Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Wollaton Park bus & stroll with cake and a chorus of ducks in the Five Leaves Bookshop

The past weeks has been consumed with house moving delays and sorting out the final problems. When it's all over and we have finally moved I will blog about the experience. For now, it's enough to say that I am glad my sister in Hastings telephoned for a long chat and that Susan got me out on Saturday afternoon to Wollaton Park for a stroll and cake, then today a visit to the solicitor ended up in Five Leaves Bookshop and spending money. Both lifted me from the doldrums for a while a least, so before I sink back down again, a quick post.

Wollaton Park and its many attractions are so accessible by bus that I have never understood why the bus companies do not have 'To & from Wollaton Hall/Park' signs on all the buses which go along this section of the Derby Road.

This is a pic of the south entrance to Wollaton Park from August 2008 when I blogged about Wollaton Park entrances. Just click on the highlighted text to see what I said then. Nothing has changed. This must be one of the least attractive park entrances in England!

However, once through the entrance, everything changes. I didn't go out with the intention of blogging, so I did not have my camera with me. At first Susan took the pics for me, but over tea and cake she showed me what to do, so the rest are mine. I'm quite impressed with the quality. This is the footpath on the west side of the lake, which is just a few feet to the right of the photograph. It was a busy Saturday afternoon and this was one of the few moments when we had the path to ourselves. 

Looking east across the lake through a gap in the trees to Wollaton Hall in the distance with a Moorhen. 

OK, this is what got me out — the prospect of cake. My sister Roz told me to have a slice for her, so we bought two slices and a Belgian Bun (which we took home to have with tea on Sunday afternoon). So, here you are Roz, your cake. Enjoy.

Occasionally, my writing buddy Cindy and I meet here on a weekday. It offers good value. Three generous portions and tea enough for three cost just £9. The café in the old stable block was very busy and what few staff there were were rushed off their feet. Any walk which has a café and toilets scores highly on our scale and probably explains why I describe myself as a 'urban and canal walker'.

I believe that Wollaton Hall appears in Batman films, which explains this logo on the Wollaton Hall gift shop wall. I think it's a rather clever logo and that for many youngsters in 2014 Batman probably has more appeal than Robin Hood. In many ways they are one and the same — good against evil. Nottingham and Gotham (just a No.1 bus ride away from Nottingham's Old Market Square) and, yes, I do know Gotham is in the USA. I was a kid once when there were 6d (sixpence in old money) Batman comics. 

Being lazy, we came out of the stable block at the north end and cut across the park to avoid the climb up to Wollaton Hall and down the other side. In the hands of the National Trust the Hall and Park would be making a mint of money, but Nottingham City Council have always resisted the temptation to turn it into a cash cow. As we walked around the park we heard many different languages and I am sure the fact that access is free helps to promote Nottingham as a visitor attraction. Nottingham Castle, with its disappointing museum and art gallery, is not in the same league.

I have blogged about Wollaton Park on a good few occasions in the past, but it is the avenues of trees beside Lime Tree Avenue, which runs from the park's eastern entrance to the Hall which I love most. I will come back in mid-November when the ground will be a thick carpet of multi-coloured leaves.

This is part of Lime Tree Avenue looking east, It seems to go on and on and it does! Once it would have run all the way down to Lenton Lodge in Lenton, but when Nottingham City Council bought the Wollaton Hall Estate in the 1920s it sold some of the estate to recover the cost and this included part of Lime Tree Avenue.

Today, at the end of the Avenue is Middleton Boulevard, better known to many as Nottingham Ring Road, turn right heading south and you are a few minutes from the Nottingham University North Entrance bus stops (on both sides of the road).

We could have walked from our home in Lenton, it's less than a mile, but we caught the bus to and from Wollaton Park instead. An altogether lovely afternoon.

 Finally, a photograph I took with my phone this morning in the Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham city centre. A chorus of ducks. Need I say more, other than that I spent money as I always do, as much on cards as I did a book. Ross, the owner, has the best card selection in Nottingham, so you know were to go the next time you need a card.

