Tag Archives: YouTube

A Sailor’s Life (Not) For Me !

Last Thursday was to be a dry, sunny day so I fancied a road trip afternoon.  Initially I was going to the East coast for a walk along a beach but the forecast was for strong breezes and with the cool temps, a beach afternoon didn’t appeal.

So I looked on Google Maps for somewhere else up the coast and saw a marina area at Hartlepool that would fulfill my two objectives of a decent drive and exercise at the destination.  I zoomed in and noticed there was a museum, in fact The National Museum of the Royal Navy so I used Google Street View to look closer and found the interest I was looking for…….HMS Trincomalee, a Royal Navy sailing frigate launched in 1817 shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars and now restored as a museum ship.

That would do for me.

It was only 70 miles away and the drive would be mostly on motorway or dual carriageway roads so it would only take 75 minutes or so.  I noted that just 7 miles from the museum and right on my route was a Toby Carvery so that’s where I’d stop for lunch. My plan was set and so I left home just after midday………

  • cruise control keeping the car at a steady 70mph
  • climate control keeping me at a steady 70  (22.1c to be precise)
  • favourite tunes blasting from the USB player
  • Waze app keeping me on the fastest route
  • sunglasses keeping the sun glare from my eyes

Yes it was just over an hour of seriously pleasurable driving and I reached the restaurant by 13:15.

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Fully fed and rested, it was scarcely a few more minutes after leaving that I was at the enormous museum car park where only about 4 cars were already parked. I’d bought my entrance ticket online before setting off as it was only £6 rather than the £8 it would have been if I’d just turned up and paid. The museum was free and the £6 fee was for exploring the ship and when I showed my pre payment via my phone, they printed me a receipt and told me it covered revisits for a full year.

Bonus.

As I couldn’t be sure of the good weather lasting, I decided to bypass the museum and go on out to the ship to take some external photos, watch a demonstration of guns and cannon firing and then explore the decks.

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After the cannon had been fired and the barrel cleared of residue, water was poured down it and pushed out the vent/firing hole to complete the cleaning procedure before reloading. It was fun to see the water spurt out as I didn’t know this task was done.

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Then it was time to go on board the frigate and with the few other visitors elsewhere, I basically had the entire ship to myself.

I bet it wasn’t like this on the Bank Holiday !

Apparently 65% of the ship is original with the rest mostly made of replaced wood due to rotting of the original.  Only 4 of the many cannons are original but the replicas are fantastic and you’d never tell them apart.

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Then it was down to the next deck which had even more cannons than on the top deck and also had the galley with a polystyrene cook rustling up a pan full of something probably inedible for the crew.

Well when I say galley, it was really just a large stove and seemed inadequate for feeding 315 officers and men. Maybe the common crew just brought their own sandwiches and travel mugs, eh ?!

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At the far end of this deck was a board room with a large table where the captain would normally eat but could also be used for senior officer gatherings to discuss navigation issues and what movie they were going to watch that night.

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Cannons to the left of me, cannons to the right of me, wrote someone once.

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The next deck down, the third, was where the officers and crew ate, slept and spent whatever r&r time they got, which probably wasn’t much.

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Here are two crew members having a wee dram, some nibbles, playing cards and waiting for fast broadband at the next port. They all loved getting emails from home.

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With music streaming a few centuries down the line, entertainment, such as it was, seemed to be on a do-it-yourself basis. Here an ancestor of Ed Sheeran is squeezing out a tune on his old concertina. I was particularly impressed with the electric radiator keeping his tootsies toasty while he played.

A warm crew is a happy crew.

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The rows of dining tables reminded me of my old boarding school refectory with probably the same standard of food being served. Ah happy days !

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Yep the same food !

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In a “room” at the end of the deck was the dining area/table for the officers and occasionally the captain would fancy a bit of company and join them.

I’m not sure if the place settings were accurate of the time, mostly because I’m sure we had that plate pattern at home. Anyway I wasn’t impressed…..and the gravy was cold.

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The bottom (4th) deck, the hold, was very dark with several store rooms for sails, ropes, casks and all the other equipment and spares needed to keep the ship in tip top condition. It also held the serious items like cannon balls, gunpowder and the various tools needed to service the armaments.

