as i was sorting through some more stuff (i will explain one of these days) i discovered a photo album. in truth, i just sort of assumed it was our wedding album, and thus thought it best to avoid or simply ignore it, lest i ended up sat with my head in my hands crying, pondering where did i go wrong.
temptation got the better of me, though, and it is just as well that it did. it turned out that the album was not of our wedding at all, but instead a photographic record of my (considerably) better half's first trip to England. this was in September 2001. i should say "early" September 2001, we flew home after that certain event, after which airline travel was somewhat different.
it seemed an appropirate idea to scan selection of the pictures in and upload them here, then. this was all before the era of digital cameras, you understand. difficult to believe that a mere 12 years after these pictures were taken we have a generation who may well not know any other sort of camera, but there you go.
yes, i know, you want pictures, not my waffle. to start off with, then, here's me with Gran and Gramps!
what can i say that i have not said on this blog already? always wonderful to see them, as it was in 2001, 2002 and indeed last year, and we look forward to be being able to see them again soon!
the same of course goes equally for my other Gran, pictured here when we visited and discovered a very young Christopher was also there!
Gran is now on the internet, i believe, as she has one of them "pad" or "netbook" things, thanks in part to Christopher no less. i think Andrew and Colin had something to do with it too. hello and happy reading, if you are reading Gran!
Andrew will have been about 7 when these pictures were taken, so obviously he doesn't feature. at that age i expect he will have been off snowballing glue or whatever it is the kids do, no doubt involving one of those hooded jackets that seem to upset the press and politicians a great deal.
Christopher was not involved in any such nonsense, of course. he was delighted, and indeed amused, to see us as i recall. he was particularly happy to beat me soundly in a bout of football too!
a good many of these pictures, some of you will not need telling, are from in and around Great Ayton. if for some bizarre reason you required confirmation of this, well here's a picture of my (considerably) better half at the sign indicating what i suppose the Americans would call the 'village limits'.
yes, i certainly did make her walk around a lot. you don't drive around a village as beautiful and as magnificent as Great Ayton unless you absolutely have to. and even then it had better be with the windows down to take in the scent carried by the air. and no i don't care if it is raining.
back in 2001, strolling around any sort of village was a task somewhat hampered by certain events. no, not that event, i mean the so-called "outbreak" of something called foot and mouth disease. i am not 100% sure what the disease actually is, bar the fact that cows do not at all like it and presumably it affects the feet and the mouth of your average cow in a not at all good way.
the imaginative and creative way that Tony Blair's sensational government dealt with the outbreak was of course to make it illegal to walk upon any sort of rural fields. this gave us some problems, considering most of Great Ayton is what one would call rural fields.
yes, i did take a number of pictures of Michele near signs saying she was not allowed to go anywhere near the field on the other side of the wall or fence. like, for instance, this one.
the above represents just about the closest we could get to Roseberry Topping. i understand that my (considerably) better half is extremely attractive and provides compulsive viewing pleasure, but if you cast your eye over her shoulder for a moment you will see old Roseberry off in the distance.
the field near Gran's was closed off to both the residents of Great Ayton and tourist filth like my (considerably) better half. that would be the same field that last year James and William tried, with limited success, to catch a sheep or two. going on what William does to Lego characters we are on the whole rather glad that he did not capture a live anything, to be honest.
oh, yeah, here's the picture of the sty by the field with the warning on it.
who knew that sheep, for that as far as i am aware is all that wandered that field, got this foot and mouth disease business too? they probably don't, but as was shown after September 2001, the Blair government took quite a shine to what you might call carpet bombing "just to be sure".
you probably, i would imagine, have the idea of where the foot and mouth disease warnings were. sorry i do not have any close up shots for you of the actual sign, camera film and development was expensive stuff and i thought it best to rather get my (considerably) better half in picture instead. i shall then, for the most part, refrain from posting too many of the 20 or so other images i have of her stood by such warning signs.
if for some reason you were keen to see a picture of me looking semi-serious near the entrance to the old church in Great Ayton, well then look no further than the next picture.
no idea why i was looking serious, probably a respectful thing for the church surroundings. whatever you believe or don't believe in, there's always an amazing amount of personal history associated with churches for those who came before us, it would be wrong not to respect that. also, i look somewhat and surprisingly slimmer than usual in that picture. i have probably let myself go somewhat since.
if for some reason your wish is for further pictures of me, then let me help with this next one. only really need one word to describe it - home.
is it pictures in places that are not Great Ayton that you now want? OK, no problem at all. one place that Michele was very, very excited about going to visit was the coastal town, or if you will parish, of Whitby. my (considerably) better half has a thing for that Dracula business, you see.
in the novel it was that Dracula landed in Whitby, and legend has it that he is 'buried' there, as far as a fictional vampire (as opposed to a real vampire?) can be. most film and TV adaptations skip that part of course, instead having Dracula head straight to fahkkin Laandahn (innit). which is a shame, as it means such adaptations are robbed of scenes such as the one below.
that is indeed Whitby Abbey in the background, and yes we did go up all the steps to get to it. beautiful walk, it is. what were we doing in a graveyard? no idea, cannot recall. it would not at all surprise me to be reminded that Michele wanted to go and check if that Dracula fellow was buried there, though.
indeed i do have several images of Michele in and around the Abbey, but i am not putting them all up here. you are welcome to one more, though, with a sign confirming that it is Whitby Abbey (this was all pre-photoshop days), and i think another of them foot & mouth disease warnings.
the impressive, reflective powers of the end of the sleeves of Michele's jacket reminds me of the other pictures we took in Whitby on our next trip, which was in December 2002. i will have to find those pictures and put a few up here, for there is an impressive story associated with some of them.
i would imagine a few of you want a look at the rather more debaunched, if not outright depraved, images of our holiday to England. no problem.
