Lake District 2023 4: Exploring Ambleside

A look at Ambleside, as I get into the meat of my series about my holiday in the Lake District.

I am back from my short holiday in the Lake District, though I still have quite a lot of photos to edit. This post (see here for the earlier ones, posted while I was there).


On the Saturday evening we did a small amount of exploring the town, including consuming beers at the bar of the cinema (we had gone the wrong way from the cottage we were staying in, and missed the pubs which we then saw on our walk back). The following day we visited the pier to find out details about lake cruises, and decided to do that on the Monday. We walked round the lakeside as far as a place called Low Wood Bay, a small resort for the seriously well heeled, and got a bus back into Ambleside. After the Monday we took one more boat ride on Tuesday morning, but thereafter focussed our attentions on the excellent bus network as a way to get from place to place. Ambleside Bus Interchange proved very well located for our purposes, a very short walk from the cottage in which we were staying.


Here are the first set of Ambleside pictures (there will be at least one further pure Ambleside post), which include a few pointers to what else will be coming up later in the series…

An Epic Backlog of Images

Some hints of what is to come on this blog when I have edited all the pictures I have from my holiday in the Lake District.

After yesterday’s boat trips around Windermere and today’s visits to Brockholes, Grasmere (“The Grasmere Grudge” for my fellow Tope fans) and Keswick (where in Tope’s lake mysteries series main protagonists Persimmon ‘Simmy’ Brown’s other half Christopher Henderson works as an auctioneer) I have a huge number of images to edit and prep for showing on this blog. However, I though this was a good moment to signpost some of the many forthcoming posts about this holiday.


Ambleside is a fine little town in its own right, and since every trip starts with a walk to some part of Ambleside or other (my parents car has remained parked just below the cottage in which we are staying since our arrival on Saturday and will do so until Thursday morning when my journey home begins) opportunities for taking photographs in and around Ambleside have abounded.


The atrocious behaviour of the local water company notwithstanding (they have been polluting Windermere by pumping raw sewage into it) Windermere remains very scenic, and the boat trips I have taken have been exceedingly enjoyable.


Windermere is home to a considerable quantity of birdlife (I have am not close to editing all my bird images yet), and I have managed to capture a not entirely insignificant fraction of it.


For very obvious reasons there are tight speed limits on Windermere, but nonetheless a considerable variety of watercraft make use of it.


One of the boat drop of points for the big Windermere Cruise is called Lakeside, and is one terminus of a heritage railway which follows the line of Windermere’s exit river towards the Irish sea. It travels a short distance to a place called Haverthwaite, and then back to get another boat onwards, and is a fun little journey.


The last place for which I have any edited images is Castle Wray, which I captured from afar a number of times before we actually landed at it’s boathouse on Monday evening. The close pictures are among the unedited at the moment. It is not a real castle – it was built in the 1840s for a wealthy doctor.

From Old Computer to New Computer via Even Older Computer

An account of changing computers by way of explaining a few days of not blogging.

I am finally able to blog again after a few days without a computer on which I could do so. This post describes the trials and tribulations of the last few days.


My old computer gave warning signs of trouble on Sunday, and on Monday morning it became very obvious that it was no longer usable. As a temporary measure to maintain some degree of connectivity I dug my even older computer out, and fortunately it proved still just about usable, although I could not do much on it. On Wednesday morning I went to PC World to check out new computers and find one that would do what I needed and was not too extortionately priced (my mother was willing to cover the cost, for which I am very grateful. My local PC World is on an industrial estate just to the south of King’s Lynn proper, while I live just to the north of King Lynn’s proper. This gave me, as a non-driver, two options: two buses, into and then out of town, or a longish walk. It being spring, and the weather actually being springlike I opted without hesitation for the latter. I found a suitable machine at a not extortionate price and made the necessary arrangements, and left it with the store for them to set it up for me, which they said would take a couple of days. Today, wanting the machine in my possession for my upcoming trip to the lake district I went back to PC World to collect, and eventually was able to do so.


I connected to my new computer, while keeping the very old one connected as well for a few moments in case I needed to check emails on it to access my email account from the new device. Once I was sure I would not need to use it further I returned to it is old resting place in case of emergency. The photo editing software on the new machine is somewhat different from that on the old machine and I am still coming to terms with it.


The photographs in this section were edited on three different machines – my very old laptop, a computer at King’s Lynn library and my new laptop…

The above were edited on my very old laptop…

Some of the images I have edited on my new laptop…

The third section of the gallery are the pictures I edited at the library on Monday.

