Posted on 12/11/12, filed under Fresh News | No Comments
A typical Yorkshire Rag and Bone Man in Mid-Winter!
After a busy and productive day in the North of England, I was checking my map for the best way to exit Bradford, in order to drive past a new customer. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a rag and bone cart full to the brim with a collection of exciting recycled goods. For the past few years, I’d be wanting to get a photograph of one. In Yorkshire, the highway verges often have horses grazing, while chained to a post. In most towns, especially Bradford, you’ll come across a horse and cart on the roads. Indeed that day in Bradford I’d already seen 2, one of which had been negotiating the ring road using the middle lane and forcing all traffic behind to a standstill.
Eager not to miss my opportunity, I jumped out the car and set off back to the cart 200 metres behind. As I approached, the best photo looked to be from behind. I had my phone in my hand as I walked past. The tinker on his cart, noticed my phone as well. To be fair, he may have mistaken me for the social services, however he was off his cart in a flash and coming towards me with a pair of pliers! Quick as a Jaffa Cake, I was across the road and running back to my car. I jumped into the blue machine, with the bemused tinker left empty handed in the road. I definitely got the giggles being chased out of Bradford with a pair of pliers, but the truth remains…we’re a bit soft in the south. No one down here needs to carry a bow and arrow still…whereas up north…
Posted on 31/10/12, filed under Fresh News | No Comments
London is acknowledged as one of the finest cities in the world, and surely must take top spot in the UK as the number one city? But what of the others, how can you judge the second placed city.
I think there have to be key criteria.
Most important feature – a river of majestic quality.
Historical buildings/landmarks which leave a lasting impression, and could not be mistaken for any other city in the world.
Parks and open spaces, especially squares
You can look at photos or drive through a city and get impressions, but really only by walking around and living in the city can you really get a feel. And to judge a city this must be the most important criteria of all. Therefore like all great debates, ‘ what is britain’s second best city is purely subjective!’
In the last three weeks I’ve been lucky enough to visit the three cities that I think can claim to be Britain’s Second city and London itself.
The obvious choice is Edinburgh, with it’s ordered streets and iconic landmarks. It also has a botanic garden which is extraordinary, and Arthur’s seat. From this vantage point you can only marvel at the city. I’d argue that without a major river at its heart, edinburgh loses a beating heart, and the docks on the firth of forth are disjointed from the city. Without this pulse I think Edinburgh loses some identity, some focus…some life really – as I said this is subjective, please argue against me.
Edinburgh has been discounted. Newcastle fills the void left by a lack of river. The Tyne is the heart of the city and Sunderland and Gateshead also! It has been the heart of British shipbuilding for over a century, how sad it no longer has the Swan Hunter dockyard. The river area has been restored in the last 15 years and now rivals anything, the millennium building ( it looks like an armadillo), the bridge, the Baltic flour mill and of course the mini Sydney harbour bridge. The heart of the city has great architecture, and the feeling you get living in the city is second to none. The city is vibrant, the people are wonderful and you can’t help falling in love with Newcastle and the geordies – ‘howwwaaay!’. But it lacks green space/squares to take my second spot. The town moor is as bleak as it sounds, and jesmond park is very small, but pretty.
Bristol gets my vote. Not only has it an abundance of landmarks – the suspension bridge (Brunel!), the cathedral, Cabot tower, the harbourside, the university, park street, but it also has green space and squares. Clifton is full of squares and parks and also has the common as well. There are some rough areas, but cities need those. The regeneration in the heart of the city is incredible, leaving a waterfront on the river Avon filled with ships and pleasure boats with cobbled streets and ancient wharfs next door to modern buildings with chic restaurants. The river Avon flows into the Severn estuary and is dramatic, with the gorge to the west of the city. Bristol is the capital of the west, it easily trumps Cardiff as a city, however doesn’t has a government or assembly in situ. It has spirit, albeit quite a hippy vibe, with multicoloured houses. Its very keen on cycling, though watch out for all the hills. I love Bristol and would love to get to know it more…it’s my second city and deserves to attract tourist and business alike. Brunel and Bristol, hand in hand the second greatest…?
Posted on 18/10/12, filed under Fresh News | No Comments
Custom’s sniffer dog in action
On a clear, bright morning 2 weeks ago, a lorry pulled up on the hard shoulder with its hazard warnings on just near Peterborough; three lanes and a hard-shoulder wide here. As I approached the lorry, the driver opened up the rear doors to his lorry. It was like the start of a football or rugby match with a full team pouring out of the back of the trailer. What transpired to be 15 refugees (no possessions only the clothes they wore) streamed out of the trailer, over the fence by the hard shoulder and started running across the open fields. It’s the part of East Anglia, East Midlands, where the landscape is open fields for as far as the eye can see and the spot the lorry pulled up was completely rural.
The lead runners wouldn’t have been out of place in the Olympics. To see this string of refugees trailing across the field is one of the more extraordinary sights I’ve seen travelling around Britain. I called the police and reported the incident. That evening I had a wonderful call from an Immigraton officer. “Good Evening…did you see the Aliens leaving the Lorry?” By Aliens I guessed he meant the Afghan rugby side which had travelled to England that morning “Yes…”. “That’s excellent news” he quickly responded, “i’ve had dozens of witnesses, but none who saw the Aliens exit the lorry… can you come to Peterborough Police Station and give a statement?” Since I was now in Edinburgh this seems difficult. He persisted, “Do you live in Peterborough?”
I didn’t think Peterborough was a likely option so I volunteered for a visit to any local police station to give a statement if my phone testimony wasn’t enough. This settled it… but I was curious to know a little more. How many refugees were there? “Exactly 15… and the driver, who had a lot of questions to answer!”
How on earth can 15 refugees get through customs (did the dogs have colds?) I think the lorry driver looked as surprised as I was, and is still asking himself the same question.
I went to sleep that night smiling at the thought (I’m sure wrong) of the unfit local PCs chasing Aliens around the Cambridgeshire countryside all day.