A Christmas Fair?

A Christmas Fair is a mass gathering is it not?

In Nottingham’s case it’s also a bunch of wooden sheds converted from their summer ‘beach hut’ guise with some spray-on snow from Wilkos.

It’s about ripping off people with ever more difficult financial situations because they are in sore need of a little Christmas (or any other) cheer. A fiver for a hot dog anyone? Seven pounds for a glass of mulled wine? It’s about selling junk food and goods at extortionate prices.

The Winter Wonderland in the Nottingham Old Market Square

Outdoor skating, cancelled at Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland for 2020. (Image Nottingham Post)

It’s also about James Mellors Entertainments being in bed with Nottingham City Council and lining that business’s own pockets with low-brow cheap-ass ‘entertainment’ every time you open your eyes in this city. Controlling the public’s Old Market Square and anywhere else they can get their clutches into.

Meanwhile, during this pandemic, decent business such local pubs and restaurants that the community like to gather in have the shutters up and are being sold down the river, possibly into oblivion.T

This fair has nothing to do with Christmas or its spirit and it should especially not be happening this December.

The Tiers Of A Clown

A reported further 1,024 cases in 24hrs in Nottingham yesterday. Numbers further afield into the suburbs and wider county have taken an alarming jump also.

(Image: Nottingham Post)

I made a (probably final) visit to my ‘local’ in the city last night under Tier 2 restrictions which include no mixing with other households. The manager expressed that he would now prefer to close up completely and that to continue staffing the pub, even with just a single person didn’t make sense. There had been very few customers in the two days since new restrictions.

The experience? Well I sat listening to the Down The Slope Hibs podcast featuring an interview with Super Joe Tortalano, on my bluetooth earbuds, sipping pints of Bitbuger. Pleasant enough, but I can do that at home. In fact the pub that I know which is invariably lively with an interesting mix of folk felt more like Seafield Crematorium.

Streets and businesses in the city and local towns have all but emptied it appears. A popular public opinion is to impose a ‘complete’ lockdown. It feels very much like March again here. That’s me done, I’ll be imposing a self-lockdown – for the winter if necessary. Grim maybe, but it might be as well to find acceptance of this now.

Nottingham Diary: September 2019

It’s been a turbulent week on Nottingham’s roads with simply just traversing the city a little problematic to say the least. However, sadly, lives have been lost.

Cityscape(1)(Image: Invest in Nottingham)

Last Saturday evening, a man was stabbed to death in the centre of the city. A friend passing mentioned that he had witnessed the victim being unsuccessfully resuscitated. Another pointless waste of life. The fact that part of the city’s roads were closed for forensics that evening and through most of the next day is of no consequence by comparison.

Wednesday brought another fatality, this time on the main thoroughfare, Upper Parliament Street in the heart of the city. A local man, just 34 years-old, was hit by a single-decker bus and was was reported dead the next day. Passing the scene later in the day was a hard view, with the unfortunate victim’s rucksack still lying in the road behind the bus and hard to not see.

Friday came and saw city centre gridlocks due to different reasons. The earlier part of the day saw demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion by way of a massed cycle ride and later, a gathering in Old Market Square. No question that there are difficult issues to be faced here. The movement’s methods will continue to be debated by the public.

It’s still Friday and it’s that day and weekend where Nottingham’s thousands of students descend back on the city. A lighter note at least to see the pavements near my office teeming with students and their parents, arms full of bedding, clothing and foodstuffs for the young incomers. Perhaps the most amusing sight being two young lads each absolutely laden with two-litre bottles of mineral water, maybe concerned about the availability of running water in their new homes. A visit to the supermarket on leaving work saw a scene resembling a plague of locusts having swarmed its formerly heavily laden shelves.

Some people find the preponderance of students around the city from late September onwards an irritation but not me personally, notwithstanding that they’re not vomiting, staggering and crying in the street in the early hours  in the suburb where I live. I do like though, to see that youthful ebullience tinged with trepidation as they leave home for the first time and sort themselves into their new friendship groups in a strange environment. And let’s face it, there’s nowhere stranger than Nottingham at times.

Finally, and like most Saturdays from September to May in Nottingham one of the city’s two professional football teams are playing at home, this week, Nottingham Forest. Approaching the ground is Trent Bridge where a ‘police incident’ has been reported. This, sadly, is modern day code for a possible suicide attempt, in this case a possible jumper from the Trent Bridge into the River Trent’s dangerous currents far below. An increasing trend in these troubled times. I do hope this person is safe and goes on to continue forwards into a content and meaningful life.

Nottingham: June 2019

Just the two stabbings then in Nottingham city centre last night, at 3.30am and 4.05am.

One on Goldsmith Street in the centre of student land and the other on Mansfield Road, a busy main thoroughfare, both in the middle of the city. It’s notable the time of some of these violent incidents but by no means always is this the case.

Goldsmith Street Stabbing


Mansfield Road Stabbing




(Image: mirror.co.uk)

People are concerned, for themselves, for their young ones growing up into this danger and lawlessness and for our older people. The underfunded police make misleading claims about ‘isolated incidents’. Other profess that Nottingham is ‘no worse’ than other cities.

Only, I don’t believe this. Nor did I believe it either when the city’s ‘Shottingham’ image was continually and steadfastly refuted by the local authorities, the police and the universities seeking to bring in more and more students.

There is no way I would want a daughter or son of mine to study and live in this city the way it is now.

Nottingham used to be a great city to live in or visit. It was vibrant, with good facilities, great sporting culture and charismatic and historic architecture everywhere. Some of these things still exist to an extent of course but the mood of the city is ugly and its streets are no longer comfortable or safe. It feels more like a ghetto each month that passes.

We see the unfortunate and disadvantaged who sleep rough in most cities but there is no question that the amount of homeless people on Nottingham’s streets has exploded in recent times. Most short walks through Nottingham entail running a gauntlet of people begging and sleeping in shop doorways.

Large communities of students upset their neighbours on a continual basis, robbing them and their children of sleep and peace, vomiting in the streets, breaking glass and staggering around. I am not anti-student having worked for both local universities and understanding the positives they also bring to the city.

Now we have a daily report of the stabbings and slashings which are almost certainly nevertheless under reported. The city’s drug problem is clearly totally out of control and the city centre streets often hazardous with groups of drunks teeming around the streets on busy nights Worst of all arguably, are the frequent suicide attempts, completed or not, from the likes of the multi-storey car parks around the city and the lack of action taken to stem this.

The Nottingham of 2019 is not a vintage one and it’s sad and worrying to see its deconstruction. In the meantime, self-serving politicians argue about Brexit and sit on their hands as usual.

Nottingham Railway Station Alight

Sincere thanks to the wonderful firefighters and other agencies of Nottingham and neighbouring areas that bravely fought the devastating fire at Nottingham Railway Station today for fully twelve hours. The fire is thankfully, now extinguished.

The ‘Midland’ Station as we used to call it is a fine and historic building which serves 16,400 commuters every weekday. Barely four years ago it was the subject of a £50m refurbishment which left it looking better than I’d ever seen it. So sad to see some of this work cruelly undone.


As the fire began early in the day, reputedly in a ladies toilet, there were few commuters around and we can be thankful that no one is reported hurt.

The latest report indicates an arson attack. I hope the people of Nottingham hold together against the kind of element that causes this disruption and destruction of what is still a fine city with a great and storied heritage.

Nottingham: Wollaton Park Deer

Here’s a fair example of pond life behaviour and general stupidity in Nottingham.

The city is fortunate in having an attractive park within its boundary named Wollaton Park which red and fallow deer inhabit. The deer is a symbolic animal in Nottingham quite literally, forming part of the city coat of arms and so it’s particularly satisfying to to see these fine animals, happy and accessible to view from a safe distance.


Today’s local newspaper has some quite disturbing images of people approaching the deer in rutting season, perhaps the worst one of a young child with an adult who should really know better. Another with a young fool manhandling a red deer.

Excepting the child, I would have no sympathy if these people came to grief for antagonising the animals. It occurs to me though that if they were attacked, sadly, the animals themselves would come under scrutiny.




(Pics Nottingham Post)

Lowdham Book Festival 2017: ‘The Lord Of Milan’

IT’S FLAMING JUNE ONCE MORE and that means the annual Lowdham Book Festival, a very favourite series of events of mine in a local Nottinghamshire village. Driving into the village and observing a new 20mph limit on Main Street, Saturday’s fluffy white clouds were punctuated by spells of very warm sun shining on the familiar homes and businesses lining the village’s main thoroughfare.

My destination this afternoon was mainly about a visit to the quaint Methodist Chapel for a talk promoting a book about a somewhat little-known Nottingham sportsman, one Herbert Kilpin, by author, Robert Nieri. The book being the product of a labour of love and some thorough and serous, yet enjoyable sounding research in Northern Italy and nearer home in Nottinghamshire.

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Herbert Kilpin

Hebert Kilpin, termed ‘The Lord of Milan’ was the ninth of fifteen children born to a butcher at 129 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, a modest and narrow building still situated though renumbered since Kilpin’s day. Young Herbert was a keen footballer and played for local amateur teams the Garibaldi Reds and Nottingham Olympic on the nearby Forest Recreation Ground, where Nottingham Forest were named.

Herbert entered the lace trade as an assistant in Nottingham, working in the Adams Building on Stoney Street in the city, as the author explained in a job that entailed him running up and down spiral staircases in the warehouse all day long, helping him keep fit for his football. It was here that he met Edoardo Bosio, an Italian-Swiss merchant and football innovator who formed the Internazionale Torino Football and Cricket Club. Herbert at 21 years, was persuaded to join Edoardo in Turiin to work in the textile industry and to play for the Torino club.