It was from here that young crew members, usually 12-14 year old boys called powder monkeys, ferried gunpowder from the powder magazine to the artillery pieces, either in bulk or as cartridges, to minimize the risk of fires and explosions. They had to be small to run fast along the decks with their low beams and I was told that if anyone accidentally got in their way performing this vital duty, the offender would be flogged.

However this would never have happened on board the HMS Trincomalee as it never fired its guns in battle.

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Half of this deck was off limits to me as I just couldn’t get my unfit fat ass around the tight corners. In my defense I was carrying my phone, my dSLR camera and my man bag so it was all I could do to keep my head down and go around those corners built for my bulk and level of fitness.

Back up on the top deck it was still a lovely day and just before I went off to see the 4pm showing of the “Fighting Ships” audio/visual presentation – which wouldn’t have been out of place at Disneyland – I took the opportunity to have my pic taken at the helm of the ship. The young, friendly and very informative museum staff member who followed me around as I was the only visitor (that’s my story/hope anyway !) took the photo.

He was the fella in the 6th photo ramming his rod into the cannon barrel forcing the water out through the vent hole to remove any residue from the previous firing.

Honestly.  He did !

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I don’t think it had power steering as I couldn’t move the wheel but in a way I guess that back in the day it did have “crews” control !

Sorry about that. I’ll give myself a good flogging later.

I took loads of photos during the “Fighting Ships” show but I think this post has been long enough and there is still the YouTube video for you to get through. You could ignore it of course but it’s only 17 minutes long and gives a much better idea of my journey along the 4 decks.

Don’t worry, I’ve not added music to this phone video, which is why I was able to upload it to YouTube as they’re more picky than Vimeo about copyrighted music.

So you get a lot of wind noises (I blame the Toby Carvery sprouts) before I go below decks but I hope you still enjoy it, despite my rambling commentary. It was my home movie and I wasn’t intending to have it published.

Make sure you watch it in 1080p and full screen if possible.  Hate to waste the quality 😉

Feel free to leave comments on the video or this post.

That Was The Week That Was.

The title above is a reference to a short lived satirical tv series broadcast in the early 60’s in the UK and despite me not even being in double digits at the time, it quickly popped into my head as a title when thinking about the subject of this post.

Actually there are several related subjects…..memory, dementia, old age and so on….which all came together this week in ways that were funny, a bit worrying and worst of all, unbelievably tragic.

I’m not going to go into detail about the last “way” as it’s still too raw and despite it not affecting me directly, it has been a traumatic personal experience for my close friends here which will affect them for the rest of their lives. If nothing else it has made me realise that anything innocently uploaded to social media, be it a blog post or a video on YouTube, can become part of a court case years later and basically be twisted to suit the ends of the relevant party.

And that is all I want to say about that. For now.

Needing some light relief from that, the other two “ways” are what the rest of this post will be about…..and lets hope whatever I say will not come back to bite me in the ass and be raised as evidence of my current state of mind in some future court case !

Because as proven this week, you just never know.

Up first is an experience I had last Wednesday when I was in the city centre (Leeds) for the 3rd day of the 4 day court case I was watching as a family friend. During the lunch time break I decided to use part of the time to hunt for a new pill case as the lettering for the days of the week on my old case had been rubbed off over time.

The conversation in first store (Wilko) went as follows………….

Me to an assistant : “Can you help me please ?  Do you sell pill cases ?

Assistant : “Yes we do….follow me“.

(walking behind her I added “they’re sometimes called pill managers and are the cases for holding pills“. I’ve no idea why I felt the need to add these descriptions but I get overly excited talking to new people these days !)

As she was leading me away from the section of the store that MIGHT have what I was after, doubts started to creep in.

She stopped at the first of the houseware aisles and, pointing to products on the bottom shelves she opened her arms like a stage magician and proudly declared…….

There they are“.

Me to assistant : “Those are pillowcases !

Assistant : “Yes, that’s what you wanted.

Me to assistant : “No I wanted pill cases……cases for pills.”

Assistant : “Oh we don’t sell those.

I immediately knew how Ronnie Barker felt……..

 

 

I moved on to a branch of Poundland as I thought this would be the sort of general store that would carry my product…..like a Dollar store in the US.

I looked along the shelves but not finding any cases on my search I knew I could have missed them as items were messed up and all over the place as you tend to find in such stores.

