and so hot on the heels of those 2001 pictures comes a whole batch from 2002! i was reminded of some of these in particular after an exchange of sorts with a friend over on that facebook thingie. there are two rather interesting stories amongst these pictures. well, i hope all of them are interesting, but two may appeal beyond the borders of those who simply know me and the people pictured here. in the grand scheme of things it might all add up to one larger story, but you can decide on that.
some background for you, then. somewhere (i think) between our trip to England in 2001 and December 2002 my now (considerably) better half and i got engaged. yes, this does indeed go against all advice i give to single gents in the world, and thus you can call and accuse me of what you will. my (considerably) better half assures me, however, that i am happy.
we were due to wed in 2003, but an opportunity came up which suggested that we should do that whole honeymoon thing before then. in Middlesbrough, in the December of 2002. no, Middlesbrough is not what one would call a natural holiday destination at the best of times, let alone December. however, it is where i am from, and so is always home. it was also very close indeed to Newcastle, where it just so happened that in that month of that year the Manic Street Preachers were doing a gig, supported by no lesser a being than Ian Brown. a double bill of two of our most favourite music acts was not to be turned down. off we went, then.
no trip home would be complete without a visit to the Buck in Great Ayton, and so it came to be that we visited this fine establishment. happily, it was at a time convenient for us to be in the company of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mike.
oh yes, clearing all those ale glasses and indeed the fine dinner served was hard work. nope, i have no idea what sort of pose we were trying to do there. probably a partially philosophical thing, party proud of all we had consumed.
what can i say of Mike that has not been said on these pages before? wherever or whatever i am in the world, he has always been there. i consider his skills and talents at whatever he wishes to do in this world as somewhere quite beyond the level of genius, and he has over the years been astonishingly generous in helping me as i bumble through things, always trying to assure that whatever damage i do to myself or whatever it is i am giving a whirl never goes from wildly amusing to harmful. well, mostly. there was this one time, right, but bloody Tudor Lodge should never have sold us the fireworks to begin with. best i leave that there, and say that anyone who is fortunate enough to know Mike then knows what a good friend really is.
speaking of fortunate to know, how about my (considerably) better half in a picture with my awesome Uncle Trevor? sure, no problem!
ah, Trevor. Uncle Travelling Trev. Trevor Tinsel in certain circles. there's never a dull moment when Trev is around, there's always something to be having a good laugh about. and his taste in music is simply formidable!
i did mention that we went in December, which means of course that Christmas decorations were for the most part the order of the day. one reads in the papers an awful lot of silly nonsense about Christmas celebrations being "banned" in England in case it offends minorities, but it simply is not true. allowing for the fact that you get a blend of the ultra-sensitive and the extreme-nut job everywhere in the world, for the most part England is a land of respect and understanding. besides, Christmas in England is simply magnificent.
and, with that introduction, here i am by the magnificent Christmas tree up on the High Green in Great Ayton!
in case you are wondering, yes that is a big green jacket i have on but no it is not, alas, the one i so dearly miss from the pictures you saw of 2001. part of the deal for going to England in 2002 was getting rid of that one and getting a new one. i, with reluctance, agreed.
i look at the skyline in these pictures and am aware all too much of how i miss home. it's really weird, but once you take family and friends out of it, what i miss is the feeling of those autumn and winter late afternoons. yes, even beyond the magnificent long, summer days. as annoying as it is at the time, that cold, bitter wind and speckles of the suggestion of rain hitting your partially covered face is something you don't get anywhere else in the world. it just carries that distinct scent of being home for me. as and when i am home, i like to go walking as often as possible, for miles at a time, just to feel it all once again.
that's probably why i took loads of pictures of Roseberry in the midst of a December sky like the one i speak of, but i shall only trouble you with two images.
why only the two? the rest were a bit blurry, to be honest, and i don't need an earful or two from my Dad about how i should have taken pictures. this next one, as it is, has elements of what you might call being blurred to it anyway!
hang on, you say? didn't Mike institute that well known law that stipulates obscene gestures must be made in certainly company any time your humble narrator has a camera? why, yes indeed he did as a point of fact. it was in Switzerland, no less, that such a law was decreed by Mike. that was, what, 1983 i think. i had one of those new, state of the art disc cameras (google just what that meant in the 80s) and so it was to be that fingers would be flicked at that and every camera i ever owned.
lovely. now that i think on to the inception of that law, there were some exceptional pictures taken in Switzerland. if we still had them we could probably sell them to Gary Glitter for an not inconsiderable sum, but i don't think any of our parents were at all happy with them and destroyed them all. oh well, what bad luck for our bank accounts and indeed for Mr Glitter.
