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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

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

Bad weather, OMG, and the Jarrow Medieval Fayre

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Just don’t complain about the weather!

Via our Greek friend, and David Thompson.

This was filmed on Sunday 16th. May in Oklahoma City, let’s just pray that the weather in Jarrow this coming weekend will not be anything like as bad.

Largely sunny and warm on Saturday and Sunday but with a risk of an isolated thundery shower.

From the Met Office forecast for the north-east this morning.

I mention this because our new South Tyneside Mayor Cllr. Tom Piggott gets his first big public outing of the year at the Medieval Fayre which is part of the Jarrow Festival on Sunday from 10:00 am till 4:00 pm. This free event is really worth a visit, and for those of you who have a big interest in photography you will find plenty of opportunities as the majority of stall holders and participants will be dressed in period costume and partaking in battle re-enactments, cooking, crafts, weaponry, falconry, and all sorts of other things to entertain. The event is usually held in Druitt’s Park (Charlie’s Park) opposite St. Paul’s Church in Jarrow, and you will also have a good opportunity to have a wander around Bede’s World Museum, which features free entry for the day!

Be warned, if you are travelling from South Shields, Hebburn, or Cleadon and the Boldons, car parking will be at an absolute premium and you may be better off using public transport.

It’s an event that I never miss with my camera! (Is the top one Jim Sewell in his Sunday best?)

However, I’d like to know where all of the Jarrow councillors get to, I cannot say I’ve ever seen any of them there (unless of course they were disguised as serfs).

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Written by curly

May 20, 2010 at 9:29 am

Get your cameras out and enjoy the weather

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48 hours

I read a book some years ago, I was probably in my early twenties and going through a Solzhenitsyn phase, the book was entitled “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” it wasn’t a large book, perhaps less than 150 pages. However it was detailed, full of thought about life, it’s pleasures and complaints, deprivations, and food, in fact a minute by minute chronology of one man’s life during a 24 hour period in a Soviet labour Camp. It was hard not to come to the conclusion that Denisovich was the architect of his own future, it would either be non existent or bright and full of hope.

Which in many ways relates to how we came to view both of our sea front parks in South Shields some four or five years ago. Indeed some people were questioning their relevance in our modern high paced lifestyles, but we all need an oasis of calm, we need to breath fresh air, we need to exercise in an environment changed from the norm. These values and instincts were recognised by our ancestors when they made our parks and open spaces available for public enjoyment.

Now that we can say with almost certainty that spring has arrived it is a good opportunity to get down to the South or the North Marine Parks NOW, yes before lunch and take your camera with you!

You never know, YOUR pictures may end up being exhibited at The Customs House in September, your pictures can be submitted as prints, on a CD, or attached to an email, but you only have until Tuesday 6th. April to get them in.

I think it’s an excellent way to increase the public’s engagement with our sea front parks and in today’s conditions you could happily snap away for hours, I fired off over one hundred shots yesterday and I’m off now to get some more – so watch out for me down there!

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Written by curly

March 28, 2010 at 9:10 am

Bin collections suspended

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South Tyneside Council amends refuse collection plans

It’s a little more inconvenience to deal with, but I’m sure we’ll cope, if you were expecting your bins to be emptied this weekend in South Tyneside you will probably understand how difficult it is for drivers of the council’s bin wagons to manoeuvre these huge machines around tight back lanes on sheet ice. Therefore until road conditions improve a bit, all bin collections have been suspended until next week, and it would help if you don’t park your car in the back lane.

Here’s the meat from the council’s press release:

The advice to all residents is not to put their waste bins out this weekend. From next week, resources will be focused on normal collections and any extra bags of rubbish will also be taken.

  • Waste bins – residents should just put their grey waste bin out on their normal collection day, together with any extra bags due to delays (please note only domestic waste will be collected)
  • Black Kerb-it box – residents should put their black box out only on the normal collection day
  • Blue wheeled recycling bin – anyone on the new recycling scheme should put their blue bin out each day until it has been emptied.

If you wish you may also take your own recyclable rubbish to Middlefields at Tyne dock, South Shields.

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Written by curly

January 10, 2010 at 10:34 am

South Tyneside drivers A1 with no grit

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Caution and safety become the norm

Now that South Tyneside Council has ran out of grit and rock salt for all but the highest priority roads, it has become apparent in a very short space of time that drivers can manage without it. During yesterday evening’s fresh snowfall I witnessed drivers negotiating a roundabout on a major road in South Shields driving at speeds of around 10 mph and leaving gaps of about 60 yards between each other, it was fascinating to see how careful, thoughtful, cautious, and safety conscious the drivers were.  All road markings were thoroughly covered by the heavy snow, leaving drivers with no option but to fend, very carefully for themselves, and they nearly all managed to give an A1 driving performance.

It was a pretty instructive few minutes of behaviour watching, just shows what people can manage to do when left to make their own decisions.

It would be nice to think that we could manage without any new supplies of road grit during the rest of the winter, it might stop shopkeepers complaining about the mess being dragged onto their floors every day too!

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Written by curly

January 9, 2010 at 10:37 am