Monday, 27 May 2013

Local College Town and Country Open Day

A very busy thoroughfare with hundreds of visitors going to and fro

Since my last post, the world of weather has turned upside down and we have had two wonderful days of sunny hot weather on this Bank Holiday weekend.

A traction engine supplied by a local firm
Three friends and I visited the Bishop Burton College Town and Country Day yesterday (26th May) in rural East Yorkshire. The college holds a 'Centre of Vocational Excellence' status in both agriculture and equine and is set in beautiful green countryside just north west of the market town of Beverley. 

A Gavioli organ welcoming visitors at the entrance playing great tunes, powered by the traction engine, above
I can't find out much about the history of the college to be honest, I'm sure there will be some, but the tiny picturesque village of Bishop Burton next to the college is mentioned in the Domesday Book apparently. The estate upon which the college now stands was sold by the family Watt who had owned it since the 1780s. The Gee family built a hall at Bishop Burton as far back as 1603.

Wood carver creating art

In 1086, the village had  38 villagers 15 smallholders and 3 men-at-arms in 18 households. The value to the local Lord (in taxes and rent etc.,) was £34 a year. Today the pretty little village boasts a very nice pub and a village pond, a population of nearly 700 and is on the main A1079 from Beverley to York.

The well known and respected college holds many events and one of them is their town and country open day with many activities such as horse riding competitions but essentially it's an open day for the local populous to come and see the work the college does in its animal husbandry courses. 

The grounds are extensive and beautifully kept, even the residential areas seem modern and well kept. The animals are well looked after as well as I could see and the public can see behind the scenes at all the various areas of expertise.

The cost of entry was £5 with concessions and free parking and dogs on leads were permitted. There were lots of facilities, food and toilets and the site is ideal for disabled people with great paths and roads to wander down. The event was packed with what appeared to be thousands of visitors to see many many events, too many to mention here and over 50 photos I took doesn't even cover all of it. 

Meerkat on guard, even in captivity, there was always one keeping a look out.
The East Yorkshire Motor Services Brass Band who I saw at the Christmas carol concert at the Holy Trinity Church in Hull last December were there entertaining the crowds as well as Morris dancers, fashion shows and a troupe of young girl dancers. There was a dog show and a daft dog show for crazy family dogs to have fun in. There was a horse jumping event that looked like cross country but I didn't get too close to that. There was a falconry display and dozens of animal centres to go and look round, from cuddling snakes and watching chicks hatch.

A white tailed sea eagle - the biggest of the UKs birds of prey
We had a picnic lunch beautifully prepared by my friends and had a wander round many stalls and activities for all the family - kids were especially catered for throughout the day, they could even have a go at bricklaying!

As a bonus - the sun shone brightly all day. Well done all the many, many volunteers and the students and staff who made the event feel safe and well organised.

We spent six hours there and I don't think we saw it all, but I did do something I don't normally do - I never win prizes on raffles etc., but I won two tombola prizes which I gave away to be honest to someone who would more appreciate them than me, but at least I won.

A great day.

Chat soon 


Friday, 24 May 2013

Beauty in a Sometimes Difficult World

Dicentra, 'bleeding heart' battered by the wind and rain but still strong
What a strange world we live in?  Discuss (don't - you'd never have enough time left in the day to do other things).

On a much lighter note, the weather seems to have turned into a wintry spell for a short time with just 6 degrees on the clock this morning on a colleagues car temperature gauge and summer is almost upon us. Blustery rain, low temperatures, hailstones and snow on higher ground belies the fact that spring is almost over and next weekend sees 'flaming' June arrive. 

Everyone is now quoting grandmas and grandads when they say 'Ne'er cast a clout 'til May is out.' In other words, don't take your clothes off until June arrives. Damned good advice if you ask me. First recorded in writing in 1732, 'clout' is a colloquialism for cloth. But then, in May lies the confusion. 

A late tulip - photo taken yesterday - now battered by wind and rain, not so resilient as the bleeding heart (above)
Does May refer to the month or to May blossom - another name for Hawthorn blossom, which normally arrives in April/early May;  anyway, it's original meaning is lost in antiquity, we can all make our own minds up - suffice to say May this year is bloody cold and follows on from weather records which suggest this is the coldest spring for 30 years!

A close up of a piece of moss (about an inch away), dislodged by the birds from the roof, pretty and dense plants grouped together
Last weekend, I never cut the grass because of rain and this last weekend gone was the same but despite it being very wet, I cut it anyway and I filled our recycle bin which doesn't get emptied for another week. The rain has made it look nice and green I have to say the verges and hedges are now looking beautiful and vibrant.

Before and after (the left hand side) an exciting action shot this - hard to capture
I was getting in the car this afternoon at work and just a few feet away, a Magpie was having a good old preen in the tree and never budged an inch even though it knew I was just 20 feet away. I took a quick if  not too brilliant snap:
A preening Magpie
Finally, lets have a thought and belief for a peaceful world after the atrocity on the streets of London. Let justice in this democratic place have its course.

Chat soon


Monday, 13 May 2013

What's in a Name?

A shop on Pavement, York, the bowed timber frame is not a camera distortion - it's really like that

I  had occasion to have half a day out in sunny and ancient York with a friend recently, well actually it was cloudy and cold, but it didn't spoil the day. The purpose of the visit was to go to the York Dungeons in Clifford Street. I booked on line and saved 30% of the costs with no queueing. There's a window of opportunity to go, so you don't have to be there on the dot. This is a guided tour along the lines of the history of York, through the eyes of a number of actors playing characters from certain periods in York describing the conditions of the time. 