now that i mention disc camera, just about all of these were taken with the then brand new technology of digital cameras, which recorded the images to a disc as the kids of the day understand it. i think ours was one of those really advanced ones, as it had a whopping 256MB memory space. that was nearly half a blank CD!
i did not, as it happens, take the camera to the gig with us. far too expensive a thing to get confiscated by an over eager bouncer. i did, happily, take one of them disposable ones and got some amazing pictures of Ian Brown and the Manics. slightly less happy news is that i have never scanned them, and the pictures are sat in a box in what i call the South Wing of our property. ho hum.
i will dig them out and scan eventually, but in the mean time here's a copy of the setlist for the Manics from the gig. forgive me, i do not recall who provided me with this picture, but once again big, big thanks to whoever sent it on!
if phase one of our in advance honeymoon was to see Ian Brown and the Manics, phase two was to visit Whitby. this time it was not just because my (considerably) better half loves the place, but with a most important other purpose. we took the decision, you see, to try and get that most famous of things from Whitby, Jet, to see if a jeweller chap couldn't somehow incorporate it into our wedding rings.
the above relates to the really interesting stories i promised, but first, if you will, indulge the surprise of my (considerably) better half discovering that seaside attractions, such as the Dracula musem, tend not to be open in December.
a pity that it was closed, as it is magnificent. most places in Whitby were closed for the winter, as it happens. the lady at the B & B we stayed at the year before was most surprised to have us knock on the door of her premises, but was happy to open up for a night to let us stay.
not surprisingly, a number of the touristy stores were closed too. we did find one or two Jet stores open, at the least, and were able to get some of this fine stone, stones which to this day sit in our wedding rings. as we browsed, i was messing about with that massive amount of storage space i had on the camera, randomly taking pictures like the one below.
and indeed this next one, which is interesting to say the least. now, i understand that truth is often departed from on this blog, but honesty never is. to that end, all i can say is that i have not tampered with or edited this picture at all. i didn't even notice this; someone else did when we showed the pictures to them on our return.
see if you can spot it.
no? well, here is an edited and enlarged look. just what on earth is going on next to Michele, towards the middle of the picture?
did my shiny new digital camera catch a ghost? do i believe in such a thing as ghosts existing? i really don't know on either front.
there is of course the possibility that there is an entirely reasonable way to explain what the above image is, but i am unaware of it. it could well be a fault in the camera, but it is most strange that it was a fault that never repeated or manifested in any other images.
here's an image that was taken either moments before or after the above one. it is entirely possible that the ghostly image somehow belongs to the person now stood by the lady in the purple coat. i don't think so as the pants on the "ghostly" image look much, much lighter to me, but i do not claim to be an expert.
what if i were to tell you that this was not the strangest episode of our trip to Whitby? well, it isn't, so i have told you that.
buying the Jet was an interesting experience. we had the choice of two stores. one was modern, one looked slightly rustic and traditional. we went with the latter, then. as we walked in, we admired the range of jewellery on display, and indeed the rather large, clearly old and loved polishing machine. the chap in the store was busy serving someone else, so we had a few moments to take all of this in.
when it was our turn, we asked if it was possible to buy, for want of a better term, "raw Jet". he said yes, and asked us what we were after it for. we explained that we were getting married, and hoped that it would be possible to set some of the Jet into a ring. when we mentioned that we were heading back to South Africa, he commented that South Africa has the finest, most gifted jewellers in the world, and it would be no bother for one of them to do that for us.
in what to this day i consider an astonishing act of kindness, after we had selected the larger chunks of raw Jet to buy he decided to give us at least double the amount we had bought for free, and wished us many happy years together. see, being excellent to each other does exist in this world beyond my regular sign off on this blog.
a picture of you to build up some suspense, but it is important to note not of the shop we bought and got a great gift from. i will explain.
after that, will all that we wanted to do on this trip done, we sat and have a lovely, lovely pint. we got talking and both of us agreed that as the chap was so astonishingly kind we would return to his store and buy some random gifts for people. after supping up, we walked back to the store was. or at least where we thought it was.
should you suspect alcohol has some bearing here, i promise you it was just the one pint each, and trust me it takes more than one to floor my (considerably) better half. the store was in a straight line from the pub anyway. or at least it should have been.
we walked. and we kept on walking. eventually, we stopped. we looked at each other and were thinking the same thing. obviously we had gotten distracted or something as we had walked too far and missed it. we walked back and could not see the store. we walked again, the whole length, and we could not find it.
