Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Preston Wigmaker

Today's post nearly didn't happen. You would think, wouldn't you, that a new computer would be reliable for a good while. I got my new PC just before Christmas and, on the whole, I've been happy with it. However, over the last couple of weeks, strange things have been happening with it. I found that I couldn't load programs that I had been able to use before and one new program kept crashing. I would have thought it was a virus, but I run Norton 360 and I've never had a problem with it in the past. The obvious thing to blame was the new program, the one that kept crashing, so i tried to remove it using System Restore, and it failed. It claimed to have moved the computer back by 10 days, but all the software was still the way it had been that morning. So I bit the bullet and this morning I wiped the Hard Disc and reinstalled Windows. At the moment the only thing running is Office, but Pat neded to do something that only needed Word and the Printer, so I picked up the laptop that is Pat's and here I am.

The day after my walk in Manor Park that is described below, we set off for a weekend at Willersley Castle near Cromford in Derbyshire. Here is the view out of our bedroom window on Saturday Morning.

It wasn't the best weather in the world that weekend, but I still wouldn't mind waking up to that view every day. I won't bother describing our weekend much for we went for a Parish weekend with people from our Church. Had a really good time, listened to some interesting talks, ate some very good food and had a good, quiet and interesting time.

The point of the blog, though, is not to talk about our weekend, but about Cromford Mill. The mill is about a half mile from the Castle and I think it is really special. Here is a picture:


So why would I think that this scruffy little pile of bricks is in any way important. Well, in 1732 in Preston, Lancashire, a young man was born who, to my mind, was going to change the world. He is no hero of mine, I actually think he was an unprincipled rogue, but at least he was no Adolf Hitler, just a rogue. His name was Richard Arkwright and he grew up to be a wig maker. I always thought that being a wig maker was an odd sort of occupation to be a world changer. But around about 1765 Richard Arkwright invented an ingenious Cotton Spinning Engine called "The Water Frame". Up until that point all the machines that had been invented to speed up the process of making cloth had been operated by human power or animal power. Machines like the Spinning Jenny were small enough to be used in the home. The water Frame was not. It was a big machine and it needed an external power supply, running water (hence its name). So it made more economic sense to have a lot of them, all together in one place, and use one water source to power them all. So Arkwright borrowed money and set up the very first "manufactory" in the history of the world.

This is him, Richard Arkwright, the Preston Wigmaker who changed the world. The reason that I don't particularly like him is not because he became rich and famous, good luck to him. Not because he built his mill at Cromford in Derbyshire, that he became Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire (I think) or that he built, and lived in Willersley Castle. But I rather think that his Waterframe was actually built by someone else, a man called Lewis Paul, whose name does not feature in the History books at all. So it goes, I suppose.

I have one other gripe really, and this is not about Arkwright. The mill he built at Cromford is in a pretty dire state. It just strikes me that in this country we want to preserve our heritage, but we are quite selective about the heritage we want to preserve. Go to Styal Mill and it is well preserved and draws in crowds like nobody's business in summer. It's a pretty mill you see, and Cromford is not.

And that is just about that, for this evening. Jasper, by the way, spent his weekend in a doggy hotel in Denton, Manchester. Poor dear, he was loved to bits. Jasper's fan club extends to Denton as well. See you soon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Da spring is sprung

Okay then, here we go again, I hope. This post harks back to the 11th February, a Thursday. I remember it well. That night I knew that we were holding a PCC Meeting at Church and, for my sins, I'm Secretary of the PCC as well as the other things that I do. So I really fancied a walk. I knew that the PCC Meeting would be a long one and I also knew that it was going to be cold. Our Church is about 800 years old and it gets cold on a cold winter's night. So the thought of a walk was great. However, I was still suffering with the twisted knee and twisted ankle that I had done the other week.

Then there was my doggie, Jasper. I mean, look at this little face, how can you say "NO" to a walk with him.

By the way, this picture arises from the teacher at my Evening School class in Digital Imaging suggesting that I get in closer to my subject. I think this is a lovely picture of a very wayward dog, but then I'm biased.

So, anyway,  I needed a fairly short walk, and a fairly level walk. It was my lovely wife who suggested Manor Park. That was a good idea. Manor Park is in our local town, Glossop, a couple of miles away from where I live. Actually, it's not in Glossop, but rather in Old Glossop which is just outside the modern town of Glossop itself.  I'm not going to pretend to know the history of the park really well, because I don't. However,  up until the early part of the 20th Century the park that now is formed a part of the manorial holdings of the Howard Family, who are the Dukes of Norfolk. The Norfolk family are the ones who feature throughout British History as one of the central families. To this day the Duke of Norfolk is the Hereditary Lord Marshall of England. I think that means that he organises state events like Royal Weddings, Funerals and such, but anyway that is getting away from the story.

