Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

Following the A1 North To The Wall

I have always been interested in road numbering in England. I once had an idea for a project which involved driving along some of the of the pre motorway routes, for example the Great North Road and the Fosse Way.

Kim has never really shared my enthusiasm for the project I have to say.

Recently we went north and I thought this an opportunity to drive a section of the Great North Road rather than use the modern A1 Motorway.

I digress here but a lot of people say that the A1 North is the best thing to come out of London and I have to say that altogether I agree with that.

We have a London centric country because of Roman transport policy . There is a saying that all roads lead to Rome and that may well be true but in England, thanks to the Romans all roads do actually lead to London.

They had six principal roads from London, Ermine Street that went North to York and then on to Hadrian’s Wall at Corbridge, Watling Street which went in one direction South-East to Dover and in the other North West to Chester, Slane Street that went to the South coast, Portway which went to Exeter in the South-West and then an unnamed road which ran to Carlisle also in the North.

I mention this because two thousand years later roads in England follow almost exactly the Roman routes. There are six single digit main roads in England. The A1 runs north more or less along the route of Ermine Street (although slightly to the west of it to avoid the Humber Estuary), the A2 goes to Dover along the southern section of Watling Street, the A3 follows the route of Slane Steet to Portsmouth, the A4 is the old Portway that goes to Exeter. The A5 is the northern section of Watling Street that runs to Chester and the modern A6 follows the Roman route from London to Carlisle.

Some people ask, what did the Romans ever do for us? Well, amongst other things they gave us our modern road network system.

This may have been what a Roman motorway service area might have looked like…

We started out early and drove east (which as it happens is the only way of Grimsby) using the modern motorway system, the M180, the M18 and the M62 but instead of joining the A1(M) we left at a junction to follow the Great North Road which doesn’t exactly follow a Roman Road but was constructed in the seventeenth century to join London with Edinburgh in Scotland and was one of the great coaching roads of Georgian England.

We drove monotonously (I am obliged to confess) through Knottingly, Ferrybridge, Fairburn, Micklefield and Aberford which were all bottleneck villages without any real appeal and we watched the traffic whiz by on the adjacent motorway as we encountered several hold ups and slow progress Kim’s limited enthusiasm for my project began to rapidly evaporate.

I persuaded her to stick with it until we reached the town of Wetherby where following my chosen route really did become a chore. We stopped for a while by the River Wharfe where I trod in some canine poo left there by some inconsiderate dog owner and then we carried on but this time using Kim’s preferred route the A1(M). The old Great North Road ran alongside for most of the route so I was obliged to agree that driving it was rather pointless.

However pointless, it seems that if I am to complete my project that I will probably have to do it alone.

We continued now along the A1(M) and left at junction 56 on to the B6275 which really does follow the route of a genuine Roman Road, Dene Street which went from York to Corbridge and to Hadrian’s famous Wall. There is even a Roman Bridge over the River Tees at the village of Piercebridge.

Leaving the Roman Road at Bishop Auckland we continued now to the city of Durham and then we continued to our chosen overnight accommodation at the Barrasford Arms in the village of of the same name close to the river Tyne.

Let me explain why…

I am a great fan of the 1970s TV sitcom “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” and the Barrasford Arms featured in one of the episodes so for no better reason than that I wanted to stop there.

If I was compiling a top three of favourite TV sitcoms then “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” would definitely be in there along with…

“Dad’s Army”

and “Father Ted”

No one at the Barrasford Arms knew anything about the Likely Lads or seemed interested in what happened to them; well, it was almost fifty years ago and most of the staff were under thirty and from Eastern Europe.

It hasn’t changed a great deal over the years, Bob and Terry would still recognise it…

A to Z of Statues – M is for Michael Collins

We were going to visit the Michael Collins Museum and as we waited for it to open at ten o’clock we walked around the square in search of photo opportunities.

Michael Collins is one of the great characters (heroes?) of Irish history, a soldier, a politician, a patriot who was eventually betrayed by a man less worthy (Éamon de Valera) and murdered in an ambush somewhere close to Clonakilty at Béal na Bláth.

Read The Full Story Here…

The Driftwood Boat

“The sea’s curious workmanship: bottle green glass sucked smooth and porous by the waves: wood stripped and cleaned and bark swollen with salt…gnawed and rubbed: amber: bone: the sea”  –  Lawrence Durrell – Propero’s Cell

After a gap of about  five years, maybe even more, this week I returned to the Driftwood  Boat project, found my old sticks at the back of the shed and set to to build a boat.

This is a box of driftwood and other bits and pieces that I collected on various holidays to the Greek Islands and brought home in my hand luggage.  Interestingly I never once was stopped at airport security or UK customs and asked to explain my unusual cargo.

So, it has been carefully assembled but now comes the tricky bit – negotiating with Kim on a place in the house to display it.

A year or so ago and two thousand miles from the Greek Islands I was in a seaside fishing village in Northumberland  called Seaton Sluice.

Not an especially attractive name I agree but it turned out to be a delightful place with a working port full of fishing boats, wonderful rugged coastal scenery and a curious gaily painted blue shed.

