Welcome one and all to my beach hut

Grab a deck chair, Tea or coffee and help yourself to a buiscuit but you'd better mind the seaguls or they'll grab them first. Just look at that view and doesn't the sea look inviting.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Years Eve : Sayings Customs and Traditions

31st December is the last day of the year. It is New Year's Eve.

Many people see the old year out with a party, welcoming in the New Year with toasts of champagne, and exchanging good wishes for a 'Happy New Year'.

It is traditional to stay up and see the old year out. Its exit is usually noisy. All over Britain there are parties, fireworks, singing and dancing, to ring out the old year and ring in the new.

In Scotland, New Year's Eve is celebrated with much drinking and revelry as Hogmany, which traditionally lasts for a day or more into the New Year.

As the clock - Big Ben - strikes midnight, people all over the UK cross their arms across their chests and link hands with everyone closeby them. They sing a song called 'Auld Lang Syne' reminding them of old and new friends.

All year round Traditional Song

What is 'Auld Lang Syne'?

'Auld Lang Syne' is an old Scottish song that was first written down in the 1700s. Robert Burns is the person whose transcription got the most attention, so the song is associated with him.

What does 'Auld Lang Syne' mean?

"Auld Lang Syne" is from old Scottish dialect and can be translated as "times gone by". The poem/song is about love and friendship in times gone by. The lyrics 'We'll take a Cup of Kindness yet' relate to a drink shared by men and women to symbolise friendship.

Auld Lang Syne

Version Sung

Should old acquaintances be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?


For auld lang  syne, my dear
For auld Lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

Verse Two

And there's a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o thine
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang sine

Chorus  repeat 

For auld lang  syne, my dear
For auld Lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!


Should old acquaintances be forgotten
and never remembered
Should old acquaintance be forgotten
For times gone by


For times gone by, my dear
For times gone by
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For times gone by

And there is a hand my trust friend
And give me a hand of yours
And we will take of a goodwill drink
For times gone by

For times gone by, my dear
For times gone by
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For times gone by

All year round Customs

An old custom was to open the door of the house at the last stroke of midnight. on New Year’s Eve to allow the old year out and the new year in.

First Footing

In the old days, the New Year started with a custom called 'first footing', which was suppose to bring good luck to people for the coming year. As soon as midnight had passed and January 1st had started, people used to wait behind their doors for a dark haired person to arrive. The visitor carried a piece of coal, some bread, some money and some greenery. These were all for good luck - the coal to make sure that the house would always be warm, the bread to make sure everyone in the house would have enough food to eat, money so that they would have enough money, and the greenery to make sure that they had a long life.

The visitor would then take a pan of dust or ashes out of the house with him, thus signifying the departure of the old year.

New Year Resolutions

The end of the year brings reflection on the past and hope for the future. Many people make New Year's resolutions.

On December 31, 1661, Samuel Pepys penned about his New Year's Resolution “I have newly taken a solemn oath about abstaining from plays and wine, which I am resolved to keep according to the letter of the oath which I keep by me.”

Calennig is the Welsh tradition of New Year gift giving. A Calennig is an apple with three twig legs stuck with dried fruit, cloves and a spray of evergreens stuck into the top. It is a traditional Welsh decoration to give friends and families on New Years day to with them luck during the new year. Placing a calennig on the window sill or shelf will bring luck to the house.

Calennig is a Welsh word meaning "New Year celebration/gift," though literally translates to "the first day of the month," deriving from the Latin word kalends. The English word "Calendar" also has its root in this word

In Yorkshire, people say 'Black rabbits, black rabbits, black rabbits' in the closing seconds of the old year. Then they say, 'White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits,' as their first utterance of the New Year. This is suppose to bring good luck.
Many people try to make 'White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits,' their first words on the first day of any new month.
On the first day of each month when children get to school they may say to someone:
'Pinch punch the first day of the month - no returns!'
In retaliation the other one will immediately exclaim:
'A punch and a kick for being so quick - no returns!.'

Happy New Year to ALL

Friday, 30 December 2011

A Beach Huts not just for Summer

I’m always amazed at how humanity can turn an object that has a fixed use into something completely different and at the same time bring joy and happiness to others. The object I’m referring to in this instance is a beach hut, something to which readers of this blog know is close to my heart. Beach huts are designed for use during the summer months as a retreat close to the sea shore to provide a changing facility, shelter from summer shower and storage place for all items needed when spending the day by the sea. Beach huts usually in this country play an active use from between May and September and at other times are locked up except for times of renovation. What possible use could a beach hut have during winter?

Well a group of beach hut owners in Hove next to Brighton have found a novel way to use there beach huts. Throughout the month of December they hold the Beach Hut Advent Calendar. Each night starting on December 1st between 6.30 and 7.30 pm they open one of the beach huts which is illuminated and shows a different scene from the nativity. One the opening night a choir will sing carols and on Christmas Eve everyone is invited to come dressed as their favourite nativity story character so that they can create a massive live nativity scene throughout the evening. When you arrive on for the first opening you are given a card and each night to attend an opening the card will be signed, the person attending the most openings will win a prize.

I have also discovered that Brighton is not the only place to have held a Beach Hut
Advent calendar Festival, Bridlington have also experimented with the Idea.

I think it’s great and hope that someone from Mablethorpe or Sutton on Sea might be encouraged to look into the idea closer.

The Link below has a short video that will give you some idea of how it works

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Message From The Beach Hut

I would like to wish all of my readers and followers a Very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year and hope that you have all had as much pleasure in reading it as I have had in compiling it. Here in Skegness it has been both a great year for me personally and for Skegness as a town and resort. In 2011 there were many enjoyable moments and I am sure that the majority of our visitors and residents enjoyed the many highlights of the year. I have included a few personal photographes of just a few of the highlights and I hope you enjoy them. Cant wait for 2012 and hope to see you sometime in Skegness.

