England In Control In 1st Test

Cricket, Politics, Public Transport and Photography, features two excellent videos.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the goings on in the first test in New Zealand and at the upcoming election. I also have plenty of photographs to share.

ENGLAND IN CONTROL

England had made a solid start on day 1, reaching 241-4. Burns while never really looking convincing managed to chisel out a half century, while Denly and Stokes also made runs. Day 2 started with a lot of the good work being undone, as Stokes and Pope each played loose strokes to surrender their wickets, and Curran and Archer fell cheaply. However, Jack Leach’s adhesiveness combined with Buttler’s strokeplay to save England’s blushes, and a final total of 353 looked respectable. Sibley on his test debut managed 22, and shared a half-century opening stand with Burns.

By the end of the day it was looking rather more than respectable as New Zealand were 127-4, with the prize wicket of Kane Williamson falling just before close when a delivery from Curran leapt at him and he could only fend it behind for a catch. The Williamson dismissal indicates a pitch that is just starting to misbehave, and the kiwis will have to bat last on it. I would reckon that even 250 in that fourth innings will be too many for the kiwis.

An end of day 2 scorecard can be viewed here, and thefulltoss blog’s take on these first two days can be read here.

GE2019 LATEST

First of all, a little local item:

Video featuring Labour candidate Jo Rust speaking to two first time voters:

 

A good lead in to detail on the Labour party Manifesto…

The Labour Party’s manifesto was launched yesterday, and it is excellent. Here are several links for you to follow:

  1. Your starting point – the page from which you can visit the entire manifesto and all related documents.
  2. The environmental policies, for which they have used the title “Green Industrial Revolution“.
  3. Working in two links at once, Brexit and Internationalism.

Please read it all for yourself (a PDF version is here), including the accompanying documents.

To end this section, another video, courtesy of GMB by way of The Skwawkbox hilariously showing Johnson trying to concoct a manifesto:

A MORNING JOURNEY

I was required to be at Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Opthalmology reception by 8AM today. Making my usual allowances for things to go wrong I arrived there at 7:30AM. Just about an hour later it was time for the return journey, and I discovered that I had hit the start of a long gap between services heading into town. This strikes me as a something of a problem for a service catering among others to hospital patients, but I am fortunately in fairly good physical shape nowadays, and decided that rather than hang around waiting I would do some walking. Getting to the bus stop at which the routes from the Fairstead estate joined those from the hospital I checked the timetable, and seeing that I would not have much less long to wait even there, I kept walking, deciding that I would break for homeward journey by making a brief visit to Gaywood Library, after which I would leave the main road and head home by way of the Gaywood River path. I arrived back at just after 9:30AM having enjoyed the walk but conscious of the fact there would have been some who could not have avoided waiting for the bus, and conscious also of the crying need for the integrated public transport system outlined in yesterday’s manifesto. I have presented photos of the information boards along the Gaywood River path before, but deem them worth seeing again:

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PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are the rest of my photographs for this post…

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Hunstanton Library, where I was on Wednesday morning.

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Michael De Whalley’s leaflet (two images) – I understand that he is good local councillor, and I would be more than willing to vote for his party, but the only chance of non-Tory MP for my constituency is to vote Labour.

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Taken on the walk back from QEH this morning.

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Some Thoughts on Transport

Mainly about public transport, but also features autism and cricket, and of course has the usual stack of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post was prompted to by events on Monday, when I had to journey to Cambridge and back – in the course of the post I describe that day in full. However, before I get to the main body of the post there is something else to attend to…

NINE HUNDRED THANK YOUS

Well actually 902 to be precise, since that is the number of you now following this blog. I am very grateful to all of you.

A DAY THAT WAS AN ARGUMENT FOR RENATIONALISING THE RAILWAYS

I was due to visit Addenbrookes for a check-up on Monday, and had to be there by 12:00. This meant that the last train to Cambridge I could catch and arrive there with sufficient time to get to Addenbrookes was at 9:44AM, since the next was the 10:44 due at Cambridge at 11:37, which would have meant that even if it was on time I would have needed Lady Luck to play ball to be at Addenbrookes by 12:00. Being excessively cautious when it comes to making journeys by British public transport I was actually ready to leave my flat by 8:40 and saw no grounds for not doing so. I thus arrived at the station just before 9:00 and with no queue at the ticket office was actually able to board the 09:10 train, and never one to object to having extra time to spare did precisely that. It was a few minutes late departing, and then had to wait at Downham Market for a train coming the other way to pass (there are single track stretches between Downham Market and Littleport). Speed restrictions between Downham Market and Littleport cost us further time. At Cambridge I got a bus to Addenbrookes, and was there just before 11AM, giving me time to consume an early lunch before going to the oncology reception and announcing my presence.

