Archive for February, 2009

Gotham Moor

February 27, 2009

Flanking Gotham Moor are Gotham Pastures. Barton Moor, Bunny Moor, Bradmore Moor with Rough Hill southwards beyond Bunny Lane.
The Great Central Railway spliced Gotham Moor. It delivered ammunition workers from Ruddington to East Leake. It is abandoned: A summer steam train runs under the derelict bridges. An intact test track exists further over.
Gotham Nottinghamshire inspired choosing Gotham as the name of the fictional city used in the American comic, perhaps due to its excentric reputation. The villagers pretended to be mad to distract King John from passing through thus causing a toll road. Plans are afoot to build on Gotham Pastures, encroaching on the moor and spoiling the view. An eco-town at Shelford or Newton, East Bridgford is muted. East Bridgford has only one shop and is on the edge of a wilderness between the Trent, airfield and the open space across to where the three counties of Leicestershire, Nottingham and Lincolnshire meet.

Kreuzberg Berlin

February 18, 2009


Deep winter 1995 in Kreuzberg opposite the fire station, Wilmstrasse last stepped entrance on right third floor right door, in postal district 61 at 5am head towards Oeztal, Austria. The Berliner Ring (circumference London M25, not Paris Periferique) only two exits, one Dresden, one Leipzig, we take the wrong one. Signage in villages is state misinformation still. At some time we were in Pfunds via Zugspitze. Next morning I climbed to the ski resort 600m above us, and walked across a nearby ice bound lake. Oetztal is an elevated glacier on the Italian border where struggles occured for territory (Switzerland Austria and Italy) on snow mountain peaks. Its common knowledge, isn’t it, the Ice Man found there was tall, well dressed and had a flint arrowhead lodged in his back. On the way back stopped in Thüringen because of thick fog. Joined autobahn at Magdeburg and procede to Berlin. In this time I earned money painting children’s portraits.

Crosby, Southport, Parbold and Wigan

February 18, 2009

Crosby, Southport, Parbold and Wigan

Leaving Liverpool north to Crosby. There is U-Boat on stocks at Sefton. Port warehouses are fifteen floors rather than eight. Lifts or post 1910? Sandy Crosby and what was it like here before Another Place? Hightown, Formby and Freshfield are lovely places set in a sea of sand dunes. Southport is a rough noisy place. There is no quiet anywhere. I walked beyond the pier to the tide edge, where strange hand-made hybrid tractors with cabins on them harvest cockles. They follow familiar contours back to base, pausing occasionally. The Southport young landlord ill from smoking 60 a day. At Pinfold join Leeds and Liverpool Canal heading east. Somehow more brooding dark this stretch of canal through Lancashire. Tidy and manicured through Burscough village. A mile further on Burscough Canal branches north to Preston at Top Locks. Parbold, is a secret treasure. A viaduct: wide and duel locks. Meadows and the feel of 1760, remnants and signs of coal, ore, some grandiose sculpturing of the locks, tow paths and shire horses this is ultimate emblematic industrial England. Parbold: Undulating, dark, industrial, well-heeled and 10 miles out of Wigan. Wigan set on hills and sloping with two stations. Take one to Manchester.

