Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dumb questions

There's an amusing piece in local news magazine Windermere Now this month, about daft questions put to members of Windermere Lake Cruises staff.

The magazine lists their top ten, including these gems: 

How long does the 40 minute cruise last?
Can I go to the front of the queue as I've got ice creams?
Years ago I went to Ambleside.  Is it still there?
For my sat nav, what is the postcode of the mountains?

And number one, and my own favourite as well:

Can the boat come and pick me up from Blackpool?  (This on a lake that's completely land-locked and about 50 miles from Blackpool...!) 

There's no information on how the staff managed to answer those questions without either splitting their sides laughing or thumping the people concerned... but it really does show there's nowt so queer as folk!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Happy in Hull

Dave had a day's business meetings in Hull on Thursday, and we've spent so little time together this month that I decided to tag along.  I've never been to the city before - the closest I ever got was a day trip to Beverley with my parents, simply years ago - so I was looking forward to exploring.

I'd heard some bad things about the city - poverty, shabbiness, even the risk of being mugged - but in the event I was very pleasantly surprised.  Even Dave, who last visited about eight years ago, said it had come on leaps and bounds.  We arrived late Wednesday afternoon and after dumping our bags at our hotel, shot out for a long and really enjoyable walk round.  This started in the main shopping street and ended up at the same place, but by way of the marina, harbour, and the maze of winding narrow streets that forms the old town.  Everywhere we looked there was something interesting, from traces of Hull's oldest dock to the largest parish church in England, from the swish modern building housing aquarium venue The Deep to lift-up bridges, from a statue of poet Philip Larkin at the railway station to fish carved in the pavements.  The sun shone, the river Humber sparkled, and it all looked surprisingly prosperous and nice.

On Thursday I explored more by myself (Dave being parked in his meetings all day) and discovered the Maritime Museum, free to enter with detailed displays on the whaling and deep sea fishing trades that flourished in the town in past centuries.  Some of the whaling stuff was a little too strong for my stomach, but the information about the whaling boats' frequent trips to Greenland was fascinating.

Finally, yesterday morning we drove over to the top of Spurn Head, a long narrow strip of land surrounded by the sea on both sides, which was formed by erosion and deposition along the coast.  Again the sun shone and a brisk wind blew waves crashing along the explosed seaward side; a mile or so further up the coast you could see huge chunks of the cliff broken off where the sea has eaten away at the land.  On the quieter, estuarine side we spotted vast flocks of wading birds, and a hare, dashing along the shore at a great rate of knots.  Sadly we couldn't walk right along the Point because it was full of lorries, tractors and men working hard to repair the breach which happened during last winter's storms.  It was still fascinating, though, and a lovely wild and windswept end to a very enjoyable trip.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Popping Up in Kendal

Yesterday I dashed over to Kendal for a couple of things.  One was a talk by author Davina Blake about her novel 'Past Encounters', the other a visit to Kendal's new "pop up shop", where the council let out an empty shop unit to aspiring traders on a cut price, week by week basis.  I had thought it might be fun for a group of local (and local-ish) authors to take over the place and use it to sell our books.  However, a quick look round yesterday suggests it may not best suit our needs, as it's very small and very, very basic.  For anyone who's already set up in the trading business, or who wants to own a shop and doesn't mind buying all the equipment first, it's fine.  For us, possibly less so, but it was interesting to go and see it.

The shop comes with a separate, lockable storage unit in a building across the yard at the back.  I also had a chance for a quick peek inside this and it was fascinating, because it apparently used to house either police cells, or the town lock up.  You can still see two tiny rooms, which look like toilet cubicles only without the plumbing, built into the thickness of the walls.  Kendal never fails to amaze me - everywhere you look there's some new and unexpected slice of history.

Davina Blake's talk, at Kendal Library, more than made up for any shortcomings of the pop up shop.  Her book, a World War 2 historical/romance, is set against two main backdrops - one, the filming of 'Brief Encounter' at Carnforth railway station, and two, the so-called Long March to Freedom of Allied POWs towards the end of the war.  The story of how Davina set about research both elements made for an entertaining hour, with lots of illustrations and a cup of tea and a cake thrown in!