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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

More flash flooding problems in South Shields

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Ocean Road, South Shields

Ocean Road suffers again.

The brief but intense thunderstorm which hit the north east of England this afternoon was not in any way an exceptional summer weather event, the storm lasted less than an hour and the volume of rain was far less than the last storm to hit us in South Tyneside. Yet once again a familiar story unfolded as parts of South Shields were dealt a miserable hand due mainly to inadequate drainage solutions. Ocean Road once more bore the brunt of the weather as shopkeepers and guest house owners reached for the sand bags and plastic sheeting in a hurried attempt to prevent damage to their flooring. A similar picture was emerging at Tyne Dock at its junction with Eldon Street.

After scores of promises of action, millions of pounds worth of investment from Northumbrian Water, a similar level of activity from South Tyneside Council, we still see scenes such as these in South Shields and other parts of the borough. People that I spoke to this afternoon were almost distraught and bitterly frustrated that their businesses could be put at risk by a simple summer rainstorm and the apparent inability of local officialdom and utility players to keep a few drains running clear. The residents know exactly which drains will block, how quickly, and can almost accurately count the minutes before the waters will subside, yet they still have to suffer.

We can count ourselves lucky that South Tyneside Council were only having three free concerts in the Bents Park as part of the Summer Festival this year, otherwise the usual final concert would have been an ordeal to say the least.

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Written by curly

August 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Scouting for Girls, and Jenny too.

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South Tyneside Festival now in full swing

I found it difficult to hide a little disappointment that South Shields would not see any of The Mouth of the Tyne Festival this year, the Saturday night parade has become a luminary and pyrotechnic spectacle that we all much looked forward to, and the varied entertainment on the Sunday was also a great “crowd magnet”. However, times are hard, cash is tight, wee have to cut our cloth, yet still we can manage to bring thousands of smiles to faces in South Tyneside as our Summer Festival adapts to the changes as today’s free concert in South Shields’ Bents Park provided some attractive and stirring competition to the street walkabout acts in Tynemouth. I missed last Saturday’s opening parade because of work commitments but there was no way that I would be missing today’s event as local girl Jenny Stevens and her band The Hiccups stepped up another notch to play to probably the largest crowd they’ve ever played to.

The South Shields based four piece now have a more rounded sound and style with some heavier riffs and beats  to accompany the melody created in Jen’s self penned songs, Jenny has been a member of the Curly’s Corner Shop Message Board and a Twitter user for some time now, so many of us were delighted to be able to enjoy her warm up act which was a very decent set played to a demographic which perhaps was not her usual “market” (lets be fair most buyers of the band’s CDs are a little bit older than the average Scouting for Girls fan), she has also done a great deal of self marketing and promotion through the use of social networking sites so there really were no excuses for local music lovers NOT to know that she’d be playing today. The set included a great selection from the first album Meg’s Hill and the new album Better Frame of Mind. If you don’t know the music of Jen Stevens and the Hiccups watch this video for a taster:

Thankfully the weather stayed dry, a mixture of cool clouds and breezes interspersed with some warm sunshine, it certainly helped in getting the crowds out and I’d not be far wrong in guessing that perhaps 18000 packed the Bents Park, almost as many as attended the Joe McCelderry coming home concert last year. The giant screen first introduced at the Bents Park last year was in use again and very much appreciated by those families at the back, whilst at the front of the stage thousands of young boys and girls recreated a version of a “mosh pit” revelling in seeing their faces caught by the cameras. Unfortunately it made my job of taking pictures that much more difficult with a camera rostrum erected right in front of the centre of the stage, shooting over the heads of thousands of youngsters is difficult enough without other obstructions, I think I’ll take along my own step ladders next time 🙂

Next up were the headline act Scouting for Girls whose debut self titled album went to No. 1 in the charts in 2007, the next album Everybody Wants t be on TV reached No. 2 in the charts and gave them a No. 1 hit single in 2010. They are a three piece band from London with a huge fan base in the mid to late teens group who were very vocal today. Not exactly my taste in music, but hey if they draw a crowd into South Shields for the right reasons then that’s fine by me, they sound a bit too much like the Gary Barlow Take That genre. Anyway here’s the one that had them all jumping!

All in all a great afternoon, pretty busy, lots of cash being spent and lots of visitors in town. South Shields and South Tyneside can be happy that the Summer Festival is definitely in full swing, next Sunday we have former X Factor winner Matt Cardle in the Bents Park, sure to be another big draw!

