The moon

I keep catching bits on the news, about NASA’s artemis project, preparing the way for sending people back to the moon, with a view to colonising it, and as a set off point for then visiting Mars. It’s costing the American people $93 billion dollars.

I am reminded of this song by Gil Scott-Heron :-

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey’s on the moon)

I can’t pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey’s on the moon)
Ten years from now I’ll be payin’ still.
(while Whitey’s on the moon)

The man jus’ upped my rent las’ night.
(’cause Whitey’s on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey’s on the moon)

I wonder why he’s uppi’ me?
(’cause Whitey’s on the moon?)
I was already payin’ ‘im fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Taxes takin’ my whole damn check,
Junkies makin’ me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin’ up,
An’ as if all that shit wasn’t enough

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face an’ arm began to swell.
(but Whitey’s on the moon)

Was all that money I made las’ year
(for Whitey on the moon?)
How come there ain’t no money here?
(Hm! Whitey’s on the moon)
Y’know I jus’ ’bout had my fill
(of Whitey on the moon)
I think I’ll sen’ these doctor bills,
Airmail special
(to Whitey on the moon)

written in 1970 just after the Apollo 11 expedition.

We are all like the bright Moon; we still have our darker side.
Khalil Gibran
The Moon is almost as obvious as the Sun. Clouds permitting, we can see it in the evening sky nearly half the time.
David A. Rothery
The Moon affects people in other ways, for a beautiful crescent suspended in a twilit sky can stir our hearts.
Ken Croswell
The full Moon – the mandala of the sky.
Tom Robbins
Aim for the Moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.
W. Clement Stone


The Moon puts on an elegant show, different every time in shape, color, and nuance.
Arthur Smith
There is something haunting in the light of the Moon. It has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul and something of its inconceivable mystery.
Joseph Conrad
If all fools could fly, the sun would be eclipsed forever.
Dutch Proverb

Bicycles 🚲

“It would not be at all strange if history came to the conclusion that the perfection of the bicycle was the greatest incident of the nineteenth century.” ~ anonymous

Beamish Museum, England, 2011

“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realise fishing is stupid and boring.” ~ Desmond Tutu

Hexam, Northumberland, England 2012

“The bicycle is the most civilised conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remain pure in heart.” ~ Iris Murdoch

Sint Niklaas, Belgium, 2012

“Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.” ~ Grant Petersen, American bicycle designer

York, England, 2015

“The bicycle is a just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.” ~ Ann Strong

Shillington England, 2015

“Truly, the bicycle is the most influential piece of product design ever.” ~ Hugh Pearman.

Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, 2016

“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.” ~ Mark Twain (who rode a penny farthing)

and here is his essay on Taming the Bicycle.

Beamish Museum 2016

“If Marilyn Manson would write a song that says, ‘Do your damn homework,’ it would make the world a better place, and it wouldn’t hurt him at all. And if he doesn’t like it, to hell with him. He can come fight us – by the bicycle racks”. ~ Gary Rossington

Newcastle Upon Tyne, England 2017

“It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels.” ~ Heinz Stucke, German former professional long-distance cyclist

The Atlantic Wall, Normandy, France, 2017

“The city needs a car like a fish needs a bicycle” ~ Dean Kaman

Newcastle Upon Tyne, England 2018

“I never want to abandon my bike. I see my grandfather, now in his seventies and riding around everywhere. To me that is beautiful. And the bike must always remain a part of my life.” ~ Stephen Roche, Irish former professional cyclist.

Munster, Germany, 2018

“When I go biking I am mentally far, far away from civilisation. The world is breaking someone else’s heart.” ~ Diane Ackerman, American poet

My bike, Wardley, Tyne & Wear, England 2019

“My father got a phone call to bring me in to meet with Spielberg for ‘E.T.,’ partially because they knew I was a physical kid, and I was known in the business somewhat as a stunt kid, and I could do all the bicycle riding”. ~ C.Thomas Howell (Tyler in E.T)

My Shed, 2019

“Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.” ~ Lord Charles Beresford, late British admiral and MP

Jedburgh, Scotland, 2020

É finito! Stay tooned dear reader!

