Category Archives: pub
The chances are, you’ll never have heard of it. If, though, you ever drive over to the east coast of Yorkshire from the Manchester area (or vice versa, I suppose), take a tip from me. Leave the M1 for a while onto the little-travelled B1217. It’s a pleasant relief to take country roads for a short stretch between the hellpit of the M1, and the hugely horrible A64.
The meandering B road passes an Edwardian mansion, Lotherton Hall, and bends through the village of Saxton. Past the Crooked Billet pub, the narrow road lopes onto rising farmland. Through tall hedges you will glimpse cornfields and copses in this particularly English landscape. Shortly after the hedges give up the ghost, you’ll see something of an anomaly on your left. A big old holly bush squats by the road, dark and gloomy and alien-looking. You can park nearby.
If you then peer behind the old holly, you’ll find an ancient, weather-worn gothic cross. No one knows who first put the cross here – it lay in a ditch for centuries before being righted again. On its base, amongst flowers both dried and fresh, you’ll see a recently added date – March 28, 1461. The anonymous inscriber got the date wrong: it should be the 29th. The 29th of March in that year of turmoil during the Wars of the Roses was a Sunday – Palm Sunday, in fact.
On that snow-driven day, perhaps the most significant day of the entire struggle for the throne between Edward and Henry, 100,000 men met at this place to hack, stab, slice, suffocate, bludgeon and trample each other to death. This was by far the most murderous battle ever fought on British soil, yet most of you will never have heard of it. A hundredth of the entire British population died in the blood-stained snow between dawn and dusk that day; almost 30,000 men – three times the number of casualties than on the first day of The Somme.
This was a horrific, bloody brawl. Imagine, if you can, the driving, stinging blizzard; the deafening racket of clashing arms and armour, the pleading of men, the screaming and howled obscenities; the stench of puke and shit and trampled entrails. If you fall, you’re dead in seconds, the life crushed out of you by the sheer weight of men jammed into this meat-mincer. If hell has ever been upon the earth, this was it. The death toll was so great, and bodies piled up so much, that occasional pauses were called in the fighting in order to drag corpses of the way.
The Lancastrians began to push the Yorkists back, and the core of the fighting drifted into a vale now called Bloody Meadow. If you walk up the lane a little from the cross, you’ll see the bowl of this small valley before you. The slaughter, unremitting, continued late into the afternoon. The Yorkists, led by Edward, the son of Richard, 3rd Duke of York , were outnumbered and outfought. They became ever more desperate as they gave way, inch by bloody inch, across the field. Then, up what is now the B1217, marched an army bearing aloft banners that displayed a white boar. These were the men of the Duke of Norfolk, whose fresh reinforcements pelted into the Lancastrians’ flank. The Lancastrians were stopped in their tracks, faltered, and began to give ground, tripping over the corpses of their own dead. The beleaguered Lancastrians bent, broke and ran like buggery. Then the rout began. If the battle was vicious, the rout added a whole new level of brutality.
Far more men died in the rout than in the battle. Bridges in the path of the fleeing Lancastrians shattered under the weight of armed men, plunging many to a freezing death in the icy water. Thousands were caught and mutilated, for it had been agreed in the parley before the battle that no quarter would be given, no mercy shown. Part-hidden, in a naked stand of ash trees, was the grim Bridge of Bodies, built of Lancastrian dead to form a dam, the rushing waters streaming with crimson grume. Panicked, hysterical men scrambled across the River Cock over the carcases of the fallen. From Tadcaster to Towton, the fields were strewn with corpses and body parts. The fleeing men made easy targets for horsemen, and foot soldiers killed many who had dropped their weapons and thrown off their helmets to breathe more freely. And all the while, the blizzard raged.
In 1996 a mass grave of more than 40 bodies was discovered at Towton Hall. It delivered the bones of some of the soldiers who had fought and died at Towton. The skeletons showed evidence of terrible wounds – there were some with at least 20 head injuries. They all died horribly.
“The thing that shook us was that these people had been butchered. Perhaps the most spectacular ones are where people have had part of their head sliced off, or their head cut in half. There’s much evidence of mutilation. That noses and ears were hacked off.” – Dr Alan Ogden, a palaeo-pathologist.
When you know the history of this place – the significant battle that took place here to decide the fate of the English throne, the awful toll it took, the hellish things that happened to thousands of men, you can’t simply stroll amongst the corn and enjoy the sun. The terrible deaths of those thousands haunt your thoughts. There are ghosts here.
“Walk in the margin of the corn as it is ruffled by the blustering wind. Above, the thick mauve, mordant clouds curdle and thud like bruises, bowling patches of sunlight across the rise and fall of the land. In the distance is a single stunted tree, flattened by the south wind. It marks the corner of this sombre, elegiac place. It would be impossible to walk here and not feel the dread underfoot – the echo of desperate events vibrating just behind the hearing. This is a sad, sad, dumbly eloquent deathscape.” – A. A. Gill, 2008
I spotted these two pubs while visiting Lincoln yesterday. More about that later, but I did wonder whether there was a connection between these two. Or maybe I missed a pub called simply ‘The Lion’?
Starting to catch up with blog posts now that several guest-bloggers have helped me out for a few weeks, bless their little cotton socks. They’re listed somewhere over on the right, and you should give them your approbation. Go on, approbe them. Approbe them hard.