Newark to Portland Bill

February 17, 2009

Vince Rea’s Dog
Vince Rea’s Dog (not lovely Sulivan, but the one in Jarrow Metro) has no connection with the decline of Britain whose nadir went un-noticed in the run down Regency villas, mews & side streets of Gloucester of the 1970’s. However for anyone who can visualise a realistic dog shape being formed with a welding torch & a faded group picture including Ellen Wilkinson minutes before setting off on the Jarrow March 1933, Vince Rea’s Dog* is not only emblematic of just how bad building was in the 1960s, but what was good & bad in public sculpture in the 1970’s. Before TV only readers of JB Priestley’s An English Journey or Fredric Engels’s The Condition of the English Working Classes could visualise how bad things were in England. Early TV interviews in Coventry for example show a shy downtrodden people trying to talk posh like the managers in Kenilworth & feared of saying anything which might force the attentions of policeman & detectives. When the country did not want Churchill anymore in about 1955, ordinary people, often almost without learning, culture, travel, education, breeding, cultivation & deportment supplanted pipe smoking worsted jacketed toffs from architecture, who like the Victorians & in the 1920s & 1930s had done very well & without anyone’s permission thank you very much in inventing, say a vernacular cottage type These, along with the yet to be invented planners ruined the country. Let loose on something they could never understand England became bricked over. Is it any wonder that whenever one is searching the internet whether by accident or design there is no information available on large chunks of history? ** The appropriate part of George Orwell’s 1984 must have been dead right. Beware of journalists though. It was them guarding their Monday morning prerogative of coming up with some newsworthy news that suffocated & strangled worthy & perhaps revolutionary information from college pamphlets. Why did we have to wait 50 years to find out from TV broadcasts from the Open University that Cromer was all about light, that the period was the Flanders one & the huge brown hills beyond are indeed one big glacial dump? Unequivocally, ‘Coast’ the TV series was a milestone in honouring the BBC brief of living up to the original charter of ‘Entertaining, Informing & Educating’ & after all what’s wrong with hearing people pronouncing things properly in a variety of standard accents? The OU did this by inventing the geographer journalist flourishing behind the colour camera & able to afford £1000 an hour helicopter flights. Would you want to go to Cromer now though where the out of season resort pier once was un-peopled, now crowded with Peckham Rye types dropping their ‘aches’ into the flooding sea? Alphaville The English city of the future. A pamphlet. Coventry has an inner ring road very near the centre, an original shopping centre by Sir Basil (Urwin) Spence & one of the finest new transport museums at the level of Berlin, Muenchen & Beaulieu. The canal leaves the very centre of the city and joins the network with reminders that families lived from the canal. Nottingham’s inner ring road is a lozenge dictated by the railway line & Gloucester has a network of carriageways which overwhelm the city. In the White Heat of Technology & in drawings by Le Corbusier. The car was not meant to be a noisy polluting nightmare child killer. Now the need to get into the mind of the drivers & turn the car round. In the North East of England they were all supposed to have jet packs & helicopters by 1990 which was once the future. Why was the pedestrian & cyclist so brutally & universally ignored? Commonly in the early 1960s local boys guarded their streets with violence & chasing from strange boys. A council estate boy could not be expected to carry around a Maynard Keynes type macro-economic view. He had the mindset of the scavaging itinerant tribal hunter gatherer whereas Lancing college had intercepted this, these were less ornamented, less well mannered than Oetztal man & would be less welcome at an Edwardian dinner party off the Holloway Road. These mindsets & physcograms, are deterministic & steer the success or otherwise of ideas about urbanism. Loosening their tribal shackles & instincts & set against each other by the influences of the spiritualty, stratified into workmen & fore men the seeds of their own destruction were sewn into communities & doomed them. A waterered down involuntary Protestantism, with a hint or whiff of chapel, aspiring families, protected by ‘blobs’, ‘residual income’, driven away by vermin & pleurisy would now be heading down past Houghton-le-Spring to Weston-Super-Mare in the Vander Plas. Factory owners spent the profits in Wallingford, Banstead & Norbury Junction not Jarrow, Hebburn & Felling. The creepy aspirations of the Bartram’s would mean they would unashamedly ‘join the masons’ rendering them unable speak to their catholic labouring neighbours, the die cast way of life was formed on Roman lines & every generation, as they say, has it’s slaves. Not co-operating with this scheme of things meant not having holidays, & sometimes real poverty. The Bartrams could not have existed in the Bronze Age. In times of war the fit would have grab a spear from the fence, leaving obviously a gap in the fence. Their son, an electrical engineer could not have