Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Wulfhere's lonely place

Bury Bank at Darlaston.

The ancient Saxon king Wulfhere based himself at a site near Stone - and it's popularly supposed that his fort was probably right here, on a high mound called Bury Bank at Darlaston.

Now covered in woodland growth, there is no sign of what once might have been.  In fact, the owners of the site only allow tours very infrequently, so generally it broods in lonely silence.  The ghosts have the place very much to themselves.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Cast your clout!


The phrase "n'er cast a clout till May be out" is usually interpreted as "don't cast off your winter clothes (clout) till the month of May is over".  (I always thought that a bit extreme, even if the weather was colder in olden times).
However a wise woman of my acquaintance tells me that, in this context, 'may' means the may-thorn, a variant on the hawthorn.  Ah. 
Well, the hot weather of recent days has coincided with the blossoming of the may-thorn in the fields.

So - now it makes sense.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

By George...

Pub sign at George & Dragon, Alrewas

Pub signs are an art form: and I rate this pub-sign at Alrewas. It has a nice imaginative thought behind it, I think

And it's topical to post it today - the feast-day of St George.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Squeezed church sculpture

Bassett Tomb at Blore Ray church

In Blore Ray church, there is this extraordinary sculpture group.  For some reason, the group is squeezed into a small side-chapel, which is so crowded that this was the best photo I could get without usign a wide-angle lens!   It is fabulous though...

This is the Bassett Tomb, made in alabaster around 1640. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Snake and monkey in the Peak

Carvings on Grindon Church

These crawling creatures, lifelike in their own way, can be seen on Grindon Church, which is rather famous for the (stone-carved) fauna - including human heads - covering its exterior.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Cafes are good for the species

Market cafe in Burton

We need cafes.  Is this a strange statement?  After all, it seems daft to go somewhere to pay sometimes outrageous prices for wet-but-hot flavoured water.

Yet, there is something communal about a cafe.  One gets the chance to be with one's species in a friendly way - and relax.  Giving oneself time to relax, even at home, is hard.

It's just a matter of finding cafes with reasonable prices and pleasant ambience - like the market cafe in Burton.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Inhuman castle figures

Tamworth Castle mannequin

Tamworth Castle
has a disorienting habit of placing mannequins in its various rooms, all dressed in period costume. 
It's a bit like Madame Tussuad's: one is not quite sure at first if they are not human.  You don't like to disturb them.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The actual Dead Pine Gulch

'Dead Pine Gulch', Chartley Moss

In my previous post about Chartley Moss, which is a very weird place, I referred to a location within it known as 'Dead Pine Gulch'.   The name made me laugh as it sounded like something out of a Western.

I thought you might like to see a photo of the actual spot known as Dead Pine Gulch.  Complete with dead pine.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Edingale's history for free

Water pump in Edingale village

The old water pump in Edingale village has a 'shrine'-look about it, as though the villagers regularly make flower-offerings there.  I'm sure that's just my imagination though...

Edingale is small but has a long history.   The authors (Carmel and Anthony Mason) of the definitive book about Edingale's story kindly donated their whole work to the village website, where it can be read for free by all, which I think is marvellously generous.  Chapter Seven includes a walking-tour round the village's history.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Using car park is illegal !

Hednesford Hills Raceway car park sign

This comes under the heading of 'bizarre instructions one sees on signs'.
Apparently, it is "illegal to drive cars or motorbikes" on the Hednesford Hills car park.
I guess that must make actually using the car park a rather risky venture.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Bring on the bangers

Hednesford Hills Raceway

Easter is also the time that 'summer sports' get in gear - and the phrase is a literal one for the Hednesford Hills Raceway, where bangers and hot-rod racing is on view.

I like Hednesford Hills.    The circuit is small so you can see everything, and, because the arena is in a crater at the top of the hills, as a spectator, one looks down on the whole event.
It's an odd feeling too.  All we spectators are up there in the arena at the top of the hills, knowing that, down below in the town, they can barely hear the crashing din of what's going on...

Friday, 3 April 2015

Railway for the kids

Rudyard Lake Miniature Light Railway

Ah, it's Easter!  Time for the Rudyard Lake Miniature Steam Light Railway to re-open.
The RLSR does a roaring trade with families at this time - and right through the summer - as you can imagine...