So, who was first down the pub? Quickest off the mark was @lilac_dreamer, who tells us that her pic shows “Two of my favourite things. “G” and the Arden Arms”. Now I’m sure that the Arden Arms must be very lovely, but you must admit in the pic it looks a bit like the back of a public lav. One thing IS lovely though, and that is the mysterious “G”, with his mischievous smirk.
Closely following @lilac_dreamer (and who wouldn’t want to do that?) was @dbrereton, who shows us an Alpine Beer Garden in a pic which you should definitely click to see the large version. “The French don’t do pubs, but they do do mountain bars” he says. Heh heh heh – you said doo-doo!
But wait – @dbrereton is made of stern stuff, for he cocks his snook at my doo-doo comment, and returns with two more pics. On the left is proof that he X-RAYED the Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, and found Guinness from Ghana deep inside. On the right is… well, I’ll let himself talk again: “Right, beat the rush this is ‘Born and Bred’ Sunday night period fodder about a village doctor starring James Bolam, and Richard Wilson”. Tis in fact the Assheton Arms in Downham, in the lovely Ribble Valley.
Here’s @mrsashboroscat now – “My favourite…well…thingy (tech term)…from my favourite pub. The best bit of Nottingham in the Pit n Pendulum gothrock pub. It has reproduction torture devices on the walls and it’s all dungeon-y”. Just what *every* pub should have, a dungeony atmos. But she’s not finished – “Went to a pub last night that looked a little rough on the outside…then we saw the inside”. Oh no! Posters! AAAAAAAAAGH!
Now this, on your right, really is a work of art. I’ve amped the size up a bit so you can properly appreciate the feeling in this picture, but you can still see the full sized pic by clicking on it of course. It’s by @silvergirl56 ‘s brother George, and was submitted by my old friend @womble61. Love it.
Moody @johnrands_tmtl pic of himself “channelling Bernard Black on the last day of UK indoor smoking. Dewdrop in Peacehaven is old fashioned.Still closes on Sunday, not redecorated since you needed a ration book & all pics are monochrome”. Seems odd that it’s down South somehow.
Two shots here from @missmandymoo78. Firstly a memory from her holiday snaps, and one of the many reasons why she loves Cornwall. Not sure about the tacky placcy snake myself. I’m a stick-in-the-mudder who enjoys a little more tradition. Her second pic is “A pub on a beach in the UK! Well I never”. Looks a bit chilly, actually.
I love listening to @exnavygirl – “I ‘borrowed’ this glass from a pub many years ago. Just rubbed arnica cream into Moria’s head after she picked a fight with the bathroom. She has also just taken pic”. Proper detail there; just what I like. Also – thief! You glass thief! You lovely, unique, fascinating glass thief!
Ah, here’s @acumbrianvet now – is that arnica cream I smell? “By The Nine Divines, it’s #SUNDAYPICS time again and so here is my submission. The finest inn in all of Bruma”. Ah Oblivion; one of the best games ever. Personally, as a Nord, Bruma was one of my favourite places to go.
“One of our two village pubs” reports @ericafairs, “Gone bonkers with the window boxes.Through the door & upstairs at the pub, one of two Folk Clubs in the village” *puts finger in ear and sings* “On the 14th of May at the dawn of the day….”
Here’s another dual entry (no don’t. Stop it) – these lovely pics are from @mizzlizwhizz, who says she “Didn’t go in. No one to go with (dog doesn’t count) but the flowers were v pretty”. Being on my own never stopped me going into a pub, but then I’m not a gorgeous woman.
Now this one’s a bit odd from @girlthing63 – highly confusing pub directions on what appears to be a big metal sign. Why would you… OH! It’s the Tan Hill Inn on the Pennine Way, and a bit famous. I get it now – good pic. Click here if you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Here’s young master @IainLJ now – “Went for a few drinks with some friends last night, and we had to sample some of these Jägerbombs”. Now, I didn’t look closely enough at Iain’s pic at first, and failed to see the shot glass inside, but there it is, see? I was suffering from Jägerbomb Ignorance. If you too suffer from some of the issues covered in this paragraph, possibly by being an old fart such as I, you can find out more by clicking here.
Another “double diamond” of photos now (see what I did there?) as @sjnewton shows us two of his favourite London Pubs. On the left is The Black Friar, While on your right you will see The Crosse Keys. It being thirty years since I lived in The Smoke, I have no idea in which part of London you can find these delightful establishments.
Here’s @greythorne – “first, the Black Boy Inn in Caernarfon. Recommended for beer and rooms” – aha, two of my favourite things. Her next pic looks like it was taken while lying on the floor, presumably drunk. “The Picture House, Stafford. Nice to see Weatherspoons doing a sympathetic conversion”. Oh, I see. OK then.
We’ll stay in the bonny land of Wales with @cymraescoch, who shows us a real man’s shed. In fact “A sort of home grown shed-in-my-dad’s-garden type of pub”. Peint o gwrw a bag o scratchings cysylltwch.
Ms. Irene @hallmork said of this pic that it was the “first pub on the Wombats #SUNDAYPICS pub crawl”, yet I saw no others through the day. Must have been a REALLY good pub! Also, nice dog.
Two from @b_wildered now, “The Cherry Tree in Kettering, next door to the superb Red Rose curry house” – @little_mavis knows Kettering well. She’s probably been drunk there. The second pic was “Taken just before World Cup when hopes were high” Ah memories.
