Category Archives: United Kingdom

A to Z of Postcards – Y is for Yorkshire

Siena and the Grimsby Dock Tower

There is a postscript to this story of my visit to Siena and one that in 2006 I couldn’t possibly have foreseen.

Five years later I moved to the fishing port of Grimsby and there by the docks is an Italianate water tower built in 1852 to provide power to work the giant lock gates.  The tower was designed by a man called James William Wild who had himself visited Siena and had so admired the place that he based his design for the Grimsby Dock Tower on the Torre del Mangia tower on the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena.  Fate sometimes place strange tricks!

Read the full story Here…

Hoar Frost in the Garden

The UK is in the grip of winter right now, snow, frost, fog; airport closures, motorway jams and rail cancellations.

Not really so bad here on the east coast, very cold but current weather conditions have provided a hoar frost show in the garden.

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A to Z of Postcards – R is for Richmond in Yorkshire

The next morning we debated what to do.  The majority decision was to visit a nearby attraction called ‘The Forbidden Corner’  but due to bureaucratic planning restrictions tickets could only be bought on-line and without communications at the cottage this had been quite  impossible.

We drove there anyway and at the entrance they confirmed that entrance was only by advance booking so we took a bagged a spot later in the week and drove off to look for something else to do.

The children thought they might like to visit the chocolate factory in nearby Leyburn and even though all of the signs seemed to suggest that it was open it was in fact closed so we had an empty car park to ourselves to debate what to do.

We decided to go to the town of Richmond.

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The Queen – A Personal Memory

I never met the Queen of course but one day in 2008 I attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party.  What a day to remember that was…

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East Yorkshire – Skipsea Walks

I like going on holiday in England but as I get older and fuel gets more expensive I find driving tedious and frustrating.  East Yorkshire has everything I need, the roads aren’t busy and it is only fifty miles away.

I have written about it before so just pictures this time.

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East Yorkshire – Hornsea and a Litter Pick

On arrival I was immediately impressed.  I live near the resort town of Cleethorpes but although it is a popular holiday resort it has to be said that it is just a muddy estuary where the sea is barely visible for long periods of the day but this was real North Sea coast with a raging sea, barnacled groynes, pounding surf, churning water and a pebble beach clattering away as it was constantly rearranged by the tidal surge.

 

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East Yorkshire – Ducks and Puffins

We arrived at Skipsea Sands Holiday Park at the scheduled time of four o’clock, located our accommodation and began to unload the car.

Within seconds a family of ducks arrived at the caravan door.

These birds must be really smart, they know that four o’clock on Monday is new arrivals time and they hung around looking for food.  I imagine mother duck gets the baby ducks ready, tells them to look cute and do a bit of begging and they will be set for the week,

We didn’t have any suitable duck food (bread is not good for them apparently) so we had no offerings.  Five minutes later a car pulled up opposite and started to unload and they waddled off to try their luck there instead.  In five days we never saw them again.

Which brings me to Puffins.

Every summer Puffins arrive for the breeding season at nearby Bempton Cliffs and this year some bright spark at the Yorkshire Tourist Board came up with the idea of a Puffin trail in Hull and East Riding.

There are forty-three of them but we only found six…

I can only imagine it is quite a chore to try and find all forty-three, rather like searching for the Holy Grail.

Later a family arrived at the next door caravan, they moved in with what seemed enough supplies to last a whole month and an inflatable paddling pool.  After they went out some aquatic birds arrived and in view of the hot weather and the adjacent  dry stream were more (t)hen happy to jump in…

After evening meal we went for a walk along  the coastal path…

… and reflected on a very, very good day.

East Yorkshire – Withernsea, Erosion, a Pier and a Lighthouse

Leaving Spurn Head we travelled north along a road with more curves than Marilyn Monroe towards the seaside town of Withernsea.

On the way we drove through the unfortunate village of Easington and I say unfortunate because in the local Coastal Management Plan Easington is identified as a place not worth defending against the advancing sea and one day it will be gone.  It is called ‘managed retreat’.  I don’t know how long this will take but I noticed that the pubs were shut and there were no shops.

The advance of the sea is relentless.  The coastline here is the fastest area of erosion in the UK.  Every year six foot of land is swept away, an estimated average of two million tonnes which is moved south on the tides towards the Humber estuary and builds land there whilst it takes it away here.

On a previous visit I once came across an official looking man in a hard hat and a high visibility jacket who was taking photographs and making notes.  His name was Brian and I asked him about the erosion.  He explained to me that the problem is that this coastline really shouldn’t be here at all because it is made up of unconsolidated soft clay and small stones called glacial till that were scooped up from the sea bed by a glacier as it advanced south during the last ice age and dumped here as the ice eventually melted and receded north about ten thousand years ago.  It is just soft clay with the consistency and the look of a crumbly Christmas Cake that simply cannot resist the power of the waves.  In that time an area of land twelve miles wide has been eroded away and returned to the sea bed where it came from.

I didn’t have high expectations of Withernsea, I can’t explain why but I liked it immediately and we walked to the sea front and the Pier Tower entrance.  I say pier but there is no pier here anymore.   Built in 1877 it didn’t last very long as ships and boats kept running into it and by 1900 it had gone.

No one in England lives more than seventy miles* or so from the sea but when they get to the coast they have a curious compulsion to get even closer to the water and as far away from the shore as possible without taking to a boat. The Victorians especially liked piers and by the time of the First-World-War there were nearly two hundred sticking out all around the coastline.  If there had been satellite photography a hundred years ago then England would have looked like a giant pin-cushion.

English piers you see are rather fragile structures and over the years have had an alarming tendency to catch fire – Weston-Super-Mare, Brighton, Blackpool, Eastbourne, and Great Yarmouth have all suffered this fate but Southend-on-Sea is probably the most unfortunate of all because it has burned down four times which seems rather careless.

The problem with a pier of course is that they are generally constructed of wood and are highly combustible and a quarter of a mile or so out to sea they are also rather inaccessible to the fire service so once they go up in flames little can be done but to watch the blazing inferno from the safety of the promenade until the fire goes out by itself and all that is left is a tangle of twisted metal girders and beams.

There was once a railway line to Withernsea out of Hull which made it a busy seaside resort bringing visitors from South Yorkshire but it is long gone, swept away as part of the railway reforms of the 1960s, visitors stopped coming and today, tucked away on the far east coast it is too remote to attract holiday makers, they go to Bridlington a few miles further north which still has its railway line.

Pictures from the website https://withernsea1.co.uk/index.html

I always like to see how far a name has travelled and my research tells me that there is a Withernsea in Maryland USA, close to Washington DC and in British Columbia, Canada.

After a bag of proper Yorkshire chips and a Belgian lager we made our way now to the top visitor attraction in Withernsea – the lighthouse.  It is no longer used for its intended purpose, everything in Withernsea is redundant it seems but is now a museum with an energy sapping climb to the very top with some good views over the town and the North Sea.

* Based on a direct line drawn on an Ordnance Survey map from location to the first coast with tidal water, the village that is further from the sea than any other human settlement in the UK is Coton in the Elms in Derbyshire at exactly seventy miles in all directions…

A to Z of Cathedrals – R is for Ripon in Yorkshire

The website Britain Express awards Ripon Cathedral a Heritage rating of four out of five and we entered through the main doors and waited for a few minutes while prayers were being said and then made a rapid tour of one of the smallest cathedrals in England.

Ripon is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Leeds for the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.  This is a new Diocese created by a Church reorganisation in 2014 and as well as Ripon the Diocese has two more cathedrals at Wakefield and Bradford.

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