Jun 27 2013

Miserable Lancaster Pictorial

I have still been nowhere and done nothing. The rain it falls, the money it disappears, the weekends vanish in a miserable mist of buying enormous economy packs  of toilet rolls in Home Bargains which bounce joyously against sodden knees on the long trek home. An attempt to liven up these limited horizons by going for a pub lunch ends up in apologising to other patrons and then going home covered in lime and soda and clutching the toddler slightly too hard by his wrist and whispering angrily into his unreceptive ears. My partner talks about how he could have made the same slightly disappointing vegetarian option at home for 20p.


Lancaster is in a permanent state of transition. Sadly the transition has recently been from great shop with nice dresses and earrings shaped like spectacles to Cash Generators and Iceland.

The mills have been knocked down to make room for Barrat homes whilst pleasant and cheap stone terraces for well under a hundred grand have eternal ‘For Sale’ signs outside them.

Those who choose a Barrat home over a 19th century terrace deserve be smothered under fuscia painted MDF.

Art and beauty still exists in Lancaster and I love this small city  very much. However for the purpose of this photo blog, I have chosen to dwell in a slight sense of mundanity and inertia.

Because it is late June and raining heavily.

Jun 20 2013

Yesterday I walked to Sainburys in the rain.


I did not particularly need anything. I am aware this means I am a person with limited horizons. But the sun had finally come out towards the twilight of the day and I yearned to walk but just not too far and somewhere where there might be some surprisingly reduced Brie I could purchase slightly too much of.

Then I can watch it for days spreading out of its wrapper gently conquesting,  sliding oozily over what were once its neatly wrapped perimeters. I will go off it a bit as it will start its sophisticated stink but I will not want to waste it so I will continue to pop a bit in my mouth and declare it excellent whilst feeling a bit sick inside and looking with pleading eyes at the smooth neat corners of the Seriously Strong Cheddar. I want to be the sort of person who loves oozing Brie.

That sort of person has bookcases made of wood, not MDF and their socks are partnered in pairs in their underwear drawer. They probably host dinner parties where confident laughs spill out over the big wooden table.

But after day four, I will realise I am not that sort of person, the smell  pervades over the fridge and in my mind, the whole house and along with my dreams of an aspirational future, it will be sunk quietly in the bin to do battle with the pooey nappies and I will pretend I have eaten it and enjoyed it.

And for four quid per kilogram, I will do it again.

I think Bob once had a dream too. He was described as the North West’s ‘ Top’ in red board marker and will be playing ‘tonight’ in this pub which stayed open for three months and soon the blu-tac will be pulled down along with his dreams and aspirations of a better ‘tonight!’ and he will be relegated into a rented skip along with long ago consumed bottles of Fosters Ice.

I fought the sharpened elbows to get to the reduced labels of victory and managed to get some Mexican Sweetcorn Dip reduced to 34p. I walked home along the quay triumphant but queasily thinking of the point when I would actually have to eat it.

I don’t like sweetcorn.

But for 34p I will do it again.

Jun 15 2013

Teletubbies, the past and David Icke on a hill in Scotland

Gatehouse of Fleet is my favourite place in the world. Probably after a week of living here, I would have an argument with someone over something like, ‘if you’re vegetarian, why do you eat vegetarian sausages?’ at which  I would become overly obsessively furious and paranoid over the prospect of meeting them again and forgetting the succinct, clever yet  wittily cruel personal comeback I formed at three am when staring wild eyed and angrily at the ceiling.



And then I will bump into them in Spar, smile politely and in a slightly too fast babble, apologise  for being vegetarian and say that meat smell lovely on a barbeque and ‘LOL! Stuffed peppers don’t quite cut it do they?!’

Then I will go back to my house in Gatehouse of Fleet and throw things at myself.  Then decide to move.

Gatehouse Of Fleet is a fantasy place of residency for me. I do not drive. It lies somewhere slightly to the left of the back of beyond. If I had the urge to change my hair to an unnatural hue, it would probably take several hours on a bus then maybe a train and a train change to find ‘Electric Blue’.

I simply cannot live like that.