@bottyb’s here, everybody! “My first is The Adam and Eve pub, which I believe is Norwich’s oldest dating from 1249”. Blimey, that’s nearly one o’clock. But there’s no shutting this woman up – “My second is of the landlady’s cat in the Mustard Pot. Love pubs that have critters”.
The old Weatherspoons in Longsight (former Edwin Chadwick), now an Indian restaurant, from @johnrisby. Film scan, 2002, apparently. Worth looking at the big picture with this one.
The other side of the coin (and the page) is represented by @scyrene who smugly announces “I spend much of my social life in the pub nowadays. Here’s a shot from a few months ago” – that looks particularly refreshing on a warm sunny day like today. Like that beer at the end of “Ice Cold in Alex” that John Mills fingers.
“Beer, sunshine, spit-roast lamb, Morris men, THAT’S a pub!” Thus spake @oldmotherriley, and who would gainsay that, with the possible exception of the driver of that white van trying to get past. Speaking as an ex-Morris Man myself (and that’s a whole other story), I say let White Van Man sit there and fume, for I am busy singing…
“Some like a girl who is pretty in the face
and some like a girl who is slender in the waist
But give me a girl who will wriggle and will twist
At the bottom of the belly lies the cuckoo’s nest”
Over on your right now is a GORGEOUS view of Henley, and standing proud in the centre is The Angel pub. You can thank @rosamundi for this evocative photograph of Englishness.
Now who’s this, stuffing their faces? Why tis the most becoming family of @och23, who reports “We went for Sunday lunch at the Boars in Spooner Row. Food was fab”. Now, I’ve zoomed in on the big version of this pic, and I can tell you that fish, chips and peas was £14. FOURTEEN QUID!!! Sweet Baby G! I therefore conclude that @och23 must be right rich or our local pub is really cheap.
Co-incidentally, here is some fish, chips and peas – “Post-work grub at a pub just up the road” for @lilianlouvaine. That batter looks crispy, but why have the plonked the fish on top of the chips? How are you supposed to drench them with salt and vinegar with the fish in the way? Perhaps the landlord can’t afford decent-sized plates.
These two photos (left) are of “Toyah’s Bar – the pub in our cellar”. Yes, you heard. @scullyscully has a pub in her cellar. She truly IS the perfect woman.
And this pair of pics on the right is of the pub in @hollylightly’s cellar…. oh. Sorry. Wishful thinking there. This is “A cute pub I found while working in Torquay, very pretty inside and out”. Just like you, ducky.
I think we can all see why this is @nyncompoop’s “favourite pub in Whitstable. I think it’s the name”. Of course it’s the name. Very seafaring, and we all know of Levenshulme’s historical connections with the sea and those who go down to it in boats. Speaking of Levy, the photograph to the right of The Smack is of “a handful of the Levy tweeters in the pub”. Let’s just check what’s on the table – beer, crisps and fags. Yeah, that sounds like Levy.
Over to the left now with your steely gaze, and you’ll espy what to me looks like a deliciously spooky place. Tis “The Haven House in Mudeford, Dorset. I love this place” continues the similarly deliciously spooky @germgirl.
That @vanishedhippo presents us with another double-whammy of pics now. Sadly, I can’t think of an amusingly original way to present them after so many pairs already, so I’ll just pile them up on the left there. @vanishedhippo himself tells us that “You can’t beat a good bar in a good pub”. The pub sign seems to indicate that the pub is called The Three What-the-fuck-are-they, and I can’t tell you how much fish and chips is there, cos the blackboard on the right is the wine list.
Aaaaaargh! Whatisit whatisit? It was sent by @pixki, who luckily is full of information. “All loos need good wall paper in pubs, since you have to wait sometimes”. a) men never wait – we’ll widdle up the wall if we have to, and b) who could do a wee being watched by Dolly Parton? Oh alright, alright – except for the large number of my followers known as Team Perv, who could do a wee watched by Dolly Parton? @pixki hasn’t finished with us, thankfully, and redeems herself with a lovely picture of which she says “If only all pubs had views like this … the Inn on the Lake – Ullswater. Strictly not a pub but meh” It’s a peaceful photo. How many of you want to sneak up behind and shout “BOO!”? Yes, me an’all.
This sober looking chap is @rasskell, who says “After at least 12hrs in the pub you too could look as handsome as me”. That’s the way to do it!
NEXT! Come in, come in, sit down. Now, what can I do for you?
”Well, Dr. Wombat, I can never manage to post a picture that actually matches the #SUNDAYPICS theme”
Hmm, I see. This week’s theme – it was ‘Pubs’, yes?
”It was, Doctor, yes”
And what did you post a picture of?
”Trifle, Doctor. I posted trifle”
Hmmm, I see. Well then, just slip off ALL your clothes so that I can examine you…. that’s the way… *looks in ears*
Can you tell what’s wrong?
Yes, Ms @kirtle, you see there are no pubs round where you live, so you are a trifle obsessed.
By the pointy penis of Lucifer, I adore this pic. My beloved @flossietp sums it up – “Somehow, this seems the epitome of a northern pub. And the name is of course irrelevant”. Sod it, I’m going to make it BIG. [insert your own joke here]
And following a BIG pub, here’s a small one. The smallest, in fact, according to @davidtims – “The Nutshell pub in Bury St Edmunds. It claims to be the smallest pub in Britain”. Are there actually any seats inside? Or even a bar? We need to be told these things.