Sea View Walk cleared of sand and opened once again to the public thanks to the volunteers of Coastal Access For All

Granny Turismo in Skegness for the 2011 SO Festival

Games Time in Skegness part of the 2011
So Festival

Illuminations switch-on 2011

AMCA Beach Racing in November

Christmas Day At The Workhouse

 Has we enjoy our Christmas please spare a thought for others less fortunate than ourselves

It is Christmas Day in the workhouse,
And the cold, bare walls are bright
With garlands of green and holly,
And the place is a pleasant sight;
For with clean-washed hands and faces,
In a long and hungry line
The paupers sit at the table,
For this is the hour they dine.

And the guardians and their ladies,
Although the wind is east,
Have come in their furs and wrappers,
To watch their charges feast;
To smile and be condescending,
Put pudding on pauper plates.
To be hosts at the workhouse banquet
They've paid for — with the rates.

Oh, the paupers are meek and lowly
With their "Thank'ee kindly, mum's!'"
So long as they fill their stomachs,
What matter it whence it comes!
But one of the old men mutters,
And pushes his plate aside:
"Great God!" he cries, "but it chokes me!
For this is the day she died!"

The guardians gazed in horror,
The master's face went white;
"Did a pauper refuse the pudding?"
"Could their ears believe aright?"
Then the ladies clutched their husbands,
Thinking the man would die,
Struck by a bolt, or something,
By the outraged One on high.

But the pauper sat for a moment,
Then rose 'mid silence grim,
For the others had ceased to chatter
And trembled in every limb.
He looked at the guardians' ladies,
Then, eyeing their lords, he said,
"I eat not the food of villains
Whose hands are foul and red:

"Whose victims cry for vengeance
From their dark, unhallowed graves."
"He's drunk!" said the workhouse master,
"Or else he's mad and raves."
"Not drunk or mad," cried the pauper,
"But only a haunted beast,
Who, torn by the hounds and mangled,
Declines the vulture's feast.

"I care not a curse for the guardians,
And I won't be dragged away;
Just let me have the fit out,
It's only on Christmas Day
That the black past comes to goad me,
And prey on my burning brain;
I'll tell you the rest in a whisper —
I swear I won't shout again.

"Keep your hands off me, curse you!
Hear me right out to the end.
You come here to see how paupers
The season of Christmas spend;.
You come here to watch us feeding,
As they watched the captured beast.
Here's why a penniless pauper
Spits on your paltry feast.

"Do you think I will take your bounty,
And let you smile and think
You're doing a noble action
With the parish's meat and drink?
Where is my wife, you traitors —
The poor old wife you slew?
Yes, by the God above me,
My Nance was killed by you!

'Last winter my wife lay dying,
Starved in a filthy den;
I had never been to the parish —
I came to the parish then.
I swallowed my pride in coming,
For ere the ruin came,
I held up my head as a trader,
And I bore a spotless name.

"I came to the parish, craving
Bread for a starving wife,
Bread for the woman who'd loved me
Through fifty years of life;
And what do you think they told me,
Mocking my awful grief,
That 'the House' was open to us,
But they wouldn't give 'out relief'.

"I slunk to the filthy alley —
'Twas a cold, raw Christmas Eve —
And the bakers' shops were open,
Tempting a man to thieve;
But I clenched my fists together,
Holding my head awry,
So I came to her empty-handed
And mournfully told her why.

"Then I told her the house was open;
She had heard of the ways of that,
For her bloodless cheeks went crimson,
and up in her rags she sat,
Crying, 'Bide the Christmas here, John,
We've never had one apart;
I think I can bear the hunger —
The other would break my heart.'

"All through that eve I watched her,
Holding her hand in mine,
Praying the Lord and weeping,
Till my lips were salt as brine;
I asked her once if she hungered,
And as she answered 'No' ,
T'he moon shone in at the window,
Set in a wreath of snow.

"Then the room was bathed in glory,
And I saw in my darling's eyes
The faraway look of wonder
That comes when the spirit flies;
And her lips were parched and parted,
And her reason came and went.
For she raved of our home in Devon,
Where our happiest years were spent.

"And the accents, long forgotten,
Came back to the tongue once more.
For she talked like the country lassie
I woo'd by the Devon shore;
Then she rose to her feet and trembled,
And fell on the rags and moaned,
And, 'Give me a crust — I'm famished —
For the love of God!' she groaned.

"I rushed from the room like a madman
And flew to the workhouse gate,
Crying, 'Food for a dying woman!'
And the answer came, 'Too late.'
They drove me away with curses;
Then I fought with a dog in the street
And tore from the mongrel's clutches
A crust he was trying to eat.

"Back through the filthy byways!
Back through the trampled slush!
Up to the crazy garret,
Wrapped in an awful hush;
My heart sank down at the threshold,
And I paused with a sudden thrill.
For there, in the silv'ry moonlight,
My Nance lay, cold and still.

"Up to the blackened ceiling,
The sunken eyes were cast —
I knew on those lips, all bloodless,
My name had been the last;
She called for her absent husband —
O God! had I but known! —
Had called in vain, and, in anguish,
Had died in that den — alone.

"Yes, there, in a land of plenty,
Lay a loving woman dead,
Cruelly starved and murdered
for a loaf of the parish bread;
At yonder gate, last Christmas,
I craved for a human life,
You, who would feed us paupers,
What of my murdered wife!"

'There, get ye gone to your dinners,
Don't mind me in the least,
Think of the happy paupers
Eating your Christmas feast;
And when you recount their blessings
In your smug parochial way,
Say what you did for me, too,
Only last Christmas Day."

