional celebrations on Wikipedia. It seems to give far more meaning than western celebration and much more deep seated in their family, community and social life. 

This year, starting 23 January 2012 is the Chinese year of the Dragon. I was born in the year of the Rooster. Some contrast to a Dragon eh?

The Dragon is seen as a force for power and good luck; a divine beast - the very opposite of the nasty animal devouring village maidens and often subject of slaying in spectacular and heroic myth. There is a sense of freedom with the Dragon and a reluctance to live by strict rules.

The BBC has some great and colourful pictures of the preparations for the celebrations here.

Well despite my moaning yesterday about the lack of sight of spring bulbs, one of my perennials in one of the tubs has decided to have a showing of gorgeous purple flower (pictured above) - perhaps as a consolation. 

Chat soon


Saturday, 21 January 2012

S'no Show

Should I be concerned or not? I don't want to cause alarm or send the balloon up, but...

...none of the daffodils or other spring bulbs are showing above ground yet. Last year, they were peeping through holes in the snow at this time. No snow this year yet no sign of them.


I was pleased to see the success of Bradford born David Hockney in his exhibition which seems to have caused quite a stir. The stir is around the beauty of his chosen home county - East Yorkshire and his representations of our lovely landscape - something which I have often commented upon. A landscape not rugged nor mountainous, but green and rolling with pleasant views - just delightful rather than spectacular. 

It's not a well kept secret to those who inhabit the area, particularly in the Wolds around Driffield (just a few miles north of me) and for those who pass through it, but unlike some - I don't worry about it now being overrun with tourists trying to spot Hockney's subjects. There's enough during the summer months, but the rest of the year, the locals have it to themselves; it can be inhospitable when the weather turns bad.


I captured a couple of pictures last week (above) of a sunrise from the front door step leaving the house for work and a sunset leaving work for home the same day. Notice the difference in colours which I thought was interesting; the rich deep pink of morning sunlight and the deep yellow brightness of the sunset with a huge sun magnified by the winter moisture in the atmosphere.

Chat soon


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Skeleton in the Cupboard or Dark Secret?

I've been inspired by inspirational fellow blogger Jarmara to write about a family secret I found a few years ago whilst doing my family history. It doesn't involve millions of pounds in treasure or illicit affairs with princesses, just a very sad secret that prevented a family knowing the simple truth about a loved one. 

John William Mayes (pictured above) was my great grandfather. He had eight children including my grandmother, now deceased, Connie. Born in Hull, I've never really found out what John did for a living but when I started my family history many years ago, I asked my grandmother about the family to set me off and she told me that her father John had been killed in an accident on the railway on Hull docks around 1925. He had been hit on the head by something falling off a load being carried by a crane.

Quite specific information about John and when the time came to do some serious research, I started the quest to find out something about him in order to fit him into the tree. No computers to speak of in those days, so letters were written to the docks company and to British Rail and trips to the local history library to check the local newspapers were certain to have covered the bases and information would be forthcoming in short time. Or so I thought. In fact all the enquiries I made drew a blank. The family confirmed the story of a death by accident on the docks.

John's home was on Hessle Road in Hull, in an era which was a difficult time for the country and for the hard working but relatively poor close knit community close to the docks, the heart of the city's enterprise in those days. Many of the husbands and sons were away on trawlers or worked on the docks and the wives ran the home and were the real power in the family if truth were told. 

No dole, if you didn't work, you struggled - money was tight but grandmother always said how happy she had been with her brothers and sisters in their two bedroomed terraced house. House's were left unlocked at night because people were trusted and everyone knew each other's business, so not a lot happened without the female population knowing about it. 

1925 - a pint of milk cost 3d (about 1.5 new pence today) and King George V was on the throne. The average weekly male wage was £5.

Despite looking at death records and any and all sources that were available in those days, there was no luck in finding John and as a consequence, I could do no more on that side of the family. 

Hull had and still has its own register office and registration area known as Kingston upon Hull to use its Sunday name.  I was pottering around the Hull City Council archives helping my brother-in-law do his family history when I thought I'd have a look at some index cards during a break from reading old court records.
There was a Mayes - William John - names the wrong way around but it didn't matter. The reference was to a a place called Willerby Asylum which was situated outside of the Hull boundary in the East Riding of Yorkshire which has its own separate registration district. I asked the archivist for the relevant book indicated by the index card.

A large red leather bound book was brought to me with hundreds of entries of deaths. There - in 1925 was the death of William John Mayes - cerebral softening. John had died in a mental asylum, aged 35 with his youngest child just 8 months old at his former home being looked after with all the other children. The registration of his death was in another area and clearly the incident on the docks was a fabrication. Other records indicated that he had been in a workhouse elsewhere in Hull in the months before his death, often doubled as a hospital in those days.

The reason the book was in the Hull City Council archives is because the Council owned the asylum as most of the patients were from Hull even though it was in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

On the one hand, (and family historians will know what I mean) there was a sense of triumph, a sense of achievement in finding this elusive man. On the other hand, an ancestor had died in a mental asylum which, when linked to the status of his family and the economic situation at the time was so desperately sad. 

