So, I decided to push the envelope even more. Flew to Tromso from Oslo. It was about a two-hour flight. It costs about 90 dollars round trip at the time. Might be more expensive in the coming years. Luckily, there wasn’t any major snowstorm that day. Luck was on my side to visit this part…
I was taught this a very long time ago and it was reinforced by a beautiful friend who once told me that whatever/wherever/whomever I write about has…Places We Go
Our loft, apart from being a mess, can sometimes turn out to be a proverbial treasure trove. Well, not exactly!
We all love to look and dream about red sports cars, especially an iconic red Corvette, naturally, don’t we?
I look at this red Corvette most days, pick it up and look at the lines, imagining I’m somewhere in the Mid West cruising along Route 66, or some long open highway with only mesas, inselbergs and the odd raptor for company, the shapes of distant mountains blue in the background.
One day our dreams may become come to fruition.
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
The Beeching Review and cuts of the British railway system from 1963 were simply catastrophic.
They encapsulate the ludicrous notions and false economies of the time, executive decisions which were and are still made without due thought of the social, environmental and economic consequences.
After all, the British railway system had been nationalised since the late 1940s; the system as a whole, if run properly, was surely highly profitable and the whole idea of nationalisation (to my mind) is for the ‘stronger’, busier, more profitable areas to help out and support financially the ‘weaker’ ones – common sense, one would think, part and parcel of joined up thinking of governments which, one would hope, were doing the bidding of the people who elected it. Not a chance.
Instead, large areas of Great Britain were left devoid of rail services, especially the outlying areas.
But it seems to me and hosts of others that Wales was the most hit, where only three major lines were left and none connecting the highly populated south to the rest of the principality.
Wales became a nation divided, without any efficient road link connecting north to south. The effects of these cuts, from which we have not recovered from even yet throughout the United Kingdom, were simply devastating.
Copyright Francis Barker 2020
Sorry so sorry
this weary world would not stop
Take me anywhere
copyright Francis Barker 2019
The rattle and hoot of a train reminds me,
I want to be anywhere but here,
that the journey has more meaning
than any final destination.
Each day the train sounds on time
and I yearn to be on it,
a small case in hand to take me
back in time, forward in thought.
I see mountains and the clearest light,
a home to live in, where I want to be,
where I don’t hanker for anything
other than what surrounds me;
the lakes, mountains, the clearest air
where the noble eagle soars,
his place within nature assured
and mine below him, in peace –
a place in time to think and dream,
of how it all should be.
The dream revealing notion, of simply
being where I am.
copyright Francis Barker 2019
We recently spent three nights in Belfast and we enjoyed it very much.
However, one more night would have been advantageous. Our flight from England was delayed thanks to President Trump’s arrival and all the extra security that entailed.
So by the time we got to our hotel it was about time for our evening meal – we didn’t have that much time to explore the city.
The second day was taken up with what turned out to be a fantastic trip around the County Antrim coast, which lasted most of the day.
The third day we had already pre-booked a visit to the Titanic Experience and the Game of Thrones exhibition, both in the same general area on the city’s outskirts. This took up most of the day too. We did do a little exploration that late afternoon.
And then our return flight back home was at 8:20 the following morning, so we were up with the lark to catch that.
So, despite a very full two and a bit days, we didn’t get to see as much of the city as we would have liked.
What we did glean, however, is that Belfast is lovely and the people are lovelier. We will return.
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019
Every May in north Lincolnshire in the east of England there is the West Lindsey Churches Festival, ‘A Celebration of Open Churches in West Lindsey’.
The idea is to raise interest and money for the upkeep of these historic buildings, icons of English cultural and Christian heritage.
To be honest, I’m not sure if we’d ever heard of it. The link only came up last week from the web, so I thought it would be worth a visit. We were very glad we came.
Our first stop was at the pretty village of Nettleham, at the Church of All Saints just a few miles north east of the magnificent city of Lincoln.
Nettleham is a large, seemingly thriving village of around three and half thousand souls with lots of local stores and some pubs, a heartening sight if there ever was. Inside the church we were greeted very courteously by the volunteers manning their stalls of old books, games, crafts, or selling food and drink. They were all very helpful, keen to tell us about the church and the village.
Sadly, in the 1960s there was a serious fire at All Saints, the result of arson. Since then the church has been restored very well, notable features being the new stained glass window at the east end and the roof.
Of course, there are no benefits from fires, but one of the things revealed by the tragedy was a series of medieval wall pattern illustrations, of the type which used to bedeck all churches before the Reformation, after which nearly all were whitewashed over.
Naturally, one of the benefits of going to these events is sampling the local cakes. We got a piece of carrot cake and apple cake, washed down by the proverbial cup of tea. The prices too, are very reasonable. We even took away a whole lemon drizzle cake!
Yes, it’s all very English and a jolly good thing to. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone inside, they made us very welcome.
The village of Nettleham is also very pretty and worth exploring, with a running stream making lovely feature.
And a little history
Incidentally, Lindsey, in which Nettleham lies, is not merely a division or riding of historic Lincolnshire, along with Kesteven and Holland; Lindsey was once a kingdom in its own right, ruled from Lincoln around thirteen hundred years ago, before it was swallowed up by the much larger Mercia.
After that there was a manor house here, called the Bishop’s Manor House, as it eventually became a possession of the Bishops of Lincoln. Sadly this is now demolished.
But it’s not all about the past. There is very much to see and enjoy here today, not just at the Churches Festival – it’s well worth a visit at any time if you’re nearby.
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019
There used to be an event, commencing in the late 1950s, famously called ‘The Spalding Tulip Parade’ in south Lincolnshire, England.
Every year much time and money was spent on creating a series of floats decorated with tulips to parade around the small Lincolnshire town, sponsored by local and national businesses. Tourists flocked there every year from many parts of the country and beyond.
Sadly those days have long gone now. However a ‘vestige’ of this former glory still remains in the numerous church flower festivals which still take place in early May.
I was particularly impressed this year by Donington’s flower festival. The explorer and cartographer who essentially mapped Australia, Matthew Flinders, was born in Donington in 1774. Recently his remains were discovered and there is a move to bring them back to Donington – you could almost feel the air of anticipation at this prospect.
Today many strong links remain with Australia; there are numerous visits from ‘down under’ too, both sides very keen to keep up and improve the cultural associations.
Let’s hope his remains return home soon and that a tasteful setting is created for the memory and legacy of the great Matthew Flinders of Donington, Lincolnshire.
I’m going to catch that train,
so I can watch panoramas roll by,
their gently unfolding stories,
and pinch myself into believing
I’m seeing the Canadian Shield.
I’ll drink endless cups of coffee
while chatting with fellow travellers.
Perhaps make a friend or two,
and we’ll exchange stories about homelands
and climate change and places never seen,
maybe raise a glass of schnapps or single malt
to toast Ontario, just to ease it all along.
We’ll swap addresses and emails;
I’ll start a blog on my laptop
where I’ll write some pithy lines
with quotes from my friends,
to capture the spirit of Saskatchewan
and Alberta, while the people back home
simply won’t believe my progress.
I’ll produce a battered guitar
from my back pack and we’ll
write songs together about places we see
and sing familiar tunes like Yellow Submarine
to help pass the darker hours.
And when I finally see the Vancouver skyline,
I’ll look forward to the Pacific,
my first sight of the sea.
Or maybe I’ll just sit here in the warm,
and stir more sugar into my tea.
© copyright David Francis Barker 2011