Although the consultant was ready to see me promptly the people taking blood samples for testing were running behind, so I had to see the consultant first and then get that done. The consultation was exceedingly brief, since the scans done a week and a half earlier revealed nothing untoward (no news in this situation is most unequivocally good news). Once it came to my turn to be seen for them the blood samples were also to my great relief obtained without undue delay. Nevertheless, it was 12:45PM before I was finished at Addenbrookes. I got the express bus back to Cambridge (£2.20 instead of £1 for the regular bus, but in the circumstances worth the extra cost) and was there in time for the 13:36 to Lynn…

Cue more chaos. There was an out of service train occupying the platform from which the Lynn train was supposed to depart, causing a late platform alteration. The service was also delayed slightly (somebody had been hit by a train earlier in the day and the knock-on effects of that were being felt everywhere). However, once it got underway it ran fairly smoothly. Between them having the blood samples taken and the consultation took maybe ten minutes, maybe less, yet I left my flat at 8:40 and did not arrive back there until 3PM, and of that six hours and twenty minutes only about 40 minutes can be put down to Addenbrookes – the rest was a combination of my caution and the inadequacies of British public transport.

Although I fully accept that one cannot prevent incidents such as people being hit by trains from happening the rest, including the service pattern that meant I dared not run any risk being on a later train than 9:44 when I had an appointment at a hospital on the outskirts of Cambridge at 12:00 and the platform alteration due to an out of service train blocking the intended platform are wholly indefensible, and in the case of the platform alteration happen sufficiently often to be classed as regular occurrences on that line.

We need our railways to be fully publicly owned and fully publicly accountable. There only two groups of people in my opinion who should decide how railways are run – those who provide the service (railway workers) and those who use it (railway passengers).

Here are some photos from the journey:

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A NEW BOOK RELATING TO AUTISM

The book is to be called Your Life As I Knew It, and you can be part of making it a reality by visiting the funding site for it here.

EARTH XI TO PLAY MARS

This section was prompted by a post on the Full Toss blog comparing Virat Kohli and Steve Smith and inviting us to make a decision between them. My resolution to the conundrum was simply to avoid treating it as an ‘either, or’ situation. With Rohit Sharma and Mayant Agarwal shoo-ins as opening pair that left me only seven more players to find to make an XI. I have opted for Kane Williamson as the fifth specialist batter, Ben Stokes at six and as fifth bowler, Ben Foakes as wicketkeeper (he is the best currently playing, though as a controversialist I might be tempted to see if I could lure Sarah Taylor out of retirement for this one!), Rashid Khan the Afghan legspinner at 8 (a gamble, but I would love to see how he fares as part of an all-stars combo), Pat Cummins, Jofra Archer and Kagiso Rabada (Jasprit Bumrah is currently injured, otherwise he would be a shoo-in.). Thus the current Earth XI to take on Mars is as follows:

  1. Rohit Sharma
  2. Mayant Agarwal
  3. Virat Kohli
  4. Steve Smith
  5. *Kane Williamson
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. +Ben Foakes
  8. Rashid Khan
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Jofra Archer
  11. Kagiso Rabada

As twelfth man I nominate Ravindra Jadeja, spin bowling all-rounder and quite magnificent fielder.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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100 Cricketers – The Second XI Opening Pair

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the opening pair from my second XI.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. We are starting on the second XI (as explained in my introductory post to the series I have organised my 100 cricketers in nine XIs with a stand alone at the end to round out the 100), with the opening batters (the whole second XI can be seen here).

CHRIS GAYLE

So far the most successful batter that T20 cricket has ever seen, he also has a fine record in other forms of the game, including having two test match triple centuries to his credit. I saw him play a magnificent innings at the Adelaide Oval, watching from what became my regular spot at that ground, the bleachers in front of the Chappell Stand. On that occasion he scored 167 not out, which left Australia with a target of 330 of 81 overs (4.07 on over). The pitch still appeared to be totally benign, and only two of the West Indies bowlers, Kemar Roach who was regularly hitting the 150KPH mark on the speed gun and Sulieman Benn with his left arm spin had looked capable of posing a serious threat. With this is mind I was hoping for a really good finish, because I did not reckon that Australia being 1-0 to the good in a three match series gave them an excuse for putting up the shutters when they had an opportunity to go for the kill.

