Day out: Kingsbury

Part of Kingsbury village from the new hide on the sand martin bank. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Kingsbury Water Park in the midlands is a good day out for us.

There are walks and bird hides and other places of interest and things to do and see. But, more importantly, it’s right off the M42 motorway, so when we’ve been to visit my parents, it’s easy enough to bob in and have a visit.

Plus, it’s where we tried our tent out last year at Easter when the tent was still very new.

We had planned to do a walk around one of the lakes. It was a lovely day and the poet wanted to try out his new polarising filter.

Kingsbury Water Park, River Tame. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So we made sure we got to my parents’ in good time to drop in on the way back home …

… but as we approached the roundabout leading to the park we had second thoughts. Everyone else, it seemed, had had the same idea, and the traffic was backed up a loooong way.

We had a picnic with us, though, and it was time for us to eat. So instead of going to the water park, we headed to the old village of Kingsbury, which is just around the back of the park.

Kingsbury Water Park, Old Kingsbury Village. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

There we found a church car park with a nice view, and we had our picnic. Then we put the dog’s lead on and explored the churchyard to see what else there was to see.

Well, imagine our pleasure when we realised that one of the footpaths led right into the back of the water park – and we didn’t have to pay a car park admission either! Result.

So we had a stroll along what looks like a new-ish trail beside the sand martin bank. This feature was only completed in February, in partnership with the Tame Valley Wetlands.The martins aren’t here yet, though. But we may drop in again when they’ve arrived.

Jet-ski, Kingsbury Water Park. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Fortunately, not many people had the same ideas as us in approaching the park from this side, but we did catch up with the crowds when we decided against an ice-cream as the queue for the ice-cream-van was almost as long as the traffic queue into the park.

The poet exercised his camera muscles with a few scenic shots, and then we made our way over to a lake where there were jet-skis in action. Oh joy! Here was where he could try out his new filter.

Jet-ski, Kingsbury Water Park. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Once he was happy with the day’s product, we went back to the car and headed home.

It was very sunny and this new trail has very little shade. It will probably get very hot – and very busy – in the summer months. Maybe next time we’ll get there a little earlier, but at least we know where to park if we bump into traffic again.

Exhibition: The Cribs, Wakefield One – 15 February to July 2017

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Drummer Ross Jarman. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Tuesday, Diane’s Gig List was invited to the unveiling of a new exhibition at Wakefield One.

The Cribs were formed in Wakefield in 2002 by three brothers: twins Ryan and Gary Jarman on guitar and bass, and younger brother Ross on drums.

To celebrate their award-winning achievements, a small display has been set-up at the library in Wakefield.

There are three display units containing the bands’ instruments and memorabilia, some of which will be left with the library at the end of the display.

Drummer Ross Jarman unveiled the display on Tuesday 14 February in front of a small crowd, and he subsequently carried out interviews with the press before chatting with visitors who had come to see him.

You can find more photographs on Diane’s Gig List’s Facebook page, and this report also appears on Diane’s Gig List’s reviews page.

The exhibition runs until July 2017. Entry is free.

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)
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Day out: Whitby

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Whitby Harbour (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We were supposed to be going for a walk on New Year bank holiday Monday, only a short one, around 2½ miles. But there was a LOT of traffic on the way, with traffic on the A64 just starting to build up on the opposite side of the road to us.

By the time we got to Whitby, found a parking space in the marina car park, and then wasted 30 minutes or more queuing at the car park meter and then trying to get it to work, the light was already going. (The meter wasn’t letting anyone use their payment cards, including us, and we were going to pay by phone until a kind soul with a pocketful of change came to our rescue with five pound coins in exchange for a fiver.)

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

When we started out, it was a gloriously sunny day. By the time we arrived, we could see the rain clouds creeping in from the sea. And the town was already very, VERY busy. It was past lunchtime and I was starving.

So before we could even reach the start of our walk, we also had to eat – and the first restaurant is already half a mile from where we ended up parking.

Suitably sated, we strolled through the town to the beginning of our walk, the 199 steps up to the abbey. On the way the poet was able to try out his new camera and his new lens.

The dog was very well-behaved, considering the amount of pedestrians that were out in force. He was more than happy to let “all these people who had come to see him” fuss and stroke him. And he “helped” me up those 199 steps.

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199 steps (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We posed on the first stage with the sea behind us while the poet took a picture (not here, but it will be on FB when his picture is ready too), and I had to keep the dog on a tight lead in case he fell to the ground beneath us – it must be a fifteen-foot drop from that first “landing”.

At the top we had a breather while the poet wandered around taking more pictures. Then we made an attempt on the rest of the 2½-mile walk, having already completed a mile before we started.

The guide book we have is an older one and when we couldn’t find the path alongside the “last farm building on the left” to the Cleveland Way, we changed tack anyway. (The path that is indeed alongside the “last farm building on the left” has a shiny new “private” sign on it, so we’ll take a look at the OS map and see if it’s still a right of way before attempting it again.)

Because the clouds were rolling in now with a vengeance, we knew there wouldn’t be very much more “good” light for the photography. Plus, the traffic jam had meant that we were, and would continue to be if it was the same on the way home, a long time away from the house.

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Whitby Harbour (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We wanted to get back to the chickens before the fox got there, and while they’re very good now at taking themselves to bed once it’s turned dark, we still need to close the door to keep the fox out.

So at the English Heritage car park for the abbey, we decided to head back to the car via Caedmon’s Trod. This is an easier staircase and it meant we wouldn’t be re-tracing to many steps.