Castles ~ part 2

Happiness is always the inaccessible castle which sinks in ruin when we set foot in it” ~ Arsene Houssaye

Prudhoe Castle, Northumberland, 2015

Huge knots of sea-weed hung upon the jagged and pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind; and the green ivy clung mournfully round the dark and ruined battlements. Behind it rose the ancient castle, its towers roofless, and its massive walls crumbling away, but telling us proudly of its own might and strength, as when, seven hundred years ago, it rang with the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise of feasting and revelry.” ~ Charles Dickens

Ravensworth Castle, North Yorkshire, 2015

You don’t need planning permission to build castles in the sky” ~ Banksy

Warkworth Castle, Northumberland, 2015

“All British castles and old country homes are supposed to be haunted. It’s in the lease.” ~ Bob Hope

Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, 2016 (Britains ‘Most Haunted Castle‘ 🙂

“We admire the castles, because we admire the security!” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan

Bishop Auckland Castle, County Durham, 2017

Way back in the old days, say in Europe of the Middle Ages, you had an aristocracy, and they could afford to pay for musicians. The kings and queens had musicians in the castles, and that developed into symphony orchestras and what we call “Classical music” now.” ~ Pete Seeger

Lançut Castle, Poland, 2017

The ideal of happiness has always taken material form in the house, whether cottage or castle; it stands for permanence and separation from the world.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Raby Castle, County Durham, 2018

The narrow path had opened up suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.” ~ J. K. Rowling

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, 2019 (Alnwick Castle starred as the magical Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during the 2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the 2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

Nothing will turn a man’s home into a castle more quickly and effectively than a dachshund.” ~ Queen Victoria

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, 2019

I passed under an arch out of that region of slabs and columns, and wandered through the open country; sometimes following the visible road, but sometimes leaving it curiously to tread across meadows where only occasional ruins bespoke the ancient presence of a forgotten road”. ~H.P. Lovecraft

Dunstanborough Castle, Northumberland, 2019

When we look at the ruins, we always get the same feeling: It’s as if the ruin will suddenly come alive and tell its own interesting story!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

Belsay Castle, Northumberland, 2021

C’est finis! That’s all my castles curated, stay tooned for who knows what next time!

🏰 😊

Castles ~ part 1

It’s been a (long) while since I did a Fraggle Curated post, so as I have a spare day off this weekend I thought why not do an extra post and add to the other ones which, if you haven’t seen them before can be found HERE.

Castles are Forrests of stones” ~ George Herbert

Penrith Castle (and a very small Ben) Wales 1994

“Even castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.” ~ Jimmy Hendrix

Ben & his castle, Seaburn England 1995

“Don’t live in the castles; freedom is in the fields! But I can also say: Don’t live in the fields; security is in the castles!” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan

Marseille
Chateau d’If, Marseilles, France 2000

“There is no castle so strong that it cannot be overthrown by money“. ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Kolossi Castle, Cyprus 2006

“A ruin should always be protected but never repaired – thus may we witness full the lingering legacies of the past.” ~ Walter Scott

Urquhart Castle, Scotland, 2006

“When we look at the ruins, we always get the same feeling: It’s as if the ruin will suddenly come alive and tell its own interesting story!” ~  Mehmet Murat ildan

Château d’Aubry-en-Exmes – Orne, France 2007

“It is as easy to create a castle as a button. It’s just a matter of whether you’re focused on a castle or a button” ~ Esther Hicks

Château Saumur, France 2009

“If you are delighted to be in ancient ruins, you are either a curious historian or a romantic person!”~ Mehmet Murat ildan

Barnard Castle, Co.Durham, England, 2012

“The splendour falls on castle walls And snowy summits old in story: The long light shakes across the lakes, And the wild cataract leaps in glory. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying”. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

Raby Castle, Co.Durham, England 2012

The home to everyone is to him his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence, as for his repose. ~ Edward Coke

Warkworth Castle, Northumberland, England 2013

Have fun storming the castle.” ~ William Goldman (The Princess Bride)

Richmond Castle, North Yorkshire, England, 2013

There’ll be a part 2 at some point 🏰 🙂

Gibside ~ November 2021

I last did a small post on Gibside back in 2013, that no-one just about has seen. Sophie and I did visit in 2016 but the 365 back then got in the way of me doing a Fraggle Report that time. Anyhoo, in November gone, we went looking for autumn, the best time to visit there.

The History Bit ☕️🍪

Gibside,  a country estate, set amongst the peaks and slopes of the Derwent Valley.  Previously owned by the Bowes- Lyon family. It is now a National Trust property. The main house on the estate is now a shell, although the property is most famous for its chapel. The stables, walled garden and Banqueting House are also intact.  It is also the childhood home of Mary Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne (24 February 1749 – 28 April 1800), known as “The Unhappy Countess”, who was an 18th-century British heiress, notorious for her licentious lifestyle, who was married at one time the 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. She and the Earl are ancestors of Queen Elizabeth 2nd. We’ll get to Mary in part 2.