That @mallrat_uk posted a pic of the pub she was in – the ‘Little Mesters’ pub. Looks OK. The most interesting thing in the photo though is the bloke with the Mohican and the chav tattoo. I’ll hazard a guess that his name is Cyril.
Look! It’s @lindacoggs being punched by a baby! “Almost exactly 1 year ago in the Nairn Highland Games drinks tent”. Get that baby a Laphroaig!
This, apparently, is “a Benny & hot & the hotel bar from this weekend”. Does that make any sense to anyone? @snowgirl1972 continues “A tasty local speciality, Benedictine” and all is explained. She also sent us a shot of the ‘pub’ itself. Is that @thorn_waite buying a drink, or maybe a bag of scratchings?
Ah no, cos here he is, lying on his back, taking pictures of the ceiling – “Last night’s pub (ceiling)”. See?
@matt_cochr shows us a dark place. “This was taken during a recording session (Quiet pub sound effects)” he says. You do have a fascinating job, sir.
@justinecaul here, impersonating Derek Jacobi and saying “children’s TV is shocked by news that the Tombliboos have gone solo with a new project In The Pub Garden”, Actually, that just made me snigger.
And to your right, @fraggle_red23 shows us, well, I’ll let her speak – “this was from a few weeks ago when our local had a beer festival”. Beer Festival! Win!
Oh look – it’s a picture of me! You jammy gits. My American chum @jamerz3294 says this was “My fave pub of all time. Me and Brit BFF @wombat37 in Manchester, behind pub, in front of graves”. Not sure about being a BFF mind. I hope it’s something nice, and doesn’t stand for Big Fecking Fartbreath.
It’s from @starlitwolf – “two different Pubs, 3 different days”. Muddy boots welcome too. The pic on the left is the Ladies loo, apparently. Posh.
Who’s this wazzock dressed like a Parker fan at a Thunderbirds convention? Not @jaxbourne: she’s this side of the camera. “Being served at the longest Champagne bar in Europe! Next mission in life ….the longest in the world”. Does the length of the bar affect the taste of the booze, I wonder?
Tis my beloved! @little_mavis says “Almost forgot #sundaypics. From my canal holiday (pre-Wombat) whole thing planned around pubs (occasionally thwarted). I’m the short one in the middle”. I see the pub was closed :¬(
This is an odd pub from @sarahpez, who says “A bit late but I’ve actually been to the pub”. No really? Fascinating collection of banistery stuff there. How was the ale?
Here’s a gorgeous photo from @sarahtregear – “this is me and @EnglishKirsty and the wife at the pub today in sunny rural Co.Waterford”. Happy smiles from happy people – I love it. There’s a photo from the same day that @englishkirsty posted, which I’ll save till the end for reasons of… well, you’ll see. Actually, I think I’ll keep @waywardlou#s till the end too. In the meantime, I challenge you to pronounce the name of that pub.
Bit of an impressive arty pic from @cha0tic, who says “Oops. Nearly forgot my #sundaypics”. Wouldn’t mind a poster of this on my wall. Which reminds me, I ought to complete the “Buy Prints” tab of this blog so that you can, if you like, buy prints (as long as the owner of the pic agrees you can).
On with the motley – @tinaconroy has posted a poem; “Here’s something for #sundaypics; from The Anchor pub in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, when we went in June”. I like the way it tells you where the poem ends.
Here’s my two – the Seven Wells in Derby, and Sinclairs in the middle of Manchester. Two very nice, but different pubs.
I’ve enjoyed this blog a lot, in particular my final two photographs, for they involve SNOGGING. The first is from @waywardlou, who says “I don’t have many pics with obvious bits of pubs in it. But here’s a picture of me in a bar”. The second is courtesy of @englishkirsty who reports simply “me @sarahtregear & her wife outside An Cruiscin Lan Pub”. In the words of Victor Hugo –
“How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said”.
I’m just going for a lie down….
The chances are, you’ll never have heard of it. If, like us, you ever you drive over to the east coast of Yorkshire from the Manchester area (or vice versa, I suppose), take a tip from me. Leave the M1 for a while on the little-travelled B1217 for a short stretch between the M1 and the hugely horrible A64.
The meandering B road passes the Edwardian mansion, Lotherton Hall, bends through the village of Saxton and the Crooked Billet pub, and lopes on into rising farmland. Through the hedges you will glimpse cornfields and copses in this typically English landscape. Shortly after the hedges give up the ghost, you’ll see something of an anomaly on your left. A big old holly bush squats by the road, dark and gloomy and alien-looking. You can park nearby.
If you then peer behind the old holly, you’ll find lurking there an ancient weather-worn gothic cross. There’s no record of who first put the cross here – it lay in a ditch for hundreds of years before being righted again. On it’s base, amongst flowers both dried and fresh, you’ll see a recently added date – March 28, 1461. The inscriber got the date wrong: it should be the 29th. The 29th in that year of turmoil amidst the Wars of the Roses was a Sunday – Palm Sunday, in fact.