pleaded having working for another tribe down south & that actually as Reyrolles was taken over by the General Electrical Company they were off to Alderney in a coral on a fishing trip. (Kayaks, boats & ships were the Ka of the Bronze Age). How far south would their snooty daughter have got if she had fallen out with the tribal warriors? Tarmac was way over the horizon & roman roads overgrown. Social Betterment The seriousness of this allegation against the Bartrams now may be ameliorated by the strong possibility that it may not have been their fault although this would be easily refuted by religious fanatics. Society had been forced to stratify not only but also by poor prospects, poor food, poor hygiene, damp, cockroaches, rats, disease & chronically poor housing (holding an umbrella over the baby). The Vanden Plas was a petrol driven four wheeled chariot on wings of desire out the hell of English industrial towns. Sickly as it may sound, as from Coventry to Kenilworth it was an escape to the idyllic rural setting for decent people who wanted to have a proper life & better themselves. But whist one or two went off to seek spirituality in the hills, more often it was reading the Daily Mail in the car park not getting out at all & leaving the engine on when it was cold. So why has this transformed into the petty game of being better off than the people next door? Southampton in the Life of a nation. And so to there: Southampton. The unfashionable city rarely or never gets a mention. The accent has classy Hampshire flavours from Twyford & Eastleigh & the country daftness associated with the west country. Yet Benny Hill* was from here, & due to the twin tides protected by the country within a country the Isle of Wight, King Canute almost certainly commanded the sea to retreat back just to the east on the Saxon Shore. The boats & ships could be floated in twice to the dry docks. The balding middle aged man from Coventry sitting next to J B Priestly in the back of a Scammel bus was speculatively heading for ‘opportunities’ in Southampton in the very front few pages of the book. Hill’s birthplace was described in full by J B Priestly when the uniqueness of English towns & cities was there to be seen. Only Mansfield, Hove & Lincoln and maybe Oxford and Cambridge today could be vaguely described as different. ( Maybe Ely but reader, how different is your town? Is there a big shark diving through your roof?) Retail devastated the English town & Zaha Hadid was not involved and nor was, in praise of a higher being, Wayne Hemmingway. Huge profits are made obviously remotely and the big buildings of the day are not Zeppelin Halls but Adidas distribution centres in places like Salford. The Arndale centre cannot be got rid of because of weak structure plans & deceased attachments. Gloucester, a city of a cross lost a whole quarter in the 1960’s surrendering the cattle market and real links & views out to the surrounding hills. No one could have given a f**k in 1947 if it flooded or not. The immovables of Hereford & Gloucester were the greatest prize of the 15th century due to their protected position in the impenetrable south west heartland of England. Tewksbury is at the confluence of the Seven & Avon. The spiralling spread of indeterminable language left me dazed & confused. Lewis Mumford made up much of his book The City in History but it was thrilling. * Benny Hill was far from a hero in terms of life in cities, featuring in the vaudavillisation of TV Circling Vulture Often I am just going round in circles. I am not alone in this though. It is rather freightening to see yourself in a mirror behind you a reflection of a copy of you shaving and wondering which was the left hand. The Image was different enough to make me think it wasn’t me. Douglas Hofstadter told me recently it wasn’t! As a child in the North East of England the first school was a corrugated set of huts. A black man, the only one in the entire region befriended me, had a broad ‘step & fetchit’ smile and was not after me. He just liked me more than he did the other children. When the school moved to the new St. Mary’s he stood there doing the finishing touches to the circular flower bed and when I was addressed ran away embarrassed my friends would think I knew a black man. But it was my first circular building. Geordie children & German professors refer to the Sorkel & somewhere there there must be a common root. As the tourists sorkel round the Mecca bingo in Newark which looks deliberately like a Mosque because of exotic innuendo. They circle round the real Mecca and round St. Paul’s which is a tremendous amount of Portland stone now missing from Portland Bill. This pattern is similar to Indian braves circling overturned wagons and the tourists often are happy at what they saw. You never see tourists walking away en mess moaning. In the 1950s it was good enough for a young lass to push the bairn around in a pram. In West Bridgford now they ram through the window of Iceland in 4B2s, grab a packet of king prawns & tell the decrepit & sad cashier to “f*ck off” on the way out. * Jarrow Metro Station sculpture ** Informationsheft GB, Alphaville, Westworld, Gerard Depiadier early avante garde films, property ownership in Gloucester & generally te 1970’s, before the internet *** Center Start Place Nouvelle, Furnighausplantechnisdormring or SaucerCupPlateginandtechtonictheorumgefunk