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Merry Victorian Christmas

For thousands of years people around the world have enjoyed midwinter festivals. With the arrival of Christianity, pagan festivals became mixed with Christmas celebrations. One of the leftovers from these pagan days is the custom of bedecking houses and churches with evergreen plants like mistletoe, holly and ivy. Apparently, as well as their magical connection in protecting us from evil spirits, they  also encourage the return of spring. 
No era in history however, has influenced the way in which we celebrate Christmas, quite as much as the Victorians.
Before Victoria's reign started in 1837 nobody in Britain had heard of Santa Claus or Christmas Crackers. No Christmas cards were sent and most people did not have holidays from work. The wealth and technologies generated by the industrial revolution of the Victorian era changed the face of Christmas forever. Sentimental do-gooders like Charles Dickens wrote books like "Christmas Carol", published in 1843, which actually encouraged rich Victorians to redistribute their wealth by giving money and gifts to the poor - Humbug! These radical middle class ideals eventually spread to the not-quite-so-poor as well.
The holidays - The wealth generated by the new factories and industries of the Victorian age allowed middle class families in England and Wales to take time off work and celebrate over two days, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Boxing Day, December 26th, earned its name as the day servants and working people opened the boxes in which they had collected gifts of money from the "rich folk". Those new fangled inventions, the railways allowed the country folk who had moved into the towns and cities in search of work to return home for a family Christmas.
The Scots have always preferred to postpone the celebrations for a few days to welcome in the New Year, in the style that is Hogmanay. Christmas Day itself did not become a holiday in Scotland until many years after Victoria's reign and it has only been within the last 20-30 years that this has been extended to include Boxing Day.
The Gifts - At the start of Victoria's reign, children's toys tended to be handmade and hence expensive, generally restricting availability to those "rich folk" again. With factories however came mass production, which brought with it games, dolls, books and clockwork toys all at a more affordable price. Affordable that is to "middle class" children. In a "poor child's" Christmas stocking, which first became popular from around 1870, only an apple, orange and a few nuts could be found.
Father Christmas / Santa Claus - Normally associated with the bringer of the above gifts, is Father Christmas or Santa Claus. The two are in fact two entirely separate stories. Father Christmas was originally part of an old English midwinter festival, normally dressed in green, a sign of the returning spring. The stories of St. Nicholas (Sinter Klaas in Holland) came via Dutch settlers to America in the 17th Century. From the 1870's Sinter Klass became known in Britain as Santa Claus and with him came his unique gift and toy distribution system - reindeer and sleigh.
Turkey Time - Turkeys had been brought to Britain from America hundreds of years before Victorian times. When Victoria first came to the throne however, both chicken and turkey were too expensive for most people to enjoy. In northern England roast beef was the traditional fayre for Christmas dinner while in London and the south, goose was favourite. Many poor people made do with rabbit. On the other hand, the Christmas Day menu for Queen Victoria and family in 1840 included both beef and of course a royal roast swan or two. By the end of the century most people feasted on turkey for their Christmas dinner. The great journey to London started for the turkey sometime in October. Feet clad in fashionable but hardwearing leather the unsuspecting birds would have set out on the 80-mile hike from the Norfolk farms. Arriving obviously a little tired and on the scrawny side they must have thought London hospitality unbeatable as they feasted and fattened on the last few weeks before Christmas!
Christmas Cards - The "Penny Post" was first introduced in Britain in 1840 by Rowland Hill. The idea was simple, a penny stamp paid for the postage of a letter or card to anywhere in Britain. This simple idea paved the way for the sending of the first Christmas cards. Sir Henry Cole tested the water in 1843 by printing a thousand cards for sale in his art shop in London at one shilling each. The popularity of sending cards was helped along when in 1870 a halfpenny postage rate was introduced as a result of the efficiencies brought about by those new fangled railways.  

The Tree - Queen Victoria's German husband Prince Albert helped to make the Christmas tree as popular in Britain as they where in his native Germany, when he brought one to Windsor Castle in the 1840's.
The Crackers - Invented by Tom Smith, a London sweet maker in 1846. The original idea was to wrap his sweets in a twist of fancy coloured paper, but this developed and sold much better when he added love notes (motto's), paper hats, small toys and made them go off BANG!
Carol Singers - Carol Singers and Musicians "The Waits" visited houses singing and playing the new popular carols; 

 Two Websites you will find interesting.



Wednesday, 21 December 2011

My Top 5 Christmas Classic Films

It happened to me for the first time this year while I was out. For the first time I felt that glow inside when you realise it won’t be long till Christmas.. I could feel it in the air. What brought it on you might ask? I was on my way into town on my scooter and someone hurrying past me in the other direction, laden with rolls of Christmas wrapping paper called out to me Merry Christmas and a few yards on a father crosses the road with his son who was carrying a football both were on the way into Tower Gardens and suddenly it felt like Christmas.

What else you may ask can be guaranteed to bring out the Christmas spirit in me? 
Call me an old sentimentalist; it is true I just love a good old classic Christmas film. The kind of film that brings families together and even though times are hard things all work out because of the love they have for each other and the magic of Christmas. There are many great Christmas classics like ‘The Snow Man’, ‘The Polar express ‘ and ‘Peter Pan’ to name a few but for the purpose of this blog here are my top 5 Christmas films and I have them all in my DVD collection so I will be viewing each one sometime over Christmas.

5…. Meet Me in St Lewis starring the wonderful Judy Garland. The Story is about the Smith family who face having to move away from New York because of the Fathers future promotion and Judy falls in love with the boy who has just moved in next door and at the same time the Worlds Fair is coming to town. MGM musicals don’t come much better than this and the score for the ‘Trolley Song is one of the best. This is a classic Christmas story with the family of Mother and Father and four Daughters facing up to an unsettled future but with the hope that better times are just around the corner expressed in the words of the song she sings to her young sister ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas and goes on to give hope in the words next year our troubles will be miles away.   http://youtu.be/5g4lY8Y3eoo

4…. The Railway Children. Once again the family is the central theme; I love the start of the film with the opening of the presents and the visit to the traditional Pantomime. Then the Father is arrested for a crime he did not commit and the family forced to economise by moving to a smaller home in the country which happens to be closed to the Railway where all there adventures begin. I love the fact that it is “There old Gentleman” who comes to the rescue and the film builds up to the final tear jerking scene where Father steps off the train into the arms of his loving daughter to be re united with his family.

