Archive for the ‘England’ Category

A selection of ‘odds and sods’ from my England trip last summer.

Hattifatteners at the Helsinki airport

Hattifatteners at the Helsinki airport (together with someone’s knee). “They are silent and serious, having neither the ability to talk nor to hear, but in contrast, their sense of feeling is extremely accurate.” Their eyes are glowing green and by the looks of it, they shop till they drop.

Decoupaged wooden chair in a paper shop, Manchester, UK

A decoupaged wooden chair in a paper shop in Manchester. If only it was as comfortable as it is good looking.

Wall mural in Liverpool shipping docks, UK

Cool wall mural in Liverpool shipping docks.

Arguments Yard in Whitby, North Yorkshire

Arguments Yard, Whitby, North Yorkshire. Very Pythonesque, methinks.

Polar bear above a health food store in Whitby, North Yorkshire

A polar bear above a health food store in Whitby. And why not?

Knickers nailed to a fence by a public footpath, Lancashire, UK

I swear these are not mine. They were nailed to a fence by a public footpath. Those walkers, eh?

Antony Gormley's Another Place, Crosby beach, UK

Like Withnail in ‘Withnail & I’, this chap must feel like a pig shat in his head. Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ in Crosby beach, Liverpool.

A bull on a hill just above Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK

Carrying on with the Withnail & I theme: “A coward you are, Withnail, an expert on bulls you are not! AAAAARGGGHHHH!”

Found outside a primary school in Lancashire, UK

Found this outside a primary school. The headmaster, perhaps?

Queen Victoria looking down, Manchaster, UK

Queen Victoria looking down on you in Manchester. But that’s ok because at least my chair is clean, yours is moldy.

Reservoir steering wheel, Warland Reservoir, West Yorkshire, UK

A reservoir steering wheel? Pretty colour anyhow.

A giant leap for catkind, West Yorkshire, UK

A giant leap for catkind!

A bench in Clitheroe Castle, Lancashire, UK

A cool bench in Clitheroe Castle in Lancashire.

I’m still going on and on about my trip to England almost a year ago. I like looking at art, art-like and other weird things on the streets and around. Here’s a collection of heads and other body parts.

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A cool head on a wall in Robin Hood’s Bay

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A carved head on the side of a field, high up on the hills just above Todmorden, West Yorkshire

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Printer’s Devil which marks the sight of a printing works. On Stonegate in York.

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West African art in Manchester City Art Gallery

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Antony Gormley’s metal man, dangling. Manchester City Art Gallery.

And then we killed a pigeon

Posted: November 4, 2012 in England, Photography

Phew. I don’t know what happened to the last month and a half. I don’t mean that I’ve been unconscious in some drunken la-la-land all this time or anything. I’ve just been too busy to attend to this blog. I guess I should now quickly get back to where I was, ie. last summer, and maybe no one will notice my absence…

We stayed couple of days in Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. It’s an absolutely amazing and charming little fishing town and it was a perfect place for my first ever visit to the east coast. We had a good run there from Lancashire, despite the roasting heat and not really getting the air conditioning working properly in hubby’s dad’s car. As we arrived in Robin Hood’s Bay and having no idea where the B&B was, we stopped in a full car park to ask for directions. We got the directions no problem but it was tricky to drive off since the car park was so full of people, coming and going. And then there was a pigeon, too, minding its own business and taking its time to walk across the car park. We stopped and waited. After a little while we couldn’t see it anymore so it must have flown away, so off we went. First we heard ‘crunch’ and then the car went ‘bump’. Shit! The pigeon was dead as a dodo, lying on the car park with its legs sticking up. Shit shit shit.

Robin Hood’s Bay – it’s a cool place with a cool name! And it comes with suicidal pigeons.

It seemed like a bad omen but there were actually noticeably less killings after that, I’m happy to report. Even the feeling of being some sort of hit-man disappeared fairly quickly.

It could get dizzy.

We spent one day walking from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby. It’s a marvellous 6.2 km walk on top of the cliffs following the coast line. It’s a very easy level walk with only very limited ups and downs. Needless to mention that the view is fantastic all the way.

I was excited to see what was behind the next cliff, and the next, and every time it was more cliffs. Awesome.

Whitby is great, too, but unfortunately on a hot, sunny day like that one, it was packed. I felt like being in a school of fish: Stop when everyone stops, move when everyone moves. Aarrgghhh. It was like having a shared consciousness with everyone. I freak out in lesser crowds – this sort of thing almost got me to panic. Instead of looking for a bus back to Robin Hood’s Bay, which would have been a good idea, I didn’t want to walk in a school of fish for a moment longer and just headed back to the coastal path – the same way we came. Aaah, it was empty-ish. Another 6.2 km in the roasting heat with luckily a bit more clouds, I arrived back in Robin Hood’s Bay looking a lot like my full English breakfast that same morning. No, not like the fat sausage (honestly!) but like the bacon. Yes, sizzling and burned to a crisp on the edges. Although my paler-shade-of-white Arctic skin gets the sun 24/7 for full 6 weeks in the summer, it’s only a luke-warm sun with hardly any UV’s in it and the northern English sun seemed to me much more like the Mediterranean. Before the trip I was so white I was practically glowing in the dark. After the cliff top walk I was glowing red. Emitting heat as well, I think.

