Category Archives: A good day out
It’s only just occurred to me that it’s quite close to #YSPtweetup 2014, and what have I done in preparation? A lot of sod all, that’s what. It’s about time I extracted my digit and started winding up the arrangements.
For this year’s Wombat Wedding Anniversary hoopla we will once again be at the delightful Yorkshire Sculpture Park for picnics, walks, art and having a lot of fun together. The date to mark in red in your diary is Saturday 21st June.
As usual, bring food, chums, OHs, smiles, kids and canine companions. We’ll follow the usual plan: meet up around ten (although it usually takes at least half an hour to get the gang moving – honestly, you lot are as nippy as the Titanic sometimes), then stroll down to the picnic area for food, chat, and watching the kids. After we’ve all eaten each other’s food, we’ll “do” the park – lakes, woods, artworks, and climbing on that sculpture that you’re not supposed to climb on.
An offer of a lift: @basdriver is driving up to YSP from Cardiff and is kindly offering lifts to anyone near his route (click on the map on the left to see it large), which is roughly Cardiff-> Cheltenham-> Birmingham-> Nottingham-> Sheffield-> Wakefield). Contact him if you want to take him up on his lovely offer. Nice chap.
And if you can offer a lift to anyone who might want to go but has no transport, then let me know and I’ll put out a call on here.
OK, here’s a map (click it to big it) and some bullet points. Gotta love bullet points.
- YSP is just off the M1 junction 38.
- Meet between 10 and 10:30 near the main car park, by the entrance to the main building. If it’s stair-rodding, you could always pop inside.
- Car Parking is £8 for all day, payable at a machine that takes cards or cash, and asks for your car reg. number. The Car Park is HUGE and everyone will fit in.
- Bring picnic food & drink OR buy stuff in the cafés there. Tap water is available free.
- If you have any of my books you want signing, bring them along. I’ll also be available to sign boobs *eyebrow waggle*
- We don’t have to stick together the whole day, but I hope we can at least get a big team photo of the whole company like before.
- Official hashtags – either #YSPtweetup or #YSPtweetup2014.
Yes, I know, it’s very advanced notice, but I have already had half a dozen people asking about this year’s Wombat Wedding Anniversary get together. Once again we’ll be at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for picnics, walks and art. The date to mark in red in your diary is Saturday 21st June. As usual, bring food, chums, OHs, kids and all manner of canine companions.
I have a passing fancy this year to finally remember to get everyone to do the Mass Paperbag Trick. And maybe get everyone to bring their ukulele so that we can have a YSP Ukulele Orchestra rendition of Ilkley Moor Bar T’at. We’ll see. More in a few months.
A little thing that I wrote while sitting at the end of Seatown harbour in Gamrie. My sincere apologies to any Scottish readers, especially those who live there, for my poor attempts to capture the atmosphere of that wonderful place.
The light was fading rapidly now, sapphire to cobalt to indigo. The agreeable sunset apricot tint had faded from the clouds overhead and now they were simply battleship grey. The sea remained calm, but the surface began to chop as a cool breeze picked up, bringing the delicious scents of salt and seaweed to the shore. Gulls, waders and kittiwakes filled the dusk with their last raucous shrieks, whistles and mock laughter.
A maroon smudge smeared athwart the horizon was all that remained of the day’s sun. In the near distance Saltire Craig, a small jut of rock no bigger than a trawler, rose black out of water the colour of molten lead. Pale grey smudges spattered its surface. They swirled and wheeled occasionally about the tattered Bratach na h-Alba, the Banner o’ Scotland, that fluttered bravely atop its lonely pole, as it had since planted there by some hardy Scottish brave some time ago.
High on the lookout platform at the sea end of the harbour pier, Fergus eased his bony buttocks on the rusting bollard and stretched out his legs, feet poking out over the edge of the harbour wall. Inside his clumsy old boots he wiggled his toes, and imagined how good they’d feel with sea-water sluicing between them.
A loud splash echoed across the water, startling him. He peered into the murk, seeing nothing. The sound had originated from the other side of Saltire Craig, out of his sight. What could be large enough to make that noisy an impact with the water? Dolphins, perhaps? Or maybe old friends?
