The Pig Yard

June 2012

The weather this month has not been particularly normal with high temperatures separated by periods of cold and plenty of rainfall. There has been so much rain that the water companies have removed their hose pipe ban and the village experienced several days when the road out was flooded with Jane having to go to work via a more circuitous route.
We've had a really northern aspect to our lives with a few days staying with Jon & Susie in Holmfirth and a weekend away with Graham and Sue in Darlington. Lots going on and plenty to keep us both busy with the prospect of even more activity if we manage to get planning permission for our housing project.

Jon & Susie

Our Friends in Yorkshire

It has been nearly two years since we've seen our best friends from college Susie & Jon but it was worth waiting for. Whenever we get together it's like the years drop away and we go back 40 years in time to when we were carefree students. The Saturday afternoon was very, very wet but that didn't stop us walking down into the town, wandering around and then take the long way back so that we could enjoy the views across the valley. We arrived back at their house wet but happy.

The following day the skies were brighter and we took a walk around some of the local reservoirs - click here for a map of our walk. We stopped off at The Fleece for a lunchtime drink and a bite to eat before heading back around by Brownhill Reservoir stopping at a local pottery where we saw some wonderful pieces and determined we would purchase something on our way home the following day. The few days went very quickly and we came away sure that we wouldn't be leaving it another two years before we met up again.

BBC Gardeners World

This year Jane and Sue were the only ones from the usual suspects who attended BBC Gardeners World in Birmingham NEC. As always it was a combined garden and food show with plenty of stands selling clothing as well as all the garden devices one can ever imagine. Thankfully Tesco's came up trumps for the tickets by using Tesco vouchers  the cost of the tickets was one third of the actual price.

The show wouldn't be the same without Alan Titchmarsh doing his bit in one of the auditorium areas. Rachel Dethame, Carol Klein plus many chefs from the various TV programmes including one of the Masterchef finalists (the short part Japanesr looking chap) were seen at various stands. The BBC theatre was beside an exclusive cafe purely for Gardeners World subscribers, luckily Val had donated her ticket so both Sue and Jane could acquire a goodie bag and superb seats to watch Alan and his colleagues on the stage next door. ( Seats in the stage area were £4 each) quite a saving. Although every year it seems more diluted than the last, they seemed to come home with well laden bags of free gifts, leaflets, vouchers and purchases as well as very sore feet!


BBC Gardeners World

Samsung Galaxy S3

New Smart Phones

After nearly three years of being wedded to our Apple iPhones we both felt it was a time for a change. Steve's iPhone had become particularly slow after he upgraded to iOS5 and the old 3Gs just wasn't up to the job. On several occasions we both had to reboot our devices because they would freeze.

Steve was determined not to buy another iPhone because the whole Apple following has become more like a religion than a technical device so we decided to wait for the release of the Galaxy S3 which promised to be better than any phone on the market. After several launch dates came and went we eventually managed to get our hands on them. Jane got her white one first from Tesco using her Tesco vouchers and this proved to be a superb deal whereas Steve had to get his from O2 because Tesco were not getting hold of blue devices.

The first few days proved quite traumatic particularly because we could collect emails but couldn't send any. Eventually Steve got it sorted and we were soon moving Apps around on the screen and downloading Apps from the Android Store. Now that we're used to them we are really pleased with their speed, clarity of screen, usability and lightness & thinness.


Sue & Graham had the opportunity of booking a hotel for a weekend and they decided they would like to go to the north east. This happened to be our old stomping ground as students so we agreed to book ourselves into the same hotel and we would go up together.

The Blackwell Grange Hotel was quite pleasant however it did have two wedding events on the Saturday and one on the Sunday so the place was a bit over run in the public areas and the swimming pool was really only a tub measuring 4 metres square so we didn't bother with that.

Darlington Hotel

Darlington Market

Darlington Market Building

This is where we used to go to buy our Marvel magazines when we were students. We could buy a few on a Saturday and the following week trade them back in part exchange for another set. Superman was our super hero of choice.

Even on a wet Saturday in a place we haven't revisited for forty years things had altered that much but the passing of the years had dimmed our memory of where the station was and how far it was from the middle of the town. It was interesting to return and it brought back many happy memories.

Middleton St George College of Education

We were the first tranche of students into the "new" college which was in fact a revamped RAF station that hadn't been used for many years. In our first year at college the water always ran brown due to the rust in the ancient pipes. The hardships we experienced made that first year group a very close community and we both loved it. In our final year we moved off site into a cottage in Redmarshall just outside Stockton on Tees but looking at Google Street View our old cottage and farm surrounding farm buildings has been replaced by a small housing estate

The building in the picture used to be the main administration building for the college but is now an International Fire Training centre and some of the buildings that used to be halls of residence are now a hospital and an old persons home. Nothing stands still.

Our college admin building

Durham Market Square

Durham Market Square

Durham is a lovely, ancient city. It has managed to retain the feel of a walled city whilst adapting to all the usual modern pressures of multi-storey car parks and shopping malls.

Even on a Sunday it was busy and there was plenty of students with their parents pulling large suitcases around as it was the end of the university term. Cities that have a university in their centre have a very special feel because it is alive with intelligent young people. We really enjoyed the initial feel.

Durham Castle

Unfortunately the castle was closed due to student events taking place and the cathedral had a service taking place so the oldest buildings in the city were not open to us however we enjoyed a coffee and cake in the old alms houses which almost made up for the other disappointments.