It just goes on and on. Marvellous.

Whitby. It doesn’t look busy from here but just wait till you hit the streets…aarrggghh.

I should probably tell more about the marvellous full English breakfast. It was delicious: bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding…you know, the works. I should probably also mention that I’ve not eaten any meat since I was 17 years old. That’s over 20 years (ha, I’m a girl with no principles – but that’s a principle too, right?). All that time I’ve been given this oh-Sari-you-can-eat-this-there’s-only-very-little-meat-in-it treatment. I can’t tell you how much that annoys me and I can’t understand how people fail to see that it’s not that I couldn’t eat it, it’s because I don’t want to eat it (and the more I hear that, the less I want to eat it). The nice lady at the B&B we stayed in didn’t try to ram the breakfast down my neck and without blinking I replied to her that I’d love a full English breakfast, thankyouverymuch, with black pudding and all (my first, by the way). The breakfast kept me going all day, the whole long walk in the roasting sun. By the evening I was still not hungry at all but managed to eat a starter-sized salad (a very good one and not so much starter-sized) in a local pub, flushed down with this:

Slurp!

Exquisitely lovely, as it says on the glass! I also miraculously made space for a pudding. Sadly, no pictures of it, but if ever you are in the vicinity of Robin Hood’s Bay, go to Ye Dolphin for a pudding. Food is great there but the puddings are to die for. I had Morello Cherry Bakewell sponge cake with ice cream. Oooh. Loverly.

Unfortunately, couple of days was all we had in this amazing part of the world. Will definitely go back but at a different time of the year next time. I want to see rough sea, strong winds and feel cooler air. I also want Whitby to myself and I’ve been told that autumn or winter are the times for that. I’ll be back.

When walking around Todmorden and other towns nearby in West Yorkshire, it’s almost impossible to avoid seeing the Stoodley Pike. It’s like it’s everywhere – it’s almost like an all-seeing eye. It was time to take a closer look.

Our walk to Stoodley Pike started from the White House pub on Blackstone Edge and ended by the Hinchcliffe Arms pub in Cragg Vale. Both closed, mind! I’m sure I couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery if I tried!

Funny thing was that when I walked to Stoodley Pike I was sick as a pike. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration because I had the smallest, fastest and shortest cold in the history of everything. It’s just that ever since I moved up to the Arctic I’ve not had as much as a sniffle but as soon as I go somewhere with more people, I pick up whatever is going round. There’s something to be said about not being around people and having temperatures so cold that all bugs die. Still, being ‘sick as a pike’ didn’t even slow me down. That’s how hardcore I am!!

Stoodley Pike is a war memorial and a peace monument, in the shape of an obelisk. There’s been some debate about it being a Masonic symbol, too. I take no stand on what it is or isn’t. To me, it’s a pointy thing that I have seen a gazillion times from a distance, and for the first time I wanted to see it close up – and it seemed like a good walk, too.

Stoodley Pike stands on top of a 400m high hill and is about 37m high itself. It was built in 1856 but this is the second version after the first one was knocked down by lightning.

The beginning of the walk from the White House pub is very easy. There’s a very good path and it’s on level ground all the way. It’s like a Sunday stroll. After Warland reservoir the path continues through the moors, gets smaller, muddier and wetter. The landscape opens up to offer glorious views over Todmorden once you reach the edge of the cliff on Withens Gate.

Stoodley Pike is getting very close now. The weather was rather cold but even though it looked threatening, it didn’t rain all day. Had to keep the jacket zipped up all the way though.

I’ve only ever seen Stoodley Pike from a long distance away and because of that it always looks like a little needle. It felt strange to see it getting so high right in front of my eyes.

This is a popular place for walkers and fell runners. One runner overtook us on the very rocky hill coming up. It was a very quiet day when we were there (probably because it was cloudy). We only saw one dog walker who disappeared soon, and then the runner who very quickly ran off. We had the Pike and the magnificent view to ourselves.

Seeing Stoodley Pike close up makes it seem massive, although it’s not really that big – 37m high. But it’s standing on top of a hill, and on a clear day it can be seen as far as in Halifax. We didn’t know that it has a spiral staircase leading up to a balcony. There are no windows so the staircase is in pitch black darkness. I was not prepared to take the leap of faith and tackle the stairs in the darkness without a torch. We were, after all, on top of a hill and needed the legs to get down that hill as well. If ever I walk to Stoodley Pike again, I’ll bring a torch.

With Stoodley Pike bagged, we headed towards Cragg Vale, along Dick’s Lane. Hubby chose the scenic route which turned out to be not as much scenic as it was muddy. Still, it was a good walk all in all.

