Liverpool

Liverpool Docks . . . Watercolour – WHB: – 2011

The Port of Liverpool Building (formerly Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Offices, more commonly known as the Dock Office) is a Grade II* listed building in Liverpool, England. It is located at the Pier Head and, along with the neighbouring Royal Liver Building and Cunard Building, is one of Liverpool’s Three Graces, which line the city’s waterfront.[1] It is also part of Liverpool’s UNESCO-designatedWorld Heritage Maritime Mercantile City.

The SPIRE

Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, England . . . Pen & Wash : WHB – 2015

THE SPIRE

This work of man
Exultant spire
Sings to the world’s
Celestial choir.

Man’s needle point
It pricks the clouds
Defies the lightning
Lures the crowds.

Commands the heavens
Upholds the sky
Tells the world
Don’t fear to die.

This vibrant sky
These bright moonbeams
Define our souls
Colour our dreams.

This work of man
Exultant spire
Sings to the world’s
Celestial choir.

Salisbury Cathedral, is an Anglican cathedral in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, and one of the leading examples of Early English architecture.  The main body of the cathedral was completed in 1258.  Two men filmed themselves climbing 404ft (123m) to the capstone of the Cathedral’s spire to replace a faulty weather meter.    I add below a link to this video giving the spectacular view captured by these conservators working at the top of this, Britain’s tallest spire  . . .

CLIMB to the top of the SPIRE

The footage shows the breathtaking views only usually experienced by the Cathedral’s peregrine falcons.

The Grey Lady of Hampton Court

At Hampton Court Palace
One grey Autumn day,
Whilst strolling alone
I wandered astray,
Discovered this phantom,
Too shy to display.

Shroud for a lady, 
Hide her away. 
No one must see her
Lest somebody say,
She’s only a failure, 
She’s long had her day.

But now she is hidden 
And no one can see,
Then no one will question 
Just who she might be. 
They’ll just go on thinking
Perhaps she’s a he.

The fact she is ghostly, 
Clothed in a Shroud, 
Might give them a hint
That she’s not been allowed 
To be seen out in public, 
Detached from the crowd.

For in summer when tickets 
Are hard to come by,
That’s when they’ll release her 
Sustaining the lie.
Produce her in costume 
When darkness is nigh.

The Lady in Grey
As a spirit will glide,
 Patrol the Long Gallery,
Make-up applied,
Intent upon haunting –
A Queen mortified.

So that’s it for the winter, 
Don’t leave her on show.
Come wind and come tempest, 
Come rain or come snow, 
This tourist attraction’s 
The best that I know.

That rival in Scotland,
The fishy old coward,
In a straight contest, 
Its legacy soured,
It cannot compare 
With our Catherine Howard.

ARGUMENTS YARD

Some viewers  may remember that I published some verses a few days ag0 in a blog entitled  ‘Mona Lisa Revisited’ .  The photograph I used, taken by me some time ago (as are the other photographs om this page) in Church Street, Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast, showed prominently the entrance to one of the town’s well-known ginnels, or Yards, called ‘ARGUMENTS YARD’.

This led me to ponder over the possible derivation of this ancient name for the short dark passageway leading directly down to the north bank of the harbour and the mouth of the River Esk.  The following verses are the result of my deliberations . . .

All this is conjecture;
You don’t need a lecture

But, in doggerel verse,
Which could hardly be worse,

I’ll tell you a tale
Which will make you turn pale.

#   #   #

I tried very hard
To find ‘Arguments Yard’.

At last, when I’d found it,
Suspicion compounded,

I knew it was true;
It was no Avenue.

But a hotbed of squabble,
Of trouble and babble.

#   #   #

For once it befell
In this yard there did dwell

Large families three,
Who could never agree.

The ginnel they lived in,
Dwelt side-by-side in,

Was almost a tunnel
A regular funnel.

Lived so close together
They’d bicker and blether.

Their life was uphill
Without any goodwill.

#   #   #

So as this story goes
These neighbours were foes.

And they started to fight
Over which one was right.

They argued from dawn
From the day they were born,

And when evening had come
They continued the scrum.

All mired with scandals,
Both hoodlums and vandals.

Figures of shame
Who denied any blame.

They argued the toss
And got very cross;

Yelled over the fence;
The noise was intense.

They disturbed passers by
With the oaths they let fly.

Disagreed with each other,
With sister and brother.