here we are in a pub with our dear friends John and Lisa. for those of you in the know of the legend that is John Payne, i suppose i really do not need to say "in a pub", for it goes without saying that the supply of alcohol and quality music is a requirement when one is either entertaining or being entertained by the lad.
more on the quality music front later, by the way. not too much later, just now.
we were in a pub partially because it is John's way, but mostly because we were waiting for an Indian takeaway to be prepared for us. it was a high quality feast, prepared from scratch from the raw ingredients, and thus it was to take the Indian restaurant proprietor and his merry staff some two hours or so to prepare. off to the pub to wait, then.
if you are wondering, the Guinness on display in these or any other pictures will always be the pint of choice of my (considerably) better half. i believe Auntie Susan introduced Michele to the wiles and ways of the stuff and she was delighted to be able to drink it "proper", since nowhere in the world outside of Ireland and the more knowledgeable parts of the UK seem to know how to serve it properly.
if you wanted further evidence of these pictures being 2001, check out Michele's Duke Nukem shirt!
right, quality music time. the pub in which we brought our custom to whilst we waited for the Indian meal was kind and wise, or if you will unwise, enough to provide a karaoke machine for the patrons. we didn't really have illegal downloads and iTwats in 2001, you see, and further we interacted with people. this is the sort of thing we used to do for entertainment.
to that end, here is John and i going for it with the microphones.
what a shame that we did not have the facility to video our great performance, as it would have been a delight to upload it here for you. what did we sing? Nilsson's classic Everybody's Talkin', of course. why that song? what significance does it have for either John or myself? none really, it just seemed like a really, really good idea at the time.
i imagine, if pressed, both John and i would be up for some sort of reunion performance of the above. i would at the current time be unaware of any great public demand for such a reunion, but if it's there then so are we.
now then, when it was finally time to stagger back to the Indian restaurant, collect our feast and then work out where John & Lisa's house had moved to, we noticed a pretty special slice of graffiti on the wall of the pub!
with the person being written about in less-than-complimentary tones having a name somewhat similar to my (considerably) better half you can see the amusement this cause both her and Lisa. nothing would give me greater pleasure than accusing John of writing the above, but alas i cannot. i was there with him in A Level Literature, you see. other than both of us benefitting from a distinctly lesbian interpretation of Antony & Cleopatra, it was a time in which i learned that John was a fine writer, and thus would have used considerably more enhanced words and grammar than you can see above.
besides, he probably would have just written a poem about whoever upset him, and then spewed on them.
briefly back to Great Ayton, then, and back into a pub. here i am with some great mates, mates that shall remain without name to protect their dignity and reputation.
well, to protect all of them except Alex Brown, of if you will the self-styled Doctor Alex 'sh!t' Brown, sat next to me at the end, in the forefront of this picture. he is a good friend and i love him, in a distinctly non-Lord Of The Rings midget way, but he has no dignity at all and i could not care less for his reputation. in fact, if there's ever an opportunity to damage his reputation, in my experience it is best to take it and do it to the full.
and just what would a trip home be without visiting the grounds of my beloved Middlesbrough Football Club? David, aka Norman Bastard, and Andrea kindly organized us some tickets to go and see Boro take on, of all teams, West Ham. here we are outside the Riverside, showing off the class scarves that Gran very kindly made for us!
if for some obscure reason you think we just went and stood outside on matchday and then headed back to the pub, well, here you go - here's my (considerably) better half inside the stadium before kick off!
oddly, when we returned in 2002, the fixtures fell so that we saw Boro play West Ham once again. last year we went at a time when there was no football on. just as well, as we would not have been able to go and see our regular fixture, what with West Ham refusing to get relegated and Boro refusing to get promoted.
was any alcohol involved during our stay with Norman and Andrea? you tell me, looking at the picture below.
yes, quite a lot of it. we took a bottle of something mental with us, i do not recall the name but it was in a rather priapic shaped bottle (not that Andrea used those words) and it was a liquid that Andrea blamed on each instance that she passed out, whether she had drunk any of it or not.
did we feel the need to molest her every time she passed out? pretty much, yeah. and what an ace shirt i have on in the above picture!
much like, it has to be said, the ace jacket i have on in the below image. a jacket i miss a very great deal.
i would be pretty sure the above picture has been scanned and put up here before. it's a great favourite of both myself and the other person in it, my (considerably) better half. this great picture was taken by my Uncle Colin, who had taken us to Saltburn, by sheer co-incidence, on a day when there was a vintage motorbike display on the go.
a regular reader of this blog will no doubt be quite pleased to see Saltburn featured. it is because of this person, by the way, that i have started doing odd things like check the spelling on the posts here.
this next picture is also in Saltburn, but has not been as widely seen as the one above!
what a great day that was, out in Saltburn. we didn't make it there ourselves last year, but Colin, Angela, Christopher and Andrew, the latter somewhat outgrowing snowballing glue or whatever he did at the age of 7, took the boys when we were off at Heaton Park to see that band whose name escapes me for the moment. from what i remember of their stories, they loved the place as much as we do!
right then, back to Great Ayton and indeed back to the magnificent pub that is the Buck for one last picture, one that show me off with the one true, deep and great love of my life.
yep, that's right. that is Boddingtons on tap you are seeing there. lovely stuff, always ready to have a deep and meaningful relationship with you. i will not have a word said against it, and i am glad it is staying with me for the rest of my life. nice too, i suppose, that Michele was there with me.
right, after that trip down memory lane, cheerio for now! my deepest apologies to any google enthusiasts who have hit this page thinking it had something to do with the Stanley Kubrick film, the Arthur C Clarke novel or indeed the ace nightclub that John Travolta hung out at in the film Saturday Night Fever. but thank you for reading anyway!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!