Monday, 26 March 2018

Despenser Inheritance

This link will take you to an interesting (if complex) article by Professor Hicks about the Despenser Inheritance.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Just when you think the world couldn't get any madder...

CAMRA, the highly successful consumer organisation that has for decades promoted Real Ale has decided that it needs to be 'revitalised'.

The project group looking at this has suggested that CAMRA should no longer focus on Real Ale, but give support to all 'good' beer.

A change so radical is rather like the Richard III Society deciding that Henry VII was actually quite a decent chap, and that his hereditary claim to the throne had some substance.

What it means on the ground is that CAMRA (if the change is supported) will in future give credence to the overpriced, glorified fizzy keg that is laughingly called 'craft beer'.

I give up. I really do.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Used Postage Stamps for Charity

Not many charities still collect old postage stamps as a way of raising funds but one that does is the Retired Greyhound Trust.

So, if you can bundle up all your old stamps (any used postage stamp will do, UK or other) and put them in a suitably stamped envelope or jiffy bag addressed to:-

 RGT Stamp Appeal, Park House, Park Terrace, Worcester Park, KT4 7JZ. UK

You can be sure they will be put to a good cause, helping retired former racing greyhounds.

Of course there are other ways to help the RGT, as you will find if you follow the link to their site. In particular, their shop sells some great stuff - including food for your retired greyhound!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Tia Rescue Cafe

Tia Rescue, near Doncaster, now has a cafe.

Gets good reviews on Trip Advisor, so please visit when in the area and help the greyhounds, lurchers and shire horses that it supports.

Don't forget the Open Day and Bandana Challenge on Sunday 28th August!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Wigan Parish Church.

Today I made a pilgrimage to Wigan Parish Church. Well, not really. I happened to be in Wigan and noticed that the church was open, as it apparently it is every Saturday.

Some of you will recall that this is the church from which Alianore Audley rescued the Duke of Gloucester's stolen banner, so I couldn't resist a look inside. It is a surprisingly large building, heavily 'restored' by our Victorian friends, who introduced an awful lot of their dark, heavy, gothic fittings. If you like that sort of thing, you will be delighted. Indeed, although the church was founded as far back as the days of Edward the Confessor, the present building is largely Victorian, as it was pretty much completely rebuilt.

However in the Walmesley Chapel are some rather attractive medieval altar panels. They don't 'belong' having been bought from Germany, but they are rather nice, and well worth a look.

In the Lady chapel there are effigies of a 14th Century knight and lady. These lie rather forlornly on the floor, having evidently lost their tomb chests at some point. Again they are rather lovely, although not of the first quality.

It is obvious that the parishioners are rather proud of their church and are doing their best to keep it well maintained. If you happen to be in the area, it's certainly worth a look. Admission is completely free, but obviously a suitable donation is appreciated.

I returned to Manchester by train. This was once part of the main line of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, the 'Business Line', along which expresses hurtled from Liverpool to Manchester (and vice-versa) in 40 minutes. Unfortunately the railway is not nearly so well cared-for as Wigan Church. The laughingly named 'Sprinter' train dawdles along, calling at various shamefully neglected stations en route. The lineside is an utter disgrace, with dense trees and bushes blocking the view almost all the way and, at one point, Japanese Knotweed, a pernicious weed which the law says should be rooted out and destroyed, reigns supreme over the cutting side. Small wonder there are problems with 'leaves on the line' when hulking great trees are allowed to flourish just a few feet from the metals! What visitors to this scepter'd isle must make of such untidiness I shudder to think.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Tia Rescue

Once more I find myself mentioning my favourite charity Tia Rescue.

Tia do a brilliant job rescuing unwanted greyhounds and lurchers and also shire horses. They are unfortunately struggling for cash at the moment.

How you can help:

Send a donation.
Sponsor a greyhound (or other rescued animal)
Give a home to a greyhound or lurcher. (These dog make wonderful pets).
Visit the new cafe and visitors' centre.

Read their website for details.

Tia are located down a country road, but they are actually quite handy for the A1 or M18 if you are in that neck of the woods. Quite near to Doncaster or Bawtry.

The address?

Tia Rescue
Mill Race Farm,
Wroot Road

I know that all donations, however small, will be much appreciated right now.

(Almost forgot. They have a 20 acre field which is available for hire for events, etc. They also allow camping.)

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Five Valleys (Part 5, Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno)

Blaenau Ffestiniog is a place that has never really recovered from the loss of most of its slate quarries, though it is trying very hard to regenerate. Its efforts are not helped by the dreadfully inadequate public transport links. There used to be quite a frequent bus service to Llandudno, but this has dwindled to a mere three or four journeys a day. The train service is rather similar.

Such short-sighted provision on the part of the powers-that-be would be shocking if it wasn't so commonplace. Ironically, the same powers-that-be want us to ditch our cars and make more use of public transport.

Fortunately, my Ffestiniog train had a main line connection, although the timings were quite tight and I wouldn't have wanted to be pushing a wheelchair or herding several small children. There was certainly no spare time to visit the fleshpots of Blaenau or even snatch a cup of tea.

The Conwy Valley line is greatly underestimated by tourists and I would certainly recommend that you take a ride over it if you get the chance. Of course it's part of the national network - currently worked by Arriva Trains, a subsidiary of the German nationalised railway. (You couldn't make his stuff up!). It's standard gauge, and the trains are rather boring diesel railcars. But don't let any of that put you off.

A short way out of Blaenau, the train plunges into a long tunnel - about two miles long I believe. This railway was originally built at considerable cost by the old London and North Western company, and, no surprises here, mainly to tap the slate traffic. Once out of the tunnel, you are back in the most majestic scenery imaginable, so typical of this part of Wales.

The stations along this bit of track are request stops and we didn't stop at any of them, not even Dolwyddelan, which serves the nearby castle. The castle is visible from the train, but high up on the other side of the valley from the station - it must be a fair walk, although undoubtedly one that is 'worth it'.

The train next halted at Betws-y-Coed, where quite a lot of passengers got on. Betws is an attractive village and pretty much the centre of the tourist trade around here. Unlike the less fortunate Blaenau, it retains a decent bus service too, at least to Llandudno.

The next stop was Llanwrst, a market town that actually has two stations, one more convenient for the town than the other, which seems mainly to exist as a passing place. Llanwrst is an ancient place, for many years the lowest bridging point over the Conwy. The medieval bridge still exists, and very impressive it is. The fictional Brother Cadfael was born just across the river in Trefrew.

The River Conwy was an increasingly impressive presence on the left as the train hurried along. You get a really good view of the estuary and its wading birds, and eventually of the impressive Conwy Castle.

We ran into Llandudno Junction without a signal check to delay us. This station is where the Conwy Valley line joins the main line from London to Holyhead, and various connections can be made here. The station isn't quite as impressive as it was back in the day, but retains several platforms.

Now on the last leg, we turned right on to the Llandudno branch, still running alongside the beautiful Conwy estuary, which in this section has various marinas and associated developments, some of which are rather less pleasing to the eye that the still-visible Conwy Castle. It is however a quite glorious location, especially as the sun was now out and shining.

After a brief halt at Deganwy station, we were on the last leg, and pulled into Llandudno Station (recently reconstructed) dead on time.

As someone once said, a grand day out.