Long Weekend 8: Berwick Upon Tweed and Home

Wrapping up my account of my long weekend away doing family things, plus a couple of important links.

This post wraps up my somewhat syncopated series about a long weekend away doing family things (14-17 August inclusive), by covering the events of the Tuesday. Before I get into the main body of the post I have a couple of links to share: there is a just giving page up in connection with NAS West Norfolk being the Lynn News Charity of the Year 2021, which you can visit by clicking here. Also PhoebeMD has once again opened her blog up to those who wish to promote their own blogs – please do so.

BERWICK UPON TWEED

There is plenty of interest to see in this border town (it has changed hands between England and Scotland many a time in its history). My time in the town was limited by the fact that I had a train home to catch in order to back in time for an evening commitment in King’s Lynn, something I just managed, although an inopportune delay which had a knock on effect on the rest of the journey made it very tight indeed.

THE JOURNEY HOME

The train route from Berwick to York is very scenic, but once past York it becomes quite ordinary. Overall the journey was not too bad, though I was panicking for some of it due to time constraints. The departure from Berwick takes one over a remarkable bridge which features frequently in the photos that end this post, and Alnmouth, which also serves the adjoining town of Alnwick is remarkably attractive.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have set the scene above but the main story of this post is told by the pictures that bring it to a conclusion.

Heritage Open Day 2021

Yesterday was Heritage Open Day 2021, and this is my account of the day as I experienced it.

Heritage Open Day in King’s Lynn happens on the second Sunday in September (except last year when for reasons not needing elaboration it did not happen at all), which this year was yesterday. This post describes the day as I experienced it, and is rather longer than my usual posts.

THE BEGINNING:
TUESDAY MARKET PLACE

There is a classic car show in the Tuesday Market Place in conjunction with Heritage Open Day, and viewed as the museum pieces that such contraptions should become some of the specimens are seriously impressive…

THE CUSTOM HOUSE

The first building I visited this time round was The Custom House, one of the two most iconic buildings in Lynn (The Townhall/ Guildhall is the other). They have an excellent little display upstairs, and it was well worth venturing indoors to see it…

THE RED MOUNT CHAPEL

A favourite of mine, standing on its own in the middle of an area of parkland, with the bandstand visible through the trees and the ruins of the Guanock Gate about 100 yards away. There are actually two chapels, the upper chapel and the lower chapel, and the thick walls and small windows that the outside of the building features are testament to the need to guard against religious persecution in earlier times…

THE JEWISH CEMETERY

This is near the top end of Millfleet, and most of the year if one spots it one can glimspe through the gate and see some of it. It was fully open for Heritage Open Day, and with lots of extra information made available…

ST NICHOLAS CHAPEL

I know this place well, but was interested to see what might be happening there in Heritage Open Day, and have no regrets about having ventured in.

VOLUNTEERING:
HAMPTON COURT GARDEN

I was assigned the 2PM to 4PM shift at Hampton Court Garden, also referred to as the Secret Garden, because most of the time very few people are aware of it’s existence – the only clue from the street any time other than Heritage Open Day is a very ordinary looking navy blue door set into the wall, an even the passage providing direct access from the courtyard is one that you would only know as such if you had been told (the extreme lowness of the door into the garden that way means that it cannot be used on Heritage Open Day for Health and Safety reasons). There are at least three places called Hampton Court, the famous one in Surrey, another in Herefordshire, and this one (Wolsey’s former pad in Surrey is the parvenu of the three). This Hampton Court is named in honour of John Hampton who was responsible for the newest side of the courtyard, which actually made it a courtyard (even this, two centuries younger than anything else there, dates from the 17th century). He was a baker who made good use of being based at the heart of a town that was the third busiest port in England at the time – he specialized in ship’s biscuits, for which he had a captive market.

The part of Hampton Court visible from the garden dates from 1440 and started life as an arcade fronted warehouse facing directly onto the river (it is the last surviving example of such a frontage in England). The earliest part of Hampton Court dates from 1350, and the first expansion happened in 1400.

The warehouse lost its raison d’etre through two factors: ships got bigger, and the river silted up. A new quayside was constructed resulting in the relocation of the river to its current location fractionally east of Hampton Court, and this left the warehouse quite literally high and dry.