3…..Love Actually. Not so old this film it was released in 2003 but already it is a Christmas Classic. The film begins with a voiceover from David (Hugh Grant) commenting that whenever he gets gloomy with the state of the world he thinks about the arrivals terminal at Heathrow Airport, and the pure uncomplicated love felt as friends and families welcome their arriving loved ones. David's voiceover also relates that all the messages left by the people who died on the 9/11 planes were messages of love and not hate. The film then tells the 'love stories' of many people:
The story involves numerous individuals looking for love and fulfilment it is near Christmas and all over the world people are in a hurry to get to their partners before the commencement of the holiday and the film returns to Heathrow Airport at the end to watch everything fall into place perfectly.

2…… White Christmas. A real Hollywood blockbuster starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Great songs great cast and a wonderful story about to guys going on a skiing holiday and meeting to gals. The owner of the hotel they are staying at just happens to be their general when they were in the army. The Hotel is having a bad season due to lack of snow and the boys decide to organise a re-union gig to help by inviting all the men from who were under the Generals commend. Culminating in a grand scene where Bing sings the title tract from the film and the barn doors open to display snow falling and a return to good times. 

1……My all time Classic Christmas Film is ‘What A Wonderful Life’ The Film centres around our family man George Bailey played by James Stewart who’s life is in tatters, is business as failed and he’s taking it out on his family. In despair he goes out one Christmas night gets drunk crashes his car and decides to end is life by jumping from a bridge into a river. That is when he meets the unlikely apprentice angel Clarence who is trying to win is wings. George saves him from his watery fait and when George proclaims he wishes he had never been born his wish is granted. Eventually George realises how lucky he is and what a life he is missing and everything is restored to how it was. A real uplifting film that never fails to restore hope for us all.

All of these films have relevance to us at this time, with austerity measures hitting home hard, we all need some hope of a better future ahead. There is magic available at Christmas time for everyone but before you can feel it you have to be receptive to it.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Washed In Washed Out Washed Away by Peter & Gemma Leak

I have to admit I really knew very little about the work the coastguards undertake and even less about their history. We in Skegness are very aware of what the RNLI do and I mistakenly assumed that they were a support group, checking radio, being aware of what movement of shipping in our area and so forth. Then a couple of weeks ago I saw that there was going to be a book signing at Skegness Library, so I turned up and met Peter and Gemma (very nice people) we had a chat and I bought there book: Washed In, Washed Out, Washed Away.

Peter was a serving member of the Mablethorpe Auxiliary Coastgards from 1975 to 2001 and from 1989 to 2001 was Auxiliary in Charge, Station Officer there as well as holding down a full time position with the Prudential Insurance and Gemma is a successful business lady in Sutton on Sea. The book is split into two parts, in part one Peter and Gemma using all the available records have done a really good job of documenting the history of the original seven Coastguard Stations between Saltfleet and Anderby Creek from there beginnings in the early 1800s right up to 2001. He recalls many of the men who worked at the stations, there way of life and the many incidents that they dealt with, he also recalls the banter between the crews and the many characters that lived by and worked on the sea.

The Coastguard service was initially set up to monitor smuggling in remote areas and initially were not looked on favourably by locals, in some cases the first coastguards were force to live in ship wrecks washed onto shore.
Soon after commencement though there role was changed to that of saving lives. In those early years before the invention of radio and radar the only way to check on what was happening out at sea was to have men placed along the shore on lookout duties, communication was limited to the use of flags and the firing of maroons. It could be a very lonely, cold and many times a dangerous task on lookout duty during heavy seas. Maroons were fired to call out the Lifeboat which in the early days was a heavy vessel power by the oarsmen of the lifeboat crew which often included the coastguard personnel. These vessels were often pulled to the launching spot on the beach by a team of horses hired from a local farmer and in later years by a lorry hired also from a local farmer.

 In part two is story of Peter’s time at the Mablethorpe Auxiliary Coastguard Station. Peter recalls the many varied call outs he as made “ The calls come at any hour, day or night and you have to be prepared to go”. “You don’t know where you are going, what you are going to find or how long you are going to be out. You never know if you are going to need a full company of Auxiliary Coastguards called out”. “Together with any or all of the following services, Lifeboat, Search and Rescue Helicopters, the Police, the Police Firearms Unit, Customs and Excise, the Ambulance and Fire Brigade, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the Army or the Royal Navy and once I even had to call upon the services of a Vet on Christmas Day”.

The book talks of the many items WASHED IN and WASHED OUT: such as the huge dumb (no engine)  barge that pumped sand onto the beaches for the sea defences that had broken loose and lodged itself half on the promenade and half on the sea wall near the Boy Grift at Sandilands. The barge measured 57 metres x 19 metres. The coastguards did a 24 hour continues watch on the barge while she was high and dry. A fortnight later the barge the thing just floated of its own accord.

This book is a very good read, Ideal for these cold winter nights whilst you are warm and safe in your own home, It recounts the bravery of men dedicated to protecting and saving lives. You will read of disasters, drama’s mysteries and many humorous incidents. The book it well written and is far more than just a list of places and dates. The book adds another dimension to both the history and the people of this part of Lincolnshire and whether you are a visitor or dweller along the coastal strip you find much in its pages to interest you

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Future Of The Book

I have just received my new Kindle electronic reader. I find it very easy to use, easy on the eye and reads very much like a book.

