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NIK_11144

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”

A Final Kiss Goodnight

My watch tells me it’s past midnight and time to go though my thoughts are far away. Such a still and calm evening for a night patrol. The air is warm and balmy, sticking to my exposed face and hands, tickling my senses with forgotten reminders of pleasures enjoyed long ago. A distant hill, a siren of the night, stands silhouetted by stars and a fading moon smiling at us from the horizon whilst darkness and shadow lie clasped to her chest hidden from us like a woman’s gown wrapped seductively over her outstretched form. It’s our mission to peer beneath, to look, to discover, to spot and to spy. You’ll do it within an hour, informs our Captain, and be back behind our lines for a Tommy’s breakfast. If you follow close no harm will come your way and no hazard will mar your path but avoid No Man’s land and a fatal smooch with the mud. Our chaps smile and raise a laugh. Trust in my words, have faith and keep yon distant hill always to your right. Now go, act swiftly lads, before you catch sight of dawn’s rays or hear the cock’s first crow. Speak softly with your cohorts and bring me back your account. Just watch for dawn, the enemy and that mud.

We were barely gone a quarter mile when a waning moon and dark clouds scudding across an ever darkening sky brought that driving, soaking rain and hid our hilltop lovely from our sight. Shrub and scrub and rock and sapling marred our trail and all the while the clock is slowly and silently ticking. Our band of six is down to four as night plays its tricks and dances in our midst. Soon with no cry or sound of warning the four becomes two, spectres vanishing softly in the swirling mist. Still it rains and a light wind begins to moans laughing at our plight and pulls down the shawl of night till we two stumble and fall. Totally lost, I am now alone with no map or compass, no waypoints, no hill to my right to act as my guide. And dawn becomes impatient.

Mud, it’s found me. That thick, cloying stinking wet earth. It sucks at your boots, grabs at your limbs, drags you down, holds you tight and saps your soul. No slipping its fingers or flying its grasp. I’m caught in No Man’s land with dawn rushing ever closer. How inauspicious and there seems nothing I can do.

Oh how I wish I could fly, not back to the trenches, to my position and my chums or to my captain. No, fly further afield and back to my old roost, to my home to be once again with my loving folk, my kith and kin, to kiss my darling wife. Alas a vision too for here comes yawning day.

Dawn is born and proclaims its birth bringing forth a scream of purgatory on the lips of warriors raising Cain on wings of war. This ignominious doom, inglorious failure, I can’t escape; I daren’t call out, just shrink ever deeper into this muddy morass. And so I succumb to this brown liquid death, its touch warm and soft upon my lips and so in one last fatal drink I slake my thirst and sooth my throat and toast my tomorrow.

My final kiss goodnight.

 

Words and photographs Copyright © 2014 by Antony J Waller Continue Reading »

The Tour de France Grand Depart came to Yorkshire this weekend, and what a weekend it was!

Two stages; Leeds to Harrogate, 190km on Saturday and York to Sheffield, 201km on Sunday. And the crowds turned out in droves to watch. Estimates put the number of spectators at over 2.5 million.

What a weekend, what an experience, what a thrill to see the whole Le Tour circus pass by.

With road closures and expectations of high spectator numbers we set off early and arrived in Masham North Yorkshire and parked in a large grassy field at 6.00am, to sit and watch the rain come down. But not for long, it soon brightened up and after a welcome sausage sandwich from the local butcher’s we set up deckchairs by the roadside within sight of the 18th century stone bridge which crosses the River Ure and waited…and waited.

And we were not alone! How the crowds flocked to Masham. Good natured, banner waving and colourful, full of humour and anticipation.

By early afternoon the ‘caravane publicitaire’ started to trickle past, soon becoming a flood as all manner of cars, vans and mobile adverts tooted and honked their way by. Police motorcycle outriders high fived the crowd, everyone cheered and waved, then Le Gendarmerie and the red ‘officiel’ race car.

Then suddenly – whoosh – the race leaders and the peleton…..and Le Tour had gone, passed by in a cacophony of noise!

By eck, it were reet grand and I’d definitely do it again. Vive Le Tour, allez Le Tour, retournez au Yorkshire bientot!

Enjoy the images.

NIK_11463 - Copy

Words and photographs Copyright © 2014 by Antony J Waller

 

A replica Hawker Hurricane sits atop the Theatre Royal in York to mark the 70th anniversary of French airmen being based in the city.

The hurricane will also be the focus of a flypast over York by a Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight during the second stage of the Tour de France Grand depart on 6th July.

 

The best way to see the Great Orme, an enormous limestone headland almost two and a half miles long, half a mile wide and rising out of the sea to a height of 679 feet above the coastal resort of Llandudno in North Wales, is to take the tram.

The tramway or street funicular, completed and opened in 1903 is one of only three cable operated street tramways operating in the world today; the other two being in San Francisco and Lisbon.

In the Victorian era Llandudno was a popular and rapidly growing holiday destination and seaside resort and the building of a tramway was seen as the way forward to ferry visitors up NIK_11098the steep headland to the hotel at the summit and to enjoy the magnificent views.

Construction began in 1901 with the lower section opening in 1902 and the upper section in 1903. The two sections meet midway at the Halfway Station where passengers change from one tram to the other to complete the journey up or down.

The lower section shares the public highway climbing 400 feet in about half a mile with gradients of 25% whilst the less steep upper section runs along a track cut through the grassy headland. The cars, two on each section, are NIK_11085permanently attached to the cable and use a system of counter balanced weights so that whilst one car is ascending, the other is descending. The original fare to the top was 9 (old) pence.

The view from the top is definitely worth the ride, and if you don’t want to ride the Tramffordd you can now take the cable-car instead.

Words and photographs Copyright © 2014 by Antony J Waller

 

NIK_11091

Oi, get off me nuts! Just looked out of the kitchen window and there’s Nigel Nutkin having breakfast. He’ll be wanting the full English next….

Images from a few days spent in this wonderful Spanish city.

 

Spanish mushrooms – Metropol Parasol

The narrow streets of Santa Cruz

The narrow streets of Santa Cruz

El Rinconcillo - the bar where it is said tapas were first invented

El Rinconcillo – the bar where it is said tapas were first invented

The magnificent cathedral

The magnificent cathedral

Alcazar - Royal Palace

Alcazar – Royal Palace

...through the arch...

…through the arch…

 

 

 

Dancing in the streets....

Dancing in the streets….

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