Unfortunately Ricky Ponting assessed the situation differently and decided that no attmept would be made on what should have been a very tempting target. Most frustratingly of all, once the match had been condemned to an inevitable draw by Australia’s refusal to go for the target a couple of their batters did play some strokes near the end, showing what might have been.

Although it is his batting that earns Chris Gayle his place in my 100 cricketers he has also had occasional moments of success with his offspin bowling. 

SMRITI MANDHANA

Mandhana burst on to the scene in the 2017 Women’s World Cup, helping India to reach the final, before Anya Shrubsole’s incredible bowling, which saw her become the first female to feature on the front cover of Wisden won that match for England. In the very first match of that tournament, again between England and India Mandhana had made a spectacular 86, well supported by her opening partner Punam Raut and India had run out deserved winners. Still only 22, she is now captain of India and scoring lots of runs (although not earlier today – see my previous post).

Like Chris Gayle she bats left handed and takes a very attacking approach to the game. However she is small, while he is very tall and solidly built, so there are plenty of contrasts as well as similarities  between this pair of opening batters.

COMING UP

My next post in this series will feature the all-rounders from this second XI and then I will cover the remaining specialist batters and finally the bowlers, introducing the third XI in that post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some of my pictures, all taken this morning:

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I was well positioned while listening to the cricket this morning to take some photographs of this facsimile 1907 railway map.

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A Massively Successful Auction

An account of yesterday’s splendidly successful auction.

INTRODUCTION

On Wednesday James and Sons had a small but very important auction featuring gold coins and proof sets. We were anticipating a very considerable success, because we knew that there were bids of sufficient size on every lot that everything would sell, and we also knew that some of the items had a very large number of watchers online (one had no fewer than 17). The rest of this post tells the story of a truly amazing auction.

TUESDAY – FINAL PREPARATIONS

In view of the high value of the gold the only items that were set out on display were as many of the proof sets as I could lay out on one large table. I also made sure that the IT was all fully functional, as the last thing we wanted was for a glitch to affect this auction. I was able to enjoy the NAS West Norfolk Steak Night at The Globe later that evening in the knowledge that all had gone as smoothly as it could have (I restricted myself to a modest two pints of Ringwood Fortyniner in view of the importance of the following day). 

WEDNESDAY – A DAY OF TRIUMPHS

I awoke a few minutes before my alarm was due to go off (not uncommon with me – the alarm is more insurance policy than necessity) and left my flat precisely as intended at 6:45, ensuring that there was no chance of missing the bus. Arriving at the shop, I unlocked, deactivated the alarm, then relocked the door as in view of what was in the shop I did not want customers coming in while I was there on my own. I then began to set up for the day. The auctioneer arrived not very long after me, and I was able to complete the setup, verify that everything was working and take some photographs. Before nine o’clock customers started arriving, and by 9:30 it was standing room only in the shop, as no fewer than 16 potential room bidders were present, in addition to over 60 online bidders and not a few who had put commission bids in in advance of the sale.

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The proof set display, with lot 135 front centre
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One of the two significant coins from lot 139…
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…and the other
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The setup before anyone else had arrived.
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Potential room bidders (three pics)

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Lot 139 on the big screen.

THE AUCTION STARTS

The first five lots were 1974 Krugerrands which were expected to make approximately £800 each and did exactly that. Then came lot 6, the James II Guinea which was one of two items that had been the subject of a query the previous day as a result of which it had extra images above the regular image gallery for such an item. Estimated at £500-750 the interest it had attracted saw the final hammer price reach exactly £1,000.

6
The first three images constitute my regular image gallery for a single coin.

6-a6-b

6-c
One of the questions asked about this coin related to the edge, and to help back up my own comments on the edge of this coin I took two photographs that between showed it in its entirety.

6-d

Lot 7 was a William III Half Guinea, which in relative terms fared even better since with an estimate of £300-500 it actually went for £900!