It is a piece of Scotland that has been ever so slightly groomed for the English and the ‘artisans’ (these often are one and the same)

There are a few small art galleries where you can purchase a lovely local painting, the seemingly ubiquitous  metal hare or a Nice But Surprisingly Expensive Thing.

Or go to my second favourite ever charity shop ever * and buy boys clothing for 25p an item. In this charity shop, the hand-woven woolen designer kilts of dead Scots and metal studded nylon dresses from Primark with plunging bust lines are both of a similar price. A fiver makes you feel king of the world. It closes for lunch. I remember when places closed for lunch. It makes me feel safe to think such places still exist.

If I lived here, I would probably be annoyed that it closed for lunch.

I have in my hand, a freshly printed leaflet for a local attraction. This could not make me happier. I love a leaflet for a local attraction. Often I have no desire to go to ‘Dinoland’ or ‘’World of Steam’ but will still look up the vegetarian provisions in its cafe if it has a PDF menu online and try to talk to my partner about whether they represent both an original option and an attractive price. I am aware this is probably very sad. He certainly is. And the vegetarian choice is normally a ‘Quiche of the Day’ with the average price of £6.75 which includes a lacklustre side-salad but some quite pleasing home made coleslaw but the overbearing sense at the end is anger, guilt and an all pervading hollowness  at spending ‘how much?’ when getting the bill. A sense slightly numbed  for an hour if the premises are licensed.

We follow the instructions on the leaflet, walk through the white-washed town, up a drive of lovely houses but where the lawns are slightly too manicured. Strangely a ten year old Fat Boy Slim track with a refrain that appears to contain the word ‘fuck’  is being played very loudly somewhere. I do like it here.

We follow the arrows through various stages of Nirvana, hazy bluebell hills, screamingly yellow gorse (a hair colour name I would happily pay upwards of four pounds for) ancient trees with sprawling limbs, then up and up and up to Trusty’s Hill.

I am glad I did not over research this because it comes as a shock.

A large flat stone covered by a rusting metal cage in the middle of no-where (but slightly left) with no parking facilities, no guides, no entrance fee.

It never used to be the middle of nowhere. Stand here and you can see the fort behind it, the well next to it- it is a vivid  glimpse into the past where the present does not intrude.

The stone however is a portal.

Why try and explain it or detail it? Look at the pictures and wonder, imagine, remind yourself of your own insignificance -possibly why so many other people over the years chiseled their own initials into the rock until the arrival of the metal cage.

Other people might well disagree but I think it makes it more significant and fascinating that there have been parades of people over the centuries up this steep track to  write into this rock, to show their own mortality and immortality.  The changing of carving style from  Victorian to semi-present I found wondrous but the actual Pictish carvings just made me stop and stare in disbelief.

I marvel at stone circles but do not get a chance to think about the person behind them as they are old stones hoisted sweatily by many. They are an act of force and beauty but they lack a sense of individualism.

Here, the history is personal. Here are  beautifully carved mythical creatures designed and painstakingly carved  by someone or a few, dead thousands  of years ago.



A  whirling sea monster is caught mid lash for eternity. A cheery fellow with a triangle on his head, straight out of a cBeebies logo pops out of the ancient world to say hello.

There is a chirpy alienish figure strongly resembling a Teletubby which gives me the chilling feeling that maybe David Icke might have  been right after after all. **



I resolve never to think that again.

I am also reminded of the swirling smiling black inked tattoos or murals  seen on all crusties’ legs/busses in the mid 90’s.

I am not sure what has chilled me more.

But one day I will live here and come to this spot every day (unless the weather is unpleasant)

One day I will live here. (And walk here once every six months when the weather is pleasant)

One day I will live here and moan to the wind about the lack of vegetarian sausages and bad hair dye.

And maybe, just maybe a voice from through the ages will whisper back to me…

‘Stop bloody whinging, at least you’ve got dentists and discovered quorn growing in a field near Marlow. Oh and if you see David…’





* If no-one cares what my first one is then I shall sulkingly admit that blogging is a pointless vain affectation…But you will have missed out on where the best charity shop in the UK is so I will have had the last laugh…

** Upon aliens being witnessed and drawn by people thousands of years ago, not about Teletubbies being a portal into the past. Although having accidently seen links to his blog by people on Facebook who should know better, I can’t cancel the second option out.