Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trevor/ West Midlands

Nice two day excursion to Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands. Popped into see my old chum Trevor on his narrow boat in Norbury Junction where he paints boats for a living. He was just off to paint a boat so we didnt stay long- just enough to have some of the sandwiches we'd made on his boat with the wine he had bought back from a recent trip to Spain and Portugal. Then to a pub at Norbury for a quick pint and chat in the windy garden. Too windy infact and we went into the bar where this was taken - that's Trevor's mural on the pub wall.
Then off to Walsall as it didn't seem all that far - needlesss to say all the roads and roundabouts were a nightmare but Hazel did very well to get through them all despite being very stressed. The Tom Tom helped a lot.

Met up with Hazel's old friends Leslie and Karl who live by another canal on the outskirts of Walsall. Had a nice chat and meal in Pizza Hut.
Stayed in a strange little hotel in the middle of Walsall which seemed empty except for us and some asian men watching the cricket in the lounge area. It was a bit noisy at night with the main road outside but otherwise quite clean and comfortable for one night.
The next day we got some flowers from Morrisons and found Hazel's friend Dorothy who lives in Pelsall? and then to see her Uncle Frank and Auntie Jill who hasn't seen Archie since he was a baby- so a big surprise when we turned up with our tall lanky son!
They live in Bloxwhich I think. The roads in Walsall had all changed so much in ten years , Hazel hardly knew any of it! Thankfully the sat nav. found them.
Uncle Frank showed us how to find the M6 by driving in front until the first junction and then they veered off home.

One the way home we stooped by Ironbridge ( see photos) for lunch - mozarella /cheese pasties. Sitting looking at the tourists photographing the bridge and the qauint houses on the valley sides.
Home by 3pm via Whitchurch. Phew - felt like we'd been away for a week!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mary Greg Collection

Went into Manchester with Hazel today to see the Mary Greg collection at the Manchester Art Gallery. Got the early train and met all the regulars that Hazel chats too - grumbling about the latenesss of the trains etc.
Hazel had to go into college first to print off a doo-dah for a student applying for a job on some headed paper.
We got a taxi to the annexe in some park in the North of Manchester.
Amazing inside - peeling grandeur of bygone days. Piles of old paintings and bubble wrapped frames. Lots of conservation goes on here now as well as housing the Mary Greg collection in the gloomy shuttered gallery.
The staff there are very friendly and showed us some of the restoration they were doing to some amazing old Burne Jones canvases which had been preserved with beeswax and some other stuff and they were laid out on a plank over it , picking off the wax with tweezers and a cotton bud! It would take months to do - just patience and such tedium but they seemed very happy in their work.

Looked through tons of drawers and cabintets full of the oddest collection - old spoons, keys and watch winders. Fragile books and wooden animals from ancient farmyards and zoos. Took loads of photos- just a few here and on Flickr.
With every drawer that was opened it was met by a "Oooh" or an "Aaaah" and the ocassional "Wow!"
Had a sandwich and tea in the staff room for lunch and then another taxi back to town. Hazel went off to learn about Wordpress from the IT bloke at the gallery and I wended my way home through the drizzle to the station and the next train.

Hazel has driven over to Lostok to get Archie who has been at a chums house all day. She didn't feel much like going with a broken tooth and a sore throat. O dear hope it's not the dreaded swine flu' !

Monday, July 20, 2009

Whatfest Weekend

So much rain ove the last few days one feels like building an ark! Or getting on a bus to go somewhere sunny!
Poor Archie got very damp and soggy at Whatfest but seemed to enjoy it from all accounts. He had to truncate his first music festival experience though yesterday as the rain just didn't stop and the only band he wanted to see was on at 10pm.
The cheap tent seemed to survive very well and is now drying off in Hazel's workshop.

Firstly we went to a boot sale in Weaverham which amazingly was well attended and the sun shone briefly to lull us into a belief that the weather would improve. It was short lived however and soon the heavens opened. I didn't find any bargains but Hazel found a big sack full of clothes which she was pleased with.
We drove to Frodsham and the antique centre for a quick rummage bt had to come home when Archie phoned to say he'd had enough and was packing up his tent and wringing out his sleeping bag.