Samphire Cliffs – Dover

February 17, 2009

The Samphire Pamphlet – The Folkestone Manifesto

“Pink, pink and more pink!” :-An old Folkestone harbour retired sailor‘s observation on seeing a girl child cycling past the welk stalls. The children of the lumpenprolatariat wear pink shell suits from Folkestone Asda made in China from a warehouse near Southampton. The revolution that has occurred in distribution is illustrated in this example. Yet the container ships passing along the Aermelkanal, Le Manche (The Sleeve), the English Channel, have dwindled, from my fourth floor room on The Leas. Underneath Shakespeare Cliff two ancient London toffs on their way to a FKK sea swim remind me that England was a country of 25 million whites only in the 1950s,with no strangers, when only a few very good swimmers might enter, and the end of the country as an island had begun. A great glacial flood had, in one day, started this separation when England was cut off from Europe 15000 years earlier. Churchill, England’s greatest historian, like Cromwell a Protector of the Jews, had about that time proposed a United states of Europe – with England outside it. Nicholas Ridley later described the modern continent as a German racket. Folkestone, a microcosm of England, meanwhile rots. The stench of decay is palpable, emblematic in the dereliction of Folkestone Harbour boat train station, certainly a victim of Beeching’s ausmertzen of the rail network, cuts which had been based on accounting alone, and not function. “England is a small country, please keep your voice down”. This imaginary sign, in letters one meter high was placed at the new Gatwick airport American Airlines Jumbo Hub. Inexplicably it was never heeded as former colony tourists invade England. The great mystery of why they shout is as unanswerable as a Hilbert axiom, and will never be accounted for. Left to its own devises, then the English mainland from Devises to The North Foreland would become the continuum of Ecumenopolis. Spain already covered with marble villas up the canyons on near 45 degree slopes, is over here buying airports and rail companies. John Betcheman, alarmed at the spread of Mock Tudor along linear settlements at Petts Wood (latterly worth millions) would have died grief ridden. (He remembers the Pinner valley nostalgically without “arses” (houses) from a carriage on the Metropolitan Line, and cities are contained by green belts, national parks, the south west’s natural spirit of separateness, and the overt quirky indigenous snobbery of remote English towns. (Leek, Congleton, Godalming, East Grinstead etc etc). England will be the last refuge, we dying at the World’s End, King’s Road, like. In Meanwhile Gardens though, whilst we still have an interest.

