Behind the Bling

The  third and final post about the John Rylands Library in Manchester

I started out calling this post ‘Behind the Bling’ but that felt a little uncharitable. I’m not sure The John Rylands Library in Manchester ever ‘set its barrow down’ to be ostentatious, more a philanthropic sharing of knowledge, the gift of education  and a celebration of art, architecture and craftsmanship. (Oh and the fact northern money was as good as southern!)

An on the hoof  exterior photo as we dashed for our train, in the fading winter light

John Ryland Exterior -1

Within  the building is a spectacular collection of historical documents and books. painstakingly catalogued and preserved for posterity.

John Ryland Reading Room -1

it is the third largest academic library in the United Kingdom, and the Deansgate building houses over 250,000 printed volumes, and well over a million manuscripts and archival items.

Many  are painstakingly shrouded for  their protection

shrouded books -1

I looked at these books and carefully stored documents

John Ryland Reading Room 4-1

and thought how I would be a disaster working in this field

John Ryland books -1

(as disastrous as I’d be as an air traffic controller! each to their own!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed our tour around, pop over and have a look at the secrets of a more modern building over at VWXYNot? Fascinating.


As a child I could never quite master the word dahlia, I always called them bdahlias, b’s and d’s were never a friend of mine.

Bdahlia -1

My Dad grew lots of dahlias his favourites were  spiky deep crimson varieties, they always remind me of him (and earwigs!). He used to insist each autumn on drying the tubers that he’d lifted from the flower bed (to protect them from frost)  in the airing cupboard. My Mum was never impressed by this intrusion to her line dried laundry!  I snapped these  dahlias in the garden at Chatsworth House on Saturday, I nipped over just in time to capture the penultimate day of the Barry Flanagan sculpture exhibition. More photos to follow.

New Perspective

Unlocking Writers Block

I’ve a deadline looming and a few thousand words to haul together, it hasn’t been going very well. My desk is littered with books, notes ‘post its’ highlight pens and half drunk cups of tea and mind maps. I’ve done the reading (even if I did fall asleep at my desk, no easy task on a swivel chair) and I’ve deployed every ‘study aid’ tactic I’ve ever heard of, but  despite my tenacious daily  efforts the word count stays resolutely stuck (it’s not that I don’t write something, just that I swipe the previous work. ) I know from the course forum I am not alone, as there has been a major outbreak of assignment rage.

So I decide to take a fresh perspective on the matter (or maybe I was just looking for a displacement activity, to get away from the keyboard). So I moved my ‘office’ furniture around, instead of my desk facing the wall, it is now by the window. The aspect is pleasing.

Brighter outlook -1

Mr Uphilldowndale stuck his head around the door and declared ‘You’ll get nothing done, you’ll just be gazing out of the window, watching the birds go by’.  He is probably right, but I don’t care, the move was a quality of life decision.  I’ve still not broken the back of the assignment, but I’m in better mood, this evening I’m trying a study aid not listed in the books, a bottle of red. There may be quite a lot of editing required tomorrow. 

A Kings Ransom

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse; a friend sent me this image, they thought it might be of interest to readers. It’s a hand bill dating from 1841, now pinned up in a local shop (but maybe it should be in the local museum).

stolen black mare-1


I thought £5 in 1841 sounded like a very handsome reward, I asked Mr Uhdd how we might calculate such a thing, he went off to Google the question: it was touch and go whether the answer was  going to  be  either, fascinating, or one of those question where you wished you’d never asked

"The real price of every thing, what every thing really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it… But though labour be the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities, it is not that by which their value is commonly estimated… Every commodity, besides, is more frequently exchanged for, and thereby compared with, other commodities than with labour." – Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

It seems you can calculate (and calculations are something I tend to avoid at all costs, I would never make an accountant*) by a host of measures,  but for ease, we will distil the question down to two.

By the retail price index… in 1841 £5 was equivalent to  £361

and  by average earnings…  it was  £3,830

If someone would like to flesh out the bones of this old horse and its value, please carry on in the comments

This is the quote for me

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1892.

These days it tends to be quad bikes that get nicked not horses.

* nor would it be wise for me follow a career as an air-traffic  controller the conversation would go along the lines of   ‘flight 7326 you are clear to land;  err, opps,  no, I mean flight 3762… Err no; wait a mo; would the blue plane like to land now and can the red one hang around for a minute, thank you.

Request Stop

Mr Uhdd has taken the return journey to Wales today, by rail, to collect the car. We made sure (several times) that this time, he had in fact got the car keys upon his person. The railway station in Wales at which he wished to alight was a request stop, and the name of the station?

I'm not going to even try and spell it-2

This is of course the longest place name in the Welsh language, or any other for all I know,  the name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch


St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave."

So why didn’t they just say so. (I’ve posted before about my inability to get a handle on Welsh place names.)