After a period, the Nottingham man moved to Milan to work where he continued to commute each weekend to Turin to play for Bosio’s club, probably a three-hour train journey each way in those days. Eventually, Herbert decided to form a club of his own in Milan. What followed changed the history of Association Football as the early AC Milan came into being, the storied Italian team in the famous red and black strip, chosen by Kilpin for its intimidatory qualities, which became for a period the word’s top club with fully seven European Cups to its name among other significant European and domestic silverware.

A few years ago, Milan supporters became interested in the origins of their founder and a number visited Nottingham to see the home where he was born in 1870. Unfortunately, at that time, some were unaware that since Kilpin’s day the buildings on Mansfield Road had been renumbered due to the building of the Victoria Railway Station down at the foot of the road. This resulted on some of the Italian fans reporting and visiting erroneously a restaurant some doors away. This misapprehension has been corrected since and a small ceremony held to herald Kilpin’s real home.

Herbert Kilpin’s home, Mansfield Road, Nottingham (centre blue building)

Recently, a former long-closed restaurant in Nottingham has reopened as a public house and happily been named as The Herbert Kilpin, advertising Herbert’s great achievement in initiating the huge Italian football club. A city bus which travels Mansfield Road has been named after him and a youth football trophy is also named after him.

Affable, informative and pleasant speaker, Robert Nieri told us that he had been involved in talking to children in local schools about Herbert’s amazing story, of his modest skills but huge determination and spirit and that this is what the schoolchildren reported they took from the butchers son’s story – that you can achieve anything you want to in life given the determination and work ethic. Perhaps this message was Herbert Kilpin – The Lord of Milan’s greatest achievement of all.

View From A College Window

A part of my regular morning walk through the city of Nottingham becomes quite suddenly a striking view on a sunny April morning as the bright and and showy narcissi appear, heralding another Springtime.

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Arkwright Building, Shakespeare Street, Nottingham

Nottingham Trent University’s Arkwright Building is placed in stately fashion along the city’s Shakespeare Street and is a building of much familiarity to me over a period of many years. It was in this building in a former apparition as a technical college that I studied to be a compositor in the 1970s. Often distracted by looking out on those same pretty lawns, the green swards through the window seeming an attractive proposition as opposed to following instructions from an old blackboard.

Many years later, I studied again within the same institution when it was by now a university, also spending a period of time working within the university supporting disabled students.

Perhaps one of the college’s most famous alumni is the writer, D H Lawrence who graduated in 1908. A few years later in 1916 he wrote ‘View From A College Window’ of his own times studying in the Arkwright Building, his words very evocative of my own later experiences and feelings there a few generations on.

From a College Window (D H Lawrence)

From New Poems (1916).

The glimmer of the limes, sun-heavy, sleeping,
Goes trembling past me up the College wall.
Below, the lawn, in soft blue shade is keeping,
The daisy-froth quiescent, softly in thrall.

Beyond the leaves that overhang the street,
Along the flagged, clean pavement summer-white,
Passes the world with shadows at their feet
Going left and right.

Remote, although I hear the beggar’s cough,
See the woman’s twinkling fingers tend him a coin,
I sit absolved, assured I am better off
Beyond a world I never want to join.

D H Lawrence

The building’s somewhat intricate Gothic design has an individual slant as it brings together three great aspects of Victorian education: the university college itself, a public library and a museum of natural history, complete with stuffed animals.

D H Lawrence called it the ‘finest pile of public buildings in Nottinghamshire’, although qualifying this by opining Nottingham of the day as a ‘dismal town’. Lawrence, a brilliant writer could be described as a difficult man who upset many people of his own locality, particularly in his home town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.


The Western end of the the Arkwright building sustained a serious direct hit from the German Luftwaffe in 1941. Not to be deterred however, the shattered end of the building was rebuilt in its former glory.

The Cockle Man of Nottingham

I like this man. Dave Bartram, The ‘Cockle Man’ has been a familiar sight and local character around Nottingham’s pubs since before my first student steps into the city’s many and varied hostelries in the mid-seventies. Dave’s cry of ‘cockles, mussels’ often bringing a response of ‘alive a live-oh!’ in the likes of the Elizabethan Bar in the Bell Inn where I would often see him and the many other public houses where Dave can be found doing his rounds, as he has been since the 1960s

Additionally, each pot of seafood sold to people in Nottingham’s bars these days sees a donation heading towards the Rainbows Hospice for young people and children.


Dave Bartram, Nottingham’s ‘Cockle Man’

I applaud these fabled great characters of the city like the Cockle Man, people such as Sally the ‘painter girl’ and the late Frank Robinson, also known as ‘Xylophone Man’. In a bland generally characterless modern society these individuals bring colour, fibre and identity to a city.

At the age of 70, Dave, walking along a precinct from The Thurland Arms to The Old Dog And Partridge, was jumped and attacked. As he has professed before, he tried to protect himself with his big basket, what a man. After the incident, whilst being examined by doctors at the Nottingham City hospital, Dave was found to have a cancer diagnosis. Crucially however, a very treatable one that was fortunate enough to be found in its early stages.

I’m happy that some somewhat unlikely good has come out of this story.

Long live ‘The Cockle Man’.

‘The show must go on’ for Nottingham’s famous cockle man after mugging attempt and cancer diagnosis

Queen’s Chambers, Nottingham

Queen’s Chambers, Old Market Square. One of my favourite local buildings and one that I always think of as quintessentially Nottingham when away from here. Many a time caught a bus home to the suburbs from the shadow of this showy and stately building, in the days when buses and other vehicles were actually allowed to use the city’s roads extensively.

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Queen’s Chambers, Nottingham

Designed by Watson Fothergill, (1841-1926), a feted local architect with a penchant for turrets, towers, tall chimneys and wall decorations of horizontal blue-black bricks.

Fothergill, who designed some 100 buildings in Nottingham and the East Midlands also enjoyed a little Gothic imagery through the addition of gargoyles, animals, plant life and heavy dark wood beams in his unique designs.

His striking buildings remain testament to his imagination, dotted around the Lace City still to this day.

Ice Bars

PAH! NOTHING new about ‘ice bars’ in Nottingham. As a lad doing my drinking apprenticeship in the late 1970s, several pubs here were absolutely freezing in the winter. I even recall a portable calor gas heater being wheeled into one hostelry, The Wilberforce Tavern, as the landlord fought valiantly to stop friends and I from entering an extreme hypothermia induced coma. (It was either that or the local, infamous Shipstones bitter which owned an over-optimistic anagram of ‘honest p*ss’.)

Video inside Nottingham’s first Ice Bar – what the punters are saying



The former Wilberforce Tavern, Wollaton Street, Nottingham – several Trent Polytechnic students may have perished on these premises in the 1970s. At least there was a good chippy next door for the wake.

Nottingham’s Medieval Town Wall

Nottingham was one of the ancient cities that had a wall for defence purposes. It stretched around a good part of the conurbation for well over half a mile with the remainder protected by a large earth bank and ditch and the natural obstructions of a river and marshes to the south.

After the Norman Conquest of England, Nottingham became a town divided into two peoples. The former Saxon settlement which is now known as the Lace Market area came to be known as the English Borough whilst the area stretching from the castle east towards the Lace Market came to be called the French Borough. It is my understanding that the two peoples lived in relative peace side by side with the original Saxons being allowed to continue practicing some of their original indigenous customs. It is also my understanding that the people of the French Borough were considered more educated and enjoyed a superior quality of life to their neighbours. The Nottingham Town Wall was built in response to the wars of the Barons and linked both French and English Boroughs

Map: The Nottingham Heritage Gateway

The town wall construction, comprising blocks of local sandstone bonded with mortar, is thought to have been initiated in around 1260, taking approximately 60 years to build.The majority of the wall was demolished by 1540 and almost totally by the end of the 17th century. Little of it remains uncovered in the 21st century. A small section of the wall is still extant and is visible inside a city centre hotel near Chapel Bar from a viewing platform, it being unearthed during the excavations of 1964 when building the city’s Maid Marian Way thoroughfare. A road that has been seen as unlovely and unloved due to its bland appearance and the fact that it butchered its way through a number of historic and mediaeval streets. Nottingham’s city fathers do not have a good record in the matter of preserving the city’s heritage in these respects.


Local dignitaries inspect the Maid Marian Way excavations of 1964


The last remaining viewable evidence of Nottingham’s Town Wall, situated in a city hotel

The impressive construction is estimated to have stood some 8m/26ft high at its tallest with a walkway along the top and protective battlements.

The old wall briefly showed itself again some years later in 1970 during further excavations in Theatre Square to build a pedestrian subway, ironically now closed and buried itself. The image above shows the ancient defence surfacing once more and re-opening the history book at the beginning of the seventies.

‘Market Square, Nottingham’ by Arthur Spencer

‘Market Square, Nottingham’ by Arthur Spencer, 1950.

I really like this fine, atmospheric painting which, as the winter draws inexorably closer, reminds of colder, less hospitable days. The Council House and it’s huge  dome containing Little John”s quarter-hourly chimes, standing sentinel over the city landscape as Nottingham’s citizens brave the snow and ice, huddled against the cold in their winter clothing.

