Monday, 25 February 2013

Another In The Series of Old Postcards and a rant about...

Regular readers will know I love old postcards - either in sepia,black and white or in lovely over the top hand tinted colour loveliness like this one.

It's a bit tatty round the edges but it is also beautiful. It shows the Floral Hall at Rhyl which the tinternet tells me opened in May 1959 at a cost of £21,000. It was visited by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (whoever they were) in 1960 and was thereafter known as the Royal Floral Hall. It was then converted into a butterfly garden but alas this didn't stop it from being demolished in the early 1990's and it is no more. It seems the glass it was made out of wasn't thick enough to comply with new safety regulations and it would have cost too much to get the glass up to scratch.

On the back is a message to Mrs Lowe who lived in Norwich which states that they are having a nice time and the weather is nice too and that they hope all is well. I'm being a bit vague as I'm afraid I can't read the signature nor can I can read the whole postmark, It was definitely posted on 17 August but half of the year bit is missing but it looks like it could be 1960. The stamp is a lovely red with a picture of the young Queenie on it and it cost 2 and 1/2d. Whatever that is in new money I'm guessing it's nothing near the postal prices of today.

You can probably also guess from my less than reverent tone of describing the royal family that I very little time for them. I don't, I find it utterly gobsmacking that we live in the 21st century yet we still as a country have a monarchy. I like people because of their talent or skills not because they were born into a particular position. I also cannot bear the fawning forelock tugging tone of most of the media reporting about them. For goodness sake they are just people - albeit ridiculously over privileged ones who live in a goldfish bowl.


Monday, 18 February 2013

What I've Been Doing Today...

Well I've been thinking I must write my blog as one of the few goals I set myself at the start of the year  (along with learning how to crochet and how to do intarsia - both of which remain unlearnt as yet) was to update my blog regularly and so far I have :-)

I was going to post a pic of some of the skulls I've been knitting but on close inspection it is slightly blurred so I'll not bother and take another one  and post that some point.  So instead I'll write about what I did today.

Woke up - was delighted to discover there was no Today Programme on R4 as it is invariably bad for my blood pressure when I hear some dickwad of a politician being  weaselly, got up, fed the cats, cleaned the litter tray (washed hands - goes without saying but am always shocked and disgusted by number of people who don't bother to do this on a regular basis - even after going to to the toilet. Dirty sods!!) then had breakfast of oats,banana and a sprinkling of supermarket own label frosted flakes as a sugary treat, then did some washing, some washing up, cleaned up some fur ball containing cat sick - not sure which cat it came from but am betting Mapp as it was short hair and Lucia is long haired, washed hands again, had a bath, got dressed, put some make up on, made some vegetable soup out of the 'scrag end' of vegetables in the fridge - namely some celery,sweet potatoes,carrots,salad potatoes and chicken stock - not alas home made but from one of those new fangled stock pot things. I shall be making chicken stock later tonight when the roast chicken from yesterday has been stripped of its last meaty morsels for tonights dinner. Think we might have chicken risotto but I am getting ahead of myself there....

Decided I did feel well enough to go out (have been somewhat under the weather with cough/cold/flu lurgy for the past few days which left me snotting for Britain and disappointed at having to cancel plans for the weekend plus more importantly I am no longer coughing or snotting ) so I took 2 bags of stuff to the best charity shop in Leeds - namely Meanswood Community Shop, then went and did some knitting with a knitting group who meet at Bar Arcadia and knit in aid of the Baby Units at the LGI and St James, I took along the gargoyle I mentioned in last weeks post and did a bit more on it  and am also going to have a go at knitting some hats for premature babies - afraid the pattern for cardies was bit beyond my comprehension at the moment,  then I went and bought some plastic underbed storage boxes in which to store wool as our living room is in danger of becoming something like a very untidy and chaotic wool shop and am worried Mapp is going to start chewing and eating it which wouldn't be good for her - or me and the things I am trying to knit.

Then I chatted to some chums on Twitter and Farcebook (deliberate misspelling) and then thought I must write this otherwise I won't have kept to my goal of updating my blog at least once a week preferably on a Monday.

What have you been up to? and has it involved wool?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


On Monday night I attended a lecture on the history and design of Crematoria and where Lawnswood Crematoria stands in it. It was part of the Victorian Societys Annual General Meeting to which members of Friends of Lawnswood Cemetery (of which I am one) were generously invited. It was fascinating and I learnt lots plus it was in the rather sumptuous environs of the Leeds Club on Albion Place - which has the beautiful marble lined mens toilets which I sneaked a look at whilst no-one was in there. The ladies by comparison are very disappointing. But it is a very beautiful building inside with lots of lovely tiling and real fires - and it is well worth a visit if you can.

But back to the lecture - it was given by Professor Hilary Grainger who is an architectural historian with a specific interest in Crematoria and she shared her knowledge and enthusiasm very generously over the course of an hour or so, with slides showing the crematoriums she was talking about and quotes from various  publications.

Cremation was found to be legal after Dr William Price (an interesting character who deserves further research) cremated his son on a hillside in Wales in February 1884 but it wasn't until 1902 that formal legislation regarding cremation was passed - which included things like the distance crematoria needed to be from public dwellings and public thoroughfares and that the body has to be placed in a coffin first and aside from some changes made as a result of the Harold Shipman case* the legislation is still the same today.

The main points which I can remember and in no order (other than the order I wrote them down in whilst waiting for John Shuttleworth to come on stage at the City Varieties last night - he was very funny indeed) are:

The architects who designed and built the early crematoria didn't have any precedents and architects often travelled to towns who already had them (the first in the UK was set up in Woking in 1878) to see what they had done and then copied them.