He gazed out at the ending day. Sunset always calmed his mind, soothed his soul, helped him to settle for the life he had now. On either side of the bay the headlands were already mussel-black. The vast dimming sky grew steadily darker.
Fifteen feet below his boots the waves lapped quietly at the weathered stone that protected the vessels safely tucked away behind it. More squealing gulls circled the end of the pier, curving pleasing arcs below his feet. Above his head a tiny red light winked on and began to flash.
A small white boat rounded Saltire Craig, its engine popping quietly as it crossed towards the harbour entrance. The boat was small, big enough only to carry two at most, yet now bearing but one passenger. Fergus could read the name painted on the prow – “Maighdean-Chuain”.
The single occupant raised a hand to Fergus as he passed and entered the placid waters beyond the sea wall. Fergus lifted his own arm in acknowledgement. It was good finally to feel included after all this time. His peculiar arrival in the village all those months ago had caused many to keep their distance at first, yet now even that extraordinary day was fading from memory. Village folk tended to live in the present rather than lingering on what was past. Folk here had finally started to show friendship to Fergus; yes, and acceptance. He scratched his grey beard and pulled the ear-flaps of his plaid charity-shop hat down over his ears. Getting chilly now.
He pushed to his feet, old muscles complaining. He wobbled a little in a gust of wind and steadied himself on the stanchion that held the harbour light aloft, before slowly descending the curved steps down from the lookout point. He ambled along the dock to where the small boat had tied up, and peered down at it bobbing on the shadowy water.
There was enough light left to see that the man in the boat was gutting a freshly caught fish on an upturned blue crate. A sharp knife, expertly wielded, slit the belly open. Fingers were deftly inserted and slid smoothly inside to pull out the guts. These the fisherman flung into the water for the flocking, shrieking gulls to fight over. He glanced up at the dock.
“Fergus,” the man nodded, laying his cleaned fish on a plastic bag beside him.
“Robbie Gamrie, is that you?” Fergus peered uncertainly down into the gloom.
“Aye, so,” Robbie confirmed “Got mysel’ a couple of late haddock.”
Robbie lifted a second wriggling fish and whacked its head on the side of the boat before laying it on the blue crate and sliding in his knife.
“Well done, there,” Fergus said. “What kept you out so late?”
“Forgetfulness. I was miles away, daydreaming like a bairn. I’d likely still be out there, but a noise brought me alert.”
“The splash? Aye, I heard that. Big splash, it was. Did you see what made it?” Hope glimmered briefly in Fergus’ breast.
“Nay, it was behind me, whatever it was.”
“Hmm,” said Fergus, slightly disappointed. “Too big for a bird, anyroad. Could it have been dolphins, think you?”
“Maybe. They… or silkies, eh?”
Fergus could hear Robbie’s grin in the tone of his voice. Robbie didn’t believe in silkies, despite the name of his boat. Not many did, nowadays.
“You’ll have had your supper?” Robbie asked him.
“Ah, no. I’ll have a rollie when I get in.”
“Rollie be damned. You’ll need warmth inside you if you’ve been perched up there for long. Here, catch.”
A dark shape flew up from below to hover briefly before Fergus’ eyes, shimmering a little in the harbour light. Fergus snatched out a hand to catch it before it fell back. The fish was cold and oily, the flesh yielding beneath his fingers as only fresh fish does.
“Got milk, Fergus? Butter and pepper? Get that inside your oven, then get it inside you. It’ll do you a sight more good than cold bread.”
“Thanks, laddie, I appreciate it.” Fergus nodded farewell to Robbie and walked off the harbour, taking the shore path towards his tiny cottage, the haddock hanging limply from his fingers.
Fish for supper. He remembered a time long ago when supper had always been fresh fish. He did not eat it half as much these days, and the gift from Robbie was a pleasant surprise. Fergus was not inclined to take Robbie’s advice on how best to prepare the haddock, however. He would not bake the fish in milk. Tonight he would eat the fish raw, just like the old days.
Herewith a selection of photographs of people taken at the Car Boot Sale at Gigg Lane this morning. I took them to entertain myself during slack periods at Wombie’s Stall. Perhaps in decades to come futuristic archaeologists will dig this blog post up and be fascinated by our quaint modes of attire, especially the ginger lad in the Wednesday shirt.