Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

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Archive for the ‘Curly’ Category

Cardle disappoints at South Tyneside Summer Festival

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Short set from former X Factor winner

Heard quite a few moans and groans in the Bents Park, South Shields this afternoon as Matt Cardle fans seemed a little cheesed off at his late arrival at the venue and the late start to his performance. The former X Factor winner was also heard moaning about his audio and asking technicians to make adjustments to his vocals in between songs. Most disappointing was the shortness of his set at around thirty minutes, but I guess at a free gig beggars can’t be choosers. The concert attracted a very decent sized crowd, although not as large as last week’s even though the weather was ten times better. The park was bathed in warm sunshine with just a few clouds floating by as we all filled the place with deck chairs and aluminium tables for a decidedly family afternoon of music and entertainment.  Unfortunately it was left to local performers to pad out the schedule but they took it in their stride, and despite nervousness gave a good account of themselves. For me the real star of the show was former Britain’s Got Talent contestant Ryan O’Shaughnessy, he finished in fifth place in the sixth series of the popular TV talent show in May this year. Like Cardle, O’Shaughnessy just appeared with a guitar to warm the crowd with some very mature songs, the Irish lad really was a breath of fresh air.

I guess it’s a bit of a shame that he eclipsed Cardle, but he had the audience in his hands whereas Cardle seemed to be totally unaware of where South Shields was!

Oh well, with a choice of a free concert in South Shields or an almighty struggle with crowds down the road making for the Sunderland International Air Show I think I made the right choice (anybody else notice the apparent lack of planes over South Shields this weekend?)

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Written by curly

July 22, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Sunderland AFC close season advice

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Note to Messrs. Martin O’Neill and Ellis Short

I know I haven’t written much about the club recently, or it’s new fully American ownership and business plan, but the season lurched from disaster to comfort before slipping towards the nervy end of the scale again as mid season promise withered away. There will need to be some rebuilding of the squad at The Stadium of Light before the next season begins at Arsenal, Gyan will be gone along with Craig Gordon and three or four others, Sessignon may be difficult to hold on to, but it is imperative that we pull all of the stops out to keep him. The two of you don’t need me to remind you that we have not had a consistent goal scorer since Bent was tempted by huge wages. It will also be important to try and keep Bryan “Pop” Robson on board, his scouting abilities improve year by year, and if he finds us another James MacLean he’ll be almost a legend! Far be it for me to tell you who to buy, I’m sure that you both have your own ideas and a “shopping list” to work from, but if you will accept just a little football advice from a long suffering South Shields based fan then please please DO NOT sign any “talent” from the Australian Football League, a place where the two top stars are Harry Kewell and Michael Bridges.

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Written by curly

June 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Olympic Torch arrives in South Shields

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Olympic Torch Relay, South Shields
Our moment to shine

I don’t know what compelled me to set the alarm for 06:30 this morning after a decent night of celebrating England’s win over Sweden in Euro 2012, it seemed a rather silly thing to do considering that I’ll be working until 10:30 pm this evening, but I’d promised “Missy” that I’d take her to see the Olympic Torch Relay as it reached South Shields. I was even more surprised that she managed to be out of bed and ready on time, most weekends she doesn’t surface until about 08:30 am. So we  passing the Town Hall in Westoe Road at just after 07:15 really surprised to see so many people already waiting in the rain – yes the incessant rain. I’d decided that anywhere between Crossgate and the back end of the Town Hall might be a bit busy, as well as the top end of Ocean Road, so I’d go for the South Marine Park opposite the Wouldhave memorial. My guess is that the area around the Leas and the Bamburgh would also be choc-a-bloc full as Haile Gebrselassie and Brendan Foster put in their appearances.

So whilst waiting in the rain I bumped into one of your Labour councillors also getting a good soaking, but already working hard for local charity Cancer Connections today, puts some of us to shame I thought.