Shouted and cursed –
The children were worst.

Each day they’d bicker,
Whilst knocking back liquor.

Complained, moaned and grumbled,
Botched, fudged and bungled.

Bemoaned their existence,
Claimed their subsistence.

Refused to comply,
Or for jobs to apply.

In short it was hell
In that yard to dwell.

And everyone near
Existed in fear.

#   #   #

Move on to the present;
Now, not so unpleasant.

It appears that now
All has sobered somehow.

Yes, there’s nothing more strange
Than how times do change.

I’m assured that now
Things are much more highbrow.

Yes, they’re now avant-garde
Down in Arguments Yard.

In fact, the real derivation of the Yard’s name is much more prosaic.  It is now known to have been named after the Argument, or Argment, family, a well-established Whitby family who lived in this  yard for many years.  The family has been traced back hundreds of years, when they fled to Whitby to escape religious persecution.  Argument is actually an Anglicisation of the Flemish name Argomont.  They were Huguenots, sixteenth century Protestants, who fled Catholic France to avoid persecution and settled in Whitby.

At one time there were two yards of the same name, from this family name Argument.  The yard pictured – off Church Street – is one of the best known, loved and photographed in the town.  These days, more than 80 such named yards still exist in Whitby.  Their origins lie in the town’s mediaeval past.

Arguments Yard seems to have remained  much as it always has been, still intriguing, full of old-world charm, and much more tranquil than is suggested by its name.

VENICE


Venetian Sunset – from Piazza San Marco … Pen & Wash – WHB … 2013

City of Islands
City of dream
Inscribed with colour
 Every line.

City of History
City of deeds
Imbued with story
Every step

City of Passion
City of pride
Engorged with fashion
Every stride

City of Clamour
City of bells
Ringing with meaning
Every knell

City of Turmoil
City of strife
Threaded with suffering
Every hurt

City of Mansions
City of graves
Instilled with ardour
Every shrine

City of Titian
City of art
Awash with beauty
Every part

City of Merchants
City of trade
Echoed by Shakespeare
Every shade

City of Conflict
City of strife
Turbulent city
Every vice

City of Water
City of flood
Sea taking over
Every surge

City of Magic
City of spells
Present in each pile
Every shell

City of Revels
City of fun
Carnivals rule life
Every fete

City of Intrigue
City of masks
Sophistry renews
Every day

City of Drama
City of sin
Would I were there now
Let new life begin.

Venice . . . Pen & Wash – WHB: 2013

THE INTERIM FIRE ESCAPE


Found behind my hotel in Somerset, UK, in 2010 … Photograph – WHB

For want of a staircase a ladder will do,
Perhaps when the fire starts there won’t be a queue.
Such was the thinking by those in the know;
For a four star hotel this came as a blow.

To all we old codgers who can’t climb up stairs
This came as a setback, to add to our cares.
To find our retreat cut off in such fashion
Was a palpable blow that sent us all ashen.

So we went to reception describing our plight.
We were told not to worry, things would fast be put right.
A new lift had been ordered to be installed soon.
When I asked them just when they said ‘Maybe next June’.

But don’t worry sir, we’ve got adequate cover.
Our waiter’s a big lad and so is his brother.
Between them they’ll see that you come to no harm,
And besides we’ve just installed a new smoke alarm.

Bridge Over The Atlantic

Clachan Bridge (‘Bridge Over the Atlantic’ – Scotland … Photo: WHB

There is a bridge 
Across a stream,
An inlet of the sea.
I see it as
Much more than that –
A link ‘twixt you and me.

It spans the gap,
It binds the space
Across the fearsome oceans.
It joins our thoughts,
And culls despair;
Intensifies emotions.

It’s name it claims 
Describes its task –
To link our worlds intact;
And that it does,
But here’s the rub,
It cannot ease our hurt in fact.

A grandiose name; 
A claim to fame.
If I were being pedantic,
I’d cry with shame,
And take the blame
For being so Romantic.

The Clachan Bridge is a simple, single-arched bridge spanning the Clachan Sound, 14 miles south-west of Oban in Argyll, Scotland.  It links the west coast of the Scottish mainland to the island of Seil.  The bridge was built in 1793 with a single high arch, designed to allow the passage of vessels of up to 40 tonnes at high tide.