The Gibside Estate was aquired by the Blakiston Family through marriage around 1540, and Sir William Blakiston (1562–1641) (Willy 1) replaced the old house with a spacious mansion between 1603 and 1620. Jumping forward to 1693, Sir William’s great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Blakiston, married Sir William Bowes (Willy 2) (1657–1707) and as a result the Gibside property came into the possession of the Bowes family in 1713. The joined forces of the two influential families and the aquisition of Gibside gave the Bowes family an even greater influence in the north of the county and a share in the immense wealth that was to be acquired from the coal trade. The Blakiston estate included some of the area’s richest coal seams.

After Willy 2 came George, who inherited the estate in 1722. Dad to Mary, the “Bowes heiress” who married John Lyon, the 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. John had to change his surname to Bowes due to a provision in her father’s will that any suitor had to take the family name. This was a device to continue the Bowes lineage in the absence of a male heir. The estate remained in the Bowes and Bowes-Lyon family until the 20th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries though they carried out many improvements including landscaping, Gibside Chapel, built between 1760 and 1812, the Banqueting House, a column of Liberty,a substantial stable block, an avenue of oaks and several hundred acres of forest. The top floor of the main house was remodelled as a giant parapet and the building was also extended to the side.

Following the death of  John Bowes (the 10th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne) in 1820, it belonged to his legitimated son, yet another John Bowes 🙄 until his death in 1885 (he is buried in the Gibside chapel), when under an established trust, it reverted to his cousin Claude the the 13th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It had been the main residence of John Bowes’ mother, Mary Milner, by then Dowager Countess of Strathmore, and her second husband, the politician, Sir William Hutt, (who had been John Bowes’ tutor), until the latter’s death in 1882, which was the last time it was permanently occupied by the family.

I’ll be using photos from across the 3 visits, as we didn’t do everything everytime.

Gibside Chapel (2013)

The mausoleum chapel at the south end of the ‘Grand Walk’ was built following the death of George Bowes owner of the estate, in 1760. The Greek Palladian-style building was designed by James Paine for Lord Strathmore, who had inherited the estate. George Bowes was finally interred in the mausoleum on its completion in 1812. The building is Grade 1 listed on the National Heritage List for England.

Interior (2016)
ceiling detail (2016)
pulpit (pulpit)

The Banqueting House is an 18th Century gothic folly, built 1751 by Daniel Garrett for George Bowes. Restored in 1980 by Charlewood, Curry ,Wilson and Atkinson and is now a holiday home you can rent from the Landmark Trust, so you can’t go in it unless you book a ticket for one of their public heritage days, hopefully we’ll do that this September. Of course if you have £900 and 3 people to share it with you can have a 3 night stay there. It sits atop a small hill with views over the Derwent Valley, and there’s an octagonal pond at the bottom of the hill.

The Banqueting House (2021)
and in 2013
View of Derwent Valley. (2013)

The ‘Column of Liberty’ was commissioned by Sir George Bowes and begun in the 1750s. It reflected his politics as he was a Whig – a liberal political party in the UK which in the 1680s and the 1850s contested power with their rivals, the Tories -(Conservative Party). Set at the top of a steep hillock, the monument itself is a Doric order column, and topped by a standing bronze female figure, originally gilded, carrying a cap of liberty on a pole.

You can see it for miles and here it is, very tiny, seen from the far end of the avenue of oaks known as the Grand Walk.

Column of Liberty. (2021)

Hope you’re not seeing it on a phone screen 🤣

A bit closer then..

And then we’re right there..

Lady Liberty

That will do for today and next time we’ll have a look at the Countess Mary Bowes’ life and times, and see the main house and the orangery.

📷😊

Kids

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence”. —Denis Waitley

Teesdale, UK 2012

A person’s a person, no matter how small”.Dr. Seuss

Ryhope Water Pump, 2012

Never have more children than you have car windows. — Erma Bombeck

Staithes, UK 2013

You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going. P. J. O’Rourke

Folkestone, UK, 2014

Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance. Joseph Chilton Pearce

Cal & new friend, Washington Wildfowl trust,UK 2015

You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope. Like the future in a basket”. Lish McBride

Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK 2016

A child educated only at school is an uneducated child. —George Santanaya

Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields, UK 2016

Kids, They Dance Before They Learn There Is Anything That Isn’t Music“. —William Stafford 

Sunderland Diwali Festival UK, 2017

A child who loves animals is an adult who has compassion for people Toni Payne 

Beamish, UK 2018

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it. Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States

Malina, Poland, 2017

Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful. –Kailash Satyarthi 

Liddy, South Shields, UK 2018

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings.Hodding Carter

Livvy, Northumberland Zoo, 2019

Stay tooned for whatever comes next 🙂

all pictures clickable embiggenable!