On Dick’s Lane, leaving Stoodley Pike behind, hubby was busy reading the map while walking. Splat. He stepped right in the middle of the biggest and freshest cowpat. Once again I have to say that men simply can’t multitask. No prizes for guessing who the dick on this lane was.

Flying the flag

Posted: September 8, 2012 in England, Photography, This & That

This year was an interesting one to visit Britain. Not only because I haven’t done so for so many years but also because of the Jubilee and the Olympics. I’ve never seen the Brits wave so many flags before. In fact, I’ve never seen them waving flags, hoisting them up on flagpoles, decorating their cars with them and frankly, hanging them anywhere and everywhere. Of course I had to ‘bag some’.

Pub decorated with flags.

Union Flag teacups and picnic plates I understand but a chest of drawers? Really? The armchair is a pretty cool though.

Sorry about all the reflections. Those ladies are not really walking all over the Union Flag cushioned sofa.

Make tea, not war! A wartime tea room with Union Flags everywhere.

Let’s have clothes in Union Flag colours.

If our clothes are not in Union Flag colours, let’s change the colours of the Union Flag.

Halifax market is located in a fabulous Victorian building.

My MIL thought it was so cute that I’m so patriotic that I’d buy this book. I didn’t have a heart to say that it is journal fodder.

My dog, however, is rather patriotic.

Playing Patriot Games.

A super-duper highway

Posted: August 31, 2012 in England, This & That

I know the M62 is just a motorway, but I think it’s a ‘special’ motorway. The construction of the section between junctions 21 and 23 included removing huge amounts of hills and peat bog, in dreadful weather conditions – it’s a real engineering masterpiece.

The highest point on all of English motorways: 372m above sea level.

“And I feel like the man who lives on that farm which sits in the middle of the M62.” *

There is an urban legend that a farmer refused to move out and so the M62 was build to go around his farm. This is, of course, just a legend. In reality the ground was not strong enough where the farm was so the eastbound part of the motorway was built below the farm and the westbound was built behind it and it is actually much higher up. If they wanted to get rid of the man and the farm, they would have done. No two ways about that!

So, there IS a farm in the middle of the M62! It’s quite a sight and I think I haven’t past the farm once without wondering how anyone could live there. M62 never sleeps. I wonder if the farmer does??

There it is, the farm – see, the white building behind the reservoir?

A close-up of the farm in the middle of the M62. See the cars in front and behind the farm building?

The landscape on this same section of the motorway is breathtaking! Well, I think so anyway. It’s funny to walk on the hills anywhere close to this area and once reaching a summit, the M62 is usually visible somewhere in the distance. It’s like it’s everywhere! Omnipresent motorway!!

Even the sheep keep an eye on the M62.

Lucky for walkers, when the M62 was constructed, they also built a foot bridge which goes over the motorway and allows the Pennine Way walkers to continue uninterrupted on the long journey through the moors and over the hills.

Pennine Way foot bridge

Crossing the foot bridge

Have you realised how someone as nerdy as me, who claims a motorway to be special, is actually never on it? Yes, I prefer to look at it from a distance, be next to it, even directly above it, but not so much on it.

Saddleworth Moor and ‘my special stretch of the motorway’.

*From a song by John Shuttleworth, and yes, I have to admit feeling like that myself sometimes.

Manchestah

Posted: August 13, 2012 in England, This & That

Old and not so old buildings in Manchester.

I’ve always had a bit of a thing about Manchester. I’ve kind of liked it but at the same time I’ve always complained about its grottiness. I felt it was too run-down, dirty, old, and in need of a jolly good facelift. Then, in 1996 IRA blew a hole in it and the city centre just had to be rebuilt. I moved away and the rebuilding continued…Years later I hardly recognized the city centre. I was gobsmacked!

Cooperation Street. The fancy glass building is a National Football Museum. Yeah.

The public lavatory-like brown tiles of the Arndale Center were gone, no more boarded up windows or streets; lots of the buildings were totally made of glass and it looked modern and fine. I was very impressed. But then it hit me – was the character of Manchester lost? The grotty alleys and run-down buildings were part of its charm. What would Manchester be like today had IRA left it alone all those years ago?

If you leave the few streets right in the city centre with glass buildings and guys in pin-stripe suits behind, you’ll find what Manchester is all about. In the northern quarter of the city is a marvelous place called Afflecks Palace. It’s a big building with several floors of independent shopkeepers selling anything from “top hats to tattoos”. Not that I want either of those but I do like looking at unusual stuff that isn’t available everywhere. There are plenty of handmade items too, as well as vintage. The little punk in me likes it!!

This is one of the entrances to Afflecks Palace.

Even from the outside Afflecks Palace looks great. I guess what determines Afflecks would easily determine Manchester: alternative, eclectic and quirky. Well, at least this would be true if you know where to look.

Just look at that tree!

This cool mosaic was only just unveiled in May this year.

Art is everywhere! Go, Manchester, go!