I'm not going to even try and spell it 2-2

The user friendly version of this tongue twister of a Welsh place name is Llanfair P.G, which is just as well, because otherwise Mr Uhdd may well have missed his stop. And then he wouldn’t have got back home in time to find some leverets down the field this afternoon. I may have to have a little peek myself, from a discrete distance with a long lens. I’ll keep you posted.

Production Values


The 30th June! Just time to sneak this post in then.

I’m more than a little partial to the work of the artist Mackenzie Thorpe,


I’d been admiring his work for a long time before I discovered he is dyslexic. Funds don’t run to  purchasing a print (but maybe they should)


although rare prints, like the one below, Destiny’s Child would be well out of range.


If I get chance  I do like to have a calendar featuring his images, above my desk. But this years image for June  has had me a little perplexed. Bonfire night in June?

5th Nov AM-2

I can only think it is because the company that produces the calendar is a German company that they don’t get the social references, and that led them to put an image about bonfire night, in June’s slot! Although the title of the image above ‘5th November AM’ should have given them a clue.

5th Nov AM detail-2

Of course you wouldn’t expect the ashes of a bonfire on November the 5th, AM would you? Surely, that should be the 6th November? Unless some rival gang of kids scuppered your bonty, the night before, they obviously weren’t guarding it properly.

Where Was I?

I was offering up a platter of posts on the joys of Wales, and then I zipped off at a Derbyshire tangent in yesterdays post. But then zipping off at tangents is not an unusual event for me.

So back to Wales, and back to the title of this post,

A colourful Welsh barn

Red brick blue roof-2

I never do know where I am in Wales, it is not that I can’t read a map, I can, not in the meticulous  detail that Mr Uhdd requires for his fellrunning forays, but more than enough to get around and to zip off in search of obscure farms at a moments notice. Oh and I never get lost, I’m  only ever geographically confused, there is a difference you understand.

An old door on a Welsh barn

Barn door 1-2

But in Wales it is different, the Welsh place names put the dyslexic bit of my brain into a mode that is akin to the blue screen of death. I just can’t get a grip of them, I just can’t orientate myself, if I can’t read the names or at least make them into a ‘sound’ how the the double FF and double LL am I going remember the word sufficiently to place them on a  mental map?

So a couple of questions are raised (and I think  Joe answered this one for me today)

Are some languages more difficult to learn to read than others if you are dyslexic?

Joe (who has inherited his mothers dyslexic genes) tells me he has learnt more Spanish in one year than he has learnt of the French language in 7 years of schooling (I can sympathise, I could never get French either and never bothered trying anything else) Of course, Joe thanks to some  talented teachers and a lot of effort on his part, has a lot more learning tools and study skills at his disposal  now than he had when he started out on the learning adventure that is going to school; maybe that makes the difference?

And have Welsh place names found themselves replicated across the globe, are their names like Blaenau Ffestiniog, Machynlleth, Dolwyddelan and Llanrwst in north America and Australia? and what about, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch) just thought I’d ask.

Teachers Pets

Spud and Joe walking home-2

Spud and Joe walking home*

It was parents evening at Joes school recently, it went very well, which is great news because school hasn’t always been a happy  place for Joe. Mr Uhdd was fair glowing with pride when he got home; for not only had Joe received a good report, the head stopped Mr Uhdd in the corridor to comment on what a well behave puppy Spud was (the head having seen Mr Uhdd and Spud out on their early morning walk to the paper shop as he drove into school.)

So a pat on the back for Joe and a pat on the head for Spud. Everyone’s a winner.


I’m sure this dog is double jointed.

*Yes it’s November and still Joe is wearing his beach shorts, he has upgraded from his Crocks, to wellingtons, what with the muddy tracks and paths.

And the Light Shineth in Darkness;

This plaque on the door of Sherford  parish church, Sherford, Devon caught my eye


Maybe they didn’t think electricity was here to stay, or perhaps it was just for reasons of economy.


That they inserted the electric light bulb into the original oil lamps. Or just possibly it might have been, that having lived through what they had lived through, they took nothing for granted, not even light.


* The light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.  John 1:5

How come I can remember that biblical quote from my childhood, but not my seven times table? I certainly know which I practiced more.


Salcombe is awash with dogs, that just have to be part of the action.

Seadog 5


Seadog 3

Terriers it seems are more of a seadog than I realised, or maybe it’s just  that have to lead from the front.

I remember this dog from last year

Seadog 5

Now I’ve got a better broadband connection and a little child free time, standby for a rapid fire of seaside posts, that are in my head, in a chaotic virtual queue, all waiting to be written and published; my friend asked me the other day if posting to the blog became a chore, but for me it’s not like that (I’m not very good at chores in any case, ask Mr Uhdd) no, it’s more of a frustration, I can see the finished post in my minds eye in an instant, but getting them together is a different matter, maybe a bit more of an editors eye would be an advantage *sigh*.