There was a lot of hooha and fanfair about the event as Met. Police motorbike outriders drove down Ocean Road with all of their flashing blue lights, shaking hands with children as though it were a carnival, they were followed by the sponsors buses, the sounds of music and a DJ announcer as hawkers tried to sell Union Flags along the pavement, it occurred to me that there were far more policemen from the Met than there were sponsors, organisers, and torch bearers, just made me wonder how much money is being spent sending these lads around the UK as the “security bubble”. As two of the bearers made their relay swap one torch was ignited from the other before the preceding one was extinguished, I was asking just how many torches were made as each bearer ends up keeping the torch as a personal memento (or disposing of it on eBay at a mighty profit.) I’m guessing that there are an awful lot of used butane cylinders to dispose of too, or do they use a different fuel? Fuel, yes fuel, how much petrol and diesel is used during this relay?

Anyway, the event passed through South Shields on its way to Whitburn rather quickly and everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially the little children who had been dragged out of bed rather early on a weekend.It must have been a great occasion for those local torch bearers who had been chosen to carry the flame along our small part of the route, they’ll be proud, pleased as punch, and have stories to relate to their grandchildren.

There all sorts of mini events taking place along the sea front and beaches today to mark our part in this journey, all planned in the hope of glorious sunny warm weather…….oh well that’s one thing you can never guarantee.

Now I just need to force myself into getting excited about Greco-Roman wrestling, equestrianism, fencing, and archery.

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Written by curly

June 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on South Tyneside

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Queen Elizabeth ll

How will you remember it?

I have some pretty vague memories of the Queen’s visits to South Shields, way back in the 1960s I stood with my classmates from Barnes Road Junior School along with a clutch of parents and teachers as we waved our little flags watching the Queen and Prince Philip opening the Marine and Technical College in St. George’s Avenue. I think it was my earliest recollection of what our monarch looked like, later in life I had a similar vague encounter at Gypsies Green Stadium in 1977 when she visited as part of her Silver Jubilee tour, I cannot quite remember how I blagged my way into that event, something to do with someone who I knew in the Conservative party no doubt. It was the highlight of the day and after several pints in the Vigilant she was hailed as the talk of the town. Somehow a few of us managed to get down to the North Marine Park to witness our beacon being lit. Strangely I recall nothing at all of the day we celebrated the Golden Jubilee ten years ago, if indeed we did.

Yesterday was more of a family event almost in an Australian style as we joined the in laws for a “Royal Garden Party” barbecue and a few “tinnies” in the sun, the children found the pageant along the River Thames very interesting and it was quite fascinating to watch their faces as the afternoon unfolded on one of today’s gigantic flat screen TVs, and today we will hopefully join hundreds of other South Shields and South Tyneside folks sitting in the South Marine Park watching a giant screen and enjoying this evening’s concert in London before moving up the hill to see one of the beacons being lit. I must congratulate and thank South Tyneside Council for staging this event and the little afternoon tea dance in the park yesterday, it would have been wonderful if the 1977 visit could have been beamed back to a giant screen in the park if only they’d had today’s technology available then.

I’m hoping to photograph the beacon being lit in the Arbeia Roman Fort with the reconstructed west gate as a backdrop, I just hope this new beacon is in a good location, don’t fancy showing South Shields to the world with a collection of “Coronation Street” back yards as a backdrop.

I like these occasions, they help create unity and spread a little joy, they transcend the politics of the day, and bring people together. Queen Elizabeth has helped to modernise the monarchy and make the institution that little bit more accessible, she stands as a symbol of stability stretching over sixty years, she has also managed to transform our thinking about the old Germanic values of her ancestors and portray a family that seems to have endured some of the same marital and economic problems of many others. As the years of economic parsimony have passed through her reign she has adapted the Royal household to meet the needs of Parliament and the British economy without severing that thin golden thread that stitches the tapestry of this island’s history.

Personally I’m now looking forward to the Platinum Jubilee in ten years time!

How have you celebrated the Jubilee weekend readers? What will your memories be?