The view of the castle from the river is truly magnificent and we loved wandering around, crossing the river several times on our stroll.

Durham Castle

Shildon Railway Museum

National Railway Museum - Shildon

On the way back from Durham Graham and Sue noticed that the museum at Shildon had a model of the original train Locomotion and possibly also had Stephenson's Rocket so we decided to take a short detour and take a look.

The museum is free and is housed in a massive warehouse with lines and lines of various railway trains and carriages. We wandered around with very few other visitors there to get in the way of taking photographs or even climbing onto the steam engine footplate and asking the well informed volunteer guides about the trains. It was so pleasant we decided to have lunch before moving on.

Steam in Action

As we left the museum we heard the sound of a steam train travelling nearby. We followed the smell of steam, coal and smoke and came across this delightful shunting engine puffing backwards and forwards just outside the museum.

There's something captivating about the sight, sounds and smells of a steam train so we spent quite a while drinking in the whole experience before moving on.

Steam Train

Olympic Torch

Olympic Torch

On our way to the museum we saw signs telling us that the Olympic torch would be passing through the small village of Middridge so we decided to park up and see what all the fuss was about. We had to wait about 40 minutes before there was any activity and then numerous police cars, police motor cyclists and sponsor vehicles started driving through making a lot of noise. Here we were in the middle of nowhere and there was still a chap selling union flags, needless to say we didn't buy one.

Eventually a local hero came jogging through the village with masses of onlookers cheering and getting caught up in the kerfuffle. All we wanted to do was to get some photographs. No sooner had the torch appeared through the crowds when it was gone. If we hadn't been passing through it's doubtful we would have spared the time. The hype around the torch is the fact that this will only happen once in our lifetimes however, as Steve never stops pointing out, every moment of every day will only happen once in our lifetimes so why the fuss?

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Radio Show

We went to see the Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy Radio Show on stage at the Derngate Theatre. What’s this you say, a radio show live on stage? And well you might ask because we didn’t know what to expect but as keen followers of The Guide we just had to see it.
Well it was brilliant! A live band introduced the programme by playing a medley of sci-fi tunes which were excellent. Amongst them was a Pink Floyd track (can’t recall the title) which was one of my favourite tracks when I was at college and it would just fill my room for hours, or at least that’s how I remember it.
Anyway back to the performance – the original radio broadcast actors came on stage and read through the whole series with help from puppeteers who came on and were the Vogans. The star of the show for me was Marvin the paranoid Android. He sums up life, the universe and everything so well.
We came away knowing that Douglas Adams was a genius. We can only guess what he might have come up with next if he had lived a little longer.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Nick's Microlight Flight

Nick's Microlight Flight

The usual suspects bought a microlight flight for Nick's 60th birthday and after nearly a year of waiting the man got his act together with the weather and managed to get his flight off the ground.

We all expected him to be doing it in one of those paper and string machines but he opted to have it in a more conventional looking craft. I think the spectators enjoyed the event almost as much as Nick, seated on a balcony overlooking the airfield supping freshly made coffee from the Pilot's bar/restaurant.

Prometheus - Prequel to Alien

Steve was quite keen to see Prometheus because Ridley Scott is a superb director of the darker side of sci-fi. The film wasn’t a let down however there were many, many references to other sci-fi films and it was a bit of an homage to some of the more classical films. It had the robot David, who was following a secret agenda similar to that of HAL in 2001 a Space Odyssey and also the aliens used musical notes to control their spacecraft which has similarities to Close Encounters when the aliens communicate via musical notes.

Overall this was a good sci-fi film with plenty of epic scenes both inside the space craft and also on the alien planet. It had all the horrors of the original alien film with naive crew members getting killed by alien creatures in the most close up and personal way. In this instance the alien didn’t burst out of anyone's stomach but was removed by an operating robot in a Caesarean operation. We were on the edge of our seats for much of the latter part of the film however we did leave a little confused because to us it seemed to us as though the alien creators were bent on destroying earth using the Alien creatures as weapons of mass destruction but the last crew member alive had somehow decided that the creators had decided not to carry out our genocide. If you’re a sci-fi fan then go see it, if not stay well clear.

Prometheus - film

House Project

House Project

Whilst we wait for the decision on our planning submission we continue to look at the choices we have in terms of timber frame design and the windows. These two areas are where most of the money will go and so it is vital that we get them right.

We have become obsessed with u-values that indicate the thermal qualities of different materials. Inevitably this is even more complicated than it sounds because, for example, the u-value at the centre of a double glazed unit will be better (less thermal transmission) than at the window frame where there is thermal bridging. If you haven't fallen asleep already then please have some sympathy for us whilst we come to terms with a whole new set of jargon and potential sales people who may or may not be telling us the truth about what is the best material for our circumstances. And of the course the better it is the more expensive you can expect it to be.

Oh for goodness sake let's just get planning permission and then we can make our decisions and live with them for the rest of our lives.

Next Month...

  • Picasso Exhibition @ Tate Britain
  • Regina Spektor @ Royal Albert Hall
  • New Spiderman film
  • Let's hope we get some decent cycles (over 25 miles)
  • Hedda Gabler @ Derngate Theatre
  • Dave & Lucie return to Kenya
  • Steve starts root canal work
  • Planning Decision - hopefully purchase land
  • Ian & Sue come to stay

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