Category Archives: United Kingdom

An Alternative World Showcase at EPCOT

In my last post I took you to Disney and World Showcase at EPCOT.  There are eleven countries showcased at the theme park and some time ago I wondered why it was those particular eleven and speculated on an alternative selection.

Read the Full Story…

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In The Garden – Early Morning Cobwebs

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In The Garden – After The Rain

Raindrops 01Raindrops 02Raindrops 03Raindrops 04

Thursday Doors – The Disused Farm Building

Door 002

I have walked past this old farm building several times.  It is disused but not abandoned.  No one I ask about it can really explain why.  My guess is that the building has become redundant as a consequence of agricultural industrialisation.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

A Cycle Ride Along The Sea Wall

Cycling Kim 001

I don’t always feel terribly safe when riding my bike so I don’t do as much cycling as I could but Kim has bought herself a new one so I have had to get mine out from the back of the shed.

Kim has a modern lightweight model with eighteen slick gears and modern features, mine is a twenty-five year old Raleigh with a heavy steel frame and a saddle made out of concrete.  Raleigh bikes were made in Nottingham but you can’t get them anymore, faces with fierce competition from China they ceased production in 2003.

I’d buy a new one to replace it but it still goes nicely and I don’t want a Chinese bike so I’ll wait.  It doesn’t really matter that it is heavy and doesn’t have as many gears because Lincolnshire is mostly flat so cycling doesn’t require a great deal of effort.

Today we avoided the roads that frighten me and used the dedicated cycle paths and pedalled our way to the sea wall about three miles north of where we live.

The sea wall is a stout defensive concrete structure designed to protect the land from potential storm surges and flooding.  It runs for several miles alongside the south side of the Humber Estuary and looks as sturdy and grand as any medieval city fortification.  Rather confusingly it is called the North Bank because it represents the northern boundary of Lincolnshire.  On the north side, in Yorkshire they most likely call it the south bank but I don’t know that for sure.

Humber Sea Wall

It was constructed as part of a programme of improved sea defences following the major 1953 North Sea flood that occurred on the night of Saturday 31st January. The deadly floods struck the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide and the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of up to twenty feet above normal sea levels and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding.  In the United Kingdom over three hundred people were killed, farms and properties were destroyed and thousands of animals were drowned.

There were no weather problems today and as we cycled east from Immingham towards Grimsby the water to our left was flat calm and the industrial areas to the north were basking in Spring sunshine.  Tug boats and cargo ships passed by on the estuary.  Absence of rain for almost two months meant the pumping stations that drain the land were idle.

Humber 01

Pumping stations are important in this part of the country where the land is mostly at or barely just above the level of the sea. The roads and lanes have giveaway names like South Marsh Road, North Marsh Road and so on. In the hierarchy of water management, the Environment Agency is responsible for main rivers like the Humber but within their districts organisations called Internal Drainage Boards are responsible for major drainage channels to manage water levels for land management, flood risk, irrigation and environmental protection.

The pumping stations were quiet but the country still needs electricity so the energy plant was humming away and people are still disposing of rubbish so the Council incinerator was clattering flat out. This is probably the place to say that this is not an especially attractive stretch of coastline, mud not sand on one side of the wall and ugly concrete industry on the other.

As we cycled closer to the port of Grimsby we could see in more detail the Dock Tower.  This was a water tower built in 1852 to provide hydraulic lifting power to operate the giant lock gates of the dock. It was designed by a man called James William Wild who had visited Siena in Italy 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 city centre.

Cycling Kim 002

At three hundred and thirty feet it is the highest building in Lincolnshire, fifty feet higher than either the Boston Stump or Lincoln Cathedral. If it were in Bristol or Newcastle or Manchester then it would be a major tourist attraction but it is in Grimsby and hardly any one visits Grimsby so not many people have seen it.