 

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Written by curly

June 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

Back at last!

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Curly's desktops

So, just what have I been up to?

Well, TWO new computers, both in the same case!

It has taken a while, but the hardware on the old Windows XP machine was deteriorating and could only have bits and pieces replaced so often, the operating system was outdated and not capable of keeping pace with the latest developments. So now I have a dual boot machine, i.e. when I switch it on it gives me a choice, do I wish to fire up Windows 7 Ultimate, or Linux Ubuntu 12? I’ve used the Windows machine to set up my home wireless networking solutions streaming content out and sharing files and folders between this desktop, a laptop, a Blackberry, a PS3, and a Nintedo, everyone is happy on that score! I also use it to edit my photographs, because Photoshop is simply the best. However, what has kept me away from here for so long is my determination to learn how to do things in Linux, how to code, work in the command line and “Terminal”, it is challenging and fun, and seriously I cannot get enough of it.

I wanted to rise to the challenge of running my home computing on a machine using only software that is commonly shared and legitimately free, and as you can see from the picture of my two different desktops above, I have even managed to get the thing to look and behave just like a megabucks Mac!

I am determined to learn how to use the Gimp image editing software, it may never be as good as Photoshop, but I’m pretty sure I can make it produce good pictures, the example above shows that I have a long way to go.

So I’m ready to be back in the saddle to ride this vehicle wherever we want to go, political interests have had to take a back seat for a few weeks, the hunger for knowledge has been winning the battle.

I’ll start tomorrow with a little piece on the local elections here in South Tyneside to get the ball rolling again – remember to go and use your vote, you really have no right at all to complain if you fail to mark a cross.

Written by curly

May 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm

This blog is about to change (for the worse)

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Image hosting company changes policy

For seven years I have used ImageShack.us to host the vast majority of images on this site. Back when I started WordPress had a 50Mb limit on media uploads which was going to be nowhere large enough to cope with what I had planned for here and South Shields Daily Photos, the natural step to take back then was to use a free image hosting service to embed the images in my various sites. ImageShack offered free hosting for EVER, and they supported their operation by getting advertising revenue for the ads placed next to my images when linked to their site, and I guess they must have done fairly nicely as they had millions of free users. Over the years quite a number of my images disappeared after problems with their various servers, but not so many as to spoil these sites, however now they have introduced a new policy of restricting uploads to just 500 images, any thing beyond this will be automatically deleted unless a paid for hosting is accepted by 1st. March.

I currently have almost 2000 images hosted by them, they amount to less than 160 Mb of storage, yet they continue to allow users to upload images of up to 5 Mb each, in other words someone with 500 images of this file size will occupy 2.4  Gb of storage space, and they expect me to pay for storing compressed for web low resolution poor quality images? I think not!

This new policy is not being well received.

I have downloaded all of my images from their servers and hope that they might relent for registered users, this is from their FAQs page:

  • How long will my uploaded files be available?

    Your files will only be deleted if they do not adhere to our Terms of Service. If you are registered, your files will be available forever. If you are not registered, any file that you upload will continue to be available if it is accessed by anyone at least once per year.

  • How much bandwidth can I use?

    ImageShack allows unlimited bandwidth for images, videos, and slideshows when viewed from our landing page, as well as unlimited bandwidth for registered users ImageShack may at any time enforce its policies on bandwidth if an image is in violation of our Terms of Service, for instance, if it is abusive or used to spam.

As a registered user I wait with baited breath to see if they will adhere to this promise, but I don’t feel confident.

There are plenty of other free image hosting services out there, and WordPress now offer a decent amount of storage these days, so the loss of ImageShack will be no skin off my nose, but what will it mean for this blog, and my others?

If they carry out their pledge to delete all images beyond the most recent 500 then a huge amount of posts in here will end up looking messy, and in some cases irrelevant particularly if the image was of major importance in illustrating a point. South Shields Daily Photos would have to be closed down and deleted – what good is a photoblog without photos? It also means that many images embedded in forums and message boards over the years will disappear too. I now have the pictures back on my hard drive but it would take me about twelve months to re-write all of the image links if I had the time to do it, and to be honest I don’t.