All Time XIs – Before the County Championship

A look at the best players from before the official inauguration of the county championship, some comments on the selection of England test squad for the one off match against Ireland and a large photo gallery.

Today I create an XI of the best players most or all of whose careers took place before there was a county championship. Incidentally, there is a page from which all my posts about Saturday’s excursion to Pensthorpe can be accessed. Before I get into the main business of today’s post there is a brief section about…


The squad for the first test match of the home season, against Ireland is now out, and there are three areas of concern, two selections and an omission. Zak Crawley, a proven failure at test level, retains his slot at the top of the order. Far worse, Ben Foakes has been dropped to make way for the return to test action of Jonathan Bairstow. There may be a case for picking Bairstow, though in a test career which stretches back to 2012 he has blown hot and cold, and more often cold than hot, but there is not even the shadow of a case for dropping Foakes, the best current keeper by far, and someone who has been scoring big runs for Surrey in the championship this season, including a century at better than a run a ball when Surrey were looking for a declaration. Many people have posed this as being a challenge about how to accommodate Bairstow, and I have two options, listed in order of preference:

  1. Opt for what C Auguste Dupin would call “the sagacious and comprehensive expedient of making no attempt to accommodate Bairstow”. England are coming off a very successful winter without Bairstow, and Bairstow’s overall test record is that of a mediocre middle order batter, certainly not sufficient to warrant discarding Foakes.
  2. Have Bairstow open the innings as he does in white ball cricket and drop the proven failure Crawley (I would prefer to see a proper opener such as Ben Compton or Ali Orr picked in Crawley’s case, but at least Bairstow would probably be an improvement were he coming in in place of Crawley).

It is now time to get back to the main meat of the post…


  1. *WG Grace (right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types through his career, captain). Had a quarter of a century of first class experience by the time of the first official county championship, so even though he played his last first class game as late as 1908 he qualifies.
  2. Arthur Shrewsbury (right handed opening batter). The man WG rated as the second best batter around (himself obviously no1), and since he played 15 years of FC before the inauguration of the Championship and 12 afterwards he just qualifies.
  3. James Aylward (left handed batter). In 1777, just eight years after John Minshull had scored the first recorded century in any form of cricket, he hit the Hambledon record score of 167, which remained an all comers record for 43 years.
  4. William ‘Silver Billy’ Beldham (right handed batter). In an era when centuries of any kind were rare he hit three in matches of indisputably first class status.
  5. Fuller Pilch (right handed batter). Acknowledged as the best batter of the 1830s and 1840s, a period when scoring was very low.
  6. Alfred Mynn (right handed batter, right arm fast bowler). “The Lion of Kent”, an absolute man mountain, and a great all rounder. He was quick enough that on one occasion someone fielding at long stop (directly behind the keeper) to his bowling once had to be hospitalized after being hit in the chest by several of his deliveries.
  7. Vyell Walker (right handed batter, right arm slow underarm bowler). One of only two cricketers to have scored a century and taken an all-10 in the same first class fixture (the other, WG, is also in this XI). As an underarm bowler any turn he got would have been the equivalent of an overarm bowler bowling leg spin, which makes him a good slow bowling partner for the next guy in the order…
  8. Billy Bates (right handed batter, off spinner). A massively impressive career record, probably equating in the modern era to averaging 32 with the bat and 25 the ball (actual averages were 21 and 17). He was even better in his brief test career, averaging 27 with bat and 16 with the ball, which probably equates to 41 and 24 in the modern era.
  9. +Tom Box (wicket keeper, right handed batter). He appeared in every fixture that Sussex played for an unbroken 24 year period, and although his batting average looks very low to modern eyes it is about 60% of that of Fuller Pilch, rated the best batter of the era.
  10. William Lillywhite (right arm fast roundarm bowler, right handed lower order batter). Rated the best bowler of his era (he was referred to as ‘the Nonpareil’, one half of my envisaged new ball pairing.
  11. William Mycroft (left arm fast bowler, right handed tail end batter). 800 first class wickets at 12 a piece.

This side has a powerful batting line up, with everyone down to Bates at number eight definitely capable of playing a match winning innings. The bowling, with Mycroft, Lillywhite and Mynn to bowl pace, and Bates and Walker two contrasting types of slow bowler, plus of course the redoubtable WG is magnificent, having both depth and variety.