It was nearly lost forever in the mid 20th century, because in the 1930s Hampton Court was basically derelict. At one time the council intended to knock it down and replace it with a modern block of flats but then a very determined lady by the name of Mrs Lane came on the scene. She bought the place up bit by bit and renovation work started. From this the King’s Lynn Preservation Trust came into being, and they own the freehold on Hampton Court to this day, with the individual flats, which are all different from one another, being leasehold properties.

My chief responsibility in my stewarding role was take note of numbers of people coming to visit. These numbers were reassuringly high – by the end of the day the tally was in the region of 500 visitors, and there were many expression of surprise and delight from those to whom it was a new place.

OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS

These remaining photographs were taken at various places in and around town during the day but do not belong in any specific section…

A Plan for Australia

A detailed look at possibilities for The Ashes.

With the last test of the series against India cancelled officially due to a Covid outbreak in the Indian ranks and unofficially due to the Indian players and board prioritizing the IPL over test cricket, I offer up detailed suggestions for the upcoming Ashes tour.

A BIG SQUAD NEEDED

In view of the situation, with Covid still very much with us, and Australia unlikely to allow reinforcements to be flown in mid-series England will need a large squad to give themselves a chance of getting through the tour. Thus the bulk of this post will look at 22 players who I have arranged into two teams who might contest a warm-up match. Before I get into that part of the post I need to clear up a few details, and after I have finished I will mention a couple of other players of promise.

PLAYERS NOT COVERED
IN THIS POST

There are some well known names who for various reasons do not feature in the main part of the post:

  • Players who are hors de combat for various reasons: Jofra Archer and Olly Stone are both definitely unavailable due to injuries, and even if Stuart Broad recovers in time to make the tour an away Ashes series is probably not advisable for someone coming back from a serious injury. Ben Stokes must also be regarded as unavailable at present – until and unless he himself states that he is ready to return to the side he should not be a factor in anyone’s calculations.
  • Players who are surplus to test requirements: I have seen enough of Moeen Ali, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow to be certain that none of them belong in the test arena. Ali averages less than 29 with the bat, almost 37 with the ball and appears to be on the decline into the bargain, Bairstow had one good 12 month period starting in December 2015, but either side of that has consistently averaged in the mid 20s in a career that spans nine years, while Malan has produced one major test innings in his life and is now in his mid 30s.
  • Players I do not think need to play a warm up fixture, though they will be in the squad: Joe Root and Jos Buttler. The former would give whichever side he was part of a huge advantage, while we all know what the latter is capable of.

TEAM ABELL

  1. Tom Haines: Sussex, left handed opening batter. This season has been a breakout one for the youngster (23 years old), with him averaging close to 50 with the bat for his county.
  2. Alex Davies: Warwickshire (leaving Lancashire at the end of this season), right handed opening batter, occasional wicket keeper. He has had two strong seasons in a row (is avergaing 48 this season), and the fact that in retaliation for his decision to move to Warwickshire Lancashire have been vindictive enough to drop him (a classic example of cutting the nose off to spite the face) should have no bearing on whether or not he gets picked for this party.
  3. *Tom Abell: Somerset, right handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler, captain. He has been superb for Somerset this season and is an excellent skipper.
  4. Harry Brook: Yorkshire, right handed batter. The 22 year old Yorkshireman has a modest overall record but has been excellent this season and appears to have a fine temperament.
  5. Ollie Pope: Surrey, right handed batter, occasional keeper. Has an awesome record for Surrey but has yet to translate this to a higher level, though he did score 81 in the first innings of the last test at his home ground, and appears one of two genuine candidate for this slot.
  6. Oliver George Robinson: Kent, wicket keeper, right handed batter. The 23 year old is one of a number of talented young keeper batters that England have available to them.
  7. Matt Critchley: Derbyshire, right handed batter, leg spinner. His bowling does not quite allow him to be called an all rounder, but he has been batting well for Derbyshire of late, and his leg spin is not entirely to be disregarded.
  8. Craig Overton: Somerset, right arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter. As Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett showed a decade ago extra height can be a valuable asset in Australia, and the giant Devonian has it in spades. He is also a more than handy batter to have coming at eight.
  9. Mark Wood: Durham, right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. With Archer and Stone both hors de combat he is the only express bowler England can seriously consider (Brydon Carse, his Durham team mate, is just as quick but has an uninspiring red ball record, and I have come to hate seeing players picked for test cricket based on white ball performances).
  10. Jack Leach: Somerset, left arm orthodox spinner, left handed lower order batter. He is the only current England spinner with a respectable test record (62 wickets in 16 matches at 29.98 – so almost four wickets a game and an average the right side of 30). In first class cricket there are a couple of spinners with cheaper averages than his 26 per wicket, but they have many fewer wickets than he does. It is one of the great absurdities of the last couple of years that he has not been England’s first choice spinner on a regular basis.
  11. James Anderson: Lancashire, right arm fast medium bowler, left handed lower order batter. England’s all time leading wicket taker. He was the leading wicket taker in the series last time England won in Australia a decade ago, and there is little sign of his powers waning for all that he turned 39 during this season

