Saturday, 31 October 2015

Friday, 30 October 2015

Nervous Wreck

One of the lesser-known bands to come to The Liberties in the late 70s was Radio Stars.  Kind-of light punk/traditional rock/pop, Radio Stars never made it big in the Charts - although they did appear on Top of the Pops and TOGWT (The Old Grey Whistle Test, with Whisperin' Bob Harris).  Nervous Wreck did make the singles charts, but only just - well done if you remember it.

The first time they came to Coleraine they supported my favourite band of that era, The Stranglers.  The second time around I managed to get some snaps...

Radio Stars
Radio Stars' lead singer Andy Ellison was a great front man - totally in charge and they always played an amazing set, even if all the songs weren't instantly recognisable...

As you can see, Mr Ellison clearly was one for taking the shirt off - but then from memory he was very energetic, bouncing around the stage and over the equipment as one does when one is a bona fide rock star in the making.

I've no idea what he was doing in this last shot - perhaps he thought he would be the next Roger Daltry, but I am impressed by his knee-pads.  Clearly he was thinking ahead, worried that his stage antics might lead to creaky joints in his later years.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Cutts

I know I've done The Cutts before but lately I've been strangely drawn to them.  There's a handy car park just beside them and every time I go it all looks a little different. 'Tis the nature of things, I guess.

Locks by the River Bann at The Cutts

The sky as you can see was uncommonly cloud-free.  September was a strange month this year in The Liberties - not your usual foretaste of the winter-weather...more like late summer-weather.  No-one's complaining, though, since summer was a washout this year, even more than usual.

The next time I was there (with the Franka) the flood gates were open but there wasn't that much water in the river.  More to come in the next few months methinks, and maybe in the next few moments if those clouds are anything to go by...

The Cutts by F. Solida

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Regular readers will remember Ballymoney (Baile Monaidh, 'settlement on the peatland'), which is also affectionately known in these parts as Cow Town.  A grand wee place it is too - no pretensions.  One of the oldest settlements in Ireland, I am told, and the area has the highest life expectancy of any in Northern Ireland, so they must be doing something right.

The old church tower, built in 1637, always draws my eye, but I've found it hard to get anything other than a very boring snap of it.   The other day I was wandering about the place and this shot materialised onto some FP4+ that was in the Nikon:

Ballymoney Clock Tower, 2015
If you're wondering what is going on in the bottom left of this shot it's 'cos some eedjit stuck his head in just as I was releasing the shutter.  No matter - since he was uninvited I cropped most of him out.

A closer view
The observant among you will have noticed that it took me exactly 9 minutes to dander up the street in order to get this closer view of the clock tower.  It's hard to tell from this shot but it looks like we had a bit of a southerly wind that day - which is unusual for these parts.  Normally we have pretty strong westerly winds, coming in off the North Atlantic Ocean, where they've had a few thousand miles to whip themselves up into a frenzy before hitting The Liberties.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The sun was out

Yes, an unusual event in The Liberties.  I don't really know what to do when the sun is out - it changes how everything looks.

On my usual beach walk on Portstewart Strand one morning, after dropping Missy at school, the shadows were long...

What's that then?
Looks like some-one has made The Scream in sand.

Turn around and you get a view of Portstewart:

Portstewart from the Strand
Very boring, I know - no clouds!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Harveys Sussex Ales

River Ouse at Lewes
No visit to Lewes would be complete without a doffing of the cap (or even a quaffing of an ale) to Harveys brewery, situated bang in the centre of town beside the River Ouse.   The same river that flooded a few years ago and most of this part of Lewes was under water for several days - Harveys lost a few barrels, apparently, which floated off down the Ouse, as you can see here.

Lewes Brewery

And no, I didn't have a Harveys Sussex Ale.  I have in the past, and very nice I remember it was too, but your tastes change over time and so on this visit we stuck to tea, mostly of the green variety.

And there, dear readers, you have it.  Lewes and Eastbourne in August 2015.  Very pleasant it was too...made me wonder why I left that part of the world to come back to The Liberties.  Just for a second or two, you understand.  After all, as Dorothy once said, There's no place like home.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Daddy Cool

No, not a reference to my good self this Bandfriday...a reference to the group which sold more concert tickets in the UK than any other band in 1978.  Who? Why these guys of course:

The Darts, c1978
The Darts were a 9-piece doo-wop band who came to The Liberties at least twice in the late 70s.  They had a good deal of chart success (including Daddy Cool, The Girl Can't Help It, Come Back My Love) which was testament to their talents, impressive since the late seventies was supposed to be the era of Punk.