The Folkestone Manifesto – ‘Especially in view of the money wasted by local authorities in Iceland, this confirms unequivocally and with certainty, local authorities must be abolished with immediate effect: If managers there can spend a working life half the week at conferences educating themselves, and the other half on a golf course then something is wrong. Local goverment stifles, petrifies and straightjackets city centres and natural economic responses. Nottingham Town House decides to have a tram, at the the expense of a high speed rail link to the capital. Councils have to abolish themselves to save money. Abolish local government completely and knock down all of their buildings into landscape. With immediate effect remove the professions of estate agent and doctors. Turf everyone out of hospitals and knock them down. Estate agents exist by extreme hyperbole and the lobby system. The are ultimate parasitic invention and must be dissolved by Act of Parliament. There is no need in society for doctors. Doctors, front men for the pharming community, are the least valuable members of the vulture society the muddled classes created. The brainiest, nicest people are oddly attracted to this profession. Most medicine is doctors sinning at the Tree of Knowledge. Health is entirely the affair of families at dinner time, nutrition, exercise, sport and paramountly cycling and mental health. Worthy families would be given allotments. The Enemy Within: Named futures dealers should be hunted down and charged by Inquisition Type, yet official courts with High Treason. A railhead to be built to a giant catapult to Beachy Head. (Near St. Bede’s School for Girls, Eastbourne so they would have to make a last climb up to the catapult, and the railway would not spoil Birling Gap. England needs, with immediate effect to withdraw from Europe at every level. England, having learnt from the Continent would keep the useful practices learnt from then (cycling, recycling), still trading however, a very large sign, illuminated with electric light bulbs from the West Pier Hove ,quite easily readable from Pas d Calais, saying “F U * K O F F”. In smaller lettering below (please fu*k off permanently, for ten years so we can work out what to do with you next). Withdraw from Europe loosing the Genome Laws.** Europe laws are like the genome, 85% of it is just there and does ‘not do nothing’. Accept willingly Arab states are in to world domination through civil aviation, and sell off airports to the Emirates. They will always be afford to buy aviation fuel. This runs out in 2016. Move Heathrow to Cliffe not a Square Island. Redevelope Samphire Country Park, Dover as a port. Force old people into and dressed as the Home Guard. Direct Labour. Labour needs to be directed from inner cities to East Anglia in the summer. Make Blackberry Picking an Olympic sport. Draconian penalties for people braking in to cars while the owners are picking wild berries. Regional Development Agencies to be abolished with immediate effect. In the case of the Northern one, none of the money left Jesmond, for say, Tyne Dock. Arms Length managers all live in Tynemouth. South Tyneside managers all live outside the Borough. Only Cheryl Cole nee Tweedy, the Queen of Wallsend had the vision to buy a house in South Shields so un-inverted is her lack of snobbery. The Freedom of Information Act is only workable when read hanging upside down in front of a mirror. The role of voluminous matriarchal apparatchiks up north to be investigated to establish the good and or bad influence, they have. It is suspected that much of the bogus NHS & DES positions are held by these women. Clear facts about these people who are the most keen to spend other peoples money because “eee its fo Biafra” ,or “eee my kids owwa weyt n’all” justified. The nullifying, thought numbing gleichschaltung effect of modes of female language to be drawn out into the light and denounced when necessary. The full weight and severity of the law may involve humiliating and eventually punishments in the Danelaw style. Newly liberated women, may have done irreparable damage in only one generation, like a bull in a china shop, as it were. Female communities are a law unto themselves, and are only out to impress each other. Woman have to learn to vote for policies not appearances. Secrecy, cannot be guaranteed in boardrooms if there are one or more women on the board. Only Hong Kong type women to be allowed on management committees. There are certainly, scenarios where women in management outside the domicile would and could be very valuable, say in Amazon type hunter gathering parties. The Iceland Prime Minister is a woman. Educated South Africans to be welcomed home to England. Afrikaans to be taught in schools as an absurd language for joking and lampooning purposes. Get Shot of A Scot. Independence From Scotland. Every time this is mentioned they sh*t themselves because the dinna ken whit its like after 500 years. Foreigners value three things from Britain most, oil, whiskey, and tartan. These happen to be the UK’s biggest and most expensive and most vauable exports. Well tough, we misses out there. Get shot of a Scot from your office today and free up all the cushy and numerous top level jobs. In London these positions would naturally attract sophisticated blacks and Asians but a third should be filled with capable English indigenous tribes people. It is important to remember, Asians are carrying out reverse colonisation which is desirable and unstoppable as long as they share some of their wealth and skills. England will always trade with India. Blex are the new fun, sporty, polite and verbose guests at the table and they are very welcome. Who will rid me of these Golf courses? As soon as all the Scots are back over the border (train, plane, hill walking etc) all golf courses in England will be closed for 25 years, by which time nature will have returned them to say, the Great Northern Forest. There is no need to manage these just guard them. Re-educate those with socially divisive attitudes. Perhaps this could be linked to humane directed labour. Demonise the Middle Classes. The planet does not need saving, but the people do. Evangelise cycling. Cars need to be stopped dead. That way flying can still be cool. The central unresolved core dilemma is how to make people do things without the mechanisms of wages and the wages of morality. ‘Make Is!’ said the Geordie kid. Of course this could only be enforced by violence and the fear of violence or punishment. Violence is forbidden, and is a state monopoly. Impressum Deal has a tradition of scepticism, the main street runs a mile parallel to the sea front among the cottage sea front where JB Preistly, Paul Nash & Spike Milligan felt at home. Sandwiched between large private guarded estates and the English Channel. Juggenauts drop a gear through Dover and Folkestone’s dire one way streets in towns ruined by the town hall. Flat and sloping concrete landings are grotesque war like functional and out of scale from the steps being one metre high. The chalk cliffs are derelict and like no other and belonging to no other time but this. The Germans wanted Kent, west Sussex and Normandy to be part of the same region.’