A magical image that evokes a wintry Nottingham of a different era.

market square

Three Things About Nottingham

I have today been asked by a new friend to consider three things that I like about Nottingham. I took about twenty seconds thinking about this one and came up with the following:

For the first, I am tempted to say ‘the view of Princes Street in Edinburgh’. It’s 275 miles away precisely and I think you can see where my real love lies as a qualifier…


1. I like the way that it is very easy to access the countryside – even from the very centre of the city. Nottingham, though one of the relatively larger UK cities, has a smallish, concise city centre that is easily navigable on foot. Genuine country villages lie perhaps only 15-20 minutes away. Like this one:


2. Underground stuff. Back in history, Nottingham was known as ‘Land of Cavey Dwellers’. There are literally hundreds of man-made, hand-carved caves burrowed out underground the cities buildings by local people. They have been used for all manner of things such as tanneries, gambling dens, food and beer stores. living accommodation and air raid shelters in World War 2.


3. The rebellious nature of the locals is something I tend to admire. The world’s first Socialist, Robin Hood, if you choose to believe the ancient ballads, resided here and it was notable as the home of Ned Ludd the legend from whom the word ‘Luddite’ was derived. The Luddites were a decent bunch of lad who smashed factory textile machines to keep the poverty stricken in work. People over the ages have rioted about practically everything in Nottingham. including the price of cheese. They even burnt Nottingham Castle down because they didn’t like the Duke much. Bravo!

There may be three negatives to come…

Tolerance and Acceptance

THIS WEEKEND HERALDS the annual Nottinghamshire Pride march through the city and its surrounding festivities. The March began at Castlegate in the city at 11.30 am and concluded a short distance away on Broad Street in the ‘Creative Quarter’ of Nottingham around and about the nowadays, trendy Hockley area. Along the way, near Thurland Street, a minutes’ silence was held for the victims of the recent sad atrocities in Orlando, Florida. A street fair and entertainment is part of the celebrations in a day for everyone that chooses to let their hair down a little.

In my view, these types of events add a significant and vivid splash of colour, energy and vitality to the city centre and should be welcomed. I observe at times though that this particular event draws some mixed reactions which extend across the full spectrum of tolerance and acceptance. I occasionally despair for the state of humanity when we cannot manifest those qualities to any degree, to understand and acknowledge diversity in all its hues, to open our minds and, where necessary, build bridges between older thinking and new conceptions.

A couple of days ago, I read an internet forum thread which focused on the subject of Nottingham Pride’s annual March and festival. Among the highly predictable, monumentally unfunny and ignorant, 1970s stand-up comedian terminology and general ‘Angry of Tunbridge Wells’ bristling was one splendid individual who actually ‘hoped it would rain all day’. How very, very bitter. That someone should actually wish the participants’ special day and celebrations to be ruined by bad weather.

Homophobia, racialism and a wide range of other general bigotry are unfortunately part of our daily lives to some degree but this single comment really struck me for it’s ultimate sadness and lack of generosity of human spirit. I feel that, especially in a world clouded by hate, fanaticism and animosity, love – in all its forms – can never, ever be a bad thing.

Peace, love and understanding.


Nottingham Football Report: March 2016

SO CURRENTLY, we have the world’s oldest league football club, Notts County negotiating stormy seas by way of the club being for sale and the team toiling somewhat in the lower reaches of League Two, it’s play-off hopes diminished to a practical state of no return. Unpopular Chairman, Ray Trew has been quoted as saying that ‘oh so brave keyboard warriors’ and their comments on social media about him and his family have finally drawn the conclusion that he wants out – at a price.

On the opposite bank of the River Trent, Nottingham Forest flounder listlessly mid-table with perhaps greater concerns over the ownership of the club than on the pitch. My understanding is that £70m is still owed to former owner, Nigel Doughty’s estate and that a sum in excess of that is owed to the current ownership in loans. I stand to be corrected. Court appearances for non-payment of debts are now becoming a way of life for the City Ground club with the latest set for March 14th for an unpaid tax bill. Only last week Forest were in the media for late payment of their staff which chairman Fawaz claimed was due to a Bank Holiday in his home country of Kuwait. In addition to this, the club still find themselves under a transfer embargo with no guarantee of emerging from it at the end of the season, or if they do, to no great avail.


On the pitch, Notts County have a huge squad of players, particularly at that level of football, who have underperformed and not gelled by all accounts. It would be easy to suggest that it is a case of ‘quantity not quality’ but the truth is that the club acquired some useful signings for this campaign. They have though shipped goals consistently throughout the season and are now struggling manfully under new manager, Scot, Jamie Fullarton’s stewardship. The ex-Forest coach is arguably the least popular manager in County’s long history whilst the atmosphere at Meadow Lane is absolutely poisonous.


Angry scenes as trouble erupts between the Notts bench at spectators during Bristol Rovers’ visit

Forest’s quite recent unbeaten run, characterised by many uninspiring draws is now a memory and the support appears increasingly unhappy and disgruntled about manager, Freedman’s cautious ‘style’ of play which encourages teams to come on to them and take majority possession of the ball whilst the Reds sit back and wait for a break.

This is clearly not Nottingham Forest football.

Back at Notts and one thing about this whole sale matter that appears to have emerged is that although chairman Ray Trew claims it is personal abuse that has driven him out of Meadow Lane (and I have no truck with that) it appears emphasised that this kind of thing has become much more apparent since his appointment of Fullarton as Notts’ Manager which is a deeply unpopular decision among the support. We see from reports though that Trew was actually in negotiation with a ‘Danish billionaire’ before Christmas. to take over the club.

Trew has done some good things for Notts County, especially initially when he basically rescued them from administration and possible oblivion and that should be recognised but his apparent arrogance and inadvisable decision making has since caused the club great harm. I do believe, for example, that a great number of the support have viewed the appointment of Fullarton as a ‘two fingers’ at them and this is one of the reasons for the angry ructions at Meadow Lane since. There is a huge gap between the ownership and the support causing a divided and aimless club.

What’s more, I wouldn’t particularly trust Trew as far as I could throw him the way he is conducting business to sell the Magpies. Only when he finally leaves can that club turn a corner and begin rebuilding this great damage sustained. Hopefully a sale will happen sooner rather than later.

What with the happenings on the black and white side of the local football community and Forest’s apparent inability or refusal to pay their bills on time and now the delayed payment of their staff due to a Bank Holiday in Kuwait. I have no confidence in the state of the way either of our city clubs are being run. I particularly felt for the rank and file staff at Forest, in ordinary jobs, waiting to be paid what they have earned last week. In Forest’s case I think the owners are beginning to make a fine old club look a little disreputable and it’s not good to see. On a practical note, potential signings for the club too will make themselves aware of what is happening in terms of the financial irregularities at the City Ground and be much less likely to sign for Forest.

Sad stuff then from both sides of the Trent. Let’s hope both clubs can turn a corner at some point in the near future.

New Term – Hopes, Dreams and Lifetimes

THE END OF SEPTEMBER 2015 is nigh and this means that the streets of Nottingham around the Nottingham Trent University city campus are once again thronging with ‘Freshers’. The areas including Shakespeare Street and Goldsmith Street adjacent to the Arkwright and Newton buildings being particularly awash with new students, locating their accommodation and general whereabouts for the coming academic year.

Trent uni

Nottingham Trent University

With my own place of work being quite close, a saunter through the area on Thursday brought the sight of a teeming group of young intakes to the streets, identically dressed in a uniform of bright orange t-shirts proclaiming the legend ‘FRESHERS CREW across the chest and personalised names on the back, football jersey style. The faces were those of young people principally just having left home for the first time, expressions of excited expectancy, underlined in some cases with a slight etching of self-doubt and apprehension as they settle in to making new friends and locating their place in various groups and pecking orders.

Next week will probably see the beginning of the processions of large groups of students in fancy dress, heading along Mansfield Road and other main thoroughfares, congregating in the city centre and its clubs, pubs and inevitable ‘student nights’. It’s a familiar sight each year and brings a knowing smile to my face

Trent uni 4

Nottingham, being a city that boosts the two places of learning, Nottingham Trent University and the older, illustrious University of Nottingham, is very much a university town these days. Sometimes, there have been reports of the city’s students bring problems to inner-city residential areas where they have tended to colonise and indulge in boisterous, noisy and non-neighbourly behaviour as young people often inevitably do. It should be said though that, for me at least, the city is breathed new life when they return each September. Apart from economic factors alone, I feel they bring something to the modern culture of Nottingham and of course, I have walked a mile in those shoes years ago and therefore don’t feel so far removed from them and what they are experiencing, although my own home was in Nottinghamshire.

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Nottingham Trent University, Arkwright Building, Shakespeare Street

A happy thought is that many of these young people will be making friends for many years or even a lifetime. They’ll form new allegiances with the city’s sports teams, visit places with friends that they’ll recall fondly as long as  they are able to remember.  Some will meet their life partners and some may even settle that well they never leave the city again and call it ‘home’.

Autumn term beckons, good luck to the returning and new students of the Queen of The Midlands.

Work hard and play hard.

The Park Tunnel, Nottingham

ON A LUNCHTIME BREAK recently, and enjoying the slightly short-lived recent summer weather, I spotted a quiet Nottingham landmark, something of a curiosity in the middle of the city that few local people might ever pass by. I decided to re-investigate a city feature which I hadn’t trodden for many a year.

The Park Estate is a smart, historic and characterful residential area, well-known to city residents. It perhaps surprisingly, held an annual tennis tournament that was often used by top players on the professional circuit as a grass court warm-up event, immediately prior to Wimbledon each year.


The Park Tunnel, Nottingham (south entrance)

The Park Tunnel which leads most inauspiciously from the busy thoroughfare of Derby Road was originally built back in 1855, its purpose to facilitate access via horse-drawn carriage, into the Park Estate. The Estate has a history as a former hunting park for the Duke of Newcastle, the owner of nearby Nottingham Castle, in truth a mansion or palace rather than a castle, replacing the former structure which was burnt to the ground by unruly and unhappy local people. The area became renowned as a popular part of the city for local wealthy luminaries to reside and to this day boasts many fine homes.