This side contains a solid top five, a talented keeper/batter at six, a player in good batting for at seven, and a well balanced front four bowlers, with support available from Critchley’s leg spin and Abell’s medium pace. Now it is time for a look at the opposition…

TEAM BURNS

  1. *Rory Burns: Surrey, left handed opening batter, captain. Only one English batter not named Root has scored a test ton in 2021, this man. He also has two fifties in his last three innings and is showing signs of forming a successful opening partnership with…
  2. Haseeb Hameed: Nottinghamshire, right handed opening batter. Having begun a renaissance after moving from Lancashire following a couple of lean seasons he announced his return to form to a wider audience when he scored a ton for the County Select XI v The Indians. His subsequent recall to the test ranks has seen two fifties in three innings back, both coming in century stands with Burns.
  3. James Bracey:Gloucestershire, right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. A typical moment in recent England selection history saw this man make his test debut in his second favourite role and batting way out of position at number seven. Not altogether surprisingly he fared poorly on that occasion, but he deserves another chance, this time in his proper position and preferred role.
  4. Liam Livingstone: Lancashire, right handed batter, occasional purveyor of both off and leg spin. Has a good FC record, although he is better known for his white ball exploits.
  5. Dan Lawrence: Essex, right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He and Pope are the principal contenders for the no5 slot, and both have shown promise with neither staking an unassailable claim to the place.
  6. +Ben Foakes: Surrey, right handed batter, wicket keeper. The best English keeper currently playing the game and a fine middle order batter. I put him at six to insulate him just a bit from batting with the tail – nos 7 and 8 can both be counted as all rounders and the no9 is better than most lower order batters.
  7. Chris Woakes: Warwickshire, right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. With the colossus Stokes having to be regarded as hors de combat this man is the best all rounder available to England, and he would walk into almost any test side. His return to test action against India at The Oval saw him take a good haul of wickets, score a 50 and offer some decent resistance in the second innings when England were slumping.
  8. Liam Patterson-White: Nottinghamshire, left arm orthodox spinner, left handed batter. He recently reached a maiden first class hundred at the expense of Somerset, and his wickets in that match took his bowling average below 30. His temperament appears to be excellent as well. He has less FC experience than anyone else in either side.
  9. Oliver Edward Robinson: Sussex, right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. He has had a sensational start to his test career, and as a bowler who uses his great height to cause opponents problems he may well enjoy bowling in the homeland of Glenn McGrath. His batting can also be valuable.
  10. Matt Parkinson: Lancashire, leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. After 29 first class games the young leg spinner has 93 wickets at 23.95. That average is excellent, but there is a concern over the relatively low wickets per game ratio. Nevertheless I feel that he deserves a place in this tour party – no current English spinner with over 5oFC wickets has taken them more cheaply than the Lancastrian.
  11. Saqib Mahmood: Lancashire, right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. He has 70 wickets in FC cricket at 26 a piece and is quite sharp.

This side contains a good top five, one of the greatest of all wicket keepers, genuine all rounders at seven and eight, a bowler who can bat at nine and two excellent bowlers to round out the XI.