Well, time for tea and to climb back in my self-made hole until we have exchanged contracts and I know we have a new home to move to. Otherwise I will be digging a little deeper...

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Beeston Tram map - free master copy

I created my Beeston 'Underground' style Tram map a year ago, partly to use as part of a writing project called Foodie Heavens by Beeston Writers, but I couldn't find a sponsor, so the project got put on hold because we made the decision to move from Lenton to Beeston after our aged cat Markiza died. My intention now is to self-publish once our move is completed, so watch this space.

In the meantime, I have updated my Beeston Pubs & Cafés map a few times and I posted my latest update yesterday. My original Beeston 'Underground' map began life as a blank master and I did offer it free then to anyone who would like to use it in return for using my content box in the left-hand corner (which contains the map legend and acknowledgements).

The master map can be adapted to individual needs and I am happy to help in this respect. For voluntary groups and 'good causes' I will do this free-of-charge. For others there will be a nominal charge to cover my costs and time.

If I had the time and no other interests I would create versions showing health facilities, youth clubs and community centres etc, even carpet shops and small independent 'handy' shops, but I will happily help others.

I am currently working on a extended version which will extend to the Nottingham Ring Road and QMC to be printed A3 landscape (the present map is designed to be printed A4 landscape, but does work A4 portrait as well. I have lost count of the number of times over the years I have heard people at the QMC bus stop going towards Nottingham ask bus drivers about 'where the shops are' and, as, two Welsh ladies asked yesterday 'Can we get food there?' A seemingly stupid question with an an obvious answer, but if you are at the QMC visiting there is every chance your thoughts will be muddled.

I wanted to say, 'Take my advice, catch a bus to Beeston town centre instead. The food is as good and cheaper'. The QMC, like the University, are as much in the orbit of Beeston as Nottingham city centre. My extended version is being created with QMC and Lakeside visitors in mind.

So, here is the master copy of my existing Beeston Underground style map. If you would like to use it please contact me by using the comment facility.

Friday, 10 October 2014

A Beeston deli with more than a name

Before another word, please follow this link and vote for Beeston's very own  Local not Global Deli in the national Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2015.

Yesterday morning (Thursday) I took myself off early to Beeston and walked down to Chilwell Road, which has been in the news almost daily since work began on The Tram. 'Nearly complete' the Nottingham Post says today. I don't think so.

My destination was the Local not Global Deli, which I have blogged about before and is my favourite coffee shop and eatery. It's seven weeks since I was last there, but with no writing class John White and I decided to meet up, as old men do, and talk about our work over cake and coffee for a couple of hours before Susan came to join me for lunch. In the end it turned out to be a most perfect three-and-a-half hours. I will let my photographs tell the story.

10.30am when I arrived and Jo Thomson, the owner, had been hard at work since 6.30am. She does all her own baking and cooking. Cakes to die for, and more about the best small lunch ever in a bit (well it does have one rival, but since the competition is in Derby, I won't mention it). I should have photographed the large slice of poppy seed cake I had with the first of three cups of coffee (believe me it was goood, really gooood!). 

Local not Global was empty when I arrived, so I took this pic. Within minutes, with John first, a steady stream of customers came in and out. Once it emptied right down to John and me again. Chairs were moved about and folk squeezed around tables, elbows touching, eating cake and lunches. It really is that kind of place. I love its atmosphere and everyone loves Jo. When Susan and I left at 2pm, it was empty again. Not for long I'm sure.

From my table I had these view straight down Imperial Road, one of Beeston's finest roads, and once upon time Nottingham City Transport buses terminated here, then waited for passengers to carry back to town. In the late-sixties, Susan would have been one of them. Her first two years at Nottingham University were spent sharing a room in the Chilwell vicarage just a few minutes walk away. This was where Bartonland began and, as if to mark their claim, Barton Transport had their HQ and a large garage just yards to the left. Today the Barton family no longer own the bus company, but they have created the popular Barton Gallery close by.

 John, like me, is someone who chose to make his home nearby. Family ties pull many of us to places and I am sure the fact that Beeston and Chilwell are parts of the large Greater Nottingham metropolitan conurbation make this easier than it would be in some small inward looking town or village.