Clearly, the stigma of the workhouse and mental illness was too much to bear for the family and therefore their embarassment or perhaps shame even, was hidden from the world including John's own family.

Here's the thing. My grandmother, his daughter was still alive at the time as was (and still is) many descendents of John. Do I tell them or do I not? My grandmother was elderly and not in good health. What would be the point - what would it achieve? I wasn't a spiritualist in those days, but I do recall thinking that she would find out when she meets him in whatever place dead spirits go to. I didn't tell her and I didn't tell my dad for many years.

Today Willerby Asylum no longer exists in the same guise with all the old buildings gone. What survives is a small church which belonged to the asylum (now the Haltemprice Crematorium) and a tiny overgrown graveyard. A secure centre for the mentally ill is nearby, a modern building of no great architectural value.
Grandmother was brought up without her father as a teenager but she said that her mother made do. She did odd jobs, took in some net mending in the back yard and there was always food on the table.

I hope you found that interesting - it was a long standing and sometimes frustrating search for me, but I'm glad he's now part of the family in the tree.
Chat soon


To be Classed with Idiots and Children!

What a glorious day here in sunny East Yorkshire; bright sunshine, frost all over, no breeze and bracingly cold! Today has started well and yesterday (Friday the 13th) seemed to go without a hitch thank goodness. Where we live in the rise, we seem to attract most of everybody elses leaves as the breeze brings them our way and dumps them on our drive. It's no problem to clear but our brown recycling bin is now full.  

The bird feeders are full and I've noticed that this year, the berries from the trees and bushes are nearly exhausted. Now for us, this is a little strange because in previous years, including the last two heavy snow years, there have been plenty of berries left in the spring which eventually rotted away particularly the pyracantha. Even the pigeons have been perching on the very prickly pyracantha eating the gloriously orange coloured berries in the last couple of months. This is slightly odd only because it's been so comparatively  mild. Perhaps there's a nature logic I'm missing.

The tragic capsizing of the cruise ship Costa Concordia off the west coast of Italy is bad news and thank goodness only three people lost their lives - bad enough but could have been a huge lot worse. When I looked at the news late last night, the ship was reported to have run aground on a sandbank and only had a 20 degree list. Today's pictures show the ship on its side. BBC News. 

In the 1911 Census of England and Wales, Clara Lucas, a lady of private means from Darlington in the north east of England stated in the 'infirmity' column that she was "vote less, therefore classed with idiots and children." This is incredibly bold for the time and needless to say, this straight talking women was born in Yorkshire! You can see this on at FindMyPast

I hope you have a great weekend - stay warm!

Chat soon


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Super-Duper Tram

It's been one of those strange weeks in that I've not been in the office nor at home much. During the day, I've been travelling about all over and by the time this week is over, I will have included Wakefield and Sheffield to the list of places visited - and all on business. In fact I have just half of one day sat behind my desk. On a night time, I've been to my normal weekly psychic development circle, a birthday party for a friend in her seventies, a psychic philosophy meeting and a meditation night. I have slept well!

One of my trips, with a colleague to Sheffield was interesting because I had a new experience and that was to travel on a Sheffield Supertram. The roads into Sheffield are a nightmare as usual because of the volume and that was after the normal rush hour and the roads themselves are in a terrible condition and very badly worn out. However once into the city, we parked at a 'park and ride' and we caught a Supertram to the heart of the city where we wanted to be - a place that is both difficult to get around and a nightmare to find a parking space in.

I never had time to walk around the city centre so I have no idea what kind of place Sheffield is although it has a rich history, but I was heartily impressed with the tram. Electrified, running on rails, modern, clean, tidy, with a conductor too collecting what seemed like a modest fare for a ten minute uninterrupted ride.  Automated announcements informed the passengers where the next stop is and signs, just like the London underground make it clear what stops are on the journey. 

Well done Sheffield - this has to be the way forward to get people out of cars in city centres, reduce carbon emissions and expensive parking costs and not forgetting - city centre driving stress and hassle.

Chat soon


Monday, 9 January 2012

Inspired by Old Street Names

I work on the outskirts of Hull, a city I don't live in but have been associated with for all of my life through family history connections and work for the most part. It's a city to either not care much for or to love and there's not a lot in between but it does have history and a culture that's pretty unique like every other town and city that is a few centuries old (thirteenth century or earlier in Hull's case).

I had some meetings in the city centre today and in order to get home, I had to take a short cut through the old town, a place close to my heart and where I worked many years ago. It has been transformed in recent years and the City Council have worked hard at making it cleaner and bringing it up to date, but there are still woeful signs of tiredness. Shops are closing because of new huge shopping malls and only offices are keeping the old town together.

Anyway, I digress. Travelling through the old town along High Street which still retains cobbles in places by the way I witnessed signs for staithes and roads which no longer exist but which the council, wisely retained the street signs for to mark the spots of the original lanes. A staithe by the way comes from the Norse for 'landing stage' and the staithes consisted of many small lanes which led down to the River Hull, at one stage the third busiest port in the UK a couple of centuries ago importing and exporting wool and wine (and other things like whale meat and oil) from the many warehouses along the river.