The early victorian and edwardian ones look very similar to chapels/churches with a mostly norman gothic design complete with what look like bell towers but which are in fact chimneys for the furnaces. One contemporary commenter pointed out that these towers didn't issue delightful peels but often belched smoke instead. They slowly but surely over the years lose some the more overt similarities to chapels and churches but the similarity was deliberate initially as it was a way to to get people to trust them and to use them and it was the only kind of building which had a precedent for funerals.

Cremation was very slow to take off but it becomes massively more popular after the Great War - in large part due to the fact that so many people bereaved as a result of that war had no actual body of their loved one to bury or resting place to visit, plus burials in a wet miserable winter are made even more grim because of the dreadful weather and a cremation is held inside. The Anglican church says it is okay for its adherents to be cremated - unlike the Catholic Church which didn't give it the okay until the 1960's.

It was advertised as a form of purification and one gentleman attendee talked of how one of his relatives had his wife cremated as she had died of cancer and he wanted the cancer destroyed.

Lawnswood had two chapels - one anglican and one non conformist linked by a walkway and the magnificent Columbarium was built in the 1930's and at the time it was considered the bees knees of storing the ashes of loved ones or remembering them. It is a very beautiful building indeed - solemn and inspiring too.

Professor Grainger showed slides which showed plans as well as actual views of the crematoria and also some showing the wars of victorian mortuary supply companies and the insides of crematoria and catafalques (the raised bier used to support the coffin before it is transferred to the furnace) and all showed the victorian morticians fondness for the parlour palm. It seemed no crematoria was complete without one.

The difficulty crematoria have is that they are secular buildings but they also have to appeal to all or none religions and the religious symbolism borrowed from traditional christian chapels both in terms of the outward design and the inward trappings gradually fades out over the years - crematoria today are much more plain and municipal than they were when they first started to be built in the late 1800's - modern crematoria often have viewing areas where you can see the coffin being burnt and blank white walls which can be used as video screens.

I can't remember which crematoria it was but one of them was the first to have a door through which you entered and a door by which you left - which is important now as it means mourners don't bump into one another due to the numbers of people being cremated now as opposed to buried but then it was simply supposed to be symbolic of both the deceased and the mourners moving on.

It was a really interesting evening, made me want to learn more and I hope to get a copy of Professor Graingers book from the library :-)

*this reminds me of a chum who whilst at medical school would ring me up every so often and ask if I fancied going for a drink as she had gotten some money - namely 'ash cash' - the money she earnt by signing an okay for a cremation. I've had many a night in the Florence pub (now demolished but it used to be opposite St James) on 'ash cash' - I do hope that those cremations hid no wrongdoing.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Hammer Anniversary-Ness :-)

I am an enormous fan of Hammer films and of Peter Cushing in particular. His cheekbones, diction and just all round wonderfulness make me very happy indeed. I know he did lots of films for all sorts of companies but it is the films he made with Hammer which are my very favourites. Aside from Cone of Silence which is a very good film indeed about the aviation industry which also features the very marvellous George Sanders (who I also have a bit of a thing for - see also James Mason, Stewart Granger and William Holden - delectable all) it is the Hammer ones which really make me happy - I love the settings, the sounds, the and their colour tone (a lovely pale kind of glorious technicolour)  so imagine my excitement and delight when we decided to spend our 4th wedding anniversary at Oakley Court Hotel. Mr Pops (my lovely husband) is a fan too - nowhere near as obsessive or fervent as I am - but a fan nonetheless.

Oakley Court which is next door to Bray Studios used to be part of the Hammer Films set up and they filmed many films there but so did other production companies, for instance Amicus made And Now The Screaming Starts there - a film we watched whilst in our bedroom at Oakley Court (Mr Pops gave me the Peter Cushing Collection as an anniversary present and it is a good little boxset -even though I must complain that he is hardly in The Hellfire Club)  and it was beyond magical to be in the same place as we could see on screen - to walk through the same entrance doors Peter Cushing as Dr Pope does, and to walk on the same lawns and down to the same fountain as Ms Beacham. Thankfully though none of the other guests were wearing as dreadful a wig as Mr Cushing does in this film and nobody seemed to be complaining of possession by spirits, chopping insolent woodsmans hands off or slashing portraits.....

I don't think I can find the words to tell you quite how magical a stay this was for me, I am not a religious person but this was a religious experience for me and here is a pic of me about to enter those very doors looking v giddy at the prospect indeed.

 It was so lovely - we've decided we're going to go back there again for special occasions - now when is the next one.......

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Not Monday....

At the start of this year I made a kind of resolution that I would try and update this every Monday. I've got a busy day tomorrow and don't know if I'll get chance so I'm doing it now instead - except I haven't really got anything to say and I don't want to copy and paste something I have written elsewhere (which would make a perfectly good blog post) as it will probably make it go all funny format-wise and I'd rather be able to read whatever I've put.

Which admittedly isn't very much......

So in lieu of written content here is a photo instead :-)

This was taken some time ago at Eden Camp - it isn't a very good photo as it was taken on a camera phone, in the dark and neither of us could stop giggling. It's supposed to be a terrifying camp guard dog but alas the emphasis is more on the camp as he appears to be wearing a lot of eyeliner. Eden Camp is an amazing place but bits of it -well this bit in particular is well shonky, instead of thinking about how horrible the conditions prisoners of war had to endure I'm afraid all I could do was laugh at this badly stuffed dog.