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Lots 8 to 24 inclusive were half sovereigns, and all sold well, most going for around the £100 mark. Lots 25 to 90 incluisve were…

SOVEREIGNS FROM VICTORIA THROUGH ELIZABETH II

These we knew would sell respectably, because a major and long standing client whose job is to sell gold items had put in commission bids of £180 a time on the whole lot, confirming our auctioneers valuation was on the mark. Most of the sovereigns actually sold for more than that, £190 being a common figure and a few of them going to and in some cases beyond £200. Then came…

LOTS 91-5 – THE HUGE SUCCESSES

The first four of these lots were high value gold proof sets which we were expecting to be on or around the four figure mark. Actually, and barely believable they went for £1,600, £2,000, £2,000 and £1,600 respectively!!

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Lot 95 was a sovereign in a gold mount with a gold chain and 8 1mm diamonds (in otherwords a very fancy necklace). Estimate at £300-400 it eventually sold for £550.

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After these it was time for…

THE REGULAR PROOF SETS

Of course after what gone before the proof sets were a little bit “after the Lord Mayor’s show”, but there were still a handful of highlights to come.

LOTS 113 AND 114

These were respectively a Scottish and Welsh proof set (hence the split colouring of the heading) each expected to make £8-12. The Scottish set went for £20 and the Welsh for £18

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These were a mere curtain raiser for…

LOT 121

A 1992 proof set featuring an EEC 50p coin the rarity of which turned a £10-15 estimate into a £50 hammer price!

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The next big success was…

LOT 128

This 1999 proof set featuring a Diana Princess of Wales £5, a bimetallic rugby £2 and Scottish coins from £1 down to 1p had an estimate of £15-20 and ended up going for £32.

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Then came two successive monster successes with…

LOTS 135 and 136

Lot 135, a 2009 proof set, featuring as it did the highly prized Kew Gardens 50p, the Henry VIII £5, and the Darwin and Burns £2 coins was estimated at £100-120 but ended up going for £220!

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A close up of this one was mandatory.
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I also deemed the Darwin £2 worthy of a close-up

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Lot 136 was a 2010 proof set featuring a Restoration of the Monarchy £5 (350th anniversary thereof), A Florence Nightingale £2, a London £1 and a Girl Guiding 50p. Estimated at £20-25 it sold for £100!!

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Not long later came…

LOT 139 – A BITTERSWEET IMAGER’S TRIUMPH

This London Underground 150th anniversary proof set had been badly misdescribed, with one of the £2 coins mentioned as featuring trains, and the roundel coin not even mentioned, but the imager’s efforts more than compensated for this. Estimated at £25-30 it attracted sufficient interest to push the final price up to £52 (and inter alia out of the imager’s reach, hence the heading of this section).

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Lot 139 in all it’s glory.
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The ’roundel’ coin which is fairly rare.
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The other London Underground 150th anniversary coin, which is much less rare.

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That was the last of the yearly proof sets, but there were still a few lots to go, and two of them provided noteworthy results.

LOT 148 – A SENEGALESE STUNNER

This 1975 Senegal Triple Crown, solid sterling silver, Euroafrique 150 franc coin, boxed and with a certificate was estimated at £15-20, but a lively bidding battle pushed the final price up to £48.

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Finally, came…

A STRONG FINISH

Lot 151, the final lot in this small sale,  was an accumulation box containing a few good bits and some ordinary stuff.  Estimated at £40-50 it ended up going for £95.

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Once the auction setup had been dismantled and the last room bidders had gone it was time for me to attend to other matters. You can view a catalogue for the general collector’s auction we have next Wednesday here.

THURSDAY – PUTTING TOGETHER A PRESS RELEASE ABOUT THIS AUCTION

Yesterday morning I produced a PR piece about the success of this sale, going big on the images as well. I conclude this piece with a link and a screenshot:

GOLD COIN AUCTION GIVES FAKENHAM AUCTIONEER BEST RESULT IN YEARSPRimage

 

 

 

 

 

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 2: St Germans to St Ives

The second post in my series about my visit to Cornwall, in which I cover the journey from St Germans to St Ives.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the second post in my series about my recent vsiit to Cornwall. As mentioned in the opening piece in this series I am breaking my coverage of my day out in St Ives into several posts. This post deals with the journey there (for the record, a day return from St Germans to St Ives costs £10.80), which is very scenic. For a Cornish perspective on St Ives check out this offering from the Cornish Maid.