The two chief rivals to Shrewsbury for the position of Grace’s opening partner were John Small of Hambledon and EM Grace. Lambert, scorer of twin centuries in a match in 1817, a feat which stood alone for half a century until WG Grace emulated it might have had a middle order slot. George Osbaldeston was a fine fast bowling all rounder, but not I reckon the equal of Mynn. Had I been going to pick an overseas player it would have been Dr ME Pavri (India), who visited England in the 1890s and achieved remarkable things as a pace bowling all rounder (once in his native land he decided in advance that team mates weren’t needed, took on an XI on his unaided own, and beat them). Among the great bowlers who missed out were David Harris (Hambledon), the Notts duo of Alfred Shaw and Fred Morley, James Broadbridge and John Wisden both of Sussex and two Yorkshire speedsters, Tom Emmett (left arm) and George Freeman (right arm). Sam Redgate, John Jackson and George Tarrant would all also have their advocates.


My usual sign off…

Pensthorpe 2023 – Cranes and Flamingos

The final installment in my series about Saturday’s excursion to Pensthorpe, featuring Cranes and Flamingos.

Welcome to the final post in my mini-series about the excursion to Pensthorpe on Saturday. Our subjects are cranes and flamingos. The former are the subject of one of Pensthorpe’s major conservation efforts.


As you enter the area where the cranes and flamingos are the flamingo pool is in one direction, open and visible, and the birds themselves, clustered together in numbers, are even more so. In the other direction is the crane hide, with wide, shallow windows each of which you can observe a different species of crane through. I actually managed to visit this part of Pensthorpe twice in the course of the day, near the beginning and near the end (visiting it also means passing within sight of the Monet inspired bridge, pictures of which featured in my introductory post, which is a bonus).

Pensthorpe 2023: Ducks and Geese

Continuing my mini-series about my visit to Pensthorpe with a look at the ducks and geese that I saw there, which include some exotic species as well as some commonplace ones.

This is the second post in my mini-series (the first is here) about my visit to Pensthorpe yesterday as part of a West Norfolk Autism Group excursion.


A huge variety of duck and goose species were on show all around Pensthorpe. The Barnacle Geese (black and white coloured and smaller than any other variety of goose at Pensthorpe) were notably aggressive. There were goose families of one sort or another on or around virtually every pathway. Ducks of varying species were using pretty much every available body of water.


We start with the ducks…

Now for the geese:

Local Elections 2023

A look at some of the stories emerging from the local elections which took place in England yesterday. Also a huge photo gallery.

Yesterday saw local council elections in various parts of the country. Many of the results have now been confirmed, although we are still waiting for quite a lot as well, including my own King’s Lynn and West Norfolk. This post looks at what we know so far.


The Tories have been taking an absolute hammering. Sir Keir Starmer’s Tory Tribute Act that still has the gall to call itself Labour is basically flat lining, while Independents of various kinds, Liberal Democrats and Greens have been making major gains.


The biggest success by someone standing under an independent designation was by Alan Gibbons in the newly created Orrell Park ward. Gibbons, hounded out of Starmer’s Labour, stood for Liverpool Community Independents and achieved 77% of the vote, while the official Labour candidate managed 19%. There have also been major successes for Independents in South Tyneside and a few other areas.


They have had successes in some deep blue areas, winning seats in the Cotswolds, and also in die-hard Tory Essex – they now control Brentwood Council, having gained three seats yesterday.


A record breaking set of elections for my party. They have already gained control of Mid-Suffolk Council, the first time they have had an absolute majority of seats on any council. They are also the largest party on East Hertfordshire council, remarkable given that only a few years ago the Tories held EVERY seat on that council. In Bath they took out the current Mayor, while they have also won a seat in Merstham, Surrey for the first time ever. Other areas that have seen Green successes include Darlington and Worcester. Heather Skibsted, hounded out of Starmer’s Tory Tribute Act of a party, won a seat for the Greens in Peterborough. I await with some eagerness the results from Saint Margarets with St Nicholas ward, next door to me, where there are two Green candidates. In my own ward there were a beggarly three candidates for two seats, two Labour and one Tory. I was seriously tempted to spoil my ballot paper in protest at the paucity of choices, but gritted my teeth and voted to prevent the Tory from getting in – to quote a line that Colleen McCullough assigned to Pompey in one of her series of Roman historical novels, in that case in context of Marcus Favonius, known as ‘Cato’s ape’ because he slavishly imitated the latter, “The ape is not the equal of the master” – even Sir Keir’s abomination of a Labour Party is not as bad the actual Tories.


In a number of seats being contested this time there has been much heat and rather little light around active travel, and associated traffic calming measure such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). In every seat where this was a significant issue those most virulently opposed to any form of traffic restriction did appallingly and folk in favour of encouraging active travel did well – vociferous as the opponents of such things as LTNs can be they are few in number.


