05/8/16

Letter to the Man in the Audi

Dear Man in Audi,

The one who overtook me on a blind bend today, nearly causing a head-on collision. The one I hooted and flashed my lights at.

Yes, you.

You seemed a bit confused; shooting past me then slowing down to 20mph.

You were yelling at me via your mirror.  I can’t lip read, though. Sorry about that.

But the cartoon-like effect of your swivelling head, wobbling mouth and eye balls rotating in opposite directions did make me grin.

And that’s quite a skill you’ve got there, operating the steering wheel by telekinesis, leaving both arms free to flap around in the manner of one with a wasps’ nest in each armpit.

Then there was the way you were frantically bouncing around in your seat, as if you’d just realised your bottom was involuntarily hosting a recently-ignited firework.

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05/4/16

Things to do – Whitby, Staithes & Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire.

Clean beaches awash with seaweed and driftwood, fat seagulls yawking overhead, a giant whalebone arch,  terracotta rooftops and a sea that never seems to rest. Whitby, Staithes and Robin’s Hood Bay can feel like stepping into the pages of a child’s story book.

By contrast there’s a ruined abbey, a Goth festival and Whitby’s association with Dracula. This cluster of towns on the coast of North Yorkshire is one of my favourite places in the UK.

Take a stroll round the harbour.

Whitby fishing boats

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04/23/15

Mackerel and its Part in my Downfall: Part 2.

After the fishing trip in Tenby, mackerel played no part in my life until many years later when a boyfriend –let’s call him Tarquin – took me to meet his mother.

Tarquin was a lumbering, rugby playing chap who clowned around a lot.  He had a clutch of posh, amiable siblings, with names like Montgomery, Araminta and Rupert, unfortunately absent on the day of our visit.  I believe there was a step father too but he too was nowhere to be seen when we visited. Probably cowering under a bed somewhere, sucking his thumb.

Because Mrs Tarquin was terrifying. Continue reading

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04/23/15

Mackerel and its Part in my Downfall – Part 1.

Until the day we went fishing in Tenby, my infantile palate had been accustomed to, and welcomed with great enthusiasm, cosy comestibles such as roast lamb, soft boiled eggs with marmite soldiers and bags of sherbet lemons after Sunday school.

Then I met mackerel. Continue reading

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03/12/15

Labour’s Pink Van.

Oh Labour party, whatever have you done?  A pink van to entice women voters?    labour party pink bus

Really?  Don’t women get patronised enough with pink gardening shears, pink screwdrivers, pink tool boxes, pink fizzy alco-pops, pink bloody everything?

This looks like the sort of van that goes round Freshers’ Fairs dishing out chlamydia testing kits and fruit flavoured condoms to 17 year olds.

I’m surprised there isn’t a rotating mirror ball on the roof, eyelashes on the headlamps and tinsel round the tyres. Does it fart glitter out of the exhaust pipe too? Continue reading

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11/17/13

Inside the Belly of an Underground Reservoir.

 water reflections, underground reservoir, clayton, lancashire

For over a hundred years, this underground reservoir in Clayton,  Lancashire held a bellyful of water – 300 000 gallons of it to be exact –  until it was drained in 1992. The  Chorley Historical and Archeological Society made two applications to English Heritage for the reservoir to become a listed building but it was deemed to be ‘neither rare nor an exceptional example of its type.’

Its empty belly is now being be filled in to provide building space for a new housing development but before sending the bright, shiny bull-dozers in, Kingsway homes opened the reservoir to the public.  Excellent! I love murky places where nobody ever goes so my partner and I hot-footed it over there with our cameras.

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11/12/13

Pendle Hill for the Bone Idle.

trig point, pendle hill, lancashireTrig point at Pendle Hill.

Pendle Hill in East Lancashire is a great big sheep-strewn lump of a thing.   If it were 53m higher it would be a mountain but it’s not so it has to be content with being everybody’s favourite whale-shaped hill for the rest of its life.

Any local can tell you about the Pendle Witch trials of the early 1600s.  Twenty people, mostly women, were hauled off to Lancaster and tried for witchcraft.  Four were acquitted and the rest were hanged. Continue reading

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11/1/13

When I’m Cleaning Windows. (Not).

Some strange scrabbling noises at the front of the house this morning prompted me to stick my head out of the bedroom window.

A young man with a purposeful expression was climbing up a ladder.

Now a purposeful young man on a ladder may sound promising but I hadn’t ordered one and as he was clutching a bucket and a squeegee, there was no mistaking his intention.  Some tactful questioning revealed that he was, as I suspected, a window cleaner at the wrong house.
‘Uhh, I had a few beers last night, don’t really know what I’m doing this morning,’ he said,  switching his direction to reverse and dropping his squeegee on his descent. Continue reading

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10/7/13

Berlin Wall East Side Gallery, Germany.

The exuberant paintings of the East Side Gallery, Berlin are often provocative, sometimes poke fun and often depict the dark side of the Communist regime.

The gallery sits on the banks of the River Spree in former East Berlin.   The ‘canvas’ is a 1.3km length of the Berlin Wall, one of the few remaining sections still standing. The gallery was founded in 1990, the year after the Wall came down, and features over 100 paintings from artists all over the world.

Naturally the Wall was loathed by the people of East Berlin; it was vandalised and scrawled with graffiti during the Communist era but the East Side Gallery, with its collection of bright paintings is a physical reminder of the regime that divided families and pulled friendships apart.

One of the most famous paintins is by Dmitri Vrubel of a kiss between Brezhnev, former Soviet leader and Honecker, former GDR leader.  The caption translates as My God, help me to survive this deadly love. 

the kiss, east side gallery, berlin wall, germany Continue reading

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10/4/13

The Ampelmann – East German Traffic Light Man

I was delighted by the Ampelmann, East German traffic light man, when I visited East Berlin in 1987, during the Communist era.

His jaunty hat looked in danger of slipping off in his feverish determination to get to the other side of the road, causing me to spend an unhealthy amount of time pondering the artistic merit of our traffic light designers in the UK.

I was back in Berlin last summer and thrilled to see the lively Ampelmann was still there, encouraging everybody to either march across roads or stand with our arms outstretched on the corner.       green ampleman east german traffic light man

The Ampelmann is a much-loved, very familiar symbol of the former GDR and he still stands (or marches)  happily on across roads in Eastern Germany today.  But his life wasn’t always so carefree.

He was conceived as a child-friendly traffic light by Karl Peglau who felt that humans, especially children, would respond more quickly to an image than to a changing light so his secretary, Anneliese Wegner, designed the two Ampelmannchen. Continue reading

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