ST GERMANS TO ST ERTH

The railway element of the journey to St Ives consists of two parts – a journey west along the main line as far as St Erth (penultimate stop on that route), and then a short journey north along a branch line which terminates at St Ives. St Germans to St Erth is a scenic journey in its own right:

Folk waiting flor 0927 to LondonConverted Carriage ISt Germans mapConverted Carriage IIGWR service to LondonGWR service to London IIGWR service to London IIIOld Oak Common locoUpgrade bannerSt Germans stationThe Bodmin and Wenford Railway curves away into the distanceAbove the line to LooeBodmin ParkwayBodmin and Wenford RailwayBodmin and Wenford posterLostwithielParSt AustellRedruthTowerPart of TruroCamborneCamborne II

Camborne III
I was particularly glad to note this tribute to the great Richard Trevithick.

ChurchesHayle

ST ERTH TO ST IVES

Though the route from St Germans to St Erth is scenic by any normal reckoning it is as nothing compared to the branch line from St Erth to St Ives. Although the route lists several intermediate stops the only one still in regular use is Lelant Saltings. I secured a window seat, although it turned out that I was not on the best side of the train and settled down to see what I could capture in the course of this journey.

Sea viewMarshlandMarshland IILelant Saltings

Heron, Lelant Saltings
The stop at Lelant Saltings enabled to me to zoom in on this heron.
River flows into Carbis Bay
The next few pictures feature mhy attempts to capture the beauty of Carbis Bay from a moving train.

Carbis Bay ICarbis Bay IIwatchpoint, Carbis BayPromontory, Carbis BaySt Ives StationWalks

A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE MAIN FEATURE OF MY NEXT POST

A few minutes after my arrival at St Ives the decision about my main activity while there was settled. It will be the subject of my next post – for the moment here is a clue to whet your appetite:

seal waves a flipper

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 1: Getting There

The start of a new series – A Grtockle’s Eye View of Cornwall.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome the first post in my series about my recent visit to Cornwall. Before we move on, here is a little bit of etymology for you:

Screenshot 2018-07-22 at 9.41.12 AM

For an insider’s view of Cornwall check out the Cornish Maid blog. In this post, because it is an introduction, and mainly about the journey down, you will only see Cornish photos near the end of it, but there will be several with many more pictures (St Ives is getting at least two posts and maybe more, St Michael’s Mount may well get more than one post and the Cremyll Ferry may figure in more than one post) before I wrap things up with a post about the return journey.

KINGS LYNN TO PADDINGTON

I had booked my tickets in advance, and part of the deal was that I had to be on a specific train for the long haul section between Paddington and Plymouth. My recommended itinerary had me on the 08:44 from King’s Lynn, but my usual prompt preparations on the morning of a major journey saw me at the station in time to catch the 08:12, and figuring that having extra slack to make the connection across London from King’s Cross to Paddington could not hurt I took that train instead.

This service was listed to call only at Royston between Cambridge and London, but at Cambridge stops were added at Letchworth, Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park, at which point having got the earlier train seemed an even better idea than it had originally. 

From King’s Cross to Paddington was noteworthy only for the fact that in a situation that is practically headline making these days all of London Underground’s lines were working properly at the same time, and I was early at Paddington, and had to wait for information about the platform. 

Cambridge NorthKing's Cross main stationKings Cross St Pancras MCHCKCSP roundelUxbridge trainGreat Portland StreetDistrict line mapCHC mapBaker StreetMail trainEdgware RoadPaddingtonTFL RailTFL Rail logoPaddington canopy roof

PADDINGTON TO PLYMOUTH

I was booked in a seat in a designated quiet coach, a window seat that should have been facing the direction of travel, but because someone had decided to reverse the running order of the train was not. However, the coach was quiet, and although I was facing against the direction of travel I did get some pictures along the way, and this train stuck exactly to its schedule.

Near Old Oak Commondistant view of trainsDepotHanwellPassing traintrackside tower, BerkshirePassing a train, BerkshireOld FactoryStation, BerkshirePassing a stationCountry house, BerksApartment blocksReadingPassing a train IIMaintenance trainUrban sceneChurch tower IChurchTrain at stationstation shotMajor station565BoatsBoats IIBoats IIIBoats IVSmall YachtSmall boatFishing boatsLong bridgeHouse through the trees585Water

PLYMOUTH TO FORT PICKLECOMBE

My train from Plymouth to St Germans was due to call at a number of places en route, and at Devonport it picked up a number of schoolchildren, who were fortunately well behaved, and not too noisy. It arrived at St Germans exactly when it was supposed to as well, making two successive trains that had run to schedule. My parents picked me up at St German and we went by car to their apartment in Fort Picklecombe.