So, if the worst comes to the worst on 2nd. March, expect to see many of my posts which I made more than two years ago lose their images, and one photoblog disappear from the internet, and that will be a shame for those who still continue to interact with it and leave comments.

My apologies, it is something beyond my control considering I won’t be bullied into paying for hosting low res. web images.

If things end up really really bad and looking really really awful, I may take the decision to close this place and start afresh.

Let me know what you think.

 

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Written by curly

February 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm

This is a “fascinating blog”

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Should I don the black tie and go to the awards ceremony?

Curly’s Corner Shop, the blog!  has been nominated for the 2012 Fascination Awards, yes, I was quite surprised.

These awards are for blog writers who (in the eyes of the editorial team)

  • Inspire your audience
  • Encourage discussion through comment posting
  • Contain genuinely fascinating content

The nomination was made on the strength of this post and its 147 comments, I’ve emailed the organisers to thank them but sadly I will not be able to use the prize that I have received after being nominated –  a restaurant voucher worth $25. Oh well, perhaps one year they may start a new chain in the UK.
Accelerated Degree Programs accelerated degrees

Librarian? Moi?

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Written by curly

February 21, 2012 at 10:01 am

Cllr. James Lowery Capstick R.I.P.

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South Shields Town Hall  Town Hall flags at half mast as Freeman of the Borough passes away aged 80

I was much saddened to learn today of the passing of my former Progressive colleague Jimmy Capstick, it seems such a short time ago when we were all gathered in the     Town  Hall in South Shields to commemorate his long service to the Borough of South Tyneside and install him as a Freeman of the Borough. Jimmy devoted the major part of his life to serving his constituents and promoting the virtues of a non political opposition to the local Labour Party in the form of the Progressive Association, a body which had stood the test of time for over 50 years.

I first met Jimmy in around 1976 when I  attended an interview in a dingy basement office in Beach Road, then belonging to the late Harry Marshall, where I was interviewed by a panel looking for prospective Progressive candidates  which also included Eddie Russel, George Wilkinson, the late Maurice Piggott, along with Jimmy and Harry. I was struck then by Jimmy’s warmth and humour as well as his devotion to the people of South Shields, and the pride that he had for his home town. Since that day, I have only ever knew him as an honest, honourable, hard working councillor who has been ever present apart from a break of one year in 1990. It is quite remarkable that this outwardly unassuming man should have been so popular with those that he represented that they continued to give him their support over such a lengthy period of time, he will be a very hard act to follow indeed.

He was also a family man with a huge admiration for the achievements of  his children and grandchildren, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was at Jimmy’s home to present him with some family photographs but alas he was  too unwell to receive visitors that day. Added to the respiratory problems that he had suffered in recent months he also suffered a heart attack over the Christmas period and his wife Elmer, ever present and caring, was intent on nursing him well.

Jimmy will be missed by many, particularly amongst that small band of Progressive activists who cling to the values that he extolled, but also by the many who came to meet him in daily life as he represented them at the town hall and did his level best to ensure that grievances were put right or problems ironed out. He will be missed in the council chamber for his sage advice and knowledge, and for his calming influence in those heated moments.

Council Leader Iain Malcolm has been very magnanimous in his choice of words and actions in recent months, recognising his opponent in a way which would have been unthinkable twenty years ago, for that, I think we should all be grateful.

Rest in peace Jimmy.

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Written by curly

February 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Kung Hey Fat Choi!

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Tied up by Chinese New Year

I spent most of yesterday in Newcastle Upon Tyne with my daughter taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Chinese New Year celebrations in the Stowell Street area. It is something that she particularly enjoys, so she brought a friend along to share the experience. They are still at the sort of age where they cannot understand why there are so few Chinese restaurants in South Shields and so many up the river in Newcastle!

