I never tire of this view when I get the chance. The light is never the same twice. Here the air is so clear you can see the hills of the Forest of Bowland sharply delineated on the horizon.
It’s been a long time but it’s a new year and it’s the fifth anniversary of this blog, so it’s time to chronicle the fine town of Barrow with a photo a day again.
To start afresh, here’s a shot of the waves on the beach at Sandy Gap.
Crowds packed the courtyard of the 300-year-old Queens Arms at Biggar, on Walney, yesterday for the first Queens Arms Music Festival. From noon to midnight (and I suspect a good while afterwards in the back room) a procession of performers of folk, blues and country-rock played half-hour sets on the Old Pallet Stage. Glastonbury it wasn’t, which might be no bad thing (we had warm sunshine, at least until the sun went down when it became surprisingly chilly, and no mud, no crush, no prima donnas and better beer!)
A grand day out all round. More pictures of the event here.
Not, in fact, Little Gulls (Larus minutus) but chicks of our old friend Barrow’s own gull, the Lesser Black-Backed (L Fuscus). I reckon these two are about two weeks old and are only just beginning to acquire their wing feathers.
I noted in my private journal that I saw the first chicks, as tiny, spotty balls of fluff, on 25 May. I’ve been watching them just about every day since; those first chicks are now, less than four weeks on, as big as their parents, have their flight feathers, and are almost ready to start jumping up and down trying to fly. That won’t take long and by August they’ll be swooping round the docks, getting ready to fly to the Mediterranean in September.
The gull colony shares their space – former railway sidings now kept surrounded by razor wire as a cordon sanitaire by the shipyard – with a warren of rabbits. The rabbits and the gulls get along just fine, but let a magpie in and there’s sure to be trouble. They aren’t madly keen on humans with cameras getting too close either so one has to take the chance when one can.
I felt like being creative at the weekend.
Three cheap wine glasses that don’t fit in any of my cupboards, a box of Price’s utility candles, and some wax crayons produced this colourful trio.
I could enjoy this kind of thing. I could even make them for sale, maybe. What do you think?
Tomorrow night I’m hosting the Friday Quiz at the Queens Arms, Biggar so any spare time I’ve had today has been devoted to devising fiendish questions to flummox the punters. If you’re in the area why not come along? The quiz is always good fun.
So in the absence of a fresh photo here’s another take on one of my favourite subjects; the view from the Walney Bridge. This time on a high tide at twilight. Enjoy!
I caught this shot of the sign outside the riding school at Biggar, on Walney, last night as I was leaving the pub. The sky was absolutely terrific and the light quite magical.
Have I mentioned that I’m now hanging out here?
The little village – barely a hamlet actually – of Biggar is a bit of an oddity. It’s one of the original farming settlements on Walney, and it’s been there since long before Barrow existed, never mind there being a bridge over to Walney. It sits huddled against the saltmarshes of the Walney Channel and before the bridge, before the ferry, the only way to the mainland was by boat or by walking across a causeway at low tide. Even now it feels a bit weird, with an end-of-all-things atmosphere in its remote isolation. But like all of Walney it remains firmly within the Borough of Barrow-in-Furness, as it was in the old County Borough before that. There’s no bus service; it’s either a car along one of two narrow lanes or a half-hour walk from Ocean Road, and perhaps that’s why it’s been colonised by some of Barrow’s most affluent residents.
The only reason non-residents might want to visit has been the Queens Arms. Its location was its unique selling point and its location is superb with its proximity to the beach, stunning views and general sense of rus in urbem, but in recent years it hadn’t been much more than just ok. It did a reasonable if unadventurous evening meal but the beer was only so-so and the atmosphere not particularly welcoming. In the end, a couple of years ago, it closed.
It stayed closed for over a year. And then something remarkable happened. Two women, Mary Rudkin and Julie Matthews, from Bolton were tipped off about the vacant property by a friend. Neither had any experience of running a pub, but they threw themselves into reviving the Queens Arms with gusto. Out went the tat provided by the brewery and pubco marketing people. In came an assortment of genuine bric-a-brac, a piano, books, games, jigsaws, and a bank of six handpumps.
It took me until a warm Saturday at the beginning of April when I diverted from the beach to check out what was happening, and barely had I stepped inside the door and ordered a pint of locally-brewed beer than I felt like an old friend dropping in. Local children were engaged in making bunting – not your average red, white and blue bunting but bunting made of scraps of old dresses and curtains. I picked up a programme of events and my eyes nearly popped out. There are Friday quizzes, a book club, a film club, an art class (Mary, an artist, is considering turning derelict outbuildings into an art gallery), a “knit and knatter” night, and the pièce de résistance the Wednesday night buffets, where everybody shares a table and for a modest GBP 15.00 gets what they are given; an imaginative four-course meal provided by Julie, often using produce from the garden or foraged from the local hedgerows. (I haven’t tried this yet but I’m lining it up for my birthday treat in August). If you want to try this, and from what I hear it’s worth every penny, phone Julie or Mary on 01229 471880.
No, they haven’t paid me for this item. It really has become a special kind of place, and although it takes me an hour to walk there of an evening (but what a walk!) it’s definitely my local from now on. As it happens I’m going there tonight, it’s now the venue for my new writers group, the Regal Writers, and we’re having our second meeting there this evening.
I think it’s time we blew the cobwebs off this site, don’t you?
One of the amazing things about this internet of hours is that dear old Pie and Mushies continues to get a regular stream of hits eighteen months after I last posted to it. So somebody must think it provides a service. So there’s no good reason not to pick it up again.
The reason it ground to a halt in November 2009 is that my little Nikon digital camera turned up its little toes that month after three-and-a-half years service and, in this throwaway world of ours, nobody was much interested in fixing it. My other workhorse, the Nikon FG, is still going strong after thirty years but is now confined to black-and-white work. But I have a new little digital camera now and so there’s no more excuse.
Former followers will note that the title of the blog has reverted to what it was unofficially known as anyway. When I started it, it was part of the City Daily Photo Project and they didn’t like my choice of title so they made me change it. But I no longer feel any connection with that, so I can go my own way again, and not confine myself to photos of the town either.
Expect some pithy comment to come then. And don’t expect our civic representatives (or anybody else) to escape unscathed!
I think I may have done this once before, but what the hell.
It’s Remembrance Day, and as it happens I travelled to Lancaster today to stock up on coffee and tea at my favourite coffee shop (this one, since you ask. They do mail order but the shop itself is a little wonder in this day and age).
So I passed twice through the station ticket hall, and was once again reminded of this plaque to the men of the Furness Railway who fell in the Great War. It was displayed in the Barrow Central Station until the station was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in WW2. The bomb-damaged plaque is now in the new station.