A sober sight: the north entrance sits under the white arch, in 2015, stranded in the car park of nearby local businesses


Proceeding further, the entrance remains unapparent


Down the steps and the hidden tunnel comes into view



Typically carved from the local sandstone, the tunnel boasts extensive brickwork above


Looking back: the tunnel surround displays signs of erosion of the soft sandstone


It’s said that the Duke of Newcastle originally ordered for the tunnel to be built with a specification of a gradient of no more than 1 in 14 feet. The grand tunnel however, was constructed to 1 in 12 foot dimensions, thus making it somewhat redundant from the inception of its life due to its unsuitability for horse-drawn carriages. These days, the Park Tunnel is used as pedestrian access to the Park Estate, largely forgotten and hidden from sight at the Derby Road end in the car park of some commercial businesses. Remaining yet another curiosity of the city of Nottingham, which are indeed numerous.

The Former Children’s Hospital, Nottingham

I came across a reference to the old Children’s Hospital at Forest House recently and it brought quite a few childhood memories rushing back. I managed somehow to get myself knocked down (well up in the air actually) by a beefy Ford Consul when I was a kid and ended up a guest in said institution. When I eventually landed it was with two broken legs, one in three places, and concussion plus a few sundry cuts and bruises for good measure. I recall being upside down in the air and seeing my shoe flying up the street. I also remember then doggedly trying to drag myself to my feet using a bus stop to hold on to and looking down to see my leg bend in the wrong place. They carted me off to ‘The Children’s’ in an ambulance where I remained for a week. With physiotherapy (learning to walk again basically) my young association with that hospital lasted a year though.

I was terrified of the place but they looked after me very well (I’ve gone on to run a few marathons as an adult so they did very well indeed I guess!) but I was scared stiff of the building and the unknown in there as I thought they were going to take my legs away for good. I remember the above so well, being taken for physiotherapy there  by my mum so many times.

The kindest, kindest man, a jolly West Indian doctor, looked after me and made me smile – even though he was tasked with re-breaking my legs twice in operations as they had knitted crookedly. On another failed occasion they sawed the long plaster casts half through at the shins and banged wooden pegs in the gaps to straighten my legs. Looking back it was like something out of a Hammer horror movie. I wish I could thank that kindly doctor today though.

Five Leaves Bookshop – The Road to Independence

During the 1990s in particular, the High Streets of this country largely lost their small independent bookshops which for most true book lovers was a great shame. I remember prior to those days the likes of Mushroom a co-operative run bookshop in Nottingham’s Hockley area, my first purchase there being the Communist Party Manifesto if I recall correctly! There were other similar interesting little outlets too.


It’s recently come to my attention that Nottingham now owns a brand-new independent retailer, ‘The Five Leaves Bookshop’ situated centrally in the city on Long Row. Five Leaves have been doing very good things in this part of the world for some time and are to be applauded for this fresh enterprise. I intend a visit on my next trip into the city and humbly suggest others check this new business out too. No, I’m not on commission, I’m a lover of literature and reading and what these things bring to our lives. I’d like to see this trend for small independent booksellers grow here in Nottingham and other cities and towns.

Nottinghamshire History: The Lincolnshire Poacher

I’ve written previously about the numerous networks of caves that run under the city of Nottingham and some of it’s outlying suburbs such as the one I live in. They are many in number, not generally connected to other systems across the area and generally speaking, hand-hewn from the soft sandstone that the city lies on, for all sorts of reasons.

Some time ago, I came across an interesting academic article regarding the disused sand mines that line the main arterial Mansfield Road which leads directly out of the north side of Nottingham. Interesting to me, partly due to the fact that it’s a part of the city I use frequently, in particular for visits to The Lincolnshire Poacher pub just a few minutes walk up the same road heading towards to the old Rock Cemetery and Forest recreation ground, home of the annual Goose Fair.


I’d long been told that underneath The Lincolnshire Poacher and it’s neighbouring businesses there are deep caves which I assumed were the result of the sand mines originally in-situ. Notable in this is The Golden Fleece, another Mansfield Road hostelry close by which in the past has held charity abseiling events down it’s two-storey caves below the public house.

Last night I had the opportunity to visit The Poacher’s cellars briefly. Again, they are two-storied with the first level being traditional brick by construction. Interesting enough in their own right but it is when descending a further narrow staircase through the rock down to a second lower storey where things become quite remarkable and thought-provoking.


The ‘drop’



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As can be seen in the above images, this part of the cellars is a hand-made cave, whether this is the result of former sand mining or excavated especially for this former dwelling house is not clear to me. Quite clearly, the indentations of tools used to scrape away the soft rock are apparent, forming a uniformly shaped ‘room’ complete with a ‘drop’ for beer barrels, at the end, leading down from the pub back yard.

The cellars are of course a busy working environment under the former Old Grey Nag’s Head, the pub’s previous incarnation and so are laden and scattered with beer barrels, bottled beers and the various paraphernalia required to serve the pub’s many satisfied and loyal customers. The atmosphere, as one might expect, is damp and temperate, the floor sticky and with a general feel of the labour required in keeping a busy city-centre pub replenished. Even in 2013 though there remains a little evocative history and a few questions outstanding deep under The Lincolnshire Poacher and the businesses and homes nearby.


A pleasant and peaceful Christmas takes me back to thoughts of a year ago, as these times often do. Life was a little different a year ago as I approached the making of plans for the festive period. Christmas Eve, a beautiful (and exciting for some) evening has changed it’s character somewhat in these days of difficulties of getting home from festive occasions due to lack of public transport and expense and this was a consideration in my plans.


A year ago on Christmas Eve I visited a favourite pub of mine in the city of Nottingham, deciding that I would probably walk the four miles home to put the key in the front door lock a little after midnight. A few days prior to the big night I arranged with a chap who would regularly visit the same ‘local’ as me, sharing a friendly chat over a pint or two on many an evening, in the city to walk most of the way home together for company, him living in a neighbouring suburb. We took our long stroll home on a cold winter’s night on the 24th of December last year and bade each other a cheery good night and all the very best for Christmas.

I saw him regularly through the winter still until the Spring months were upon us, before his sudden disappearance in April. The friendly face and character was missed by more than me as people debated where he now was. Over a period of time, I began to hear of sightings of him in the city’s streets and public houses and transport that left me with uncomfortable feelings. Before this I had bumped into him in harmless circumstances twice, once at a bus station waiting for a bus and again in a cosy city centre pub where he appeared fine and professed the same story.

In early December, an acquaintance informed me that the friend had been turfed out of a local shopping mall during the middle of the night after being discovered sleeping in the shopping centre’s lavatories. A few days before I caught word that he was padding around the city’s street all through the night and into early morning.

Of course I am extremely worried for his welfare. Very cold winter weather has recently subsided to miserable wet days and nights and I hate to imagine how it must feel surviving on the streets in such conditions. Indeed those colder nights are potential killers, let’s not make any bones about that. I have taken steps with an appropriate organisation who help the homeless to do what little I can – passing information on about him which was well received and which I was informed was very useful. I am not optimistic about my friend’s circumstances but trying to have faith that something can be done to help him. This all serves to remind me how fragile our lives are.

As this Christmas passes and the New Year approaches, spare a thought for people like my friend. I know you will. May I ask you a favour, if there’s something you can do for someone similar, please do it soon.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (The Musical)

LAST EVENING I VISITED the Nottingham Playhouse to see the opening night of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (The Musical), a new serving of author Alan Sillitoe’s classic and gritty take on Nottingham life in the late 1950s.  I’ll state my case straight away in the interests of fairness by saying that I’m not particularly a fan of musicals generally speaking so this will by no means be an attempt at a serious review of this albeit rather enjoyable production. Other will provide much more useful reviews, such as the one featured here in the Nottingham Post. I am however, a huge fan of Alan Sillitoe’s original book and the film derived from it and this is the reason I attended the pleasant arena of Nottingham Playhouse for the production’s initial showing.

The show is already in motion of sorts  as the audience are still filing in, with the infamous Saturday night scene from the White Horse at Radford beginning to build. There’s a hubbub from the throng of drinkers and cigarette smoke filters on stage through the still half-full auditorium. There’s a couple of black and white Notts County scarves in the mix along with a few ladies head scarves that help paint the scene of a vibrant working class suburb of post-war Nottingham.

Image from: ‘Arthur’s Blog’

Our working class anti-hero, Arthur Seaton, makes his first appearance and is immediately challenged to a drinking contest which he proceeds to win before fully throwing up over an innocent bystander in the pub followed by the unfortunate’s horrified wife in quick order!

It’s interesting to note how Seaton is portrayed, cocky as always and full of himself, ‘out for a good time and all the rest is propaganda‘. A more sensitive side to the character is shown however in Arthur’s Sunday morning fishing trips down the canal bank where he philosophises about his life and lot in his now peaceful environ, rod and reel in hand, bicycle by his side.

The musical takes us on a fun ride through a Thursday night at the local Goose Fair, a Monday evening date at the  ‘Granby’ picture house and several scenes back in the White Horse and his parent’s parlour. There’s a large cast and the show is dynamic and fast-moving. Some of the most arresting scenes were the depictions of the Raleigh cycle factory where everyone of a certain age in Nottingham knew someone who worked. We see Arthur at his ‘lathe’ getting up to mischief upsetting a female worker and putting forth his views on lifestyle, his own particular variation on morality and the working classes. There were good attempts at the local (very difficult to imitate) dialect. Certainly, this was not the actor Albert Finney’s strong suit it has to be said in an otherwise fantastic and convincing portrayal of Seaton in the original film so it would possibly be a little churlish to pick up on the minutia here.