we walked, for there were not that many, every street of that side of Whitby and could not find it. then, for one last shot, we went back to the street we originally "knew" it to be on, and we found it. maybe.
the store we were convinced was it was empty. no polishing machine, no jewellery on display, nothing. it looked, without embellishing things with tales of cobwebs, like it had been empty for quite some time. there was little else for the two of us to do but look at each other, look in the bag to check the Jet was there (it was) and simply accept either we were greatly mistaken or something at least peculiar if not special had happened.
which is why, to break things up with some pictures, we may or may not look somewhat spooked in the pictures we took after!
yes, that is indeed my (considerably) better half stood on the famous steps to Whitby Abbey. oh, for more than 256MB of space and i would have taken pictures of her on every step!
otherwise, make what you will of those two stories, or possibly one larger tale i am not connecting. i can only say i have recalled everything as well as i can remember. i assure you, if i were to fabricate something, it would involve a hotel room that has mirrors on the ceiling, some Swedish air hostesses, some lubricant of Scandinavian origin and a few nuns. from my side, i cannot either dismiss or accept anything "supernatural" happened to us in Whitby. we are just happy with our wedding rings. if my ring makes me immortal or something as a consequence of the above tales, well then so much the better.
onwards, then, and for your pleasure, how about a picture of me on the steps? sure, no problem!
you know that green jacket i have on there is not too bad at all, but it is still not as class as the one i had and was required to give up. i appreciate you are all rather looking at the scenery behind me, but i thought i would have a little moan about my lost jacket again once more. i can only hope that it is presently keeping someone warm somewhere.
a picture of Michele at the bottom of the steps, then. or the "base" or "foot" or "ground zero" if you like, i am not really down with this mountaineering business and thus do not know the right term. i did read an interesting article about shifting bodies off of Everest in a recent edition of National Geographic, but alas it made no mention of what the proper term is for the start or bottom of a set of stairs. does that mean that National Geographic is not all that it fancies itself to be? perhaps.
oh yeah, the picture.
as beautiful as my (considerably) better half looks, i would agree that the above picture does not perhaps warrant the pointless "dissing" of National Geographic i did in the introduction to it. but i do have a point, if National Geographic think they are so f****** brilliant then why do they not mention what the bottom, starting point of some steps are in a sort of related article?
never mind, off for a look at the grounds of the Abbey, with Whitby and the North Sea off in the distance.
and, if such a thing should interest you, a look across Whitby itself. not sure why i took this next picture, but it looks rather good to me. i think i may have taken it as i am sure that's the Dracula museum thing sort of in the middle of it.
moving on towards the end of this post and one thing i have noticed in the pictures from our 2002 adventure is a lack of images of myself and my (considerably) better half together. perhaps she simply did not wish to be photographed with me, or perhaps i was reluctant to let anyone else mess about with my state of the art, 256MB sized digital camera.
there are one or two pictures of us together. like, for instance, this super duper fascinating one of us with young Christopher and the young-ish Andrew.
the weird thing is that the boys in this picture were of the same age that our very own William and James are now. i would suggest that we recreate the picture now with the boys, but our visit to Chez Harlo last year revealed that both the couch and the wallpaper you can see are long since gone. at least i think they have different wallpaper, i do not spend time staring at wall as much as you would think.
speaking of Chez Harlo, a lovely picture of our dear Aunt Angela and Uncle Colin. kids - those things in the background are called "video tapes". they were the single best way to watch German porno on and as an added bonus you had to do something called "rewind" them before you could watch.
a magnificent picture of a magnificent couple! looking at them there then and at the pictures of last year, they just do not seem to show signs of getting older. they would probably suggest it is because of their healthy, smoke free lifestyle, but i suspect it is down to some sort of mystical, Dorain Gray like powers. it is not like we were ever invited into their loft to have a gander at any portraits stashed up there.
speaking of lifestyles, in my 2001 post i might have quite accidentally, by means of using considered and deliberate wording, suggested that way back then my cousin Andrew was one of them hooded jacket type glue snowballers, or whatever it is they do. it is probably the right thing to do to reluctantly state that he is not, was not and never has been any such sort of thing.
here is a picture of him from 2002 to confirm that, for he looks nothing like Renton in the below. as a point of fact he has recently claimed to still look like this. that would be bullshit, but far be it from me to point this out to anyone. except just then.
looking at his t-shirt, does the Hard Rock Cafe thing still even exist?
and that's that, so phew! as some might say. many thanks indeed for reading and sharing a memory or two. if the spooky-ish stories of Whitby entertained, well then so much the better!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!