Category Archives: Nottinghamshire

Close, but no banana…

It started well with Three Fruit Marmalade and granary toast. We’ve just finished a jar of cheap marmalade (Number Two went shopping last month and, in true student style, bought the cheapest he could find).

I’m seriously thinking about my diet, and can’t shake the idea that a grimmer breakfast would probably be better for me – porridge or bran flakes for instance. (I’m expecting a Scottish backlash about the porridge, but it’s grey and with the traditional water and salt it’s hardly luxurious.) It’s always tempting to say that porridge is the world’s only grey food, but according to this link there are others.

We moved on to collecting cardboard from a market stall. Julia had arranged that on Saturday as she needed cardboard to supress weeds in the polytunnel. There’s an area at the back of the raised beds which isn’t easy to reach so she’s choking the weeds with a mulch of cardboard and wood chip.

As it was a nice day, and  we then set off for the coast. The curse of the mobile phone then struck, and to my dismay I heard Julia arranging a meeting for the evening at a time that we couldn’t possibly make if we went to the coast first.

I don’t think she really understands the concept of “day off”.

And that was how the day failed to live up to the promise of the Three Fruit Marmalade start.

The Sneinton market area has been a busy centre for the fruit and vegetable trade since the 1850s when the original market was built on the site of a clay pipe works. It was improved in 1938 andmore buildings added in 1957. That was when the Fyffes warehouse was built, complete with its sculptural bunch of bananas. Julia has been meaning to take a picture of the bananas for years, so here they are.

The wholesale market was relocated again in the 1990s, leaving a small remnant of a market and a numbr of small business units.

The Secret Garden

There are a number of green areas in the middle of Nottingham (I know this, because I’ve just been Googling them) but probably the most surprising is the green area around the North Zone of the Victoria Centre Car Park. Sorry about the formal tone but there is no street access and if you use the wrong car park all you will see is concret.

The Victoria Centre is built on the site of the Nottingham Victoria Railway station, which was demolished in 1967. The original clock tower is incorporated in the modern building and the railway hptel is still in use. It was built in a deep cutting, as you will see when you descend to the lower levels of the car park.

There were a few birds around I saw two wrens and two female blackbirds, whilst several pigeons flew over and a crow dropped by. The plants are mainly buddleia with some ferns, ivy and brambles. There are some maples in the bottom on one side and some birches growing near the top, where two traffic cones also find a home.

Someone seems to have dosed a lot of the brambles with heavy duty weedkiller, which isn’t going to help the birds when winter comes. It’s a balancing act, I suppose, and there will be limits on cost so if you want to keep it looking like a lawn rather than a bomb site chemical shortcuts will be involved.

In the picture just above this is a view of concrete pillars supporting the bus station. When you know that you start to wonder who thought of the design, and whether they were sober at the time.

Ideally I’d like to see the space full of birds, butterflies, children and people drinking tea (there are no Costas in my daydreams). It would be nice to see fruit and vegerables there too, but seventy years of railway working may well have polluted the soil beyond economic recovery.

The tunnel entrance is to the Mansfield Road tunnel, a 1,189 yard long tunnel that used to run between Carrington Station, sited in what was, at the time, a prosperous suburb. It closed in 1928 due to competition from the trams, though the line itself did not completely close until 1968. If you want a look inside the tunnel, try this site.

Having parked there many times I have been guilty of taking it for granted over the years. It’s an interesting facet of blogging that I’m now looking at things from a fresh viewpoint. Even if that viewpoint is desperation for new material.

Fifty minutes

This morning I dropped Julia at work and, fifty minutes later, was back at home.

In the garden I listened to the faulty strimmer and revealed a basic difference between the sexes, before taking some more flower photos.

Julia has many talents. She could probably, if her ambition lay in that direction, do a better job of running the country than Theresa May. I, on the other hand, have to plan in advance just to get my socks on. However, when called upon to diagnose the problem with the strimmer in the Mencap garden, I was able to spot the problem straight away.

I’m not an expert on strimmers but I could spot that the high-pitched grinding sound was a bad sign.

To be fair, Julia, who is completely deaf to the sound of mechanical agony, doesn’t need to know this as she has me for all that technical stuff.

I, in turn, use a mower shop for repairs as my efforts usually end up with a puzzled look and a tin of leftover bits.

Most of the rest of the journey home involved traffic and queues. One hold up was caused by an ambulance parked across the road as the crew treated a man lying on the road. I took some photos as we waited because  I had the camera handy.

I could see his feet moving so I didn’t feel too intrusive. Anyway, there were a lot of people hanging round so I wasn’t the only voyeur. As I drove past, I noted he was wearing a helmet and a bicycle was propped up against a tree. That is the price of reducing traffic and pollution.