Arthur’s visit to Goose Fair and the hiding he takes from two squaddies for his philandering misdemeanours are featured along with a protracted scene of his bed-ridden few days convalescing after his beating. A tender visit from his girl Doreen and some love and biscuits from his ‘mam’ are punctuated by the comical scene where Arthur, aided and abetted by his visiting pal, shoot the local gossip in the back side in the yard below from his bedroom window with an air gun.

It’s well-documented that Arthur Seaton turns from the brash and boozy  Saturday night womaniser and brawler to fall in love with Doreen and much of the second, shorter half of the production features this turnaround. One is reminded of the memorable closing scenes in the film epic as the young couple, with their lives in front of them, sit on a country hillside overlooking new houses being built in the far panorama as the 1960s dawn and the titles roll. It occurs to me that it would have been interesting to understand what happened to Arthur and Doreen in the ensuing years.

This story is of its time and was a landmark moment in literary and cinematographic history. It is however no less relevant in 2012 as was shown by this independent amateur production. It’s current short run ends on Saturday 12th May. If you like the late Alan Sillitoe’s portrayal of working class life in a Midlands city of the late 1950s it’s well worth giving this musical interpretation a visit.

The Back Twitchell to Redhill

The word ‘twitchell’ appears to be a peculiarly Nottingham word. I have never heard its like elsewhere. It denotes an alleyway, a wynd, a ginnel or whatever is the favoured word in your part of the world.

My parents’ house when I was growing up had a short twitchell next to it which was a short walkway from Redhill through to a small housing estate leading to Arnold. It was unremarkable and only characterised by the six to seven-foot private hedges that so many people used to own in the 1960s lining it on either side.

Nearby ‘Back Twitchell’ had much more of interest. It lined, as it still does, an outer perimeter of Redhill School. The other side had the one-after-the-other ends of back gardens of the neat council semis from a nearby crescent. Half way along the twitchell lived Ted, the car mechanic with his higgledy-piggledy little wooden workshop at the end of his yard. A trusty blue overall which was mostly oil and a French beret at a jaunty angle. A big bear of a man, a former RAF serviceman with a long bushy beard and always a kindly word for us young laddies – especially if he knew our dads. For decades Ted had a row of motors in various states of decay and disablement along the black ash twitchell. We knew it was the end when all those old motorised carcasses were finally strapped up and towed away…

The twitchell was also used for conkering, hide and seek, practical jokes on passers by, football, letting off fireworks and many other childhood pastimes. Then came a certain age and girls…

All grown and at work, still that twitchell persisted as a short cut through from a pint or two in Arnold back to Redhill, under the stars last thing at night, considering the world. Halley’s Comet came along and I remember standing transfixed for several minutes on that old twitchell of my childhood, looking up at this wonder in the skies from the inky blackness and thinking of the several decades I’d tramped that familiar, dark ashy path.

Most of all I remember the wonderful distant childhood sight of my dear dad walking home from Arnold during the afternoon. Always clad in an immaculate navy blue suit incongruous with the overgrown old twitchell, head held high and his unmistakable, slightly nautical gate earned from many years at sea in the Merchant Navy. As he got closer and smiled at me I would see the familiar sprig of hawthorn he would always pick from the hedges and pop in the corner of his mouth. I would give everything I owned to see that sight just one more time on that little pathway.

Christmas comes but once a year…

CHRISTMAS COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR and so do the attendant Christmas Markets dotted around the UK in, its larger cities in particular. Here  in Nottingham until a year ago, we had a German Market placed in and around the large Old Market Square in the centre of the city. This was replaced last year when, in the dying days of November, a much-vaunted ‘Victorian Fair’ came to take its place.

I’ll not try to claim any of these events as being terribly authentic in any way. The goods tend to be expensive too, but at least they provide a little mid-winter atmosphere around the city centre which could look a little barren and grey in the faltering light and damp pavements at the end of the year.

In previous years I particularly enjoyed seeing the busy outdoor skating rink laid out  as a centre piece in the Square. Although of course artificial, it exuded  a pleasing Winter ambience and truth be told, people appeared to like it as it always seemed well-used when I was passing there, which was often. Conveniently close by was a simple beer stand where one could wash down a delicious Bratwurst with a pint or two of excellent German Paulaner out in God’s good fresh air.

Last year things changed with a larger licensed bar in the form of a Canadian-style hunting lodge. The concept was pretty hokey, what with its pair of old white figure skates hanging on the wall (in a hunting lodge!) a scattering of furniture and a fur rug or two. It was however warmish in there which was a bonus, even if the drinks had been largely demoted to bog-standard beers sold in any old pub.

This year I popped into the Square on the evening of the 23rd November for the annual Christmas tree lights switch on and was quite disappointed in what I saw. Centre stage in place of the skating rink was a huge fairground ride which I believe is called the ‘North Star’. The Council’s blurb describe it as sixty metres high and it is totally out of keeping with a Christmas Market. It actually looks quite ridiculous. Wandering around I also noticed a fairground merry-go-round, which for the life of me I can’t link to Christmas and other smaller rides which I’ve subsequently seen deserted and only manned by bored-looking operators.

There’s a large bar which is excitedly billed by the council as a ‘Narnia’ experience. It’s basically a large open-ended shed that sells beer with a smaller room through a ‘wardrobe’ door. There’s mulled wine and Staropramen amongst other things on offer. I did enjoy an excellent pint of Briska Swedish perry which was very refreshing. I won’t be taking too many of those though at £3.80 a pint.

Small stalls snake along Long Row and Wheeler gate in what is a larger event for 2011. Many of the businesses however are generic, anytime anywhere affairs which have little to do with the festivities at this time of year.

So, on balance, I’m pretty disappointed. I’ve enjoyed socialising with friends on the Christmas Market in Nottingham many times but can’t see that happening so much this year. The Nottingham City Council seem to have capitulated to a lack of cash but more obviously a lack of imagination. The same fairground operators once again dominate the Square as per usual, yes we’ve noticed and you’re not fooling us Nottingham City Council, making it more like Goose Fair with artificial snow. It’s all a bit cheap looking.

Verdict: could do better – much better. I’ll be looking for the spirit of Christmas elsewhere this year.

Nottingham Rock City

Walking along Shakespeare Street in Nottingham and on the way to work at 8.15am, I noticed an unusual aroma in the air. Not the usual traffic or industrial smells that fill the air in most large conurbations but an unmistakable and undeniable smoky legacy of a major fire. Talking briefly to a colleague on the way to my assignment, she confirmed to me that there had been a serious fire in the vicinity of Goldsmith Street, adjacent the university’s main entrance. That minor inconvenience seemed inconsequential however when I realised that the Rescue Rooms venue had been evacuated of 1400 people on a ‘student night’ and that the famous ajacent venue, Rock City, could easily have gone up in flames.

Nottingham’s Rock City is not a world-renowned auditorium, nor does it have a history that traces pre the 1980s, it is however extremely well regarded by knowledgeable UK music fans and gig-goers. It also has a back catalogue of live acts that is truly remarkable which includes the likes of U2 and REM.

I had the good fortune and possibly foresight to attend the newly-opened Rock City back in it’s seminal days after being converted from a ‘chicken in a basket’ nightspot called The Heart of the Midlands as was popular up and down the country in the 1970s. In those days the city of Nottingham really suffered for a decent rock venue. It was largely after the days of many a famous act at the boat clubs at Trent Bridge and before the days of The Royal Concert Hall. Apart from the very odd gig in the old Albert Hall, practically the only opportunities to watch live bands were in city centre pubs such as The Hearty Good Fellow on Maid Marion Way and The Imperial Hotel’s ‘Cooler Bar’ on St. James Street. The latter of which I had many a memorable evening at.

Many of the gigs I attended in those day entailed travelling to Leicester’s De Montfort Hall and Granby Hall where I saw many big name acts such as The Who and The Rolling Stones and some who were to achieve levels of greatness such as The Jam and Elvis Costello.

If my memory serves me correctly, the first gig I attended at Rock City was to watch The Kinks. The great 1960s band and genius songsmith and lyricist Ray Davies were probably past their peak creatively but still a big draw, being major players in British rock music’s heritage and one of the most exciting bands of the sixties. Many other entertaining gigs followed in those early days such as The Darts, long forgotten now but tremendous fun live and SAHB – The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Alex was completely on form that night with his buccaneer jacket on, one boot up on his famous treasure chest, holding the ecstatic Rock City faithful in his gaze. A classic moment was when the band went into the opening bars of Framed when a leather jacket clad Alex assumed his Don Corleone gangster role by ripping a packet of lady’s nylons from his pocket and stuffing his cheeks with them to imitate the Mafioso ‘Godfather’ ‘Am-a-gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse’ ‘Ah wuz fr-a-a-med – Ah niver did nuthin’

There were so many nights, and everyone will have their own view and memories of them but perhaps the most astonishing night for me was on attending a Bad Manners gig. The ska men were ripping into a fantastic set with the audience apparently having a great time when suddenly all hell was let loose with a pitched fight in the crowd and a hail of glasses being thrown. The police were called that night and the gig discontinued.

Many big bands point back to early Rock City gigs as some of their most enjoyable. Nobody will ever point to the venue as being salubrious or well appointed, but what was never in doubt was the extraordinary atmosphere generated in the Nottingham venue. Long may that continue.


