Saturday, September 10, 2016

Liverpool Biennale

Always a treat to go into Liverpool by train ( just 30 mins. from Hartford station ) and see the Biennale. Previous years have been more exciting but still some interesting work on show in various venues spread widely around the city. First we trekked over to the huge Cain's brewery complex, an old red brick Victorian edifice to the South- through some of the bleakest industrial streets and grim housing estates. Amongst all this decay are pockets of trendiness like the eatery we popped into to find a snack. All on offer were plastic containers of expensive salads with two prawns or a soup made of bacon and black pudding - yuk! It was packed out with hip young things - gawd nose where they came from as the grey dismal streets outside were empty! Anyway, I digress, the Cain's brewery was a shambles and the art on show was 6th form and foundation level at best. Some interesting videos by Ramin Haerizadeh and Co. raised the standard a little. Hazel borrowed a tablet to follow a virtual dog guide around the exhibition that vanished after metamorphing into a bunch of daffs ( or was it onions?) . Then to the nearby Blade factory and a terrible racket by Mark Leckey based on his youth around Liverpool and the music scene back in the 80's - we stuck 5 mins of the video and sound system and left to find some lunch. Which we found in the Bluecoat, and very nice it was too. We sat outside in the gardens and listened to a busker warbling plaintively in the next street, singing a song of unrequited art. Then around the Bluecoat and the patchy Young Contemporaries. Some amusing video works but most of the painting s and sculptures left me cold. Lastly the FACT gallery and some intriguing work by the American Krzysztof Wodiczko - work about homelessness, machines and gadgets to aid homeless people in their survival and communication.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Marbury

Pleasant walk in Marbury this morning with Hazel and Archie. Quiet - just a few people with dogs, some twitchers looking for the illusive flying wig wobbler. Here they are frozen in their tracks as they spot a ooslum bird in a nearby tree. The ducks were particularly manic - hoovering up some crumbs some toddlers had dropped on the lakeside. We sat on the moss green bench to marvel at the one legged display of snoring. One flappy duck was contorting itself into strange shapes, its bill penetrating deep layers of feathers and fluff. Hazel said she was scared of feathers when she was little and had to be persuaded that they weren't alive. Also the story aboutthe digger monsters at the bottom of the garden. Her Dad had to take her down to the bottom of the garden to show her the diggers were just mechanical objects driven by workmen who came over to re-assure her. What a sensitive child eh?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Archie's Teds

These tow photos are twenty years apart. Archie collected many teddies and soft toys during his early years and now some of them need to go to a good home. He needs the space in his room so reluctantly having a clear out. So many memories attached to these little balls of fluff and fabric. Some like Dotty bear who was hugged and loved into a strange mishapen form like no other ted before or since - the mangey fur covered by a knitted Granma jumper - will be kept. The others are off to the hospice shop.

Stockport - Plaza and Hat Museum

Nice afternoon in Stockport yesterday at the wonderful Hat museum and the equally wonderful Plaza art deco cinema and cafe. We met up with Alex Woodall and had a good wander round the museum taking lots of snaps and trying on lots of hats. Fascinating videos of the ancient hat making process - those workers in Victorian times really had a hard life and health and safety was non existent! Had lunch in the excellent Plaza cafe - Cheshire cheese rarebit was rather tasty with a side salad. Hazel has a baked spud with at least a tin of tuna poured over it! All run my volunteers. Lovely senior citizen in snazzy suit and tie showed us the cinema which was terrific. Must go back and see a film and hear the organist play ( at start and during interval ) . Shame it is so far from us else we would be in there every week!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Anglesey

Nice few days in Angelsey via Llandudno. Stayed in very nice B&B in Treaddur Bay near Holyhead. Amazing views from our bay window of the rugged rocks and crashing waves. Stopped off at Llandudno first for a late breakfast in our favourite cafe. A quick walk round the shops and down the pier to play the slot machines. Walk along the prom to the car and then an hour's drive to our B&B. Treaddur Bay has excellent sand - Archie would have enjoyed the rock pools for catching crabs etc. when he was a nipper. I don't know why we haven't been to Angelsey before really - a beautiful part of the country and reminds us of Cornwall but without the crowds of holidaymakers. Went to new restaurant called the Sea Shanty which was like a small museum full of nautical stuff - boats hanging from the rafters, pulleys, old slot machines, buoys, fishing nets, jars of starfish etc. Delicious pizza for me and Hazel had the mussels. The next day we headed for Holyhead to scour the shops and walk down to the docks to see the ferries being loaded and arriving from Dublin. Next to Amlwch , a small fishing boat filled harbour with some nice cliff walks. The Copper Museum was a bit dull but we went in it anyway. The sun came out and we sat by the jetty watching people fish and looking very precarious on the edge. We had to leave as they looked like they would fall in any minute, especially the kids running round like maniacs! Then further along the coast to Bull Bay and then a small turn off lead to Cameas Bay which was a quaint little village with some interesting shops. Hazel bought a tin turtle clockwork toy in one. Tempted by the clockwork mouse on a track but it was a bit pricey. Hada ice cream and sat watching some daft dogs bounding about on the beach. In the evening we had fish and chips in another pub restaurant a bit further on round the bay. Walked back over the sand to sit on rocks and tickle limpets as the sun set. The next day we drove to Aberffraw which was supposed to have a Heritage Centre but it was closed. "open 1-5 most days" It was a tiny village with just one shop and few pastel painted cottages, a chapel and a stoney bridge which they obviously had high regard for as it featured on the postcard you could buy in the village shop ( the only shop) for 40p. Then on to the Model Village which had closed "due to retirement" and so further towards the Menai Straights - stopped briefly at Llanfairgwlletcetc. the longest place name in the UK - took photos in the station and avoided all the tourists who arrived by the coachload to by Welsh Cakes and jumpers in the Pringle shop in the station car park. Then to the Big National Trust house Plas Newydd where you could spot red squirrels if you were lucky ( none to be seen ) and walk around the beautiful and tourist clogged gardens for £8 each. Amazing views of the two bridges and other delights like the wooden leg of Earl Trumpington (just the postcard ) and roll down the hill if you are a frantic five year old looking for excitement.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Birthday and 4th Anniversary