In the early part of the 20th Century the, then, Duke must have given up on Glossop and left. I must look it up in a local history book. However, in leaving, he gave away parts of his estate to the people of Glossop, and part of his gardens became Manor Park. Interestingly, (well it's interesting to me, you can still see bits of stonework, arches and lintels and that sort of thing in the garden walls of quite ordinary houses.) There is no Manor House, though, or at least none that I can see, and I have no idea what happened to it. Maybe what happened to the House is why he left. Or maybe he just gave up on killing grouse.

So Jasper and I were dropped off near the entrance to the park and enjoyed a very pleasant hour wandering about among the frozen puddles and frozen plant beds. But it was a lovely day, the sun was shining, there was no wind, it was very pleasant indeed. And here is the first herald of Spring that I have seen in Glossopdale. We were just walking up a path almost smothered in bushes when there, almost at my feet, we saw some snowdrops.


I don't doubt that this is nothing special to anybody else who reads this, you've probably had snowdrops out since December and are now into the full bloom of roses, but we are quite high up here in Glossopdale and we often realise that our plants and flowers are weeks behind other places. This was a real fillip to me. makes me think that Spring is really only a little way away. Despite the fact that it snowed quite heavily the day before yesterday, it didn't stick.
We wandered on, don't worry, Jasper avoided trampling the snowdrops into the ground by dint of the fact that I kept him on a short lead until we got away from them. He was very much more interested in the ducks and geese that were having fun on the duck pond. Here is one who kept on having great fun splashing water all over every other duck.

Jasper wanted to chase, Oh how he wanted to chase, but I am a right meanie.

Then we walked up the back of the park. The ground rises quite steeply at the back of the park, and I got a picture of a rather grand set of steps that come from nowhere and go nowhere either, but clearly, once upon a time things were different.

Then we walked home. Looking back on it, though, it was a lovely walk that we both enjoyed. Jasper and I have long conversations on these walks of ours. I must admit that they do tend to be rather one sided and I think this may be the reason why I am shunned by all the right thinking people of Glossopdale, but who cares. I am fed up of winter. I've had winter up to the back teeth and now I want Spring and the promise of better days to come.

We have booked our holiday, we are off to Ireland in June. Life is good, I hope.

By the way, I must just add my thanks to Ann for the lovely comment that you left. It is really nice to know that anyone but me reads this. Not that it really matters as I write this for the fun of it, not because of who may, but probably won't, read it. My knee is feeling better and better every day following last week's surgery. I have a follow up appointment to remove the stitches or whatever, next week, then I can get back to the regimen of walking. Just in time for spring.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mea Culpa

Don't really know what the title of this post means, to be honest, but if it means "Sorry" then it will do. It is now some two weeks since I last posted to the blog, and I really don't want to get any more out of touch with it than I am. In that last couple of weeks I've done a few things that I want to write about, just not tonight.

I managed a couple of good walks with Jasper that I want to mention, and I got some nice photographs at the time as well. I discovered the helpful soothing effects of Ibuprofen on a twisted ankle. Pat and I went on a weekend away in Cromford, further down in the county of Derbyshire, and I spent a couple of days in Hospital having minor surgery on my knee. It may have been mionor but it hurt quite badly at first. Also, as my friend puts it, being a fairly substantial sort of bloke, they bung more anaesthetic in me than they do in skinny people. That has left me feeling rather listless and lazy for a few days, but hopefully I am starting to come out of it a bit now.

So, hopefully, I will be back with a vengeance in the next few days. Unfortunately, my laissez faire attitude has not just extended to the blog, but to just about everything else in recent days, so I need to do some other jobs as well, and just at the time when the new computer has decided to have a hissy fit. Something has gone wrong in the Registry and all sorts of odd and weird things have started to happen. This may be the herald of a rebuild, which will be long and painful, but which will work.

At least a rebuild will not destroy all my data, fiungers crossed.

Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Evening

I'll be honest, I don't really feel like writing much today, but it's been a couple of days and I mustn't let things slip again. It's rather murky tonight, a bit damp but not raining at least. I felt really sorry for the eastern coastal states of America yesterday. The news had pictures of the snow in DC. Now, I don't know anyone in Washington, but at the end of the news piece they showed a graphic of the weather covering everything from Washington upwards. I have a friend from College days who works at the University of New Hampshire and lives in, I guess, a small town called Lee. I feel a bit worried for him and his wife. Still, I think that they have a nice house so I'm sure they will be OK. I must remember to email him tomorrow.