Because the Clachan Sound connects at both ends to the Atlantic Ocean, and might therefore be considered part of that ocean, the bridge came to be known as the

‘Bridge over the Atlantic’. 

LONDON Strolls … #3. Waterloo

Waterloo Walk

On Revisiting the gentle London strolls of my Youth . . .

 

  1. WATERLOO

I set off excitedly, without trepidation, from Waterloo Station.
Via Hungerford Bridge, I briskly traverse the Thames.
At a jaunty pace, I cross The Embankment,
before enthusiastically undertaking the short climb of Villiers Street.

Swiftly crossing The Strand,
I tread vigorously into St Martin’s Lane.
Almost strutting into Charing Cross Road,
I pause to browse the books in Cecil Court’s shops,
soon afterwards  cutting through Garrick Lane.
I drift back now to St. Martin’s Lane
to take a welcome break in Goodwin’s Court Georgian Tea rooms.
 
Then on to plod the length of Long Acre
before lazily cutting through James Street to reach Covent Garden.
Ambling sluggishly, I pass the Royal Opera House,
from where I step out with determination,
although somewhat less purposefully now.

Thus I return to the Strand,
following it along into the length of Fleet Street until,
visibly wearying, I reach St. Paul’s Cathedral and turn right
to cross the Millennium Bridge over the Thames.

Now, heading languidly westwards,
I sluggishly wend my way upriver,
along the South Bank of the Thames,
past the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern Gallery,
Oxo Tower Wharf and the Royal Festival Hall.

Meandering now, very slowly and decidedly weary,
until, much relieved, and decidedly thankful,
I find myself back at Waterloo Station.

 

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LONDON Strolls … #2. Hyde Park

 

Gloucester Rd Walk

On Revisiting the gentle London strolls of my Youth . . .

 

  1. HYDE PARK

On foot from Gloucester Road
I step out briskly and with soaring expectation along Cromwell Road.
Striding forcefully then up Queens Gate,
I shortly find myself, almost trotting now, beside the Royal Albert Hall.
Soon afterwards, I am jauntily following Kensington Gore.
Slowing a little, I meander now, across the width of Hyde Park.
Pausing frequently and sauntering to take in the scenery,
I haltingly cross over the Serpentine.

Slackening my pace again, I keep heading North to Lancaster Gate.
Then, at a relaxed pace, I drift into Sussex Square,
from where, slowing even further,
I tread the hot pavements along Sussex Gardens.

Working my way sluggishly along Westbourne Terrace
I then trudge the length of Praed Street
to reach Paddington Station.
Thence, struggling increasingly, I head to Edgware Road. 

Continuing south to Oxford St and Marble Arch,
I move, almost idling, and with the occasional stumble,
along the exacting side-walks of Monopoly Land.
Then through Mayfair, plodding now, 
down Park Lane.

Slowing even more, (Is that possible without actually stopping?)
I traipse across Piccadilly and round Hyde Park Corner.
I turn, unsteadily, into Grosvenor Place,
heading towards Buckingham Palace,
but, after taking a breather,
and deciding to simplify my intended route,
I make a right turn through Belgravia.

Treading heavily, I work my way through Embassy Land.
I stumble across Sloane Street
to Cromwell Road and the V&A Museum.

Thus, at last, weary and definitely plodding now, 
my failing feet drag my exhausted body
back to Gloucester Road, to relaxation and
the sought after assuagement of the aches in my trembling limbs

 

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Shaftesbury and Sherborne

[ Photo Gallery # 101 ]

Shaftesbury (in Dorset) and Sherborne (in Wiltshire) are towns only about 12 miles apart in South West England – in the area formerly part of Wessex. Both are charming historic towns with much to offer the visitor. Perhaps the best known features of these two market towns are the picturesque Gold Hill in Shaftesbury and the magnificent Abbey in Sherborne. I include just a few photographs of these two features in my Gallery below.

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Gold Hill is a steep cobbled street in the town of Shaftesbury. It is famous for its picturesque appearance; the view looking down from the top of the street has been described as “one of the most romantic sights in England.” The image of this view appears on the covers of many books about Dorset and rural England, as well as on chocolate boxes and calendars and Television advertisements.

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Gol Hill, Shaftesbury

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The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin at Sherborne is usually called Sherborne Abbey. It has been a Saxon Cathedral (705–1075), a Benedictine abbey (998–1539), and now, a parish church.

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