Although this has not been one of my usual posts, it ends with my usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (14)

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Also has a king sized photo gallery.

Welcome to the next stage in my extended analysis of how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. The Cs still occupy the hot seat, and they start today with 23 of a possible 90 points to their credit.


The Cs in theory have the stronger opening pair but a) both the Ts openers were regulars at that job, unlike the Cs, and b) Victor Trumper played in an era when run scoring was less than it is now. Therefore I say that the Ts win here. Frank Tarrant at three is outdone by Chappelli for the Cs, although he would average more with the bat had he played in Chappell’s era rather than considerably earlier, so this contest is not is clear in Chappelli’s favour as it looks. Tendulkar beats Compton, but Thorpe loses to G Chappell. As against that Ross Taylor is much better with the bat than Constantine. Carter beats Bob Taylor with the bat, but the Ts man was the finer keeper. Tyson and Trueman outrank even Cummins and Croft as a new ball pair, and Thomson is far superior to Constantine as third seamer. Trumble is clear of Cornwall, and Tarrant the bowler rates little if any behind Chandrasekhar. I make the Ts winners in all departments, save for Carter being better with the bat than his rival keeper, and accordingly score this Cs 0, Ts 5.


The Cs win the top five batting slots, with only Inzamam Ul-Haq and Misbah Ul-Haq winning their match ups. Umrigar at six is better with the bat than Constantine, while Ulyett makes up for being outbatted by comfortably outbowling Constantine. Umar Akmal was a finer batter than Carter but a fraction of the keeper that the Aussie was. Umar Gul and Umran Malik are comfortably out pointed by Cummins and Croft, although Umran Malik would be the fastest of the four. Ur Rahman is a better off spinner than Cornwall by some way, and Underwood outranks Chandrasekhar as a bowler. Chappelli outranks Misbah Ul-Haq as a captain. The Cs win on batting, captaincy, keeping and new ball bowling, the Us have the better third seamer, more batting from their keeper and boss the spin bowling department. Overall the Cs are obviously clear, but allowing for one serious turner out of five I score this one Cs 4, Us 1.


The Cs win on opening pairs even allowing for Vine averaging more these days than he did in his actual playing days. Chappelli just edges Vaughan on batting, and also beats the Yorkie on captaincy, by a slightly wider margin. Compton beats Viswanath and G Chappell beats Vengsarkar. Verreynne handsomely beats Carter on batting but is well behind him as a keeper. Vaas was less of a batter than Constantine, but wins the bowling side of their match up more convincingly than the figures suggest – as third seamer in a strong attack he would perform even better than he actually did as opening bowler in a weak one. The Cs win the battle of the new ball pairs – Van der Bijl probably was the best of the four bowlers involved in this match up, but Voce undoubtedly ranks fourth, some way adrift of third. Vogler and Chandrasekhar are close as bowlers, while Verity blows Cornwall out of the water. The Cs have a noticeable advantage in batting, but the Vs are well clear in bowling, especially given that they have a sixth front line option in Vine. I think the Vs bowling guns settle this one, but it is far from one sided: Cs 2, Vs 3.


The Cs have theoretically the better opening pair, but Worrell and Woolley were more suited to opening than Chanderpaul and Cowdrey. Weekes is massively clear of Chappelli with the bat, and Worrell probably just wins the captaincy side of that match up. Walcott beats Compton, while G Chappell is just ahead of Waugh. Watling massively outbats Carter, but the Aussie was the finer keeper. Woods outranks Constantine in both departments. Cummins and Croft outrank Willis and Whitty as a new ball combo, although Whitty’s left arm reduces the margin between these combos. Woods’ advantage over Constantine, and the presence of Worrell as a fourth seam option gives the Ws a clear win in this department. Warne is clear of Chandrasekhar, and Wardle knocks the spots of Cornwall, and the Ws also have Woolley’s left arm orthodox spin as a third option in that department. There is no set of circumstances that enables the Cs to come out on top, so: Cs 0, Ws 5.


The Cs dominate the top batting, although Dexter wins his match up against Chappelli. As against that, Chappelli was a much better skipper than Kippax. Axar Patel beats Constantine in both departments. The Xs are well down in the pace bowling department, but have lots of depth in the spin bowling department. Box was a legendary keeper, and bearing in mind that the best batter of his era, Fuller Pilch, averaged less than 20, he is not outgunned by Carter in that department either. The Cs win this one, but not in a whitewash: Cs 4, Xs 1.


The Cs accrued 10 points out of 25 today, meaning that they now have 33 points out of 115, 28.69%.


I have a huge photo gallery to share today. To view a photo at full size just click on it