Mystery trip out, getting up at silly o’clock in the morning, take my camera? Well yes, I’m always up for that.
So we went on an adventure (and a magical mystery tour) and ended up in Devon. I laughed when I saw were we were, because who doesn’t love trams. Even better this was a little tram line that runs down to the seaside (and back). You’ll see from the table below that we were determined to make good use of our day tickets.
We also saw the sea (proof below), paddled in it, ate fish and chips and ice cream and had what was really a perfect day out by the seaside.
I’d never seen the Humber bridge before. It’s an amazing structure. The main span is 1410 metres. The towers are 155 metres tall and they are 36mm further apart at the top than the bottom to allow for the curvature of the Earth (at least that’s what the information boards around the area tell you).
We stopped for a look on our way into Hull.
We saw it again on Sunday when we returned for a second photo-shoot with Spencer Tunick, and before we went home we managed to find time for a walk across it too.
Kingston-upon-Hull has an amazing set of City Museums. Entrance is free so there was no reason not to take a look. We managed to find time to visit The Streetlife Museum of Transport and the Hull and East riding Museum (briefly). I certainly hope when we go back we’ll find time to visit some of the others.
The transport museum was amazing with a period street, a carriage ride and a couple of lovely trams. A couple of new tram logos I’d not seen before:
Romans Go Home!
The Hull and East Riding Museum was a little jaunt through history and certainly has some wonderful Roman mosaics and the best Roman street scene I’ve ever seen, complete with graffitti! Slightly more authentically, I should point out that “Cave Canem” made an appearance too.
The Ferens Art Gallery is of course temporarily closed, but we have plans to visit that when it reopens and hopefully then we’ll get a chance to visit some of the other places we’ve not yet seen.
When you come to a city the first challenge is finding your way around. We were lucky when we visited Kingston-upon-Hull recently to be part of a group of fellow tourists and friendly locals who went on a walking tour of part of this lovely city.
We met up in Queen’s Gardens, leaving unneeded possessions for safekeeping and from there we all walked through to the Rosebowl fountain.
“It looks like a ship’s wheel”, we were told.
Then we marched up Alfred Gelder Street to Lowgate.
“What’s this big building?” asked one person*.
“It’s the Guildhall” the locals helpfully replied.
From there we walked towards the old town and up to the Scale Lane Bridge; notable for being the only bridge where pedestrians can stay on it while it opens. We were a large group but some of us were fortunate enough to be able to make our way on to the far end of the bridge and how kind of them to open it especially for us.
Our tour then done we made our way back to Queen’s Gardens to collect bags before heading back to our hotel for a shower and then searching out some breakfast.
…leave nothing but footprints (in B3 paint).
Perhaps I forgot to mention though, that this tour started at four o’clock in the morning and we were naked and painted a rather fetching shade of turquoise (in our case ‘B3’) throughout; for we were part of the “Sea of Hull”. A nude art installation by photographer and artist Spencer Tunick commissioned for Hull as part of the UK city of culture 2017. The largest so far in the UK, with 3,200 participants.
I know there are lots of pictures on the internet, so many accounts already describing how it felt. So how did it feel for me? I hadn’t worried about getting naked but I had worried (laugh if you know me) about my lack of worry. I wondered if I’d find I’d misjudged myself when it came to it. It turns out I hadn’t.
I wasn’t oblivious to the careful way the whole thing was set up either. We were repeatedly asked not to get naked until told to. Partly I’m sure in order to avoid public order offences, however also it meant that once final instructions on painting ourselves had been given and we’d been given clear instructions to be as quick as possible, when the order to strip came there was a mass scramble to get out of our clothes. We were given no time to think about what we were doing. By the time we had leisure to look round we were part of a sea of naked blue people filling the park.
It felt perfectly normal to be honest. For once I felt completely at home in a crowd, accepted, we were all together. Even leading the march down Alfred Gelder street chatting to Spencer’s assistant Steve (“Steeeve”) was surreally normal.
It was a truly fantastic experience; to be part of something amazing, beautiful and so, so much fun. I’m glad to have discovered a wonderful city, full of friendly people. I certainly learned some new things too. For instance:
Hull has some fantastic city clocks (and when nobody is wearing a watch they are the only way to keep any sense of time).
Penguin huddles work to keep people warm too.
Body paint is surprisingly hard to remove from some places (but coconut oil helps).
Also, if you ever wondered what it felt like to be the little mermaid then try walking barefoot on the Scale Lane Bridge. Ouch.
We’ll be back of course, when the art gallery reopens to see the art we helped create. Until then…
We went to Spain, for the second time driving (yes, all the way) to San Sebastián (or Donostia depending on your affiliation). With an apartment on the ninth floor of the building, overlooking the river, there was the chance to get a couple of nice photographs of the view.
I find going on holiday very exciting and my most recent trip was no exception. We went to the airport and had all the fun of catching a flight. On our arrival in the evening there was a coach to take us to our destination. Then we settled into our room, unpacked everything and went to enjoy our first night’s dinner. Since it was dark there wasn’t much to see out of the window in our room but the next morning there was a view…and the next…and the next; for this was a river boat cruising up (and then back down) the Danube. Taking us through locks (who knew the Danube had locks) and past beautiful scenery and to a variety of exciting places.
So here, as a tiny taster, are the views I woke up to each morning:
While I usually write here about my experiences performing (in one form or another) I have been taking an increasing interest over the past year or so in working backstage. I’ve enjoyed helping out with sound and lights for various visiting performers at our local theatre but then I accidentally fell over* an advert asking for backstage crew for a production in Oxford, a show called “Seeing Grace“.
So allowing serendipity a chance I duly offered to help out and to my amazement they said yes!
The project was a fascinating one. A challenging topic (human trafficking and prostitution) rendered through a mixture of drama and dance. Much of the cast were still quite young but all incredibly talented, hard working and professional.
My job was easy; move chairs and tables, oh and keep track of an array of props including an ever increasing amount of crumpled paper. It was, despite the seriousness of the topic, a lot of fun. There was a great camaraderie and even one night an impromptu yoga session.
The run was far too short, only two nights, but those two nights saw a show that was simply breathtaking, powerful and emotional. I’m very glad I could be part of it.
The photos are some we were able to take dring the dress rehearsal.
*Google search results can be unpredictable but I’m certainly not complaining. If every search brought such an opportunity I’d be delighted.
Demolition (click on the picture to see it again).
All my life the Didcot cooling towers have simply been there. Growing up in the south they were the reliable landmark as I travelled up the A34 telling me where we were. They rose into the sky elegantly curved, beautiful and useful. William Morris would have been proud.
Sadly they are no longer useful and apparently beauty was not enough to save them (I recognise that others may not agree with me on their aesthetic qualities). So it was destined that they were to be destroyed in the early hours on a Sunday morning. Somehow insanely I decided that I wanted to witness this; partly to see them one last time and partly to see a large scale demolition in real life rather than on the news.
In the middle of the night we found a quiet field and with a folding sofa and a flask of coffee settled down to wait. I took some last pictures of the towers lit up to help the demolition crew work on them. Finally, just after five am the towers came down, swiftly, neatly and with a rumbling roar that rolled across the field towards us.