Category Archives: Nottinghamshire

Birthdays and Blue Butterflies

It was the Birthday Party today, and we had cake. It was actually an 86th birthday rather than an 85th, as I previously said, so I got an extra year for free.

I also got a present, even though it isn’t my birthday. Bill has completed a marathon cutting session and gave me 112 pieces of wood. Eventually they will become 16 nest boxes, but for now they are merely a dream.

Combined ages 169!

Combined age 169 years and still eating cake

On the way down to the farm I stopped for a few minutes to take some photographs of bales in a field when a blue flash fluttered past. It took a bit of stalking but I eventually got a decent shot.

The tractor is in that phase of restoration where the Men in Sheds have actually removed even more bits in order to get at other bits that need mending. If you look at the back wheel you may be able to pick out the cardboard box they are using to make a gasket. Farmers and Mne in Sheds rarely spend money when they can cut up the box the cake came in.

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There is evidence of progress as some parts have been put back. I could start a competition asking people to compare the last post and see what has been done. But I won’t.

There’s certainly been more done to the tractor than the butterfly garden. The dwarf buddleias are now getting on for 6 feet tall and the full size ones are 9 foot monsters. There were plenty of Small Tortoiseshells (about 20 I should think) but only a handful of whites and a solitary Peacock.

You’d think that a wild and unkempt garden was best for wildlife but according to something I read recently it isn’t true. An untidy garden is good, and better for wildlif,e than a totally wild one. Strangely, the monster buddleias are acconpanied by patches of bare earth where useful plants (like borage and daisies) have been ripped out and little has grown back due to shadows and inhospitable clay.

This is certainly true for photography – the out of control buddleia makes it a lot harder to get decent photos.

The last six guineafowl are still around (the white one refused to be photographed) and several of the bantams seem to be living the free-range lifestyle. They were too quick for me to get a decent shot, but they are looking good.

Fortunately I was luckier with my morning and evening visits to Julia’s garden, which I will report on later.

Being British, and Spending a Penny

It rained all night, drying up in time to drive to work. I then returned home to collect a parcel for delivery in Newark and arrived at Newark Market just as the thunder claps started. After that rain stopped it became quite hot, I took my coat off, and the sky clouded over again. I left before the dark grey sky could fulfil its threat. On the way home the weather was remarkably pleasant, actually being sunny and hot.

Weather talk is typically British, I admit. I will therefore move onto something typically middle-aged.

I needed the toilet when I arrived in Newark. The one nearest the car park has been closed for some years now, as part of the “improvements” to the town centre. However, I knew there were toilets in the Town Hall (which is also home to the museum and a half-derelict shopping centre). Problem solved, you would think. But no, those are closed too – only one “Accessible” toilet remains, and that wasn’t accessible because you need a RADAR key.

Now, I’m not disabled, but I’m not very mobile either. That means that although I’m not ready to admit to needing a RADAR key, it’s not very easy to climb the stairs in the pub next door. Anyway, I have a conscience about using pub toilets if I’m not using the pub.

Enquiries revealed that there are toilets round the back  of the shopping centre, not far from where I started. If I’d looked to my right instead of walking straight on as I left the car park I may have seen the grey-coloured sign suspended high on a wall. Even when you are close you can’t see it very well.

You then have to insert 20p, in 5,10 or 20p coins. I only had a 50p so had to ask a passer-by for change because they have a sign telling you they don’t give change. Twenty pence – that’s 48 times what it used to cost when I was a lad and “spending a penny” was a term you used to hear.

Two attendents were chatting in a cubbyhole, though one had gone by the time I emerged – some evidence that the rate-payer’s cash isn’t being totally wasted. Neither looked like this was the job of their dreams.

Newark markets itself as a tourist destination – based on today’s experience they have some way to go, which is sad as they’ve been doing it longer than I can remember (by which I mean around 30 years) and show no evidence of even getting the basics right.

In typical British fashion I made my feelings known be emitting a low-pitched but definite “humph!” as I left.

I am seriously thinking of writing a stiff letter to the council.

Bad News for Bee-eaters

I checked up on the Bee-eaters a couple of days ago. According to the website the watchers noticed a change in behaviour a couple of weeks ago, with adults no longer taking food into the nests. A couple of days later they gathered together and flew off, never to return.

It’s a shame, both for the birds and for the volunteers who put so much work in.

Who knows what might happen – at one time Magpies and  Buzzards were unknown around in the eastern counties and Red Kites were virtually extinct in the UK. Now they are all common, or commonish, sights around the area. yet be able to tell my grand-children about how they are lucky to have Bee-eaters and Hoopoes in the garden.

Then again, if the sea levels do rise as predicted, it might be exotic ducks we are watching.