I remember my first camping experience well - back in the 60's and going to Ireland with some friends. It was Five go mad in the land of the little people, mad horses and the rain. So much rain! But it didnt seem to matter too much when you are young and away from your family for the first time ever. Seemed very magical looking back with rose coloured glasses or should they be emerald green?
My second experience under canvas was several years later in France. The tent had partially rotted by then, having been packed away damp. It was covered in patches and war wounds. Camping outside in France is a totally different experiance. The noise of those crickets and grasshoppers etc. was enough to drive you mad. It felt like someone was scraping a bit of corrogated tin with a spanner next to your head!

I think I gave up camping after this and decided that it wasn't for me. I need my home comforts too much. Archie will decide eventually if life under canvas is for him. In the meantime he seems keen to repeat the experience. Ah, the impetuiousness? of youth!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nutty Room

A very funny video by Adam Buxton.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Just back from a few days in Wales. We stayed at our favourite B&B in Llandudno with a nice sea view and a short walk to the shopping streets. We did a bit of shopping as the weather wasn't all that good and shops are good places to dive into when a rain shower comes along.
Our first day though was pretty nice and we got the old victorian tram to the top of the Great Orme for the wonderful views of the welsh hills and bays and Llandudno laid out far below. We considered the wirey dangler back but it was far too expensive so we followed some people down the hill in the direction of Happy Valley. We thought they knew the way but they were just as lost as we were! Eventually we found the right cliff track passed the leaping bunny rabbits and the smugglers caves ( old copper mine digs ) and found our way down to the bottom and the gardens of HP and the long slide, ice creams and standing stones etc. Great views of the pier in the distance. We walked along it later for game of air hockey and penny slots.
Had fish and chips on the prom in the evening surrounded by squawking seagulls.
The next day it was a short car ride to Conway and the castle and the smallest house in Breat Britain as seen in the short Flip film above.
The poor harrassed lady in welsh costume who took the money for souvenirs and entry fee was surrounded by a party of school kids. She asked "Have you any valium in your handbag?"
Looked round the towns shops and when the rain came we got back to the car and had lunch in Llandudno - spinach and cheese pasties. Sat on the beach and threw stones at the sea.
In the evening went for very nice Italian meal in a resturant weve been too before because they make lovely pizzas. I had a vegetarian pasta dish and Hazel had salmon and prawns in a very rich tomato sauce. She had so much she gave me some. Archie stuck with pizza.
More shopping today and more stone throwing and crab hunting on the beach. Home in time for lunch.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tabley Steam Fair

We went to the annual Tabley Hall Steam Fair today which wasnt at Tabley but a few miles north on the Cheshire Show Ground near Pikemere. It seemed a bit smaller and quieter than usual but with the usual range of traction engines, old vehicles, steam organs, fairground rides and craft tent etc. Hazel was really keen to go despite the weather looking a bit iffy. It turned out quite nice in the end - not too hot and overcaste but no rain thankfully. No Wall Of Death this year but plenty to see and do. Archie tried his hand on the rifle range and Hazel bought some metal gizmos for her blog so she was happy. Even happier when they announced over the tannoy that they required lovely young ladies to steer the traction engines. Hazel jumped at the chance as you can see!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Flying Visit

Nice surprise vist from our old babysitter Deborah today who was on her way to her Mum's in the West Country with her friend.
We had a nice chat and some strawberries and cake and we showed them round the house and garden. She hasn't seen Archie since he was about 5 so amazed at the difference a few years can make!
This morning we went to a boot sale in Hartford and got a few bargains including a stack of DVD's for 20p each which includes Shaft ( a nemake ) 28 Weeks Later, The Unforgiven and The Bicycle Thieves. An eclectic bunch if ever there was one.

Hazel got some home made stitch measurers? some cotton swatches and some plants.
Yesterday we went to Chester to get my collage from the art gallery now the Open exhibition had finished. The nice lady that handed it over said how much she liked my work which was appreciated.
We had our usual sausage roll and coke in the garden of the cathedral which was empty accept for a few pigens and squirrel.
The town was packed with shoppers and tourists though. The buskers were out in force including some christians with a banjo, guitar and tambourine.
Hazel bought a scarf in her favourite clothes shop Morgans.
The drizzle held off for most of the day thankfully. It was slightly cooler and fresher. Archie stayed at home.
I made some salmon fish cakes in the evening which were delicious with new poatoes and salad ( or was that Friday?)
I had a dream about ferrest in sunglasses which inspired this graffiti at Facebook.