Arran Drive – Jarrow to Tilbury

February 17, 2009

India and Pakistan – evil weapons sentries against each other – temperatures are like at boiling point, like. Ordering a curry the Bede Trading estate. Coriander not registering as a word. Dal neither. Had they been attracted to South Shields the way Norwegians and Scots to Canada and the Spanish to Mexico? A potato, which had achieved synchronous orbit deflects the warhead from Hyderabad on to a rice field. I wonder now if the Patak pickle factory in Lancashire is safe from missile attack. Up in Newcastle it is February 29th the North blanketed in snow turning my clothes line in to a fluffy white tube, but this estate will never look picturesque until the Great Northern Forest grows and no ‘human sets foot in it. On a slanted slip road in Recendyke, Tyne Dock a lorry driver is admiring some magazine in a lay-bye. The plot is simple – fragmented development innit? Durham is coated in a white dust like asbestos. Today snow unifies the region, optically, like. At Durham railway station heading for Darlington, Sunderland fans get in to Coach D heading for Charlton, unaware that a big sign saying “No chimps in Coach D please”. An auld Blake rustles disarmingly his de rigueur Morison’s bag. These are library conditions – you can’t stop people talking. A single moment where a twilight storm animates the curtain and snow drifts in Arran Drive. Selfish urges will rebuild Liverpool with special culture wardens to calm traffic. In Poundbury hippies stroke their cars and use incense to calm traffic. Liverpool built in the ten years from 1830 needed rebuilding now. Like Newcastle Gateshead competing for the European City of Culture. Two brothers from the pit, get up and sing and we hoi them money. Magnesium from 20,000 feet under Saltburn. Snobby Foster’s Sage building on Gateshead Quaysides a “Weeyad shipe”, like. “Kanna hava piisoff kike?” “Godiva little latté tavja?”. Larty Fenwick would have talked something like that in Costa Coffee. Out on Steel Rigg I remember valley is thallium. Vandalia, Pangea and Gondwanaland. How did they know what these places were called? The English seaside town – I kept gong there because this is my life – now! I knew as I visited Skegness my life was an act of passing. Transitory and Ephemeral. You can just see priest warriors, maybe single, heading up The Umbra river from Tyne or Rouen. “That’s Scunthorpe – lets go further up stream”. Eventually in worsted cassocks they founded Fountains Abbey. The once beautiful Umbra is now Payne’s Grey. In creeks water creeps. On the train through to Cleethorpes through Scunthorpe I got a brief glimpse of the vast Humber Bridge, which was momentarily the size of two matchsticks. Passing over the Trent and shrinking peat fields whose area covered soggy flanks to the Ouse. The government had rescued them in the Guardian. Sand drifting over the new sea defence cycle paths of the Lincolnshire coast. A Lincoln man at the Battersea architect had told me of new paths, old concrete wrapped around The Wash, which he described as falsely as it turned out, Areas of Outstanding Natural Ugliness. In 1953, from Mapplethorpe then unguarded by the present high sea wall, a young policeman in a increasingly wild and raging twilight, phones to the south warning of an unusual high tide heading south. In a Trumpton sort of way this was how the message was passed on, odd since the water was to circumnavigate Norfolk and Suffolk, an Anglia of Marconi and radar. Real tragedy hit Canvey Island that night when newly settled immigrants from Holland carried their baby up and up in to the cold rafters only for water to fill the pram and take the child further on up to heaven. Mapplethorpe, easily England’s most unexplainable town. Ian Huntley crossed Lincolnshire to rendezvous with Maxine Carr. How geographic to meet half way in Uttoxeter. Then they crossed the vast county of vegetables to Soham just in Cambridgeshire. On the way a loud speaker shouted at me as I listened to aircraft 15 miles offshore bombing an orange target ship. At Skegness large outsized banana slides and big wheels loom a giant two inches just as they had at the Humber Estuary. The plastic prison of Butlins with a fairground silver Wuppertal hanging train. Vast underrated Lincolnshire. Then Essex. Maplin – An airport was planned here but Concorde did not have the fuel range for NY JFK. The final station on a long journey from Liverpool Street, Clacton-on-Sea where houses are crosses between lean-to’s and rabbit hutches line the modest sea wall to the south and this is clearly Gypsy country. The dykes worn out, old. Beyond Battlebridge at the head of the creek a vertical black grain store with a hoist and stranded boats petrified in the mud as if they didn’t make it. This inlet is 20 miles to Burnham-on-Crouch with the Essex boatyard beyond and the atomic power station beyond further long unwinding but going nowhere defences. Unless you have a boat that is – a boat to the resurrection. There are disused ferry landings, north and south. The rail floats across the marsh to Basildon, a new town dumping ground for the under-under class, back to Barking mad. There is no shortage of Saxon churches on hummocks but on exit it is very easy to go in to the marsh maze and never re-merge. At Coalhouse Fort is a feeling of murder. The land drains drain like eastings and northings. The East Tilbury marshes are empty. At Rainham Marshes concrete scuppered ships lie motionless for sixty years. Was winning a war worth if we were reduced to making concrete ships?

Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstable, Illfracombe, Minehead, Weston-super-mare, Cliveden and Bristol.

February 16, 2009

Plymouth to Bristol.

Plymouth. Plymouth’s only remaining prominent building is the Duke of Cornwall hotel the rest being flattened by German bombs. From there I took the ferry to Finisterre. The hills behind and adjacent to Plymouth gloomy and massing when seen from Plymouth Sound. There are little concrete facsimiles of the Royal Navy fleet on the curving harbour wall.
Exeter. Nothing to say about Exeter. (Passed through Exeter to Exmouth on a cycling trip over very steep inclines to Lyme Regis and Weymouth, years before. On Portland Bill are impressive forts and derelict stone quarries after a very steep winding climb, and a clear view of unfathomable Chesil Beach. )
From Exeter by train to Barnstable. From Barnstable market slip round the coast via Saunton Sands then remote Morte Bay and drop down into Illfracombe, Coombe Martin and Lynmouth. Leave Lynmouth on a long steep incline via Porlock to Minehead. Or traverse Exmoor via Simonsbath to Dunster.
Minehead’s main street is dark. Minehead is a kind of dead-end with Butlin’s thrown in. There is a posh Northfield Hotel tucked in the slopes of Exmoor flanking North Hill. Contrasts abound: To the east access along the sea shore is blocked by the hulk of Butlin‘s. From Watchet a steam train goes to Bishop’s Lydeard linked to Taunton. From Minehead via Kilve and Burnham-on-sea to Weston-super-mare. Burnham-on-sea’s a kiss-me-quick local Somerset resort. There is no way through from Brean Down to Weston-super-mare except perhaps across the beach at low tide. Stayed at the Royal Hotel.
Somerset men are/can be dismissive of strangers and/or slightly juvenile, even mad. Agricultural certainly. They were upset about the pier fire. The more gothic Birnbeck Pier also derelict. The tidal range here after La Ranche is the worlds greatest hence the frequent tidal Lidos and the height of Clivedon pier which used Brunel wraught iron meant for elsewhere. On Kewstoke Road there’s probably the best roadside tea shop in England nestling under Worlebury Hill but not highlighted on Google Earth.
From Weston-super-mare via Sand Bay and Clevedon cycle to Bristol over Avon Bridge and through Clifton. Theres only one way through from Wicks Lane, Wick St Lawrence to Yeo Bank lane involving crossing a gut and careful map reading. Its private land. Train to Paddington early Monday and apparently 15 minutes later a fire broke out in a kitchen and Weston-super-mare Grand Pier burned down.