On that snow-driven day, perhaps the most significant day of the struggle for the throne between Edward and Henry, 100,000 men met at this place to hack, stab, slice, suffocate, bludgeon and trample each other to death. This was by far the most murderous battle ever fought on British soil, yet most of you will never have heard of it. An astounding 1% of the British population died in the blood-spattered snow between dawn and dusk that day, almost 30,000 men – three times the number of casualties than on the first day of The Somme.
This was a horrific, bloody brawl. Imagine, if you can, the driving stinging blizzard; the deafening racket of clashing arms and armour, the pleading of men, the screaming and howled obscenities; the stench of puke and shit and trampled entrails. If you fall, you’re dead in seconds, the life crushed out of you by the sheer weight of men jammed into this meat-mincer. If hell has ever been on earth, this was it. The death toll was so great and bodies piled up so much that occasional pauses were called in order to drag them out of the way.
The Lancastrians began to push the Yorkists back, and the core of the fighting drifted into a vale now called Bloody Meadow. The slaughter, unremitting, continued late into the afternoon. The Yorkists, led by Edward, the son of Richard, 3rd Duke of York , outnumbered and outfought, became ever more desperate as they gave way, inch by bloody inch, across the field. Then up the B1217 marched men bearing banners displaying a white boar – it was the Duke of Norfolk, with fresh reinforcements who pelted into the Lancastrians’ flank. The Lancastrians were stopped in their tracks, faltered and began to give ground, tripping over the corpses of their own dead. The beleaguered Lancastrians bent, broke and ran like buggery. Then the rout began. If the battle was vicious, the rout added a whole new level of brutality.
Far more men died in the rout than in the battle. Bridges in the path of the fleeing Lancastrians shattered under the weight of armed men, plunging many to a freezing death in the icy water. Thousands were caught and mutilated, for it had been agreed in the parley before the battle that no quarter would be given, no mercy shown. Part-hidden in a naked stand of ash trees was the Bridge of Bodies, built of Lancastrian dead to form a dam, the rushing waters streaming with crimson grume. Panicked, hysterical men scrambled across the River Cock over the carcases of the fallen. From Tadcaster to Towton the fields were strewn with corpses and body parts. The fleeing men made easy targets for horsemen, and foot soldiers killed many who had dropped their weapons and thrown off their helmets to breath more freely. And all the while, the blizzard raged.
In 1996 a mass grave of more than 40 bodies was discovered at Towton Hall. It delivered the bones of some of the soldiers who had fought and died at Towton. The skeletons showed evidence of terrible wounds – there were some with at least 20 head injuries. They all died horribly – Dr Alan Ogden, a palaeo-pathologist, said:
“The thing that shook us was that these people had been butchered. Perhaps the most spectacular ones are where people have had part of their head sliced off, or their head cut in half. There’s much evidence of mutilation. That noses and ears were hacked off.”
When you know the history of this place – the significant battle that took place here to decide the fate of the English throne, the awful toll it took, the hellish things that happened to thousands of men – you can’t simply stroll amongst the corn and enjoy the sun. The terrible deaths of those thousands haunt your thoughts. A. A. Gill said it well in 2008 –
“Walk in the margin of the corn as it is ruffled by the blustering wind. Above, the thick mauve, mordant clouds curdle and thud like bruises, bowling patches of sunlight across the rise and fall of the land. In the distance is a single stunted tree, flattened by the south wind. It marks the corner of this sombre, elegiac place.
It would be impossible to walk here and not feel the dread underfoot – the echo of desperate events vibrating just behind the hearing. This is a sad, sad, dumbly eloquent deathscape.”
You can read his full eloquent and evocative history of the Battle of Towton by clicking on this sentence. I highly recommend that you do.
As usual, Sunday is a day of collecting #SUNDAYPICS, and today’s theme of Comfort Food prompted me to have a quick look back through our photos to discover a random collection of comfort foods that I have thought worth taking a picture of. Here they are, foods to improve your mood, in no particular order. Be warned, there’s quite a few. I obviously enjoy photographing food.
My American readers may like to view this as an introduction to typical British food.
First up – fried eggs from our own hens, on a toasted muffin, with Snowgirl Sauce (copyright @snowgirl1972). Gorgeous colours, eh?
Fresh cream apple turnover now – perfect with a glass of rosé.
Next up – home-baked chocolate cake. This one was for Cat’s last birthday: guess who got to scrape out the bowl.
These little mini-waffles from ASDA are inexplicably delicious and addictive. Here they are nestling up to a home-made chilli.
If you’re in the mood for faggots, you can do no better than Mr. Brain’s – the best.
PIES! Take your pick – which is your personal favourite?
Pick Your Own strawberries – you can’t get fresher, or tastier, than when you’ve just plucked them yourself.
To some it may seem boring, but I adore a simple cheese sandwich with really fresh salady stuff. No dressing, please.
Go on admit it – you’re impressed by the size of this one, aren’t you. Hot dog, fried onions, mustard, ketchup – the perfect fill-up when you’re pissed as a fart.
Chippy chips! Proper fat chips splattered with salt and vinegar. Yum.
Chinese takeaway – a Friday night special.
A nice cup of tea and a cream scone. Elevenses.
Pub lunch number 1 – Gammon Steak Sarnie, a big Cornish, and froffee coffee.
Fresh veg from the Farmers Market – oh, the possibilities.
Pub lunch number 2 – Calf Brains and mustard and a pint of bitter you can’t see. (not really; tis beef that I’d piled up weirdly).