Anyway, I came home with around 150 pictures in my camera, so the processing of them will probably tie me up for a few days, but the first few are ready for posting in South Shields Daily Pictures from tomorrow.

I do have a couple of posts to follow about South Tyneside Council and South Shields’ MP David Miliband, stay tuned.

 

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Written by curly

January 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Dreaming in kitsch

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Obsession with tourism must be troubling me

I woke fairly early this morning after a long and troubling dream in which I had just witnessed the opening in fifteen years time of the newest South Shields entertainment initiative. Iain Malcolm South Tyneside’s (by then) veteran Labour Leader had seen his latest dream come to fruition, somehow he had cobbled together enough European and UK grants in a public/private partnership to have the old telephone exchange in Crossgate, South Shields transformed into a neo-gothic styled restaurant and night club, South Tyneside Council were to get first call on use of the place and a private operator would use it at all other times. The whole of the interior had been stripped out by a force of new apprentices especially employed by the private contractor as part of the scheme, the exterior had been clad in granite and limestone and people were impressed at how much it resembled the architecture of the Town Hall in nearby Westoe Road with its solid oak main doors and traditionally styled stained glass windows. However it was the inside of the place which really caught everyone’s attention, this was South Shields’ tribute to Westminster Hall, a magnificent chamber supported by huge columns and a fake fan vault ceiling, this was to be the most opulent medieval banqueting experience in the north-east! Malcolm had ensured that old craftsman ship had been revived to some extent with carved English oak and carpentry skills taught to young lads, others were passing on the skills of the stonemason, it also housed the most modern computer controlled laser lighting system and state of the art sound system, within fifteen minutes the main hall is transformed into a multi faceted entertainment complex, yes we all agreed this was a tremendous achievement in fifteen years. The levels of kitsch were unbelievable.

Why not, we all thought, tourism had grown as a significant part of the north east economy since the dark days of 2012 when it only accounted for around £200m worth of business, these days we are reaping the rewards of over £500m per year from visitors who come to see amongst other things our enlarged Roman Fort with its added reconstructed walls, the new swimming pool and alongside it the new leisure centre opposite the beach continue to thrive even in wet weather. The multiplex cinema and outlet shopping on the Dragon had proved to be a big hit, and even Jarrow had benefited from huge upgrades and a new visitor centre for St. Paul’s church where the history of Bede is now a major pull. Pulling it all together is the new fleet of privately operated electric mini buses transporting folks from one attraction to the other, plans are also in place by a local taxi company to replace the whole of its fleet of cars with the latest Nissan electrically driven model. They would be necessary as petrol driven vehicles were no longer allowed in the town centre – that had killed off the old car parking debates ten years ago –  and visitors were “encouraged” to use the park and ride facilities near White Mare Pool. Furthermore the expanded Ocean Beach Leisure Park and the illuminated sea front was drawing almost as many visitors as Blackpool, and they all had comfortable beds to sleep in at the new hotels at the Pier Head and Harton Staithes, which in turn had sparked a resurgence of the guest house trade on Lawe Road and Seafield Terrace.

Malcolm was beaming in his old age on the opening night as two hundred local dignitaries dined in the splendour of the new Cloisters On Crossgate, after a five course meal they were entertained by South Shields latest X Factor winner Geordie Robson who had seen his first two albums go “platinum” in the download charts within a month of release, the event was broadcast live on NETV and on South Tyneside Council’s website which was now enjoying the experience of having 10000 visitors for its monthly half hour meeting of the Borough Council where Cabinet decisions are rubber stamped. Yes, we all felt proud, an odd mix of Keynesian economics and private enterprise was driving money into the area, things could only get better (good grief Robson was even crooning that old chestnut on opening night).

Then I woke up!

With a house full of teenage guests, the sight of a blocked WC at 08:00 was no fun at all, and the temperature of that water was a complete shock to the system!

I put the dream on the back burner.

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