I have been visiting Beeston and Chilwell Road regularly since the mid-1990s when our shopping habits changed and we began using the Caritas Clinic over Manor Pharmacy, plus the exodus of friends began from Lenton into Beeston and Chilwell. We hope to follow, after nearly six months of prolonged waiting, by the end of October (there, I have said it, but friends have heard all this before, as other moving dates have come and gone. This time though, I really hope it's true).

I enjoy John's company and he is a great poet, who can get verses to rhyme, and I am helping him to compile a collection of his work for friends and family, but he does deserve a wider audience, so here are a couple of his short poems to whet your appetite:

From Toton down to Chilwell
Through Beeston on to city
They're digging holes and laying pipes
Without remorse or pity
Drivers and their passengers
In buses, cars and vans
Sit fuming in their vehicles
Stuck in traffic jams
Two more years of chaos
And when the workers win their battle
We'll enjoy the doubtful privilege
Of travelling like cattle
Herded on at park and ride
With seating for the few
Standing for the many
Who pay the trams their due
It will never make a profit
And is bound to end in tears
When ratepayers have to cough up
To cover the arrears.

As we grow older, our parents grow wiser

Grandparents turn positive sages

It's been ever thus since Adam and Eve

And carried on down through the ages

It really is amazing, without any fuss
How much the old folk learn from us.


When John left, he took with him one of Jo's apple pies. Never leaves without one if he gets the chance. Next time I will have apple pie too.

Now for the lunch I was telling you about (vegetarians look away now). Just look and lick your lips. There is no better Pork Goulash in the land.

This is me, almost a year to the day, eating Jo's goulash. I weighed 14 stone then and with Markiza, our cat having died a few days before, we had just decided to put our house up for sale. It took six weeks cleaning top to bottom before we put it was first advertised, and it was Easter before we got a buyer. It's been a long slow process and very stressful, with the result that I have put 20lbs on since Susan took this photograph. I want to be 14 stone again by the time I'm 71, so I have 34 weeks to do it in!

This final photograph of Jo is bit of a cheat. I took it in 2013 when I posted a blog about Beeston cafés and teashops, but nothing has changed. Whilst not intended as a boast, I do think this blog shows that I am generous soul, true to my belief that we should have the chance to enjoy the best of life, so how could I not share the Local not global Deli and Jo on Chilwell Road with you?

Finally, if you ignored me the first time, Please don't do it twice. Before another word. Just follow this link and vote for Jo's Local not Global Deli in the national Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2015.


A link to a story in The Guardian by David Graeber about what is happening to the Kurds in Syria and Rojava especially. The Turkish Kurdish Workers' Party and the Rojavan Revolutionary Party are both regarded by Britain and America as terrorist organisations. I do not agree. The PKK no longer wants to create a separate Kurdish state. Instead it has adopted the teaching and vision of libertarian socialist and anarchist Murray Bookchin (1921–2006) who advocates a world of self-governing communities with co-operative economies in which state borders become meaningless. I am a longtime supporter of municipal libertarianism, so you might just see why a Beeston deli named 'local not global' means more to me than just food.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The missing election link in 2015 – The Greens – and a truth we cannot acknowledge

When you read about the 2015 general election something is always missing - the Green Party. Recent opinion polls (http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/10/06/12-of-people-who-voted-liberal-democrat-in-2010-intend-to-votegreen2015/) give them 6% of the vote.

I have never voted Green in any election* despite my politics being closer to them than Labour for the last few general elections and one of the reasons I let my membership of the Labour Party lapse after fifty-three years was so that come the 2015 election I have the option to vote Green.

I also admit to being tempted by the National Health Action Party, but they have remained resolutely a single issue party and I am, at the end of the day, more concerned about housing, low-pay, local government and Trident than I am the NHS, as important as the latter is to me. As an issue the NHS has plenty of champions and seems to blind us to being angry about no less important issues.