I have loved having books all of my life and so what made me want to purchase an E-reader. The advantages are many, it’s very light and compact, you can hardly tell you are holding it and as I do a fare amount of reading in bed late at night that’s important. Another selling point is that many books that are classed as classics can be obtained from Amazon free of charge and even new books are cheaper to buy than in a printed book form. I’ve read somewhere that this year will be looked back at as being the year when the way we read books showed a radical change. They are already saying that the E-Reader is the fastest selling electric item of the year. Statistics are showing that women are leading the way when it comes to e-readers whilst more men are using tablets. Does this mean the end of the book and what is the future likely to hold?  Before looking into this question lets discover how our book has evolved.
Before books were discovered people would read from scrolls in the same way as we would study a roll of film. Problem here was there was no way you could mark where you were in a scroll, similar to the old video take where you had a beginning and an end with no means of looking at a particular scene unless you scrolled through to find it from the beginning of the film. Then in 1440 Johan Guten­berg was inspired to com­bine a wine screw (used to press grapes or olives) with paper and hot type to cre­ate the first printing press. Books could now be repro­duced quickly and cheaply, allow­ing for sub­stan­tially lower costs and more wide­spread dis­tri­b­u­tion. Books tended to be large and very heavy to carry about with you and I don’t think there would be many reading these books in bed
In the 1930s, the paper­back book appeared, mak­ing printed goods a com­plete mass medium. So many more novels were printed in Paperback than in hardback. People buying hard back books tended to buy them more has a collectable item and something you would refer to many times over the years whilst paperback novels were mainly disposable after reading.
In the 1930s, the paper­back book appeared, mak­ing printed goods a com­plete mass medium. The book world then became strat­i­fied with paper­back at the bot­tom of the pile, aimed at mass dis­tri­b­u­tion, hardcover’s in the mid­dle as some­what bet­ter pro­duced and more durable, and col­lectible books, pro­duced in small quan­tity and cre­ated as art objects to be appre­ci­ated by collectors. So if large seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion are mov­ing to e-readers, what’s to become of the printed book? Is it the end of the road for some­thing that has existed through most major tech­no­log­i­cal changes? Will cen­turies of his­tory go dig­i­tal? For people who look at the book for its con­tent, only con­cerned with what sto­ries or facts are con­tained within the book. Those peo­ple don’t care about the dis­tinc­tion between paper­back, hard­back, or e-text. What they want is the words and sen­tences, not the other stuff that comes along with the book.  Those peo­ple tend to see books as infor­ma­tion ves­sels to be dis­carded once the infor­ma­tion has been consumed, and then yes I think it is the end of the book for some. I would still buy a book that was richly illustrated or one I would use on a regular basis for reference and it has already been suggested that the printed book would in future be bought as an art form because of its beauty and value, but sales of paperbacks I think will show a steady decline.
So what is the future for us e-reader’s. I’ve been considering this and in the process have done a little research on the web and I’m getting very excited by the prospect. You are already able to highlight items of interest within the e-book, you can also make notes and share your highlights and notes on your social media formats like facebook. Every time you purchase a book it is noted and future books of similar form can be suggested to you by Amazon. Future software will enable a group of readers in a book club or group of friends to see notes from other members running in the margin of their own book.
I think future developments on the illustrations area could be very exciting. For instance you may be reading a murder mystery that took place in an old castle and instead of just seeing an illustration of the castle you will be able to step inside and by moving around each room and investigate the evidence and for someone in the future reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island they will be able to investigate the island for themselves. I can see the e-reader getting more involved in the games field. I have played search and find games where finding items in a room can lead to more clues, and this process could run alongside a story you may be reading where finding items in an illustration could reveal more of the story you are reading.
I recall watching the first of the Harry Potter films and when harry read a newspaper thee pictures moved and talked, with this new technology it’s just a matter of times before the include short YouTube like films into E-newspapers that can be read on the Ipad.  
We are just at the threshold of a totally new experience in our reading I believe and if it gets more young people into reading books then it will be well worth it.
It will have an effect on how book shops operate I have no doubt but I am convinced that new and exiting retail outlets will follow on. For instance two of my pleasures are drinking coffee and reading. There is no reason why in the future these two actions could not be combined on our high streets. Electronic Tablets set into coffee tables could allow customers the chance to browse books whilst enjoying a coffee. Also more of our newspapers are being installed in e-reader form for a small annual fee and it would be possible for a coffee shop to have all of these publications available to customers for a very small charge. Just one of the future schemes we could be seeing once this new form of technology gets established.
But for now its time to relax in my virtual beach hut and get back to my Kindle.  

 Below are just a few new inovations possible using the new technowlodgy

Heres a short introduction to the Kindle 4 which I've just purchased

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Sea Trips From Skegness

Whilst viewing some illustrations recently of Skegness sea front showing the beach, pier and the sea as it looked around the early 1900’s it was very noticeable that the same view today looks very different, something is clearly missing. The beach looks the same with families enjoying either playing sporty games, digging in the sand or relaxing in the sun, there is the same thin line of bathers on the seas edge, but past this its looks very different. In the illustrations from the early 1900’s the 300 or so yards of sea close to the beach show many things happening, small craft, and yacht’s circulate and pleasure steamers leave the pier bound for the wash or Hunstanton. Today the only craft you are likely to see off our coast is the occasional Jet-ski or a distant trawler returning to Boston.

