Sausages and “stable government”
The long Bank Holiday weekend.
It all started after returning from the Snooker Centre in Chichester Road, South Shields, rather late on Friday evening to be confronted with the news that the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, had resigned after one of the shortest Cabinet careers in history, ostensibly to protect his privacy and with a hint that perhaps he shouldn’t have taken £40000 from the tax payers to fund his partner’s flat. Thus by Saturday it dawned on me that “strong and stable government” as portrayed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg was beginning to sound more like the braying of a couple of asses, surely MI5 still provides Prime Ministers with a brief about the characteristics of potential Cabinet ministers?
Apart from the fact that the expenses issue was being aired again by the hacks at the Daily Telegraph, spiced with an air of sexual innuendo, we saw the situation unfold whereby perfectly capable candidates to replace Laws at the Treasury were being overlooked, and I refer specifically to Philip Hammond who had mastered his brief over the past two years, in deference to Danny Alexander as “politics” intervened to ensure a full complement of five Liberal Democrats around the Cabinet table. Alexander, of course, has next to no experience of financial matters other than those immediately thrown into the brouhaha of his elevation. Thus we have a coalition government determined to reduce the deficit and the debt mountain with a mere novice charged with keeping spending under control, hardly what I would describe as either strong or stable conditions.
The rest of Saturday found me and “Missy” taking a ride in the car following the tasting of what can only be described as the finest Cumberland sausage that Britain has ever produced. I was intending to go to Carlisle as I hadn’t visited the place in over twenty years and had recently been given a pound of the said sausage a few days earlier, it was wholesome, dense, packed with prime meat, oats, and other goodies that made it essential to track down the maker. A few others from South Shields make irregular trips to the small village of Great Orton to the west of Carlisle to visit Jimmy Mulholland’s butcher shop/post office/general dealer it wasn’t too difficult to find in the grey wet village as it was the only shop there, but at 3:45 in the afternoon I feared he may be shut, fortunately he was not. Jimmy wasn’t surprised that I’d travelled from South Shields and asked if I knew the manager of the Snooker Club? Daft question I suppose.
Apart from providing Great Orton with most all its retail facilities, he also had Cumberland and black pudding sausage, as well as beef and tomato sausage, all looking as dense and tasty as the two pounds that I had in my mit! You can find Mulholland’s shop here and I can tell you that £2.75 per pound for the Cumberland sausage is money that you won’t regret spending, my only regret was forgetting to get some for my father!
Carlisle was heaving packed with shoppers despite the weather being gloomy and wet, the Lanes shopping centre was a big attraction and a fine example of how old shopping areas can be revived with a glass covering and new paving, another aspect, that we seem to somehow under achieve on in South Shields, is the amount of independent retailers thriving there amongst the national retailers who tend to “clone” our town centres it seems that a proportion of small units is kept at lower rents to allow them to get a foothold in the market place. The city centre seemed to me to be every bit as busy as Newcastle on a good day, but we had to press on, “Missy” neede to see Hadrian’s Wall on the way back.
The weather was not the best to appreciate culture and history but it didn’t stop around 150 “wooly backs” walking along the Military Road in between camp sites, mile forts, and ruined old turrets , we managed to walk a small section beside Steel Rigg car park before the rain became too heavy for her, but I grabbed a few pictures en route.
Sunday was just as gloomy, England’s dire performance against Japan ruined the day for me, as well further revelations about Danny Alexander, Vince Cable, and “two Jags” Prescott. Monday was far better, no sport to worry about and little in the way of politics to disturb the mind (other than silly people who decide to fight against armed soldiers with sticks and metal bars, – I mean, really, would you?). On a warm fine afternoon I tramped all around the fair city of Durham, photographing to my heart’s content and gathering a wealth of material to work on for South Shields Daily Pictures, people DO want to see the rest of our region, you know, I also found time to visit an old workmate Mike Innes on a newish retail development at Belmont and swap notes on how we are both doing, it’s good to stay in touch with old friends.
So what became a longish weekend away from work prevented me from sitting at this keyboard for any great spells, and in truth I am going to be struggling to keep up my output at anything like the levels that you have become accustomed to, the same will be true of Twitter, but the photoblog is easier to manage with the ability to post pictures for a decent period in advance.
So I hope you had a great weekend and that we can start to look forward to sunnier days in South Shields and welcome thousands of visitors to the seaside, even if we have to compete against the Tall Ships Race this year. I’ll be back here just as soon as time permits – or when the steam comes out of my ears, whichever is the sooner.