I’m happy to report that he seemed quite lively, and hope he wasn’t badly hurt.

There is a question, though, about the ethics of taking pictures of accidents. There’s a long tradition of postcards showing various disasters including train crashes, mining disasters and fires, but does that make it right?

Is the picture journalism, local history or just intrusive?

It took me back 40 years to a Sunday lunchtime (the accident, not the photography) when the driver of a red Austin Maxi overtook me on my Vespa 200 (yes, I had a scooter at one time) and pulled over before passing me properly. Result – me in gutter with the knee injury that still bothers me today.

Accident on Woodborough Road , Nottingham

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It’s amazing what you can pack into less than an hour.

 

Bridges, Locks and Hearts

As I recall, we were at Wilford Suspension Bridge when we left the Embankment. It is not to be confused with Wilford Toll Bridge. I’ll  cover the Toll Bridge later.

The suspension bridge was built by the Nottingham Corporation Water Department in 1906 to carry a pipeline that delivered water to Wilford Hill Resevoir. It also carries two gas mains across the river.

The most interesting feature these days are the padlocks. They have become popular over the last few years and are used to represent undying love. They are more likely to appear in romantic locations such as Paris, Venice and Cologne. I didn’t know Cologne was a romantic destination, but it days so in the Nottingham Post so it must be true.

The Pont des Arts in Paris lost several metres of parapet in 2014, ripped of by the weight of locks. They are trying to discourage the practice but by the end of 2015 there were an estimated million locks on the bridge – thought to weight 45 tonnes. With scrap brass at just over £2,000 a tonne, and allowing for 50% of the weight being steel that’s £45,000. That sound you hear is me thinking…

 

They used to have locks on the bridge at Bakewell too, but they were going to remove some. I’ll have to pop up and see if there are any left.

Love locks, despite seeming quite recent to us, actually date back to the Great War in Serbia. They are generally seen as messy and dangerous by all but the people placing them. As the current divorce rate in the UK is 47% local authorities are probably safe asuming most of the couples aren’t still on speaking terms.

I won’t carry on in this cynical vein, though it is tempting to compare the locks, the price of weddings and public displays of emotion with the divorce rate.

When I just asked Julia what she thought was the secret of a lasting marriage. She replied: “I must have been very bad in a previous life.”

That wasn’t really the answer I’d been hoping for.

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The Kings we Never Had (Part 2)

During the Wars of the Roses a seventeen-year-old known as Edward of Westminster was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury. He is the only Prince of Wales to have been killed in battle. That’s really the only reason I include him, because he wasn’t that important; the line of succession was seen more as a guide than a rule during the Wars of the Roses, so being Prince of Wales didn’t mean as much as it now does.

With the death of Edward and his father (Henry VI), Edward IV became king for a second time (you see why  I find the Wars of the Roses tricky?) and on his death his son, Edward V, succeeded him, though he was never crowned.  I’m not quite sure whether he was a King or not, as he’s often referred to as one of the Princes in the Tower.  Having said that, as I claimed him as a King  in an earlier post I can’t have him here too.

However, I’m on firmer ground with Edward’s brother Richard of Shrewsbury, the Duke of York.  He was definitely never a  King. I’m not even going to start on the subject of the Princes in the Tower, as plenty of people have already covered ti,  but what if  Lambert Simnel or Perkin Warbeck really was Richard?

Lambert Simnel initially claimed to be Richard but then claimed to be Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of  Warwick. He was only 10 years old at the time. His rebellion was crushed at Stoke Field, just outside Newark, in the last battle of the War of the Roses.

Julia took part in a re-enactment at Stoke Field before we were married. I didn’t. In the end I was proved the better judge, as I wasn’t me who ended up limping for two weeks after being hit in the ankle by a mistimed arrow. Before you ask, it had a rubber tip but still left an impressive bruise.

Simnel’s position was somewhat weakened by the fact that Edward Plantagenet was still alive, though nobody seems to have mentioned this at the time. Recognising that he had been led astray by cynical adults, Henry VII employed him as a spit turner in the kitchen, and later as a falconer.

Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Prince Richard.  He facially resembled members of the family, and may even have been one of Edward IV’s illegitimate children according to some theories. He was recognised as Richard IV by Emperor, Maximilian of the HolyRoman Empire, and formed an alliance with James IV of Scotland. In many ways he was a much more serious threat than Simnel, though he was still treated well by Henry after his capture.

He tried to escape twice, the second time in the company of Edward Plantagenet (remember him?) They were executed in November 1499,  Warbeck by hanging and Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick by beheading. These social distinctions were important.