February 16, 2009


From Tile Hill out of Coventry cycle to Kenilworth. Kenilworth is smart, the main street has a 1930’s unspoilt feel. The castle is prominent at the town end. South to Warwick, a classic medieval town, except for cars and signage. Vistas hard to come by except from the river. Holloway prison modelled on this before it was knocked down.

Cycle to Evesham via Stratford-upon-avon. The landscape west of here to Tewksbury unparalleled and made in heaven.

Cut across to Great Malvern and board Birmingham bound train.


February 16, 2009


A purpose built isolated resort at the end of a railway line south north east across Lincolnshire. The Derby Miners Welfare building, a red brick cube with white lettering stating unequivocally what it is. The town catered for miners from Nottingham and Derby. Skegness is a seaside fun-fare, caravan site, and chip shop Mecca. Its easy not to notice the wonderful wild beaches and the serene nature reserve southwards to Gibraltar Point. Take Main Road via Wainfleet south west, a road set 1 mile inland. The crop sprayers are gigantic like huge mechanical wasps.
Visit the sea along dyke paths and farm roads. The landscape here is a trilogy: Wolds, emerged and marine. There is always a roman road of the undulating north south strip: transport was almost exclusively by sea, the Wash now devoid of ships above drowned villages. Visit the sea past Friskney and Wrangle and Old Leake. Then head inland to Boston. Boston Stump cathedral has duel spiral staircases very narrow. Look across the Fens. Poles, Ukrainians blank McDonald’s on Sunday and keep their hard earned money. 5000 Portuguese abroad but they are so small you can’t see them. St. Mary’s Graveyard cemetery has special children’s lawn of infant graves. Heading seaward following the river as the Mayflower did, veer off to North Sea Camp at Scrane End, an open prison set inland from the dunes. The curving sea wall dyke is a precious gem of wilderness not equally anywhere in England. Loop back via Wrangle and Fishtoft. Roads out of Boston lead to Sleaford and Spalding.
Take the A16 south west, a straight line for 20 miles. Going off into the Fens does not mean there is a way out. Spalding has nothing memorable except houses are orientated along straight culverts. I pressed on to Stamford skirting Market Deeping. Paused a while at Normanton church, Rutland Water, thence from Oakham take train to Leicester

Northampton – Banbury – Royal Leamington Spa

February 15, 2009

Banbury: Heading north along the Oxford Canal through Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire is a county of unique landscape. Kinks below Wormleighton. Through empty country and no villages to Napton. To Wigrams Turn. Cycle west to Royal Leamington Spa.
From Royal Leamington Spa across empty farmland via the astonishing Braunston Junction and Braunston Tunnel to Northampton. Norton Junction with The Grand Union Canal. Turn south via Nether Heyford for Northampton. The long Blisford Tunnel to Stoke Bruerne. A branch at Cosgrove ends up as a dry creek. Milton Keynes ahead. The Grand Union Canal branches north to Rugby at Braunston Junction.