A new year and a new decade … an excellent time for a new start to blogging.
I always feel that the tradition of looking back and looking forward as we head into a new year connects us down the centuries.
The month of January is named after the Roman god, Janus, the door-keeper of the heavens, with his two heads so he could look both forwards and backwards at the same time.
The Celtic Winter Solstice marks the astronomical turning point of the year, when the daylight is at its shortest and the night at its longest here in the Northern Hemisphere. However, astronomers can explain how this doesn’t mean that the days then immediately begin to lengthen as this is controlled by the Earth’s orbit of the sun and varies a bit depending on your exact latitude.
I think of this ’10 Days of Christmas’ period as the time when everything is slightly on pause – including being on holiday from work – making it an ideal time to reflect on where we have been and make plans for where the next year’s adventures will take us.
For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week we are looking at large subjects. ‘Large’ is a relative term. To appreciate the scale of a subject, we have to look at size compared to something else. The large subjects I have chosen from either the built or natural landscape are all quite substantial … at least compared to a human.
This medieval manor house was three storeys high and even the remaining ruins are quite impressive. In this image, you can see the scale of the building compared to the oak tree immediately behind it.
This Victorian railway bridge has been built very tall to accomodate the contours of the ground here on the banks of the River Derwent, so that the railway could be constructed on a given level. You can see the scale of the bridge compared to my son who is walking underneath it.
The Broad Oak gives its name to the farm on which the tree stands and what a magnificent ancient oak tree it is too. The scale of the tree can be deduced from the other trees and bushes in its vicinity.
Whitburn windmill is a restored 18th century flour mill and now it towers above the new housing nearby.
“Older than 50 years” is the topic for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week. Rather than root about in my photo archives, I decided to have a root about in the old shed in my new allotment garden. I found all kinds of old treasures and photographed them on the old cupboard that doubles as a bench and storage space in the garden shed.
The old shed itself definitely falls within this week’s topic. Originally, this building was constructed as a garage, probably shortly after World War II. I remember there were some old garages of this type near where I lived as a young child, back in the 1960s. The garage was probably saved from demolition and then transported to its current location and repurposed as a garden shed.
I love the smell of old garden sheds – the mingling aromas of musty dampness, machine oil and old creosote wood preserver, all mixed up together. Rust, dust and cobwebs cover the array of relics left behind from a by-gone age.
Before hand drills were made in moulded plastic and powered by electricity, these are one of the tools people would have used – a brace and bit. I know some woodworkers still use these tools today as we bought a brand new one for our woodworking son a couple of years ago. These old and rusty hand braces hang from one of the old shed beams. One of them still has its ‘bit’ in place – I wonder what it was last used for, and when?
In years long gone, shoes were made of leather and people mended their own at home … or in the garden shed, apparently! This rusty old shoe last would have been used to support the shoe whilst it was re-soled, or re-heeled with new material. Here in our village, it’s very likely that the last was used to mend the pitmens’ heavy boots that they wore when working in the coal mines. Can you hear the ghostly echo of the shoe mender’s hammer as he taps in the new nails?
Wood turning is a heritage skill that we’ve learned a bit about in our family. Our youngest son went through a keenly interested phase and he and I ended up building a treadle-powered pole lathe from raw timber, which was a wonderful learning experience.
In the old shed, I came across these very old hand tools with turned wood handles and they reminded me of our wood turning project. You don’t often see tools with turned wood handles nowadays as moulded plastic has become the norm.
I had fun exploring in the old shed for this photo challenge … and it provided a welcome cool space on a particularly hot and sunny Summer’s day too!
This week I decided to have fun collecting some new photos of signs for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. A day of appointments in places at opposite ends of our valley gave me an ideal opportunity.
My son spotted this one first. “Under Offer”, the sign declared boldly. “That’s not under offer,” said my son, “it’s definitely under a tree!” Oh ha ha! Very funny!
We have no idea what is or was “Under Offer”, but I doubt very much that it was referring to either the tree or the mid-high street small oasis of greenery to which the tree belonged. By chance, the blue-fronted shop in the background does happen to be an estate agents office. Now that could be a possible source of an “Under Offer” sign … however, the truth remains a mystery 😀
A little further along Consett’s Middle Street is an antique shop. In the window, the “Abbey Road” sign stopped me in my tracks. For many of us, Abbey Road immediately makes us think of the legendary 60s group, The Beatles.
I don’t know if this is a genuine road sign, somehow acquired from the leafy London road made famous by The Beatles album of the same name. The “Abbey Road” sign was accompanied by a “Baker Street” sign – Sherlock Holmes’ home territory. Seeing both these road signs together made me wonder whether it’s more likely that these signs are perhaps replicas rather than originals.
The hand-stencilled “Jewellery Repairs” sign in this window struck me as rather quaint and in keeping with being in an antique shop. Nowadays, we tend to see signs that have been printed off a computer (like my next sign) rather than being hand-made.
There are three signs on the main entrance door at the Blaydon Primary Care Centre. Two are fairly standard signs for doors of this type, but the third sign always makes me smile 🙂 The term “heely shoes” is apparently a colloquialism that even I, as a native of this area, hadn’t encountered before I saw it on this door sign.
In case you’re wondering, ‘heely shoes’ will refer to shoes with stiletto-type heels or similar. As this building doubles as a sports centre with swimming pool as well as a health centre, I imagine that there could be a risk of skidding or slipping on wet floors in some areas, hence the very sensible decision to prohibit the wearing of high heeled shoes.
After our day’s appointments we headed for our bus home. The view from the bus stop includes several road signs (you can make this image a little larger to see the details by clicking on it) : the green “A1 North” indicating this is a slip road onto the A1 major trunk road for drivers travelling north of Newcastle; the yellow sign with black arrow and triangle, I believe indicates an emergency diversion route for this major road; a little further up the slip road is the “No stopping on the motorway” sign – a blue circle in a red circle with a red cross.
My favourite sign is the last of this group of road signs – the white sign with the pictures in red circles. The pictures indicate that no farm tractors or road digging machines are allowed on this major road during the hours specified in the lower sign – 7-9am and 4-6pm Monday to Friday – that is the hours commuters generally call ‘the rush hour’ when everyone is frantically trying to get to work or school on time, or trying to get home afterwards.
If you can imagine being stuck behind a farm tractor or road digger while trying to rush to work in the morning, you can probably understand why prohibiting these vehicles at peak times may a good plan. However, it always makes me smile because during the rush hour along this stretch of road, the traffic stands nose to tail, edging occasionally along the road at a snail’s pace. I’m not sure it matters much whether you’re stuck behind a farm tractor, a bus or the most powerful car on the road … you’ll still be standing still 😀
Looking up in my allotment garden today, I found my Champion of England tall climbing peas had reached the 8 foot high crossbar on their giant pea frame 😀 (That’s almost 2.5 metres, if you’re metric!)
If you want to learn more about growing climbing peas or about saving this heritage variety of peas from extinction, you can find the rest of the story about my Champion of England tall climbing peas in my post, “A tall pea plant tale”.
Living in a landscape of rivers and old railways means we have lots of bridges in our area. Here are some of my favourite bridge pictures that I’ve previously featured on my blog – from Tyneside icons to forgotten relics – for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.