There was comedy as well as pathos to get the message across. The tour took us through a number of scenes, a court house, a living room in the plague time, a public house, the cell of Dick Turpin and a few others aside. In total the tour took over an hour and was good value for money. It isn't for the feint hearted, but it isn't horrific either as the name suggests. It's informative and fun - my advice by the way is to say nothing and you won't get volunteered for anything in the exhibitions - enough said!

We had tea provided by a charity in little St Crux Church Hall, built on the site of a once great church  at the end of the Shambles. St Crux was not a person; the name is a corruption of "Saincte Crusses" - Holy Cross Church. Following which we had a walk around the Shambles and the open market there accessed through one of the little snickets.

The Shambles
The Shambles was once known as the Great Flesh Shambles, due to the huge number of butchers shops down this ancient street. Some of the timber framed buildings come from the 14th century . According to Wikipedia, in 1872 there were 25 butchers shops in the Shambles, Today, there are none at all. Some of the buildings overhang and when I was a kid, they used to say neighbours could shake hands across the street from their respective bedroom windows. I'm not sure if that's true but its a great story.

We came across Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate, the shortest road in York (which measures about 30 yards-ish). What an extraordinary name but in fact it means 'What a Street!' and is the modern version of the original Whitnourwhatnourgate first seen around 1505.

Our final close up view of York was the Merchant Adverturers' Hall standing resplendent in the view from the bus stop to the Park and Ride.  This medieval wooden framed guildhall was built in 1357 and given a Royal Charter in 1430 and is still used today in this largely unchanged building for its original purpose by the Company of Merchant Adventurers of York for promoting business.

Merchant Adverturers' Hall
I recently went for a walk on the south bank of the Humber one evening just to the west  of Barton Upon Humber, a pleasant place to be on a nice day. There is lots to see in terms of wildlife, birds in particular, in the reeds and on the mud flats. There is an abundance of insect life too. Situated on the side of the river is a working brickyard/factory and I took a picture of this fascinating wall surrounding the premises on the river side made almost entirely of roofing pan tiles.

Pantile wall
Finally my last few paragraphs are reserved for those unpleasant members of the public who delight in exercising power by abusing receptionists. My best friend is a doctor's receptionist. It's a stressful and busy job, I've seen it in action, and of course by and large, they deal with people who are not very well.  I can imagine therefore what stress some, but not all, patients are under. They think they can get what they want (instant appointments where none exist for example and important prescriptions at the drop of a hat for medicine that they should have ordered in advance but forgot.)

They have the choice not to abuse receptionists and sometimes that abuse is vile. Swearing, threatening, physical intimidation, false allegations just to prove their power over humble receptionists who work within the confines of the rules of the surgery and the NHS. Occasionally receptions bend over backwards to help those desperately in need who approach them at short notice and of course no-one faces a life threatening situation without help being available - even if it is to be directed to the local accident and emergency. But no, because they can't have what they want immediately at the expense of others they kick off and intimidate, bully and harass until they get what they want.

Whilst I accept that the occasional receptionist can be perceived as rude or unhelpful, that is not the rule - it's rather the exception. Managers should have the courage to stand up these horrible people and strike them off their patient list, but too often, the worn out excuse that the patient is under stress is trotted out as an excuse in turn not to take action. I pity receptionists and the other patients in waiting rooms who are also under stress who have to witness this behaviour but choose to act with dignity and restraint. It's about time we challenged this arrogant, nasty, bullying attitude.

Chat soon 


Saturday, 4 May 2013

One for the Birds

Bempton Cliffs, late evening, birds flying in and out
The early morning black clouds have rolled away leaving a lovely warm Saturday morning here in sunny East Riding of Yorkshire.

This is a big sporting day for us here as the local Championship football side Hull City are needing to win today's game to get promotion to the Premier League. I only take a passing interest in them, but if they make it then it's good news for the city of Hull. Good Luck.

I try to let you have a look at what I do in the vicinity when I visit places and I went to Bempton on the coast of East Yorkshire one evening earlier in the week. This is a fairly wild and rugged place, chalk cliffs facing the ire of the North Sea, but home to many many thousands of sea birds. I didn't know this, but according to some basic research, up to 200,000 birds are there during the summer.

The evening was lovely and not a cloud in the sky to talk of and very unusually, there was no wind either which one local bird watcher told me was very unusual; Mother Nature must have known I was coming!  Seeing the sun does help. There are lots of facilities for the visitor and clear marked cliff top paths which are fenced off for safety but which do not spoil the vista at all. This is a 'get wrapped up' sort of walk which needs good shoes although the paths are fine and the inclines gentle.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have a nature reserve there and although it does cost to park there, during an evening we parked for free as the visitors centre was closed. You can park anywhere on this part of the coast and walk, that's the beauty of it, you don't have to use the RSPB facilities. There are also disabled visitors facilities too.

My friend Linda and I didn't walk far, probably several hundred yards that's all, but the walking was easy and there are seats and observation points. Much time is spent just standing, looking and enjoying the scenery and taking in the atmosphere. A very helpful friendly man answered our questions about the various birds and told us that the long winter had taken its toll on the bird population. There were no puffins there yet but a whole variety of birds were coming in to roost as we watched and the noise was phenomenal. There were gannets, gulls of various kinds, razor bills, kittiwakes, a few chattering sparrows in the gorse and we think we spotted an owl swoop low by late in the evening. We might even have seen a linnet.

I'm not sure how the birds cope. Perching precariously on the cliffs on ledges just a couple of inches wide, birds wheel away in the sea breeze. Many were on the surface of the sea in flocks bobbing up and down on the surf. The whole sight of the ancient landscape and seascape was something quite emotional and special. We did take several minutes to sit and meditate which was wonderful.

How does this survive on the cliff top?
I haven't been there since I was a child and a young child at that, and oh I wish I had gone more often. I've taken a few pics which don't really do it justice but I hope you enjoy!

Chat soon