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It was late in the day and the grey clouds were threatening to close in on an enthralling afternoon’s cricket at Headingley when I heard the sound; the distinctive opening bars of the ‘Star Wars’ being played on a trumpet. Billy the trumpeter had arrived.

Now as anyone who follows cricket will know there is an honorary member of the Barmy Army and avid cricket fan who likes to take his trumpet to matches to serenade proceedings. I have often heard him at different grounds with his renditions of ‘The Great Escape’, ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and ‘Coronation Street’ to name but a few but trying to pinpoint the source and spot him and his trumpet in the crowd is like seeking out Wally in those pictures ‘where’s Wally’.

Not this time. A quick snatch of Dvorak’s ‘New World’ followed by ‘Here comes the sun’ and suddenly there he was, on a by now sparsely populated White Rose Stand (the renamed Western Terrace), his silver trumpet glinting in a shaft of sunlight arrowing through the growing gloom, Billy the trumpeter or Billy Cooper to give him his correct name.

Shortly afterwards the final wicket went down, Sri Lanka all out for 91. Well played England (and Billy, and an honour to find you in the crowd and actually see you at last).

PS. And after play had finished for the day I saw him again, this time in front of me, walking up Headingley Mount with his trumpet in a case slung over his shoulder.

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller


Did you see that!

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“Well did you?”

“Did I what?”

“See that.”


“Obviously you didn’t.”


“Not so obvious then, was it?”

“Sometimes you can be a real pedantic pain in the arse.”

“Only sometimes. Don’t you mean most of the time?”

“Sorry. Yes, I do mean most of the time. So, are you going to tell me what it is I’m supposed to have seen?”


“No! What do you mean, no.”

“Well, there’s not much point now.”

“Not much point?”



“No! You wouldn’t believe me anyway. And besides it’s gone now.”

“You are so exasperating. Well I hope you enjoyed seeing it.”

“Oh I did.”


Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

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Venice, rich in architecture and steeped in history, is the most amazing of cities but catch a vaporetto from Fondamenta Nuove for a 40 minute ride to the island of Burano and it will take your breath away.

For Burano is a riot of colour, an assault on the eyes, where the houses are painted in the most vibrant of hues to bring alive even the dullest of days. Everywhere you look you see houses clad in all the vivid colours of the rainbow.

According to tradition the Buranese custom of painting houses in these bright colours originates from the colours painted on local fishing boats. The colours adhere to a specific designated system and anyone wishing to paint their home must paint it the specific colour allocated for that plot.

Burano is a visual treat and the overall effect is simply stunning.

























Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller


Ernest Hemingway is famously said to have once written a six word short story to win a $10 wager :- “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

Although there was no wager the challenge set by my Writing Group this week was to write a story in exactly 75 words.  It’s harder than you think but here’s my entry:-

“Dad, where’s Mum?”
The old man glanced up from yesterday’s newspaper, staring hard at her, trying to remember.
“Upstairs. Listening to music.”
“Is she alright?”
“The same. You know.”
“Has the nurse been to make breakfast?”
“I made it and a pot of tea.”
She could smell burnt toast.
“I’ll go up.”
Her mother was propped up in bed, headphones wrapped tightly around her neck, holding a slice of toast. Both cold to the touch.



Launched on the 19th July 1843 the ss Great Britian was described as ‘the greatest experiment since the Creation’.

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Conceived by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a visionary engineer of the Victorian era, with an iron hull designed by Thomas Patterson and rigging and engines by Thomas Guppy the ss Great Britain in 1843 was the biggest, strongest ship ever built and transformed the technology of sea travel.

Built as a ‘sail assist steam ship’ with 6 masts carrying special ‘schoonerNIK_15523 rig sails’ the ship was fitted with a revolutionary steam driven screw propeller instead of the more conventional paddle wheels.

NIK_15508 - CopyThis allowed the ship to operate more efficiently in rough seas, cutting down journey times to complete the crossing from Liverpool to New York in 14 days and 21 hours.

NIK_15511 - CopyBetween 1852 and 1875 the ss Great Britain was an elegant emigrant steam clipper making the journey from Liverpool to Melbourne in around 60 days.


(But it wasn’t all plain sailing. It took 18 months to sail out of Bristol! NIK_15525Brunel had made the ship too big to fit easily through the lock gates at the entrance to the floating harbour and he had to persuade the harbour authorities to temporarily dismantle the gates and await a high spring tide.)