I conclude this section with a graphic:

ODDS AND ENDS

This section looks at a few other players who may be on the radar before long:

  • English off spinners have generally struggled down under (even Graeme Swann paid almost 40 per wicket in 2010-11, and failed to make it through the 2013-14 series), which is why none feature in my selections. There are two whose current records suggest they may make the grade eventually: Jack Carson of Sussex and Amar Virdi of Surrey.
  • Dan Moriarty, a left arm orthodox spinner, has a remarkable record in his fledgling first class career and may well be a candidate for elevation in the near future.
  • Luke Hollman, a leg spinning all rounder, has recently recorded a ten wicket match haul for Middlesex, and he may be a candidate in future.
  • When qualified for England Ricardo Vasconcelos of Northamptonshire will be a candidate for a top order berth.
  • Various fast medium bowlers whose chief weapon is accuracy have been overlooked because bowlers of that type rarely make much impact down under: Ben Coad, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter and Ben Sanderson are four who have very fine county records.

Please feel free to comment with suggestions of your own.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Well done for making it to the end of this post and enjoy my usual sign off…

A Look Back at The Oval and Forward to Old Trafford

A look back at the test match that concluded yesterday at The Oval and a look forward to Old Trafford.

This post looks back at the test match at The Oval that finished yesterday afternoon with India winning by 157 runs and guaranteeing themselves at least a share of the series and forward to the final match at Old Trafford.

A GREAT TURNAROUND

England won the toss and put India into bat. At first all seemed well, with India soon 127-7, but a fifty of record equalling rapidity from Shardul Thakur boosted India to 191. England’s first innings followed an all too familiar pattern: various players got starts but with the exceptions of Pope (81) and Woakes (50) no one went on to a significant score and England’s advantage was 99, much less than it should have been. On days three and four, under cloudless skies and on a pitch with no devil in it England were toothless. Most of the bowlers were at least reasonably economical, with the sore thumb like exception of Moeen Ali who leaked runs at 4.5 an over. England needed a spinner to bowl a long economical spell and enable the quicker bowlers to be properly rested and got 26-0-118-2, with one of the wickets definitely given away and the other a decent dismissal. With Rohit Sharma scoring a ton, Pujara a fifty and Thakur his second fifty of the match India reached 466, leaving England needing to score 368 which had they done it would have been their largest ever successful run chase, and over 100 more than their previous best such effort at The Oval, 263-9 in “Jessop’s Match” of 1902. Burns and Hameed batted through the closing stages of the fourth day with no alarms, closing on 77-0, with the ask down to 291. On the fifth morning this pair completed their second century stand in three innings as an opening pair. Both fell in quick succession after reaching 50s, but England were still only two down at lunch time. The first hour after lunch settled the destiny of the match. Bumrah bowled a magnificent spell and was brilliantly supported by left arm spinner Jadeja. Bumrah’s post lunch spell read 6-3-6-2. One of those wickets was Bairstow, cleaned up for a duck with a yorker that a fast bowler of an earlier era would have described as “wasted on thee” as it was a far better ball than would actually be required to pierce Bairstow’s “defences” early in an innings. Moeen Ali also collected a duck. His dismissal made it 147-6, and it was a question of when the final wicket would fall. England’s lower order resisted gallantly, but they were all out for 210 not long after tea and India had won by 157 runs.

All credit to India for a magnificent comeback and in the end a thoroughly convincing win. England have several problems, two of which the naming of the squad for Old Trafford addresses.

LOOKING AHEAD TO OLD TRAFFORD

England have named a squad of 16 from which the XI at Old Trafford will be picked. They have made two good calls – Buttler has made himself available and is included, and Leach has been recalled to the squad as well. Unfortunately Ali and Bairstow are both still in the squad, and Malan seemingly retains his no three slot.

The best available XI from the named squad in my opinion is: Burns, Hameed, Malan, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, S Curran, Overton, Wood and Leach (Anderson is not in the squad, and Robinson is running on fumes and with a drawn series the best England can do should be rested.