Borrrrrrrrrrrris' book, "Lutte Majeur" turned up in the post yesterday afternoon. I haven't "read" it yet, but I looked through it and I have to say that I am very impressed by the drawing skills. I can't comment on the storyline as it's all in French, but then I only ever bought it for Borrrris' drawings. I will comment more on this book in a day or three. However, one very interesting point, for me at least, was the provenance of the book. I originally tried to buy it from but, while admitting that the book existed, they said that they did not know when, if ever, it would be available in England. So I had to buy it from the French site. I had to pay French prices which Danielle tells me are higher than English prices, and I believe her. However, isn't it interesting that when it arrived on saturday it came from the Amazon Warehouse in Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, in an cardboard book cover, delivered by the Royal mail. That book has never been to France but they had the nerve to charge French prices for it. I have a good mind to send them an email of complaint.


My knee and ankle meant that today's walk with Jasper was quite short, over a familiar route, and the weather was not very good for photography, so no picture today.

I feel the need to go into Manchester soon. Knee and ankle willing. I love looking at the pictures Danielle takes on the streets of Paris, and I feel the need to go looking for something similar in Manchester.

I'll keep you informed. A tout a l'heure!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Plus gris que le gris de ma vie


Unfortunately we don't have a lot of parrots living around us in North West England, for I could have done with a picture of a poorly parrot this morning. Then I could have used a heading like "Sick As A Parrot!". However, as I say, with a singular lack of parrots I have had to fall back on this group of inordinately brassed off looking sheep. I took this on, what Monday or Tuesday when the rain was pouring down from leaden skies. Sheep in this neck of the woods are hardy beasts, after all they live outdoors in all weathers. At the start of January, with 16 inches of snow on the ground, they were out there foraging for food, but when I took this picture they were huddling. I feel a lot like them today.
They say bad things come in threes, so yesterday counts as a bad day plus.

It started with Jasper. Like an awful lot of Spaniels he suffers from glands at the bottom of his bottom that get full of something which smells like you wouldn't believe. You can tell when they become painful because he starts running in circles trying to bite his tail. When that happens we just take him to the vet who cleans them out, it takes about 45 seconds and costs us twenty pounds. I must learn how to clean them out myself as it will save me a fortune. At the moment they seem to need cleaning about every six weeks.

So I made an appointment at the vet's clinic for 2 pm. I thought, I'll save on going out twice, I'll walk there and back, about two miles each way, and that will be the Loony Dog's walk for the day as well. So I set off at 1 pm, by 1.30 |I was well on the way, just turning into Spire Hollin (that's a road), stepped on a patch of ice I hadn't seen because the pavement looked fine and down I went. At the moment the big muscle in my left leg is not strong enough to fully support me, so if I slip on my right leg, my left just collapses under me. Yesterday I went down pretty hard. A passing Carpenter's van pulled up and this young bloke of mid twenties got out and helped me up. 

However, as soon as I was on my feet I realised that I had twisted my ankle. Not awfully badly, but badly enough for walking to be uncomfortable. Is there a good reason why mobile phones stop working when you really need them, or is it just mine. I could have done with a lift to the vets at that point, but no phone meant no lift. So I had to walk about a half mile, or rather hobble, to the Adult Education Centre where Pat was having her art lesson. Then we went to the vet's together in her car. Twenty minutes later and twenty pounds lighter we were back home. What else can go wrong today?

About five o'clock Jasper threw up the entire contents of his stomach all over Pat's feet and the kitchen floor. Poor love, he had not looked right all day. That was thing number two. Not much of a disaster as they go, except for Jasper. He is such a bouncy, vital dog that when he is off form he looks really awful. He spent the rest of the evening cuddled in to whichever of us was sitting nearest to his bean bag. 

So, what else can go wrong today? About 9 pm I was upstairs messing around with photographs on my computer when Pat called me downstairs. In the middle of our snug, the new room we created from what was once our Dining Room, water was merrily dripping from the electric light and making a pretty puddle in the middle of the new solid wood flooring. Now the ceiling that the water was dripping from was newly plastered last summer, when the roof gave way and the ceiling collapsed. That new roof had only been in place for six months and the guy who fitted it promised us it was guaranteed not to fail for twenty five years.

I rang him up, by now it was ten o'clock because I'd turned off the power, using a flashlight I had taken the light fitting down and disconnected the electric cable from the light and up twisted the cables so that water was no longer dripping from a live wire. Then put the electric back on. So at ten at night I rang Alf, the roofer. He is a good bloke and lives locally, which was one of the reasons we employed him in the first place, but I don't think he expected a phone call at ten pm saying that a roof he fitted six months ago was leaking. 

But it has to be the roof. The only thing up there is ceiling boards, insulation, electric cables and roof. It's an extension, so there is no upper floor with central heating pipes that can leak. The funny thing is, it hadn't rained all day. We've had some awfully wet days and no water dripping down the lights, then on a dry day it starts to drip. What is going on.

Anyway, he has promised to come round today. If it had been me I'd have been round first thing, but it's now getting on for twelve noon and there is no sign of Alf yet. Ah well.