Poppets Chocolate Raisins. Mmmmmmm.
Home-baked mince pies, courtesy of @little_mavis.
A fry-up breakfast. Note the absence of egg, cos we were in Scotland and didn’t have any, but the addition of fried fruit pud, cos we were in Scotland and DID have some.
Various delights from the German market in Manchester. Insert YOUR joke here.
Chocolatey marshmallowey nutty ice-cream mix on a sunny day at Beacon Farm near Whitby. The BEST ice-creams ever. No, really.
A while ago, Mrs. Wombat (@little_mavis) was musing on Twitter with a number of the Twitterati about where, mathematically, might be the axis of all our locations. The closest she could come up with was “somewhere in the Peak District”. This set cogs a-whirring in the impressive brain of one of our best FWWNMs (friends whom we’ve never met) – the singularly dashing @captain_doodle.
Rather efficiently, he arranged a Peaks Tweetup – a gathering of folk who communicate through Twitter. These events, it seems, usually take place in a pub, but Rich had more grandiose ideas, and eight of us (if you count Ben, who has his own Twitter account @GoodBoyBen) met up in the Derwent Valley for a ramble/hike/tweetup. Rich even produced a magnificent PDF document as a guide and souvenir of the day.
Our Captain had promised (hang on, let me make sure I quote this correctly) “Starts with a gentle reservoir-side stroll, then a bit of a steady ascent (nothing rock climby) to the top. Once you’re up there it’s pretty flat the rest of the way, taking in some unusual rock formations, then down”. Sounds fairly easy, yes? Lying git.
After we’d strolled past the rather impressive dam, we needed to climb these steps to even reach the “gentle reservoir-side stroll”. Look how nippily I’m hauling my bulk up those steps. I had to refresh myself with a little @matronmim before proceeding.
To be fair, the initial stroll was quite gentle, and it was here that we first realised the beauty of this sort of tweetup. The fluidity of the walk meant that conversational groups were constantly changing, so that all of us mixed with all of us, rather than just nattering to the person sitting to our right, as might happen in a pub. Here’s the ladies in action – @shelley279, @vickyperry, @little_mavis and @matronmim.
Vicky had brought a selection of SWEETIES, so we stopped for a Sweetie break. @Domburf helped himself to a Sherbet Dipdab thingy, which lasted him a very long time. At least those bits he didn’t squirt over his companions did.
It went on forever, but at the top the views began to be unremittingly magnificent, and our curses at Rich turned gradually into appreciation.
We continued along Derwent Edge for what seemed like, and actually were, hours. Occasionally we stopped to laugh at the mincing hairy-backed jogger as he camped past us one way or the other, his orange bumbag gradually easing down his shorts until…. well, ew. Sadly, we were all too busy laughing to take a photo. We did take this photo, though, which is one of my favourites –
A short time later, we were in the pub, footsore but happy. It really was a bobby-dazzler of a day, and I was chuffed to discover that these people whom I only knew through their 140 character witterings popping up in my Tweetdeck, were actually the wonderful characters that they had appeared to be online.
So thanks to Shelley, Dom, Vicky, Mary, Mim and particularly Rich for giving me a day to remember and making an old man very happy. Let’s definitely do it again soon. Maybe with a little less walking, or we’ll all end up in the same state Ben was in at the pub:
Oh, and if you want to see more photos of the day, there’s a video here:
The one on the right is from a famous Boltonian steeplejack, who I’m sure you all remember. For the few of you who are either too young or have crap memories, there’s a fairly unrealistic statue in the town centre –
… and past the shop with arguably the best name in the world (although it does face strong competition in these parts from such establishments as the bakery “Nice Buns Big Baps” and the Chinese restaurant called “Wok This Way”.
Walking past this stream hidden way down in an apparently inaccessible culvert we get to the Parish Church. It sits impressively atop a hill with high retaining walls, and towers over visitors as they enter the town.
Equally impressive, but for entirely different reasons, is Ye Olde Pastie Shop, first established in 1667 (a year when Dutch troops attacked Royal Navy ships in London and burnt them), which does serve the best pasties in Bolton.
A sign above the pub tells us that this happened in 1651. The Earl was executed because of his part in the Bolton Massacre.
Just up the road is the Prestons Jewellers building, which is in itself pretty impressive, but also notice the golden ball thingy on the very top. It is on rails, and has a cable with which it can be raised and then dropped. I have NO idea why, or when it might be used.
Oh and look, a Woollies! Ah, Memories!
For centuries, like Ulverston, Grange over Sands was only accessible by crossing the sands from Lancaster by coach or on foot. Virtually untouched by Britain’s industrial revolution, the local fishing community remained quietly alone until the railway came in 1857. Wealthy businessmen from Lancashire and Yorkshire settled here taking advantage of the bracing air and wonderful climate. These men built some fine houses, hotels and grand terraces.
The River Kent used to flow past the town’s mile-long Promenade. But subsequently the river’s course migrated south, away from Grange. The “sands” (mudflats, in truth, with dangerous quicksand at uncertain points) became a grass meadow now frequently grazed by small flocks of sheep. More recently due to sustained easterly winds in the early part of 2007, the river has begun to switch its course back across the bay, and it remains to see whether the ‘sheep-meadows’ survive.