Next, we have Prince Arthur. If he’d have lived we would have been spared endless quiz questions about the six wives of Henry VIII. Arthur was seen as the great hope of the Tudors, uniting the houses of York and Lancaster, and was named after the legendary King to make his family seem more ancient. At the age of 15 he was married to Catherine of Aragon. Yes, that one. Six months later he was dead.

Catherine was a great political match so, after consultation, the parents decided that rather than waste all the arrangements they had made, she should marry his brother Henry. This needed a Papal dispensation.

Later Henry would use her marriage to his brother to obtain an anullment. If Arthur had lived, or if Henry had married someone else…

Alternative history can be so interesting. Or pointless. Without the death of Arthur we might never have had a Church of England, and I might have been writing this in Latin.

One more for this section – Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, illegitimate son  of Henry VIII.  Henry was happy to acknowledge him, as can be seen from the fact he made him a Duke, and used him as evidence that he could father a healthy boy. There were even rumours, at one time, that the measures he was taking to secure the succession could be used to allow Henry Fitzroy to take the throne.

I’d never heard of him until I started doing the research (which is one of the things I love about blogging), but he’s interesting, as are the possible consequeness – no Armada, no Mary Queen of Scots, no Union with Scotland…

To be continued…

 

 

 

Wandering, not lost

Not all those who wander are lost

J R R Tolkien

I dropped Julia off at work this morning. The gates into the school car park were open today, as it’s school holidays, so we were able to drive right up to the garden gates and unload plants. Yes, unload plants. We’re at it again, making up gardens from scrounged plants.

After that I took a turn through the countryside between Nottingham and Loughborough. It’s scenic, though unexciting countryside, with some pleasant villages. The weather was a bit dull for photography and I wasn’t on top of my game so there are no photographs today. If there were, they would be pictures of gently rolling countryside with lots of greenery.

The trouble was that I started off mentally listing the things I need to do to set my life right, I’ve been letting things drift over the last few years and need to get organised.

Unfortunately this line of thought has a habit of sliding into thoughts of things that went wrong, things I should have done better and bad decisions I have made. It’s often sparked off by looking at a biggish house and thinking “I could have had one like that if I’d worked harder and planned better.”

However, I enjoyed my life as an unprofitable antique dealer and gardener. I also enjoyed the unprofitable time I spent with the kids. And I have two neighbours who ply me with cake.

All in all, it could be worse.

Eventually, I decided I was lost. Strictly speaking I couldn’t have been lost because I wasn’t going anywhere. That’s often been the subject of some discussion between me and Julia when I’ve been happily exploring country lanes over the years. Just because I don’t know where I am doesn’t mean I’m lost. And if I’ve got nowhere particular to go I can’t be going the wrong way.

After that I succumbed to the lure of the Oxfam bookshop in West Bridgford. It’s been refitted since last time I was here and is much better lit and laid out. This isn’t necessarily a good thing as I liked the poky old shop. In fact part of the experience of buying second-hand books ought to be in the dim, cramped, slightly musty conditions.

I resisted the temptation to buy books on Shakespeare, Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III, but did buy books on Percy Toplis, Moorcroft Pottery and historical trivia.

The Moorcroft book cost me £3.49. It was originally £35. Unfortunately, just as I was feeling  economically prudent I took a look at the prices on the Moorcroft site.

I’m going for a nice lie down in a darkened room now.

 

A Ride in the Country

In the middle of the day I first dropped Julia off at work (she is going in to familiarise herself with the garden) and then went for a drive.

I saw an Orange-tip on the verge and a Buzzard perching in a roadside tree, which was a good start.

It was a good day for free range pigs, warm but not too sunny. I always worry about them getting sunburn when it’s too hot. Obviously it’s nothing like as painful as being grilled, but it must be fairly unpleasant , particularly as they have short legs and no way of getting suncream on their backs.

When I have stopped and looked at them before there have been hundreds of birds abou (Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Rooks and Black Headed Gulls), but apart from a few gulls there were none about today. I must start looking on a regular basis to see if it’s seasonal or if today was just a one-off.

Further down the road I stopped in a lay-by for a look round. I tried a few flowers and some still life shots but the butterflies wouldn’t stop to pose and all the birds were hiding in trees, though they were singing their hearts out. If only I could recognise more birdsong, or more flowers.

The only bird I actually saw was a Buzzard, and that was too far away to get a decent shot.

It was good to get outside for a spot of nature therapy. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed it the fresh air and actually having to think about things. Sitting at home watching daytime TV is not something I’m keen to keep doing.