Metal SculptureDevonportTamar Valley line590

The Brunel bridge
Crossing the Tamar

Many boatsArmadalarge boatsA medley of boatsBoats all over the placeGathering of boats

Unusual flower pot
This “flowerpot” can be seen at Saltash station
Bridges
A distant glimpse of the famous bridge. bridge that is used by Saltash station for advertising

HarbourRiverriver with boats

AT FORT PICKLECOMBE

Thursday evening in the vicinity of Fort Picklecombe is fish ‘n’ chips evening, courtesy of the two wonderful girls who run ahoyfishandchips, a mobile chippy. The meal was magnificent – if you are ever in an area being served by Ahoy Fish and Chips do not miss out. 

BreakwaterLighthouseA137sloopdecorative containersLighthouse and boatsBoat and islandOfficers messslipwayemplacementRocks

Fort Picklecombe
A view of the fort from out on the bfreakwater.

Sun on the waterPassenger boatLighthouse and fishing boat

Looking towards The Hoe
I found a location harbourside from which The Hoe is visible (this is only a couple of miles from Plymouth in straight distance).

Mooring ring

Crab I
A crab in the shallow water

Crab IIlooking out to sea

salt deposits, breakwater
This image from the breakwater reveals two things: The concrete had not set before someone walked on it, and that it regularly gets sea water washing over it.

ahoyfishandchipscruise linerCruise liner IIPrinsendam

Ferry and cloud
A rarity – a sky with exactly one cloud in it.

An A-Z of Me

A personal A-Z, inspired by a post on The Cornish Maid.

INTRODUCTION

This post was inspired by The Cornish Maid’s post “A-Z about Me!!!“. Like the post I have just referenced there will be one entry for each letter…

MY PERSONAL A-Z

A FOR AUTISM

I am autistic myself, and also branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk. This entry is a very appropriate starting point because it was my diagnosis and the role I then had running a support group for Asperger East Anglia that led me to create this blog. 

B IS FOR BOOKS

I have always loved books, and am a very voracious reader. In addition to my own collection I am a regular user of several of Norfolk’s libraries, and yes I do use them to borrow books. 

C IS FOR CRICKET

I have been an enthusiastic follower of cricket for over 3o years (my attempts at playing the game foundered on a chronic lack of talent). The fact that my employers had an auction yesterday and have another on Saturday means that I am off work today, and therefore able to listen both installments of the Women’s T20 double header. Here is the feature image from Saturday’s upcoming auction:

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D IS FOR DETECTIVE STORIES

This is an extension of my love of books as a whole. I regularly borrow large quantities of detective ficition from thbe libraries. Among my very favourites are Edward Marston’s Railway Detective stories.

E IS FOR EAST RUDHAM

The village in West Norfolk where I began to rebuild my life after mental health issues had nearly destroyed me. I lived there for just over five years and was a regular visitor until my parents recently moved to Cornwall.

F IS FOR FERRY

I have travelled on many ferries in my lifetime, but the one I particularly think of nowadays is the Lynn Ferry which has been running for over 800 years.

Ferry 2

G IS FOR GREECE

I first visited Greece for a family holiday about 35 years ago and have been back mnay times. It remains a favourite holiday location. I have produced a number of posts about my most recent visit.

Tseria

H IS FOR HISTORY

One of the many subjects I enjoy reading about. One of the reasons I enjoy going to Greece so much is the presence of so many historic sites.

I IS FOR IRRELIGIOUS

I have been a staunch atheist for my entire adult life. For those who take the approach that the Northern Ireland census form used to I am a “catholic atheist” – that being the specific religion that I rejected. To paraphrase Richard Dawkins most people are as atheist as me about almost every god who has ever been believed in – I just go one god further than they do.

J IS FOR JOURNEYS

I love travelling, and being a lifelong non-driver am able to make good use of almost all my journeys – if the route is not familiar to me I will be observing the scenery and taking photographs, and if it is it represents reading time.
Major bridge from 37,000 feet up
K IS FOR KERNOW

Kernow is the Cornish name for Cornwall (this is the only entry in my A-Z that overlaps with The Cornish Maid’s), and although unlike the person who inspired this post I do not live there I have been there a number of times over the years and my parents have recently moved to that part of the world. It is a Cornish picture that appears on the reverse of my personal cards:

framed lighthouse

L IS FOR LONDON

I grew up in London, and still visit the place on occasion. Also, I run a London Transport themed website, www.londontu.be. I will be back in London during the latter part of next week, for Marxism 2018 which runs from Thursday to Sunday. 