Why the history lesson? Why, because Grange was the target of our latest Good Day Out, where we had arranged to meet my BFF from hundreds of years ago (left), and blogger extraordinaire, Liz. A fine day was called for, but bloody buggery arsehole, it was lashing down as we hoiked Ben, the big yellow dog, into the back of Monique the Meriva and heaved it up the steep hill out of the village.
Ninety minutes later we were easing along country roads into Grange-Over-Sands in bright sunshine. Hoo! And even Ray! Pootling along the main street through Grange, some sixth sense told me to point Monique down a steep, windy street as tight as a gnat’s chuff. At the bottom, we found a car park where the Pay and Display machine was out of action. Score!
Liz always was reliably unreliable, so she turned up the expected thirty minutes late with OH Phil. “Oh look! There’s a tunnel under the railway line! Let’s go and look at the beach, the famous ‘sands’ under Grange” we all cried in unison. You see, at this point my history lesson had not been learned, and naturally I assumed that any place with ‘Sands’ in its name and described as a Victorian resort was, well, sandy. It isn’t, as you can probably tell from the surreal photo at the head of this blog, and this photo of my beloved Lady Raby and Liz strolling along the prom prom prom. We had decided to circle the town, so we strode out along the promenade between the railway line and the grassy beach. There were no brass bands, but I hummed “”Tiddely-om-pom-pom!” nonetheless, cos that’s the way I roll. Between the railway and the promenade itself were pleasantly, imaginatively arranged and well-kept flower beds, and plenty of benches for the sitting down. The cast iron benches were interesting, featuring squirrels eating what appeared to be grapes. Or just possibly squirrel intestines, which would make the benches a tribute to Zombie Squirrels. There’s a movie just waiting for the green light.
We passed the ruins of the old pier, jutting out into the grassy beach, then at the West end of the promenade, we discovered a strange, curved tripod structure. “iPLAY” it announced, as if that made everything clear. Ben worked out that it was designed for weeing up, but we were canny, and read an instruction board. Aha! Twas a game! An activity, designed for “fun and exercise for children of all ages”. Mentally nine years old, the lot of us, so of course we had to try. Phil, Liz’s hubby, was first to try, and scampered about like an eejit, while the tripod legs shouted at him his next instructions, and the rest of us laughed nervously while trying to work out how we were going to do it while avoiding looking like middle-aged divvies. Notice, in the above photograph, how excited Ben isn’t.
Now Liz had a go, bounding about with great enthusiasm. “iPRESS!” yelled the machine gleefully, “iTURN!”, “iPULL!”, “ YOU HAVE LOST A LIFE!” Liz achieved much the same score as Phil, and now it was the turn of my Mary.
Mary was leaping and hopping and sprinting. The machine cried out –
“iPUSH!”, “iSTAMP!”, “iPUSH!”, “iTURN!”, “YOU HAVE REACHED LEVEL TWO!”. What??? There’s a level two?? Oh yes, matey, and Mary went on to show us there was a level three as well. She was most impressive. That’s my girl! Sadly, no-one photographed my own lithe athleticism, but suffice to say thet the machine cheated me. I did not reach the much-vaunted so-called level two.
We sauntered through the town, which was most delightful with some fine looking houses. We came upon a pretty bandstand. No band, sadly, but it did have a feature rarely seen on bandstands – a moat. By now, Ben was getting tired, and we were getting tireder, so we looked for a pub, eventually stumbling across The Lancastrian, right in the middle of town. Good pub – the beer was fine, the staff and landlady extremely friendly, and the dinner was GIGANTIC. Seven quid, yeah, but GIGANTIC. Also, they happily served the delicate ladies with “child’s portions”. Phil and me are tough men, so we imediately went for the GIGANTIC.
After no little time, we left the pub and walked off a little of the weight of the food, although Phil undermined the benefits by spotting The Chocolate Shop, and deciding that it simply must have his custom. The park, actually the NORMANDY VETERANS MEMORIAL GARDENS, was really pretty, and like everything else in this likeable town, was well-tended, tidy and clean. A large variety of amusing and exotic ducks inhabited the large pond. Also in the park we found Picklefoot Spring, which a plaque told us has never run dry. It also told us that the name Picklefoot came from the walnut pickers who frequented the spot in days gone by.
Along Windermere Road there was a plaque describing
the history of EGGERSLACK TERRACE, an old terrace of stone-built houses. As Mary was reading aloud the plaque to the more illiterate of us, an old dear emerged from the house next door and engaged us in what turned out to be a fascinating conversation. Her family had lived there for centuries, and she regaled us with delightful tales, including a scary description of how, before the coming of the railway, the tide occasionally would flood all the way up the street past her house, which was easily several hundred yards from the “front”.
And finally to the station – a pretty station, in fact, with an unusual addition. A second-hand bookshop was tucked into the end of one platform, the cosy interior heated by an aromatic, crackling coal fire. We purchased some aromatic, crackling books (including an Arthur Bryant about Pepys) while Ben sat prettily on the platform and waited patiently. Then finally we sauntered back along the promenade, and said our farewells.
Grange Over Sands – a wonderful, surreal place, Get there if you can.
What did we do before the internet? One thing we didn’t do is make friends with blokes from Michigan, and then meet them in Manchester for a day of their visit across the Atlantic. Here’s what happened when Jamie met Wombat.