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Bee-eaters at East Leake

 

Greengages and Government

I really ought to be writing my next Desert Island Blogs  but if I do I won’t get round to writing about today.

It’s not been an outstandingly interesting day, but then again, it’s been good enough to record – starting with greengages and ending in conflict with the government.

The greengages in the garden are sparse but pleasant. The tree is in need of a good prune to open it up into the approved goblet shape and I suspect a good feed will do some good too. It’s at the top of my list because I like greengages, but we’ll have to see what actually happens. When your wife is in charge, and has a group of enthusiastic volunteers to help her, nothing is certain. So far they’ve ripped out armfuls of mint, laid waste to the toadflax and clipped random branches off most of the fruit trees because they watch Monty Don on TV.

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Elusive greengages, Wilford, Notts

She couldn’t run the garden without them, but it would be nice to have some order in the place. Whenever I think of work going on in the garden I tend to think of a maelstrom of ativity directed towards tidiness rather than pollinators.

From there I went to Newark. The weather was lovely and I heard an interesting story about shoes.

In the aftermath of the Great War the storyteller’s grandfather died as a result of gas he had inhaled on the Western Front. It was a common story, with some veterans still coughing their ways through the 1960s and 70s due to gas injuries. This death, with an eighteen-month-old girl in the family(thev storyteller’s mother) , cast them all into poverty. They were able to get shoes from a charity – shoes for boys had Peter Pan on the front and the shoes for girls had Cinderella. She was so ashamed of her charity shoes that she tried to cover the Cinderella up using blacklead grate polish.

Does anyone know anything about these shoes?  Ideally I need input from a Londoner in his 70s – now where would I find one of them?

I’ve tried Google but it’s mostly about pantomimes. There was a Bradford Cinderella Club but there’s no mention of pictures on shoes.

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Newark from the car park, again

After that it was time to get back to Nottingham for a blood test. I walked in, registered and didn’t even have time to open my book before being buzzed through.  Unfortunately they sent me through to the wrong room. Then they redirected me and I went to another wrong room, though I think that was my fault. Finally they stuck a needle in me. Then another. And another. Then they called another nurse in, and she failed. Finally, as my false grin was stating to fade, they hit the red stuff. To be fair, they had hit the veins with previous attempts (and I was leaking blood all over the place) but they just couldn’t fill a tube.

Last time I gave that much blood the Blood Transfusion Service gave me a cup of tea and a biscuit.

It’s getting time for my car’s MOT test, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t had a reminder from the DVLA. I checked on the website and they have no record. This is government cost cutting in action. Seemingly it’s quite common these days. I nipped down to the garage to check, and confirmed I do need  a test. I’ve booked it in for tomorrow.

After picking Julia up from work I went shopping, only to find that the road was closed. It took a while getting round that, after which I had to use a different branch of TESCO than the one I had intended. This entailed parking next to a squashed pigeon and dodging round a number of large women with tattoos, who were shopping, slowly, with their equally large, slow daughters.

Now, I’m large myself, and I don’t move as fast as I did, but I do try to employ a degree of spatial awareness and I don’t take my kids shopping. They wouldn’t go anyway: they don’t like being seem with me.

Finally, to confirm my view of the place there were no decent books on the charity book table. At my normal branch there is a bookcase with five shelves of books. At the one I used tonight, just a table with a scattering of dog-eared rubbish.

As a final thought, the insides of my elbows hurt as if they’ve been stabbed multiple times. Oh, that’s right…

 

Another day, another defeat

Nottingham Outlaws played Beverley on Saturday, coming off a run of nine defeats. I got there ten minutes after kick off and they were already ten points down, having been undone twice by cross field kicks.

The trouble is that the lads from Yorkshire, even the weightier ones (and at least two of them were built like competitive eaters rather than athletes), grow up with Rugby League, but many of our team tend to be tactically naive. As you can see from the table, they can score tries, despite this. Unfortunately, we can’t stop the opposition from scoring, and often help them by dropping the ball.

Despite the run of defeats we are still putting a team out every week. That’s more than you can say for one of the other teams, which has now dropped out.

I’ll leave it to the match report to give details. If you think it’s critical of the referee, I assure you it’s mild compared to the comments made by people from both sides on Saturday.

 

I don’t normally have a go at refs as they do a tough job and there would be no games without them. Despite having qualified as a ref in both codes I am actually incapable of thinking, seeing, running, deciding and whistling at the same time and admire anyone who can.

However, the referee did not have a great day, failing to play advantage, missing several infringements and penalising several imagined infringements. He also made a mess of the timekeeping.  To be fair though, I have seen far worse.

It was good in parts (we led twice), it only rained part of the time and everyone likes a good moan at the ref. Plus we got a chance to build character, even if we would have preferred to win.

And that’s about it – just another average Saturday for the amateur sportsmen of Britain.

 

 

 

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.