A timber treasure house full of riches washed up from the sea and fashioned into wood carvings, trinkets and what you might generously describe as exclusive souvenirs by the hippie owner/artist with grizzled beard and wild hair.  He might easily have been washed up from the sea himself.  I thought immediately of Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’ and Norman Lewis’  ‘Voices of the Old Sea’.

Here I am looking for inspiration…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”  – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Monday Washing Lines – Shopping Bags and Table Cloths

 

Welcome to my new Project – Washing Lines

Another picture from Porto.  When it comes to washing lines, if I was a gold miner in Ballarat, Porto is the equivalent of hitting the mother load.

This woman is lost deep in thought, I wonder what she is thinking about?

It is a Challenge, feel free to join in…

A to Z of Statues – J is for Juliet in Verona

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east and Juliet is the sun!”

I have backed myself into a corner with this one.

A few days ago I used Juliet’s Balcony in my A to Z oz of balconies and now I have to use Juliet herself  in my A to Z of statues.

Before anyone pulls me up on this point again I know that Juliet’s balcony is not the original and that Juliet never stood on a balcony but rather looked out of a window

The statue is situated in a delightful courtyard but sadly and inevitably it attracts the vandals who are determined to attach padlocks (so called love locks) to any available opportunity.  These mindless morons naturally flock to Juliet’s house in Verona where there are security guards who ensure they only vandalise the designated corner.

This is a lover’s plague whereby signing and locking the padlock and throwing the key into the river they become eternally bonded, inspired it is said by ‘I Want You’, the 2006 novel by Federico Moccia where by inscribing names, locking the padlock and throwing the key into the river they become eternally bonded. 

Bloody Hell that is ludicrously reckless.

This is an action where I would recommend extreme caution because it sounds dangerously impulsive to me; I think I would further recommend taking the precaution of keeping a spare somewhere in case I needed releasing later.

The tradition might sound all rather romantic and lovely but apparently all of these love tokens do lots of damage to the bridges because as they age and rust this spreads to the ironwork and thousands of padlocks need to be removed every year from bridges across Europe.  In Venice there is a €3,000 penalty and up to a year in prison for those caught doing it and that is a much, much higher price than I would be prepared to pay for eternal bondage.

To anyone who thinks this is mean-spirited please bear in mind that in June 2014 the ‘Pond des Arts’ in Paris across the River Seine collapsed under the weight of these padlock monstrosities and had to be temporarily closed.  They are not just unsightly – they are dangerous!

Read The Full Story Here…

Monday Washing Lines – Ribiera District in Porto

 

Welcome to my new Project – Washing Lines

Today I am back in Portugal, back in Porto where there is a pletora of washing lines.

the Ribiera district which used to be the commercial centre of Porto but is now an up market tourist centre with gaily coloured houses, quayside restaurants and the highest prices in the City.

The riverside apartments rise steeply from the pavement and the rusted iron balconies are permanently decorated with fresh laundry.

It is a Challenge, feel free to join in…

After The Rain Shower

“I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain making the garden grow”

After a sudden sharp shower I rushed to the garden to photograph the raindrops…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Trivia – In September 1967 the BBC launched a new popular music breakfast radio station called Radio 1, the first DJ was Tony Blackburn and the first song played was “Flowers in the Rain” by the Birmingham pop group The Move.

 

Monday Washing Lines – Burano, Venice

 

Welcome to my new Project – Washing Lines

 

It is a Challenge, feel free to join in…

People Pictures – Waiting For The Bus

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken in the tiny country of San Marino…

San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the World (it is .0008% the size of Australia) and the third smallest in Europe, with only Vatican City and Monaco being tinier. It is also World’s smallest Republic. I have been to the Vatican City but not to Monaco.

Nearly fifty years ago at University I studied the ‘Unification of Italy’, it was my specialist subject, but I don’t remember it ever occurring to me to wonder why San Marino is an independent State (perhaps that’s why I didn’t get a First) and not simply a part of greater Italy because Italy is one hundred and sixteen thousand square miles of territory and San Marino is only twenty-three (.02%). Visiting the country made me belatedly curious.

One explanation offered is that during the wars of Italian unification Giuseppi Garibaldi (he keeps cropping up) in 1849 was on the run from Austrian, French, Spanish and Neapolitan troops and sought refuge for himself and his small army in San Marino where he was given welcome and refuge. In recognition of this support Garibaldi accepted the wish of San Marino not to be incorporated into the new Italian state and in 1862 a friendship treaty guaranteed its continuing independence.

Click on an image to view the Gallery…

Read The Full Story Here…

Monday Washing Lines – Rovinj in Croatia

 

Welcome to my new Project – Washing Lines

This week I am in Rovinj in Istria in Croatia.

I visited Rovinj with travelling companions in April 2011.

It was time for a coffee and there were plenty of busy harbour side bars to choose from so as we looked for empty spaces Micky reminded me of his theory that if we (the men) made a selection then this would be automatically overruled by Kim who has a curious habit of always walking to the next one perhaps in some sort of belief that it will always be better.

To prove his theory Micky stopped by an empty table at a perfectly acceptable café and waited for the girls to catch up sure enough Kim rejected it and led us instead to the one next door. It was almost identical and the coffee would be exactly the same so there really was no explanation.

Micky smirked, I smiled, Kim was oblivious.

Read the Full Story Here…