Early Term

It’s mid-October and the golden leaves are now falling steadily, swirling around and sweeping the streets. It’s a time when energy levels can be depressed but often need to

be heightened, as in the case of the many people within my working environment at a local University. For October is a time of enormous activity in any such organisation.

The city centre campus is inevitably teeming with bodies and droves of hopeful and excitable young students, many on their first sojourn from home, pouring along Shakespeare Street and Goldsmith Street. Books and satchels in hand, hopes and fears for the future in heart.

Today as I write it is very sleepy in student land. An 8.15am stroll from the Victoria Centre bus depot sees surprisingly few people or traffic, an unusual scene for the middle of a sizeable city such as Nottingham. It’s a Thursday morning and every Wednesday night is a discount student night in some nightclubs in the city which might offer an explanation for the sluggish and rheumy eyed beginning to the day. By the time I emerge from a lecture mid-morning it will be a different academic world.

The University has seen many recent changes and as I walk around the lower levels of the city-dominating tower of the Newton building it strikes me that I’m standing on the very spot that I did more than thirty years ago. In those days it was in my first incarnation as a student studying Letter Assembly for my job as an apprentice compositor in the print trade. The plush surroundings I’m observing now where once a car park stood  which I would kick a ball through with my friends for morning coffee in the refectory.

image NTU Oct 2010 011

There really is little comparison with the environs of the Trent Polytechnic of the 1970s and the modern Nottingham Trent University of today with it’s freshly appointed ambiance borne of huge investmen and very few similarities apart from geography. The Newton building has been gutted and refurbished and so has the historic but slightly run down Arkwright building of my teens. Sadly, the building where I was based in the composing room is no longer and has been razed to the ground in aid of progress and a seemingly little-used courtyard.

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NTU’s Newton and Arkwright buildings

In those days Trent Polytechnic was largely inhabited by local students who were industrially-based in regular jobs, there appeared to be very few lofty academics in evidence and even people wearing white laboratory coats appeared to consider themselves a superior breed to us printing apprentices in those days. As I look around today there are many overseas students from China, Thailand, Korea and many other far-flung countries surrounding me. It is an interesting and vibrant panorama and this is perhaps just as things should be in the Autumn of 2010. It is however still an interesting comparison with those long days passed of enrolling in 1975 and stepping out of ‘Trent Poly’ in 1980 to face a new decade and the full-time world of work.

Down by the Riverside – Nottingham to Newark by Bicycle

A fine day was forecast, a heady for August 23c and sunny outlook. I awoke to an ash grey sky however and so the day would remain. The bikes had already been stowed in the back of the car ready and waiting for the day’s challenge, that of cycling from the centre of Nottingham to Newark-on-Trent adhering to the River Trent.

My friend and I set off steadily through the late Saturday morning shoppers on Milton Street and the Clumber Street precinct and bore left to the quieter Lace Market district before reaching the landmark of Meadow Lane Football Stadium and its adjacent cattle market. Turning right over Lady Bay Bridge we were soon enthusiastically wheeling our cycles down the steps to our first view of the River Trent, under the nearby shadow of Nottingham Forest’s City Ground Stadium.

What immediately confronted us was what appeared to be a foot race along the Trent towpath of a long thin stream of mud-splattered individuals. Indeed, one or two looked as if they had been driven over by a tractor or perhaps spent the night residing in a potato patch. A good solid British fun morning out in the fresh air.

Very quickly the pleasant path took us brushing into the Holme Pierrepont Water Sports Centre with a brief sight of the cold, grey sporting waters before cutting over a rugby pitch and heading down the slightly eerily quiet Adbolton Lane towards Radcliffe-on-Trent. Curiosity and time on our hands soon saw us taking a short detour to have a peek at Blotts Country Club before we proceeded cheerily down the narrow lane towards The Green and onto Radcliffe’s busy main street.

A check of the map and a peruse of an estate agent’s illustrated front windows and we were passing Radcliffe railway station and facing our first and only hill of the whole journey. Energy levels were high as we steadily tacked up the hill to be faced with extensive views over the surrounding countryside. Very soon the prettily situated Shelford village came into view. In the foreground busy Autumn ploughing of the fields was in full flow with rapt and rabid attention from a flock of shrieking gulls. A long, steep descent and a speedometer reading of all of thirty miles per hour took us whizzing into the quiet little village with barely a soul to be seen on Saturday lunchtime.

An aim of our journey was to hug the river as consistently as possible and before long we were passing over the River Trent’s only crossing between Nottingham and Newark, the dependable looking Gunthorpe Bridge. The bridge, along with the upstream Gunthorpe Lock was opened in the 1930s being a project to create work for local people in what was a time of austerity. Prior to this time the main traffic ran directly through the little village of Gunthorpe towards an original bridge with its toll house standing sentinel next to it. The toll house still remains in the guise of a restaurant and upon close inspection both ends of the long-removed bridge can still be observed in the undergrowth.

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Gunthorpe Bridges, old and new

It was high time for our first refreshment of the day as we steadily picked out way towards the patio of what was formerly a fairly basic tearoom at Gunthorpe Lock and is now a pleasant bistro named Biondi. Whenever I see this nice facility it reminds me of the days a few years ago when there nothing here apart from a car park for visitors. One winter’s day, cooling down after a long run along the Trent towpath a researcher, clipboard in hand approached me and asked what type of facilities might be provided in the area? ‘Somewhere to get a cup of tea’ was the first response I blurted out that day and it’s gratifying to see that this and much beyond has come to pass. Continue reading “Down by the Riverside – Nottingham to Newark by Bicycle”

More Goose Fair Memories

I’ve written about Nottingham’s ancient travelling fair that boasts a history of over seven hundred years previously and although seldom ever visiting in the past few years it’s always evocative of younger days in Nottingham. This might partly be because I just pass by it so very often. On certain days a week my journey into the city of Nottingham can mean passing by the large, garishly-lit spectacle up to four times so it’s something of a constant reminder.

This year has presented only the second occasion when the fair has run over five days (the previous time was on the fair’s 700th birthday). It’s the night time view that impresses of course and that has never changed. From the main Mansfield to Nottingham road, the huge happening on the Forest recreation ground can simply not be ignored. Even from the car a rumbling tumult can be felt as people pour from all directions towards the annual honey pot. This year for the first time I even heard it from my own home which stands some three miles away as the crow flies.

It’s a regular Friday evening routine for me to travel to the city to run with a friend who lives a few minutes walk away from the fair and this Friday we decided to take our little training jog around the perimeter of the fair and even after all these years, and without the personal interest in it I still have to say it is immense. Approaching it the aromas, the busy whirring fairground engines and the screams of fairgoers overwhelm the senses with the sheer size of it. Every year I wonder if this tradition is finally diminishing like so many older customs and entertainments. I look for signs that it is shrinking in size or maybe that there are less people enjoying themselves on the rides or tucking into the array of foods on sale, but truthfully I see none.

It’s been a long time since the Nottingham Goose Fair was held in the city’s Old Market Square and much, much longer since the geese the event was named after were walked with specially tarred feet all the way from the Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire fens or from distant Norfolk. You can’t buy a female servant there anymore which amazingly you could in the early days, nor sadly can you visit the boxing and wrestling booth or the Wall of Death. Much if it is the same as it ever was though, ideal for a mushy pea and mint sauce frenzy, spending a few pounds scaring yourself half to death on the rides and buying the youngsters some candy floss and a toffee apple after winning them a large cuddly toy. The perhaps surprising thing is that Goose Fair does relatively little to reinvent itself but goes on strongly year upon year. It would be a brave man that would bet on that not continuing for a long time to come yet.

The end of Nottingham’s German Christmas market?

According to the report below, the city council are considering abolishing the German Market this year stating the possibility that it may become ‘boring’. Possible other options to replace it according to the same report are more fairground rides (what a surprise that one is, I wonder who will be providing those?) a craft market and the English cafe market to return.

German market could be axed this Christmas

Now maybe I’m alone on this but I think this is a great shame. I’ve come to enjoy my annual visits to the Old Market square for the ‘switch-on’ night and the atmosphere generally when dropping off there for a tasty Bratwurst and a German beer or two, or a Glühwein. Like any such event there are improvements that could be made and perhaps nobody is trying to state it’s the genuine article in terms of it being ‘authentic’ but it is fun, friendly and relatively safe as far as having a drink in the city centre is concerned.
I’m not an overly political person these days but I sometimes think the city council seem quite unattuned to what the people of Nottingham would like to see happen in the city, certainly in this case. I often wonder how many years the ‘Wheel of Nottingham’ will be planned to return for example. One never really knows for sure but on the evidence of my own frequent passages through the square I rarely see anybody actually on it. I took a ride for a fiver on it’s first appearance and it was okay but it could be said that ‘once is enough’ for such an attraction.

Sometimes they get it right. The City Pulse is a good example of that. In the case of the German Market I think they are kicking to the kerb prematurely a nice little new tradition in the city needlessly. Time will tell. I know for the suggested options so far they won’t be seeing my cash in the proximity of the council house during the coming winter.

The Nottingham Robin Hood Beer Festival 2009

This year’s Robin Hood Beer Festival came and went and was a roaring success in respect of visitors – even more than ever. I visited Nottingham Castle for the event on the Friday evening with a friend, arriving to join the long queue at around 8.30pm. A reasonable time of around twenty minutes or so elapsed before we were through the gate and into the thick of things.

Ten pounds was the standard deal and this included admission, a commemorative half pint jug and two beer tokens to initially whet your whistle with. The first job therefore was to locate more beer tokens, each reasonably priced at £1.25 and entitling the owner to a half pint of beer or cider.


