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Friday, 28 October 2011

Anyone for an argument?

There's nothing tourists like better than an English seaside town, and Whitby, in North  Yorkshire is quirkier than most. Here you can taste some of the freshest fish in the county, (second only to Guernsey mackerel) and  have an argument while you're at it...

I've always had a fiery temper - it must be the French blood in me - so I couldn't resist taking this photograph whilst doing some research across the border recently.

Could it be that quarelling  was a Yorkshire pastime? The truth, it seems, is a little more mundane. Yard is the ancient word for an alleyway, and this  one was built by a certain Thomas Argument who, naturally, named it after himself. He built five cottages off the yard, most of which still stand today.

Sounds like Mr Argument had a fair bit of wealth - as well as a sense of humour. And who could quarrel with that?

Sunday, 23 October 2011

It's the end of the pier....

As November 5th approaches, there is one particular bonfire night that has stayed in my memory for a very
long time.

I had been to visit friends in North Fylde and as we crossed the border from Blackpool to St Annes, a red glow lit up the horizon, like a magnificent  sunset as far as the eye could see.

'The Corporation have gone to a lot of trouble tonight,' I remarked to the taxi driver sleepily.'That's the biggest firework display I've ever seen...'

'I don't think  Guy Fawkes has got anything to do with it, Miss,' he replied. 'That's one heck of a big blaze.'

I opened my eyes wide.  This was 1974 and St Annes Pier was on fire. The architecturally-acclaimed Moorish Pavilion  was completely destroyed whilst the fire  caused serious damage to the floral hall, jetty and some of the vital substructure that had been in place since 1885.  All that could be seen the following day at the end of the pier was blackened ruins.

Today, the pier's length is reduced to 182m (600 ft) but  is still a 21st century attraction  to people from all over the country.

Looking back, it's a good job I wasn't on duty that night - I'd have missed the story of the decade.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Do I look like my grandfather? Who nose?

I love this photograph of my paternal grandfather, Private James Richard Brown of the 2nd Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, who was discharged from the army on May 6, 1919,  after losing one lung and damaging the other. The photograph was given to me by my late father, Harry Brown, who, as you can see,  inherited the strong nose and determination of his ancestors.

My father had three daughters of his own (no sons, although he longed for an heir) and guess who
inherited the nose....?

Well, you can't have everything. Let's just hope I inherited the determination as well.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Pennies from heaven...

A little piece of Guernsey history surfaced in the heart of York last weeknd when I found this silver threepenny piece for sale  in a city centre vintage shop.  The 1956  coin, with its unusual 12-sided scalloped edge, had been made into a necklace, presumably for visitors who liked to keep an eye on their money...
It features a Guernsey cow on one side and the three lions from the Royal Standard on the other - showing that  islanders are  still proud to be a part of Great Britain. Having done a bit of research I've discovered that these 'polygonal' coins were made of copper-nickel, 21mm in diameter and 1.5m thick - probably a different take on our own good old 'thrupenny bit.'

York Minster

While York sweltered in temperatures of 29 degrees, the visitors arrived in their hundreds from France, Germany, Japan and America - many keen to see the ongoing restoration of the magnificent York Minster.

Talking of France, I discovered that York is twinned with Dijon, in the Burgundy region  to the South-east of Paris,  which is famous, of course, for making mustard.  I bet it aint 'arf  hot  over there...