It isn’t possible to get to the Dock Tower from the west because of the high levels of security at the Docks so we were obliged to turn around and cycle back the way that we had come.  By the time we got back home we had cycled about twelve miles or so.  Kim had a shower. I cracked a can of lager.

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A Look Around The Farm in Early May

Thank goodness for lockdown because things are getting busy down here on the farm.

Peas are doing well, I have crushed up some extra strong mints and put some peppermint tea bags down because this is said to deter the mice which did a lot of damage last year.

Peas

The Broad Beans are doing well…

Broad Beans

And the potatoes…

Potato

I am growing these in pots because last year I lost the entire crop to wireworm.  These have popped up in the garden, left in the ground from last year and I am going to let them grow to see if they are still there…

Potatoes 01

There is a lot of work to do in the green house of course…

Greenhouse 02

And although the farm is mostly arable there is a chicken to look after…

Chicken

I have got a couple of helpers from Eastern Europe, one from Poland and the other from Latvia but I don’t know I will manage next year after Boris’ Barmy Brexit…

Garden Helpers

Village Walks – Blow Wells and Watercress Beds

Old Watercress Beds 01

One of the positives of the lockdown is exploring discovering and researching our own local area.  We have lived in the village of Healing in North Lincolnshire for over two years but have really seen very little of it but with wider restrictions on travel we have been exploring the lanes and bridlepaths nearby.

Today we walked in a different direction because I wanted to find the redundant watercress beds which I had read were once numerous here and about.

Cress Cottage

The area was perfect for watercress production on account of the many underlying aquifers which brought spring water with a slight alkalinity, perfect for watercress from the chalk layers in the nearby Lincolnshire Wolds, just a few miles to the south. As well as the natural ‘blow wells’ bore holes were sunk to bring this pure alkaline water to the surface.

‘Blow wells’ are a type of groundwater spring and are a unique feature of North Lincolnshire. A blow well is a type of groundwater spring, which is seldom (if at all) found across the British Isles except for the coastal margins of Lincolnshire.

This a simple geological explanation (simple because I am not a real geologist).

Rain falling and percolating through the chalk of the Lincolnshire Wolds creates underground streams that flow under the marshland towards the Humber Estuary and becomes covered by impermeable compressed clay.  Under this heavy boulder clay the groundwater is under great pressure (artesian) and in certain conditions, where there is an opening in the clays from the chalk to the surface and there is sufficient downward pressure from the heavy soil above, the groundwater emerges – a ‘Blow well’.

Blow Wells Diagram

Today Anglian Water Company supplies water to North Lincolnshire by sinking bore holes several hundred feet deep to release the water from the chalk below (abstraction) before it flows away into the Humber and out into the North Sea.  Water here is not provided from surface reservoirs.

The watercress beds were built with a slight gradient and water was directed through a channel into the highest end and then allowed flow gently down the length of the bed before leaving through a narrow opening at the lower end. The watercress was gathered by hand and put onto wooden trays before being taken to a packing shed where it was divided into bundles, labelled and then the roots cut off. The bunches were then packed into wooden baskets, known as chips and transported by away for delivery to customers. The severed roots were returned to the watercress bed where they were replanted.

Healing Station

The site is near Healing Station, and much of the watercress produced was transported by train to towns throughout the North of England. However, as British Rail cut back on their freight services in the 1960s, the watercress trade at Healing was badly affected as it was much more difficult to get the cress to the town markets early enough by road (there was no motorway link until 1983) so commercial production of watercress at Healing finally came to an end in 1970.

Healing Station today is a village stop with infrequent trains but a hundred years ago was a busy commercial station with a goods yard  and a steady turnover of freight.  All gone now of course.

There is no watercress farming now either and the site is a nature reserve but watercress continues to grow in the dykes and drainage ditches that drain the land.  Kim challenged me to pick some for our salad but the ditches are steep sided and challenging and the water a little dirty so I got some from the supermarket the next day instead.

Water Cress in Dyke

Bagged watercress