Friends

“If you have good friends, no matter how much life is sucking , they can make you laugh.”― P.C. Cast Kristin Cast

Bede’s World, UK 2012

“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.” —Oscar Wilde

Alnwick UK 2012

“I don’t know what I would have done so many times in my life if I hadn’t had my girlfriends.”Reese Witherspoon

Chinatown, Newcastle, UK 2012

“When the world is so complicated, the simple gift of friendship is within all of our hands.”Maria Shriver

Staithes UK 2013

“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.”Douglas Pagels

Niagara Falls ,Canada, 2014

“Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joys, and dividing our grief.”Marcus Tullius Cicero

Newcastle, UK, 2015

“Women’s friendships are like a renewable source of power.”Jane Fonda

Newcastle, UK, 2016

“True friends don’t judge each other, they judge other people together.”– – Emilie Saint-Genis

Tynemouth, UK 2016

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”
― Bernard Meltzer

Tees Cottage Pumping Station 2017

“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.”Thomas Aquinas

Pow Hill Nature Reserve, Northumberland, UK 2017
Botanical Gardens, Durham, UK, 2018

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”Amy Poehler

Newcastle, Uk, 2019

“A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.”Charles Darwin

Eindhoeven, Holland, 2019
Florence, Italy, 2019

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”Linda Grayson

Wardley Lake, UK, 2020

pictures are clickable embiggenables,

Stay tooned for whatever comes next. 😊

Music

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Spain 2000

“Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.”
― Edward Bulwer Lytton

Edinburgh, Scotland, 2006

Histories of ages past
Unenlightened shadows cast.
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity.
‘Tis then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Comes singing songs of love… —Donovan

Hurdy Gurdy Man, Beamish Museum 2011

“Music is the strongest form of magic.”
― Marilyn Manson

Alnwick, UK 2012

“The most wretched people in the world are those who tell you they like every kind of music ‘except country.”
― Chuck Klosterman, 

Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 2014

“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.”
― Lao Tzu

York, UK, 2015

“Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens.”
― Maria von Trapp

Hurdy Gurdy Lady, Beamish Museum 2016

“… I got to try the bagpipes. It was like trying to blow an octopus” –James Galway

Simonside Country Fair, UK 2017

“Music is the beat of a drum that keeps time with our emotions.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Camel Parade, South SHields, UK 2017

“There is no sorrow in singing.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita

Aln Valley Railway, UK 2019

Stay tooned for more next week!

All pictures embiggenable with a click 🙂


Cats

“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”
― James Herriot,

Cyprus 2005

“Cats strongly believe that everywhere is designed for their comfort!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

‘Herky’, South Shields, UK 2007
‘Yo-yo’ 2007

“The way to get on with a cat is to treat it as an equal – or even better, as the superior it knows itself to be.”― Elizabeth Peters,

Tunisia 2008

“The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat.” —Jules Renard

Troodos Mountains, Cyprus 2012

“I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.”
― Rudyard Kipling,

Troodos Mountains, 2012
Wardley 2013

Black cat or white cat: If it can catch mice, it’s a good cat —Deng Xiaoping

‘Koudar’, Biggleswade, UK 2014

“Having a bunch of cats around is good. If you’re feeling bad, just look at the cats, you’ll feel better, because they know that everything is, just as it is.”― Charles Bukowski, 

Mog on the Tyne Cat Cafe, Newcastle, UK 2015

“I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.”—Bill Dana

Phil & Skye, Wardley, 2016

“A black cat crossed my path, and I stopped to dance around it widdershins and to sing the rhyme, Ou va-ti mistigri?
Passe sans faire de mai ici.

― Joanne Harris,

Poland, Łańcut Castle, 2017

“I have a cat, the pet that ranks just above a throw pillow in terms of required responsibility.”― Anna Quindlen,

At Eddy’s place, Poland, 2017

“The problem with cats is that they get the same exact look whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.” —Paula Poundstone

‘Mrs. Fluffy’ (don’t know her real name) Wardley, UK 2018

“Everything I know I learned from my cat: When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, nap in a sunbeam. When you go to the vet’s, pee on your owner.” —Gary Smith

France 2019

“I have lived with several Zen Masters – all of them cats.” — Ekhart Tolle

Winnie, at ours, 2020

“No one can truly understand the bond we form with the cats we love until they experience the loss of one.”–Unknown

Skye, forever.