On entering the huge main marquee the fist noticeable thing was the huge amount of visitors crammed in under the canvass. The festival was seriously busy with the equally serious business of drinking beer. My friend and I picked our way through the thickly packed crowd to the area selling the cider. We managed just one glass each, in my case of ‘Perry’s sweet cider. It was a refreshing and tasty start to the proceedings which left me thirsty for more. Unfortunately plans had to be modified as from that point – and indeed for the entire rest of the evening – the cider tables were besieged with frantic customers standing three and four people deep in a desperate attempt to get served. The judicious use of elbows seemed to be a pre-requisite too. Slightly crestfallen, I settled on plumping for a real ale or two – very much a second choice for me.

Continue reading “The Nottingham Robin Hood Beer Festival 2009”

Nottingham’s Bloggers

I’m not sure how the city of Nottingham compares creatively in the sphere of blog writing with other similar cities. Save for Edinburgh perhaps, I haven’t the time to scour contemporary towns and their respective blogs and observe how they stack up against the output from The Lace City. I have a hunch though that Nottingham is pretty well served by it’s blogging and writing talent generally.


The Tears of a Clown is not necessarily a ‘Nottingham Blog’ by any means. I tend to just write about the subjects that interest or amuse me and the experiences I have. Nevertheless any visitor browsing through this site will come across plenty of Nottinghamshire content and I like to maintain the site’s partly local identity. In doing this I often browse around to see what my fellow Nottingham based bloggers are saying and am seldom disappointed in what I come across.

I initiated this blog site after formerly running my own regular website and posting articles on there. In June 2007 I attended a lecture at the Lowdham Book Festival given by Mike Atkinson. What I heard that day in a most entertaining and hugely informative talk by Mike, prompted me to initiate The Tears of a Clown. It’s only fitting then that I begin by linking to his own blog, troubled diva.

troubled diva

‘Without a doubt, drivel is Mike’s forte’

Don’t be fooled by the tag line, Mike Atkinson’s piece of the Web has pretty much all the things you might enjoy about a blog experience. Great content, quality writing, humour and information. Although going through a hiatus or two due to professional writing duties, it remains a vibrant and fun read, particularly if you enjoy reading about music. Features including the highlighting of other interesting articles from around the Net, Twitter and a well-populated comments section keep up the interest.

Nottingham Graffiti

‘News, views and musings from the great city’

I haven’t been reading Alan-a-dale’s blog for too long but what I see I like a lot. Lot’s of local content expressed in an individual and very readable and personable style.

Canuckistani in Limey Land

Fun, frivolity and assorted moaning about England’

Brookes, Alberta’s Rob Cutforth who bills himself as ‘A Canadian in New Basford’ is one of my favourite bloggers and whilst not hugely prolific his articles are always worth the wait. Rob no longer lives in Nottingham having moved to Manchester but posts excellent and hilarious items on the superb LeftLion website, and hard copy newspaper, here in Nottingham. Continue reading “Nottingham’s Bloggers”

Come a walk around Nottingham Goose Fair with me

Saturday evening and it’s the last night of the Nottingham Goose Fair 2009. My partner Melanie and I decided to make the short journey to the old travelling funfair, now, almost unbelievably, in it’s 715th year. Like many profess to, we just went for a walk around, to take in the sights, smells and atmosphere of the huge event.

It’s seldom I’ve visited the fair in the past few years and one change that is noticeable is the lack of the old sideshows which were very much the essence of Goose Fair for me. Attractions such as the Boxing Booth, where local worthies would get up to challenge travelling fighters are sadly missed. ‘Mouse Town’, which is fairly self-descriptive and wonder to us kids, is no more either. Other omissions might well be down to the more easily breached sensibilities of 2009. It’s hard to imagine a giant Scotsman being allowed for people to gawp at, nor a ‘bearded lady’ for that matter.


The children love it all of course and even in these days of sophisticated X-Boxes and other high-tech amusements, it’s good to see that same wide-eyed wonder that I probably had all those years ago when I was their age.

It’s important to leave a little space in your stomach for a taste of the fair I always think and I have to say I was very restrained on this visit. I had a tub of the traditional mushy peas with a large splash of mint sauce as well – lovely! I managed to forego other such delicacies as Brandy Snaps, Candyfloss and the vast array of fudge on show. Curiously the foodstuff perhaps most synonymous with Goose Fair – toffee apples were nowhere to be seen. Another point, where my seafood? Maybe these have been replaced with the smattering of noodle concessions, posh coffee vans and Panini bars that seem to have sprung up.


The Forest Recreation ground where Goose Fair is held is very handy for the main arterial Mansfield Road which leads straight up and over into the city. It houses one or two excellent pubs and is something of a traditional ‘crawl’ who prefer the relative sanity of its public houses to some of those in the centre of Nottingham. Last evening after the Fair, Mel and I wandered along to Fade Bar or The Hard to Find Cafe to quote it’s other name. It’s an interesting old building with a nice mixed clientele and good quality and varied drinks. The conservatory area is a great addition to this pub/cafe and is nicely atmospheric. I tried a pint of the excellent Aspells cider from Suffolk and an equally tasty pint of Erdinger Weissbier. Happily, one of my favourite Nottingham hostelries is but a few yards from the front door of The Hard to Find… and what better conclusion to a typical Nottingham Goose Fair night than a pint in The Lincolnshire Poacher with its fine ales, quality continental lagers and friendly surroundings. Roll on the first weekend in October 2010…

Why not come along with me now for a walk on the Fair…

Continue reading “Come a walk around Nottingham Goose Fair with me”

Autumn in Nottingham

If there’s one thing that always heralds the notion that Autumn has arrived in Nottingham it’s the opening of the historic Goose Fair. This ancient congregation was always traditionally opened at lunchtime on the first Thursday in October, running until late Saturday night over a three day duration. The demands of commerce now decree that the centuries old fair, which initially began in the city’s Old Market Square for matters of trade and now resides around a mile north on the Forest recreation round, opens a day early on the Wednesday evening, ignoring the old tradition.


The rush hour Nottingham traffic that snakes past the site of the fair predictably takes a peak over at the mass of lights and activity in the far distance. Straight ahead is the traditional large goose figure that is placed on the pretty traffic roundabout once a year at this time. Local people even have their own name for the characteristically crisper air prevalent as the new season commences. ‘Goose Fair weather’ they call it and what better description could one need? I note though a steady drizzle of rain this evening – the first in some time – so many times do the fair traders and attendees appear to have had a poor deal with big boots, raincoats and heavy knitwear being necessary for the traditional slog through the mud churned up by thousands of footsteps viewing the rides, amusements and food stalls.

I know that winter is but around the corner as I tread a steadily mounting covering of dry, crispy leaves along the paths and quiet lanes of my daily runs. Beginning as a trickle and eventually sometimes becoming a ploughing movement through the surrounding deciduous woodlands where bracken lays waiting to snag my footfall. Running is incessantly pleasant during the drier day of Autumn, but with every step I am aware that the stiffer test of winter exercise is just around the corner, waiting to test my resolve over the dark months once again.

The city makes various attempts at offering new amusements and festivals throughout the year and the success of one old favourite, but in a new setting, is probably about to be repeated next week. The Nottingham Robin Hood Beer Festival ran for many years at this time, held at the old Victoria Baths. An immensely popular institution within and without the city, the show had to move on or die as the venue was no more. A stroke of original thinking however now sees it housed in the Nottingham Castle grounds. The festival sports a large marquee and live music from the bandstand. I managed to miss its inaugural appearance at the stately old venue last year due to being on a protracted stay in Western Canada. No such luck this year but a visit and a few ciders down in the heart of Nottingham will provide some consolation and a pleasant night out with friends.

image Beer at the Castle

Soon it will be time again for pumpkin patches to be raided in time for ‘Guisers Night’ as we of Scots origin call it. I can’t say I’m terribly enamoured with some of the assumed North American ways of celebrating the pagan festival but I must admit there is some atmospheric appeal that I just cannot quite define. Of course the quickly following Guy Fawkes (Bonfire) Night will lead to a thousand childhood memories of collecting material for the huge fires we had, acquiring fireworks and dressing up a ‘Guy’ for pennies in public. The smells of the fire, gun powder, and not least toffee apples, bonfire toffee and honeycomb are never far from the imagination in at this time

Some see Autumn as a time of death in the sense that vegetation withers and dies away. All around us nature begins to fall asleep and I can’t argue with that perception. I would counter though that the season has a surety about it – one that tells us that life rolls on and on and there is some comfort in that when we think of the dark, dank months ahead. Any good gardener will till you that Autumn in often the beginning of things, when plans are made, things are planted in readiness for the future too. I like the Autumn. I love to see the shiny conkers lying below my feet – so tempting to pick up and collect just as I did as a boy. The chestnuts too in the nearby woods, to be taken home and roasted if an occasion allows. There is so much beauty to this time of year which those of us who like to experience all four season – for better or worse – understand and immerse ourselves in

Thursday Nights – It’s Reunion Time

After the recent death of a musical hero of mine, John Martyn the singer-songwriter it left me contemplating life a little. I had explained in my tribute to John how I came to first attend one of his concerts back in the late seventies with a friend from Nottingham Trent Polytechnic as it was in those days.  His enthusiasm for John Martyn’s music convinced me that I should give this man a good hearing and I became a great admirer of him  then, and over the years.