The independence referendum in Scotland revealed just how detached Labour has become from working class voters and a 'Westminster' party first, committed to peddling Tory and Liberal lies about austerity and dressing up a minimum wage freeze as a promised 'increase' come 2020. They cannot even commit themselves to taking railways back into public ownership as private franchises come to an end, despite overwhelming public support for such a policy.

On all these issues the Green Party offer clear choices and, somehow, their policies need to be more publicised. The right-wing media has no intention of drawing attention to them, even when writing 'news' stories about voting intention opinion polls. Most of the time they ignore the Scottish National Party as well, who may well take a significant number of seats off Labour in Scotland.

In the 1970s I was having articles published about 'stable state' economics and re-distributing wealth both nationally and internationally. I naively thought Labour was up to challenge and had the vision. How wrong I have been! At 70 I no longer have the time to wait for Labour to catch up. I will try and look to the future and support those much younger than me, angry enough, to change how politics in our part of Englands works. We cannot go on with same old politics (and UKIP is very very much part of the Westminster model, cleverly being promoted as something different).

As a political activist of sorts for the last fifty-five years I believe the adage that 'Scratch a Tory and a Fascist bleeds'. The way they demonise immigrants, and penalise the poor and disadvantaged, proves my belief. UKIP are not clever or funny. They are evil and the way they court and seduce working class voters should frighten the socks off us.

Fascism is not just about racism or religion, it is how the ruling class incite society to demonise some specific groups (ie. immigrants, the unemployed, those on benefits etc) as being responsible for the poverty they, the ruling class, have inflicted on the working class to further their own, narrow, agenda. This has been Tory and Liberal policy  since May 2010 and Labour is in grave danger of behaving like a fascist party as well. The Tory leadership attack our liberties and support militarism with enthusiasm. The fact that they wear suits and not uniforms should not blind us to what they are — fascists. It is a truth we refuse to talk about or acknowledge. I write this with a heavy heart, but it has to be said.

I have known Liberal Party activists since I was fifteen and they have always been political opportunists with big egos, middle-class and so much better than the rest of us. With a few notable exceptions, I have never liked them.

Other political parties have 'outsiders' like me, unlike the company they keep. Delusion is a common affliction among political activists, as I can personally attest to. My parting company with the Labour Party nationally (locally it is a different matter) has long been foretold.

Perhaps socialists like me need to help the Greens, who already have a toehold, instead of fielding Left-Unity candidates. Over the next couple of months I will think long and hard about where I will put my energy and support in the run-up to the general election.

FOOTNOTE: * I blogged about voting Green in the 2009 Euro election (see link), but voted for Respect instead. In other Euro elections I have spoilt my ballot paper because I believe the 'list' system (which means I cannot vote for a named individual) is undemocratic.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Small pinboard #2

My second collection of images, all with a story to tell.

No.1 is a mystery location. I found the photograph in Nottingham Local Studies Library labelled as 'Kyte Street, Lenton'. It was too good not to use in a temporary exhibition I was organising in 2006, but more than one former Kyte Street resident told me 'That is not Kyte Street' — hence the mystery.

No.2 is a London Transport 662 trolleybus, which ran from Paddington Green, just off the Edgware Road in Central London, all along the Harrow Road via Harlesden, Craven Park, Stonebridge Park and Wembley to Sudbury. The 662 was very much part of my life until I was eighteen and inspired a poem of sorts (Memories of trollies and Joy).

No.3 is a London Transport 83 bus. Another route I used a lot whilst growing up in Wembley. It still operates much the same route: From Golders Green Station via West Hendon, Kingsbury and Wembley to Ealing Broadway. I remember the chugging purr of its engine, especially on Sundays when it dawdled from stop to stop because it still operated a weekday rush-hour timetable.

No.4 my beloved, sainted Uncle Dave. A photograph I took of him c1959 on top of block of flats in the centre of Harlow New Town he was working on at the time. He was a plumber and active in then Plumbers' Trade Union. He went onto become a Labour Party councillor in Harlow for many years, as did my Auntie Nannie.

No.5 shows the photograph I took of an 'escaped' panda in Lenton Recreation Ground in November 2007 and subsequently blogged about it. Click here to see link. Always makes me smile. I hope it does the same for you.