Me to an assistant : “Excuse me, do you sell pill cases ?

(After my previous experience I really enunciated every word very carefully)

Assistant (up on a low ladder stocking shelves) : “No, sorry, we don’t.

Walking towards the exit I saw another assistant and on a whim, decided to ask again.

Me to assistant : “Excuse me, do you sell pill cases ?

Assistant : “Yes we do; let me show you.

She led me to a corner of the store I’d missed and there they were……pill cases !

I picked one and on my way to the checkout I passed by the first assistant, still stocking shelves.

Me to assistant (holding up the item): “Hello…it seems you do sell pill cases after all.

Assistant : “Oh pill cases.  I thought you said pillowcases.

Now despite these experiences, I’m not going to have a thing about my accent or diction. I think people just hear what they expect to hear.  I’m going with that anyway !

Later on, after the court case had ended for the day, I wanted to make use of my time in the city centre so went looking for a couple of particular men’s fragrances that had been favourites of mine decades ago and I wanted to know if I would still like them.

Paco Rabanne and Drakkar Noir.

Being 5:30pm, it was a classic winter’s evening, cold and dark with the festively decorated store windows providing most of the light. Walking down Briggate I noticed a department store on the left with, as is usually the case, the perfumes and fragrances section right inside the door. I entered and not being able to find either of my products, I asked for help. An assistant took me to them , slightly hidden away as they are not really “modern” fragrances, especially the Drakkar Noir.

Sadly the DN tester was empty and she opened a drawer to check for another one (but there wasn’t) and I subliminally took in the contents of the drawer before she closed it. I used the Paco Rabanne tester and left the store the same way I’d entered and continued down Briggate.

After only a few yards I saw another window showing perfumes and fragrances so I went in and was again presented with numerous aisles at varying angles so to save time I immediately asked an assistant if they sold either or both of the products I wanted to test. She took me on a short journey around the various aisles and we came first to the Drakkar Noir shelf. She passed me the tester but it was empty.

Me to assistant : “This is freaky as the tester in a previous store was empty too.

She opened the drawer at the bottom of the shelf to look for another tester and I had a deja vu moment.

Me to assistant : “How weird…this drawer’s contents look just like I’d seen before.

As I moved away I suddenly saw the assistant who had helped me earlier and I stopped dead in my tracks, desperately trying to work out what was happening and if I was somehow in an episode of Candid Camera. I literally felt several million brain cells dying there and then and for a few seconds I was actually scared !

Finally it sank in…..I was in the SAME department store – I’d just entered through a different door and with the confusing layout of the fragrance section, I’d not realised I was being taken to the same shelves but from a different direction.

That was the final straw and although I’d worried myself, I decided it had been a long and stressful day and anyway, department stores are laid out like Las Vegas casinos….to confuse us and make it difficult to find the exits.

Adding to my sense of unease, I’d also popped into a couple of stores looking for “leisure shoes” and felt as out of my comfort zone as an adult in a kindergarten. Everyone, and I mean everyone, shoppers and assistants, looked like they were still a few years off needing to shave and after an initial wander around the aisles, I left before one of them asked me if I needed a sit down.

As it happens I would really have appreciated a seat !

As I left JD Sports, I passed a “bouncer” at the door and muttered “I feel SO old.

To his eternal credit and despite probably thinking it, he mercifully just kept the obvious reply to himself and just smiled at me. And yes I did feel as if my head had been patted.

So all in all it was a mixed bag of old age issues that day which seemed very appropriate considering the court case I was watching unfold this week.

I’ve certainly had a few truisms hit me in the face this week…….

  • despite being retired for the last 15 years, or maybe because of it, I still don’t deal well with stress.
  • be careful what you put on social media.
  • although not being quite at the “why am I standing in the kitchen” stage, I am getting occasional signs of a mental slowdown.
  • operating on 3-4 hrs sleep for a few days in a row does not work for me and (hopefully) may explain the previous truism.
  • for my self confidence, I need to stay out of JD Sports.
  • eating at a subway twice in a week gets me double points.

By the way, just in case you’re wondering, I settled on the Paco Rabanne because I finally did find a Drakkar Noir tester and having tried it, I have no idea why I liked it in the first place !