NIK_15589The ship underwent several transformations over her working lifetime, passenger ship, cargo ship, steam ship, sail ship until 1933 when her working life came to an end and finally in 1937 when the ss Great Britain was scuttled in Sparrow Cove, Falkland Islands.

Now back in the original dry dock in Bristol where it was built the ss Great Britain has been lovingly restored to those halcyon days of a great ocean liner.


Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller







The Creaking

NIK_141-The CreakingDoes your house creak? Are you sure it’s just the floors or the stairs? There may be another reason….

They’re coming. The creaks warn me, telling me they’re on their way. Creak; wait one- two- three. Creak, wait- wait. Creak, creak. Silence, wait, one- two. Then the tap on the door. The door opens.

“Morning, and how are we today?”

The creaks were right. They’re here, all bright and breezy. Second one won’t be far behind. The first one draws the curtains, straightens the duvet, plumps the pillows.

“Morning, are we alright today?”

You stupid woman; patronising. Can’t you see I’m alone. There’s no one else. Not in here.

“Are we going down to breakfast today?”

I smile and nod, indicating ‘yes’. It’s the answer she wants to hear. Better than me saying, ‘sorry, but I ain’t going up, sweetie. Not yet anyway.’

The creaks are shouting again. I count; awaiting the new arrival. There’s no tap on the door this time.

“Morning. Is he going down today?”

Bitch. Hello, I am here. Why can’t you ask me? I may be occasionally incontinent, but I’m not totally inconsequential. Not to everyone.

I move my legs over the side of the bed and sit up. My mouth’s dry and the words stick in a queue at the back of my throat. They come out with a cough and a gob of phlegm. I tell them I am going down to breakfast.

“I’ll go bring the lift up,” the second one says and starts to leave.

“No, not today” I say. “I want to walk down. I’m getting up. Just give me time to get dressed. ”

I see them look at each other, then one glances at her watch. They hover, uncertain what to do.

I clear my throat again and bark out “Come back in ten minutes.”

They look at each other again. Then the first one smiles, “Well, if you’re sure. I won’t be far away. I’ll be back to see how we’re getting on.” They leave the room and the door closes behind them.

The creaks start up again, telling me they’ve gone. I close my eyes and the sun spreads her warm fingers across my face, gently caressing my cheeks. It feels good. A few more seconds then I’ll ready myself.

By the time the creaks start chorusing the second coming I am ready and standing by the window. The door opens, catching the thick pile of the carpet and a voice asks, “Are we decent?”

I catch the look of surprise and smile back.

“Well, I don’t want my breakfast to get cold,” I say.

The first one takes my arm and we leave, walking along the passageway to top of the stairs.

Creak, creak, silence; one- two- three; creak, creak. Then a final creak as we pass on our way.

“These old wood floors,” she says. “I’m sure they’re getting worse.”

We descend the stairs and out of earshot the creaks continue.A

One day I’ll tell her. It’s not the old wood floors at all.


Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller









On a bright and sunny March day I set off to find and photograph a legend from those glory days of the railway when trains were hauled by steam locomotives with evocative names, none more so than the Flying Scotman.

Across the North Yorkshire moors and nearing the village of Goathland I had never seen so many cars parked on the verges of the narrow moors roads vying with the sheep for a vacant patch of grass. Goathland itself was no better and the tiny station there was a mass of expectant faces waiting for the 12.44 from Grosmont (which wasn’t even scheduled to stop).

“Stand back, please,” a volunteer platform attendant asked. “Someone fell off at Grosmont yesterday!”

Nevertheless we craned to see as the high pitched toot of a whistle sounded and a column of steam appeared around the bend up the line. On it came, wreathed in steam, and then it was gone as the maroon carriages clanked by. My first glimpse of the Flying Scotman, albeit quite brief.

We’d catch the return, but not here. A mile or so up the line at Darneholme where the line passes beneath a narrow stone bridge. Even here up to 50 people gathered to stand and watch. Hovever, being the return journey from Pickering, the mighty Flying Scotsman was puffing backwards pulling its maroon entourage.

One final try. Onto Pickering to catch her steaming into the station. Again crowds lined the platform whilst others sought a vantage point. And as the train steamed into view you it was to the sound of bagpipes being played. As for photographs I managed to snap a few…

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller











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