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Written by curly

July 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

“Chillaxing” with David Miliband

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David Miliband and family in South Shields

Former Foreign Secretary takes the sea air in South Shields

A lot of people were rather bemused that Prime Minister “call me Dave” Cameron carved out “chillaxing” time at the weekends by losing his daughter at the pub or playing games on his iPad, or even fitting in a game of tennis, but really it must do an MP (or a PM) a world of good to get away from the Westminster village and make time for more important matters, especially if he/she has a young family. So it was good to see our constituency MP David Miliband along with his wife Louise and the two boys “enjoying” yesterday’s horrendous rain on the sea front in South Shields. Sheltered beneath his NASUWT umbrella, the former Foreign Secretary was in very anonymous mood dressed down in denim jeans, and a sporty looking waterproof zippered jacket that could easily have come from one of Mike Ashley’s outlets (let’s hope not), matched to a very expensive looking pair of brown suede boots. He and his family were making the most of this trip to the constituency as the parade for Armed Services Day was about to make its way down from Gypsies Green Stadium to the Bents Park, yet despite the weather they all seemed to be enjoying themselves quite unperturbed by the lack of apparent interest in them, they could easily have been Mr. and Mrs. Thompson from Tynemouth on a day trip – Joe Public was none the wiser!

Oddly I didn’t see David Miliband in the Bents Park for the commemorative service for our armed personnel (that is not to say that he wasn’t in there for a time) but I did see him and one of his sons making his way along Bents Park Road homeward bound as the service was in progress. The talk was of things that young boys find so important of course, like building some sort of “transformers” type machine big enough to hide inside of a van and ready to gobble up marauders, and as most fathers know only too well thoughts quickly turn to the empty stomach and move towards lunch if the lads have had some exercise.

Now Colemans fish and chips are very nice, but on a Sunday?

Well, why not? However, it has to be said that there are other fish and chip shops worth a try in town, but when it comes down to ice cream the lads are totally correct, there is no other ice cream in the world after you have tasted Minchellas!

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Written by curly

June 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

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

A right Royal weekend

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South Shields really shines in the sun

I’ve had a great weekend, and hope you all did too, the early spring sunshine has helped to show South Shields at its very best with thousands of visitors enjoying our coast, beaches, parks, and restaurants. Friday’s Royal Wedding was a joy to watch whether at home in front of the TV or in the South Marine Park where I reckon about 1000 people were sitting on the grass with their picnics in front of a giant screen erected in front of the restored bandstand, it would be churlish NOT to congratulate the people at South Tyneside Council for arranging this. The picture quality was first class even in the strong sunlight, just a pity that a sharp shower temporarily got in the way, but it didn’t force people to leave, it really was quite festive.

We managed to do some supermarket shopping in the morning and it was the easiest experience you could find, the place was near deserted and we were finished in less than twenty minutes, I had a chat with some of the staff and discovered that they had all volunteered to work on Friday  and rewarded with overtime and a day off in lieu. It was also interesting to note that each year they nominate two of the available eight Bank Holidays to work and rotas are arranged on that basis, a pretty good way of satisfying almost all of the staff and ensuring that they get a good amount of Bank Holidays to themselves to enjoy with their families.

Saturday also found huge crowds in the parks enjoying the weather and I can see in future years that the cafe available inside the new swimming pool will be well used, certainly if we fall victim to the odd shower. Just disappointed that the afternoon was marred by a pretty inept display from Sunderland who surrendered without a fight to Fulham.

Yesterday saw me delivering leaflets in the Harton ward of South Shields in delightful warm sunshine, which made the task that much more rewarding, even had a very friendly chat with a congenial Labour councillor, as well as adding to some sterling work being done in the Beacon and Bents ward. Met many prominent members of our Bengali community yesterday evening on a full tour of every one of our restaurants in the town centre and Ocean Road, it was pretty cheerful and the reception was great, once again it was apparent that South Shields was the place to be as just about every establishment was busy with queues forming at two or three of the most popular, but boy the aromas of the spices were inviting. Just wish I could have sat down and joined in the feasting, but it was a bit early in the evening for me.

I have to say that I’ve been very encouraged by the responses we’ve received whilst campaigning for Mr. Hayder in the Beacon and Bents ward, no hostility at all, and I think people welcome the additional choice and a return to the days of more activity from the local Conservative candidate, far better than the days when a name was offered as a choice but no effective campaigning took place. This is far, far different to recent years.

We may be taking a trip out today if the kids can decide to agree, then it’s back to normal from tomorrow, hope you all enjoyed this great Bank Holiday weekend.

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If your bin hasn’t been emptied……

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……it’s because walking on a pavement can be hazardous.

That is, according to South Tyneside Council.

Residents who were due for a collection today are asked to leave their bins out, and those bins that are missed due to the weather conditions will be collected when it is safe to do so. Our drivers and crews are experienced and can cope with conditions on gritted roads, but side streets and pavements can be far more difficult. Walking on a pavement can be hazardous and handling wheeled bin and containers poses additional challenges.