At least that’s one memory I don’t mind losing.

Thursday January 28th, 2016

BREAKING NEWS : I had a dream last night and when I woke, I actually remembered a few seconds of it.  As I tried to remember more, it all quickly faded away, like a politician’s promises.

The bit of the dream that I remembered was getting into bed and finding there was a nest of baby spiders under the quilt. Pulling back the quilt woke them up and the tiny nest exploded with baby spiders going everywhere over the mattress. I wasn’t freaked out by this (clearly it was a dream) and calmly waited till they all settled back into their nest form and then I gently lifted it off the bed and put it into a nightstand drawer.

As proof that dreams can be influenced by what we experience the day or days before, I had watched a YouTube video of a baby spider’s nest earlier this week.

So there.

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On the subject of being influenced by watching something, today there was a follow-up to the movie I’d watched yesterday evening…….45 Years.

There had been several scenes where the two main characters had gone for walks in the lovely flat Norfolk countryside, usually with their dog. Their weather wasn’t always perfect so this made me decide I should go out walking more these days. I like walking in the countryside and I’m only a few minutes from it but in the winter months I tend to use my treadmill as I’m a fair weather walker. Time to change.

So by lunchtime, after I’d had my warm and filling porridge, I drove to nearby Eccup Reservoir, parked the car and set off walking along the narrow country lanes with the music of Christopher John Davison, better known as Chris de Burgh, in my ears.

Yes I’m proud to say, I’m the one who likes Chris de Burgh‘s music.

I had a great walk.  I only met a couple of dog walkers the whole time and best of all, it stayed dry, even sunny at times. Well just not in this shot.

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At the end of this long straight stretch, there was a dip in the road and then a series of bends which provided a lovely view in a short spell of afternoon sunshine. This edited photo doesn’t show the incline but believe me, after walking 3 miles already, there WAS an incline.

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And once at the top, it was back to the long and NOT winding road again without a soul in sight.

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I got plenty of fresh air, mixed with some country smells that weren’t so fresh and came home wanting to eat everything in my cupboards !  I settled for a hot cross bun, a banana and an apple and then was ready for a nap.

I didn’t have one. I watched an episode of “Criminal Minds” where the victims had their heads chopped off by a disturbed gentleman using a guillotine.  That kept me awake, I can tell you !  There’s not a lot of comedy in that show.

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Back in 1970 I still hadn’t heard a word from Fr. Kerr about my letter in response to him wanting a “full explanation” for, in his mind, my not letting anyone know I was sick a few days ago.  Obviously I didn’t know, and still don’t, what was going on in the background but for now, I was just happy to not see him.

One item from my diary back then was that on this day I got an application form for an Irish passport. My plan for that summer was to get a fruit picking job in England and earn enough money to go to the US for a few weeks sightseeing before starting college in Leicester, England. That’s about as far as I’d gone with the plan but I knew I’d need a passport and in those days, I felt having an Irish one rather than a British one would work better for me in America.

Back then, due to some rules about parents or grandparents being born in Ireland prior to the partition, I had dual citizenship. This was the only time I got an Irish passport and although I didn’t actually go to America that summer of 1970, I did use the passport once, years later when I went with a friend to Canada.

Actually once in Canada I did briefly cross the border into the US for a few hours, as my friend wanted to introduce me to a McDonalds as we didn’t yet have them in the UK. Can you believe that ?  My very first visit to the US and it was just to get a Big Mac !

Anyway, ever since that trip, I’ve had a British passport but I still have the old Irish one upstairs with those stamps in it.

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This evening I wanted a relatively early night as I needed to be up at 8:30am to watch Andy Murray in the semi final of the Australian Open. The movie I picked was “Flawless“, starring Robert de Nero and Philip Seymour Hoffman and tells the story of an ultraconservative police officer who suffers a debilitating stroke and is assigned to a rehabilitative program that includes singing lessons – with the drag queen next door.

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Yes it’s a comedy and not to be confused with the excellent 2007 movie of the same name (but very different story) starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore.

I’ll watch anything with Philip Seymour Hoffman in it.  Half way through I was thinking it was as much of a comedy as The Martian. But it did have its moments and overall it was enjoyable without the need or desire to watch it again.

And in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

It was 1am and Long John Silver was calling for me.