Skegness Pier was opened in 1881. For almost 30 years after it was built steamers ran from the end of the pier taking visitors on excursions across The Wash. The steamer trips, when they began in 1882, proved so popular that a group of local business men started the Skegness Steamboat Company the following year mainly to charter boats for the holiday season.
One of the most popular trips they ran was to Hunstanton in Norfolk. Here visitors could visit the grounds of nearby Sandringham estate. On the return trip to Skegness in the evening there would be an opportunity to visit the Lynwell Lightship – although this was as much for the crew to receive fresh supplies and mail.
These steamers ran until the end of 1910. There were various reasons for stopping. The profits were waning, the building up of sandbanks in the Wash made the Hunstanton trip even more difficult as the steamers had to make a further detour to get across to the other side, and the landing stage had to be removed due to it becoming unsafe.
One of the largest of these steamers used for the trips was P.S ‘May’. She was 116ft long with a beam of 18ft 8ins. She was licensed to carry 487 passengers on a river trip and 255 at sea. She could travel from Hull to Skegness in about three and a half hours.
The most popular trip was across the wash to the resort of Hunstanton, the fare for the trip was three shillings. The trip could last a whole day or just half a day. Another Steamer used was the ‘Spindrift’ Which would leave Skegness Pier at 8.30 am and arrive at the Norfolk coast for 11 am, passengers could then make the 8 mile journey to visit the Royal residence at Sandringham. Other trips that could be chartered were to Scarborough or Boston. The Last Paddle Steamer to operate from Skegness was the P.S Privateer which was based in Boston.( see pic right)
It must have been quite a sight from the beach to watch these steamers leaving the pier head. To get a glimpse of what it was like take a look at the Pathe News film of P.S Brighton taken in 1900. http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=51929
To get a feel of how it would feel going on one of the Paddle steamers watch this short film of P.S Waverley passing the Pier Head at Sandown on the Isle of Wight.
I’m not sure about any pleasure craft operating pleasure trip from Skegness after the Paddle Steamers stopped running in 1910. I have an idea that there were trips organised using a small Hovercraft but I’m still researching this and will update on a future blog.
I would hope that despite all the difficulties of organising pleasure trips by sea that one day we will once again be able to enjoy trips to Hunstanton or even out to view the wind farms, I believe there would be an interest in these trips and maybe in the future money might become available to extend the pier and provide a jetty for such trips to take place, all we can do is hope.
If anyone would like to view more of the magnificent Paddle Steamers that used to sail along our coast, you can view some great pictures by visiting this site.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Skegness Miniature Railways

Everyone loves a miniature railway; it is something the whole family can enjoy. There was a time when all seaside resorts could boast about having a miniature railway running along its sea front and Skegness was no exception. From my research there have been at least 2 and possibly 3 miniature railways running in Skegness. The first of these ran from a station situated near the famous Figure of eight early wooden roller coaster that was opened in 1909. The miniature railway opened in 1923 and for at least part of its journey ran on the beach and suffered from derailments due to build ups of sand. The was a railway in the early 50-60s because records show of a very fine engine that just have been built(see picture above) spent a year on the tracks, at the time it was unnamed but now goes under the name of "Waverley" and spent considerable time at the Ferry Meadows miniature railway in Peterborough after leaving Skegness. Another fine engine to be seen in Skegness at this time was the 4-6-4 built  in 1949 called ‘Commodore Vanderbilt’ which started its life at the Orme hotel in Wales and was once owned by the boxer Randolph Turpin. It then moved to Skegness where it was very popular especially with adults who loved to ride behind it. It also later moved on to Ferry Meadows. The track ran from the north end of the boating lake (where there was a ticket office) along the length of the boating lake right to the far end. 

In 1973 tracks were laid on the old track bed and the third miniature railway opened. In 1979 this was taken over by new owners and ran till 1993. I found one account on the internet of someone who can remember this miniature railway from frequent visits to Skegness in the 1980s. He recalls there were four engines used on the track, the Engine known as Big ‘Un. This engine was, at the time, used through the week. Only one loco running, with a one man operation. I.e. driver and fair collector. Two other engines were Fisherman and I think Sea Breeze. These two engines were very similar in appearance. I do remember that there were slight differences. Skegness was so much busier on weekends that the railway was more fully staffed and two engines ran the line. The large passing loop and a token system were used. Stations were manned with ticket collectors. I remember that the car park end at Tower Esplanade had a ticket office and gate at the end of the platform. The other engine was referred to as Little ‘Un. This was a tiny battery engine. It pulled a truck on which sat the driver and one passenger. There was a sign at the Princes Parade (Fairy Dell) end of the line saying children could drive the train. My father enquired for me and I remember distinctly returning to the line after services had finished and being allowed to drive Little ‘Un the length of the line and back (I can’t remember how much it cost). The owner sat behind me instructing me as we went. Another person recalls a two deck tram that ran on the tracks, the top deck was just for show and not used by passengers.

Sadly there is no Miniature Railway in Skegness at the moment but there are two very worth a visit just a few miles outside of Skegness.

In model engineering terms Evergreens in Stickney near Boston is a very young club. Started in 2002 it has grown rapidly though and now boasts a large 7¼" 'looped eight' railway and a raised 5" track located inside the main loop of the 7¼" circuit.

Another Fine layout can be found just outside of Mablethorpe. The Mablethorpe Miniature Railway (formally known as Queens Park MR) first opened in 1968 as a 10 ¼ inch gauge railway but was regauged to the present gauge in 1970. The railway is basically a simple circuit in the public park behind the sea wall, running through the tunnel/shed as it goes. A train ride consists of two circuits round the track. There are two petrol engines currently based here.

There are two Light or Narrow Gauge railways that are well worth a visit. The Skegness Light Railway is situated in the Water Leisure Caravan Park close to Butlins. It is open every Sunday during the main six week holidays and on Summer Bank Holidays. The other light railway is the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, east coasts premier 15inch gauge steam railway. Operating trains along a 2 mile coastal track, overlooking the Humber Estuary. Our 3 stations house something of interest for everyone from the station master’s gift shop to our bistro, tearooms and pub.  http://www.cleethorpescoastlightrailway.co.uk/

I personally hope that at a future time a miniature railway will return to Skegness. Once the proposed Zonel areas along the Foreshore get established maybe a miniature railway can be introduced as a means of linking the Sporting, Fun and culture zones, this could be achieved by using the waterway canals that have been struggling to establish themselves as of late. If you search other coastal tourist towns you will find many high quality miniature railways and it does seem a real shame that Skegness is lacking in that department.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Puffin Billy and The Runaway Train

This story starts with an introduction two men who without knowing it played a significant part in my younger days

Edward White was a composer whose most famous piece is a tune called puffin Billy, the original recording was made by the Melodi Light Orchestra and was inspired by a locomotive called Puffin Billy whilst the composer was on holiday in the Isle of Wight (see picture right of one of the original locos that worked on the Isle of Wight light railway).