Which does beg the question – how do the street sweeping teams manage to walk the pavements with those nice little wheeled grit bins? How does the postman get up and down my street with his heavy laden wheeled trolley?

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Written by curly

December 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm

No snow today

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“Tropical ” conditions return to South Shields

“Sunny Shields” is back in smiling mood today, the Arctic conditions melted away in one of the fastest thaws in living memory over the last 24 hours – the snow has gone.

Whilst the rest of us somehow managed to get around town, out of town, into town, thanks to the help of gritters who have used half of the winter stocks in two weeks, South Tyneside Council’s refuse collection teams found it far too difficult to negotiate the roads and side streets.

So, perhaps they’ll stand a better chance now that sub-tropical conditions have returned, my bins have not been emptied since 22nd. November!

It’s a good job we didn’t have any deep snow such as that seen in North Yorkshire or Central Scotland.

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Written by curly

December 11, 2010 at 11:58 am

Let’s give credit where it is due

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West Park, South Shields
South Tyneside copes with snow better than its neighbours

I’m not sure that our councillors really need to hold a special meeting to discuss the weather situation they might as well chat about the sunshine on the Veldt for what good it might do, yes we have a lot of snow on top of hard packed ice on our roads, but as temperatures plummeted to below -8 Celsius overnight our main roads were not too bad at all.

I’ve been out of the borough a few times this week, and when travelling through Hebburn to Bill Quay and Pelaw there is a marked difference in the road conditions as soon as one gets into Gateshead Council’s area of responsibility.  The Felling by-pass was treacherous on Monday and not much better on Wednesday, Sunderland’s efforts to keep the roads clear have not been a lot better and certainly not as good as ours. So let’s give some credit where it is due, those four gritters have been doing a tremendous job whilst we sleep snug and warm in our beds!

At least we haven’t faced main routes reduced to single lanes with a three foot deluge in the outside lane! On top  of that I’ve witnessed teams gritting footpaths (well they can hardly sweep up litter) and they’ve also deposited small stocks of rock salt in the estates to allow local people to do their own bit to keep paths and driveways clear. Our main shopping centres are largely cleared of snow within a couple of days too, so perhaps the only point worth discussing is stocks, availability, and whether or not we have enough to last for the rest of the winter. Admittedly, this spell of freezing weather has arrived much earlier than we would normally expect, but who is to say that January and February might not produce the normal quota of snow and ice?

I have nothing but praise for the way that South Tyneside Council has handled the current situation, but there will always be a few who might complain, they need to see the bigger picture and realise the importance of the priority routes which have been kept in really good condition under the circumstances.

Another interesting thing to note is, at the times of the heaviest snow falls, (yesterday evening and last Friday evening) before the gritters had hit the roads one could not tell where the road ended and the pavement started. Yet traffic was moving along quite nicely, slowly of course, and with large gaps between vehicles. I don’t think there were any huge accidents to note. It just proved to me that without gritted roads, the vast majority of drivers suddenly find some common sense and drive at the speed appropriate for the conditions, they appear to be much more wary of the possible dangers and many just stayed off the roads completely! Start gritting and they all start to speed up again – doh! (As with all rules, there were one or two exceptions.)

Now we just need to get some consistency between head teachers and the way in which they decide to open or close schools. Let me give you an example (without giving away names) ; yesterday the weather was a lot better than today, public transport was running fine, snow was soft and melting, yet one South Shields primary school decided to close because of transport difficulties. It’s neighbour, a community college stayed open under exactly the same conditions. Today, the situation is reversed, the college closed citing transport difficulties, but the primary school re-opened under far worse weather conditions than yesterday. Neither of them managed to get this information to the Town Hall in a timely fashion or to each other or to local news outlets where parents keep a close eye for information. Both of them made their decisions after children had set off for the school journey, which adds to parents’ difficulties in finding child minders or other supervision at short notice.

So perhaps head teachers need some coordination and clarification on their role as educators and informers, now that would be something more worthwhile for our councillors to discuss.

Oh, and the picture above was taken in the West Park, South Shields.

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Written by curly

December 3, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Sausages and “stable government”

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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.

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Written by curly

June 1, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Next Miliband (bananas or ice cream edition)

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david miliband

A bi product of a long weekend without internet access or television, thank you Virgin media you were so unkind, especially as we were looking forward to the UEFA Champion’s League Final. On the plus side the Medieval Fayre and day out at Bede’s World in Jarrow was exceptionally good and really well attended. Got my myself a bag full of shots of some very tasty looking birds, I’ll get some posted up on the photoblog over the next few days.

Anyway, enjoy the thought of the South Shields MP, David Miliband, enjoying his ice cream as we bake in this rather nice weather!

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Written by curly

May 24, 2010 at 7:56 am