Good to have our boy home for a couple of days to celebrate his mother's and aunties birthdays. Audrey's was first and Hazel had made a huge chocolate cake which we started eating on Tuesday and still today ( Friday) there is some left - which must be some kind of record! After Hazel opened her presents we went for a walk in Marbury Country Park where Archie found a big stick to play with. Throwing sticks into the muddy swamp is always great fun and mine won by sticking in upright - spludge! Then we picked up Hazel's sister for a drive over to Anderton and a pub lunch at the nearby watering hole . Nice fish and chips and heaps of mushy peas. Too full to have a pudding. Needed another walk afterwards to get rid of all those calories! Also our 4th wedding anniversary so plenty to celebrate.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Brighton

Nice couple of days in Brighton to see our boy and eat lots of interesting food. We went down mainly to take some suitcases ( one inside the other - Russian doll style ) and helped Archie move some stuff back to our place as he is leaving Brighton soon and he's off to India with his girlfriend. The trains were a bit rubbish as usual, especially Southern Rail which has cut back it's services despite more and more people wanting to travel to all those seaside destinations and places like East Croydon ( eh?) and the Airwick at Gatport. The weather wasn't as bad as we imagined so didn't really need the raincosts and boots until the Tuesday afternoon when the heaven's opened. Went round lots of antique shops and flea markets. Didnt buy much but Hazel got a clockwork crocodile in it's original box which was the bargain of the day. Went for fish and chips and Mexican meal which was interesting though a bit stodgey for my taste. A cheeky seagull swooped down as I at part of a slice of pizza for lunch sitting outside and snatched it from my trembling hand! Luckily I'd had a big breakfast at the B&B we stayed in so didn't really miss the rest of it. Strolled along the pier and watched people sticking their heads through a "I Won A Minion" cut out ( stick your head through) photo opp. doo dah. Amusing to watch. Also the overheard conversations on nearby seats. The B&B was very comfortable and done up like Liberace's bathroom - all chrome and glass art deco! The only annoying thing was the fire alarm went off by mistake on out last morning at 6.30 and made us jump out of bed for no reason. It made Hazel very nervy and she had a migraine for the rest of the day. The photobooth pic. was taken in Snooper's Paradise indoor junk and collectables shop.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Liverpool

We went to Liverpool by train on Saturday to march in the Support Jeremy Corbyn rally and look around the galleries. It was a day of sunshine and showers so we took our coats and brolly. First to the Walker to see our favourite exhibit - the loophonium. Had a look round the Pre-Raphaelites and modern galleries - mostly stuff we'd seen before. Then went looking for this illusive rally. It wasn't where we thought it was so had a wander about the streets listening out for chanting and clapping. Eventually found it quite by chance as we'd almost given up looking behind the Bluecoat gallery. Quite a decent crowd considering the weather - nearly 2,000 it was said. Inaudible tannoy/megaphone which was annoying but we clapped along and booed in the appropriate places - we assumed the one's at the front could hear and we got our signals from them. Eventually after having a hasty sandwich on the hoof we walked and chanted to the main drag and stopped outside Primark for more speakers to murmur in the distance. "Tories OUT - Corbyn IN!" was a favourite, as was "Corbyn, Corbyn, Corbyn, CORBYN!" Amused to see a nun with a Corbyn mask on the back of her head. She gave Hazel a nice smile and was overheard to say the austerity marches were rather poorly attended compared to this. We drifted away from the main rally to sit down on a bench nearby and eat our remaining sandwich and crisps. Then into the Bluecoat as the rally broke up to grab a quick coffee before more Corbyn fans came in and joined the queue. We felt good we had supported him and hopefully his fellow Labout MP's who have deserted him will see sense and get their act together. Then to the craft shop where Hazel chose some earrings for her upcoming birthday present. They were rather like small acorn cups made of silver with a gold leaf interior. The other galleries including the Blucoat were getting ready for the Biennale at the end of the month so not much on. We went back to the station and luckily a train was just about to leave. Home by 3pm.