Of course, he just had to be the last one off the train. A gazillion peeps poured out of the carriages and disappeared into the waiting city before I spotted Jamie, at the far end of the platform. Even though I’d only seen photographs on Facebook and Sparkypeeps, it was obviously him. The hair gave it away, more than anything – sort of a startled Stan Laurel effect.
Jamie saw me at the same time, and saluted. I waved, extremely goofily, and then we had a big hug. A tough one, of the kind Real Men do. No girly overtones at all, honest. And then we were talking, extremely comfortably, as if we’d been meeting up all our lives.
We walked through the sun-drenched city centre to Shambles Square (see the piccie on the right), where we sat a while and sank a pint or two. It was pleasantly warm, and the beer was tasty and refreshing, and we almost decided just to stay where we were for the whole day.
After ascertaining that his GPS worked, and that we could locate nearby geocaches if we wanted, we exchanged gifts. Like a magician, Jamie flourished his rather large backpack and produced a rather groovy T-shirt, while I in turn presented him with a lump of black pudding. Sorry, Jamie, bad swap. Oh, and a bottle of the world’s best single- malt!
We started chatting to the couple sitting next to us, who had their cute three-year-old daughter with them. The husband tried to persuade Jamie that Liverpool was the greatest, most beautiful city in the UK, while I chatted to his wife about kids and beer. She took a photo of Jamie and I with his camera, and we decided we’d better get on with the day and bade our farewells.
Jamie had mentioned in one of his posts from Glasgow, that he was fascinated by anything that was older than the country he lived in, so I had decided that our first stop would be Manchester Cathedral, which luckily was sitting just behind the pub where we were sitting.
The roots of the Cathedral were begun in 1215, although there are decorative stones in the walls which have been dated to the year 700. Whatever the numbers, the place is a haven of peace and beauty. We admired the Regimental Colours in the Manchester Regimental Chapel, the ornate and delicate wooden carvings on the choir (picture right), and wondered at the streams of coloured light pouring through the bright stained glass windows. We were childishly amused by the presence of a Saint Chad in one of the windows.
Leaving the Cathedral, we headed away from Hanging Ditch and through St. Ann’s Square, where there were craft and food stalls, and Vivaldi, courtesy of a busking violinist.
Threading our way down onto Deansgate, Jamie thought he had annoyed a news vendor by posing for this photo on your left about his latest exploits. He was relieved when I explained the dry, sarcastic nature of the Manchester sense of humour.
Our next port of call was the magnificent John Rylands Library, which houses one of the world’s finest collections of rare books and manuscripts. The architecture is extremely impressive, what you might call Victorian Gothic. The library was founded by the magnificently named Mrs Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her late husband, John Rylands. The huge reading room, with its alcoves and balconies of glass-fronted bookcases, full of impressive-looking old tomes, and a fine statue of Mrs. Rylands (a very imposing woman with whom you wouldn’t want to mess) is well worth a visit the next time you get to Manchester. Go on, do it.
The café at the Rylands is one of the most pleasant cafés in the city, very light and airy. The menu makes a really pleasant change from the fries, pizzas, burgers and pies usually on offer. We decided on The Northern Plate – “A sharing plate for two show- casing the café’s regional foods: Lancashire & goats cheese, black pudding, Manchester sausage, Grizedale pork pie, locally cured meats, all served with Lizzie’s chutney and relish and crusty bread. Accompanied with 2 glasses of house wine”. It was perfect for a sunny day, and Lizzie’s Apple Chutney was to die for.
For our next stop, I had been torn between choosing the Museum of Science and Industry, or electing to marvel at the pre-Raphaelites on show at Manchester Art Gallery.
Unfortunately, I chose the wrong one, and we walked down to Castlefield and the Museum. Oh, the kids area, Xperiment, was sort of fun – see photo on the left – especially the orangey globe that you could whizz around to make groovy patterns. There was also a bit where you could stand on coloured squares to make bits of music. Unfortunately, there were four coloured squares and only two of us. When I hinted to the two young ladies also in the Gallery that they might care to make music with us, they looked at me weirdly and quickly walked away. But half the exhibits seemed to be missing, and everything was silent in the Power Hall – no thrusting pistons, clattering wheels, hissing steam. All was silent, and the worse for it. The Air and Space gallery had been denuded of much of its interest since last I visited, too, with the whole top gallery cleared out.
With no time now to reach the Art Gallery, we meandered past the Town Hall and took a photo by the fountain, before retiring to the Chop House (piccie), established in 1867 apparently. It being a warm day, we opted to sit out back, in the peaceful area behind St. Ann’s Church. Again, we got talking to some locals, and had a good old chat. After a couple of pints, we decided that a change of scene was in order, and returned to Sinclair’s, where the passers-by were much more varied, and far better fodder for our game of People Watching (“She’s called Monique, and she’s got one of those bald cats”). There were many hot laydeez around, unless that was an effect of the beer goggles. We were also entertained by a guy pretending to be a statue – as I type that I realise you’re all wondering how a dude standing still can be entertaining? Let me just remind you – beer goggles.
Eventually, the light faded, and we walked back to Piccadilly and Jamie’s train back to The Smoke. It had been a terrific day, in which we cemented a friendship that felt like it had been since childhood, and may well last until our second childhood. Bye Jamie; maybe I’ll come over to Michigan next.