That's three things though. Yes. Please agree with me! I can't take another day like this!

See you soon. Oh, I'll include this rather nifty piece of ornament I saw at the edge of someone's garden yesterday, before I fell over. It's not exactly your usual garden gnome. See you soon.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rainy days and Tuesdays always get me!

Absolutely pouring down today. Drenching. Still, it doesn't put Jasper the Loony Spaniel off his stride. I have no idea why he was limping on Sunday, probably just being mardy. By Monday he was ready for a walk so we went up to the park, over the hill and down into Glossop and then home along Dinting Road. About 90 minutes and very enjoyable, except the bit coming down Ashes Lane which must be close to 40 degrees, and on Monday it was quite icy. Still, we survived.

Today we just went a shortish walk again, along the Transpenine Trail to Padfield and back through the village, probably no more than 2 or three miles. I managed to fall over quite dramatically though. At one point on the trail there was a rainwater puddle across the entire track. I stepped into the puddle only to discover that the bottom of the puddle was a sheet of ice, and down I went. My leg just isn't strong enough to stop me from falling in a situation like that. Still, I was already wet from the rain so I just got up and carried on. The walking probably kept my knee from going daft.

Jasper and I very nearly came to blows though. There is a very big field on the walk and in better weather the farmer keeps his sheep or cows and sometimes both in this field. Today, though, there was nothing, or so I thought. So I let jasper have a run because I thought we were far enough away from the main road. What I hadn't noticed, though, was a flock of Canada Geese roosting on the ground a couple of hundred yards away. Jasper had spotted them and played dumb. So when I let him off he ran after the geese as fast as his little legs would carry him. No way was he catching the geese, but he would not come back to me either. He is a stubborn little devil at times. At one point I thought that he had run away, but he was only way off in the distance having found a puddle of mud to jump in. When he eventually came back he was not a brown and white Spaniel, but a solid brown one. I have learned my lesson, he won't be running loose in that field again for a good long time.

I heard one of my favourite songs on the radio the other morning. Piaf singing Aznavour's song "Plus bleu de le bleu de tes yeux". One of these days I will tell how I came to fall in love with Piaf's singing, but not today. I really love songs because they are a poetry all of their own and, certainly with many songs, the words are not too difficult. I was looking at the lyrics of "Plus bleu" on an internet site and comparing what I thought it meant with what Google Translate threw up. As usual Google Translate is okay for giving you a general feeling for what something is about but naff all good at all for telling you a good translation.

Then I found a translation of the song done by Monique Adriaansen & Mel Priddle. Now, the words are not a straight translation but I actually like the way that they have put the song / poem together. I mean, if you take the first two verses of the original song, ...

Plus bleu que le bleu de tes yeux
Je ne vois rien de mieux
Même le bleu des cieux
Plus blond que tes cheveux dorés
Ne peut s'imaginer
Même le blond des blés

You get, I think, something like this: ......

More blue than the blue of your eyes
I see nothing better
Even the blue of the skies
Fairer than your golden hair
Cannot be imagined
Even the golden corn
 That, by the way is me and my French / English Dictionary trying to work it out, but it just doesn't work in English.

Now here, is the transliteration done by Adriaansen & Priddle, and even though they have taken the words a bit of a way away from the original, I think it preserves the feeling of the original song. Well, that's what I think anyway, and you can disagree with me all you like, this is my blog after all.


A blue like the blue of your eyes
When they're full of surprise
Isn't found in the skies
A cornfield in clear open air
Couldn't hope to compare
With the gold of your hair

A softening wind in July
Would be foolish to try
To compare with your sigh
The strength of a storm on the sea
Couldn't possibly be
Like the strength of my love

A blue like the blue of your eyes
Isn't found in the skies
Or the glow up above

If one day you decide to go your merry way
My life would become filled with dismay
Filled with dismay

A sky full of rain wouldn't say
It was nearly as grey
As the grey of the day
The darkest of nights wouldn't dare to claim
It could compare
With my aching despair

You laugh at me when I'm like this
Then you softly dismiss
All my fears with a kiss
My fool of a heart then takes flight
Almost mad with delight
Like a skylark above

The blue that I see in the skies
Can't compare with your eyes
When their shining with love

I will happily admit that there are bits of the transliterated song that I think are weaker, but on the whole, I think that it is a good attempt, and I like it. Kind of reminds me of "When we walked in fields of gold", but that is probably only the reference to wheat that slips in there. It doesn't have quite the rhythm and cadence of the original French, but it's not bad. Not bad at all.

I went to my evening class on digital imaging, by the way. There were four students and the teacher, and I really enjoyed it. Nothing much to tell for the moment, but as we go along, I'll let you share some of the things that come out of this class. No pictures today, it was too wet and miserable to be bothered taking my camera out of my pocket, but who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Till we meet again

Faites des beau reves.