Live, they were simply amazing.  Very energetic and just good old-fashioned singing, harmonies and fine rock-and-roll music.  Anyone from that era will most likely remember the facial expressions and mad eyes of the bass singer Den Hegerty (a Dublin man, believe it or not) although by the time this shot was taken he had left and been replaced by Kenny Andrews (back right).

The lads (and Rita Ray just disappearing out of shot on the left)

Rita certainly added a touch of glamour to the proceedings (in an earlier band, Rocky Sharpe & The Razors, she was described on the sleeve notes as ", black and sophisticated, the female sex symbol of the band.  She makes Diana Ross look like Arthur Mullard").  Well I can't vouch for that, since to my knowledge neither Mr Mullard nor Ms Ross came round these parts, but Rita did - and very welcome she was too.

Glamour Girl Rita Ray

Front man Bob Fish clearly knew a good tailor.  Check out the watch on his right wrist - I wonder if he's left-handed.  Or just possibly the photograph is round the wrong way...

Sharp Dresser Bob Fish

As you can see we have both B&W and colour snaps of The Darts, which means either The Brother and I were around and about (no doubt The Brother with colour, on the balcony as per and me keeping it real at the front with FP4) or these sets were snapped on different occasions.  Since both Mr Fish and Ms Ray are wearing different outfits in the B&W snaps compared to the colour ones I suspect the latter.

The Darts weren't afraid to mingle with the fans, as Griff Fender demonstrates below.  I wonder if Griff Fender could by any chance be a made-up name.  No idea who the two ladies are, I'm afraid - I like the one on the right with the rosy cheeks...a combination of the good clean air we get in The Liberties and the hot sweaty atmosphere of Chesters.

"Griff Fender" and fans

The Band

If you're into 'Where are they now?' type stuff, click here.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Sussex Streets

I'm sure you all recall my feeble attempts at street photography earlier this year in Cannes and a couple of days ago in Eastbourne.  Undeterred, I plucked up the courage to snap a couple more as we ambled around Lewes.

What's he looking at, eh?

I did consider cropping that one, removing the bloke in the black t-shirt on the right.  But then I left it as was it was.  I liked the group with the telescope, also the lady in the chair behind, but I'm too far away from them.  I'm very not like that guy Erik Kim who goes around sticking a camera right in people...I'm way too timid for that.  And round The Liberties I suspect people wouldn't take too kindly to that sort of behaviour - we're not City Slickers, y'know.

Actually I did bring the camera into town a couple of years ago and pointed it down Kingsgate Street - you know, beside St Patrick's Church -  to see what it looked like in the viewfinder.  Now it was a Yashica Electro 35 I was using - the world's first electronically controlled camera, so The Brother informed me, but that's another story - and so was unlikely to cause too much offence.  Well how wrong could you be...this couple, about 60-years old, spied me with the camera up pointing vaguely in their direction and before I could say 'f8 and be there' the bloke was up and off.  He actually went to hide in a doorway, checking my whereabouts every few seconds while his missus turned her back and gave the odd little glance over her shoulder at me.  What was all that about? I mean, they weren't actually doing anything at the time - just sitting on a bench.  Anyway, I thought it better I didn't pursue things and that, dear readers, was the end of my street photography experiment in The Liberties.  Folk round these parts are queer - and I should know, I'm one mysel'.

Anyway, back to Lewes, where folk are different.  Just a little further up the road from the Lewes Antiques Centre there was a very small street market.  Missy was, as usual, in some sort of boutique shop or other so as I hung about outside I snapped this one:

Lovely pineapples in Sussex
Maybe I should do more people - I think I definitely might just possibly have a natural flair for it.  Or maybe not...

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

English Country Garden #2

We went to another place nestling in the lee of the South Downs.  Charleston Manor House was once the country retreat of the Bloomsbury Group - you know, Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa Bell and all that arty-farty brigade.

Charleston Manor (out-side view)
Charleston has a walled garden, as you can see.  I only took one snap as we wandered around the walled garden - there were too many people there and it was annoying me.

My one snap
We didn't get to walk around the house (it was full up with people) but we did get to buy tickets and walk around the garden.  Charleston is very nice and I can recommend it - we saw a video about the Whole Thing.  But bring money.  Preferably lots.  They need a lot of money to upkeep Charleston.  That's the thing I remember most about it.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

English Country Garden #1

The Clergy House (right) and the National Trust shop (left)

The Clergy House in Alfriston has rather lovely gardens surrounding it.  They're not large, but they are very nicely laid out.  We wandered around, as one does.