Derek McCulloch was born in Plymouth in 1897 of Scottish parents. The First World War interrupted his education and he enlisted in 1915 in the Public Schools Battalion of the 16th Middlesex Regiment at the age of 17. He served until 1921, with the infantry, where he was commissioned into the Green Howards, and in the Royal Flying Corps as an Equipment Officer, including a spell on HMS Valiant. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Somme (1916) and lay in 'no-man's land' for three days and nights in a shell-hole 20 yards from the German lines. While lying badly injured but still twitching, he was found by the German Red Cross and was deliberately shot through the head to end his suffering. (This is the account told by the man himself to Trevor Hill, a colleague on BBC Children's Hour), however, he survived. From 1926 till 1954 he worked for the BBC in various capacities, he was the first radio outside broadcaster to commentate on the F.A Cup in 1927. He resigned from the BBC in 1950 through health problems.

Here’s where our story begins. In 1954 Derek McCulloch rejoined the BBC to take over a programme of music for children every Saturday morning and for thousands of us kids came to be fondly known has Uncle Mac. The programme was called ‘Children’s Favourites and its theme tune was Puffin Billy composed by Edward White. I used to spend every weekend at my Grandmothers house and without fail I would be up, dressed and sitting below her old valve radio waiting for the opening bars of Puffin Billy followed every time by Uncle Mac saying “ Hello Children Everywhere” to all us children Uncle Mac was not just a BBC presenter he was our Uncle and every week he would receive hundreds of letters from children all over the UK and I was one of them. I remember sending a letter in addressed to Uncle Mac asking him if he would play ‘The Runaway Train’ by Michael holliday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7_IMEvr9ek  Michael Holliday was a very popular crooner who had many hits like ‘The story of My Life’ and ‘Starry Eyed’ and was often compared to Bing Crosby.

 T'was in the year of eighty-nine, on that old Chicago line**
When the winter wind was blowin' shrill
The rails were froze, the wheels were cold, then the air
brakes wouldn't hold
And Number Nine came roaring down the hill.....oooooh!
The runaway train came down the track and she blew, she blew
The runaway train came down the track and she blew, she blew
The runaway train came down the track, her whistle wide and
her throttle back
And she blew, blew, blew, blew, blew
The poor Fireman got the blame lol in the words of the final verse “the fireman said he rang the bell, the engineer said you did like ++++!  I loved that song and it was also many other children’s favourite.  Children’s favourites was really my introduction to popular music. There were a complete mixture of tunes played each week from Classical to Skiffle and some wonderful songs about old women that swallowed a fly and there was Charlie Drake singing about is Boomerang that wouldn’t come back and the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Many of the popular TV/Film themes of the day were played like ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Davy Crockett King of The Wild Frontier’ and the Deadwood Stage sung by Doris Day from the Film ‘Calamity Jane’. For more classic songs from Children’ Favourites  see http://www.sterlingtimes.co.uk/children.htm

Children’s Favourites also introduced us kids to the Hit Parade of the day with artists like Tommy Steele, Alma Cogan, Lonnie Donegan, Adam Faith and Cliff Richard. Children’s Favourites carried on with the help of Peter Brough and his ventriloquist's dummy Archie Andrews and Uncle Mac until he finally retired in 1965. The show then changed its name to Junior Choice led by Ed (Stewpot) Stewart and the theme tune became ‘Morning Town Ride’, but by then the Beatles had arrived on the scene and there were more pressing things on the horizon. But for us who were growing up in the 1950s we have never forgot our Uncle Mac and some of the brilliant tunes he used to play for us every Saturday morning.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Nice Guys Do Finish Last

A recent study by Cornell University has found that nice guys come last when it comes to earnings and their careers, lol I could have told them that without any study being carried out. In a world of dog eat dog when the quickest way to get promotion is over the head of another workmate I can honestly say it has never been in my nature to push someone aside to improve my position. Ambition wise I guess I've been too nice to be considered for fast track promotion. I've always tried to see the best in people and respect their good points, I was never that keen on taking supervisory or management roles because I new I would have to change the way I was. Thankfully I no longer need to have to concern myself over these matters, my working days are over. On the downside I wish there was more money in the pot to enjoy doing things and going places now I'm retired, its never easy managing on a basic pension. But looking back I value the friends that we have and of all the times I've had to enjoy the coast and the countryside whilst others I knew were putting in the hours at work in the effort to further their career, Adventures I have had many, every time I open a new book I step into another exciting adventure. I'm loving the time I'm having now delving into the history of Skegness and Lincolnshire and am really getting a buzz doing this blog. I have lots of ideas for the future including old folklore tales of Lincolnshire and discovering all the lost airfields of the Second World War around Skegness. I may be one of life’s stragglers when it comes to careers and earnings but I'm still enjoying the race and I guess it's what your perception of winning and losing is that counts. I certainly don't see myself as a looser.

It was another article in today’s 'I' newspaper that saddened me. It stated that one in 3 children today does not have a single book of there own at home, in addition one in six adults in today’s world left school at 16 without being able to read fluently.  Now that is a sorry state of affairs. I consider the gift of reading to be the greatest gift anyone can be given. At the age of ten I remember really struggling with my reading but thankfully a kind school mistress gave me extra tuition and I've never looked back, once my reading had improved I craved for more and more books, most weekends I would be down in our local library and by the end of my teens I had read most of Charles Dickens classics besides books by Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Robert Lewis Stevenson’s, Treasure Island and many more. We tend to buy the children in our family books for Christmas presents and so I like to spend time in the bookshops going through some of the popular children’s stories out.

 I love the Gruffalo stories by Julia Donaldson and my Granddaughter is into the Rainbow Magic tales at the moment. I just hope I can pass on to these young people the happiness I have had from reading books

I'm thinking of getting an Electronic E-reader for this Christmas but at the moment I'm not sure whether to go for a Kobo touch or a Kimble. Whatever I decide it wont replace books it will just be an alternative and an opportunity to get some of those classic novels that I never got round to reading for FREE.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Good News or Bad News: Your Choice

I consider it of some importance that I find out what is going on around me on a daily basis. Being a responsible citizen of the UK, Europe and the world I consider that it is my duty and a privilege to be able to gather information that affects me and those around me. At a time when at least one third of the worlds population are denied the freedom of both the press and the internet I am thankful that democracy allows me to openly access both tools.