Crossing the the Thames

M IS FOR MATHEMATICS

Another lifelong interest, and something that I am very good at. Here is a frecnet problem from brilliant.org that took my fancy:

plus-plus

N IS FOR NATURE

Nature has always been very important to me, and I love being out and about in nature with my camera for company. My name is often to be found among those supporting campaigns to protect nature, and as a thoroughgoing internationalist I take pride in having been the first non-Swede to sign the online petition to save Trosa nature.

Dragonfly
A spectacular creature, presumably some form of dragonfly.

O IS FOR OVAL

Because of their shape many cricket grounds have Oval in their name. The two with which I am most familiar are The Oval, in South London not very far from where I grew up, and served by two stations, Oval and Vauxhall; and the Adelaide Oval, which owes its name to a transplanted Surreyite who suggested it because he wanted to be reminded of home.  Of the innings I have seen live at the ground the most memorable at either of these two venues was played by David Gower in 1990. England could do no better than draw the game, which as it happened was enough to give them the series. Gower made 157 in that innings, and by the time he was out the draw had long since been secured.

P IS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY

This is a hobby of mine, and also something I do at work. Here are some recent pictures:

Black Headed Gull III
Three recent bird pictures

Moorhen IIITwo moorhens

840
This was lot 840 at yesterday’s auction – some good tools but the box being solid iron makes for an extremely heavy item.

840-a

2188
Lot 2188 in Saturday’s upcoming auction.

Q IS FOR QUIZ

With my eclectic interests and retentive memory I am pretty good at quizzes (unless they are overloaded with questions about pop music), and generally enjoy taking part.

R IS FOR RAILWAYS

Railways are one of my special interests. I have travelled on railways in many different countries and have also built up a decent collection of railwayana. I may add to my collection on Saturday. 

20502050-a2050-b2050-c2050-d2050-e

 S IS FOR SCOTLAND AND SWEDEN

These are two of my favourite countries to visit, both very scenic. I could find no way to split them so I have decided to honour both places.I have produced a number of posts about both Sweden and Scotland. Here are a couple of pics: through the window 2A view from Strome Castle, Scotland

DSCN9318This river is in Northern Sweden.

T IS FOR T20

Yes – another cricket related entry. T20 (where each side bats for 20 overs) has been a great success since its introductiuon in 2003. However the new 100-balls per side competition is being too clever by half (and consigning the County Championship to the start and end of the season when conditions are least suitable for long form cricket). 

U IS FOR UNIVERSE

I find it fascination reading theories about our universe, its possible origins and its possible place in a wider cosmos. I also find the history of how we moved from considering our planet to be at the centre of a fixed universe to recognising it as pale blue dot (hat tip to Carl Sagan who wrote a book of that title) in the immensity of the cosmos to be fascinating.

V IS FOR VARIETY

One of the things I enjoy about my current job is that there is plenty of variety there. I am firmly in the camp of those who say that variety is the spice of life.

WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE

Jerry Coyne’s 2009 book with that title remains a firm favourite (along with his more recent Faith versus Fact), and it is also the title of a blog run by Professor Coyne that I follow. 

X IS FOR EXHORT

As I near the end of this post I exhort you to produce your own version – it is time consuming but fun. You have seen my version, and if you followed the opening link you have seen the version that inspired me to take on this challenge – now go and do likewise!

Y IS FOR YARBOROUGH

This is a bit of a cheat – it is my way of mentioning the game of Bridge which is a firm favourite of mine. A yarborough is a hand with no card higher than a nine and 4-3-3-3 distribution, and is named in honour of Lord Yarborough who had all bridge players at his house contribute a guinea to a kitty, while if someone had the misfortune to be dealt the hand that now bears his name they got 1,000 guineas (he was on to a winner – the actual odds against the hand coming up are 1827 to 1). I do not get to play very often but I am a pretty good player of the game.

Z IS FOR ZOOM

A zoom lens can be a real boon for a photographer (my current camera has a zoom capacity of up to 60X) – a little tip from experience is to not stretch the zoom lens right to its limits – leave a bit of space around whatever you are photographing (you can always crop it out during the editing process). This post was inspired by a Cornish blogger, so I end with a Cornish picture.

St Michael's Mount and Flying Gull