Jeff Reynolds was that good friend of mine among a host of good friends of the day, others being Rue Randall and Gary Tarlton-Weatherall who also studied at Trent Polytechnic in the same small class as myself. We were all apprentice compositors – typesetters basically, for those not familiar with the now-defunct word. We were all industry-based with full-time jobs in print shops but came along to study for a year full-time at ‘the Poly’, thereafter followed by one-week-per-month appearances at the same learning institution.

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They were wonderful, exciting times in some respects but also very difficult ones too. We four were a pretty tight-knit bunch in most respects.  It’s difficult to forget the pressure we were placed under in learning that very complex and skilled trade. In those days a failure in our exams basically meant no City & Guilds qualification and therefore no status as a craftsman. To fail would have been unthinkable and quite possibly the route into a potentially humdrum unskilled job with few prospects. It was against that backdrop that we studied together but one would never have thought so in observing us.

Even though it was a Polytechnic there was definitely a hierarchy operating within the college. I, and I think I may speak for my former college friends here, felt like we were treated as boys from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ in other areas of the college. We were certainly ordinary enough working-class (as we used to call ourselves in those days) lads but here was a certain snobbery I always felt from the students in the white coats on the ‘posher’ courses in the towering nearby Newton Building.

Of course being in our teens and this being the late seventies, rock music was very much the thing along with football and these were often the main subjects of our conversation. We all had our favourites of course and these matters seemed of grave concern in those days. We would debate incessantly about who was the best lead guitar player or songwriter of the day. (the former was Alvin Lee of Ten Years After if you’re reading this boys!) 😉


Thursday Nights – 8pm

Our Thursday nights out became almost legendary. They began inauspiciously with just Jeff and myself turning up at the appointed place, The Bell Inn just off Nottingham’s Old Market Square. As the weeks passed however this soon changed with more and more friends and friends of friends coming along for drinks and a great night out full of laughs and fun. The route was invariably the same with a few modifications – The Bell Inn, The Old Salutation and Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalalem, three pubs ‘old enough to be out on their own’. We were young and daft and sure we did some silly things. Games of hide-and-seek in and around the famous old Trip To Jerusalem pub and wild games of street football played in the Maid Marion Way subway with a small block of wood come to mind. I know that I will never have more enjoyable nights out than those – ever.

The years passed with many a Thursday night and many an indelible memory.

And now the history book has been blown wide open…

The passing of John Martyn motivated me to begin searching for my old friends on the Internet. I’d done this before but given up without success. This time it was different however and I located Jeff through his and Rue’s common interest – their band, The Smiling Strangers who still play together. Eureka! An email or two and we were back in touch – almost thirty years since leaving Nottingham Trent Polytechnic. Further investigation and information from Jeff  and I’m now in touch with Rue and Gary. How good does this feel!

The outcome of this story (very much a story so far) is that the four of us old pals and fellow students plan a reunion – guess where? In the Bell Inn of course – at the traditional meeting time of 8pm on a Thursday evening, the 8th of October 2009 to be precise. To facilitate this Jeff will travel from his home in Stafford, Gary from a little closer to home in Beeston, Notts and Rue from further afield in Denmark where he now lives and works as a landscape gardener with his wife Wendy-Jane.

It’s such a tremendous feeling being in contact after all these years. I’m sure we’re going to have to find somewhere pretty late to accommodate us that night as we catch up on the past three decades, the ups, the downs and the adventures that have entered and passed through our lives during those years. I can barely wait!

What’s that you say? Yes of course I’ll report back here and tell you how it went!

Dedicated to Jeff Reynolds, Rue Randall and Gary Tarlton-Weatherall.

Sven-Goran Eriksson signs for Notts County!

Staggering – that’s the only word!

I’m talking of course of the local football news story that former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has signed for the world’s oldest league club as Director of Football. Apparently Sven’s duties will include the overseeing of player development and training facilities at Meadow Lane. Other responsibilities will include looking after the youth academy, negotiating transfers for the club, scouting for new talent and the general health and fitness of the players. Joining him in dealing with these duties will be his long-time assistant Tord Grip.


It’s all become a reality due to the recent takeover of Notts County by Munto Finance, a Middle-East based consortium who have highly ambitious plans for the club which include a realistic establishing of Notts in the Championship within the next five seasons. This patience makes a refreshing change in these kinds of matters. Those close to Munto Finance, the ambitious consortium which took control last week with plans to establish the club in the Championship within five years, say Eriksson is in for the ‘long haul’.

Continue reading “Sven-Goran Eriksson signs for Notts County!”

Well…that didn’t last long

You have a city with a genuine bona fide football hero. A man that put a medium-sized provincial city on the world map of football and became the biggest thing since Robin Hood.

image After a protracted spell of hard work in fund raising, fully £70,000 is collected to commission an excellent tribute to the man in question – a permanent memorial for all to enjoy in a busy area of the city. Then some numb nut decides to vandalise it after only a few short months.

The statue of Brian Clough in Nottingham lasted intact from last November until this week. Sadly I think we all knew it would happen some time. Thankfully the wrong has now been put right.

There was a lot of consideration as to where to site the statue. One problem at the time was that Nottingham Forest were actually talking about moving grounds. It was decided that the statue should be in the centre of the city where everyone could enjoy it – not just visitors to the City Ground which is a short bus ride out of the city. On balance I’m glad they put it where they did. I walk past it frequently in the city and always have a peek at Brian and a wry smile to myself when thinking of him. The statue brings back many happy memories.

This Clough statue incident is one of sheer wanton and mindless vandalism. Quite likely attention-seeking behaviour too. i think this person will get his come-uppance though. It might have the useful side-effect of focusing local peoples’ thoughts on the problems of vandalism too.

I really wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of the perpetrator if his or her identity becomes public…

The Malt Cross, Nottingham

Sometimes we’ve all been guilty of ignoring a little gem from right under our noses and this was the case with me and The Malt Cross in Nottingham until the past year or two. I always knew imageof it’s existence just off the Old market Square in the city centre on the pedestrianised St. James Street, adjacent The Bell Inn, but never visited. I wasted some time because the converted music hall dating back to 1877 is a beautiful and interesting place to find oneself for a quiet pint and tasty snack early evening after work or to listen to the good quality live music that the venue sports.

Built on two floors, the upper area is an oval balcony that looks down on the throng below and also the small stage which is curiously situated at a height between the two floors at one end of the building. Presumably this would have been where the original music hall acts of the Victorian era would perform and heavily harks back to that age.

As well as an impressive and historic structure, The Old Malt Cross has pleasant, friendly and efficient staff which means those dreary and frustrating queues for drinks or usually absent, even at the peak of a busy Friday night in Nottingham’s city centre.

Continue reading “The Malt Cross, Nottingham”

The Nottingham Riveria

For those of us of a certain vintage the term ‘Nottingham-on-Sea’ applied not to the East Midlands city but to the Lincolnshire resort of Skegness a couple of hours drive east. ‘Skeggy’ as it has always been abbreviated has always been a traditional getaway destination from Nottingham – especially for a day trip by the sea. The fact that arriving in Skegness still leaves a healthy walk to the briny depths of the murky, chilly North Sea makes no difference to the resort’s popularity with Nottingham folk and also visitors from the likes of Leicester, Derby and Sheffield. image

Let’s make no bones about it, if you enjoy to be beside the seaside then Nottingham is hardly the place to base yourself. It’s not exactly the furthest destination from the coast in this small island of ours but it’s still heckuva land-locked in geography and travelling time.

Back in the 1990s’ the local council struck up the idea that bringing the seaside to Nottingham might be an option. They did this during three summers in the Lace City during that decade. My fragile memory also tells me that this indeed happened in the 1970s’ on one occasion too as part of the sadly aborted ‘Nottingham Festival’ of the time. This is not to be seen reported anywhere in the media though I note. I know what I saw though, those donkeys for one thing…

Nottingham boasts a ‘new’ Old Market Square these days. It’s former design has been manipulated into an arguably inferior looking area but one that is infinitely more practical to use for events. This is due to the levelling of the former ‘Processional Way’ through the centre of the old market area that was. In recent times this has provided a home for ‘The Nottingham Eye’ ferris wheel, an outdoor ice rink with accompanying German Christmas Market, music stages and other sundry events.

Continue reading “The Nottingham Riveria”

The Marathon Diaries: The Old Road

It’s three days after my initial run of thirteen miles as I write, the two intervening days containing a couple of single-mile runs which keep my ‘streak’ going and a seven mile walk around the Denton area of The Vale of Belvoir. This was partly due to sore lower stomach muscles from that last long run. Sometimes having the ability to run a long way without taking too much care about doing it can be a bad thing. I really should remember that it’s some five weeks since I ran such a distance.

So it’s back to the old disused road near where I live for a few laps to gauge my soreness. I know by doing this I can end at the appropriate time without being obliged to complete a circuit. The old road is a curious place. It’s a crumbly half-mile stretch of faded tarmac running parallel with its more modern successor of some forty or so years. It’s pleasant and fairly quiet though, often you won’t see a single soul around there. To one side is a small wood and to the other open farmland with a picturesque farm house perched on the red hills.

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I set off and immediately feel my stomach tugging though this soon eases. I consult the set of limestone rocks near the beginning that I count off my laps with. I could never remember how many half-mile stretches I’ve run after the first handful!

The old road itself is largely set on a hill and is a healthy workout for that reason. The road is useful for a very short and necessary run near to home but when encountering the thought of running several laps, music become essential to me. A Sony Walkman Mp3 player plays some summery music into my ears under the watery May sunshine, dappled by the freshly green trees lining the route.

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Today I ran twelve laps equalling six miles. The time was unimportant. I’m thinking of the long-term goal as usual. Now – what about that diet…