A good part of my time is spent during the day in gathering information from news sources but I am a person of habit because to me it is just as important that I gather good news that I feel I can trust as opposed to bad news. It is also important that the information I receive is not just other people’s opinion or just plain gossip.

My day always starts with BBC Breakfast around the sofa, I always feel safe when getting the news from the Beeb, well I have been receiving news from them all of my life and you kind of get to trust them. I like the breakfast show because it’s not all hard news, there’s a bit of sport and culture talk slipped in as well. After breakfast I’ll turn on my computer and the first page to load on the internet is BBC online which is my home page, from there I can get the main news headlines and local news of the day as well as weather, sport, politics and everything else that’s happening in the world.

I don’t buy a newspaper everyday but if I am going into town for shopping or just out and about I will pick up a newspaper to read whilst enjoying a cup of coffee at one of our local cafĂ©’s. I stopped buying newspapers like the mirror and the Sun or star many years ago, I want news about what affects me, what an X factor contestant or a professional footballer may get up to in his spare time doesn’t interest me in the slightest. The latest revelations of how the press has pried into peoples lives has disgusted me, yes we need a free press but that doesn’t give them the right to hack into telephone messages or use private investigators to dig out sensationalism just to sell papers. I have also tired of papers like the Mail and Express that take news and add a political slant to it, I want to make my own opinions instead of opinions of others who obviously want to persuade there readers that what happens is the fault of a certain person or group. I have over the last few months been reading the ‘I’ newspaper which is a part of the Independent group. For me it gives the news without adding opinion, there are editorials if you wish to read them but even these do not seem to be biased to any political party or doctrine, the paper is only 20p and it seems to be growing in popularity.

I also get our local newspaper the Skegness Standard every week which has a good coverage of local news, I only have one issue with it and that is why the front news story has to nearly always be sensationalism like a murder committed or robbery or mugging, which has no relation to the real things that affect every day life in Skegness, of course it is done to sell paper but it gives bad press to our visitors and residents alike, the truth is our town is a happy place to live and work so why not highlight that on the front page

There are journalists that I like to follow. I enjoy the Andrew Marr show every Sunday morning. I also like to watch BBC’s Question Time on a Thursday night because I like to see politicians put on the spot be members of the public and it gives a good indication of how public opinion is going, I’m not one of these people who like to spout on about politics at every opportunity but I do have an opinion should anyone wish to hear it.

By reading or watching what is going on in the world every day puts our own life into perspective and shows how individually insignificant we are, but at the same time it reveals that collectively we can make a difference.

I have little confidence in any group or organisation to be set up to regulate how the media will run. If we want good news like more truth and openness and less bad news full of lies and scandal the only that things are going to change is be people refusing to buy the kind of newspapers that peddle bad news, I guess we get the kind of news we ask for, whilst the public buys these newspapers they will keep printing them. I for one will not buy these papers again.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Precious Memories

In times like we are in at the moment when nothing seems safe, when folks fear of loosing there jobs or even their home, there is one thing they can’t take away from you and that’s your memories.

Isn’t it strange how when we look back on our childhood immediately all the good things seem to pop into your mind? The brain I often think has a wonderful filling system; it seems to bury somewhere very deep all the bad memories but all of the good stuff are near at hand whenever we need them and all those important dates in our lives you can recall them whenever needed. We can all remember where we were when we heard about the death of Kennedy or John Lennon or Elvis or when the plains crashed into the Twin Towers. How does work when you are watching a really old film and you see some actor in it that you haven’t heard of for years and cant recall is name and then ten minutes after the name suddenly pops up into your head, how does that work?

I was looking through a friend Website the other day, he like me loves looking back into history and he has filled his site full of memories http://www.pastreunited.com/ 
And spend many a happy hour looking through it.

I was on the home page and read the bit below and it brought a smile to my face and many wonderful memories as well that I thought I would post it in my blog because I knew that some of you would also remember when

Remember when
Do you remember when all the girls wore ugly gym slips? It took five minutes for the TV to warm up. Nearly everyone's Mum was at home when the kids got home from school, only posh folks owned a thoroughbred dog. You'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny and can you remember how much you could get for a penny Your Mother wore nylons that came in two pieces. You got your windscreen cleaned, oil checked, and petrol served without asking, and it came with a smile and all for free. It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents. They threatened to keep children back a year if they failed...And they did it!  When a Ford Zephyr was everyone's dream car... And people went steady not dated or went out with each other. No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car and in the ignition, also the house doors were never locked.
Playing cricket with no adults to help the children with the rules of the game. Bottles came from the corner shop without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger. And with all our progress, don't you wish, just once, you could slip back in time and savour the slower pace, and share it with the children of today. When being sent to the head's study was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the student at home. Basically we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! But we survived because their love was greater than the threat. As well as summers filled with bike rides, rounders, Hula Hoops, and visits to the pool, and eating sherbet with liquorice sticks. Didn't that feel good, just to go back and say, 'Yes, I remember that'?
Coca Cola in bottles. Blackjacks and bubblegum. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with tinfoil tops.
Hi-Fi & 45 RPM records. 78 RPM records? Adding Machines?? Scalextric. Do You Remember a Time When... Decisions were made by going 'eeny-meeny-miney-moe'?  Race issue' meant arguing about who ran the fastest? Catching tiddlers could happily occupy an entire day? It wasn't odd to have two or three 'Best Friends'? The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was 'chickenpox'? Having a Weapon in School meant being caught with a catapult? War was a card game? Cigarette cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle? Taking drugs meant orange - flavoured chewable aspirin? Water balloons were the ultimate weapon? If you can remember most or all of these, Then You Have Lived!!!!!!!