Tag Archives: Newark

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.

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…

 

Drizzling, Mizzling and Grizzling

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Eskimoes have 50 words for snow. There’s quite a lot of debate on this subject but you have to start somewhere. The FT did a list of 5 of the best English words for rain. The Scots seem to have a lot of words for it too. They don’t seem to use siling down or mizzling. They appear on a list of Lincolnshire words, though we use them in Nottingham too.

Yesterday, it drizzled. That’s just rain that really can’t be bothered.It’s definitely rain, but lacks enthusiasm, and comes without mist, wind, cold or misery.

We went to Spalding yesterday, more because we had a day off than because we wanted to drive through the Fens in the rain. Destination was Springfields designer outlet. The bookshop has closed. Along with other closures it now only has one shop, a craft shop, that we want. I say “we”…

I took pictures of a duck marshalling three ducklings through the centre. Unfortunately I hadn’t, at that time, discovered the zoom on the telephone’s camera. I then took pictures of ducks doing other duck things. Once I’ve set the phone up to do email I will put the results on the blog. Don’t expect too much.

Today, it mizzled .That, according to my personal grading system, is rain that lacks conviction and comes with a side order of mist. It’s similar to the “soft day” of the Irish, but lacks the grim edge of the Scottish “dreich” day.

Today I dropped Julia off at work then went to ASDA to eat the worst breakfast I’ve ever had. This wasn’t actually the plan, but it was what happened. Not only did I endure leathery bacon, dry sausages and unpleasant beans, but I didn’t really enjoy the hash browns or the eggs. The tinned tomatoes were adequate, but they are hard to mess up. Only the mushrooms were good.

A group of three builders was eating breakfast too. I don’t think they were impressed either as one of them shouted across to the server as he chipped away at his food.

“Oi, love, have you been keeping this warm from last week?”

She didn’t answer. This wasn’t unexpected as charm and humour had been noticeably absent from the serving process.

From there it was but a short trip to Newark. Thursday is flea market day and time to catch up on the news. Unfortunately I can’t repeat any of the gossip as the trade talk is dull, as is the grizzling about the good old days, and the interesting stuff is almost certainly slanderous.

I took some pictures from the car park, using the camer’s settings to brighten them.  I would have taken more, but I’d rather wait for a nice sunny day. It is, as you can see, quite an interesting town.

 

Sad Stories of the Death of Kings (Part I)

…let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
Richard II  William Shakespeare

After writing about Charles I and his execution in a previous post I thought I’d write about a few more Kings and their deaths. I’m starting in 1066 and confining myself to Kings of England. To start earlier than that is to invite trouble from a raft of Kings called Ethelsomething and to include the Scots is to open up a story of multiple murders.

So, we will start with Harold Godwinson. He reigned for nine months, fought two big battles, beat the Vikings (and his brother Tostig) at Stamford Bridge and died after being shot in the eye at the Battle of Hastings. Or do we? As usual, someone has come up with a theory that this isn’t true. Nobody has any respect for legends these days. As the new theory draws on contemporary and near-contemporary sources it could well be true. It’s likely that he was cut down by Norman knights (including William) who then put the arrow story about to show that their victory was due to God’s Will rather than force of arms.

As usual, if God did have a view of the matter, he was on the side of the big battalions, as Napoleon didn’t say.

From there we will go to William Rufus, or William II to give him his formal title. He was out hunting in the New Forest one day (2nd August 1100 in fact – sounds like a nice time of year to be out in the woods) when he was killed by an arrow fired carelessly by Walter Tirel. Strangely, his nephew Robert had died in a hunting accident in the same forest in 1099 and his brother Richard in 1075.

It may well have been an accident, or part of a series of accidents. Who can say after this lapse of time? However, it was a very fortunately timed accident for Henry, youngest of the three surviving sons of William the Conqueror. As his brother bled to death Henry wasted no time in securing the treasury in Winchester before he headed off to be crowned in London. Things might have been different if his elder brother Robert had been there, but he was still on his way back from the First Crusade.

As I say, fortunate timing. Henry managed to hang on to England on Robert’s return, took the Duchy of Normandy from him in 1106 and held him prisoner for the next 28 years.

Henry himself died in France in 1135, supposedly from a surfeit of lampreys. Each to his own, I suppose, but they are very unattractive creatures.

We then skip a few kings, and ignore Richard I because I can. Despite his legendary status, Lionheart name and appearance in the Robin Hood legend he hardly spent any time in England, probably around 6 months. Basically he just used the country to finance his many military adventures.

It hardly seems fair that John, his brother, has a bad reputation when he seems to have been better for the country than Richard. John died in Newark Castle in 1216, which may have been the result of poison, a surfeit of peaches (in October? Really?) or dysentery.  Surfeits seem to have been quite fashionable in the Middle Ages. His troops took the body for burial in Worcester Cathedral.

We’ll skip a few kings and get to Edward II, one of the more famous murdered monarchs. He didn’t have a great reign, with trouble from the Barons, the Scots and a famine. He had favourites at court, first Piers Gaveston, then the Despensers, who took advantage of his patronage. As if that wasn’t enough he married a woman nick-named The She-Wolf of France.  Now, I have no way of knowing what she was like as a wife, but I’m guessing the nick-name may be a clue that suggests she wasn’t an easy woman to live with.

She deposed Edward and took up with Roger Mortimer. Edward died whilst imprisoned in Berkeley Castle, and in the years after his death lurid tales about his death started to circulate. These mainly centred on the insertion of a red hot poker into an orifice not normally associated with such things. It may or may not be the most accurate story of how a king died, but it is the one you’re most likely to remember.

The son of Edward II, or Edward III as he was known, eventually seized power back from Mortimer and his mother, capturing them in Nottingham Castle by means of a secret passage known as Mortimer’s Hole.

Raffles and old friends

Mix of work today, I’ve hoed the beds, mooched tea and biscuits from the yoga group and visted two companies who are giving us raffle and tombola prizes.

This last can be quite hectic as these days they all seem to want photo ID before you can pick things up. For a man with no passport and an old style driving licence this can be quite a strain. Fortunately Julia has a passport. I had one once, but after my last trip abroad, which featured being caught in a riot, threatened with arrest and sitting in a car when the door fell off…

Well, you can see why I decided not to go abroad again.

Newark was great in the sunshine and I got to catch up with an old mate. We’ve known each other a long time – I didn’t have kids in those days and he didn’t have a bypass. Would have liked to have made time for the English Civil War Centre but there wasn’t time today.

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Newark in sunshine

Before closing I’d just like to say thanks to Boots, Morrisons, Asda and Wilkinsons for their support with raffle and tombola prizes for Open Farm Sunday. After a number of refusals and a few people who didn’t even reply it’s nice to know that some people will still support small local events.