To my mind two big mistakes have been made with the naming of this squad. Tom Abell should come in at number three (Malan is in his middle thirties and has a very moderate test record), and Matt Parkinson should be given his debut in front of a home crowd. I would also not have bothered including Ali or Bairstow in the squad as neither deserve to play. My chosen XI would thus have been Burns, Hameed, Abell, *Root, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Overton, Wood, Leach and Parkinson, reckoning that on a spin friendly ground Woakes, Overton and Wood plus a few overs of Abell’s medium pace would be enough seam options.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Long Weekend 7: Bamburgh

Continuing the story of my long weekend away with an account of the visit to Bamburgh that brought Monday’s activities to a close.

Welcome to the latest post in my series about my long weekend away (14-17 August). The previous post in the series took us up to the end of our visit Holy Island. Today we conclude the Monday’s activities with an account of a brief visit to Bamburgh.

HISTORY

Bamburgh was originally known as Bebbanburg, and is still dominated by the castle (the current version is of course much newer, but there has been a castle there since at least the seventh century – it was an important fortress in Anglo-Saxon times. It is at the heart of Bernard Cornwell’sUhtred of Bebbanburg‘ series of historical novels, set in Anglo-Saxon times, and also features in Matthew Harffy’sBernicia Chronicles‘, set at a similar time. Cornwell claims to a be a direct descendant of the last family to have privately owned the castle.

ST AIDAN’S CHURCH

In my previous post I mentioned the importance of St Aidan to the religious history of the northeast of England, and it is entirely appropriate that the second most significant place in Bamburgh to the mighty castle that overshadows it is a large church dedicated to this saint. There is a very impressive monument to Grace Darling, who saved a group of Scottish sailors from death by drowning (like the RNLI today she concentrated on saving their lives, without unduly concerning herself with their background – some of the criticisms aimed at the RNLI because it strictly obeys the law of the sea disgust me), the church itself contains features of interest, and the crypt well repays a visit (there is a brief movie to watch while you are down there).

THE CASTLE

By the time we reached the base of the castle I was feeling very tired, and decided to sit on a bench, photographing the castle and other features of interest rather than climb up the hill for a really close look. Even from the width of cricket ground the castle is a massively impressive site, covering the entire summit of a quite substantial hill.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Bamburgh yielded some fine photographs:

A Long Weekend 6: Lindisfarne Castle

Completing my account of the visit to Holy Island, part of a series of posts I am doing about my long weekend of 14-17 August.

Welcome to this latest post in my series about my long weekend doing family things. In the previous post I covered up to the entrance to Lindisfarne Castle. In this post I take the story up to our departure from Holy Island.

LINDISFARNE CASTLE

Somewhat surprisingly for a castle, even one completely redesigned in the early 20th century, the rooms are all quite small. There are a couple of decent videos along the way round, and the views from the upper gun battery are stunning.

THE REST OF HOLY ISLAND

Having finished at the castle we walked back by way of some of the older remains, including the foundations of the earliest religious building on the island (dates from the seventh century – St Aidan, who arrived in that part of the world in the year 635 is credited with bringing Christianity to what is now the northeast of England – nb ‘Englaland’, the predecessor term to England, was not used before the early tenth century). We stopped for refreshments at The Manor House hotel, which served some good local beers. The chips were better than they originally looked, and the whitebait were excellent. After leaving Holy Island we headed for Bamburgh, which forms the subject of the next post in this series.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some pictures from the closing stages of our visit to Holy Island…

A Long Weekend 5: Lime Kilns and Walled Garden

Continuing my account of my recent long weekend away, with a look at Lindisfarne Lime Kilns and the Gertrude Jekyll walled garden.

My previous post in this somewhat syncopated series which deals with the period 14-17 August inclusive started my coverage of Holy Island/ Lindisfarne. This post continues the story, taking us right up to the entrance to the castle itself.

THE LIME KILNS

The top of the lime kilns are not accessible on safety grounds, being open shafts, but one can explore them at ground level, and I found doing so incredibly rewarding. This is basically an interconnecting network of high ceilinged tunnels, with brickwork still in fine condition. There are some fine sea views as well, and some interesting information about the history and use of the kilns.

THE JEKYLL GARDEN

The walled garden, designed and laid out by Gertrude Jekyll (pronounced Jee-kull, not as Stephenson’s doctor is Jeck-ill) is very much in keeping with her original design which was an act of rebellion against formal Victorian gardens. There are some very interesting plants in there, and like the kilns it well repays a bit of exploring.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…