I felt a bit over-dressed in all my walking gear and with a rucksack containing water for us and the dog if all we were doing was a short town walk. But at least we were warm.

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Whitby Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

As we walked around the other side of the abbey, the clouds did indeed pile in around us, and all of a sudden it was as dark as night. The banner picture below was taken seconds before the picture on the left.

The English Heritage visitor centre was closed yet the abbey grounds were packed – English Heritage missed a trick there, although I’ve heard of other English Heritage properties that were closed despite being advertised as open over the New Year weekend. (Whitby Abbey wasn’t advertised as being open, by the way, but other closed properties apparently were.)

The first part of Caedmon’s Trod from above is just a footpath, but it does join the steps before coming out in the town. There are some horses in a field halfway down, but the light had already gone for pictures of these to be any good.

On our way home we headed via Thirsk as the A64 was still very blocked, and there had been an accident on the A1(M). It took just as long to get home as it did to get there – but the chickens were fine. Next time we go we’ll leave the house even earlier in a bit to avoid this common problem. And next time, it will be the walk.

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Whitby Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Day out: Leeds Christmas Market

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I love Christmas and, once Bonfire Night is out of the way, I quite like to go to Christmas Markets.

I don’t care how big or how small they are, I just like to go and mingle, look at the pretty lights and interesting stalls, and occasionally sample the wares.

Sometimes we even buy something. And this time, apart from a hot dog, some chocolate marshmallow on sticks and some mulled wine, we also bought hats. And a gingerbread heart.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last Saturday we went to Leeds for their Christmas Market. We got there for about 4:30pm, so it was just dark enough to take pictures of the lights.

And there were lights everywhere – on the lampposts, around the stalls, even for sale on the stalls.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Several stalls were selling Christmas decorations. Some of these were baubles and tree ornaments, some were tea- and night-lights, and some were just traditional wooden toys and ornaments.

The Nutcracker is my favourite ballet, so it was nice to see some wooden nutcrackers there too. But we didn’t buy any.

It was already very busy, and we knew we were headed in the right direction as we fought through the crowds coming back from the market. (We’d taken the train in and parked the car at Barnsley Station.)

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we first arrived, it was still empty enough to relax, stroll around, take pictures. But by the time we’d had something to eat and done a couple of circuits – it wasn’t one of the biggest Christmas Markets – it was starting to get too crowded for stupid even.

One of the reasons for the trip was so that the poet could try out the new lens for his camera. He’s not snapped lights at night before, really. Or not since he’s been learning to be a “proppa snappa”. So these were his first.

He’s getting quite good at the bokeh, though – even if he does say so himself! This is where the foreground – or any part of the subject – is in focus but the background blurs. For those who want the scientific explanation, I think you can find it here.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

The hot dog he bought was a bit big for just one of us, although I’m sure he would have managed it all had I wanted a whole one too.

But he put ketchup all over it, and then mustard on his (big) half. It was very nice, and just spicy enough.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Aside from the chocolate marshmallow on a stick (each), we also bought some fudge, some vanilla fudge for my dad (for being a big brave soldier and going to the hospital last week), and some clotted cream fudge with jelly babies for me (so that Dad didn’t have to share his).

We took the gingerbread heart home to have with a cup of tea later in the week.

Before we left he had one last practice with his camera, taking moving shots of the carousel and the other roundabouts. There isn’t room for all of the pictures here, though, so I saved a static of the carousel for the bottom.

We had such a good time, and the weather was very kind, so we’re thinking about going to another Christmas Market later in (what’s left of) the year. There’s one at York this weekend and there’s one at Sheffield at the end of the month. They’re all probably the same market, but it’s nice to see them in a different place, and Leeds, York and Sheffield are all close enough that the dog isn’t left on his own for too long at home.

And now he has a brand new camera as well (courtesy of his recently late father), he’ll want to be trying that out soon too. Plus, he has another new lens coming on Monday, so that will be another excursion.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Day out: Alrewas – 26 June 2016

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Dad: “That’s the founder, there.” Diane: “Who? The one in the skirt or the one in the frock?” Dad: (fits of giggles) “The one in the frock!” (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Every year my dad is invited to the veterans’ memorial day at the National Memorial Aboretum at Alrewas.

The last Saturday in June is usually the armed services memorial day, and the veterans’ memorial day is usually the last Sunday in the month.

For the past 2 years, the poet has accompanied him. But this year, for the first time, I was able to go too.

We had VIP seats only in the second row, and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham was, quite aptly, seated right in front of us.

We arrived ahead of time and bought sandwiches and cakes to eat at our seats, and we took a doggy bag home for Dad too as he couldn’t eat all of his in one sitting – they were very big portions.

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“Veterans’ Sweetheart” Sarah Dennis. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

For half an hour we were then entertained by “veterans’ sweetheart” Sarah Dennis, who sang for the crowd and had everyone joining in with familiar songs.

Then the standard bearers, representatives of the armed forces and the guard of honour took their positions for the service.

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Standard bearers. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The service didn’t take too long, it was just the right length, and was intermingled with speeches, readings and hymns.

The last post was sounded, followed by a standing observation of silence., then everyone joined in with a few choruses of Land of Hope and Glory, once again led by Sarah Dennis.

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Following the wreath-laying. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t stay around for the march-past, as it wasn’t happening for a while after the service finished and we needed to get back for the dog.

Also, Dad was a bit tired and didn’t feel up to joining in.

Despite the threat from the sky of a storm, the weather stayed dry and mild for us.

After taking Dad home, we headed back ourselves after having a nice day out.