There's even a hotel in the grounds but all the guests were having their siesta do we didn't disturb:

Mini-beast Hotel

Friday, 16 October 2015

Teenage Kicks

For anyone of a certain age who comes from this neck of the woods the words Teenage Kicks have a special meaning.

Teenage Kicks is the title of The Undertones' first single - which is also the late John Peel's favourite single of all time (and he knew music, did Mr Peel).  In fact, he liked this song so much he had some lines from it engraved on his headstone...Teenage dreams, so hard to beat

The funny thing is about the Undertones is that although they came from Derry, which was going through a terrible time in the '70s, they sang little pop songs like Here Comes the Summer, My Perfect Cousin and who could forget Get Over You.  In other words, they were normal teenagers intent on ignoring all the horrible stuff going on around them at that time.

The Undertones were a Derry band but they played in Portrush at least once a month in the good old days before they became famous.  I probably have enough photographs of The 'Tones for about a month's worth of blogging, but I wouldn't do that to you, my faithful few readers, since I suspect you would be a lot fewer by the end of the month...

Anyway, I have a little story for you today - a Photographic Story, as it were.

The Brother must have had his camera along this particular evening and he must have been up on the balcony - hence this shot:

Hot and sweaty teenagers - 1970s style

I know, I know - what on earth is that guy in the foreground doing?   Clearly 'in the moment'.  Nowadays we would say he's experiencing mindfulness.  Whatever.

Not the world's best photograph, I will grant you, and to be honest I nearly passed over it.  Then I spied some-one I know well in the shot - me!  That's me, or a younger version of me to be more precise - in the beige sweater front left.  Regular readers will recognise me from the haircut, I suspect.  And you can see what I'm doing, for there be a camera strap just visible over my left shoulder and the camera looks like it's raised to me eyes, as one does when one wants to take a photograph with an OM-1.  

And here are some of the snaps wot I took, from that very position on that very evening...

The lads

Feargal Sharkey

'Are you seriously taking my photograph?'
Ain't that a hoot?  Mind you, when I look at that first picture and see where I am standing it might just explain why I have severe hearing problems now.  But there's no telling young people, is there...

Thursday, 15 October 2015

What is it?

Yes, it's a bit of wood.  Not just any bit of wood, mind.  A 14th Century bit of wood, no less.  It belongs to this house:

Some old place near Lewes

This is the entrance to the Clergy House in Alfriston, just down the road a bit from Lewes.  As you can see the vegetation is nearly taking over, as it does.

The Clergy House was, apparently, the first house acquired by the National Trust - in 1896 for the princely sum of £10.  Dates back to the 14th Century we found out and it's an example of a Wealden Hall House.  I think they put windows in after a few hundred years - it must have been a bit draughty beforehand...

Alfriston is very twee and very touristy but nice all the same for a gentle stroll.  And it has The George Inn, which is a lovely old pub - all oak beams and stone floors and stuff.  Just right for a snifter before dinner, it was.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Up on the Downs

The South Downs run from Eastbourne to nearly Winchester and are great for a gentle stroll, which is what we did one day in August.

The South Downs, near Firle

As you can see I printed that one in the darkroom - on MGIV Pearl.  It came out OK - I'll stick it on the wall for a while.

There wasn't much going on that day - a few walkers, a few sheep and one or two people hanging around a hundred feet up in the air:

Looking over the Sussex Weald

As you can see we had good weather - it was pretty warm, being August and all, even though we were Up on the Downs.

A fine place to find yourself

The old clouds were good that day, weren't they?  Not at all like the clouds we get in The Liberties, which seemed a long way away.  These were Sussex clouds.   Nice all the same, though.  I printed that one too, as you can see, and it will eventually go on a wall as well.  Well it might - or it might just sit around on a windowsill for a while.  Time will tell.  That's a straight print, by the way, as most of mine are at the minute.  I'm not great at didging and borning (Ed: I think he means dodging and burning), probably 'cos I don't do a lot of it.  But I'll get there...

I didn't print this one - but I reserve the right to at some point in the future, ok?

More sheep on the downs

Missy seemed to be enjoying herself - looking all glamorous what with her shades on and Kate's cardigan wrapped around her against the biting wind you get on the South coast of England in early August.