Today the signs that I saw were Rotenhering Staithe and opposite, Dagger Lane. The history books argue about the etymology of the name and frankly no-one is quite so sure, however there was a John Rotenheryng who was a tenant to the Monks of Meaux Abbey (north of Hull) and had a ship the Goodyear which used to berth on the River Hull in the early 1300s trading wool. However other 'Rotenherings' - name spelt differently - also lived in the old town at the same time. John did give his name to a wharf in the location from which the Barton (North Lincolnshire) ferry used to run from across the mighty Humber.

Street Sign (added 12/01/12)

Fanciful thoughts of and the no doubt disgusting smell of rotten herrings and the connection of fish to the town are too good to be true! I have witnessed first hand the smell of fish dumped on Hull's former fish dock, not good enough for the table but to be made into fish meal. I've seen big hardy lorry drivers being physically sick at the smell - I came close on many occasions!

Dagger Lane is interesting to me, only because as a young child, my wife's grandmother lived or worked down there with her family. It used to be called Hutchinson's Lane in centuries past when Hull was but a new born. Where 'Dagger' comes from may remain perhaps a dark secret of more violent times, although history of churches and meeting rooms in Dagger Lane can be found in the archives.

There are other wonderful street names such as Whitefriargate (the home of White Friars) and Blackfriargate (guess whose home that was) where clothes and food were left for plague victims.

Finally for now, The Land of Green Ginger (pictured left - showing the old and new in the same picture)  is a street name that locals know well which today has offices, pubs, estate agents and eating places. According to sources, again the name's origin has disappeared into obscurity but may have simply been a trading place of medieval ginger, or belonged to a Dutch family Lindegreen who lived in the area  or perhaps 'Landgrave Granger' meaning a footpath to the property of the Landgrave family. Who knows, it's best left with an air of mystery around it.

Are there any strange road names near you?

Chat soon


Monday, 2 January 2012


It's a Bank Holiday here in the UK because New Years Day, a Bank Holiday fell on a Sunday - so an extra day off. Indeed, looking out of the window this morning, it's a glorious sunny day with just a hint of breeze. Gale force winds and heavy rain tomorrow - joy!

I've been keeping my compost heap going with vegetable peelings from the kitchen and that goes towards making a solid start to get the heap going again when the weather starts to get slightly warmer. Imagine my surprise the other day when I put some peelings in the heap to discover several wasps just sitting there among the peelings, not moving. This is the first time in the many years I've had a heap that I've noticed this.

In fact wasps hibernating was not something I had ever considered before but according to the research I've done that's exactly what some of them do. What's more there are over 100,000 species of wasp. Now I hate wasps. I make no secret of the fact and indeed would admit that I run a mile when one is about. I don't mind bees at all, but wasps - no thanks.  I always used to say "What's the point of a wasp?" They are just a blooming nuisance.

Although I've seen this on a few nature programmes over the years, it dawned on me that they do us a small service by laying their eggs inside our insect pests. In turn this kills the pests as the wasp larvae eat their insides or when they emerge. Delightful. So instead of hating wasps 100%, I now only hate them 90%. Nature is wonderful but sometimes can be amazingly nasty.

Its a reading day today - a 'me' day. It's a no chore day, although I have already emptied the dishwasher, made a cup of tea for her indoors who is still in bed (it might prompt her to make me one while I'm in bed now and then); put the rubbish in the recycling bins; fed the fish and fussed the cats. Mind you - I'm half asleep so it might have been fussed the fish and fed the cats.

So have a great day wherever you are - working or resting.

Chat soon

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Mission Impossible?

As is always my routine, I welcome a new follower, Jonathan from East Yorkshire who is very welcome indeed. In truth I have known Jonathan for many years and he is a wonderful man of dry wit and intelligence. Hopefully, he will be starting his own blog soon. 

New Years day - my second post and for a very good reason. A dear friend and I went to the cinema today to see Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, and I have to say, if it doesn't come close to getting film of the year, I would be very surprised and disappointed.

Rated 12A, this is not a film for young children in my humble view - there are lots of shootings and fighting  although no gore or anything but don't let the kids see it. The film was fast and furious from the start to finish with great performances from Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, Simon Pegg - his electronic wizard side kick and fellow agents played by Jeremy Renner and Paula Patten.

There is a decent story behind the breathtaking action which at times literally had you holding your breath - it was extraordinarily tense at times. Ethan Hunt is the leader of a small band of unofficial agents sent on missions impossible - "Your mission, should you chose to accept it..." in this case to stop a megalomaniac from destroying the world by starting a nuclear war.  No spoilers so you'll have to see it to get the plot, but I thoroughly recommend this one.

Chat soon


2012 - Happy New Year

To all my blogging friends and visitors - from East Yorkshire in the UK. 

I hope that your journey through 2012 will be touched by kindness, inspired by wisdom; graced with love and understanding; I hope you are kept safe and secure; I wish you happiness; joy in everything you see and do and experience; I hope you find treasures, peace and good health.

All my love

Chat soon