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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Back Garden Charnel House

Mr & Mrs Pheasant. In their pomp - Early April 

Comrade Foy recently wrote a nice, witty blog post about a wounded woodpigeon. Unfortunately, this year we have not been so fortunate. Yesterday B called me into our back garden as she had spotted a dead blackbird in the back border. This has been the fourth casualty.

On two occasions, greenfinches have flown into our conservatory windows and died.

Two months ago, I heard a very loud crash against the kitchen window. I went out to look and found Mrs Pheasant dead under the roses. B came out and we had a discussion as to what to do with the corpse. This is a large, meaty piece of game, a real shame to waste it but we are townies, we don't know how to dress a bird, how to pluck, gut and hang game. B had an idea. At her stables, there are lots of country folk who would have the necessary skills, she would put a message on the stables' Facebook page. Sure enough, within ten minutes some one had claimed the bird.

Last Monday, I travelled over the hills to visit my parents in Cheshire. I was telling them about the passing of Mrs Pheasant and my father said we should have asked him to dress it. He were a lad during the War and did not see service. He does not talk about the War very often but this time he told how his cousin was the Butchery Manager at the local Co-op store, responsible for ensuring the rationing regime was complied with but that the cousin was always on the lookout for a few extra shillings. He had a flock of chickens and my father had to look after them after school. On occasion this would involve the demise of a bird and my father learnt how to ring a neck and pluck and dress the bird. What he did not say was whether the bird was eaten by the family or went into the black market where it would have a good price tag. A nice little bit of history from my father.

Mr Pheasant continues to visit our garden for lunch, just not so frequently or noisily.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Mission : Impossible FALLOUT

Last weekend's trip to CityScreen cinema in York.

I thought it was excellent, a good piece of fun, very entertaining but definitely not to be taken seriously. B found it OK but boring in parts.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

North Yorkshire Abbeys

On Sunday morning we visited a couple of abbeys.

We live a few miles from the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. When I say "the moors", a lot of people imagine areas they have seen in films, such as Wuthering Heights or Hound of the Baskervilles. In the North Yorks Moors there are areas like that but most of it is farmland or wooded, with steep sided valleys, rather like green oases. During the 12th - 15th centuries, these valleys were remote and easily cut off from towns and cities during winter. They were ideal for the religious orders of monks and a number of abbeys were built. When King Henry VIII broke from the Catholic church and established the Church of England, the abbeys were "dissolved", the monks and lay brothers were thrown out, the abbeys and all their lands were sold. The abbeys were then stripped of their lead and other metals and timbers and the stone used for other buildings. This has left a number of ruins; today these ruins are very carefully managed and maintained by a HM Government agency, English Heritage and they are a major attraction for tourists and families.

We were en route to Rievaulx Abbey but we passed another abbey, Bylands Abbey, that was deserted so we stopped to have a look around. Also, Bylands Abbey is undergoing some restoration works and so it is free entry at the moment.

After thirty minutes, we drove on another 10miles to Rievaulx Abbey (pronounced Reevoh). This is more into the Moors which probably saved it from a lot of the stone from being taken away.

A new Visitors' Centre has been built

The main buildings

The Abbey church

Inside, looking from the altar down the nave

The very large cloister, with the wooded valley side behind.

Reconstructed bit of the cloister

The tannery

The refectory

On site is a small museum of found objects, this is thought to be Jesus

A winged devil

This shows grain being delivered by packhorse to the on-site windmill
We finished in time for lunch on the terrace of the new cafe. Rievaulx is very popular at weekends with families. We also heard several different European languages being spoken. After lunch we retreated to our home, around 17 miles, to escape the sun for a couple of hours.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

LUT Guy Arab

Walking back home from the Post Office, I had to go up the hill towards the parish church. Parked up outside the church was this lovely bus on wedding duties. It is a Guy Arab V, new in 1964, and operated by Lancashire United Transport (LUT). Now preserved at a transport museum, it has the occasional run-out. I did not have my camera with me so these two photos are from t'internet.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Oscar Wilde, Barry Lyndon and Nude Cyclists

Of late, the weather in the UK has been very warm and sunny. I have taken to retreating indoors for lunch and early afternoon. I went to the Cityscreen cinema for two consecutive days.


This is very good film about the final years of Oscar Wilde, after he left prison. He was in dire financial circumstances, living in hotels in France. The film was written, directed and starred Rupert Everett, his masterpiece, a real tour de force. I loved the film, great acting, magnificent mise en scene, but very sad.

Oscar Wilde is buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery, we visited the grave in 2014.


Back at the cinema for an afternoon showing of "Barry Lyndon", part of a season of the films of Stanley Kubrick. This was the first time I had seen it on a big screen and it was marvellous.

Nude cyclists.

Those readers of a delicate disposition should stop reading now.

On Saturday evening, when we left the cinema we found there was a demonstration taking place. Around 80 cyclists were on the "Annual Naked Bike Ride", they were protesting to raise awareness of the "Vulnerability of Humans on the Roads". There were bikes and riders of all shapes and sizes.

Best of all, they were met with lots of laughter and giggles and general good humour. Even the police officers thought it was funny.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Jurassic York

A couple of days ago, we drove into York to visit CityScreen cinema. Walking from the car park to the town centre, we passed the Yorkshire Museum when we met these two escapees.

The Museum's current main attraction is "Yorkshire's Jurassic World"and the two escapees were out to scare up some more visitors. I'm sure it was just coincidence that many UK cinemas are showing the new Jurassic World film.

This was the film B wanted to see and as I enjoyed the previous Jurassic Park films, I went along as well.

"Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom" is the fifth outing of the prehistoric creatures and, again, the dinosaurs, the island and the other CGI images are terrific. As usual, the main protagonists have to escape from the island and not be devoured by a dinosaur. Nothing complicated, nothing deep, but good fun and good entertainment.

Trying not to be eaten - Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard (and a n other)

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

U3A York Silent Film Group "Napoleon"

Yesterday - what a day. Around a dozen of us gathered in York to watch Abel Gance's silent film of "Napoleon"

In the mid-twenties, Abel Gance filmed part one (of a proposed six part) biography of Napoleon Bonaparte. He spent several years in writing and filming and it was released in 1927. Part one is around six hours long and only covers Napoleon's schooldays in Brienne, the Revolution, his marriage to Josephine and Napoleon's campaign in Italy, up to 1797. Gance had spent approximately 70% of the budget and so did not proceed with parts two to six. We watched the British Film Institutes's restored version on four DVDs which has an excellent orchestral score by Carl Davis and Beethoven.

We started at 09:30 and finished at 16:40, with around 60 minutes for breaks and lunch. I think we were all captivated by this visually stunning film.

Albert Dieudonné as Napoleon

Three camera/screen shot of Napoleon on left looking over the camp of the Army of Italy

Oops - wrong Napoleon

Abel Gance had a role as Saint-Just

Dieudonné on set

Camera team keeping up with the cavalry