Adding a touch of glamour to the South Downs
By the way, a friend on FADU posted a link to a video the other day which might be of interest to you photography types.  It's of the work of Ken Keen FRPS - who is registered blind.  Inspirational stuff.  Click here to see it.  Terry King was instrumental in helping Ken with the alternative processes he now works with - you can check out his work here and well worth a look it is too.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


After a couple of days in Eastbourne we went up the road a bit to one of my old haunting grounds, Lewes, the county town of East Sussex.  Lewes is where my ex-colleague Martin lives and he still works at Sussex University, where I used to work a long time ago.  You met Martin before, in Istanbul, if you remember - here.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  As we waited at Eastbourne train station I asked Missy if she thought she could live in Eastbourne, just to see what she said.  She said she thought she could - 'There are worse places' apparently...  Here she is, perched on her case:

Missy, sorry to be leaving Eastbourne

There's something about that print I like.  It's currently living on a sideboard in our living room and it might just get elevated to the wall at some point - that's how much I like it, even with its shaky left hand edge (and what's all that about, eh?).  On Warmtone RC, if you're interested, which is a very nice paper indeed.

Lewes is a very pleasant little town - charming, even.  Famous for a lot of things, including Harveys bewery, right in the middle of town (more of that to come...).  Also famous - or maybe infamous - for the extravagant celebrations every year on Guy Fawke's night November 5th, where the local bonfire societies try to out-do each other during their processions through the town.  They usually burn an effigy of some-one or other who is topical - President Putin, President Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong Un have all been 'done' in recent have Alex Salmond and David Cameron.

In addition, they always burn an effigy of The Pope - well, not just any pope, one pope in particular - Pope Paul V.  I always found that rather ironic, coming from where I do, where burning any Pope would probably lead to even more civil disturbances than usual.  It has something to do with 17 Protestant martyrs being burnt at the stake in Lewes town centre a couple of years ago - well, OK, sometime in the 16th Century and yes, that's right, Pope Paul V was pope at the time.

I don't have any shots of Martin, or his lovely wife Kate, who were perfect hosts if a little camera-shy.  But I do have one of their cat:

Martin and Kate's Cat
And I have one of their garden:

Martin and Kate's Garden

The colours didn't come out too well on FP4+, but you get the gist.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Eastbourne folk

Eventually we did spot a few people on Eastbourne Pier - doing what we were doing, namely wandering about aimlessly wondering where everyone was and why everywhere was closed.

As you know I'm not a great one for street shooting - but I did some on the pier, just for the craic.

We are not amused
As you can see, the two ladies in the shot above were giving me the 'What's he up to?' look as I snapped them up.  I think I got away with it though...

The two people below were largely oblivious to my actions.  Probably the young lad was wondering where that Marshfield Farm ice cream was that he'd been promised and wishing he was back indoors on his Playstation instead of outside in all this fresh air having a camera pointed at him by some old, strange-looking bloke.

Can we go home now?

Friday, 9 October 2015

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

Yes I know, the title is a bit of a give-away for this Bandfriday post.  Who else but the one and only Mr Ian Dury, who graced The Liberties with his presence sometime back in the late 1970s - either '78 or '79.

Ian Dury and his band The Blockheads were a class act and while Norman Watt-Roy on bass was a colourful figure there really was only one person who we all came to see - the man in the pearly jacket.

Not only a great lyricist, Ian Dury was a fine stage actor too and he knew how to hold the audience in the palm of his hand.  In between the singing he had a whole repertoire of banter, expressions, gestures and props...old-style music hall blended with rock and roll, reggae, jazz and funk.  How could that not be good?!
Handcuffs, Mr Dury?

Now I realise Mr Dury would not be everyone's cup of tea - for one thing, his lyrics bordered on the risqué (and beyond) but he was a one-off, an original and when he got it right, it was good - lyrically and musically (like in Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick).  

One of the best things about Ian Dury's performance was that both him and the band looked like they were having fun - a lot of fun.  

It was well-known that Mr Dury had no time for the establishment's view of disabled people, in spite of the physical difficulties he had since contracting polio at the age of 7.  He wasn't afraid to write about it (and sing about) too - as in Spasticus Artisticus.  

A bit of sax is good
Wikipedia (Ed: seriously? Do we have to?) gets it spot on: "Dury's lyrics are a combination of lyrical poetry, word play, observation of British everyday life, character sketches and sexual humour".

I really do think the world is a slightly less creative place since Mr Dury's death.  I leave you with a harmless little ditty, from Bellericay Dickie :

good evening i'm from essex
in case you couldn't tell
my given name is Dickie, I come from Bellericay
and I'm doing very well